Posted by: carolyn / through a widow's eyes | February 9, 2012

Look what I did!

Fade to Black
or, “I’m Not A Rebel, I Just Do What I Want”

When our daughter Anna was in high school she sometimes experimented, as teenagers are wont to do, with her hair. She came home one day with a product bought with her own money: bright happy hair color that rinses out after a few weeks, a finite number of shampoos. On the package were images of smiling youngsters sporting streaky manes in extraordinary colors never found in nature. The product smelled sweetly herbal, and made her hair shiny and bouncy. Aside from a momentarily purple bathtub, there seemed to be no downside. The vivid color caused a raised eyebrow or two from various uninvolved yet opinionated adults, at which time I would expound upon my mothering mantra: “Pick your battles – is this the hill you want to die on?”. Besides, she looked fabulous!

Around the same time, Anna & I went to Europe to visit my brother and his lovely family. Everywhere I looked were middle aged – or older – vibrant women rocking their Euro-henna locks. There was no age-related shame, no thought of “hiding” gray, no attempt to look natural. No does-she-or-doesn’t-she. She definitely does! And so what?

I saw many a grandma in business suit or shawl and high heeled boots, pedaling a bicycle or striding confidently along cobblestone sidewalks, briefcase or groceries in hand or basket, head held high to display a bright shocking red or rich burgundy coif.

This 40-something mom was intrigued. What’s not to love? I wanna be like them when I grow up! “Chilled Plum” was my first foray. Loved it. It was exotic but not too freaky. Then came “Funky Cherry.” Brilliant. Our last good Christmas, Jeff gave me a silk shirt in a luscious black cherry hue because it matched my hair. Always thinking, that one.

But then came the winter that Jeff got sick. His health had been bad for a while but finally we knew why, and there was no bright side. We hunkered down. My chilled plum faded back to mousy brown with ever-wider shocks of gray. I didn’t have the heart to add brightness and color to the outside when the inside was so dark. For years. I knew that if I ever again had an inkling to indulge in something so frivolous as coloring my hair, it would be a sign of big positive changes inside. A sign of wellness and hope.

Lately some healing has been taking place. It is the result of time, and work, and process, and breath, and gentleness, kindness, laughter, love. There have been many, many tears. I have worn my silver mop proudly – I’m 50-something now, and I came by this gray honestly. I’m a hard working mama who has been through some stuff.

I have been contemplating Change-With-A-Capital-C of late. Symptoms include but are not limited to clearing clutter from my little house, writing poetry, hours of long-distance phone calls and ridiculous texting marathons, unexpected travel to distant places, and trying to get out of my own way. All this falls under the category of making room for what comes next.

This winter, alone in the house, I am working on self care: mothering myself for a change. I ask myself what I need and then try to provide it, as a mother does for her beloved. I put myself to bed, ever-seeking the elusive elixir of enough sleep for my menopausal self. I eat what my body demands (meaty proteins, bitter greens, toothsome whole grains) instead of just what’s expedient (cheese and crackers and wine). I take handfuls of the right supplements for brain and body and mood. Curtail the liquor + internet consumption. Smooth on lavender-scented lotion at bedtime as a conscious practice instead of as an afterthought. Get out into winter’s slanty noonday sun for a stretch and a walk and deep cleansing breaths and sometimes, a talk with a like-minded friend. My days are framed by meditation. Yoga. Journaling. Laughter.

And last night, I came to a milestone of some kind: an indulgence in a hankering for Chilled Plum. Life is good.



  1. Gorgeous – love the cut! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: