Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hair Coloring

It’s 1980-something. I’m standing in my bathroom, in the bright, 100-watt light, looking in the mirror on the medicine cabinet, when a couple gray hairs get my attention.

“So what,” I say to myself, “There are at least a hundred thousand more that are still black.”

It’s actually quite fascinating; a sign of being a real woman in her late twenties. (That feeling does not last, but we’ll get to that later.)

Now in my thirties, I see a few more; though, less than 10. And because I color my hair when the mood strikes, the grays are hardly noticeable.

Three kids are carried and born (not at the same time). I’m now 42. Show Time! It’s the warm up act though, featuring about 20 gray hairs. No need to panic; my look is still somewhat youthful, and there are no major lines or sagging. The emphasis on my hair is more about length and style, as opposed to the gray strands. It’s very short and kind of cute, after having been long and on my back when child number one was born.

The coloring is routine now. I’ve bought into the compliments on my sun-kissed brown hair and what the experts say - that lightening the hair gives a softer look.

The kids are getting older. My identity is gradually becoming “a woman who is a mother,” instead of "a mother.” I’m letting my hair grow… which has a side effect… a part forming on top… signs of a future skunk look… Roots! Ahhhhhh!

This image was found via a Google search on "gray roots."

“Oh no! I can’t count the grays anymore. There must be at least 50.”

(Years later, I will realize that 50 is nothing.)

And as I let the bangs grow out to be able to have a ponytail, little strands of “them” appear on my hairline.

“Why are ‘they’ living around my face instead of at the rear of my head?”

Soooo, it’s time for a trip to Sally’s. My tool of choice - Cover Gray - a tube of crayon-like substance that looks like lipstick. Such a nice little tool.

But what really makes me happy, happy, happy - is Garnier Nutrisse # 63, Brown Sugar. When I have about 3 quarters of an inch of new growth, I break out the box and get busy. Mix, apply, wait a half hour, shower and rinse, step out, face the mirror, pull the wrapped towel from my head, and Voila! I can almost cry. I marvel and think, “This is one of mankind’s greatest inventions.”

So why do I feel this way? Is it because Mom colors her hair and Granny colored hers until she was about 93 years old? Is it in my blood?

Why do so many of us color our hair? Is it simply a matter of not wanting to look old? I was well into my adult years before I realized that all blonde women were not really blonde. Recently, a girlfriend told me that being blonde is preferred because when her grays come in, they blend better.

“Oh yeah,” I replied to this revelation.

Most of my friends are over-45 and started coloring, tinting, highlighting, streaking, etc. before the grays began to appear, as part of their beauty routine. Now they consider it a necessity. A couple of my lucky, over-45 friends are not graying.

My younger, under-45 friends are having fun doing what we used to do; experimenting with color. Enjoy it while it lasts, Girls.

People have colored their hair for centuries; maybe since the beginning of time. Age is surely a reason for doing so. Do occupation, income, personality, residence, culture, and comparison to others also have an influence on the decision to color or not to color?

How do others see us? Based on TV shows and magazine articles featuring makeovers, color gets the sign of approval. However, a friend once mentioned that she doesn’t want too much color because she’d feel that she has “young hair” on an “old face.”

Hmmm… Good point.

Seriously… My experience with hair coloring might appear to have a high priority. Okay… it does… for now.

However, it does not reflect my opinion of what you should do with your hair. I’ve seen the loveliest of gray, white, silver, and salt & pepper hair. When I think back to what I said at the beginning – it really does seem to be more about cut and style that matters. Or is it?

These images were found via a Google search on "gray hair."

So what do you think, Girls? And GUYS, too. The store shelves are filled with Grecian Formula and Just For Men.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Another Season of Life

I just can’t stay home and do nothing.
My friend of over 35 years is retiring from her high level government job in less than two years. She’s moving to Florida with her husband and teen-aged daughter; their new house already bought and waiting for them.

The words above are hers; spoken to me as we had our semiannual phone conversation.

Is there fear in these words, combined with anticipation and excitement?

Our conversation ended, but the words stayed with me. As someone who has been given the tag “stay-at-home mom,” and as someone who is not employed, I could have given her countless examples of what to do with her hours of the day that “will not” be spent at home.

Instead, I simply mentioned something about her daughter still being in high school, and that there will surely be events surrounding her life that she may get involved with. Besides, my friend already has plans to mentor young people, and other ideas of her own.

My thoughts left my friend and went further; wondering what motivates people in a season of life that gives them freedom to decide what their day will be. When I was much younger, I thought that once financial stability had been acquired and the job left behind, then the days would vary with part time “fun” jobs, recreation, traveling, volunteering, serving on boards, waking up when you feel like it, sports, helping with grandchildren or the elderly, gardening, reading, writing, and
s-l-o-w-i-n-g   d-o-w-n   t-h-e   p-a-c-e.

However, now that I’ve partially entered that season of life (nowhere near fully, because I’m still raising children), often, I see a different picture. I witness people tormenting themselves over what to do with their time. Older stay-at-home moms, new to the empty nest, worry about whether or not to get a job. Seniors go to bed at 7 o’clock because they don’t know what else to do; the days feel long to them. (I can’t imagine that, for I feel the days are too short.) Other seniors wake up with anxiety, concerned about health issues or other things, like feeling lost in a technical, fast paced, youth filled world.

Newer stay-at-home moms worry about the long list of things to do for the day. Some turn on the TV and drink wine with Kathie Lee and Hoda, to conquer their fear; that overwhelming feeling that stems from the “freedom” of scheduling their days. Some stay-at-home dads wish they were employed. Hmmm…

People on disability find themselves bored; thinking more about what they can’t do, instead of what they can do.

The grass is always greener…

I once heard how a rich young man had a meltdown because he couldn’t decide what shoes to wear for his tennis match.

When my last child went off to kindergarten, I had big plans. I was going to volunteer more, exercise more, de-clutter and organize my house to perfection, etc. After all, I’d have seven “free” hours a day. Right?


There was an adjustment period. I found that I could not simply switch gears and travel down a different road. I had to gradually merge onto it, allowing myself, and then willing myself to enjoy it.

A couple years ago, I wrote a post, titled, “Moms and Friends on the Tennis Court.” When I read it again, along with your comments, I see that I may have implied having a little guilt for “being home.” I hope you don’t get that message from this post.

Life is not always about what you do, but how you feel when you’re doing it.

Do you need motivation to get the day going? What’s your motivation?
Some people need motivation to come back home. Are you one of them?  :)