Category Archives: S.O. He Says

The Countdown Continues

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IAN_0355by Weusi

More things on my mind …

  • People take the miracle of pregnancy for granted. Pregnancy isn’t an easy thing. Although science can describe many things about it, there are still moments in the process that happen and science can’t tell you how or why. So many things need to be in alignment for it to happen that it in my eyes it is nothing short of a miracle.

send me a text

28 weeks

  • Because I believe in the Nguzu Saba Principle of Kujichagulia, which is the Kwanzaa principle that says we define ourselves … I am redefining fatherhood … I am calling it DADDYDOM! Because, when you are a daddy, you are responsible for another’s well-being, like a king. The other parallel is that often others look at the position as one of power, but it is really about responsibility. I know this is a little stretch, but it’s a fun word to say … “DADDYDOM!”
  • At the last ultrasound, the technician said that Baby Girl had a head of hair. I feel comfortable doing a ponytail or afro-puffs, but gotta learn how to cornrow hair, do box braids and flat braids now! Awww hell, I’m not fooling anyone … I gotta learn the difference!
  • In the future, more fathers will be called Pops and it will be a term for older fathers that are cool because they are who they are, not because they are trying to be young and cool.
  • I have times when I lack tact. It’s not often, but it happens at times. I think part of it is because I come from a  family where we talked more about being honest and not much about being nice. Being nice was something that was expected as a norm. But “niceness” is something that is taught. How will I teach it? Hmmm … how about, “Do like your mother.”
  • I will have to make more decisions on aesthetics without Shelli’s assistance.
  • The other day, we saw the movie Selma. Without giving anything away, let me just say that everyone should go see this beautiful movie. And don’t get there late because you are trying not to see all the trailers and previews. Make sure that you see it from start to finish! The movie moved me to tears more than once for a variety of reasons. In the end, it was the reality that my generation of Black people is the first to have the FREEDOM to move around the country and to vote. We’ve had the right, but it wasn’t until LBJ passed the Civil Rights Act outlawing public racial discrimination in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that we had the national governments support to engage us to experience these FREEDOMS. Afterward, I cried in anger, sorrow, and in angst. The feeling that I haven’t done enough hurt SOOOOOO bad. My daughter still has to deal with those who are resistant to the dismantling of the “good ol’ boy” systems and have infiltrated the fields of politics, academia, media, military, and underground covert movements in their quest to maintain the ways and ideologies of the Old South. This isn’t a depressing thought. It is inspiring. Please see this movie and allow yourself to be moved to tears and to take action.

  • People take living for granted. Each breath is a gift from God. We shouldn’t just cherish life, but figure out what it is to us as individuals that get us excited about life.

I am thankful for so much and yet I keep asking God for favor and to continue blessing me. I owe God a lot. Everything.

SHiNE

The Countdown!

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shower3by Weusi

Ok … over the next few days, I’m gonna give you a peek into the mind and the life of a 44 year old that is about to be a father for the first time. Right now, these are a few of the things on my mind …

First, I want to be done with the baby’s room. Like really done. Not the, “You’ll get it when we need it” done. Or, “We’ll just put some things on the walls” kinda done. I mean the, “We don’t have to think about it anymore” done. In a few days there will be NOTHING relevant to me except the well-being, health, and happiness of my baby girl and my wife. I already don’t care too much about aesthetics, so forgive me if … no, im not asking for forgiveness … now you’ll know why I may be lacking tact next week. I’m focused. And it’s not on anyone or anything but my wife and My Baby! The issue is that my wife is so nice that, to keep her happy, I have to be nice at times when I only want to be honest. It’s hard sometimes and has been one of the most valuable things I have (re-) learned about myself while with Shelli. And I know that this skill will be valuable as a father.

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Next thought … We picked a pediatrician. That was a reality check. My baby has a doctor.  She isn’t even here yet! Reality check … BOOM!

