(Photo credit: Ross Fountain, Butchart Gardens, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Photo taken by Martin LaBar. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode.)
I don’t know exactly how much of my hair would be gray if I didn’t color it, but I’ve got to guess it is somewhere between 50 and 75 percent. As shocking as that sounds, I’m guessing that the hair grayness of many women my age would also be in that range. But it sounds crazy, since so few of us dare to go au natural.
Every single month, I choose to put chemicals in my hair because I don’t want others to view me as older than I am. I know that I shouldn’t be bothered by this perception, but the truth is that in our culture, to actually look your age once you reach middle age is cause for shame among most of us.
There are many things we have control over in our lives, but aging isn’t one of them. Even so, we exert tremendous amounts of energy and spend billions of dollars not just trying to turn back time but creating a culture where the benefits of aging (which in my opinion are far greater than the handicaps) are grossly ignored and overshadowed.
While I have great respect for those who’ve come before me, and believe more and more as I age that the best is yet to come, I’m as guilty as the next person of perpetuating the notion that to be vital in the world, we need to appear youthful long past the years of our youth. Like most of the people I know, I try to teach my children that what is inside them is much more important than what is on the outside, yet my actions undoubtedly speak louder than my words.
Which is why I’m making some changes here on the blog.
You may have noticed already the new design and the new title. For the next 365 days (today included,) my blog will be called “FIFTY” because for the next 365 days, I will be fifty years old.
As a gift to myself for my 50th birthday, I am setting out to write a journal about all of those benefits of aging, which get pushed aside while we work so hard on changing our outsides to look different (younger) than our insides.
It has taken me a long time to learn how to love myself, to gain the wisdom to trust my instincts, to take my passions seriously, and to respect others for their whole beings, not just the parts I understand. This kind of beauty comes with age and it’s a beauty that cannot be faked with potions or therapies or surgery.
By focusing more attention on the details of my life as a woman of 50, I hope that I can move closer toward living the truths about life that are in my heart. On the way, I hope you’ll join the discussion about all of the wonderful parts of growing older and maybe together we can impact cultural expectations a bit as well.
My friend’s grandmother died recently at age 104. She was completely lucid and functioning well until a month before she died. With the possibility of 54 more years of active living, I am not interested in looking backward, searching for the Fountain of Youth. What I am in search of is far more valuable: the Fountain of Life.
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