Tag Archives: Middle Age

From Deep Chocolate to Red Velvet Cake: One Woman’s History of Hair Color

About two years ago I stopped coloring my hair. Well, technically that’s not true. I stopped, and let a stylist start. I was transitioning from full color to foils. It was all part of the effort to let my own hair color grown out to see its natural shade and how much of that dark brown had been overtaken by gray. The foils were to blend with the gray and break up the dark root line.

Age 58 - all natural

This is where it ended once I’d grown out all the color. Not as much gray as I had hoped. I know—who hopes for more gray? It’s my sister’s fault. She has the most gorgeous head of thick, wavy silver locks. It’s striking. My mother also went silver early. I take after my aunties on my dad’s side, who sport salt and pepper into their 90s. It’s not a look I like. It explains why they colored their hair into their 90s.

My mother was a hair dresser (that’s what they called them then). She didn’t color her hair and encouraged my sister and I not to either. “You just end up with a head full of straw,” she warned. The chemicals were so much harsher then.

My first foray into defying my mother’s advice on hair color (there were may other brands of defiance before that) came in a bottle of Super Sun In. It came when I was about 14, while we were on vacation in Florida. It came over the course of one day sitting at the pool, spraying the sharp smelling magic liquid into my hair, re-saturating it every time it dried. My mother was off doing something I can’t remember now—suffice to say she wasn’t there. Strangers who were poolside must have watched my hair going from dark chocolate brown (my natural color) to full on Bozo-the-Clown orange.

After her initial, silent shock evident by the horror stricken expression on her face, my mother smiled and said, “It’s hair. It will grow out.” Okay, it wasn’t quite Bozo orange, more like a very bright-copper penny shade (sorry no photos of that phase) and I actually had fun with it. When I dyed it back to my true color, I knew nothing about ash or golden base tones. My brown hair had a bit of a green tint to it for a while, which is what happens sometimes when you make an ash of yourself with home hair color.

At 34

I pretty much left my hair alone after that until middle age. This is me with my true-born color. I’m 34 here. I have given birth to three children here. I gained over 60 pounds with the first pregnancy. I was 31 when I had the last. Yeah—I’m bragging. Shut up, you would too. I’m just glad I have the photo to prove this rocking body was mine. But you should look at the hair. That was mine too—my true color.

So when I started coloring my hair it was all about the new fun colors in the 80s. I picked shades like Black Cherry, Uptown Tangerine and Bordeaux. Blame the artist in me. I mean seriously, the reason I’m envious of my sister’s hair is because it’s a blank slate. If I had that I’d be sporting a pastel hombre rainbow cascading in waves down my back.As strawberry Blonde age 33

Anyway, I usually go for the reds. This is me as a strawberry blonde (on the right). I was maybe 27 here. It was a good color. It was a good year. This was my first time in a community theater production. Who knew I was born to be on the stage?


As Redhead age 48


And about ten years later channeling Patsy Cline for another performance, with a more believable shade of red than the one that came from that bottle of Super Sun In.

Okay, history lesson over. Today I decided that the gray was making me look to flipping old—older than I am. I am not a senior citizen, I am post Middle Aged Goddess. I am not going gently into that good night of growing old gracefully. I am growing old powerfully. I’m owning how I put myself out there and gray panther isn’t it.Hope in a Box

I perused the new offerings that found their way onto the shelves of dozens of choices at the Super Walmart Center. After comparing shades and names of red that would make the heads of Crayola’s R&D spin, I chose Red Velvet Brown. Does it get any more delicious than that? Number 4.3. I’m calling it hope in a box. As in, I hope my gray doesn’t go hot like it did the last time I tried this at home and ended up with magenta pink hair. Or, do I?

Carrot Cake?I mixed up the potion. It looked a bit more like carrot cake than red velvet, but I’m a seasoned at home colorist. I know it get’s darker. Right?

I accidentally started adding the after condition to the developer but caught myself after the first few dollops plopped in. I put on my glasses, found the tube of color and squeezed it into the botttle. It would be okay. I was sure it would. Just a little extra conditioning in the mix. Oh, what the hell—life is short, live fast and hot. I’ve had orange hair before.

I don’t take the time for any of those tests they recommend, like putting the product on your skin at the inner wrist and waiting to see if you’re allergic, or doing a strand test to see what color my hair will be when the towel comes off. They don’t do that shit at the salon.That's Orange!

