Monday, December 30, 2013

Life Lesson

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I was off for a whole lovely week, spending time with my sister, who drove the two-day trek from Kansas. Between cooking, visiting with friends, and lots of down time, this is one of my favorite Christmases yet. That is, until we went to watch my sister's Alma Mater play in a Bowl Game. Kansas State played (and soundly defeated) Michigan last Saturday and the damn game didn't start until 10.15pm. This means an end time of nearly 2am. Ugh. 

We went to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch, as they were the host of the bowl game. The line was out the door and it wasn't for the football game but for some series of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) matches. It's a bloody sport; it's raw, and the fact that this is the new National past time is disturbing on more levels than I can relate. As my sister left to use the restroom a guy from a nearby table came over and sat down. His table had a "bet" going on that Wendi and I are sisters. Yes, he won that bet. They also had a bet of who was older. "She is, by four years," I replied. He lost that bet, and he also lost any chance of asking me out. Still he pursued and said that it was because of my grey hair that he thought I was older. I just silently looked him in the eye and allowed him to gnaw a bit further on his foot. After he'd realised that he hadn't  made enough effort to backpedal he goes in for the kill, "So, I don't see a ring. How is it that you aren't married?" "It must be because I look so much older than my big sister," I replied sweetly. One would think that would end all conversation. One would be wrong. 

A year ago a comment like that would have derailed me. A hundred comments about how much better I look with silver, how lovely and young my face looks, how my eyes become complex hues of turquoise, green, and periwinkle- all that would be out the window and I would focus on this one little slight from a man I'm not attracted to. I understand why so many women run for the bottle (the dye bottle, that is). Their family member makes a snarky comment, their friends are unsupportive, or some loser watching MMA makes an off-hand remark. All of the sudden, it's just so easy to lose all that confidence and resolve that you built up over the past several months. 

This created an approach for me that I use in all areas of my life. There are three ways that you can approach any and everything that Life gives you: you can deny it, acquiesce to it, or celebrate it. 

We'll use hair dye as an example of how to play this out. You can deny the gorgeous silver that God gave you and cover it up, playing with being a redhead, becoming another blonde in a crowd of fake blondes, or go back to the brunette of your youth. Sometimes it's fun to play with color and creating a new identity (or holding on to an old one) but at the end of the day, it's covering up. I always felt weird when someone complimented my red dye. "Well, I'm a natural ginger, but this is enhanced," I would say sheepishly. What was I taking credit for- zhoojing the dye evenly? Picking the right shade of red? Rocking out a fiery mane? In the end I admitted to myself that I was hiding from what grey hair meant to me, and I simply could not accept that God had prematurely greyed me. 

Acquiescence- ah, this word covers all manner of sins in our lives. I hate this word- it is the word of carelessness and neglect, of not caring and giving up. Yet so many people do this when going grey and that's why there's a stigma that going grey means 'letting yourself go' to so many women. We all know that man or woman who rues their silver hair but says, "Well, at least it takes me no time to get ready now." What?? Why? Why does the color of your hair signify anything about how you care about yourself? I simply hate it when I compliment a lady on her grey and she says, "Now I don't have to spend any time at all on myself! I simply wash and go!" like it's some triumph to not care. What's worse is when someone responds to a compliment on their grey with "Well, I guess I'm not going to color it. I mean, it's just hair and it probably makes me look older but what are you gonna do?" Ugh, acquiescence is a dirty little word. 

That's why the third option is always the best- CELEBRATE it!! When someone compliments you, smile and say 'thank you.' When someone says they don't know if they could be as brave as you are , encourage them and let them know they have options but also support whatever their decision is. When someone insults your grey (directly or inadvertently) stand up for your silver!! I recently had a facebook post of me and my friend, Penny. I captioned it with 'THIS is silver' referring to Penny's and my own ability to rock the silver. Lots of compliments and then one bitchy comment from my stepmother (still dying her hair whatever lacklustre box color goes on sale), "It's called GRAY." So I responded with "Some people choose to hide their gifts from God, others choose to celebrate them. Obviously, I choose to celebrate. If you have a problem with my grey, take it up with God." 

I see this 3-option choice for every scenario in life- you can deny, acquiesce, or celebrate. At one time I would have loved to be 5'8", lithe and athletic, with a perfect slim nose, tanned skin, and straight sable hair. But those aren't the gifts God gave me. I'm petite at 5'2", curvy, with high cheek bones, chameleon eyes, and silver striped hair. I wear flats, I highlight my curves, I love and protect my alabaster skin, and I don a beautiful silver mane. Anyone, especially God, would be proud that I embrace what I have and celebrate. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mini Meet

I have oft-mentioned before the importance of a silver sister tribe. True friendships really do blossom. I think sometimes it takes women aback that there is a society of women celebrating you for being you and just offering support. There is no callousness, no motive, no competition. Sounds a bit Utopian, no? 

Well, it IS Utopian and it's freakin' fantastic. I think that's why Cafe Gray is so addictive because you're around that support all the time. Then in turn you spread that joy around to others. It is not uncommon for me to compliment complete strangers. Silver muses most definitely but when I see a good dye job I compliment that as well. Really it could be shoes, jewelry, clothes, whatever. I probably don't go for more than a day or two without complimenting a random stranger. 

And today I am super excited because I have a mini meet with my first silver sister friend Penny. She was the first silver sister I met in Raleigh and we have had Sheltie play dates, I've spent time with her and her husband, and we give a critical eye to clothes and makeup on each other. She is also a Midwesterner so my bluntness is appreciated rather than snarled at (a rarity in the South). 

FINALLY, someone will take a million pictures (until just one comes out right) that showcases my silver hair. That's awesome because my fanatical obsession with my hair is celebrated rather than having someone quietly slip me their therapist's card, careful not to make any sudden movements around me. Here are a few pics of the day:

What's great is that we can just text each other and meet up for lunch. I LOVE the mini meets we have with all the sisters in the area but coordinating more schedules means more time apart. So it's good to do a small get together to get your fix of silvertude. 

Here are some little known benefits and needs in a silver bestie: 

1) Someone who is honest with you- It is imperative that you have someone who takes a critical eye to your new lipstick choice. All of your colors will change now that you've gone from a warm version of box dyed hair to a cool, multi-hued silver. When you feel low and are heavy in the skunk stripe stage, a silver sister isn't looking at the contrast in your hairline and making you feel self-conscious, she is telling you to pull your hair back to see the change in brightness the silver has against your skin tone. I have literally forced silver sisters once comfortable in their nude lip color into trying some version of red. ALL women have a red (yes you too!!) and it’s just a matter of finding it. 

2) Someone to take pics- Most people are slightly sadistic with the camera. It’s true! They take pictures of you that form odd shadows and make you look like you have a double-chin, wide nose, and bad posture. And even though a silver sister won’t necessarily make you look like a Ford model, they will put you in the best light to showcase your hair. And when you’re awesome enough to grow out your grey, you want nothing more to really showcase how stunning it can look. As you saw in my last post, lighting can make you go from silver to blonde so you really want some good pics of that silver. 

