Is It True? Do Blondes Really Have More Fun?

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of August 6, 2017

File Aug 07, 1 45 29 PMI know they say blondes have more fun. Having been a blonde most of my life, I do agree there is a fun component. I was born with snow white hair which morphed into sunshine blonde and in later years a darker blond sprinkled here and there with gray strands. I am not one to color my hair because it seems too much work to keep it up.

About 15 years ago I took a daring leap and became a redhead for a few weeks along with chopping off my hair into a pixie cut. I loved it, but I got so much grief from my family I let it go back to my natural color and grew it out.

My hair has had many transformations over the years from semi-short, long to layered and curly to straight. I get bored with my hair and on a whim I visit a salon, any salon I am near when the moment hits, and have them do something to it — meaning cut or chop but not color. I have a hard time making appointments ahead of time because I am so spur-of-the-moment with my hair. When I can’t stand it anymore, I want it changed and I want it changed right now.

I have favorite hairdressers, but they aren’t the spur-of-the-moment kind of women because they are talented and their appointment calendar is usually full. Three of them live right here in my hometown, and another one lives and works in Mankato. They all work wonders on hair but they haven’t fit into my spur-of-the-moment tantrums.

I must have grown up a little and made it out of the “I want it cut now” because I made an appointment with the hairdresser that cut and colored my hair many years ago. I decided I liked the pictures from 15 years ago. I must admit I was scared and almost changed my mind about chopping off my hair. After all, it takes forever to grow back. And the color — well, I downloaded an app and tried colors, finally deciding I would match my grandson Jake, and my daughter Katie, with a reddish color as I did many years ago.

It was with trepidation I watched the cut. I couldn’t believe it when I said, “I think we should go a little shorter with the bangs and top.” Thank goodness for Pinterest because my cell phone came loaded with pictures of cuts I like, but having fine, thin hair I wasn’t sure it would work.

We debated on the color. If I were honest, if I were braver, I would have added some purple to the gold copper. I didn’t quite have enough courage to go that far — maybe next time.

Who would think at my age I would be nervous at such a change. I loved it, but I was a little scared about the reaction I might receive. My husband raised his eyebrows and wanted to know why I didn’t go darker red. Boris and Natasha stared at me and weren’t sure who I was. I didn’t think cats noticed faces but I could be wrong. I finally posted my picture on my Facebook page, and the reaction seems to be acceptance.

I was in need of a change. A color and cut might seem like a small thing to most people, but it was my upbringing holding me back. It was beliefs I didn’t know I had, keeping me all of these years from changing my natural hair color. In my childhood years it was scandalous to color your hair. I remember people talking about a few women that did color their hair back in the ’50s and those whispers must have stuck in my brain. Although I always loved other women when they colored their hair, I still hold those beliefs unknowingly in my brain. There was something wrong with me if I wanted my hair to be a different color.

Now I feel free from that silly, kept-undercover-belief. I find it strange things affect us and we do not realize some of the choices we make are unspoken criticisms from the past.

I know I could have added the purple. It wouldn’t have mattered what others said. I am my own person with my own tastes and those who are truly in my corner won’t care about the decisions I make about my looks. They accept me as I am. At my age, I have earned the right, as it says in the poem by Jenny Joseph, “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple.” I am not sure she was talking about hair but does it matter?

One might say coloring your hair isn’t accepting yourself as you are. But it is if you want red hair, purple hair for the fun of it or want to break out of the usual rut and feel alive in your skin. It is if that is who you are inside but have kept it hidden, trying to conform to what others think you should be. It isn’t accepting yourself if you think changing your looks will make you more accepted, more like others and are trying to fulfill something inside of you to fill a deep hole that doesn’t let you accept yourself.

Someone who is comfortable with who they are will pull that from inside of themselves and show the world that person. I am not sure I am there yet, but life is a journey and it should be fun trying to let go of expectations, not just mine but others in my old age.

Like Mikey from the commercial said, “Try it, you might like it.”

The Mother’s Day Gift That Keeps On Giving

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

Published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of May 8, 2017

“Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life.”  — Sophocles

File May 09, 10 49 34 AMAs a mother, it is hard to let go of my children and let them lead their lives their way. I want to protect them from making the same mistakes I or others have made in the past. I pray for them every day and they are never far from my thoughts. They are always in my heart. Being a mother was the most important career I can have. 

I love to watch my grandchildren grow and see the way they mimic some of their parents’ gestures when their parents were young or how they grow to resemble another family member. I love to see them develop into their own personalities.

I think most mothers feel the same way. I have noticed when talking with other mothers on my writer’s journey there are many lonely mothers out in the world. They are not lonely because their children don’t love them; they are lonely because life for their children has become so busy a phone call or a short visit may only happen occasionally, or on Mother’s Day. But life is busy, perhaps busier than my generation when we were raising our children. Plus, there is also the distance many families now face with children living all over the United States and abroad.

Mother’s Day is next Sunday. The stores are full of flowers, and restaurants are filling the advertising spaces with ideas of gifts for that special mother. While gifts are nice, I have a feeling that what mom wants is to spend quality time with her children, especially if you are a mother whose children no longer live in the area or live at home.

Those of us who have lost our mothers will tell you that perhaps we can give you this advice because of regrets from the past of the things we never did and said while our mothers were alive.

My family wasn’t a hugging family, so I can probably count on my two hands the number of times my mother and I grabbed each other tightly and gave a hug. When we did it always felt awkward because that was not our relationship. But now, I wish I had one more awkward hug I could give her. I wish I listened when she talked about her past. I wish I made it a habit of asking about her day more often.

In conversations with other mothers I have heard the reasons why kids, adult kids, don’t call their moms at least once a week, or if they live close, stop in for a visit. And because we are moms and we love our kids, we accept what is happening with their life because we don’t want to put more pressure on them. We always want to make our kids’ lives easier. We have all heard these words in conversation: “The kids are busy. They run from morning until night between work, household chores and getting their kids to their activities. They say they just get busy and forget to call.”

Every person needs someone in their life to ask them about their day. Every person needs someone to care about how they are feeling. It might take a few minutes for a phone call, but those few minutes may make a difference in the life of a mother, especially if mom is older and less mobile.

I watch as everyone sits in restaurants on their cell phones; I do too. And I wonder if we put away our texting for a few minutes — if we turned off the television or took a five-minute break from the hectic schedule if there would be time for one five-minute phone call to mom.

I am blessed as I already have a Mother’s Day invitation this year. My kids live within two hours, and I visit with them on a regular basis. I hope that continues as I grow older and am less mobile.

Near or far, take the time to give your mother a Mother’s Day gift that lasts all year. Give her a gift certificate with a promise to call her once a week, or if you are close by, stop in occasionally and have a cup of coffee, give her a hug and ask about her day. Let her know that no matter where you are, she is a priority when it comes to keeping in touch. After all, you were a priority of hers from the minute you were born, and she would have it no other way.

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at hermionyvidaliabooks@gmail.com.

Kindergarten Ain’t What It Used To Be

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of May 1, 2017

Kindergarten — I still remember my kindergarten years. Mrs. Lewis was my teacher, and kindergarten in those days was half days. You either were assigned to morning or afternoon kindergarten.

Since I was only 5 at the time, I don’t remember what we had to know before we started that phase of our school life. I probably knew my colors and could count to maybe 100 or not. I don’t remember, but if I did know those things it was because of my mother, being a former teacher, took the time to teach me the basics. But it wasn’t close to anything those entering kindergartens have to know today.

A friend of mine who works in an area school recently showed me the list of desirable skills the kindergarten students of next year need to know before entering kindergarten. She attended school somewhere around the time I did, maybe a few years later, and was astounded at what needed to happen before these tiny little people could enter school.

I would assume today’s young parents know what D’Nealian handwriting is, because a child needs to know how to print their name in D’Nealian handwriting. I had to look it up. D’Nealian is a style of writing and teaching cursive, print and block handwriting, derived from the Palmer Method. How many of you know what the Palmer Method is?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not protesting all of the skills a child needs. Some on the list were: Recognize difference between upper and lowercase letters, shows an interest in learning, can attend to one activity for 10 to 15 minutes independently, has a working understanding of basic vocabulary words, can draw simple figures, can color within a given space, can grip a pencil correctly, stays in own space, can get along with a group, able to express a thought in words, and there are more stipulations. It is quite a list.

I know I did not know all of those things before I went to school. I have a feeling our list was quite short. The one thing I do remember is the rug we had to bring for our naps. Kindergarten was fun. When we first got there it was play time. Then we settled down and had a story. Some days we had show and tell. We did have teaching time but it wasn’t too long. Then we had a snack and a nap. It was a time of learning how to get along with others and learning basics to get us ready for first grade. And it was only three hours. I would say in my day and age the most basic function it served was for us to learn how to interact with each other.

There was no preschool in my day. We were kids. We played outside and played with friends or kids in the neighborhood. Our day was not scheduled with learning. We did learn while playing. We played house. We played cops and robbers. We played school. We had fun with no stress.

I wonder at the importance of coloring within a given space. To me, that says color inside the lines. Coloring inside the lines caused me great stress because I am not a color-inside-the-lines person. Why is it important to learn to color inside the lines in kindergarten? They should be exploring their child creativity, and it shouldn’t be wrong at that age to forget about the lines.

I don’t know if I still know how to hold a pencil correctly. As a parent, would I know how to teach my child to correctly hold a pencil, or would I have to ask someone for help? They probably taught me that in kindergarten, but in the scheme of life it wasn’t important enough to retain that knowledge.

A pre-requisite for attending kindergarten seems to be preschool or early childhood education. Because we didn’t have that in my day, did it hamper our learning experiences in elementary, grade school, high school and college? Were we dumbed down because we didn’t have this advance learning experience?

In spite of all the advances in education, we here in the United States seem to be lagging other countries when it comes to education. According to Pew Research, the United State ranks in the middle of the pack in education, behind many other industrialized nations.

There is a push going on in the Legislature to provide vouchers so children can go to private schools and attend more early childhood education programs so no child is left out. It doesn’t seem to be working to send our kids to school earlier and earlier. Will it work to provide vouchers to families to send more kids to early childhood education or preschool or to make private schools available to those with poor economic status?

I don’t know the answer, but in the rankings, the nations that rank the highest have public education. They pour government money into the public schools to educate all. The schools aren’t funded according to neighborhoods or school districts. They have quality schools and education for all. Perhaps, instead of lowering the age and qualification of what children need to know, or providing vouchers that still might discriminate because of parental choice on seeking them out, it might be better to funnel that money into our public education system and treat all schools equally, no matter where they sit in a geographical area. Perhaps we should put our money toward paying quality teachers who have the future of our children in their hands.

That is just my opinion based on an old person’s view of what could be important for our children. But what do I know? I am not sure how to hold a pencil, and I color outside of the lines and I didn’t know what D’nealian is. It must be because I only had kindergarten three hours a day and then I took naps.