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And … we attended some classes last week on parenting and breastfeeding. More than the information that was shared, it was encouraging to see that other people felt like they could benefit from speaking to an expert about these processes. Science, technology, and access to information has changed so drastically and rapidly over the years that a new parent will always feel like there is something on which they need to be updated. I really appreciate parents of previous generations. I was born in 1970. Things were so different then. I knew that I was a preemie, but I just found out that I was only 4 lbs 3 ounces at birth. I stayed in the hospital about 3 weeks. I imagine that felt like an eternity for my parents … and that’s why they told me I was there for 6 weeks! Note: Grandparents’ exaggeration is entirely another blog! All that to say, I feel very blessed that My Baby Girl will be the beneficiary of all this informatiom and modern know how.

Then there’s the fact that … I really miss my community in DC and NC. I wish that people weren’t so far away. I really want to celebrate this with all those people that had a part in making me the person I am today. I’ve been been helped by many. And schooled by so many lessons from so many people. I think it would be incredible to raise a child with all those aunts and uncles around! Hopefully we will have plenty of playdates in DC and DC (Durham County, NC!). Parenthood has also made me re-evaluate my personal paradigms of community and my role in it (If anyone is interested, I’ll write about that as well).

And … the advice I most often get from parents is get some sleep now, because the first few months can be rough. But, it’s 6:30 am and I’m awake. I have been sleeping off and on for about a week now. Part of me feels like my body is being conditioned for the baby’s arrival and part of me is just excited to the point where I can’t sleep. This is WAY BETTER than the excitement of any holiday or any event in my life. I was tired the night before the wedding. I slept like a baby. I have a post about my perspective of the wedding experience. Shelli will post it eventually (Hint-Hint!).

Now … can I talk with you about “nesting?” It’s a dumb term! What it really should be called is what it is … getting your house ready for a baby. And I consider y’all my peoples, so why didn’t anyone warn me that this is when Shelli was going into “organizing/nesting” from an aesthetic to practical mentality, but I was focused on practicality and was gonna be happy that things were neat and safe with little regard to aesthetics! We are lucky that we love each other and that we both have the ability to articulate why we would prefer for something to be one way or dislike something when it is another way. I imagine that those conversations may have churned up some turmoil in some other couples lives!

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And finally … I have decided to be called Pop or Pops by my daughter. It won out over Baba, which is a term that many African-centered fathers use to maintain African cultural significance. I feel that our Blackness and connection to Africa will be manifested in other ways throughout her daily interactions. Dad or Daddy seem too regular for me. Plus, they start off as sounds. She will be calling everyone Da-Da just because that will be one of the first sounds she is able to create. I will work with her to develop the oratory skills necessary to say Pops. Plus it makes it logical that her grandfathers be called Pop-Pop because they are the Pop of her mom and Pop!

Ok … that’s more than enough for now. Sorry about that. I have more on my mind than I thought!

#SHiNE

Some of Weusi’s 2014 Highlights … and a Happy New Year!

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then comes
by Weusi

I know that neither of us have been writing much. And I know that many of you will be disappointed that there are no hair tips in this post. But, as many of you may know, we are a little distracted. We have a baby on the way! But as we sit here … Shelli, asleep on her side, with a pillow tucked under her pretty little tummy, I have a computer on my lap and a mind full of words. So … what do I do? I decide to write! The past year has been full of ups and downs. I just want to share a few of my favorite moments …

release the beast on the soccer field

My big lil’ cuz, Ebony E-Boogie Thomas (she’s younger than me but is like 5′ 9″), shared this great pic with me early in 2014 and it’s my favorite #TBT pic … oh, yeah … that’s my pops looking like a light skinned Shaft unleashing a young Weusi on the football/soccer field.

giant stadium super bowl

I worked on the Super Bowl Halftime Show, which was an amazing experience. And I can’t front … Bruno Mars did his thing!

send me a text

Then this happened!

shelli 10 weeks to 24 weeks preggo

THERE IS A PERSON IN THERE …

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And science says she kinda looks like this. We’ll see in a week!

weusi hands up hood up

I know that this isn’t a positive thing in the eyes of many, but it should/could be an empowering and motivational thing for many. The hands up and hood up poses are undoubtedly a piece of history. We’ll see if the USA owns up it is as their history!?!

