Gray Hair: Trying New Things When You Ditch The Dye

It’s so hard for me to believe that two years have passed since I started on this gray hair adventure. I can really remember this time last year so clearly because I was about to tell my hairdresser that I was about to stop coloring my hair. In fact, I’m sitting in a cafe right now about a block away from that place.

I remember before I walked into the hairdresser I was excited about what I was going to do. I had no idea that it was going to be something that pushed buttons, that actually scared people. Ahhh, I was so innocent.

I didn’t think much about the adventure other than it was a new beauty thing – like discovering waxing for the first time. I had no idea that I would be spending two years talking about it in videos or meeting wonderful women from all walks of life who were interested and especially that I would write a book about it.

It’s been a huge gift in many ways – a gift in patience (waiting for my hair to grow has been like watching paint dry) and being willing to be okay with NOT knowing the outcome. Just these couple presents alone have translated to many ways for me right now. Case in point, I’ve been without internet for the past two days  -“system outage impacting 100 residences” – lucky me! Considering 75% of my work is online right now – especially at a time where I have so much to do with my new book – I could easily be freaking out. In fact I think a couple years ago I would’ve been. But I think, I’m kinda mellow about it all. I know aside from finding a place to hunker down and hoping the wifi is fast enough, there’s nothing much I can do today other than be patient and be okay with NOT knowing if I will be able to post this today. I know it will eventually be okay and I just have to ride a very unusual situation out.

In the vlog I talk about my discovery of a new way to wash my hair – WITHOUT shampoo – or as the cool kids call it “No-poo”. What a revelation that’s been! I do a version called the Curly Girl Method or “Co-poo” method, which substitutes a conditioner for the shampoo. Some people are very strict with the “no-poo” method and I might be committing a cardinal sin using conditioner but what can I say, following the Curly Girl Method has done wonders for my hair. That said, it’s been a little trial and error. Like I say in the video, you leave the conditioner in after a brief rinse and you have to find your personal sweet spot of what amount left in works for you. I also find that some conditioners – even without the silicone and sulphate -are better than others but overall, this way of washing my hair – and I’ve had 5 months of testing it out- has completely kicked butt over any shampoo habit I’ve had for many, many years.

This video shows how it’s done:

Have you tried no-poo or co-poo? Let me know if this inspires you to give it a whirl!

Why I Don’t Play “The Age Card”

I’m coming down to the pointy end of a period where I’ve been creatively working non stop. It’s been intense. I’ve finished my book on growing my hair out gray (Gray Hair Adventure: Things I Learned About Life When I Stopped Dyeing My Hair out Oct 1 2015) and am in the final stages of publishing. At the same time I’m currently editing my first online video course, a companion to my book How To Find Your Purpose After 40: The Secret To Unlocking Your Unique Gift To The World. On top of that I’ve just finished knocking out the draft of a class I’m going to be giving soon to my favorite volunteer organization Dress For Success.

 

 

It’s definitely one of those “when it rains it pours times”. And as exhausting and challenging and sometimes scary as it’s been – because I’m doing new things- this is me living my purpose. And as exhausting and challenging and sometimes scary as it’s been, I’ve continued to take care of myself. My yoga has become mandatory rather than something I should push under the rug because of time. My mind seems to finally stop dancing so much when I do my morning sitting, after nearly a year of solid practice, this meditation thing seems to be working. And funny enough, I’m doing this without wine, coffee, refined sugar, dairy and wheat. I want to feel good not only now while I’m going through all this but when I emerge from it.

And another thing. I’ve recently had to learn how to do so many things and on top of that, all the things that I learned recently have had to go another level. If you could’ve told me five years ago that by this time in my life I would have three books under my belt or that I would be able to write, produce, present, edit and everything else that’s needed for a twelve lesson online course I would’ve said “No way”.

I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m bragging. What I’m trying to say is that my age has not factored in to anything in my life. It doesn’t keep me from taking care of myself and investigating what I need to be healthy. It doesn’t keep me from learning new things and getting out of my comfort zone. It doesn’t keep me from taking 100% responsibility for my words and actions.

I feel grateful that somewhere, somehow, I learned how to question the idea that a number determines not only what I’m capable of but how people respond to me. I had to have learned that from someone right? I guess that’s why when I hear someone blaming age for something I recoil. I don’t want to hear it and I don’t want my daughters to hear it. It’s not that I live with my head in the sand but so far, I see no reasons whatsoever why age has to play a role in how we want to live and move in this world.

If I did, I certainly wouldn’t be typing this now.

 

 

 

The Best Mindset For Embracing Gray Hair

Before I decided to jump into the pool of ditching the dye and letting my hair grow out to its natural color, I was spending a lot of time online in massive Google mode – searching for all evidence that this was going to be a good thing for me, as well as something I could even commit to trying temporarily. I somehow landed on a video that was supposed to be about the gray hair transition but was really a how-to video for dealing with alopacia.

 

 

I’ve looked for this particular video and can’t find it. I wish I could show it to you because it was mesmerising. The woman, with a full head of hair, who demonstrated was funny, strong and completely matter of fact and explained she was going to take us through her morning routine. She then took off various hair pieces, wiped off her eye make up and being a 100% herself, without indulging in any kind of pity or talking about challenge, took us all step by step through her routine to feel beautiful, being funny and strong all the way to the end.

I often think about this amazing lady when the concept of bravery is connected with choosing to grow gray hair. I get that ditching the dye goes against the grain of society, I get that it’s loaded with fears and judgements about age. I get that it’s a “take the plunge” experience that requires a bit of digging deep to go through it. But frankly, I think that calling this move “brave” is going too far. I know for some women, choosing to grow gray is a health issue but for those of us, like myself, who are doing it because we want to feel beautiful in our own skin, buying into the idea that this is a thing to be feared and that we have to white knuckle ourselves to even try it is extreme and blowing it all out of proportion.

At this stage of my adventure, I’ve done about 15 videos and there’s a chance that in the early days I had a belief that this was a brave thing to do. Now, not so much. As time’s gone on and I start getting used to how I look, the word “brave” seems completely inappropriate. I see everyday through my community women who are doing things that make the gray hair experience look like kid stuff.

And you know what?

It is kind of kid stuff. It’s like learning how to put on eye makeup (which I still don’t know how to do by the way). It’s like trying on your first pair of high heels and learning to walk in them (a million heels later and I still haven’t mastered this). Changing your hair color to whatever shade, at whatever age is, at its most basic one of these types of beauty choices. The more we can let go of the angst of it, the wider we can open the door for ourselves and others to try new things that will make us feel better, without feeling like we’re about to go in for the battle of our lives.

So I want to hear from you? What brave thing have you done since ditching the dye that has NOTHING to do with gray hair. Share your story with me.

And speaking of gray, I’m putting the finishing touches on my latest book and it’s about the gray hair experience. If you’d like to get the inside scoop on it, get on my free email list by clicking here.

 

Getting A New Style When You Grow Gray Hair

When it came to dealing with hairdressers since growing my hair out gray, I thought I was doing pretty good. After all, I learned early on that a stylist might not necessarily think it’s the right choice and that made me tough. Even if I just got a blow dry, I’d stare down the barrel of any seasoned professional and introduce myself with the line “I’m purposely growing my hair out gray because I think it looks super cool, so make me look sexy!”

 

 

So imagine my surprise, during the biggest haircut of this whole adventure, when I completely regressed to my pre gray days, back to that place when I let hairdressers be the boss of me. I dropped my guard and left my hairstyle into the hands of the gal with the scissors. In some cases, this works just fine, but the hairdresser made an assumption about what would be right for me, and in turn, gave me that kind of cut.

I’ll tell you a secret. The haircut kind of bummed me out. I couldn’t even film the “after” of this video until a few days had passed and even then I was still feeling yuck about it all. Even though it’s fine when it’s blow dried will be back to normal length eventually, there’s no weirder sensation then getting a haircut you don’t like. I’d asked for a hip, long bob with long layers and all I got was a shoulder length, mom style, bowl cut. I could’ve gone back and gotten it fixed, but honestly, I couldn’t be bothered. I’ll get it done, with someone else, who I’ll communicate with better, when it needs another trim. But man, it’s the oddest sensation walking around with a haircut you don’t like. I could barely think for a week.

