Saturday, February 16, 2013

hairs the thing...

As I've written before, one of my favorite pieces in the entire world is Desiderata.

It was written in the early 20th century by a lawyer named Max Ehrmann (1872-1945). When I was in high school, my 10th grade psychology teacher, Mr. Freeman, gave copies of the poem to all of the students in his class with a note that read, "Read this carefully and know that I dedicate each word to all of you with my very best wishes for a healthy, happy and fulfilled life."

(Ten months before the children were born and two days before the LASIK procedure that rid me of my coke bottle glasses). 

Twenty six years later, I still have the copy of Desiderata that Mr. Freeman gave to me. And whenever I need a pick me up or a gentle reminder, I turn to this simple yet incredibly powerful message. Here it is, again...
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story.  Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.  
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.  
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many people strive for high ideals and everywhere life is full of heroism.  Be yourself.  Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.  
Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.  Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. 
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you now, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life - keep peace in your soul.  With all of its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.  
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy. 
What I love about this is that each and every sentence is so perfectly concise and so purely true. But for a while now, I've been hung up on the 13th sentence: Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. 

When I look in the mirror these days, I can very clearly see the counsel of the years.  It is appearing as wrinkles around my eyes, mouth and hands ... an extra bit of skin on my chin ... some padding around my waist ... and white in my hair.  I wrote about this topic a few years ago and if I recall correctly, more than 500 people voted on the poll and the results were nearly split for those who colored their hair and those who did not.

I'm tempted to cast another poll to confirm those results because when I look around at the women in my age bracket - I'm convinced almost all of them do something to their hair.  It's like men in my age bracket. They are either bald - going bald - or gray (with or without varying degrees of baldness). When I mentioned this to Charlie not long ago, he didn't believe me - until he started to look around and realize how unusual it was for a guy his age to have a head full of predominantly thick dark hair.


(His white speckled goatee is another matter.) 

When I was a teenager, I'd squeeze lemon juice on my hair and then sit in the sun for a few hours to have the perfect highlights.  And two months after the triplets were born, I had the most beautifully shiny hair of my life. 


But over the past five years or so, my hair has been developing more and more of it's own "natural" highlights.  Whenever I'd go to have my hair done - usually once every ten months because I've never been disciplined to go more frequently - the stylist would tell me that before they could highlight it, they'd first need to color it to hide all the grey.  And because hair grows so fast, a vicious and costly cycle was quickly born.

Eventually, I decided that I'd just color it myself.  It took me less time and cost me less money. But that didn't go so well because the color on the box was never the color that wound up on my head. Another drawback was that my once strong and lustrous hair became dull and brittle.  Like hay.

Eight months ago, I decided NO MORE.  I am GOING to take kindly to the counsel of the years and gracefully SURRENDER the things of youth! I'm GOING to let my hair grow out and EMBRACE Nature's Design for my head!   This has been difficult, since I'm currently in a two-tone zone wherein I've got 4" of roots and 14" of colored hair.  And then I find myself in situations where I'm with other women (elevators at work primarily) who are approximately the same age as me and they look like they are fighting the aging process - and winning. They have uniformly colored hair and perky body parts and I don't.  Boo!

So here I sit perched on the precipice of violating some significant terms of Desiderata.  I'm comparing myself to others, while contemplating how I can squeeze in a trip to a colorist and a plastic surgeon during my weekly lunch hours.  But then I pull out Max Ehrmann's words and I slowly re-read each sentence of what has become my life's credo and the poor body image thoughts fly away like the white wisps on my head...


I fully suspect that when I look back five short years from now, through my bi-focaled glasses, I'll be amazed at how young and beautiful I look, right now, as I'm doing my best to gracefully surrender.

Footnote: I reserve the right to crack like wheat on this whole aging process and bleach my hair blonde. The boob job and tummy tuck, however, are highly unlikely. 


  1. I still have my copy too! I found it a few years ago and keep it tucked in a special place!
    Sarah S
    ps...going to san diego in april and wishing y'all were still there as i have a whole day to kill between check out and my flight home. :)

    1. Sarah - I'm sorry we'll miss you, too!! If you have a full day to travel around, Balboa Park is a must-see as is La Jolla. Depending upon the weather - - I'd probably opt for La Jolla. You can rent a kayak and take a tour through the sandstone caves!

  2. Oh my gosh...look how beautiful you are (roots and all)! So glad you are able to embrace the changes occurring as you gain further knowledge and maturity.

    Thanks for sharing the poem. It's not one I can remember having read, but I can take its message to heart.

    Amy F.

  3. oh my gosh - that is some deep philosophical thinking about coloring hair. LOL
    I think of coloring hair is like shaving your legs. Once you do it, you probably always will. I will ALWAYS color my hair. I simply don't like my natural color. I'm fortunate I suppose to not have any gray hair yet, but I can't imagine me liking my hair better gray (rather than dishwater blonde). Additionally, I think a good dye job reflects well professionally. My daughter and I have had several conversations about why I wear makeup to work.(she insists I don't need to because I'm beautiful already). I tell her that wearing makeup makes me feel like I put effort into being at work and is an outward sign that I care about my appearance. Granted you will only really notice me wearing makeup the first hour of work.I end up rubbing it all off somehow. In fact right now with all my clients coming in to bring me their information, I wonder what my end of day appts think I look like (especially after a hard morning) once all my makeup is rubbed off and my hair is in a ponytail by that time...but anyways.
    A good dye job - prevents a person from looking underemployed.
    a good dye job - can be the envy of others
    a good dye job - can make you feel pretty and make you feel like you are worth spending money on. (instead of always spending money on others - like my kids who keep outgrowing their clothing every 6 months)

    Cheers to the $250 hair appt! : )

    p.s. besides, you going gray at your age is silly. You are too young. It will age you 10 years. You won't be aging at the same rate as your peers. WWCHD? (what would charlie's hair do?)....follow can go gray when the hair on his head does.