This also led to one of my favorite musical moments of the year … BE FREE by J. Cole. I love the emotional content he’s able to convey. “All we wanna do it take the chains off. All we wanna do is be free …”

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My grandmother turned 100! Here she is with my Aunt Neecy, myself, and her 95 year young brother F. Brown (RIP).

anthony avery weusi and the pumpkin

I won another pumpkin at the pumpkin toss thingy! Thanks for inviting me out to Anthony, Avery and Jaclyn (not pictured)!

jayz and beyonce as frida and basquiat

I can’t front. This is one of the freshest halloween costumes ever! Frida & Basquiat! (i don’t know who Blue is)

My FAVORITE commercial of the year … I’m getting some cold cuts. I laugh out loud EVERY time i see it … and I don’t even eat cold cuts!I think I really enjoy the fact that someone is out there celebrating something that most people see as a mundane, day-to-day occurrence with such exuberance!

weusi overwhelmed at the baby shower

The baby shower. I was kind of overwhelmed at the expressions of love that this baby is coming into. I find myself thankful and humbled almost daily by the well wishes and love from close friends and acquaintances.

And then there is the end of the Colbert Report. That didn’t mean much to me, but the excitement of a powerful performance of a POWERFUL song and the anticipation of new music from Kendrick Lamar has me really looking forward to 2015.

weusi and shelli ugly sweaters

I also wanted to say that I REALLY thank you all for being so supportive of Shelli this past year. We really appreciate your prayers and well wishes. This has been an INCREDIBLE year. God is good! I wish you all the best in 2015!

#SHiNE

Perks

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by Weusi

Sometimes at the end of a gig, I walk away with a perk or two. Often, I take home some snacks, a few beverages, a candle from Pier 1, or some gadget from Bed, Bath and Beyond that I end up giving to someone before I even make it home. Then something special happened.

It was the end of a long day. I wanted to get home to Shelli. Then I saw him/it. And right there … behind the batman statue … was Ricky’s NYC (if you don’t know about it click the link!).

Initially, all I thought about was taking the picture of Batman. So, what you don’t see is the young lady handing out promo stuff.

I told her my wife had a blog and asked if she had any products for a curly girl. And then boom … I walk away with a bag of goodies! Some Miss Jessie’s, some Keratin stuff, some Mixed Chicks stuff, and a bunch of stuff I had no idea what it was … Win!

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On the way home, I realized Shelli doesn’t need any of this! I would just be enabling the product junkie in her. So, last weekend, I gave the bag to  Corey, one of my homies from FC Harlem. Why am I giving her products to someone else? They doen’t even know each other?

Well, actually … Corey has heard me talk about Shelli for some time. Then, he finally looks at my Facebook page and sees a picture of us. He says, “Yo, does your wife have a natural hair blog? I think I follow her.” We laughed about it for a heartbeat, but then he started to ask me a bunch of questions about products for his hair. I told him to check out the site and that everyone’s hair is different. So, that’s why I gave the bag to him!

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 See, we threw in a few full-size products from our stash too!

And, he’s gonna give me a few product reviews from a guy’s perspective!

Now, I know you are asking, so what did I do or get for Shelli? For her, the love of my life … I did something I have never done professionally. I took a picture … just for her! While on another gig, I sent her a picture to let people know I don’t look like the person she says people say I look like. And she gets a special super exclusive picture that I only share with her … and my mom … until now!

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And I guess he’s taller than I thought and I’m shorter than I thought too!

The end.

SHiNE

 

6 Months Later … Now What?

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IAN_0224by Weusi

In my mind … I’ve been married for a long time. I’d committed myself to Shelli long ago. I didn’t need the government, our friends, or family to validate my love. God knew my heart and my commitment. Shelli also knew I was married … in my mind. I told Shelli all the time, “You’re my wife.” Not in a creepy, over-possessive, “it puts on the lotion” kinda way. Moreso, in a voice of reassurance. Letting her know that my love is forever and that I was committed and wasn’t going anywhere.

Because of my love and commitment to her, when she let me know that a legal marriage would make her happy, I didn’t fight it. I can’t say it was a no brainer though. In my mind, I’m a little revolutionary and can be kind of anti-establishment. When I realized how happy it would make her, I knew what had to be done. Then, on December 12, 2013, I did it. I said those words … “I DO.” And no, I didn’t go the Kevin Hart route and “say it with my chest,” but, I meant it with all my heart. I wake up daily and say it to myself as a reminder. But now what? What happens after “I DO?”

When I decided that I was getting married, I sought wisdom and advice from as many people as I could. I talked to a bunch of people, both male and female, about the dynamic that marriage brings to a relationship. Many of them said that after you say “I do” and the honeymoon is over, things change. And they said that we’ve got to work on learning how to evolve and grow as individuals and together as a unit. The great thing about that is, since we’re both people with positive spirits, positive change is inevitable! AND lucky for us, we plan to live the rest of our lives in a honeymoon like bliss!*

*please do not equate the honeymoon like bliss with ignorant bliss!

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We’ll just have to wait to find out what happens as time goes on. We are 6 months in today and I’m ji like, still excited about it all! I’ll try to keep you posted on things, but y’all should let me know when you would like an update too. Until then (and forevermore), join us as we rejoice in love. And know that we are in honeymoon mode … eternally! At least in my mind!

SHiNE

(p.s. In case you were wondering, “ji like”is not a typo, it is slang for “jive like,” which is DC’centeric slang for “kind of like.”

AND … I’m sorry if you are getting tired of them but … I will continue to write pieces about and use pictures from our wedding … FOREVER! I LOVE SHOWING OFF OUR LOVE!

CLAIMING SPACE: The Man Cave

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IAN_0224by Weusi

I looked back and saw that my first post of 2013 was about claiming space in the madness of a product junky’s bathroom. As we are almost half of the way through the year, and I review my vision and plan for 2014, I think there is a need for another Claiming Space post. This time, it’s about what is called …

“MAN CAVE” noun: humorous 1. a room or other part of a home regarded as a refuge for the man or men of a household.

It’s important that your home feels and looks like a space that you would want to live, BUT if a Man lives with a S.O. (Significant Other), then they know rule #1 is … Keep them Happy to Keep a Happy Home! This may mean that at any given time, when you look around, you may not realize that you even live in a space. This is, in part, due to the FACT that discussion about aesthetic conflicts are more than likely tabled (or trashed) because there will undoubtedly be “more important things to discuss.” Anyway … earlier this year, I visited a friend and he had a new man cave. The wall behind his comfy couch said, “Life is Beautiful.” Some of his other friends thought that this was a little too “soft” in the midst of the lounge chairs, flat screen, and booming bass heavy sound system. But, it made sense to me. It was the man cave of a married man. He’s a happily married man, and little touches like that remind you that there are other things in life that make you happy besides food, drinks, music, and sports. And this is important to remember in the midst of testosterone-filled man cave interactions.

There are a few simple reasons why having a man cave is a goal for me in upcoming months …

1. Solitude: I love Shelli’s smile and sometimes we man cave dwellers need to get away and find a place of comfort and inspiration … without distractions. You know how easily we can be distracted! And sometimes … you just want us to get out of your way!

2. Library: Real men read. ‘Nuff said! stacks of books 3. History: I think of a Man Cave as one of the places that will one day be a historic landmark. “The Office of Weusi Baraka.” “Weusi Baraka Slept Here.” The Man Cave is a museum space. It speaks to your interests, personality, and where the Smithsonian will come to collect archival pieces of one’s history. I want to be able to define how I will be remembered. I want a role in writing my history (see the Kwanzaa principle of Kujichagulia: self-determination).

My dream man cave is part office, part library, part music studio, and part creative laboratory. This sounds fancy, but in its simplest manifestation, this just means it’s a space that has a desk with a computer, pens and paper (I have my analog moments), books, speakers/good headphones, some space to pace and either a dry erase board or a chalkboard. A TV would be cool, but it can be a hindrance. Although a bar would be mandatory for most, there isn’t really a NEED for a bar or furniture because I don’t do well with entertaining, nor do I really enjoy it. I know to some this sounds weird, but I like to be alone at home. I’m kind of an oxymoronic social recluse?!?