Fortunately my hair grows fast and my mind is always searching for ways to interpret and soothe discomfort. And if there’s any big takeaway, it’s to always stand up for yourself. If you can do that in a beauty parlour, I reckon you can do it anywhere.

Here’s a link to Narcissista.me – a beauty blog which I quote in the vlog. I really like the writing in this, smart, sexy and fun.

So what about you? Have you let your guard down during your gray hair adventure and walked out of the hairdresser with a “safe” cut? Did your hairdresser make an assumption about you that was off the mark?Tell me your story!

What If My Gray Hair Doesn’t Look Good Enough?

I’ve got a pet peeve. It’s when we women blame and complain about the media for making us feel insecure because of the images of perfection that we’re supposedly comparing ourselves to. The reason these tired and overused comments annoy me is because they’re generally never followed up by the truth. And that truth is simple. We have a choice on whether we take these images on board as our own personal true north or not. We aren’t (yet) living in a scene out of a science fiction movie where if we don’t look like a model, we’re tossed on a scrap heap.

 


 

I was thinking about this the other day when I was looking at my very frizzy, crazy cat hair lady hair and thinking “I ain’t no Cindy Joseph”. After a year and a half of growing my hair out gray I can safely say that my hair is not resembling really anything that I see on Pinterest. While there’ve been times when I’ve really loved what’s going on, there are other times, like now, where I can only chalk what’s going on on my head as a bad hair day.

And that’s okay.

I had plenty of bad hair days when I was dyeing my hair as well.  My hair is naturally coarse and thick and certain conditions such as humidity and ocean swimming do a number on me. It’s at moments like this where I have a choice. I could freak out and cry, looking at all the beautiful silver foxes and feel completely inadequate or I could get snarky and blame them for photo shop and lighting trickstery, or I could do what I do for every aspect of my self that I do my best to take care of.

I can choose to love myself regardless.

I can practice loving my imperfections and find beauty in my own unique self. I can ensure I get some self care- like getting a blow dry every now and then and trying every product known to man so I can make a little lemonade out of some lemons. I can smile at the Pinterest pages for giving me the excitement and inspiration for doing the gray hair adventure in the first place, but then, I can rely on myself and my own personal journey with it to discover my own definition of beauty with it.

In a strange way, beauty is a spiritual practice. We are not our bodies but here we are, in this physical shell that is part of our life’s journey, and so we have to deal with it and we have to choose how that’s gonna happen. If you’re a person who values beauty the knack of it is to also find a way to see the beauty in ways that we haven’t been programmed to see it. That means to see beauty when it isn’t glossy, age dependent or even popular.

As I mention in the video, going through this gray hair adventure, I’ve come to notice that it can all hover dangerously close to the line of leading women who just can’t do it to feel – ironically – bad about their choice to color their hair. This is soooooo not my intention and maybe, in my early videos, I was so in the moment of what I was doing that perhaps I gave a vibe of “You have to do the gray hair thing”. I don’t believe in this at all. I don’t believe in a movement that makes women question their decision to color their hair or to feel less than authentic for doing something that makes them feel pretty. I’ve loved being public with this experience just so it can show what it feels like to go through an experience that is unusual and at times brings up unique lessons to learn about growing older and/or feeling vulnerable and/or exploring confidence. But if there’s any big takeaway I want these videos and everything that I do to stand for, it’s that we need to really challenge the rules that a lot of us have been brought up to follow and take as gospel. We deserve as many options as we can dream up and we also deserve to decide what’s best for ourselves, not what a magazine or a movement tells us is best.

Oh and PS, the music bit I used in the video is by an Australian country singer named Kacey Chambers.

 


 

So what do you think? Have you ever felt like your gray hair adventure isn’t up to scratch or felt bad because you didn’t want to do the gray hair thing? Talk to me!

 

 

Things My Ex-Hairdresser Taught Me About Growing Gray Hair

You know those times when all of a sudden you run into someone who you really don’t want to see? And to be fair, chances are pretty good the feeling is mutual? Well this happened to me the other day and it actually ended up being a very good thing.
 

