My Outlook

Dos, doll houses and DIYs

            I loved playing with dolls as a child and was fortunate to have all kinds, from babies to Barbies. But I definitely had a favorite and her name was Velvet.

            Velvet had long blonde hair that could be extended when you pushed in her belly button and retracted with a turn of the button on her back. Two of my friends were given similar dolls. Shannon had the auburn-haired Crissy, while Siri owned the red-headed Brandi. We would entertain dreams of becoming famous hairstylists as we did our dolls' hair over and over again in a multitude of styles, having so much fun with the different lengths we could try.

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            I'm not sure who was responsible, but one day we brought out all our dolls and someone must have felt Barbie needed a shorter style. So, brandishing a pair of scissors, they gave my Barbie a haircut. Of course in the next moment we realized it was permanent. Unlike Velvet, this doll's hair could not be extended again. It was gone.

            Many parents have pictures of their children's attempts to cut their own hair. What followed was often a less than flattering look for a while. Well, it's not just the kids anymore. Adults are taking matters—or should I say scissors—into their own hands as they cope with the number of weeks it has been since having last visited a stylist or barber. At-home hair solutions have become a necessity. I am looking at options if this continues for as long as some suspect. By summer I am going to have to consider a ponytail or  else start borrowing ball caps from my daughter. Wow, I miss my stylist.

            There are more do-it-yourself projects on the go now more than ever, perhaps out of necessity, or sense of challenge, or feeling that there is time currently to tackle something new. It's not that we think we can do something better than those who make a living at it. We recognize that their skill and expertise come after years of training and practice. But lack of experience shouldn't stop anybody from trying something new. While some have found an affinity for a new hobby as a result, others have had less than successful outcomes—but at least have given the rest of us a good laugh in the process.

            One of my favorite DIY projects was a doll house we gave our girls when they were quite young. Their enjoyment of dolls, combined with a growing assortment of furniture and accessories, prompted us to look into what options might be best. After considering some of the features we wanted it to have, we decided we should design and build our own. Well, "we" most definitely being a reference to a collective--because that's what it took. At each stage of design, construction, decoration and even transportation into our family room, we called on the assistance of friends who had the talent, tools and expertise to make it happen.

            I can't begin to calculate the hours of play and enjoyment our daughters experienced, nor the smiles it put on my face when I reflected on the loving gestures of friends who not only provided their skills, but also much needed instruction and guidance along the way. It wouldn't have happened without them. We knew our limitations in trying to do it on our own.

            Far too often people treat situations in life like a DIY project--like something they have to tackle by themselves, They act as if they can't or shouldn't seek assistance. They carry burdens on their own or deal with challenges alone. Meantime, countless people are able, willing and ready to help—not to take charge or take over—but to provide encouragement, instruction or maybe even to hold our hands while we learn something new.

            Now is a great time for more of us to embrace new projects, while the time to call on others when we need it is any time at all. No matter the endeavor, the best project may very well be do-it-yourself, with a healthy size of help along the way. That's my outlook.

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