About three months ago, I finally said what I had been thinking for quite a while, "I want to stop coloring my hair." My hairdresser was shocked and her friend at the next station was horrified. The first thing out of both of their mouths was, "Don't, you'll look old!" That had been my concern, too. But not quite as much as before. My soul was making a turn towards something new. This urge to let my hair go to its natural color came from a deeper place than even I understood at the time.
Pushing my inner voice quiet, I followed the course of least resistance and sat there for my usual monthly regimen of base color, highlights, lowlights, and hairstyle -- a three-hour ordeal. As I left the salon with my hair spiffed and "cool looking," these questions rose clean and sharp in my mind: "Do I really want to continue this battle with my hair? Do I really want to sit in that chair every month?" I would begin my journey into answering these questions within the hour.
Out of the blue I decided to go get a sandwich at a place I had not visited for a long time. I walked into the store and standing at the deli counter was a striking woman with an energetic poise. Her smile was engaging, as was her beautiful head of full-gray hair. I asked if she had a few minutes to speak with me. We spent about a quarter of an hour talking about her transition from color to her natural tone. When I thanked her for helping me in deciding if I was ready to take this leap myself, she thanked me for affirming that she was beautiful just as she was.
The image of this woman's silver hair supported me as I went about my life over the next several weeks. What's wrong with looking my age? I am almost sixty. I don't want to be a younger woman. I love my spirit and my body. I love this age I am in now--one of growing wisdom and longer-lived knowing. So, why do I need to color my hair to a younger woman's shade? This was not about anyone else. It was only about me. I realized that I had somehow become a prisoner of my own appearance.
With my choice to let my hair go gray, I have had to chart a brave new territory of mind and heart. To my horror, I found myself in a tug-of-war with myself over a cultural bias that older women are somehow less worthy or even perhaps "shameful." This bias against myself is a hurt I have absorbed-- without choosing or knowing-- as a result of the ceaseless barrage from media and advertising that a youthful appearance is to be sought at all cost. I was soul-confused to find myself struggling with my own being to get past the subtly and powerfully ingrained idea that "old is awful." I am now winning this battle for my worthiness with gentle determination, self-honoring and a profound love for the spirit-driven woman I am -- and the woman I am choosing to become.There is an emergent "naked" feeling to letting my hair go gray, a more open and tender cherishing of myself. As I am owning my years and the deeper living that comes with them, I am also a woman who:
- Rides her bike with no hands and sings in the rain.
- Jumps in the lake with her clothes on and laughs at the clouds.
- Climbs up on things or lies on the ground to get that "perfect" photo.
- Uses her feet as an extra pair of hands to close car doors and cupboards.
- Watches television with her heels up on the couch holding her toes.
- Finds herself dancing in store aisles when a great song is playing.
I have had two "haircut-only" visits to the salon now and am sporting about an inch of no-color hair. From what I can see, my hair is white on top, graduating to silver on the sides and then a darker silver at the back. There is an eagerness inside me, a sense of setting all of myself free -- the innocent child, the curious schoolgirl, the striding teenager, the blossoming young woman, the caring mother, the middle-aged career horse, and now the "the stepping into my age" elder.
I'm not 100 percent sure how I am going to feel about myself when I am fully uncolored. My inner self tells me it will be a comfortable sense of "coming home" to the next stage of my life. If it is not, I can always go back to coloring my hair. But I don't think this will happen. My heart and my mind, my spirit and my body are telling me it is time for me to step fully into my age.
To learn about her new book, "Soul on the Run," go to: www.SoulOnTheRun.com