I share all this with you because it is important that you know that when you share space with Significant Others and agree to a Man Cave, it’s not because we’re trying to avoid you … It’s because we love you so much that when we share space with you, you easily steal our focus. Sometimes we need to excuse ourselves from the presence of your spellbinding beauty so that we can get things in perspective. A smile is a helluva thing! Ok … and yes … sometimes, we do want to just get away and/or refuel our superpowers. We’re not asking for a Batcave! We just want a spot to go read, play a video game, and/or maybe watch a sport’s game!

BatmanArkhamAsylum_batcave pic(You know he’s reading an e-book in this picture right!?!)

SO … ask me about how my Man Cave planning is going in September!

Oh, and when I say I like to be alone … I mean alone … with Shelli! (We’re still honeymooning newlyweds … what do you expect?) IAN_0357

SHiNE

 

The Real Thing: Dieci Uomo Salon for Men

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17MihalikDieciUomoExt_1363by Weusi

NY’s “fake it til’ you make it” mentality has spread like a virus all the way through my beloved NJ. Now, in NJ’s everyday culture, there are a lot of things that I would call flashy, overkill, extreme, or extravagant. Cars, hairstyles, accessories, celebrations, parties, relationships, explanations, restaurants, etc. So, when Shelli forwarded me an email about this new “upscale salon catering to men” in Livingston, NJ, that also claimed to be environmentally conscious, I was skeptical. After a few e-mails, I set up a tour and an interview with a manager. They are kind enough to fit me in for a manicure too. The day arrives. I try to stay in journalist mode. I’ve done a little research on the owners and their other spot, but I’m still a little worried because part of the magic of the internet is that it can make any place and everyone look good. I pull up and it looks just like the picture. The building stands out among its surroundings but with its clean lines it looks  … square. I take a lap around the back of the building before I park. I don’t see any AC units. Why is this important? Because they promote a space for a rooftop lounge. If they put some patio furniture next to the massive, noisy AC units … that’s not a lounge … it’s just patio furniture on the roof! So now, I’m super suspect. But then I walk in … I’m impressed. The place is clean. Not just regular clean. This spot is like fresh out the box clean. And instead of the loud frantic energy that accompanies many men’s salons, there is a masculine serenity about the space. The clean design of the outside matches the modernist design of the space. The subtle mix of line and curve in the furnishing combined with cool, interactive colors make the glow of the sunshine the first “Welcome” as you enter. Then, I was greeted with what felt like a sincere, “Hello, how can we help you,” accompanied with an honest smile. I lowered my wall.

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One of the hostesses took my jacket and offered a beverage (coffee, expresso, tea, water … or wine). Another introduced me to Maria. Maria was my manicurist. Now, I like manicures. I can be kinda critical about them. I’ve had a few. Maybe more than a few. Some good. Some average. An occasional great one. As I’m soaking my cuticles, I strike up some conversation and find out that Maria has been doing manicures for 8 years and us obviously a professional. She pulls out the freshly sterilized gear and then … then she proceeds to give me the best manicure that I’ve ever had. Now, I’ve had manicures in 9 different states and overseas … so what made this one so good? There was no mental or physical discomfort. She not only took the time to look at my hands, view the shape of my fingers and nails, but she also invested a few seconds to touch them before she started and it made a difference. Then, after the manicure, the exfoliating hand massage was exceptional. It wasn’t just rubbing my hands and forearm with some goop. It was a real massage. I watched her eyes as she focused on my hands and responded accordingly to my points of tension. Not only did she really know what she was doing, she was invested in making my experience a pleasurable one. AND … she didn’t ask me if I wanted some damn clear polish! Over the next week, I found myself looking at my hands. They looked and felt great!

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After the manicure, the owner Paul Gaglioti was kind enough to give me a tour of the space. He explains to me that he started sweeping up salons at 19. Now, 4 decades later, with Dieci Uomo, he and his partner (his wife Marie), have jumped ahead of the trend to create an incredible space for gentleman to reward themselves.

