There is an unopened box of Clairol Nice‘n Easy, number 8/103A, Natural Medium Blonde (my long-time color of choice), under the sink in my upstairs bathroom. I’ve had it for approximately one month now, purchased around the time I should’ve colored my mousy gray roots (an every-six-week ritual since I've forgotten when). But I’ve put off this regular task because I am considering …uh, thinking about ...uh, maybe letting my gray grow out and, for the first time since I was 16, allowing myself to be completely au naturel. I certainly have done that with everything else. I no longer even try to squeeze my size-9 feet into shoes meant for street-walkers, and my bunions thank me. I could not walk down the street in a pair of stilettos any easier than I could run a marathon right now. I haven't worn a girdle in 40 years and am completely content with going out in public sporting my spare tire(s). Okay, you don't know what a girdle is?? Bah, I'm telling my age as I speak! I think they're called "body-shapers" today. It hasn't been as easy letting go of my Nice'n Easy. I've been highlighting, coloring, or lightening my hair 'from the sun' most of my adult life -- correction, all of my adult life. Remember Sun-In, you 70's gals? They still sell it! But frankly, to be perfectly honest, I'm just sick and tired of doing it. I've also heard horror stories of ladies being diagnosed with brain tumors only to find out later that it was deposits from their hair dye over the years. Yikes!
As we women began to age and start thinking more about our mortality, many things threaten us. Issues of declining health are probably some of the biggest. We dread going to the doctor for fear that another test is needed to determine what this ache is, or where that pain is coming from, or what the most recent blood results mean. But we know we have to go, because to not go could bring about even worse results. I always think about my mother and how, if she'd just faced her cancer head-on in the beginning, she might still be with us. My mom was a strong woman but she was in denial. I'm sure I've been guilty of that as well. Mama was strong enough to fight cancer but she waited till the weakness had already set in and the cancer had invaded her body too far. Her resolve started strong, but her weakened body forced her to throw in the towel. But if we're completely honest with ourselves, we not only think about feeling well and being healthy, but looking good too. Come on now, you know I'm right. Every time we notice a new wrinkle, we check the store aisles for a better night cream...you know, the kind that works while we're asleep?! Every time we notice new spider veins on our legs, we once again consider the possibility of seeing a dermatologist for that new "un-intrusive" surgery advertised all the time in our faces. I mean, after all, who can live a full and complete life with spider veins? Well, me, apparently. And, if you're like me, you've started that "I'll-do-better" diet and exercise regimen again and again over the years. Recently I had to have a tooth pulled that had been giving me issues since 2014. I know, I'm the worst sometimes about going to the doctor and the dentist even more so -- unh-unh, I hate it! But after having it pulled and the dentist quoting me the cost to have a bridge or an implant, I decided I was not too proud to have one less tooth in my head! I mean, I could go on a vacation -- a nice vacation -- for the cost of a tooth implant! I've told my girls sometimes it just seems easier to let everything go and just face whatever health issues develop and their consequences...after all, I don't fear death. But they tell me I'm selfish to think such things and I'm not thinking of them; I guess they really do love me. Then I'm reminded of my sweet mama and I totally understand what they're saying.
As I edge a little closer each day -- each and every day -- to the golden years where it seems like the physical gets harder but the knowledge and wisdom accrued over the years is more desirable, I am forced to come to terms with what I really need at this point in my life to be fulfilled. Sure, I'm just like most red-blooded American girls...I wanna be "purdy" if I can; I do not love showing my age. But is there any eternal benefit to having no gray hair, no spider veins, no wrinkles, no age spots...except to boost our own pitiful self-image? When Hollie got married, I was just a short time out from chemo and my hair was probably a half-inch long, if that. She told me she didn't want me to wear my wig if I didn't want to. She thought I was beautiful either way. So I nixed the wig! I cruised down the aisle on my hubby's arm, so delighted to be there, cropped hair and all. My bestie told me she cried as she saw me, just so happy that I was still there to see my daughter get married. That was my time to stop coloring, but did I do it? Much to my regret, no, I did not. Sometimes I try to look at myself the way others do but, believe me, it's no easy task. My children and grandchildren don't care how I look; they care how I act. Uh-oh, that's a little scary as well. They care if I show them unconditional love and give them my time and wisdom and help and, for that, they think I'm beautiful! Other people seem to look past my imperfections as well. How do I know this? Because I give them the same grace. I look at their hearts and their minds, not their bodies. If we face ourselves squarely in the mirror, it's because we want to look great for numero uno and to somehow convince our foolish selves that we're really not aging at all. Unfortunately, we still sometimes base our worth on how we look. We can thank the American marketing system for that one. How many times recently have you thought back on younger days as you marvel over a Photoshopped image of a beautiful young woman? But more importantly, how long has it been since you gave yourself the test of self-worth based on your heart, your smarts, the accomplishments you've achieved in your life, the love you hold dear, and your hard-earned wisdom, not simply on how you look? Our looks are not what is true and lasting (believe me), and as I've heard it all my life, it's what's on the inside that counts. Thank God for that.
So to color or not to color? The jury is still out on that one. I sit here staring at the box of Nice'n Easy that has now made its way to my desk as I contemplate the matter. My hubby's vote is for me to continue being a blonde...says the man with no hair at all! I'm leaning towards the natural state that is really me now, as much as I hate it, -- mousy gray and that's okay. My sister stopped coloring her hair several years back and it seems to me that her life is just as full and happy. Plus, she has more time to face the big giants that really count when she's not thinking so much about how she looks all the time. Like spending much-needed time with family and friends. And serving in her church. And making dinner for the family with the new baby. Or visiting the sick. Or teaching a class. Or solving the problem of world hunger. You get the picture.
I have exactly 1.5 inches of gray hair growth right now at my roots. And who really and truly cares? No one, apparently.
And, most importantly, neither do I.
Just a little postscript...I'm not suggesting we don't try to look our best. A little lipstick, a little mascara, a little cover-up...a fresh coat of paint makes even an old barn look better! Let's just try harder to accept ourselves the way we really are. There's no shame in that...
Posted by CC
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