3) Someone to color swatch with- On Café Gray we have a thread called Warm Cool confusion and we painstakingly try to find what algebraic form of season we are. Then we post pics of different colors to see what looks best on us. Again, the lighting. No photo is going to do justice to how your skin or other colors reflect off your silver. And though it is a great alternative, there is no substitute for having a silver sister, a patient silver sister, witness you draped in a million different colors and say what works best for you. Okay, maybe a professional color analyst but we’ll save that for a future post. 

Lastly, it’s just nice to have someone who understands your insecure moments but doesn’t second-guess your decision to go grey. Instead she celebrates it! Anytime the two of us go out people are wondering what was slipped into our drinks to make us have so much fun. But truthfully, it’s nothing but trust, freedom to be ourselves, and true friendship. It makes all the difference have a friend in your corner. That’s a shout out to you, Penny.

Friday, December 13, 2013


I was a tomboy growing up. I was also always out playing with the horses, stray cats, or just making a general mess of myself. I also had an on-going battle with my mom as to how long I could go without brushing my hair- could I get away with it for two whole days? This may seem odd but I had very thick curly hair which got very tangled. It wasn't until my mother received my set of photos for the second grade (many many months later) that she finally cracked down on me. You see, I had managed to convince her that my babysitter would brush my hair for photo day. I also managed to convince my babysitter that my best friend was going to brush my hair. The photos reflected my disheveled appearance: missing front tooth and wild hair. I looked straight out of the Grapes of Wrath. My mother was mortified. 

Needless to say I have always been a bit camera-shy. You know those girls that look like a million bucks anytime someone snaps a photo of them? Yeah, that's not me either. Even with perfectly (or as perfectly as I can manage) coiffed hair I never manage to turn the right angle for the camera. I think 1 out of every 60 photos is pretty decent and those photos will represent me for years at a time.

I had come to a place of acceptance about this until I started going grey. This was the time in my life I became completely photo-obsessed. And thank you, iPhone for making the selfie pic all the easier to take! At first I measured every millimeter of growth. Then as I became convinced the my hair was recessing back into my scalp, I began to take selfies of my grey in different lights, sharing all these photos with my very patient sister who is so far past faking enthusiasm over the subject. This is where I encountered my ongoing war with different lighting. 

Lighting never mattered too much to me as a ginger. Even when my hair photographed traffic cone orange (as I'm realising more and more of my pictures reflect) I really didn't mind. In my version of reality everyone who saw me automatically adjusted their saturation to see the perfect color of red on me. Eye rolls an imminent welcome. So when I was called blonde the other day I was taken completely aback. After all, did I really look blonde? Or was this some 'polite' overlooking my grey? I don't know nor care but I DO care that I was seen as a blonde. That left a bad taste in my mouth and severe annoyance that my silver just "isn't there yet." 

This is when I really understood the importance of lighting. One woman on Café Gray stands out to me as really understanding this and coming to peace with it. She's a makeup artist and has embraced the many shades and hues of her color, celebrating each play of light on her unique shades of grey. I am not so evolved, I still want to look like Tinkerbell's sister Periwinkle. 

So in the past 15 months I have been learning not only the art of the selfie but also in what light to take the picture. Here's what I've found: indoor fluorescent lighting will yellow; overcast lighting outdoors will show brightness; too much direct sun will usually was out your hair and you'll look like a beacon of light is coming from your head; and low lighting will bring out the dark colors making you look like you don't have any grey at all. Here are a couple of snapshots taken within two minutes of each other. The first pic looks yellow and was taken in my office. The second was taken outside two minutes later in the shade on a sunny day.

What a difference all around! Although still not great photos of me, they are in fact great photos of my hair, which is more important in my view. But another thing to remember is that your hair is also picking up color from the dyed ends (mine are pulled back) so that can also impact your photo. Alas, the selfie is still a challenge for the silver sister because color and light are so important.

Ugh, now another thing I need to learn- how to photograph my hair and what is the best lighting. This will be saved for another day. But I hope those of you who are exploring the silver can see what a difference silver makes in giving a fresher appearance. I think my skin and complexion look so much brighter and more youthful now that I've gone silver. Maybe I'm reverting to childhood now, just with brushed hair.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Let Me Get Mine

In my former life I was a people pleaser. I loved to make people happy and would expend all my energy on trying to anticipate their needs. I would then feel taken advantage of, put upon, and generally used. 

At my best I wanted people to be happy. At my worst I suffered from hubris and tried to control outcomes and reactions through my good deeds. Most of the time I fell somewhere in the middle and just assumed that the world was full of "givers" and "takers" and I was most definitely a giver. 

Once one gives up such a malady as hubris and creates boundaries (yes, there's that word again- take a drink), there's very little left except to let everyone just live their lives. This goes with family, friendships, and dating. The old me was very attached to the outcome of every date, where it would lead, and future longevity. The present me doesn't think about that stuff. I really just see each date as getting to know someone a bit and seeing if I would like to know more. 

What's strange is that the more I'm just in the moment the more I notice that men are not- they become more needy, they want to know where this is going, they accidentally admit that they told their godparents all about you (ahem, isn't this the 1st or 2nd date??). All-in-all, I find that there are more people pleasers out there than I thought. 

Now that it's been a bit since I've been in a serious relationship, I've had more time to think about myself and my own needs. Sure I date but we're talking serious, all-encompassing love-to-be-loved relationships. I was reflecting upon this the other day when talking to a close friend and I'll summarize (and provide a more pg-rated version) of our discussion. The main point is that I now date like a guy. 

Reason number 3 of why I'm still single: I'm just as concerned of my own needs as I am of my partner's (maybe moreso... okay... moreso). 

Let's take the example of someone whom I've dated for awhile and we're, shall we say, intimate. The old me wanted to snuggle and bask in the moment, never wanting it to end. The new me... not so much. Let's use one of my exes to describe this:

A nice evening spent but then it was time for sleep- I had a meeting in the morning. This would be a perfect time to hug and kiss goodnight but something's wrong- he's not moving! As I yawn and stretch, "Well, another great time... mmm [stretch]... let's maybe get in touch this weekend or next..." 
"Oh wow, it's almost 2am! There's bound to be heavy traffic soon... you might want to get a leg up on that..." 
"Ah you want to stay the night? Wow, what a great idea, I mean normally and all but you see I have a meeting tomorrow and I need a good night's sleep... you see I toss and turn a lot... and whimper in my sleep- I snore! Right, right, I snore and don't want to keep you awake too. Oh, you snore too? Yeah, well I'm a light sleeper and..." 

Finally I cede, knowing that I have lost the battle AND the war, for that matter. And I'm sorry, but unless I am head-over-heels in love with you, I want my own bed. Then, horror of all horrors, he decides he wants to snuggle! Okay, he means this to be all night, WTF? What happened to the men who would overheat at the thought of sleeping at a temperature over 40 degrees? But no, this ex wants to spoon all night. Now I'm starting to sweat and looking wistfully at all that space behind me where he could be sleeping on his side of the bed. I hear him sleeping and lift his arm off and away from me. Whew! That worked now lets' see if I can get some space between us. Oops! Rolled him onto his back and over to his other side but thankfully he's still asleep. Now, really put my back into it and I can scooch him over to the edge of the bed. Maybe he'll fall off or get so cold that he shivers throughout the night (I'm a cover hog). Either way, maybe he won't sleep well and next time go to his own bed for the night. 

