Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Life Lessons I may never learn.

RHYS BOWEN: A couple of years ago I wrote a blog about life lessons I may never learn. One of the first lessons on the list was never to try out a new hairdresser just before I'm about to go on a book tour.
So guess what I did today? I went to a new salon. One that came with good reviews and used organic products. And I knew I was in trouble when my stylist asked how much I wanted taken off. Then she snipped maybe an eighth of an inch and asked if it all right so far. Then another eighth, very tentatively. Since I didn't trust her skill to take off more I left it at that. So my bangs are still in my eyes. My hair is still straggly at the back of my neck and too long to style properly.
So what do I do? Find another salon before I go on tour next week? Or...another of the life lessons from my list.. snip at my bangs myself?

Here is my list. How many are you guilty of?

Ten Life Lessons I have yet to Learn (and may never do so)

  1. I can’t trim my bangs as well as my hairdresser. I should especially never try this on the night before I leave for a convention.
  2. On a similar theme: I should never try out a new hairdresser on the day before a book tour or photo shoot.
  3. Shoes from catalogs never fit me. And there is a second part to this: items in a catalog never look as good in real life. This may be because they are modeled by 18 year old size 00s and pinned for the pix..
  4. A review is just one person’s opinion. I keep telling myself this but the least little snipe sends me into deep depression.
  5. If I take only one white shirt on a trip, there will always be turbulence on the flight and I'll get coffee spatters on it. 
  6. I should never try out a new recipe on the night I have guests I want to impress.
  7. I should not buy something just because it’s a bargain. My closet is full of such items, not ever loved and hardly ever worn.
  8. Worrying gets you nowhere. I am a champion worrier.
  9. I have no control over the success of a book after it leaves my hands. I can work myself into exhaustion setting up events, touring, making postcards, doing radio interviews and in the end it all comes down to the publisher, timing and luck.
  10. I can’t please all of the people all of the time. There is never going to be one book that is equally loved by the whole population. So some readers will always complain when there is a touch of romance in my books and others will complain that there is not enough romance in my books. I should therefore only write to please myself.
  11. Okay, so I can’t count either. But if there’s only one life lesson I should have learned is that life is short and wonderful, there’s no going back, we’re only celebrating this day once, so make the most of it.
Who would like to share life lessons that they have never learned but would like to?
So how about you?. Are there any life lessons you’ve finally learned the hard way, or are you like me—destined to make the same mistakes over and over.


  1. So many lessons, most to be learned over and over since I seem destined to repeat and repeat and repeat . . . .
    After far too many unhappy salon visits, I have learned to trim my own bangs, with acceptable results . . . .
    I have never figured out how to stop worrying . . . and I haven’t done too well on the “you can’t please all the people” lesson, either . . . .
    I have procrastinating down to a science and I have yet to learn how to put a good book aside when I really ought to be thinking about getting some sleep . . . .

  2. Rhys, I once went for an important grant interview with purple hair, because I had my hair done by a new hairdresser.

  3. I think we need to set up a worrying contest to see who the true champion worrier is, but I'm worried I might lose.

    I'll tell you tomorrow how bad a procrastinator I am and how the fun of the internet distracts me from the things I should be doing.

    And I need to stop buying something with the justification, "But I can always review it." Yeah, like that will happen. And if I didn't have the money to buy it in the first place, how does reviewing it really make it any better?

  4. BTW, the "But I can always review it" bit is what led me to buy four new kinds of cookies tonight. And just as I was proud of myself for not have any cookies or candy around the house. I was just down to ice cream. Not any more.

  5. If you can't find something, it usually turns out to be just where you think you left it.

    When you stop feeling hungry, stop eating. (Corollary: two bites of ice cream usually scratches that itch.)

    If you throw something away, you'll probably need it tomorrow (or next week... or next month) but the world won't end.

    The safest thing to drink on an airplane is water, not Bloody Mary Mix.

  6. Drinking coffee in the car on the way to the airport. I don't think I have ever stepped onto--or off of--an airplane without a dribble of coffee on my blouse. I never learn.

  7. No matter how well I think I have handled a difficult situation, someone with no background in that sort of thing will tell me "but you SHOULD have done such-and-such" - and I need to learn to ignore them, knowing I've done my very best.

    If it's liquid, I will probably spill it. If it's solid,I'll probably drop it. Life will go on. I no longer buy white clothing. So I guess I DID learn something:-)

    Ah, yes, the bang-trimming thing: I think we've all done that one! Let me add this: I should not have my eyebrows waxed by someone in a salon in a strange town if I'm going to a wedding in a couple of days. The swelling will NOT go away that quickly!