I just slathered it on baby—and yup, it was looking mighty citrusy on my noggin. Also in that little drip on my color shit. I have worn this T-shirt for every at home color job I’ve ever done. It bears the history of all my Clarets, Cocoas, Brandies, Brandy Wines, Burgundies and Golden Raisins. This makes me think I should have a similar shirt that I wear every time I drink wine. No. Wouldn’t work. I’d have to live in it.

History of colorHere’s a close up—just because. Over time and through numerous launderings, all my lovely wines turned brown. I don’t care. I still love my color shirt. I’d think about leaving instructions for it to be buried with me, but I’ve donated my body to a university hospital, so . . .

No, really I have. There’s a card in my wallet telling whoever happens to be around when my body dies to call the folks at the University of Minnesota Bequest Program so they can pick me up. I mean with the two marriages, kids and grandkids, I just want to avoid all of that fighting over who is going to give me a proper send off and where my body will find final rest. Yeah, right—that’s funny. The only fighting would be over who has to foot the bill.

So, final results. Did I get Red Velvet or Carrot cake? Well, I apologize that you can’t really tell from the lighting in this photo, but Red Velvet it is. I like my cake ala mode. Think I might need a new, LBD to top off this look. What say you?

Red Velvet

Yes, I did my eyebrows to match. I know, I know. You’re not supposed to use the product near your eyes. It’s not like I put it on my lashes. I have thought about it. Relax, I haven’t done it. And I think I should probably say – I do not recommend using hair color products on your eyebrows or lashes. Don’t do it. If you do—don’t blame me for any mishaps.

And I should have done full makeup before taking that last photo. But it’s late, and I’m tired and I have to go shopping for a new dress tomorrow. So this is what you get.



From 40 to 50 at the Speed of Life: Ten Midlife Lessons I learned the Hard Way

Listen long enough to any group of women who have celebrated their milestone 40th birthday and among all the commiseration over dull complexion, new wrinkles, gray hair, thickening waists, fatigue, insomnia and just plain feeling like our bodies have betrayed us, you will hear the big four-O question, “What have you learned that’s made your life better after forty?”

The question speaks to our expectation of a payback for aging. We’re looking for the promised, porverbial wisdom, the quality of grace under pressure, the unshakeable confidence that makes losing our youth and finding our way worth it all.

For me, the decade between 40 and 50 felt like being adrift at sea without a boat. Sometimes the water was calm but very often waves pummeled me, rolling me beneath the surface to murky depths where I struggled to find which way was up, which way would bring me back to light and air.

My marriage had been foundering for a while, but it was just after turning forty that I separated from my husband of 23 years. One month after being on my own, I was fired from my job. Homeless and unemployed I wound up living in the upstairs bedroom of my parent’s home for six months.

Not long after finding a menial job and an apartment I could afford, my oldest daughter suffered congestive heart failure as a complication of childbirth. She was air-lifted to the nearest cardiac intensive care facility where she laid in a coma for three days. She recovered but my marriage flat-lined; the divorce was final six months later.

About mid-decade, I lost my mother-in-law, my own mother and then my father, all in one year’s time. Though none of them had been sick or frail, their ages ranged from 79 to 87. I knew they couldn’t live forever and I thought I was emotionally prepared for their deaths. I was not. Part of me will never fully recover.

As hard as those loss were, it was nothing compared to losing my 27-year-old stepson in a car accident; yes, I answered that 2 a.m. call—the one every parent dreads. It was repeated six months later when my 31-year-old son-in-law (to be) hit a deer and rolled his car. After the second time, you realize there are no reprieves for previous losses; the number of children you still have living is the same number of chances you have to answer that call again. That fact continues to take its toll. I swear I lose a year of my life every time my phone rings after a certain hour.

Then cancer came calling. Leukemia took a brother-in-law the year he was to begin enjoying retirement. A brain tumor (stage 4 glioblastoma) claimed another son-in-law who was only 37-years-old, leaving his wive bankrupted by medical expenses.

Two months before my 50th birthday, my second husband was diagnosed with inoperable acute coronary artherosclerrosis and congestive heart failure. He was given five years to live. I began preparing (in practical ways, not emotionally, never emotionally) for his death. Twice I followed the ambulance that was carrying him to the same cardiac intensive care unit where my daughter had recovered and my mother had died, never knowing which fate would be his his.

Fortune has smiled on my husband. At precisely five years from his diagnosis, cardiac bypass surgery became less of a risk to his survival than doing nothing—without it he’d die in months, with it, he had at least a chance of recovery. I am happy to say he has passed the expiration date first given by his doctors and together we are relishing every moment of this second chance for a second half of life.

