Darlene Velasquez’s smile can light up all of downtown Santa Barbara. She’s one of the most positive thinking people I’ve met, and despite having encountered challenges, she’s filled with a sense of wonder and appreciation of what life can bring.
Darlene is a hair-stylist who owns a quaint and cozy business called Cut Me Some Slack on De La Vina Street. I’ve known her for 15 years now, and I know from speaking to many of her clients that walking into her shop and getting a haircut is something everyone looks forward to with great anticipation. Not only is she good at what she does, but her friendship and joie de vivre is inspiring.
She took a step back from cutting hair to answer the Proust Questionnaire.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Having a happy, successful, and joyful life. My life very early on could have taken a very different path than it has, due to the fact I became a mother at 15 years old. Courage, vision, and endurance are traits and achievements.
What is your current state of mind?
Welcoming change. Being truly in love for the first time. Shifting my entire life to raise my grandson. Embracing the aging process in a playful way.
What do you most like about your job?
I am most grateful that after 26 years in this profession, I still LOVE what I do. Certainly there are days I’d love to be on the beach reading a book, but honestly I don’t remember a day that I have not enjoyed being at work. I’ve created an environment that my clientele enjoy experiencing. A fulfilling part of my work is connecting with so many amazing people and sharing in their lives.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Sunday mornings, good coffee, taking my grandson on a bike ride, planning a trip, feeling healthy, all while knowing my loved ones are healthy and happy.
What is your greatest fear?
Broad view: hate, war, and hunger. I have witnessed the effects of all of these around the globe, simply terrifying.
Personal: losing my health, and self doubt.
Who do you most admire?
My dear friend Pam. When I find myself at a loss in any situation, I hear myself say, “What would Pam do?” Anyone who has had the opportunity to know Pam has experienced friendship and kindness beyond measure. I also admire ordinary people who have risen above extraordinary circumstances.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Travel. My bags are always packed! Sleeping in a tent surrounded by wild elephants in a Kenya eco-lodge and swimming with sharks in Costa Rica, traveling deep into the bush and sleeping in a Masai village in Tanzania, beaches of Greek isles…. I love adventure but extravagance is experiencing this amazing planet and what it teaches me.
What is the quality you like most in people?
Self-acceptance. It opens a person to reveal their true self, flaws, and all. I love honest, quirky, imperfect people.
What is the quality you most dislike in people?
Bad breath. I mean, I spend 90 percent of my day working with people from the neck up!
What you most value in your friends?
Courage to speak up when they see something awry in my life. Laughter. Not punishing for being out of touch due to the busy crazy lives we lead.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Optimism. I truly believe things work out as they are meant to.
Which words or phrase do you most overuse?
Funny, this has come up alot in the recent past. Apparently this is in the Velasquez female DNA. “I mean…” Followed by anything we really want someone to know! “I mean…really.”
Which talent would you like to have?
The ability to sing well. This would also encompass overcoming one of my fears: speaking in front of people.
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
That I could enjoy the bookkeeping process. Or that i wouldn’t crave, want, think about, dream of decadent delicious foods as often as I do.
Where would you most like to live?
Right where I do!! Summerland. But there are so many places I’d enjoy living part time. I’ve dreamt about having an apartment on the private yacht, The World. People, food, art, nature, basically enveloped in culture is where I want to be, experiencing it with people I love.
What is your most treasured possession?
Without question, my memory.
What/who makes you laugh the most?
The innocence of children and animals. People who are silly with complete abandon.
What’s your motto?
I have two. Things always work out. Work is easier than worry.