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  • About Me

    Karen is a Hair and Make Up Artist based in Atlanta. With more than 20 years experience in cosmetology, her professional portfolio includes working with top salons on the east coast and in Atlanta in haircut design, makeup, weddings, film, print and television. Most recently working on the "final reveal" for ABC's Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition, as well as the 2011 and 2012 Charleston Fashion week for hair and makeup. She is the former owner of Bella Rose Salon, an upscale Bumble and Bumble exclusive salon in NJ specializing in makeovers. I established, solely owned and operated the salon from 2006-2010 until selling the business and relocating to Atlanta with my family in 2010.
    As a hair and makeup stylist in the film industry, Karen has styled celebrities including Judy Reyes (best known for her work on the television show Scrubs and Devious Maids) , was Key Hairstylist for “Glow Ropes,” the winning feature film for Best Picture, New York International Latino Film Festival, has worked with recording music artist USHER, and has styled hair and makeup for award winning fashion designers nationally.
    In addition to her freelance work, Karen is co-founder of Moda Creative Artists. A group of artists that specializes in conceptual imagery and art direction for designer look books, magazines, lifestyle, and music.
    Karen’s experience ranges from educating aspiring hairstylists and makeup artists in techniques through workshops and classes, creating hair and makeup styles for editorial layouts, styling clothes and set design, coaching and directing models on shoots, developing new images for musicians and working on music videos, styling hair and makeup for runway and photo shoots, and transforming thousands of clients’ images through haircutting design. Karen’s work has been featured in high-profile print and web publications including Jezebel, The Atlantan, Atlanta Brides, North Georgia Leisure Magazine, Bumble & Bumble Business Review, New Jersey Life magazine, City Chick NY, and 40/74 Magazine.
    Karen maintains her commitment to cutting-edge excellence in the industry though extensive training with industry leaders including Van Michael Salons, Sassoon, Bumble and Bumble, Nick Arrojo and Toni and Guy. Karen will be available by appointment in Alpharetta at the latest Van Michael Salon in Avalon October 2014.

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My Journey

The lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his names sake.  As I walk through the shadow of the valley of death, I fear no evil , for thou art with me. Thy rod and staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table for my enemies, and anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the lord forever.

Amen.

 That is a psalm I memorized at age 10, back in the days when I had many fears.

 It tells us not to fear and walk an trust God, forgive enemies, rest assured you are protected and only good will come your way, and in there is no end in Heaven..

 I share this because it still brings me comfort and rest.. Even through most recent moments of fear of the unknown.

 Sleepless nights my parents fought when I was a child, days of endless bullying and nights with prank phone calls claiming I would die if I went to school..

I remember being filled with anxiety at a young age. Moving almost every year of my life during my school years. As my parents would split and then get back together.

It was hard, but it taught me to be an adaptable adult and strengthened my character.

One fearful night at age 10, my mother told me to read PSALM 23 in the bible and it will help me feel safe. So I did, almost every night… Since I was a child and until this day.

 I have recited it to myself out loud and quietly in times of fear for many years.. 

 When I’ve walked alone, or fear the unknown. It brings me peace and a gentle reminder we are not alone, and when called upon God brings us peace and support through many resources and people and circumstances..

 This week I must have recited this psalm at least a dozen times in my head and out loud as I have been preparing and undergoing radio active iodine. A form of radiation to kill any remaining cancer cells in my thyroid.  Once the pill is administered you must be in isolation for 48 hours without any contact, and after 4 days its ok to be in public but you must remain 3 ft. away from people.  I must sleep alone for 6 days.  Not very comforting knowing its that dangerous and I have to swallow it.

So what better than to take some forced time away to relax, pause, and reflect on all my blessings. I am lucky enough to be resting and restoring in a beautiful lodge beside still waters. What a coincidence.

The time I have had here so far has helped me heal and reflect.

 Although I didn’t feel my best the first 2 days,  I have not had any pain or nausea as I had expected.  Today I am full of energy its hard to believe I’m still radio active..

 My friends have helped in so many ways with my children, sending texts of support and love, and lining up visits to come see me as I’m away for 1 week recovering.

  My husband is holding down the fort and making runs to my room to bring me food, flowers and anything my heart desires. My children have sent me messages of love and concern, and heart felt hugs before my departure that filled me with joy.

Just 2 weeks before my procedure I volunteered at Lighthouse Family Retreat in Destin Florida with my family for my 4rth year.

