First published by Mesquite Local News JANUARY 29, 2015 BY 

Grandma wore her long hair braided at the back of her head, with the braid coiled around itself to create a bun at the nape of her neck.  The bun was normally unadorned and kept in place by a few plain hair pins.  But, on special occasions, she would crisscross a pair of Mother of Pearl chop sticks (a gift from her husband) through the bun to add a little glamour and festive flair to it. To me she was the most beautiful woman in town and I loved her hair style.

Sometimes, on hot summer evenings, she would bring a hair brush and a hand held mirror with her when she came to sit on the front porch.  This was the signal that I would be permitted to undo the braid and brush her hair.  She seemed to enjoy this ritual as much as I did.  As I brushed her hair, she would cast little glances into the mirror to check on my progress. Occasionally, after I had re-braided her hair, she would hand me the mirror and say, “Take a good look in there and tell me who you see.”

She wouldn’t accept the reply, “I just see myself” or “I see a little girl”.  She insisted, “No, no, no, I want details.  Who is that little girl?  Describe what she is doing.” Sometimes she would prompt me with questions, such as:

  • “Is she smiling? – “Do her eyes sparkle?” – “How well does she dress and groom herself?” – “Does she stand tall, as if she knows she can succeed in the world?”
  • “Do you suppose she will become famous?” – “Perhaps, she will be a movie star?”  – “Maybe, a writer?”
  • “Is she kind to others?” – “Has she forgotten her roots and become selfish or mean?” – “Do folks like being with her?” – “Is she willing to earn her way or does she expect others to support her?”

I now realize that Grandma was providing me with the filters that I would use to shape images of myself that I saw in future mirrors. Grandma already knew that none of us ever see a true reflection in the mirror.  When we view ourselves in the mirror, the image we see is filtered by the person we were in the past, the person we currently are, the person we wish we were and the person we hope or fear we may become.

If you don’t like the reflection you see in the mirror, there is no point in smashing the mirror. It’s more productive to change the filters you are using.  Yes, rather than spend time destroying a mirror, use your time to change your self-image.

Self-image is how you view yourself.  Self image affects every area of your life and is quite resistant to change.  Hence, when you find yourself seeing a less than positive self-image, take corrective action.  A positive self-image is the key to confident living and can improve the quality of your life and your future experiences.

Betty Freeman Haines, an author and award winning columnist, lives in Mesquite, NV.  Her books/e-books, Reluctant Hero and Grieving Sucks or Does It, can be ordered from  Share your thoughts and opinions with her at

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