    After reading what others here have said, I can see that I'm in good company with the worrying! (Maybe we read too many books about disastrous events?!)

    If I'm addressing an envelope for an odd-shaped greeting card,I'll probably write too illegibly for the post office to be able to read the name and address. And I won't have a spare envelope.

  8. Oh Rhys,love your list — we are so alike!

  9. My guardian angel looks out for me more than I deserve, even when I do things I KNOW I shouldn't.

    Such as...
    Buying new running shoes the day before a trip that's going to involve a lot of walking, in a country (i.e., Cuba) where finding replacements will be impossible.

    Buying and wearing a new snug supportive camisole an hour before dressing for a wedding.

    Amazingly, in both cases, I was absolutely fine, but I didn't deserve to be.

    As for hair, well, I finally gave up on the endless search for a new hairdresser and bought myself a pair of proper haircutting scissors and got Haircutting For Dummies out of the library. My driving force was that it couldn't possibly be as horrible as the last (expensive) haircut.

    Despite the fact the the book warned "THIS IS FOR CUTTING OTHER PEOPLE'S HAIR. YOU CANNOT CUT YOUR OWN HAIR!!!" it turned out absolutely fine. Best haircut I've had in years. I'm still in a state of disbelief. (Of course, I didn't have a book tour or wedding waiting in the wings.)

  10. Rhys, your #6 has bitten me before - when having company, make something you know you can make well, don't try to be dazzling.

    Don't go to a restaurant wearing something nice and then order anything with some sort of sauce.

    Don't order the full-size beer-battered fish dinner at my favorite bar/restaurant.

    If the plate set in front of you looks like it's holding enough food for two, ask for a to-go container; don't try to eat it all in one sitting.

    Why do so many of my life lessons revolve around food??

  11. Dear Rhys,

    I feel as if you climbed inside my head to write your list. I am guilty of most items on it, and seeing it in print is a good reminder to stop cutting my own hair with nail scissors!!

    As for my life lesson, it is about not being so hard on myself as a writer. I set unrealistic goals for myself in regard to how much I can accomplish in a specific time frame - and when don't reach the goal, I feel like a failure. I do it over and over. What I keep refusing to remember is that if I keep writing slow and steady, I will produce books. But I continue to set the unrealistic goals and beat myself up ... sigh!

  12. Wow--we are all so alike. I've also done the new shoes right before a trip thing,but I'm not a procrastinator. I'm a try to do too much at once all the time sort of person (although not as crazy as Hank)
    And yes, I've used nail scissors to trim my gangs. Guilty.

  13. Rhys, I love you.

    I would NEVER cut my own hair. Yikes. I dream about that, seriously, and it's awful. YOu guys are BRAVE.

    DebRo, your poor eyebrows... :-(

    1 Hold on to the stair railing when you go down steps--it can't hurt.
    2. Get two, just in case. Of anything.
    3. Do not rely on the hotel wake up call.
    4. Yes, you will always (probably) find it. But you have to stop looking. NO, really stop.
    5. If you ever think-I wonder if this is a good idea? It isn't. (Corollary: If you think--should I bring an umbrella? A coat? The answer is yes.)
    6. MUST have some? Yes, one bite or two is enough.

  14. Not brave, Hank - stupid! It looks like I cut my hair with nail scissors every time :)

  15. Oh, Rhys, laughing about the bangs. Mine got really shaggy when I was in London a couple of years ago, so I went into the Toni and Guy in Sloane Square and asked a guy who had trimmed me before if he's trim my bangs. Well, he decided to cut my hair, without asking me. It was HORRIBLE. Halfway up my ears in the front, long in the back. Worst haircut in at least thirty years. He said, "Well, you'll like it better when it grows out." It took almost a year...

    I love your list. All SO true. And here I was thinking about ordering some things for the upcoming conferences from catalogs...

    I suppose the one thing I seem completely unable to learn is that a) I have absolutely no time management skills, and b) (the corollary) is that it always takes me longer to do anything than I think it will, including writing a book....

  16. How funny! I have a lot of sisters-in-arms out there. To add to the list:
    Wear something dark to a dinner/cocktail party. You will spill or dribble something down your front.
    Shopping: if you're trying to make up your mind about it, don't buy it. No matter how deeply discounted. Took me a long time to learn that lesson.
    Do not trim your own hair. Period.
    Don't bother arguing with an idiot. About anything.
    Don't worry about making a fool of yourself; life is short. Dance.

