When the New Year makes its debut at the stroke of 12, I think to myself, here we go! New year, new me. I’m motivated to eat healthy, work out, drink more water, stop drinking pop, work smarter and not harder, or work harder than hard. Probably the same things that the entire population vow to do. Then, reality sets in about 8 hours later and I crack open a cold Coca-Cola. Ahhh, the first drink is always the best. Ok, so that resolution is shot, but I will tell you that each year I have tried - and will continue to try - to be a better version of the person that I was the year before.
The beauty industry is not for the faint of heart. Dedication, passion, hustle, determination, and talent are just a few of the traits that you’ll need to make it through the work week. This got me thinking about something that happened to me about a month ago: I received a message from a fellow hairstylist that I truly admire. Her name is Shelly Devlin. She’s been an influence in this industry for years. Her talent is mind-blowing and the compassion that she has for others is even greater. Shelly wrote me asking me if I could contact her about a friend of hers that wants to be a hairstylist and makeup artist. She told me that this sweet girl, who’s name is Kayla, brought my name up to her saying, “There’s this really cool person named DJ Victory…” and she proceeded to tell Shelly that she reads my blog, knows about my tie-dye hair and follows me on Instagram. When Shelly told Kayla that she knew me, Kayla was so excited, she freaked out. This is even hard for me to write because I can’t imagine, or even believe, that someone would feel that way toward me. I immediately respond to find out the rest of the story. I read Kayla's story with tears in my eyes and a pit in my stomach.
Kayla has Arthrogryposis, a joint and muscle disorder. Kayla can’t bend her arms, her wrists don’t move and she has had several surgeries over the years to help her walk. She can’t ride a bike or shower and wash her own hair. She is also unable to dress herself. Needless to say, daily activities that we take for granted - Kayla either can’t do them or they pose a challenge for her. I was crying, I was upset, and I started to think about how I don’t have all of the feeling in my right hand or don’t have full range of motion due to an accident four years ago, and the fact that I sometimes feel sorry for myself because of it. Really? Ugh. I continued reading.
I started to get butterflies in my belly and heart bubbles begin to float above my head as I learned the things Kayla CAN do. Kayla works one day a week in Shelly’s salon. Some of her responsibilities include folding towels, sweeping up hair, and answering the phone. I also found out that she is a master selfie-taker and has perfected applying her own makeup! How does she do this?! Kayla can’t bend her arms! I was baffled, humbled and beyond inspired. Shelly told me that Kayla was about to celebrate her 16th birthday and asked me if I could send Kayla an email wishing her Happy Birthday. Let me back up to say that I was still in disbelief that this young woman even knew who I was and likes what I do. I decided that instead of emailing Kayla, I would send her a video. I holed up in my bathroom - the only place I have privacy these days - and took a video of myself wishing this little love bug a happy birthday. I told her how inspiring she is and how much I admire her perseverance. I also told her that I would custom tie-dye a set of extensions for her. I sent the video to Shelly and she surprised Kayla with it at her party. I received a very sweet text from Kayla the next day, thanking me. We’ve been friends ever since.
Dedication, passion, hustle, determination and talent - these words describe Kayla. She thinks I’m cool, but honestly, she’s the cool one. Kayla made me feel special. She also made me look at myself and continue to strive for whatever it is that I want to achieve. I feel honored to have had this humbling experience.
We know resolutions don't last, at least not for me, so that’s why I try to be the best person I can be at all times. Sometimes I fail, but at least I don’t quit. Kayla also taught me that.
Happy New Year!