    1. Holly, I think the reason I'm so tired is because I apply this same level of deep philosophical thinking to EVERYTHING. HA! I totally over think things - it's a flaw I'm working on! I agree with your summary on the positive things that a good coloring job can bring - - my problem is that I'm not good about keeping up with the appointments. So it looks great for a while, then grows out and looks terrible and I get caught in this trap of feeling like I have better things to spend my time and money on. That said - - your hair has always looked great, so you're a good one to argue WHY I SHOULD.

      Our family definitely has that premature graying gene. My sister was 100% gray when she was 30 and she embraced it. 20++ years later, her hair looks great - healthy and white! (Looks great on her, not so sure though it would look great on me...!)

  4. What if you used a color that was closer to your natural color, so that the difference was subtle?

    And, you look great. You still look VERY young!

    1. Mary, I think that's the trick - - I'm probably going to cave and color it, but I want to go with something more subtle so that when it grows out, the contrast isn't so stark.

      A few years ago, I had my hair done by a man who spoke VERY broken English. When I told him I wanted the highlights to be "LIGHT" as in = not very many .... he took that to mean "LIGHT" as in = very, very light colored hair. And that's how I turned out looking like Loni Anderson!

  5. You are right-looking at it from a vantage point of fifty-five and getting older--you are right-you will wonder what you thought was so old looking about yourself right now. The next ten years are the hard ones on our perception of how we look, or should look, but then you may begin to realize that all we have is what's in our hearts and that looks are so not-important after fifty. Delve into your conscience and your soul to see what truly matters in our lives. Hair color ain't it !~!

  6. You have never had short hair---and I think you should do it---a nice chin length cut--or shorter and be free of all those chemicals. Try it and see---I bet it would look great on you as you approach another birthday!

  7. Thinking about this today, I think this is going to be a non-event. Your girls will get older and will pretty much tell you what you are supposed to be doing with your hair.....

  8. Oh my, first I have to tell you that I have been reading for years and I can't recall ever commenting before.

    Anywayyyyy, I struggle with the same hair issue( well TBH alot of the same issues as you do. But I think a lot of moms these days do)back to my point. I was a coloring fool for the first few grays and then one day I was like WHY? BC other moms do?!?!?! I don't need to keep up with them. That would be like keeping up with my crazy neighbor who has fake everything and is still not happy with herself. My kids don't care, my husband doesn't care and my wallet sure as heck doesn't care. Do you know what, other people don't even notice. Not even the total PATCH at the end of my part. But I did get a hair up my butt the other day and cut bangs...which I havent had in over 20 years...myhair and I are not getting along so well right now BUT it grows back!!!

    Lately Ive been spending all those hair coloring savings searching for a miracle hand wrinkle cure. I am much too young to have hands this old looking.
    Good luck and for what its worth I think you look fantastic for having 1 more kiddo than me!

    1. Thanks Kemper ... maybe if ALL of us stopped shoveling our hard earned $$ in to hair coloring that will grow out in 6 months - we could start a new trend! Most of the guys I know don't color their hair (that I know of...) so why must we?? Why can't we just embrace the colors on our heads? It might look so good and so natural - if we just give it a shot! Especially if we had a nice haircut. Right??

      I was thinking of it the other day that if I were to have my hair colored every 6 to 8 weeks (like I've been directed), I'd be spending close to $1000 a year on my HAIR. Then I think about all I could do with $1000 .... I could go skiing for a long weekend. I could buy an entirely new wardrobe. I could donate it to a homeless shelter and buy everyone coats!!!!

      Of course, my hair does look nice when it's colored. So. I'm still not convinced I'll never do it again. Vanity is a tough opponent!

  9. Tettering on that same fence......

    1. Joy - let me know which way you fall .... :)

  10. Thanks Jen!
    I would have to say it WAS difficult to find a hair salon that I was happy with in DC. I joke that I prostituted my hair around town out there because I tried so many places. I finally settled into a place called PR & Partners in Shirlington. A guy did my hair there - he had dark brown curly hair. I can't remember his name (I even just looked at my old check registers to see if I could find his name for you, but I must thrown those away since it was over 5 years ago.) For the quality, I thought they were reasonably priced.

    I agree - it is difficult to find the time. Right now I'm only going every 4 months and when I do, I tell my hairdresser, no - don't give me a scalp massage. Get me out of here!

    1. You pass on the scalp massage??

      Good heavens, Holly - - that's the BEST part!!!!!

  11. Jen-
    I get high and lowlights for my hair, which means I can go longer between appts and save a little $$$.
    PLUS, I really do enjoy my 2 hour alone time.... LOL

    1. Yes - the 2-hour alone time is nice. I mean, when else do I have the opportunity to get caught up on Cosmopolitan, GQ, People and Seventeen magazines????

  12. I recently switched from highlights to lowlights and it makes a big difference in how long I can go between appts. I'm 60 and will probably be one of those people who always color their hair because I don't like my natural color. To me it's worth the money to like the way my hair looks.