Tag archive: hair


10 Things Basel Is Trying To Tell Me

I took a work trip to Basel Switzerland back in March 2020 before the world turned upside down. While riding the tram daily to my place of work, I would take down notes for a blog I had every intention of writing and releasing before I made my way back home to the USA. However, my trip was cut short due to a frantic scramble to obtain passage back to the states before the borders were closed. Securing my flights along the way (I could only get one flight at a time to another country with no guarantee I could even find a connection to the next stop or ultimately to the US) was nothing short of an epic adventure in itself so by the time I buckled my seat belt on my final flight to America, my frazzled mind understandably put the blog on a back burner. I am just now remembering I still have those notes. So rather than rework the tense to reflect the past, let me go ahead and release it as it was originally intended – in the present tense while still strolling around the beautiful and welcoming city of Basel, Switzerland.

Basel Cuckoo Colleen Ann Guest
The cuckoo clock is actually not from Switzerland – most of them are from the Black Forest region in Southern Germany – -not far across the border from Basel.

10 things Basel is trying to tell me:

1. I need hair service. Badly. There are multiple coiffure shops in every block. Literally every block! Yet no one here appears to look like they’ve had their tresses tended to. I would expect to see some spectacularly crafted hairstyles everywhere I look, but people on the street look just as mundane and bedraggled as people on American streets. What the heck are they getting done to their hair? What unseen service is being performed? But thank you(?) for reminding me on every corner that I must dash in for it.

Basel Colleen Ann Guest
A hair salon on every corner…. just why?

2. I need to know what time it is. It is Switzerland after all so this is not entirely unexpected. Time is serious business to the Swiss.  But like coiffure shops, the watch shops are in extreme overabundance. How many time pieces do people buy here? Do they lose watches at an astronomical rate? How do all these competing watch shops stay in business?

Basel Time Colleen Ann Guest
“Swiss time is running out…” Not in Basel it’s not….

3. I do NOT need another knife. (Well, ok that may be true but…) The Swiss are also renowned for their knives but there is an eerie lack of knife shops in Basel – as in almost NONE at all. Really, I hunted for a whole day and only found one teeny tiny cobbler’s shop which also cut keys and had a less than arousing selection of plain old Victornox knives. I guess having something (still not sure what) done to your hair and stacking wrist watches up to your elbows are way higher priorities than carrying one quality, unique pocketknife.

Basel Swiss Army Knife Colleen Ann Guest
Near the end of my trip I found two more fancy shops which sell the same knives more or less that I found in the rinky dink shop. But the cutlery at the fancy schmancy shops was least 10 CHF more! Score one for my accidental thrifty find!

4. I’m in great need of something gold. As in real gold. Right now! The number of jewelry stores hawking GOLD is only rivaled by the coiffure industry trying to intimate that hair service is immediately and often required. Surely the Swiss are not this vain. Are they? They don’t look like they dress extravagantly (or colorfully) or put on showy displays of any sort. No one appears to be dripping in gold chains, rings, and bracelets. Where do they put all those golden trinkets? Who is buying all this jewelry?

Basel Gold Colleen Ann Guest
Who is wearing all this gold jewelry I see for sale?

5. Surely, I need something from the drugstore and grocery. As plentiful as the hair salons, jewelry stores, and watch shops, are the bazillion apothecary shops and little grocery stores. I appreciate continual access to the grocery with their fresh produce and quality foods, really, I do, but this is extreme overkill.  And the drug stores! How often do people need to purchase drug store type stuff? Is there some secret item I’m missing from my toiletries? Am I less than civilized for not knowing?

Basel Drugstore Colleen Ann Guest
Don’t worry if you run out of shaving cream or produce – Basel’s got your six… and your 1-12 in general

6. I need more exercise and fresh air. (Again, this may be true but….) Even if you don’t ride a bicycle (seems like everyone does) and you mostly ride the public transportation, you get lots of good walking in. Cars are in the vast minority and there’s hardly a place to park them or get gas if you had one. Everyone is trim and healthy looking. They eat at the outdoor seating at cafes no matter how cold or rainy. No one seems to spend any time indoors for very long. It’s a very physically active and outdoorsy society.

Basel Bicycle Colleen Ann Guest
The bicycle is the main mode of transportation!

