2020: Stronger, Freer, Lighter

Until the last couple of years, I assumed I'd probably always want to cover my gray. I assumed going gray would age me dramatically overnight. But when John finally started to get more silver in his hair the last couple of years, I started thinking about joining him; matching with him. (I didn't want to look older until he did. And he has never looked his age.)

I have always admired women like Jamie Lee Curtis for embracing the aging process. I wanted to be brave and liberated. It became more and more appealing to me once I turned 60. I wanted to set myself free from the pressure of our culture to appear younger than my years. I even joked about shaving my head rather than going through the awkward transition of growing out my roots. That would be the hardest part about committing to my natural color. And then we were suddenly in a pandemic; staying at home for months. 

I couldn't pass on this timely opportunity. I let my hair grow out for five months with no color. While friends were ordering box color online and touching up their roots at home, I was feeling free and committed to change. 

I went for my "blend" in July. My stylist (Liz Dunn/Salon Bella) cut it shorter and did heavy foils; lightening more than 50% of my brown hair to platinum (but not touching the root growth). She processed it slowly and with conditioning agents. Then she gave me a silver toner. I wasn't in the chair all day. And it didn't cost $1,000.00. But I felt like I got the Jack Martin effect just the same. (Check him out on Instagram if you haven't heard of him. He took Jane Fonda and Sharon Osborne back to their natural silver. He does amazing work at a hefty price.)

I still have a few strands of brown mixed into the platinum. But it blends so well with my newer growth that you don't see any demarcation between what's virgin hair and what's not. It felt like a seamless transition. And the five months of white roots contrasted by the dyed locks were painless because we weren't going out anyway. My silver is shiny. And instead of feeling limp and flat (like I expected it to without the hair color), it actually feels thicker and healthier. I don't even need to put any product in it for volume or texture. That was the bonus I didn't anticipate.

I am not ready to replace the younger woman looking out over the ocean at the top of my blog ... yet ... because that photo (from 2013) still represents an important part of me. But 2020 me is stronger, freer, lighter. And my natural hair color reflects that reality back to me in the mirror. 

I actually love being in my sixties more than I could have imagined at 59. I dreaded that 60th birthday until it came. And then it just felt RIGHT. I feel so at home in my own skin these days. Instead of constantly critiquing myself, I am learning how important it is to practice self-love and self-compassion ... not in a self-absorbed way, but in a grace filled way. (Stronger, freer, lighter.)

I still want to improve daily. I don't love my flaws and probably never will, but I accept and embrace the fact of life that flaws are part of being human. My flaws and imperfections are a part of the whole me. 

Every trait has both an A and a B side. It's something we all have to learn how to accept about ourselves, as well as others. And I've made great strides in the last couple of years with letting go of people who don't value me for the WHOLE of who I am, both the A and the B side. I don't want to change for those people anymore. Earlier in life, I desperately wanted to be someone else if that would make others feel better toward me. But I've let that part of me die gradually over time. She's not me anymore. (Stronger, freer, lighter.)

I told John the other day that his easygoing, gentle, non-confrontational nature is the A side to the B side that manifests in conflict-avoidance, which makes him more susceptible to being exploited and taken advantage of in certain situations. I saw that quality and vulnerability in him early on in our relationship and I vowed to myself that I would never exploit him or his goodness. I would never want to use something I love about him to manipulate, get my way, or (God forbid) exploit his love of peace. One of my many A/B side struggles is that I'm a passionate and expressive advocate. A passionate advocate on your side is a good thing. But a passionate advocate can also be head strong, edgy, overly expressive, and ready to rumble. I'm thankful he embraces all of me. And I like to think we complement each other most of the time. We both know and accept our A and B sides with grace for ourselves and each other. Where one is weak, the other is strong.  

This year has brought many unexpected challenges. But you find out how strong and resilient you are in tough times; both individually and collectively. It's not the adversity we face but the way we face adversity that makes all the difference.

The pandemic is not over. There will be more challenges ahead. But I already feel like 2020 has made me better. And, of course, stronger, freer, and lighter.

One of the blessings in this year is that John and I spent five months together, just the two of us, 24/7. And it felt like an extended honeymoon (most of the time) for me. John is back at the dealership daily now (in a mask) instead of working from home. And I miss being with him all day. But I'm thankful we are both healthy and we are thriving in every way, despite everything life throws at us. 

Yesterday we made our first commercial in over four months. And this is the new (silver, stronger, freer, lighter) 2020 ME ... with my gorgeous better half. I love him so much.