One of the most magical missions trips that exist, where all you do is help families with childhood cancer forget their worries and have the best week of their lives. Through this experience I felt loved beyond words by children going through cancer much worse than I have.

On our first day we got news that one of our closest friends at Lighthouse would have to endure a risky heart surgery as his heart is failing and he is father of 4.. They are such an amazing family that has helped our family in so many ways along our journey, ..fear and worry consumed my heart for them.

And just 1 day before I started my treatment I got news that a good and old friend of mine was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer.

 The families at Lighthouse, our friend that will undergo open heart surgery, and my good friend facing cancer and chemo for the next 6 months have shown so much courage and confidence in their recovery that they have filled me up with strength and courage to do the same.

 One little girl Katelyn age 12 at Lighthouse, just a year prior, was a healthy young girl running track. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor and after surgeries and treatment attended Lighthouse with her family this year. I was assigned to sit with her in the afternoons and help keep her comfortable in her wheel chair.  My first day I was unsure of how happy I could make her , and how she would respond.. I decided to give it a shot and take her into the pool where she dangled her feet in pure joy.

Once inside we watched a movie and ate a snack, with me talking to her the whole time.  Then she did something that took my breath away and brought me tears of joy. She pulled me in and wrapped her arm around me with all her strength, and whispered in my ear,  “I Love You” and “Thank You”..

That moment I felt a feeling of genuine love and appreciation and her arms that made me feel safe and assured God has me, and is using her to speak to me through all of my fears and worry..

The week with Katelyn was so moving as she thanked and loved on me all week long.. It was I that needed her, more than she needed me…

 My family and I were assigned to care for an amazing family of 5 from San Antonio Texas, with one adorable little girl fighting leukemia, two teenage brothers and an amazing couple that showed us so much strength as parents, respect and love for each other as a couple that only the faith could bring.  We felt close to them almost immediately as if we have know them for years it was that easy..  They inspired me in more ways than I can even list, and Ella, the little girl fighting had such spunk and zest for life to watch her left me speechless at times.

 Our last day we entered their room to help clean up and pack their luggage in the car but to our surprise they already had it done.

For the sole purpose of sitting down and praying for our family.  As they asked my husband, each of our children, and I what we needed in prayer, they took our hands and they prayed over us and my health..  I was so taken by there gesture as if they knew instinctively that each one of us had our own fears and battles that needed prayers as well. Another sign how god uses people to help you in your time of need. We needed them in our lives that week. This family will surely be in our lives for years to come and I appreciate all the texts and calls of support they still show me as I’m under treatment..

When you serve to help others in time of need, you are being helped and blessed in so many ways as well.

 Our friends we love so much now face a risky heart surgery with a positive outlook, strong faith, and confidence.. They are truly an inspiration to me and all that know them.

 My conversation with my friend in the hospital now facing cancer was short and sweet and her words still ring in my ears, “ This won’t take me down, I’m going to fight this thing.”  Through my tears I assured her I have no doubt she will.  And now she has also inspired me with her strength.

 As  I ‘m on day 3 of my treatment and year 43 of my journey, I have gained much perspective that there’s nothing to fear. He’s got me in the palm of his hand and if I pray and believe I am always comforted in knowing there is a master plan.. We all have a journey that leads us to the next chapter. What we choose to do with our time on this planet is precious and our days are limited.  That is what I believe.

I have grown in my faith and am not afraid to announce it. It has only led me to peace and brought so many opportunities and good relationships into my life.  I feel guided and protected, hope, and a life I am grateful for.

 Nothing is perfect, the day to day struggles are real, but I rest in knowing my faith has helped me create a life I am proud of,  and a husband and family I have always dreamt of.

There has been much adversity, hard times, trials, but I have learned from them and used all my knowledge for growth. 

 Our days are limited so enjoy the life you have, EMBRACE ADVERSITY FOR GROWTH… LOVE., .FORGIVE., SERVE., .and in time of fear remember PSALM 23..

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Gratitude

This post is long overdue, but what I realized is that every time I wanted to write and thank everyone for the tremendous amount of support, I was still in the middle of a lesson. I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and appreciation for sharing a glimpse of my story that it took my breath away. I would cry tears of joy with every word and message written it really was a lot to absorb. I wanted to thank and hug everyone personally although that would be impossible. I was so thankful that this life event and blog led me to help more women, introduced me to thyroid cancer survivors that I call friends,  to a master surgeon that took great care of me,.. My last post also helped me find answers in my struggle to be a parent that could withstand the struggles teen years are bringing me. I struggled with the vulnerability of my last post because I have always been the helper not he one needing support and help, and maybe world would see into my personal life…But what am I scared of? My answers to that led me to to say… I am so happy that I did write and share. It showed me being vulnerable is okay. Life is messy and we need support and love and if we can help others along the way, well thats a bonus.