Okay someone could say that I'm a bit cold-hearted but still others could say that I'm a kickass girl. I mean, I don't require coddling (or cuddling) and am not trying to force intimacy. Just because we've reached certain stages in our relationship, I'm not expecting it to necessarily mean you're going to be the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. In fact, I'm not jumping to conclusions. Oh... you are? Wow, it's late... yes 6pm... (Really only 6pm? It feels like hours) and I have an early morning meeting...

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tables Reversed

One thing that I notice more and more is how the Universe really loves balance. When I was younger and more insecure there was no lack of men ready to take advantage of that. the more I needed the less they had to give. As I drifted a bit away, they gave more. And thus, a vicious cycle was born.

This does correlate with grey hair because I choose myself every day over what I perceive others wanting. This extends past my silver hair option to all areas because when I choose myself I look at what (and whom) fits my needs, not how I can mold myself into another's wants.

Somehow the tables have reversed. This shift has changed the men that come into my life. Maybe it hasn't really, maybe I'm just not attracted to the same men anymore. Regardless, I have very basic needs when it comes to men: independent, a man's man (burly bears feel free to apply), mutual love and respect, and a great connection. 

Not a big list and yet I find it more and more difficult to find independent men. The men I find must have been destroyed over time because they are very needy and in constant search for approval. Umm, you don't need my approval, you need your own. 

Reason number 2 of why I'm still single: I'm not attracted to all of the needy men. If you're having a violent reaction to that last sentence please don't. My reactions are based on a lifetime of Midwestern co-dependent relationships: one person is the giver, the other the taker; neither person can co-exist without the other; neither person can make a decision without the other's over-arching approval.  

So here are just a few examples of said needy men: 

The 'I thought you might be the one' guy- Here is an attractive guy claiming he is in his early 40s (ealry 50s more like) and I meet him at a nice restaurant. He starts out by whipping out a $100 bill to pay for an $8 drink- a bit on the pathetic side. Then after about 30 minutes I discover that he has an 11-year-old son, pretty stationary, and we have very little in common. So after being asked out for a second date, I respond by saying that people disclose a lot about themselves in 30 minutes. I showed that I am looking to move and love to travel. With a young child he's not in the same position and therefore it wouldn't be a good match. This led into him speed dialing his ex-girlfriend as a reference of what a good boyfriend he is (eek!). "I was really hoping you were going to be the one," he said as he choked back heavy emotion. I talked him off the ledge but this was not to be the end of him. He then tried the well-we-can-still-be-friends approach. I declined saying that I didn't want to lead him on. This undesired response caused an unfriendly reaction in him and he never heard from me again. 

The 'I told my godparents all about you' guy- It's hard meeting a person of your faith when you're Orthodox Christian. So I get the pressures one might face when two of you collide somewhere in the Universe and meet for coffee. I was prepared for a coffee date but wasn't prepared for that to turn into dinner. Okay, I rolled with the punches. I also got many accolades for how easy-going and nice I was. Great, thanks! I also got compared to not one ex-wife but two. Okay, er... um... thanks. I also got asked how can I stand not being married? He wants to get married again so bad. This was shortly after he told me how excited he was for our first date and that he told his godparents all about it. Sigh, really? My disinterest in him was several-fold but the main red flag was how he didn't visit his sick mother because it was upsetting; ironic because his last wife left him when he was sick and he is very bitter about it. All-in-all, no thank you. 

The 'Give me a pic, PLEASE, pretty please???' guy- I chatted with a guy on Tinder, actually several. A couple are all about calling and texting (isn't that what Tinder is supposed to take the place of?) but okay I'll go with the flow. So I start talking to this guy and he admits he's gun-shy and scared. What? Are you 10?? And why do you need to share this vulnerability with a complete stranger? Um, okay let me allieviate your fears, this is just getting to know a person. "Can I have a picture of you, pretty pretty please?? Here's a pic of me asking for a pic of you... Here's another pic of me, just in case..." I thought this odd, as there are several pics of me on Tinder, but I guess the extra step of pressing on the Tinder app and then pressing on my pic was too much effort? My sister believes as this request occurred right before Thanksgiving he wants a pic to show to his family. Of for f@#%'s sake.

Here is a pic I took after this request and I find it quite befitting. Can you read the irritation mixed with trepidation? Never mind that I look slightly cross-eye, that was all the fake smile I could muster. But I never sent the pic so it's a moot point. 

Now that the roles have reversed I find myself seriously wondering if I'm willing to forego a life all of my own to constantly tend to the needs of another. I mean to have children is one thing but are men just going to be another version of that or are there men out there who are independent and contribute positive attributes to a relationship? We'll keep searching for that answer. But until then, don't wait for my call... or for that pic…

Monday, November 25, 2013

Laziest Dater in the World

This may be a good time to start a series of "Why I'm Still Single" blog posts. You know a lot of why a woman is single is mere choice, even if she isn't cognizant of that at the time. I have always known that I'm a lazy dater and most of the time can't be bothered. I've never been a dependent child, always breaking loose to do my own thing and seeming fearless when it comes to figuring out things for myself. In fact as a child I never (and I really mean never) thought about marriage. I was more focused on having a career and seeing the world. 

Well it's been a... ahem, few years and I have exactly that life: I have a set career and I try to visit a different Country every year. I don't always attain this but I do ensure to see some new place and do some new thing every year. Last year was US-based, but I still saw Montana and parts of Florida for the first time, plus I tried white water rafting and jet skiing (all new) so I still feel I accomplished my annual goal. Unfortunately, I'm not as ambitious or adventurous when it comes to dating.

I used to roll my eyes at my mom. Okay, what bratty American kid hasn't said that but I would watch her dating habits with annoyance. Her approach was to basically wait until a guy literally knocked on her door. Eventually a good one (in addition to my father) came along. He used to come by her work, clear his throat, and stoop to tie his laceless loafer. Maybe she thought he was in Special Ed. but my bet is that she was oblivious- it runs in the family. Sad as it may be, I seem to have adopted my mom's annoying lazy dating habits. 

As if on queue a good friend told me about a dating app called Tinder. This links you to Facebook men in your area. If you like them AND they like you, it connects you. You take it from there and chat. The good news is that you don't get any unwanted communication or anticipated rejection; if you both don't hit "like" then you can't communicate. 

Even though all evidence to the contrary has been proven, I still think that a pic of me with grey hair is going to turn off the tap to all dating prospects. As though my single-process fried red hair somehow gave me an edge in the dating game and I could trick the eye into seeing a more youthful (and therefore more competitive) female prototype. However I'm happy to inform you that I'm STILL having the same pool of men that I had with the red hair. Some cute (not as many grizzly bears as I'd like), some handsome, and some really hot. Whodatunk? But it's just another nice affirmation. 

So in less than a week I've chatted with several men and a few really interesting ones. I'm trying new things, even if tepidly. Okay, even if I feel half-assed about it and feel my energy slightly sucked away when I get a few texts- I really AM the laziest dater- but I'm at least doing something. Starting to feel that internal draw though to slack off altogether... maybe I'll just wait until one knocks at the door. Hell, it worked for Mom. :)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Silver Sister Strut

I often talk about the Cafe Gray forum (see link on the side) and for good reason. It's full of lovely, supportive women who help you through the rough times of tri-tone hair grow out. So if we're just talking hair here, why would it be necessary to ever meet in person?

This is an underlying point that growing out your grey is sooo much more than hair color. When you decide to defy social norms, you expose a lot of vulnerabilities you didn't know you had. You become aware more than ever what people think about you, how they look at you, how they react to your words- all this awareness is overwhelming and, quite frankly, a bit exhausting. You find yourself on this forum, dabbling into the pool of vulnerability, dipping your toe ever just so, and acclimating to this world of openness and honesty. You admit your insecurities, help others through theirs, and never really think about the fact that these women are virtual (pun intended!) strangers. You see, you have at some point dove head-first into this pool and openness and honesty are now your go-to tools.

Then you realise one of these lovely sisters is in your area. You decide to meet up for lunch. Now anyone with the common sense of a fruit fly can see that a girl who blogs about grey hair will have no trouble filling an hour-long lunch with talk of... hmm... hair, but meeting a sister on Cafe Gray is really like, well, meeting a sister.

The first Silver Sister (SS) I met was Penny and we hit it off straight away. It was like we knew each other for years. We went on a couple of shopping trips and had Sheltie play dates. Yes, it's probably an American thing but anyone who has Shelties knows how much they love a dog that looks just like them and even have a special yip just for other Shelties.

Later, we found that there were several of us in NC and we met up for a Saturday lunch. I had a date that night but that wasn't nearly as high on my agenda as meeting my silver sisters. After all, we hit it off right away and all talked like old friends. I think we spent two hours chatting and having a great time. There are real friendships that are formed on this site and it's a constant support.

Now every year in the September-October range there is the grand poo-bah of events: the big Silver Sister meetup. This year it was in Chicago and it always has a fantastic turn-out. Due to my federali status it just happened to occur at a time when my furlough status was unknown and I couldn't book an expensive trip, but I have every intention of attending future events. However, our Cafe Gray founder and the author of Going Gray, Looking Great - Diana Jewell (also a Carolinian) joined us for lunch in Charlotte a couple weeks later. You can see the pic of our Silver Sister's strut and what a great time we were having.

Looking back I'm sure passers-by were wondering what sorority we used to belong to and how could they get the bartender to make a cocktail as strong as ours must have been, but at the time we were oblivious to our surroundings and just having a great time. So I encourage you if you are a silver sister, a potential newbie, or if you see a silver muse, encourage them (and yourself) to go to Cafe Gray and meet up with a local silver sister. It's a great forum for support and a launching ground for great friendships.

Monday, November 4, 2013

14-Month Itch

It’s my 14-month anniversary today and it feels pretty great. Long gone are the days when I worry what someone thinks about my hair. It doesn’t occur to me that anyone could think anything but, “WOW! What a stunning shade of silver you have!!” Is this accurate? Who cares! I love it and I’m not looking back.

And although I no longer worry about the painful skunk stripe period, I DO have impatience to see the final result. It’s an urban legend that you can look at the roots and know your greying pattern or what shade you will be. There are a million shades of grey (not just 50!) and it varies from moonlight to pewter to sterling, etc., etc. So even on the eve of your final graduation cut you have no true idea what your final result will be. 

I have heard this tale time and time again. Because of this I finally stopped trying to guess my outcome (sort of). I’ve seen many sisters on Café Gray and was just as surprised by their final outcome as they were. Some looked lighter, some more of a vanilla, some looked darker. The point is that you won’t know until there’s nothing for that grey to reflect off of. 

As a child I was an anomaly. I never wanted to search for the hidden stash of Christmas presents, I loved the surprise. One morning I came out to the breakfast table and saw a wonderful little Snoopy and Woodstock vanity mirror. I was so excited (and slightly befuddled) as to why I would get a present for no reason. My mom saw me playing with it and immediately got mad because she thought I had snooped around and found it. When we realised she had forgotten to hide it, we were both equally upset: she because she gave me a present before Christmas and I because I had one less surprise. 

You would think I have the same feeling about my hair; that I don’t want to ruin the surprise- you couldn’t be more wrong. I am annoyed that I have no idea what I’m going to look like. I get SUPER annoyed when the ends reflect on my virgin hair and someone mistakes me for blonde or sandy brown. I get annoyed that my bathroom light changes how grey my hair looks from day to night. I get annoyed that I have no real ending date for graduation (will it be 18, 21, or 36 months?). And I am also annoyed that this is one of the few forums I can whine about it because the rest of the world’s priorities are slightly marred and they don’t find my daily hair growth a discussion as fascinating as it is! 

Reality check- yes, this is something that most people don’t see as very interesting or important. But it actually is a very big deal if you’re going grey. You are choosing to delve into so many unknowns. You don’t know how people will react, how many completely inappropriate comments you will get about your hair, whether the silver will suit you, and will you even like the end color? Once you’ve invested this much time you really just want to fall in love with the results. 

This is a tricky stage because I’ve been excited about this from day one. I stood up for myself and my grey, I’ve fought through that awkward skunky stage, and I’ve ventured out and tried all sorts of things to welcome my grey. After all, I’m writing this blog, I’ve changed my makeup and wardrobe, I tried short hair, I updated my outlook to style, I’ve been open and honest and accepting of who I am. And when you’re in a culture that only values youth, there’s a layer of vulnerability that goes right along with that same pride. 

So this is a pretty big deal, and a pretty big stage. It will be several months before I have enough length to trim off more of these ends. But in the interim I can celebrate the milestones I’ve undergone, and they’re quite a few. I may still be impatient to see the results but it will be a very welcome gift when it finally gets here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Candy Corn

I love Fall. There, I could just write that one little sentence and it would sum up so much about me. I Love the cool weather, wearing jackets, all my knitted goods, the Autumn colors, how happy my dog is that she's not panting- everything! Fall is also the time for woodfire-scented candles, apples, and Halloween. 

If you're American and not Southern Baptist you really do up Halloween. Preparing for trick-or-treaters, watching all the scary movies, planning your own costume, carving pumpkins... the list goes on.

I've always loved Halloween and seeing how a Tim Burton movie really speaks to me, one does not have to wonder why this is one of my favorite holidays. I also love Halloween candy. I love the Smarties, mini-Snickers, candy apples, and popcorn balls. But when I grew up there were some sick puppies out there that gave you candy corn or that weird peanut butter congealed mass wrapped in orange or black wrappers. Ick, I still inwardly shutter at the thought. 

 It is this memory of corn syrup candy corn taste that makes me think of when I was still coloring my hair. I would go to the salon and hope they got the color right. When the roots grew out I had an intensive red conditioner that would dye the roots somewhat close. And when it was time to really cover those roots I had my Frederick Fekkai 6R and I would use half the box (it costing $30 a box) to dye the roots and then unevenly zhoojh it through the overall color.

I was always under the impression that people saw a ginger and her rebellious mane. I thought that until my Priest came up and commented how cool my hair looked, "Wow, that's really neat. How did you get your hair three different colors? The lines look perfect!" His innocence was marred by the horror-stricken look on my face. I had no idea I was strutting around all these years with a head that looked like candy corn! And on top of that my hair photographed traffic cone orange for the church directory. Ugh. 