7. I only need American taste in music. Clearly not true, but I swear to God the soundtrack to Swiss life is rock and roll, Americana, jazz, big band, or country, with a little pop music occasionally – all in English. And music is EVERYWHERE (indoors and out). Even the busker at the train station was playing old Amercan pop songs on his accordion – ACCORDION!! I’m smack dab in the middle the land of polka and world class yodeling and is it too much to ask for a little waltzy tempo on that squeezebox and a yodeleeho sprinkled in here or there?? Come ON! However, I found a fun channel on the TV called FOLX. And THEY play the greatest (and kookiest) folk, polka and yodeling videos. I’m in heaven. Neel would hate me right now if he had to be in the room with me. I pretty much leave the TV on that channel whenever I’m in my hotel room.

Basel Music Colleen Ann Guest
I scribbled down my notes about American music while riding the tram. I was still thinking about it when I walked into a shop which was playing big band swing, followed by John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High”, followed by 70s disco as if to prove my point. And to put an exclamation point on it, upon turning a corner after exiting said shop I was confronted with a giant mural collage depicting a wide array of iconic American and British rock legends. I kid you not!!!!

8. I need to smoke a lot more cigarettes. As in ANY because I don’t smoke. But seriously these Swiss can suck down some cancer sticks on an epic scale!! As I was climbing the hillside steps from my work (like Heidi ascending the Alps), I was inhaling the fresh air and dared to muse that even the air is better in Basel because everything is so clean here. And shortly after reaching the street — as if on cue — I was abruptly assaulted with a nasty, nicotine, drenched cloud. How can such eco and health conscious people think this is a good habit??

Basel Smoking Colleen Ann Guest
Note the gigantic ashtrays on every table!

9. I need to smile less. And be less friendly, and not make jokes, and stop attempting to make small talk. People on the street in Basel are superbly stoic and distant. No emotion is the name of the game if you want to fit in here. Forget all my efforts to dress in the distinctly bland-colored, scarfed, skinny panted, euro uniform. Or as I call it, the “I’m-not-American-camouflage”. My friendly “smile and nod” gives me away as a dopey American every time. The more I try to keep a straight face in public the harder I find it to keep from busting out laughing from the effort. Note to self. . . Never play poker with the Swiss!

Basel Distance Colleen Ann Guest
Basel has been social distancing before it was cool.

10. I need to carry a backpack. OK this one is true… at least while in Basel. Because most people rely on public transit, walking, or cycling, having a quality backpack to put all your shopping, stash your layers as you peel them off, or carry your bazillion watches and apothecary supplies is a must! There is literally NO ONE unadorned by a wearable bag of some description. So when in Rome…. Yep I got one:

Basel Backpack Colleen Ann Guest
My personal souvenir was this elegant Victorinox Swiss Army backpack!

In case I’ve given you the mistaken impression that I was less than enamored with my stay in Basel, let me set the record straight. I LOVED each and every minute there. I could easily pick up stakes and happily relocate to Basel. In A HEARTBEAT!! It’s a beautiful, welcoming, safe, temperate, and historic city with lots of things to see and do.

But the evidence staring me down from shiny store fronts with brightly colored signs and eye-catching window displays tells me I’m apparently an American hick, ignorant of the social graces required to exist in such Euro sophistication. I’m doing my best to pretend I fit in, but who am I fooling?

Life back in the US will surely find me:

  • with my hair unsuspectingly uncoiffed and uncolored
  • curled up in my comfy chair indoors (no matter how nice the weather)
  • running out of toiletries and eating stale crumbs from the cupboard because I’m too lazy to take my ginormous, full-size, gas-guzzling, truck 2 long miles to the nearest stores
  • oblivious of the passing of time
  • indifferent to my lack of gold trinkets
  • wildly waving, smiling and calling out to my neighbors and strangers on the street
  • and gazing lovingly at my vast, shiny knife collection . . .
  • . . . all while listening to the Bill Flynn Polka Show and wishing I could yodel like my dad!