Here are 10 things I’ve learned after 40:

  1. Never miss an opportunity to tell family and friends they are loved and appreciated because you never know when they might be taken from this life.
  2. Lust just happens, but love takes work. Love isn’t just something you feel, it’s what you do. It takes commitment, sometimes sacrifice and sometimes compromise, but it’s always an active choice.
  3. I am not responsible to provide anybody’s happiness but my own. It follows, that nobody else is responsible for mine, either. Happiness comes from within.
  4. My worth is not defined by the success of my parents, spouse, children and/or friends. It is not determined by what I do for a living. My worth is defined by remaining true to my values and goals.
  5. Nobody places any higher value on me than I first place on myself.
  6. People who judge me unfairly say more about themselves than they do about me.
  7. Whenever I have difficulty expressing kindness, compassion or understanding to others, its always my own ego getting in the way.
  8. I am the only person I can improve. To be honest, I’m lucky if I can make the changes I want for myself—let alone trying to change others. Who has the time?
  9. Every family is dysfunctional at some level. Learn to live with it and tolerate it in doses, because your family loves you. They miss you when you remove yourself from the portrait.
  10. Age is inevitable (there’s only one way to stop it), but your attitude about aging will determine how you feel every day. Think young, act youthful, make friends in all age groups, stay current on social topics and trends, and most of all, embrace the world with an loving heart.

All Work and No Play Is Just Too Exhausting

Yesterday I attended what is popularly known as a Psychic Fair. There were a lot of psychics there. Also several, very talented artisans offering hand crafted jewelry, clothing and accessories. I chatted with vendors over crystals and gemstones, herbals and essential oils, organic honey and beeswax, and singing bowls.

Today marks the midpoint of National Novel Writers Month, or NaNoWriMo. Before midnight, I should have 25,000 words of 50k for the first draft of my novel completed if I’m going to stay on par. I’m a bit behind, and I have two deadlines coming up on freelance pieces; the freelance work takes priority because it brings in the checks. More so, I’ve made a commitment to the editors. I have never left an editor hanging, and I never will – short of my own flat-line being the cause.

It didn’t make sense to take the day off to meet up with a bunch of girlfriends, talk off things metaphysical, sit in on some interesting mini-seminars and shop.

Or did it?

The day before, I struggled with the chapter I was working on, though struggle doesn’t seem to convey the experience. It was more liked I’d spent the day wrestling with a much younger, much stronger opponent, fighting for the pin. I was exhausted, I ached, my eyes burned and my brain hurt, but I wasn’t going to shut my computer off until I’d finished the chapter and at least gotten close to the word count for the day.

I went to sleep, trying to work out plot turns in my head. I didn’t sleep very well. I didn’t resolve any of my novels scenes either, so that was a waste. I remember thinking I needed a good neck and shoulder massage.

Well, what do you know? At the psychic fair a local mind and body wellness center was offering chair massages at a bargain. I signed up for fifteen minutes. The second the practitioner laid hands on my shoulder blades, I felt the heat penetrating through the light vest and shirt I was wearing. I thought maybe he’d warmed them first, but the heat lasted through the entire massage and it wasn’t just a surface warmth; I could feel it, like a pleasant electric charge, going deep into my muscles. It was the best massage I’ve ever had and maybe the most needed. I felt lightened, unburdened, when I walked away.

Usually I buy handfuls of crystals and gemstone when I go to these fairs. Sometimes I buy jewelry. I bought my singing bowl at a similar fair five years ago. I have never purchased clothing, and if I did, I’d expect it would be some  renaissance wear like a cape or puffy blouse.

This time, I bought a pair of socks. I paid more than three times for this single pair of socks than I have paid for any socks ever to warm my feet. And that was the point. Two days earlier, I’d told my husband I had to find a pair of soft, thick wool socks to wear with my slipper clogs to keep my feet warm in the studio (the floor is always so cold).

It occurs to me now, that the two things I asked the universe for were put before me yesterday. Say what you will about psychic fairs, metaphysical mysteries and the unknown workings of the universe. I’m sitting here today with relaxed shoulders and warm feet.

I also have a rested body and brain, ready to bring my word count up to par and reach the halfway point of a completed novel (first draft) written in one month. So while wasting the day when I should have been writing maybe didn’t seem like such a good plan, it was what I needed after all.

All work and no play is just too exhausting these days.

. mid Get a  ^  life!

Follow the MAD Goddess on Facebook and Twitter Living the second half of live with Passion, Purpose & Pizzazz.

%d bloggers like this: