Going Gray: Inspiration
*photo credit: http://waytofamous.com/22043-marian-seldes.html
I find it important to stay inspired while pursuing any new endeavor. By learning about the journey of others and how they have navigated a path, I find new ideas to test out and new thoughts to consider. As an artist and creator, I also find inspiration in the artistic expression of others.
My yoga students often give me thoughtful and inspiring surprise gifts. About a year ago, a dear student gave me the book “Wise Woman, ” by photographer Joyce Tenneson. What a treasure of a book. It is a collection of photographs of women over 40, combined with inspiring quotes and thoughts on their life. It was a fitting gift considering my website title of “Powerful Woman Yoga,” but it is even more fitting now on my going gray journey as many women in the book reflect on the idea of dyeing hair.
Here are the words of the late actress Marian Seldes:
“My grandmother always used to say, ‘If you know your part and you know where you have to go, why do you rehearse?’ I always remember this, and it’s true. You have to start each day again- you can’t repeat what you did. When I let my hair go gray I felt an enormous freedom. All those years of having my hair dyed- why do we do that?”
Are you dyeing your hair, or thinking of going gray? Let me know your thoughts and inspiration in the comments below.
Going Gray and Ditching the Dye, Journal Entry 2
I had a moment this weekend where I felt like shaving my head. I only have about a half an inch of gray/white roots coming in, but I felt ready to get all that dyed hair off my head and let my silvers shine. I sent a picture of what I was thinking of doing to my mom, and within minutes she was calling me with an intervention. Mom and I are doing this gray thing together, and we started at the same time (she is a week ahead of me). Josh was standing by with his shiny and sharp electric razor in hand. After I got off the phone with mom, I trimmed a tiny bit off the ends, and we put the razor away.
I have done a great deal of self work with my yoga and meditation practice to become a patient person, and I feel I have come a long way. But there are still moments where impatience can run high. It is not that I don’t like the way my hair looks, that doesn’t feel like an issue right now. Instead, I feel ready to be silver. Usually when I make a decision, when I announce it and I accept it mentally, I take it on right away. Indecision is not my work. My inner work over time has been to sit still and wait for better timing or to let things take their natural course. I am struggling with that in a big way with trying to sell our house, but that is a whole other blogging category…
Mom told me to wait a few more weeks or months, if I possibly could, and then to do that pixie cut. She said I would regret shaving my head, big time, and there would be no way to change it if I didn’t like it. Before I decided to go gray, I thought I might let my hair grow out to my shoulders. But since deciding to go gray, I feel that for me it would be better to go back to short hair and then to let it grow out all silver. I like that idea quite a bit, so now I feel committed.
I am in a few Facebook groups about going gray. If you are on Facebook and are thinking about going gray, I recommend joining one of these support groups: Silver Foxy, Going Gorgeously Gray, and Gray and Proud. These groups offer support and community for those times when you wonder “am I doing the right thing”, or “how do I handle the transition”, and “should I keep my hair long or go pixie?” Sometimes, we need to see or know that someone else is going through the same thing, or that they have the same doubts or questions, and it makes us feel connected. These groups have been positive, supportive, and full of joy. I see in these groups that women, and even a few men, struggle with this process as it brings up many insecurities. Should I cut my long hair? What will people think of those white roots, will they think I am letting myself go? What if they call me granny? While these groups do offer support to people, the truth is, that bigger work has to be done on your own.
One of the things that has helped me decide to go gray is my yoga practice. Yoga encourages us to love ourselves where we are at, and to embrace our inner goodness. Yoga encourages us to question our thoughts and to investigate why we might hold a particular belief that might not be serving us. My deep investigation of Yoga philosophy has helped me to understand that there are many options and ways to approach a situation and to feel less attached to outcome and expectations.
So for now, I will not shave my head. While writing this post, my mom called to check in and see if I had shaved my head after all. I reassured her that no, I had not. “Good,” she said. “I didn’t shave mine either.”
Journaling My Adventure of Ditching the Dye and
Exactly one month ago I decided to let my hair go gray. I last used hair dye on January 3. I don’t like sharing that I have been dyeing my hair, I prefer to make my own body/care choices without public scrutiny. But I have found the decision to stop dyeing to be an empowering action and to share my story, as other stories have inspired me with their stories, might help someone else decide to ditch the dye.
I have been dyeing my hair for about two decades. I found my first gray hair in my early teens. By my twenties, I was probably quite salt and pepper. After I had kids, at 25, my hair went on its own silver adventure. I don’t really know how gray I have been or even how gray I am, because I have been covering it up for a long time. I used henna for years. I just LOVED henna! Henna is a completely natural dried herbal paste that you mix with a little hot water, maybe some vinegar and other natural substances. It both dyes and conditions your hair. Henna has this marvelous earthy scent, it dries like mud on your hair, and when you are finished (about 2 hours later), after you rinse and rinse and rinse, your hair is super soft and glows. For about 10 years, henna worked great. It layered over the gray and added interesting color texture. But as the silver adventure continued, it became more and more difficult to use henna. It didn’t quite cover those white hairs as well, and I had to do it more often. At a two hour per treatment commitment it became difficult to justify and easier to look into other options.
When looking to switch to hair dye, I wanted to make sure that I was purchasing dye as natural as I could (no ammonia or parabens, etc…). I did the best I could with the “safe” options, but the fact is, there is no safe hair dye. Nope. Not at all. They know this of course because they test hair dye on animals. Another bad. It never sat well with me, but I felt I didn’t have a lot of choices, I was just too young to be gray! I played with a variety of colors over the years: Brown, Black, Mahogony, Chestnut, even Blonde! But for some reason, Silver never seemed like an option until now. I didn’t have gray role models in my life for a long time. My own 80 year old grandmother only stopped dyeing her hair a few years ago. But as a yoga teacher in a rural location for the past 10 years, I have had the honor of teaching many “silver foxes.” I always admire their luscious grays and I think I started to realize that Gray, or Silver, is actually an option and it doesn’t have to mean “old”. Ditching the dye would mean I could stop using products I hated and stop making unnecessary waste. I could also accept my true hair and not feel like I had to cover it up because it wasn’t good enough.
Now, I don’t want this to be a judgement against anyone who still chooses to dye. I get it and I understand where you are coming from. I believe you have to feel ready to take something like this on, otherwise it will just be a miserable experience. Anyone who truly enjoys dyeing their hair should not be judged or pressured to change. But I do think we need to reconsider the idea that gray means old and unattractive. I have also heard that it is more difficult for a woman to get hired, or even to keep a job, if she has gray hair. I don’t think this is a reason to continue to dye one’s hair, it is discrimination, it needs to be challenged, and there is only one way to challenge this sexist act: Go boldly gray. What if our suffragette ancestors thought it was too difficult to work for voting rights? We have to start somewhere. So if you love the dye, feel empowered to keep it going. If you don’t, you should feel empowered to ditch the dye and let yourself go gray.
My gray hairs are just popping through at about half an inch. I’ll keep you posted on my journey…