Watch the video below for a slideshow of my adventure set to the super hot yodeling vocals of Melanie Oesch:


My Hope For You

I hope you continually:

Chip away at the obstacles that prevent you from doing what you love
Add to the myriad of layers that make you unique and interesting
Ignore how society attempts to define you
Seek counsel from others
Spend quality time with old folks
Listen to everyone’s opinions and then formulate your own
Learn from the negative experiences in your life as they will shape you as much as the positive ones
Embrace grief and pain but don’t let it mire you in depression
Tell and show people often how much you care about them
Roll with the changes
Let go of the past
Find new tribes
Take chances
Love deeply
Try new things
Eat weird foods
Take care of your body
Experiment with your hair
Do things that frighten you
Expand the borders of your comfort zone
Acknowledge your fear but don’t let it confine you
Recognize that life is short; breathe each breath as if it were your last
Live in the moment and find contentment in the now
Look for beauty in the mundane
Connect with nature
Laugh at yourself
Laugh a lot
Take a stand
Defend your choices
Admit when you’re wrong
Find joy in bargain hunting
Permit yourself to spend some of that savings
Know that you are a work in progress until the day you die
Smile even when it hurts – it’s more for you than other people
Recognize when you’re not gifted in the thing you have passion for
Find passion for the things you are gifted in
Share your gifts and talents
Say NO when it’s warranted
Say YES because you can
Ask for help
Be brave and courageous
Allow yourself to make mistakes
Show kindness, mercy, and compassion
Grant others grace when they’ve screwed up
Allow yourself to ugly cry once in a while
Seek forgiveness
Find peace
Choose honesty over deception
Don’t let others take advantage of you
Build a reputation for being a person of your word
Give your very best effort in everything you do
Ignore both flattery and criticism
Desire to keep learning
Believe in your own worth
Build a relationship with God
Live YOUR life

And finally, a word from my dad for when that horse bucks you off and you get the wind knocked out of you:

Get up out of the dirt, brush away your tears, and
Get your ass back in that saddle!

Colleen Ann Guest TU250X


A Butterfly in Waiting

One year ago on September 8th, I made the decision to cut off all my hair and quit coloring it. It was one of the most liberating and revealing things I’ve ever done in my life. I noticed that while my super short, spiky hair felt foreign to me, it garnered a ton of attention. Most, if not all of it, was positive! Random people stopped me on the street, grocery store, wherever, to tell me they LOVED my hair. I enjoyed the compliments but was a bit unsure how to internalize and embrace them. Having long, beautiful hair had been my signature look for most of my life and I knew how to work it. I was exploring all new territory without the locks but was gaining confidence in the new look. If not for a financial crunch for us in January (salon services every 2-3 weeks is expensive!) I probably would have hung onto the new do long enough for it to become more “me.” So the regrowth began. It is now September, nine months since it was last shaved and one year since the the mighty scissors made the initial cut, and I can feel my hair catch the breeze again. Now that is a feeling that I am familiar with. While anxiously waiting for it to grow to ridiculous lengths again, I have recurring dreams that I wake up and  it’s magically long – only to really wake up to a choppy, mop head. That’s discouraging. I press on though with hats, clips, gel, anything that allows me to be out in public without scaring children and causing people to recoil in disgust. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but suffice to say the random compliments have long since stopped. But I’m a big girl and this journey has taught me that my self-worth doesn’t lie in outward appearances. I am a caterpillar in the cocoon stage…in a few months I’ll emerge as a beautiful new butterfly!


Redress Raleigh Sightings in the Media!





The professional shots are starting to roll in and you can see some incredible shots of all the fashion and models! I have to say though, I’m especially partial to the designer I walked for: Margo Scott of Rocket Betty Designs! She has a Facebook page too!




If you have any Redress Raleigh sightings, then by all means post them in a comment here! I’ll post more links as I find them too.









What’s UP with your Hair??

Sitting in the barber chair, I felt my head get significantly lighter as the barber snipped away my long tresses. It was a liberating feeling! It was like something intangible was lifted away along with the weight of the hair. I couldn’t help feel a tiny little bit of remorse though for what I had just done when I gazed down at the pile of freshly shorn locks that used to be attached to my head. Yet at the same time I felt giddy with a sense of daring bravery – like I had just broken out of prison. I had spent the majority of my life adorned by, enveloped by, and defined by long curtains of hair. I loved my long hair. I still do. And it will be back. But for now, it’s fun to be sporting a sassy crop of spikes haloing my face.

So the burning question on everyone’s lips these days is, “Why in the world did you do it?” (I bet some people think I’m having a midlife crisis.) As to the short hair, there seems to be two camps of opinion out there. Some people can’t fathom that I got rid of such pretty long hair and think I’ve made a huge mistake. Other people think it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve gotten lots of compliments and the majority of them center around the phrase, “you look so much younger.” THAT, I find extremely humorous. After reading the rest of this, you will too.