Click to watch the video

 

I was in my local surf shop, picking out some board shorts when I turned around and there he was – The hairdresser who told me a year ago that my hair was going to look terrrrrribbbbbble if I decided to grow it out gray. The upshot was that he became my “ex” hairdresser. In one way it was a bummer because he was a very good stylist but on the other hand, the encounter inspired me to film my gray hair adventure and also gave me my first experience of the personal challenges that doing this can deliver –  Click here to watch that first video.

So many things in life that might appear gift-wrapped in negativity actually are fantastic opportunities to grow and learn. Not getting a glowing response from a hairdresser ended up being 100% one of those.

I talk about what his reaction was to my hair and what I learned in this video but the one thing that really stands out is that all of us are on a journey of discovery but not always at the same time. All of us deserve the right to learn and stretch and grow. I can only speak for myself here but seriously, there are a million things that I initially had a negative judgement about in the past that now, with more experience, knowledge and time under my belt, I feel completely different about. We’re entitled to this growth and we also need to allow others the same grace to get there, in their right time.

If it wasn’t for this hairdresser I’m not sure if I would’ve come at my gray hair adventure from the perspectives that I have. He gave me the gift of stretching myself and triple-checking my conviction. And ya know, as awkward as an unplanned reunion can be, I’m really glad that I was able to reconnect with him. I sincerely appreciate the many gifts he gave me, simply because he did what was right for him at that time.

Have you ever come full circle with someone that you were at odds with? Tell me about it here: 

Tips For Thriving During The Holidays

Now is the perfect time to put together a strategy that will help you THRIVE during the holidays. Regardless of whether you’ll be traveling, have guests coming, or honestly want to avoid the whole season all together (and for some this is a reality) – have no fear! In this podcast I share 6 cool hacks that will elevate your holiday season in surprisingly groovy ways.

 

 Click to Listen to the Podcast (PS, you can also subscribe and listen on iTunes)

 

Links to things I spoke about

My YouTube video about how to stop overspending during the holidays

Ashtanga (The type of yoga I do)

Ana Forrest, yoga teacher

My meditation practice

Manly Beach, Australia

Bach Flower Remedies

Kombucha

Buy My Books For Holiday Presents 

Jayne Totty from Supernourished.com for asking for holiday themed content

Marlene Nuhann’s blog on adrenals

And of course the classic holiday song: Over The River And Through The Woods

 

Shout outs to these lovely women:

Secret Serenity 

Madelyn5454 

Annie Ford Jones

Now it’s your turn: What have you road tested that helps you thrive during the holiday season. Post your comments below.

Going Gray – A Love Letter To Under 40’s

Dearest You,

Last year, when I decided to stop dyeing my hair to let it grow out gray, I learned some weird things about us women. For one thing, I learned that the mere idea of publicly showing regrowth could put big time fear into the stomach pits of usually tough and independent women. I learned that to choose to grow gray is considered by some HR consultants as a career killer and I got the message that many women believe gray hair symbolizes giving up and everything bad about aging.

 

Click the video to check out my Gray Hair update and advice to under 40’s

 
But the biggest surprise of all was hearing from you, women under 40 who were dealing with the same issues that my midlife peers were. The majority of messages I received this past year were from women, many in their 20’s, who noticed their first grays as teenagers and now were in full “run for cover” mode. But the thing was, the women who wrote to me wanted to stop dyeing. They just had no idea how to move past the fear.

To tell you the truth,  I hadn’t really thought that this issue was a thing for women under 40. But the more I thought about it, the sadder I felt. I spoke to friends who admitted they’d been hiding their “under 40 grays” for years, afraid to tell anyone about it for fear that they’d seem old before their time. When you run the numbers, that’s a helluva lot of years of fear. That’s a huge chunk of time keeping a very personal secret.

