Tag Archives: Post Middle Age

Reducing, Releasing and Receiving: My New Self Care

I’m coming full circle around to where this all began more than 20 years ago, with the Mad Goddess speaking to me in my middle age about sovereignty and self care. It’s playing out so differently this time, because the landscape is new. I’m passing through another transition.

Then it was all about preparing for the empty nest, or empty next as I liked to frame it, pursuing my interests and talents, carving out my unique niche in the world, making the dream come true.

Now I’m moving through my younger old age, not yet Crone, but perhaps crossing the threshold between Priestess and Sorceress as presented by Elizabeth Davis and Carol Leonard in their model of the thirteen stages of a woman’s life,  I’m standing in a liminal doorway, crossing into the next unknown.

13 Stages of women's life depicted in a wheel

Women’s Wheel of Life by Elizabeth Davis and Carol Leonard
I suppose you could put a mystic spin on all that, but really it’s about meeting my own truth and shaping the wisdom season of my life.
I’m practicing the three Rs. I think back then it was Reevaluate, Reimagine and Reset. Now those Rs are Reduce, Release and Receive.
All of this stuff I’ve accumulated over the decades of my adult life, longed for, worked hard for, held as success, now I feel the weight of it bearing down. We don’t own our material belongings as much as they owns us. Owned in perceived value; we can’t just throw it away or donate it, it cost us hard earned money. It should all be worth something.
Our stuff owns us in the time needed to use it, clean or maintain it. It claims our space for keeping it, saving it because we fear we might need or want it some distant day. Or saving it for children and grandchildren who have no use for it, don’t want it and will give it away.
Reducing the clutter has not proven easy. There is emotional attachment to things, but I find that the memories stay even when I let the things go. I had a beautiful perennial garden, twenty-four by forty feet, raised and enclosed with wire fencing to keep out deer, rabbits and other invaders. It bloomed with fragrant roses, peonies, and lilies. Spires of holly hocks, lupine and foxglove, and carpets of phlox.
It became too much work for me to keep up with. It’s overgrown with weeds and I’ve been giving my perennials to my daughters and younger gardening friends. I transplanted a few to small flower beds near my deck. I’m transforming the space into a wildlife garden, with mostly mulched beds, garden structures, and ornaments like wind chimes and sun catchers. I’m planting a few easy care shrubs and native wildflowers to attract birds and other wildlife.

My beautiful perennial garden is not gone, it is transformed, shaped to fit my life now. The stress of no longer being able to care for the formal perennials is gone. The strain on my arthritic back and knees is gone.

I’m gathering up all the bric-a-brac I no longer need, sets of china rarely used, books I no longer open, clothes I think will fit me again (they never will), all the little chotskies filling the shelves, the collection of wrapping paper and bows—who am I kidding? I give gift cards these days, or purchase a gift bag if needed.

Cluttered room full of vintage and furnishings

Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash

I keep telling anybody who will listen, I want less things in my life, and more experiences, with family, friends, and even on my own. I’m releasing my material stuff and going through my baggage, setting it down, walking away.

I’m clearing the space my stuff takes up in this world and opening it to receive what comes next. It’s slow going, it takes all the courage I’ve conjured up as an Warrior and Matriarch. I’m trusting it will make my life simpler and richer.

I want to travel light the rest of my years.

 Release, Reduce, Receive.This is my new self care.


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.

 


Hairball Goop and Gold Bond Foot Cream

It’s cold and raining today. A lot of people I know are happy about this. I think because it’s been 89.9 degrees and about the same extreme in percent of humidity for a few weeks now. That’s very unusual for far north Minnesconsin (Minnesota/Wisconsin—take your pick. The line blurs here in the woodsy forest), but hey, who said anything about climate change?

Honestly, I welcome the warmer-than-what-used-to-be-normal weather. Probably because I don’t have to work outside in it. I feel sorry for those people who have to work outside in a steam bath climate, but maybe they should have thought about that when they were making career choices.

Here in the rugged northland we have the heat on nine months out of the year. I live with a man who has to have air conditioned air to breathe the other three months,  because of COPD and asthma and I really believe mostly it’s that he prefers a room at 62-degrees because of his freakish fast metabolism. I thank the gods every day our house was not conducive to adding central air; the polar zone is limited to one room, which I can leave when I don’t feel like wrapping up in a fleece blanket for the only three months of the year that I don’t have to be wrapped up in a fleece blanket.

So it’s cold and raining and I’m sitting in one of the not air conditioned rooms in my fleece robe wrapped up in a fleece blanket. I may as well go shopping. I can turn on the heated seats in my little VW Bug, Blucy. It’s a baby Bug and I thought Lucy was a good name, but then I thought Blucy was even better. Blucy has eyelashes on her headlights. People point at my car and smile. They are NOT laughing.

So, I’m finishing my coffee and making my shopping list. I have to make lists because I can’t remember shit these days. I’ve decided that forgetfulness is probably a hardwired biological change in aging that forces us old broads to get at least some exercise. I probably put on half of my required steps every day just walking around the house looking for something I had in my hand a few minutes ago, but can’t remember where I set it down. I put on the other half looking for what my husband misplaces and accuses me of moving. I know a place where he could put his things and never lose them.
Sarah Palin's Faux Paux - Just Another Excuse for Latest Hairball She's Hacked Up
So far my list includes:

  • Ink for printer
  • Goop for cat’s hairballs
  • Toilet cleaner
  • Gold Bond foot cream

I lead such an exciting life.

The ink is necessary to print a return merchandise label so I can return the ugly wallpaper I thought would look like a real brick backsplash in my kitchen. Actually there is a real brick wall behind the sheetrock that would look so great exposed, if I could just get the husband to leave home for a few days and get at it with the hammer and crow bar. He seems pretty content in his refrigerated man cave – I mean the living room – in his lazy man recliner. I don’t think he’s going anywhere.

Oh, and in my defense, the Gold Bond cream isn’t for me. It’s not for my husband either. It’s for my nine year old granddaughter who said, (after the brief discussion I was having with her brother about his first girlfriend who seems a little high maintenance requesting high end chocolates if he wants to buy her something) “If I had a boyfriend, I’d just ask for Gold Bond cream for my feet.”

I think she’s an old soul; she’s got the kvetching down.


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