Some say that change usually requires a catalyst, something so powerful that it forces us to take action. The catalyst for each one of us may be different but the actions we take are undeniable. I think that catalysts come in various shapes and sizes, positive and negative. However whatever the catalyst our reaction to them is a choice that more often than not results in a life defining moment. I have had many of these defining moments throughout my life but my most recent one happened over Christmas.
In December while traveling through California, I was confronted with a circumstance that became my catalyst for making some changes in my life.
It all started when my mother fell while we were touring California during the Christmas holidays. (you can read about the hair raising adventure Lost In Los Banos to get caught up in case you missed it). While she was in the hospital I found myself rummaging through her suitcase looking for clothes to bring to the hospital. As I was looking for something comfortable for her, I realized something else ….. all the money we as women spend in our vain attempt, trying to defy the aging process.
After a few weeks of contemplation and some serious soul searching I decided to start making real changes in my life. The big question however was…..where does one start? Well for me, I decided to start literally from the top of my head. So I hit the bottle one last time and then went cold turkey, I stopped dying my hair.
Immediately I reached out to my friend Karen for some encouragement as she was the only woman I knew who had embarked upon such a journey. We had a great afternoon chatting over coffee discussing the new adventure that I was about to undertake. When I left I had all the basic tools necessary to start, I had a cheerleader in my corner and a Facebook group full of 2,300 woman all embarking on the same journey. (I would be remise if I didn’t tell you ….. that facebook page ….. has grown to over 4000 women from all over the world, each one of us sharing our journey, encouraging one another as we defy society and it’s perceptions of women and aging).
The first few weeks were the hardest, because it appeared to the outside world that I had given up on life and just let myself go. I had no idea how much of my identity was tied to my outward appearance. I had to ask myself, When Did I Become My Hair?
As the days and weeks went by I found myself growing incredibly self concious and trying everything to hide the grow out, but as more and more silver grew the harder it became to hide. I felt compelled to explain my hair to anyone and everyone, to the point of absurdity. Until finally I had to stop fighting myself, my perception of me and stop living in fear, afraid of how society would judge me. I had to learn to embrace my inner Elsa and just Let It Go.
However I wasn’t equipped for what was about to happen to me. I had no idea the journey of self discovery I had embarked upon.
Everyday when I rolled out of bed I would run to the mirror and study my reflection. I would part my hair every which way so I could assess the new growth. I would take countless selfies to see my new hair in different lighting. I was obsessed, I could think of nothing else. Sometimes I couldn’t see beyond the colour of my hair, instead of my own reflection I saw my grandmother staring back at me. Then my thoughts would begin to race and I would panic, confronted with the fact that I was now 46 years old. Once I stopped hyperventilating, I would come to the realization that regardless of my hair colour I was still 46 and that the only person I was trying to fool about my age was me.
So yes, it’s true I’m officially middle aged. And you know what? It’s been an awesome 46 chapters so far, and I have the wrinkles and a few extra pounds to prove that I have lived and that I have indulged. So I am truly excited to see how the rest of the book unfolds. The best part about the next chapters will be the added sparkle that has become my hair….and honestly who doesn’t like a little more sparkle?