Through adversity we learn, and emerge stronger and wiser.  With friends and support we can stay strong. Thats how I feel.  Im no stranger to overcoming adversity but this time my health and body wasn’t keeping up with my mind. I am gaining strength and feeling better everyday but giving myself time to heal in more ways than one. Ironically the symbol for thyroid cancer is a butterfly. Thats how I feel. I’m in getting ready to emerge and fly out of the cocoon. I needed to lose my thyroid to cancer to open my eyes, and give answers to many questions to my long list of health issues, and now realize all that is going right in my life…

Recently a friend gave me a gratitude journal to help in my healing.. Another friend I spoke to on the phone told me to keep a journal of all the things I’m grateful for. Through these last few months sadness had made its way into my life as all my plans for the perfect family, and my career of which I related my my identity and held so much of my security came to a halt to focus on my children and my health. Its as if God wanted take those security blankets away to expose me to a new journey.

I had to stop exercising which I enjoyed to give my body rest, and through debilitating fatigue I now had to revolve my life around my sons new schedule in private school. I had to put all efforts and days into finding him happiness and fulfillment through a variety of programs and hobbies and spending majority of my days with him as he displayed defiance and resistance toward me.

I also had to take a leave of absence from work to regain my health and sanity keeping things together at home. Its been a rollercoaster ride keeping up with the life we created with the busy schedules, home, health, my sons well being and our finances.., and now any extra income from work and my career (my security blanket) had to be given up, which meant part of my identity as well..  My husband and I have done our best to making sure our children don’t go without anything that can help them with there future, and keep them happy in the moment.

I thought I was eating healthy, exercising, doing everything in my power to guide and help my children make the right choices for their future and developing their character.  I didn’t realize my efforts were more controlling than helpful.

When I spoke to some of my closest friends they were surprised at the tone of my voice as I sounded depleted and tired, sad, and negative.  Why am I running a race I can’t win? But what they noticed is a woman that has always been positive in the some of the biggest trials of her life, and always inspired them to do so as well, now sounds unrecognizable..

It seemed as if I lost control over the things that kept me feeling secure, safe and happy. My health , my children, my finances, my career, and my future. All of which I worked very hard to keep in control.

What I didn’t realize is that my efforts were not working and I had see things in a different light.

Life is a long journey of discovery. We don’t always have the answers and every experience good or bad is a chance for growth.

I have been praying and healing, and along with support and prayers from amazing friends and family,  I have discovered that the answers were right in front of me. These trials have all helped my realize more now than ever, what I’m am Grateful for, and what is going right.

These recent trials are not the worst of what I have endured in my life and I am strong. I know that something good always emerges through adversity. I have lived and witnessed that multiple times in my life and this is just a bump in the road.

I learned that hypothyroidism drains your energy and takes a toll on your mental state adding to the negativity. I realized that negative thoughts can take over your life adding to health and relational problems.

I do have one more obstacle to endure and that is taking Radio Active Iodine Treatments starting  on June 21. I will keep my mind and body strong for this and I know that it is minor in comparison to many other forms of radiation.

So I made the decision to live in the moment and enjoy and embrace my new opportunities.

The opportunity to relax and give up it to God. The time to learn more about myself and let go of the things that brought me a false sense of security. The opportunity to explore new talents that could lead to fulfilling my creative side, and discover new career paths when the time comes. The opportunity to take time to explore cooking as a hobby and savor good wholesome nutrional foods to feed me and my family.

The opportunity to show my kids life skills and help them learn independence by earning and working and helping around the house. Not just for my benefit but for theirs. So that some day they will feel the joy of accomplishment and the gift of gratitude as well.

I have embraced time with friends in a way that I savor the moments and conversations, not the places and experiences.

I have embraced my home as my haven, a place for family, friends, conversation,- not as a pit stop to sleep and eat and constantly and leave.

I have realized that my discovery  of thyroid cancer led me to discover a lifetime of aliments that can now be controlled and am looking forward to living and feeling better than I ever have.

I am grateful my cancer is curable and I have a second chance to start over and do things differently.

I am grateful for my husband. My better half, and that I have discovered a side to our relationship that is sweeter than any other time on our lives.

And last but not least, I have had the opportunity to let go, and realize I can’t control everything. As much as I want my kids to have all the opportunities I missed. Its their journey. They need to learn from mistakes. I can only guide them but can’t control the outcome. I hope that I planted some good seeds and will always support them. But they need to own their failures and accomplishments to truly have fulfillment.  My son is doing amazing and has shown signs of a leader in helping friends overcome challenges. He is ready to face public high school and even if he experiences challenges again, they are his to experience, learn from, and grow stronger. I will embrace that with love and support -not control.

I have written so much to be grateful in my journal daily (thank you Jodi);).  Mostly stuff I know but when written, reminds me of all thats right and all that I have been given. For that I am truly grateful.

There is no time like the present to be grateful for the good in our lives. Gratitude opens our eyes and heart to living with peace, happiness, and satisfaction in the present moment. Through tough times if we try we can find much to be grateful for. The choice is ours.

I read this recently and it seems appropriate to share now:

Savor What’s Going Right. “We think too much about what goes wrong and not enough about what goes right in our lives.”

A Special Thanks to:

All my amazing friends, neighbors and community for weeks of amazing meals to nourish my family and help me rest. My special friend April for taking the lead and organizing a meal train, and always being a supportive friend through the years I can count on. My special circle of friends in Alpharetta, you bring so much joy to my life.

My mother for her help during surgery with love, doing our laundry, and her delicious bone broth soup. My Mother in-law for taking time to spend a week with us to help and support our kids. My sister Karla for hopping on a flight to see me right away- that means so much to me. My Aunts are my prayer warriors I love you, thank you Tia Jossy and Tia Baica for your visit.

Friends that sent flowers, books, and cards , they lit up my days and gave me hope., my clients for missing me and reaching out with support, Van Michael Salon for all your support and understanding and embracing me with welcome arms and assurance I have a place to work if I would like to return when ready.

My childhood girlfriends that are more like my sisters Jodi, Maria, Danielle, and Dina for taking time to visit me in short notice and giving me the gift of laughter, food and reminiscing.. Its like we never missed a beat the last 30 years. My old high school friends and acquaintances for so much support in your messages and prayers…

My fellow LAX families for all your help with carpool. My daughter’s other mothers Carlene and Maria for loving my girl and taking her everywhere she needs to go. My daughters small group leaders in Inside Out and Young Life for being such a positive influence in her life. And her amazing friends, I am so proud of all of you for your hearts for serving and being genuine friends. I know she’s in good hands.

My jersey girl Sara for always supporting me and giving me a piece of home close by. My students from the past for all your messages of support and gratitude for the inspiration I gave to you, and now you give back to me.

My life long friend Gina Shiflet for giving me years of inspiration and speaking words of wisdom and healing into my life. My old friends and clients in NJ that I haven’t spoken to in years for reaching out with support and love. My old friend Chaz for always making me smile and always taking time out to spend with me. My old friend and roomate Naomi for making time to come to Alpharetta and visit with me, I so enjoyed our time catching up and reminiscing…

My new friends that are thyroid cancer survivors for your continuous support and advice and always checking on me. My couples small group for all your support , my church for helping me raise my amazing children, lessons about life and inspiration. My Lighthouse Family- your support means so much to me..

Kimberly Brock and all the ladies and fellow artists at  Tinderbox Writers for helping me discover new talents, inspiration, and support. My naturopath Alane at Nutritionally Yours,  my friend Jodi at Lettuce Massage, you have given me so much support with your wealth of knowledge in womens health and well being, and your  years of support… This time your counsel, positive thinking, nutritional support and a friendship  have helped me heal. You have a gift for helping women and I am lucky to have you as a lifelong friend and coach. Our family counselor and coach Edward Clark author of From Here to Serenity, your wisdom has helped us grow in so many ways..

My husband for being my best friend and taking over many of the morning and driving responsibilities so I can rest, and supporting me in all my efforts to heal and discover new paths. My children you are my greatest accomplishments and treasures, I love you more than words can express.

My savior for opening my eyes to overcoming adversity once more. I am stronger and wiser.

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Mexico 2016

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New Beginnings…Onto the Future.

As I beging to type I am flooded with emotions.. My dear friends, family, clients, co-workers,

this is what I have been going through for months now and I want to share it with you.. I have been diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid Cancer and will undergo surgery March 16th for a full Thyroidectomy.

This news came as a shock for me on Feb.8th. I have had some time to process the news, and with supportive friends and family have been able to stay strong. This form of cancer is highly treatable when caught early and the cure rate is very high. I want raise awareness for all women, as the diagnosis was done by a routine check on my neck with my endocronologist. She found a small lump that led to an ultrasound and four needle biopsies. This type of cancer can only be detected this way and is very common among women. The surgery and thyroid replacement hormones will be forever part of my new life.

For years I have dealt with the roller coaster ride of fatigue, muscle weakness, weight loss and gain, cold sensitivity, and gluten intolerance, hives, allergies and digestion issues.. More recently I have experienced hair loss with extreme fatigue like never before, I honesty felt as I was making myself sick with stress I could not control. Many of my closest and oldest friends know I have been able to deal with many extreme trials in my life with strength and determination, and courage they have never seen before. I was known as one of the strongest women they knew.. And now I question myself as where did that woman go? I have seen multiple doctors and nutritionists and have dismissed it all as I’m getting older as I just turned 43, and the stresses that come with motherhood. Many of you know that I have had to put my work aside to focus on my oldest son as he has been going through some challenges in school and with his peers. His confidence had been damaged through bullying and getting lost in public school. As a mother my heart broke for him and my emotions were not anything I could hide in the face of working with people. My work suffered and so did my relationships. I thought this is why I feel this horrible, the pain I felt for my son is to much for me to endure. I’m suppose to be strong and take care of everyone, and yet I felt I was failing. Failing at what was most important to me in my life. To be a mother that can take care of it all and fix anything..

My constant search for answers led me to see a nutritional consultant. Through more blood tests she revealed that I was hypothyroid, and gave me supplements for support along with dietary changes. I did as I was told and respected her, but I still wanted confirmation. I had tests done with my gynecologist and endocronologist  that revealed the same news. My research gave me answers I had been searching for all my life.

I am on a mission to control my life with a mind, body, and spirit. As I dove deeper into my faith for answers, body with nutrition, yoga, and pilates, and focus on staying positive with support from friends and family.

I now have the courage to say I’m ready for whats ahead. I am a true believer that sometimes things in life happen for a reason. Life is a journey and I have a purpose. This is a wake up call and I feel like I am truly on of the lucky ones. I have been blessed with a new outlook on life and have been able to slow down and appreciate everyone in my life and live in the present. With that said this next year is going to be one that I must focus on my health and family. I want to thank my husband most of all. He is my ROCK.. Truly a blessing, God must have known such a man would need to be by my side and I believe he was placed in my life purposley by my creator.. We have much work to do in this life together.. One of my oldest and closest friends told me, ” Karen take a deep breath your work is not done, it is only beginning.” I love and cherish all of my friendships old and new, and am so grateful for all of you. You fill me up with so much support and love and I am very lucky. I am so thankful and proud of my children and the joy they bring me daily. I chose to focus on all my blessings.. Thank you Jesus for this enlightenment, you have always pulled me out of drowning waters.. Now, onto the FUTURE.

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Van Michael Alpharetta

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Van Micheal Salon will open it’s seventh location in the Atlanta area on Oct.30th!

I’m thrilled to be joining the team at this gorgeous location in the Avalon, 3155 Avalon Blv. Alpharetta(just off Old Milton Parkway, minutes off 400 exit 10.)
We have started taking appointments for the Avalon location.
I will be offering haircuts at $80 and my hours are Wednesdays (every other) 8:30a-3:30pm, Thursdays 10-8pm, Friday 8:30a-3:30pm, and Saturdays (every other) 8:30a-3:30pm.
We are booking up fast with the Holidays approaching so be sure to call as soon as possible and get your appointment! 678-987-3678

All Van Michael Salons are full-service Aveda concept salons featuring top stylists from around the world and offering the latest in haircuts, color and styling.
Van Michael stylists have received the highly coveted North American Hair Dresser of the Year Award four times and their styles have been featured in countless national publications. The company’s celebrity client list includes Jennifer Aniston, Mariah Carey, Selita Ebanks, Sarah Ferguson, Blake Lively, Mandy Moore, Lenny Kravitz, Ricky Martin, Liza Minelli, Joaquine Phoenix, Rachel Hunter, Harrison Ford, Keri Washington, Marissa Miller, Shakira, Julia Roberts and Venus & Serena Williams.
Atlanta’s Top Salon, Best Salon in Atlanta, Best Hair Color, Best Hair Cut, Best Blow Dry, Best Makeup, Wedding Hair Specialists…no matter which way you say it, Van Michael Salon has consistently ranked at the top for 30 years strong!

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