Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Special Guest: Going Gray - Getting Real by Maggie Rose Crane
Boomer Chick has a special guest today! Maggie Rose Crane, author of the self-help book for baby boomer women, Amazing Grays: A Woman's Guide to Making the Next 50 the Best 50 (Regardless of your hair color!), is here today with a special blog post. Maggie's life changed the moment she stopped listening to society's standards of the way we're supposed to look and act at a certain age and would like to tell her story...
Going Gray – Getting Real
As a woman in midlife, my decision to go gray was pivotal and changed me in ways I hadn’t anticipated.
I colored my hair for over 15 years. One day, in my mid-fifties, I was in the salon having my gray roots touched up once again. While waiting out the processing time, a sudden surge of energy began to slowly spiral through my body, beginning where I sit and rushing out the top of my head. It was very intense, and I felt like I had just orgasmed in public! I looked around to see if anyone else had noticed my wondrous experience, but they all seemed to be going about their business as usual.
Then I took a good long look in the mirror. Somebody looked back and with great passion seemed to ask, “What are you doing?”
I wasn’t sure what was happening, but a flood of questions bubbled up from within - Why was I putting myself through this? Who was I coloring my hair for? What was my fear of looking older? Would I be attractive with gray hair?
Like the deliberate turn of a kaleidoscope I felt my life being rearranged. It didn’t feel better or worse, just different. I decided right then and there that I would never color my hair again. Little did I know how much this decision was going to change my life.
First, going gray forced me to confront every fear, expectation and limiting belief I carried about growing older, especially in a society that’s obsessed with youth. Coloring my hair allowed me to pretend that I wasn’t getting older, yet inside I felt like it was time to embrace a new reality. I wasn’t old, just not-so-young.
Rather than allow these unconscious fears to run my life, I decided to confront them by bringing them into the light of day. Who said silver haired women are not attractive? Why do I believe my life is over just because my hair is gray? What do I think will happen to me? Confronting these unconscious expectations about getting “old” allowed me to move beyond them. These limiting beliefs are programmed into us from the time we’re small – and they will stay with us until we consciously confront them.
Secondly, I learned that when I redirected my focus from my “packaging” to my “essence”, I felt ageless. Sure my looks were important, but they no longer defined me. I had a looming sense of my mortality – and it was clear that someday was NOW. There was a deepening of purpose, and a sense that time was moving quickly. In the years to follow, I gave myself the gift of a 3-month silent retreat, wrote a book, danced in the Senior Follies, became a grandmother (twice!) and challenged myself by walking without support across a 30 foot telephone pole 40 feet in the air. It was exhilarating!
I appreciate that there is no past or future, only an ongoing series of now, now, now. How we live each “now” will greatly impact our quality of life going forward.
Third, while I did experience a sense of becoming invisible to some people, I decided that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some people would look right through me, which was a bit disconcerting at first. I finally decided that it was actually a bit of a relief to be off the treadmill of “Do I look nice? Do you find me attractive? Does this make my butt look big? Am I turning heads?” While it’s important to feel loved and desired by my husband, what other people think of me is none of my business. Now is the time to focus on the authentic me. Mind you, I don’t walk around in baggy potato sacks, but I will always choose comfort over style. These days, we’re fortunate to have options that allow us to have both.
I didn’t realize how inauthentic I had been feeling until my hairstylist made the final cut and left me with a head full of very short silver hair. As my artificially colored hair fell to the ground I felt freed from a part of me I no longer identified with. I felt lighter. More me.
So, while going gray is not the only way to experience ones authenticity – it sure worked for me! You can see photos and read the stories of other women who have taken the plunge in Amazing Grays and at the Gallery of Silver Sages at www.maggiecrane.com.