The Beauty of Gretchen

The first Shak Gal that I met – or rather, that introduced herself to me – was Gretchen. Gretchen is a stylist, and she has been making our clients at Sizzor Shak gorgeous for over 10 years. So in the “hierarchy” of salon life, she ranks a couple of levels higher than a new girl like me. But, despite this, on my very first shift Gretchen made her way over to my desk and introduced herself.

Gretchen is a knockout. She has amazing hair – thick and curly, light brown with highlights. It probably weighs 8 pounds and she complains about it being heavy and hot; however, for ladies with fine, flyaway tresses (like me), Gretchen’s locks are the stuff that dreams are made of.

Gretchen is also the most photogenic person I have ever met. Her face looks amazing in every picture, even when she’s in the background taking a big bite into a hamburger. If I’m not fully prepped and posed in a picture, I end up looking like I’m about to sneeze while my mouth’s full of lemon juice.

But beyond her hair and her photos and her eyes – did I forget to mention her blue, blue eyes?

Anyhow, beyond all that, Gretchen has a heart that is truly welcoming and inclusive. It was so awkward to be the new girl at a new job, and yet Gretchen eased my entrance into this new job by reaching out to me immediately, making me her friend on Facebook, and making me her friend for life.

At work parties, she would direct me to a chair near her. In the break room, she asked me about my kids and we compared parenting trauma stories. At the desk, she was patient as I rang up her customers, even though I typed her name in wrong at least 50% of the time.

Often in life, it seems like people are very protective of what is theirs. Their place in line, the money they make, the friends they have … a lot of people have an attitude that seems to say, “I worked hard for these things, so don’t expect me to share any of it with you. You gotta scrape and climb to get to where I am, and don’t expect any help from me.” But Gretchen’s openhearted way of welcoming me made me feel like part of the group for the very first.
And this is where the True Beauty of Gretchen comes out. She has definite seniority over me, and yet she was willing to share herself and give me a hand up when I felt most insecure.

As I’ve grown in my own seniority, I have witnessed her doing this over again … with the next new girl, and the one after that. And because of her great example, I have found myself striving to make sure others feel important and valued, especially during a time when they may feel uncertain.

Gretchen’s inner beauty has taught me an easy way to give to others – simply by being kind. It is one of the easiest ways to give, and yet it is one of utmost importance.

A Move & A Need

Let’s begin at the beginning.

My husband, Erik, was relocated with his job in the summer of 2007. We moved into our new home in August and sent our three boys off to their new school 10 days later. I spent the next couple months unpacking, trying to find my way around this new town, and hoping I would somehow be able to get settled.

You see, this was my first big move. I had always lived in near my family. At our old address, my parents were four miles away and Erik’s parents were seven miles away. My mom and I used the same grocery store, we went to the same Bible study group every week, and she helped me out with the kids a lot. Both Erik’s family and mine went to the same church – the church where we met, married, and dedicated each of our children. Even my extended family all lived within a 20 mile radius of us.

So moving to a different state was a bit overwhelming for this little mama’s girl.

On another note…

Have you ever noticed that most people are not automatically friendly to a new person? They may look at you — but then again they may not. They may smile and say “hello” to you if you are introduced to them — but then the next time you see them they will probably not remember you. And if you were to go so far as to introduce yourself, then they look at you like there is something wrong with you.

Maybe not always – but often enough to make a person feel very alone. And I felt very alone.

At this time, my full-time job was as a stay-at-home mom. But I had always held a part-time job in order to help out with the household expenses and to give me a reason to get out of the house. So as I began to look for work, I found myself extremely prayerful. I was putting a lot of hope into this job – at this point in my life I was banking on a lot more than a paycheck.