I still go to this Church but now have nearly 7 inches of natural silver. Last Sunday I looked around at all the 300 heads of female hair. More than 90% dyed their hair and those that didn't were either teenagers or less than a handful of women in their 70s. Now my church is mostly Mediterranean and maybe this is a cultural thing to a degree but when I looked at the heads of hair in that church I did an honest assessment. The teenagers that dyed were doing that ombre effect and the ends were not blended well and looked scraggly. Most women went for dark color that matched the hair of their youth making their skin highlight the signs of aging and looking way too harsh against their face. Other women decided to go blonde which if you're not naturally blonde often looks strawlike and yellow against your skin. Most were single-process colors and the years of bleach made their hair a fire hazard. And then there is the worst haircolor- some sort of peachy-blondey-taupey color. It's the color of flesh and for some reason the color of choice for White Anglo Saxon Protestants.

I also looked at the handful of good dye jobs- those that still had some shine and bounce, were multi-dimensional, and coiffed. Not all of these were the right color for the woman and seemed too dark but then you see a woman who could really rock the red or had a lush brunette mane. It was nice but a whole lot rarer than I ever would have thought. And then I saw the burgeoning skunk stripe on these good heads of hair and I really felt their pain of being on the dye treadmill.

The list of "DON'Ts" above is exactly where I fell in when I dyed my hair. My hair was always single-process color, dry and frizzy, and held shine for less than an hour after I styled it. I had a hate-hate relationship with my hair. I wanted to love it and finally embraced being a ginger after a lifetime of wishing I had long straight sable hair like my family. By this time I was probably more of an ash brown with silver so the red gave my complexion a sallow hue.

It's kind of a sudden urge to become silver, at least it was for me. There was never any musing about it or saying "one day I'll be silver..." no, I never expected to stop coloring. And now? I see any change to my natural color as a significant decline from what I have. Why would I downgrade?? I have gorgeous layers of variegated silver, pewter, pearl, and sable hues. I now find women in Church staring at my hair while the wait in the Communion line. I have no idea what they're thinking, whether it be positive or negative. But I do know that they no longer categorize my hair in their ranks- it's something unique and different, sparkling and shining from health. I also know that my next Church directory photo will show a stunning head of hair and that's more than enough for me.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Oh Yeah- Dating

Oops! It seems I have gotten off on a months-long tangent and forgot to mention how my dating life is. Um, pretty darn good, thank you. I forget that anyone who may come on here is doing so becasue she is wary of letting those little silvers peek through- what will that mean to her social life? What will that mean to her professional life? What if, heaven forbid, she wants to still be seen as youthful, vibrant, sexy, and completely smoochable? I forget that a year ago I was exactly that girl.
The truth is, life will not be exactly the same when you go grey. There are some that will pay more respect because they see the silver, you may not get carded at the club, you also may not have teenagers checking you out. But you will still have some of these experiences. I have still been checked out by young'uns 20 years my junior, I have still been carded at the club and lifted a brow at the bouncer, and I still have the occassional confused reaction when I encounter a new colleague as they sit and try to figure out my age. 

 But do I still feel sexy? Do I still get
asked out? Hell yeah! In fact, I feel better about my appearance than I ever have. I still have bad hair days, I still could donate several pounds to anyone willing, and I still have crow's feet. I still have too much dye left and my hair from the side looks like silver with rusted ends, but that will soon be a faded memory. But, so what? Everything you see about me is mine and only mine. I don't have to hide behind botox or implants, or hair dye to conform to the media's standards. If I put on makeup I do it for me. Whatever I wear, I do it for me. I take a pride in myself that I never had before. 

 And dating is better than ever. I was working at a festival my Church puts on and it was the end of a gruelling 3-day event. I (and everyone else there working) was exhausted; I was covered in sweat, my hair was looking batty, and I smelled like a fast-food restaurant. All I wanted to do was go home and wash my hair 6 or 7 times. A guy started helping me take down booths and within 10 minutes he got my number and asked me out. We went out the following weekend and had a good time. 

 Those things never happened when I dyed my hair but I was never so comfortable in myself until I stopped dyeing. So in the end, it has nothing to do with my hair. ALTHOUGH, I will say that more and more men come up and compliment me on my hair. Some gush over it and at times do so in front of their girlfriends/wives. As a fellow female, I will quickly say a polite thank you and compliment the girlfriend. This is my return favor to the gentleman so he doesn't get the cold shoulder and the stiff "I TOLD you, nothing's wrong!" response from his girlfriend later. But I'll admit, I love every one of those compliments and it just makes my day. 

So my update is that I'm still dating and enjoying every minute of it. Every month, I take a picture to mark the anniversary of going grey and show how my silver has progressed. I still feel like I'm not "there" until this dye is finally cut off but when it is, look out!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A 12ish Step Program

Happy Anniversary… Me 

What date is bigger than a major birthday and/or a paid holiday?? Why it’s the anniversary you gave up hair dye of course! September 4, 2012 was the last time I ever dyed my hair and I remember how much I loved my rock star ginger. I certainly never thought it would be my last time to dye my hair. But now a year, *gasp*, a year! has passed and there are so many lessons that I’ve learned along the way. 

Granted, it is so much easier when you have the Silver Sisters forum and constant cheerleaders, but still one year is an absolute milestone. “Aren’t you done yet?” you might ask but no, dear ones, I have at least 6 more months to go. However it’s been a downhill challenge for some time and only getting easier as the weeks progress. Now I’m just focusing on getting some length back (my longed-for ponytail) and snipping off ends a bit at a time. 

I think everyone who goes through the process of growing out their grey has a similar experience and I’ve observed the following patterns. I think you get over the initial questions, “Why can’t I just dye my hair silver until it grows out?” and the realisation that “WHAT??!! It will take TWENTY-ONE months before I have this length and fully grown out hair??!!” At this point you see that it’s going to be a process. 

Even if you buzz cut it all off in the beginning, you’re still going to have the same mental transition time. If you go super short then you have to determine if you like short hair or go through the slow grow out process AND you simultaneously have to get used to yourself as silver. This shock has caused many a silver sister to run straight for the dye. Usually it’s either of two scenarios: they don’t like the hair length, or the shock of both of these changes at the same time was too much to handle. Many start over the process a few months later. 

If you go through the long grow out period, you have the shock of Border Collie hair but you get excited about every new inch of growth. But then you have a long period of annoying, two-tone hair. I’m not saying one is preferable to another because both will have about the same time period of adjustment. When you fully embrace and love your grey as well as find the right length and style for you- well, that’s when magic happens. That’s when you become one of those women who gets constantly stopped on the street and becomes a muse for someone considering going grey. 

Because I saw so many of the same patterns I put together a 12ish Step Program of the stages we go through in the process of going grey: 

1- We realise that we are grey and might venture to change our identity (i.e. former ginger or former brunette...) 
2- We get excited about redefining ourselves as a silver sister but the rest of the world (especially our loved ones) seem to fight us on this 
3- We learn boundaries and stand up for ourselves and everyone gets on board 
4- We start getting compliments on our silver from all sorts of people 
5- We get impatient as f-- and muse over whether or not to chop 
6- In our impatience, we incorporate layers to blend the skunk stripe 
7- We now hate the layers because they hide and mute our grey 
8- We find a happy balance and grow our hair out or chop, depending on what the right style is for us 
9- We graduate and LOVE our grey 
10- We adjust to the grey-haired person looking back at us in the mirror 
11- We update our makeup and wardrobe to accentuate the grey 
12- We become a muse and inspiration and allow our silver to show our radiant selves 

I have discovered so much about myself in the process so far and though I still hope to meet my original date of Dec 2013 for graduation, the dates aren’t all that important. I really felt what this experience has done for me last night: I went to the Iron Maiden/Megadeth concert and I haven't seen them since I was 19 years old. Back then I was fixated on what everyone's perception of me was- my frizzy hair, my makeup perfected, my outfit, my figure, my movements rockin' enough. Yeah, I know and I'm only touching on the level of crazy that went on in my head. But last night I could care less; I had the time of my life and was just perfectly in the moment. My hair was as frizzy as Bruce Dickinson's or any of the musicians never before experiencing 97% humidity. I had the time of my life, I owned and rocked that silver, and I had more fun than I ever had at a concert. That's what freeing yourself from the dye can do- that's what this growing process CAN do- just free you to stop fixating on self-criticism and just enjoy life and enjoy being you. God bless, ladies. Have a fantastic day!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Grey Friendly Salons

Few things are more important to a woman than a great set of friends, downtime, and a good stylist. Remember the last time you (FINALLY) found a great salon, a stylist that understood your hair, gave you great cuts, AND was friendly? Remember when she had an off-day and butchered your hair? I seem to be one of those people that attracts the off-day into my life.

Unfortunately, I am a very unforgiving person when it comes to my hair. The short cut I got in May was from a stylist that I really like- she doesn’t try to dye my hair, she’s friendly, she marks goals for me in growing my hair out, and she gives neck massages. And although I was happy to get so much hair cut off, there were a few things I didn’t like: one, I felt she was trying to blend the grey away whereas I want to celebrate it; two she looked at my specific pictures as not literal but “inspiration” leaving me with the back too long; and three she had to keep asking more expert stylists what to do.

I will probably go back to her in the future but when I started sporting a mullet from my three month grow out, I was a little apprehensive. After all, there seemed to be a hole in my top layers which cowlicked away and made my head look cubicle- never a look someone strives for. The bottom had grown out and formed silly little ringlets and at best, one side would flip under and the other side would flip out. I couldn’t take any chances so I looked at yelp and got an appointment with the owner of a great salon I’ve been to before.

One would assume when going to said salon that the owner would be friendly and really make this an experience (especially since you’re paying for it). One would assume wrong. She barely spoke two words and it was like pulling teeth to have a conversation with her. Okay, so I’ll sit quietly and listen in on the other conversations going on around me.

I don’t know about you but I have hairstylist intimidation. I have too often been talked into things (or they did them without my consent) only to be unhappy. So I have learned a few things to speak up on. I showed her the cowlick and how I wanted that blended, I don’t like short layers, and I’m allergic to hairspray. To her credit she gave me an EXCELLENT haircut. That didn’t stop her from trying to shellac my hair with hairspray before I stopped her. Then she flat-ironed my hair. I saw the steam and asked her what heat setting it was on and what should I use for my grey hair? She openly sighed and replied it was on medium. Hmmm…

Well I get out and feel my hair looks great- the cowlick is gone, my in-between cut looks fab, and I can go another couple of months with it looking great. Then I take pictures and my hair seems… darker. Some of this is because I still have a lot of brown and red hair, some of this is because I still have dye on my layers and it darkens the overall look of my hair, and some of this is because she burned some of my hair.

*insert low grumbling growl here* I was both livid and panicked; after all I have been growing this out for 11 months and starting over?? Are you freaking kidding me?? I called the salon and they said it wasn’t possible to burn and darken but could only lighten hair. So then I explained the dynamics of grey hair and the lack of pigmentation, etc. The receptionist recommended a good purple shampoo to take the yellow out and suggested I come in for the stylist to look at it. To be honest I didn’t want to go back there many days later, on MY time, to not get an apology from her when she would do nothing more than what I could. I looked online and found that hydrogen peroxide and purple shampoo would take it out. Thankfully it almost did and after a couple more washes it will be brilliant again. Whew!

So my suggestion is when you see a silver sister with FANTASTIC hair, ask about their stylist. A good haircut is just as important as having a grey-friendly (and grey-knowledgeable) stylist. Natural hair may not be salon’s forte or moneymaker, but they should have an education in how it should be cared for. Now I have been lucky to not be intimidated into color like so many others (although there are the polite “you’re here for a cut… umm also a color too?” replies), but I am intimidated all the same. I need to remember this is a service I pay dearly for and so what if I have demands, it’s better than a one-star Yelp review. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bond Girl

I recently went on a vacation. A fantastic adventure-yet-relaxing vacation. One of my closest friends is from Montana and every year she goes to visit her family around Flathead Lake. She invited me and another of her friends to come up and stay for a week. We rented a lovely 3 BR cabin between Flathead Lake and Glacier National Park and it was fabulous! We had adventures through the day and then spent our evenings with her family around a campfire.

This is no ordinary camping. Her family has lovely homes right on the lake. After a long day my friends and I would LAZILY (as in barely allow the chairs to prop us up kinda sorta vertically) sit around the campfire. A child would appear and put a glass of ice water in our hand. An uncle would appear and put a fresh Crown and 7 in our other hand. A cousin would appear and play his guitar and sing. Another child would appear and ask us how we would like our marshmallows toasted (light, medium, or charcoal?) before putting them into a smores. Really? But yes, this is how we rolled, VIP style, all week. 

 You might be thinking, “What does this have to do with grey hair?” but I’ll tell you- very little. That’s because my grey hair is really not much of an issue and something I forget about most of the time. However I do credit my anime piggytails for a bit of courage. 

 As a girl that almost drowned when very little, I have always been a little afraid of water. I do not think that this is an excuse to coast through life in avoidance so I took swim lessons from a talented swimmer friend when I lived in DC and I was determined to squelch my fear when with my friends in Montana. Day 2 and the jet skis are brought out *gulp*. I put my hair in piggytails for courage. One of the uncles taught me (very patiently, I might add) as I slightly increased speed and stopped, sped and stopped. Eventually I worked up to speed at a slow/creep but still, I was out there.  

As I dropped the uncle off to go for a solo spin, I started speeding up. I could feel a whisper of my mom there (more terrified than I of water); telling me that life is too short to be afraid of everything. I became acutely aware that I was speeding over very deep water and I accelerated: 25… 32… 37… 41… It was exhilarating! My friends said I looked like a silver streaked Bond girl zipping through the water. The jet skis were my gateway drug to more and more adventure. Alpine lift? Awesome! Luge down the mountain? Of course! White water rafting? Bring it on! I really couldn’t get enough.

I decided that this courage in the face of fear needed to apply to all levels of my life. I mean, why should I live paralyzed by a bunch of what-if moments? Even though risk does not necessarily equal reward, it does equal progress. So in relationships I’m putting myself wholly out there and I will allow myself to be vulnerable. I will take risks and stare fear right in the face. I will still be petrified but I will accelerate nonetheless because I know that ultimately this will lead to a full life. And THAT is the reward.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Peach Fuzzy

Are you experiencing a significant increase in the hair clogging your drain? The answer may be in coloring your hair. I, like my Sheltie, have always shed massive amounts of hair. I once had a landlord furiously hand me a drain trap for my bathtub because my hair had so badly clogged the pipes. Personally I think it was probably on the outs and I just sped up his repair time by a few years, but still.