  17. Like so many of you here, learning to control worry is an ongoing struggle for me, but I have actually made some progress in that area. Especially with relationships, I'm slowly learning that sometimes patience is often the best course over worrying it to death and requiring immediate resolutions. Along with this area of relationships, which includes anyone with whom you have interactions, I'm working hard to remember that not everyone sees as you do. We all come from different experiences and mind sets, and while you may be looking at relaxing vacation in Key West (shout out to Lucy), someone else may think a trip to the mountains is the way to go. Why can't they all just think like I do? LOL!

    Hallie, I do so wish I could learn the lesson about stopping eating when I'm no longer hungry, or I could maybe not start when I'm not hungry either.

    I'm rather lucky in the hair department, as I've found someone that I like and have been going to her for almost ten years now. Except. Isn't there always an except. My hairdresser, for some reason unknown to me, cut my ears out a couple of appointments ago. I swear I didn't tell her to do so, and I kind of like it, so I haven't said anything. I'm a little afraid that I might have agreed to it, since I seem to be a little hard of hearing. Oh, and for the guys, cutting the ears out is simply cutting around the ears as opposed to letting the hair grow over the ears. You already do that style, or most of you.

    In talking about traveling, I so wish I could learn not to worry about getting a decent seat on a plane, getting overhead bin space, and just getting to the plan in general. Maybe a Xanax is in order to help with those worries.

  18. LOL, wonderful lessons from everyone. Especially agree with the new shoes piece, but I still do it. Traveling seems like such a good excuse for new shoes.
    I have found if you hear yourself repeating the phrase "am I making any sense" during a conversation, you probably aren't.

  19. What a funny, but embarrassing list this is!
    1. Don't buy any more notebook/journals! I cannot possibly use this one and the 30 others that I already own! Ditto with the multitude of office supplies/boxes/containers.
    2.Never say "My kids would never do that!"
    3. Never pretend to understand a conversation in order to save someones feelings. They may ask questions!
    4. Never promise something will be finished early! Under promise, over deliver.
    5. Never volunteer to cook for a large family gathering.

  20. Here are a couple I actually HAVE learned: at a party or reception, never drink red wine. It will be sure to spill. Don't buy shoes that are just a little tight for your wide feet assuming they will stretch out. They won't.

    And totally agree on all the rest, especially Never cook something for the first time for guest.

  21. Never assume that the couple to whom you have just been introduced are parent and child.

  22. Hairdresser monogamy is not possible. It's all (high)lights and action at first, then boring routine sets in. You're braver than I am. I'd never try somebody new out before a big tour.

  23. So many of these apply...it's great to be In such good company. I love and relate to the one about addressing an odd shaped envelope!
    Listen to your inner voice...lost a gold bracelet, twisted an ankle, got food poisoning... I have many examples of minor catastrophes that could have been averted if I had not run roughshod over my instinct.
    Don't bother switching lanes on the freeway because whichever lane I am in will becomes the one that is bogged down. Also known as Murphy's Law...
    Quit hiding things for safe keeping....I will never remember the location of that "good place to keep this.".
    Rhys, when I was very young I cut my own bangs, with predictable results, the night before a hair appointment because I didn't want the hair dresser to see how long they were! Hello??? I cut them so short that she kept asking all the other stylists what in the world they would do with this hair. I still blush fifty years later.
    Which leads me to the hardest lesson for me....let it go! It's over, it's done, let it go!

  24. OH,Yeah, DebRo. Yes, indeedy.

    And Wendy, I talked to a traffic guy who says swithing lanes is absolutely worthless...that traffic studies show it makes no difference. So--see? YOu are SO right!

  25. LOL Mark--I think I might win the worrying contest though...

    Mary Sutton--all the reds have life lessons to do with food--just shows you belong!

    these are the best lessons ever--thanks Rhys for starting it off, and thanks to all of you for sharing!

    and ps one more, I will never like my hair the day it comes out of the salon...tonight, for example I look like a little boy!

  26. One lesson I've learned...the hard way; more than once...is not to assume someone I haven't seen in a while is still married to the same person they were previously. I don't know how many times I've said "Oh, how is so-and-so?" to find out they've parted ways. Ouch!

    Oh, and life's too short. Just do it.

  27. Lucy, that's good to know. I feared it simply meant I had given in to gluttony! LOL