On paper it shouldn’t work: he is 25 and I am – well, not; he left school at 16 and trained as a hairdresser, I took the university route, topping up later with a Masters; he is a family man with two small children and I don’t have a maternal bone in my body.
But in fact, he has become one of the most inspirational people in my life. It started when he popped my fringe cherry about three years ago. I went to see him because I couldn’t get in with my usual hairdresser and so the ‘love’ affair began. He was braver in his style choices – I liked. We also bonded over a phase we were both going through at the time of drinking wheatgrass shots (a phase we have both moved on from!).
I soon began to realise that the haircut was only part of the package – an hour with James is like spending an hour with a life coach. He does not do the usual ‘so… have you got any holidays planned this year?’ You know that painful hairdresser drivel you can be forced to endure. We talk about goals, personal development, what books we have read, affirmations, blogging, dreams and aspirations.
I remember the day James said to me ‘I am not JUST a hairdresser, I AM a hairdresser.’ The difference is subtle perhaps. Or maybe it is huge. Shortly after I met James, he started to pursue his non salon work – bridal hair, photography shoots, and growing his brand. Yes, he has a brand.
I have watched him as he has focused and worked so incredibly hard on realising his dreams: he started with the occasional bride, and now he does bridal hair most weekends, (this weekend he did three!); he has his own website; his work has been featured in bridal hair magazines; and he has set up a networking site. This man is going places.
He knows all about my recovery journey and he always knows the right thing to say; he knows when to be gentle with me, but also pushes me to excel when my confidence is wobbling. He was telling people I was a writer long before I was brave enough to say it myself. I cringed the first time he introduced me to another client as a writer. (I think I actually looked at the floor!) Then I thought, I really need to step up. If my hairdresser can see me as a writer, then it is time for me to see myself as one.
Last Wednesday I had my monthly appointment. ‘I’ve got big news’ he said, ‘I’m opening a hair studio.’ I am so pleased for him; I am so proud of him and I am so inspired by him. He is 25 and he is setting up on his own.
As I left the salon, I thought this is it: today is the day. I went home, poured myself a glass of wine and said goodbye to Sofa and the City and hello to The Reinvention Tour. The site had been ready to go for a couple of weeks but something was holding me back. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that ‘launch’ day happened on the same day as I saw James. His enthusiasm and belief in me is infectious.
And as the new blog went live, I sat back and reflected on the impact of hanging out with the right people (in ‘real’ life or on-line). Imagine, I thought, if all the people in my life had the ‘James effect’ on me. And whilst I do my best to stay away from negativity and surround myself with positive people, it is hard sometimes. Even those people who are close to us and want the best for us can sometimes drain us or sabotage our dreams – even if they don’t mean to.
So as I travel on my reinvention tour, I am going to attempt to surround myself with the right people. Because yes, we have to believe in ourselves but I can’t help thinking that being surrounded by believers (and not the doomers, gloomers and drainers) is part of the story too.
And yes, weekly hair appointments may well be the next step for me!
Who is making you feel your dreams are possible?
You can find out more about James at: James White Hair