When my mom came to live with me we had a running joke that I would sweep up daily masses of my hair and scold her (a pixied silver who never shed) about the amount of cleanup I had to do after she brushed her hair. "Good heavens, Mom! Could you PLEASE try not to shed buckets of long red hair?!" It never occurred to me that this amount of shedding wasn’t normal. And it really never occurred to me that it was because of I dyed my hair.

This also never concerned me because I have immense amounts of thick, coarse hair. But what about women who are thinning or have very fine hair? I notice this a lot, especially the elder women at church. Those that spend major bucks at the salon still have nice coiffed, two-dimensional hair. Those that have DIY kits have matte, coarse, and brittle hair. I don’t say this to be cruel but it is markedly different.

I also see the ELDER elders (women in their 70s +) and it’s not good. There really is a point where you should stop coloring your hair. Yeah, I’m all about rocking what makes you feel good, but it thins their hair sooo much. And then these dark colors only enhance their thinning hair. On top of that, too many decades and it doesn’t matter how much you spend on hair color it will look wiry and deep fried.

Now these pics I am showing highlight some NEW growth since I stopped coloring my hair. Yes! This is all new growth. I immediately had wisps like a halo all around my hairline and also several new other hairs cropping up all over. These “others” I like to call my wild little forest children because it took them a long time to tame and they really had no idea which direction to grow so they just grew straight up. We’ve come to peace with each other and now they rebel infrequently.

This last pic is a massive chunk of new hair growth. It is my current cowlick conundrum. It’s a mass of silky white hair that has changed my hairline completely. Since there’s so much of it… well… it organized. It formed a coup and doesn’t want to behave according to my wishes. It has its own ideas and I’m not liking ‘emWhen I hold a summit and get this chunk of hair to fall in line, I will post those secrets. But until then, the jury is out.

So if you are looking for another reason to let your grey come out, look at all the new hair you will be welcoming into the world! Since I stopped the dye my hair texture is so much softer, there’s more of it, and I shed very little. I can soak in the tub, scrub my hair, brush, blow dry, flat iron… and all I lose is about 4-6 hairs. My plumbing is finally safe and secure!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Cafe Gray - It Can Change Your Life

Let's face it, to transition to grey you need a support team; cheerleaders who are going to get excited about your progress. That's where the Silver Sisters' forum (better known as Cafe Gray) comes in.

I'm going to go a few steps back in time. A little over two years ago my mom (a beautiful silver sister) was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. One would think that year was the worst of my life but in that year I got to live with her for three months while she received treatment, we took day trips together every weekend, I saw her more than I have in years (me living in different time zones than my family), and she felt good most of the time. I had a daily checklist to make sure she had taken her medications and laughter was always a mandatory to be checked off.

It wasn't until she passed away a little over a year later that the worst year of my life occurred. She remains the best friend I ever had- my number one supporter and confidante. I have talked to her every day of my life and to say that I miss her is a tragic understatement. There's a hole that no number of people could fill.

Anyone that has had a great loss understands this and also sees that in the worst year of their lives it is also the greatest growth in their lives as well. You really prioritize what's important and so much becomes unimportant as more and more of your ego evaporates. But in all this growth you're just plain exhausted - you could sleep 15 hours a day. Exercise falls to the wayside, weight increases, and you don't know if the light will be on at the end of the tunnel. This is where I was 10 months ago when I decided to stop coloring my hair. The weight has barely decreased but life is starting to normalize for me once again.

Now I have some pretty fabulous friends (this includes my sister and my step dad who have been my rock through this). Some have been through the loss of a parent or their parent is going through cancer, some have just helped me to try new things and take spur of the moment vacations. Some have been shoulders to cry on and others have tolerated my bad habit of always being late. But there's another set of supporters I want to highlight: the Silver Sisters.

When I decided to go grey I googled and came upon this forum. It's a free membership and most people introduce themselves on the Class of '13 page in the Newbies section. There are countless tips on products, dealing with grey hair and your career, growing your hair out, transitioning from a flat iron to letting your curly hair go natural, etc.  But the most important thing you find there is support.

There are thousands of members from all over the world on that forum. You will get no less than 50 posts a day on just the Class of '13 page alone. And here's the phenomenon: they're all positive and aimed at building up women. Now I've come across less than a handful of negative comments and a few tantrums but it's an anomaly; this site is really about highlighting how beautiful all women are.

This seems somewhat commonplace until you really think about it. In the US we are constantly surrounded by advertising that airbrushes supermodels. We have this perception that it would take every beauty cream, personal trainer, expensive piece of clothing, and makeup option to try to get close to this. But the reality sets in to this unattainable goal and we realise that plastic surgery is the only answer if we want to obtain this photoshopped ideal. I'm not saying we all drink the Kool-aid on every area but we do on quite a few. And who are the best advocates and reinforcers of this advertising? Women. Women will make faces at your skunk stripe, or your clothing a la Target, or your broad hips, or your lack of tan. They scrutinize each other until you can no longer pick out the one compliment in the series of negative comments.

So when you go to a place like Cafe Gray and countless women are commenting on how amazing your silver looks and giving advice and support about how to navigate through the rough patches... well, it's addictive! At first it's addictive to be around all the love and support. Then it becomes addictive to build others up. And then the unthinkable happens: this positive energy spreads throughout other areas in your life.

I've noticed a change occurring in me where I look to the positive aspects of my friends, I compliment strangers on a regular basis, I don't focus as much on the one negative comment thrown my way but look at the 20 positives, and I think I'm just more pleasant to be around. Men approach me a lot more, for one. But maybe my greatest test is how my Sheltie is around me. Dogs are energy sponges and they absorb whatever energy you give out. If I'm depressed, so is my dog; if I'm sick, she worries. Now that I have this positivity she snuggles close and cuddles more than she ever has in eight years. I see this as my own personal measure of inner growth.

I owe a lot of this to the Silver Sisters on Cafe Gray. In the first 7 months of your transition you're on there almost every day. And as you learn this positivity and it becomes a norm in your life, you start to release the daily chats to a few times a week and slowly release the comments to the next batch of newbies, as was once done to you by your predecessors. But I will always have a soft spot for my Silver Sisters and am grateful to them for providing a light at the end of the tunnel.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Battle of the Exes

What would be the worst thing you can think of? Would it be something like having two-toned hair, a shapeless in-between non-hairstyle, and running into an ex? Ding ding ding! That's right, this is what has happened to me.

But I have to say that even though THIS is what my hair looks like (when I'm too lazy to find a headband or clips), I've gotten past the two-toned dilemma. In the back I have 3" of colored ends and on my bangs about 1/2". But I am content to wait out getting the color cut off in exchange for longer hair. There's a switch that occurs sometime in the 8-10 month range of growing your grey out where you just don't care about the stripe anymore. This is after the breakdown you have (mine occurred in month 8) where you just want to cut off the fried and dyed ends already. You patiently cut a little more dye out but you become more focused on the hairstyle than you are the color. Trust me, I would still LOVE to get rid of these red ends and not have apricot hair, but not at the risk of having short hair and growing out this awkward stage AGAIN.

So back to the original thread. I ran into an ex the other day and you never know how that's going to go- will he stare at the stripe, will he make a rude comment (one of the reasons he remains in the "ex" category), or will he be politely indifferent? After all, this is someone that was attracted to you in all your ginger glory. What happened instead was that he flirted and asked me out. Having no interest in him anymore I did not reciprocate but I did feel pretty damn good that it was yet another point scored for silver hair.

I must say I have a great number of friends and even a few exes on facebook that are my biggest supporters. I post a pic and they all rush to say positive things. I really am lucky to know truly beautiful people inside and out. And I can also see that running into an ex who isn't one of your supporters (and you have very little contact with) could be jarring and derail your confidence. I never anticipated that my hair color made no difference.

This is just another example of confidence and what that can do for you. If you're fine with how you are, the rest of the world will catch on and agree.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hairstyles for the Awkward Grow Out

What do you do with your hair when it's in the in between stage? Okay, I'm asking because I really have no idea. I grew up in a family of women who had the "good girl" hair. I think Gilmore Girls referred to it as "shiny Harvard hair." This hair is fine, super shiny, may have a slight wave to it, and barely needs a brush to make it flow like satin.

One would think that a trace of this beautiful hair would be passed to me but one would be wrong. Instead I was born with coarse, super curly hair with a texture not unlike a horse's tail. A slight humidity and *poof!* my hair would crinkle up into a cotton ball. Over the years I left heavy globs of conditioner in my hair and finally resorted to updos just to tame that wet hair into place.

It wasn't until graduate school that I learned about styling utensils that had super human heat. My friend, Sonali with her beautiful thick, Indian hair would sometimes come into class with it board straight. She opened a whole new world of possibilities to this awe-struck 29-year-old. It's nearly 10 years later and I am nowhere nearer understanding my hair and what all I can do with it. But I do have a great straightening iron!

And thank goodness for said straightening iron, especially with short hair! My hair is growing (or so say my friends) and with that mean odd little coiled curls at the nape, the layers on top being extra poufy (giving my head an overall cubic shape), and requiring heat to flatten the hair out as much as possible. Bob Ross is calling to my hair and I just refuse to answer.

So here are a few styles I've come up with. They are categorized into four groups: lazy, headband, clipped, and quirky. My lazy look isn't really lazy as it means extra time at the straightening iron. You can just see hints of the grey and this is my taupe-y look, hence my least favorite. I wear this on days when I just want to blend into the background of society. Sunglasses on top of my head is a staple for the South and since my eyes are sensitive, act as both a shield and a ready headband.

This next series is the headband look. I have loads of these and substitute scarves in there as well. If I'm especially missing my mom I'll wear one of her scarves. These two that I picked out are cool because they're both made out of kimonos. The one on the left is a silvery bird out of a former silk kimono and the one on the right is a series of three braided headbands made out of former linen kimonos. I wear this look when I'm a bit lazy but want my hair to be the main accessory to my look. For instance I'll wear the blue-silver headband with a cute raspberry dress.

Next up is my clip look. I do this when I'm missing my silver and want to ensure that it didn't just go away. Besides, when you have awkward hair grow-out, this is the easiest look to accomplish and still feel a bit polished. The one on the left is simple pulling the sides back and the middle look requires a little extra time at the straightening iron and is pulling the top sides back. The last look is called fishtail braiding and is super easy. We used to braid the horse manes like this and I feel like they are good muses for me. All you do is take a small section at the part, divide into two pieces and then pick up a small piece of hair under and twist. Clip back when you're done.

I saved my favorite for last. I call it anime pigtails. This came from a combination of my secret desire to be an anime character, a sigh of relief when my co-worker THOUGHT she wouldn't see a ponytail out of me for many moons (ha! showed her), and the look of abject horror-turn-resignation on my sister's face when she realised that I was going to go out in public like this. I wish I could go off to work like this and am half-tempted. Say what you will but you can see all my pretty silver AND it can't help but make you smile. I first put my hair up like this when I had a bad day at work and was in a foul mood. I had a cello lesson and didn't want to be in a poopy mood and bring down my teacher. So I took a time out, put my hair in piggy tails, then relaxed into a great mood. I sent a pic to my sister (also having a particularly poopy day) and it cheered her up as well. Luckily my teacher is used to oddballs and this didn't seem to phase him in the least.

So there you have a series of hairstyles from a painfully inexperienced gal. Eventually, I'll learn the Curly Girl method but in the meantime- Grow, Hair Grow!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Grow, Damn You! (*explicit)

The first thing you should know about short hair is what your hair will do when it is short. Do you have fine hair with little body? GREAT! Short hair is for you! Do you have thick hair with lots of body and curl? Maybe not something you want for the rest of your life.

I am of the latter breed but I think regardless of who you are you fret over making your hair into something it's not. My mother was of the afore mentioned camp and she spent an hour every day curling every strand, teasing, and shellacking it into place. Then the humidity would hit and it turned withery and looked like a hairstyle I would want.

Mine is the opposite. I arise from a lovely slumber to a floret of cauliflower sitting on my head. I straighten and try to pin strands down so they will fall on my head rather than flagging 2" high. Albeit a current resident of the South, I have no desire to don pageant hair and do not ascribe by the words, "the higher the hair the closer to God." Those are not my words, but the words of some other fantastic smart ass.

That being the case, I remember with wistfulness the days where I would roll out of bed, run a brush and some smoothing cream through my hair and walk out the door. Truthfully, I like being able to hide behind a ponytail and pretend my slacker tendencies are a "style." But the Sheltie look had to go and I'm seriously glad I gave short hair another go.

Since this is my playtime for hair I went on Pinterest and looked up interim hairstyles. This way I can get excited about every stage in the grow out. One woman posted on Cafe Gray that she couldn't find enough cute hairstyles for grey hair. I ask you this: when you are a blonde, brunette, redhead do you look at hairstyles only for that hair color? Of course not! You look at hairstyles. Period (in case you didn't see the punctuation mark). So although I enjoyed rocking the asymmetrical bob, I don't agree with some hairstylists who think you can only go short or a chin-length bob with grey hair. You can do whatever the hell you want to with your hair. Grey is a hair color and it's a valid OPTION, just like red, brunette, blonde. Unlike most of the others it's a cool tone which immediately brightens your complexion. So let's explore the cool things you can do with it.

Looking at the pictures you can see a cute pageboy cut with bangs. So freakin' adorable! I can grow into that by late July. After going short you just want something that's uber-feminine and this cut just screams Audrey Tautou. The blonde cut will cry out to my autumnal need for a rocker cut. Autumn is my favorite time of year: it's my rutting season, the weather is cool, there's no humidity (!!!!!!!), and you get to wear cool boots and coats, and scarves (and all the stuff I knit throughout the year).

Finally for the winter I will be thinking holidays, dressing in reds and wanting to look a little less rocker and little more soft and pretty. This Katie Holmes look can be turned into soft waves or mussed for a cool girl look. So the only thing I have to do now is go to my hairstylist and have her teach me how to play with the hair I have now. After all, this should be fun. It's hair. It gets cut, it grows, it can be shaved off- it is a woman's ultimate expression. If you take one thing from this realise that it's not about the color of your hair or your age, it's what makes you feel gorgeous. So ladies, it's time we had a little fun.

 PS- please post pics if you have any suggestions for how to style my hair!