Photo of Marie and Paul Scratch Surface 2009

The world class salon has a spa on site, with semi-private manicure rooms and private pedicure and waxing rooms. Their state of the art massage rooms house independently controlled sound systems to customize your experience on the upper level. Also on this level is the “Outdoor Lounge.” Paul and I walk outside and stroll past a few guys kicked back on lounge chairs, sipping on some scotch while they enjoy the day’s mild weather. He opens a discrete door and shows me the AC units that I was looking for earlier. Now I get it. Not only are they hidden behind 4 walls, but he explains that the space which houses them is designed to isolate and disperse the noise created by the whirling units, so as not to disrupt patrons’ lounge experience. With plans to add a full bar, (possibly a humidor?), as well as additional seating and shading, I’ll definitely be back to partake in the rooftop festivities! *(They are starting weekly events on the rooftop as the weather gets nice!)

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Oh, and the environmental aspect of the building isn’t a vanity item. This is the real thing! The intent to create a clean look and parallel it with a clean building was successful. A LEED energy certification makes this more than official. This may be the only LEED certified men’s salon in the state. A variety of high tech components infused within its infrastructure that assist with water circulation and energy efficiency truly enhance the experience. In addition to the recycled materials used in the buildings structure, low tech components such as super fresh sinks created from cement and broken bottles are one of the many highlights of the space. My green side got really geeky in our interview and I have a bunch of info about it, but you can check out their Environmental Commitment Brochure here. The other component that makes a man spa experience special is the hospitality of the staff. As we spoke, Paul made it clear that the Dieci Uomo experience was far superior to having a haircut in a swanky salon with a few big screens and staff dressed like waitress from Hooters. There were some big screens, and there were both make and female staff members. Paul stated that he considers his employees his professional family. He hires staff that are committed to the work of serving people, not just stylist, technicians or masseuse that are looking for a gig. He has been determined to create a team who is interested in learning how to best serve others. They are educated locally and internationally on the latest techniques and technology in hair and spa services. What I find interesting is that even with the international diversity in the staffing that mirrors the United Nations, there is still a very old school Jersey feel to the place. No … not Tony Soprano gangster like Jersey. More mom and pops store, show respect to everyone, speak to your neighbors not only because you know them but also because you know that their being safe means you and yours are safe too! Tactfulness, professional knowledge, a sense of community, progressive visioning, environmental consciousness and great customer service …  this leads to a spa treatment that I am sure is amazing. Yes … This is really the real thing. SO … if you live near Livingston, NJ and have a Significant Other that would appreciate the comforts of a spa experience … Or a man in your life that deserves a little something special … or are a dude that gets tired of the regular barbershop experience and wants a nice spot to get a fresh cut or shave  … OR are a groom that wants a spot to get all your dudes together and get fresh & clean for your wedding … check it out! I’m going back in about a week to get a cut and a shave! (*They also have these 6 and 12 month membership program that allow for UNLIMITED haircuts, express manicures, shoe shines and discounts on retail products! They have an entire line of men’s grooming products that I will expound upon in another post!) I’m reminded that sometimes there is a thin line between something that is cool and something that catches your eye because of a flashy presentation. Oftentimes the difference is intent. The Gaglioti’s have matched intent with both form and function. Dieci Uomo is the real thing, a full service salon and spa designed for men. It really is a cool spot! Swing by to check it out … or set up an appointment …

www.DieciUomo.com

48 West Northfield Rd
Livingston, NJ 07039
(973) 535-1400
info@dieciuomo.com

or their sister spa (Shelli said that it’s really nice!)

www.DieciSpa.com

90 West Mt. Pleasant Ave
Livingston, NJ 07039
(973) 716-0101
info@diecispa.com

So, yeah … in the end, Dieci Uomo (and New Jersey) restored my hope in the goodness, honesty, and beauty of people wanting to help other people. I walked out feeling so good that I forgot my coat! So, I went back in and grabbed my jacket, then headed to the car. As I walked, I thought … “Yeah, I’ll be back.” But wait, there’s more …  AND … because this is my new favorite song … and it matches the sharing and giving sentiment of this post … straight from the Muppets Most Wanted

I’ll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo In Malibu) by Brett McKenzie

 *yes … Even Kermit knows what natural  hair lovers want … at 1:20 he says “You want a satin pillow? I’ll give it to you!”

  SHiNE,

Weusi