Alright, so is it a midlife crisis? In a way, yes. But not in the traditional sense. I am 45 years old and that most certainly qualifies me as middle-aged. I can see and feel the signs of an aging body, face, and hair every time I look in the mirror or tackle a set of stairs. My children are grown up; my daughter is married and my son has graduated from college. I am getting older and it’s a reality. When I look back at pictures of my former, youthful self, I see and recall a crowning glory of long, vibrant, silky, full-bodied hair – dark brown with red and gold highlights. It was a thing of beauty which never failed to garner attention.

But in my mid 30s I discovered (oh the horror) a few nasty, wiry, silver hairs poking up through my luscious strands like a gleaming pitch fork tines. Um…WHAT? This couldn’t be happening to ME! So I plucked them . . . and they re-grew . . .  and apparently multiplied. (Word to the wise – plucking gray hairs is like dowsing water on your Mogwai – see, I told you I was old – you are too if you get that reference) So one day, I did the unthinkable – broke down and bought a couple of boxes of hair color. “This is it,” I thought, “say goodbye to the beautiful hair forever.” I actually cried. The thought of having to color ALL of my hair when all I wanted to do was cover up a few gray strands killed me. I still had TONS of beautiful locks! But I took a deep breath, wiped away the tears, and did it. And for the last 10 years I’ve been doing it. At first I could get away with going 3-5 months without re-coloring it. Over the past decade that time has diminished to its current range of about 3 weeks between colorings.

Over the last several weeks I’ve had a revelation. Life is short – and no, that’s not the revelation – I’ve known that for a while. What I mean is, our lives can be defined in 5 (yes FIVE) 20 year phases:

  1. youth/school aged = birth-20
  2. young adulthood = 20-40
  3. middle-aged = 40-60
  4. senior = 60-80
  5.  elderly = 80-100

That’s it. Only 5.  I’ve lived and enjoyed the heck out of the first two phases but suddenly I find myself in the third phase. Five years into the third phase at that. I only have 2 more phases after this one (if I’m lucky)!!

Revelation – I WANT TO LIVE while I’m alive (Thank you Bon Jovi for those words of wisdom)! I embraced the first two phases with gusto and made the most of them and I want to do the same with this one, and the one after and the one after that. I don’t want to wake up when I’m 60 and wonder why the heck I wasted what could have been the most vibrant phase of my life in denial and pretending I was still living in the previous phase; desperately clinging to it like I was hanging from a rope over the edge of the Grand Canyon.

God, in his infinite wisdom gave us a graceful transition to the last two phases – not an abrupt screeching halt. We do that to ourselves. Why on earth don’t we just allow ourselves to age gracefully and embrace every moment of who we are? I for one do NOT want to wake up one day and suddenly be a wrinkly, gray-haired, little old lady and have arrived there as if a train smashed into a concrete wall. I want to make a gradual change and welcome the new beauty in my body, face, and hair, at every age. We only get one chance to live our lives. I don’t want to live mine as a lie. I’ve blown almost 10 years of it already in denial. I’m not going to waste once second more!

So back to the burning question, “what’s up with the hair?” Well, I’ve had it. I’m done! No more hair color for me!! I want my crowning glory back in whatever color and texture it happens to be. After several weeks of investigating my options, it appeared to me that the fastest way to accomplish my goal would be to cut off all my hair and let it re-grow. I’m far too impatient and frugal to spend the next several years trying to highlight, lowlight, tweak, or whatever-it-is-they-do to my hair to mask the line of color growth. So off it came.

THAT was phase 1. Phase 2 is the color change you’ve all been guessing at, but now you know it’s not what you thought it would be. Growing and snipping away the old color will take several months to accomplish, but my hair grows fast so it won’t be a long wait. I can already see real hair! Phase 3 is the re-growth to restore those long tresses to a new-found beauty. That will surely be the longest phase but one I’m going to have a lot of fun with. There will be lots of great hairstyles to play with along the way.

Hopefully my journey of hair transformation will inspire other people (especially women) to grab hold of life and live it to the fullest. My advice: embrace who you are and where you are – right now! Don’t live in the past and don’t live for the future. You’re missing out on LIFE if you do either.

Colleen Ann Guest
September 14, 2011
Phase 1 complete . . .  Phase 2 underway . . .

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