I often wonder what’s the price of fear when it comes to all this beauty stuff we feel that we have to do? Perhaps it’s so many jolts of adrenalin that somehow impacts us on a physical level. Maybe it’s missed opportunities to really see what our true, unique beauty would deliver if we let it.  But these were thoughts that I mostly reserved for my age group and the choices we’re making to keep that “50 is the new 30” thing, alive and well. To think that you, my younger friends, also go through this, hurts. It makes me feel like all the self acceptance and self love that we’re trying to live and breathe is just a bunch of talk and something that really hasn’t sunk in on a collective level.

And at the same time, I have a feeling that you’re the ones that can actually stop the madness.

For one thing, the whiff of fear that you’re getting is coming from us, the over 40 generation. Most likely you heard from a family member, an adult friend or the media that gray equals bad. Before the internet came, word of mouth was really all any of us could rely on – that’s all we knew and so we had no choice but to keep dyeing our hair and passing along this misguided mantra. But that changed once we were able to go online and find others not only daring to go through the same thing but looking amazing while they did it. This was something we didn’t really know existed and we started to have a change of heart. The gray hair adventure symbolizes a lot of the challenges that many of us over 40 face. A lot of the confusion is because the things that we were brought up to believe are no longer true. At the very least we’re learning that it’s okay for us to follow our own intuition rather than following the pack. But we’re just starting to get this. Your generation however has got this way early on. You aren’t confined to a lot of the ideas and mindsets that have brought us to life’s crossroads. You might very well avoid some of the situations we find ourselves in now.

You learned early on the importance of being true to your soul’s calling. It’s normal now for us to talk about our purpose and many of you are able to express yourselves in ways that a lot of us over 40 are just discovering. You know how to be healthy and that it’s more than what you eat – it’s how you live, who you surround yourself and what you do in the world. These are things that a lot of us at midlife are just wrapping our heads around.

I’m not saying here that growing gray hair is easy at any age, especially if you’re young. Perhaps the advantage of being older and doing it is that the years eventually can provide strength and discipline to face up to what others think. But I do think that if any generation can turn our mind around about this hair thing, it’s yours. I get so much inspiration from younger women these days. You seem so much more worldly and confident than I remember of my generation. When I see a young woman who is letting her gray show through, I’m in absolute awe. I not only see beauty, I see confidence, I see style, I see someone who knows and backs herself 100%. There is nothing aging about that, in fact it’s super human.

So, younger friend, if you’re thinking about taking a break from coloring your hair but you get pushback from a parent or a colleague or other obstacles, know that out there, I’m cheering for you. You, being you, gives all of us, regardless of our age, the social proof that we can do what we want with our hair (our bodies, our choices, etc.) and to do it without fear.

Some good questions to ask yourself are:

20 years from now, will the fear I spent not doing what I wanted to do be worth it?

What will happen if I see what my hair looks like without dye?

What will happen if I don’t see what my hair looks like without dye?

Hang in there beauty. The lessons you can start learning now will make all the difference to your life down the track.

Love xx

Sue

 

Got any advice for women under 40 who want to stop coloring their gray but are too afraid? Post your thoughts here:

 

 

Lessons From A Year Of Growing Gray Hair

 

PODCAST EPISODE #6 LESSONS FROM A YEAR OF GROWING GRAY HAIR

 

“You’re going to look like shit.”

That’s how my formerly favorite French hairdresser responded when I excitedly told him that I was ready to hop on board the silver sister bandwagon and grow my hair out gray.

That was 12 months ago and as I sat in that chair I did two things.

Number #1 – I decided that I would fire this hairdresser and never put up with hairdresser peer pressure again.

and

Number #2 – I buckled up for a bumpy ride. I had no idea that my decision to grow my hair out gray would be something that would piss people off.

I really didn’t intend to chronicle my experience of growing out my hair gray. But that day was a moment of the “You can’t do this’s and that’s” that we are faced with when we are at midlife and I found it incredibly symbolic. I mean how many times have we heard garbage like we can’t wear sleeveless because of our supposed bat wing arms (in Australia they call it “tuck shop arms” – a barb at the older women who work in school cafeterias). And to address that, I’m sorry but for those of us that have been physically active all our lives, this might not even be a sore point. Or what about that we won’t even want to have sex after a certain age. I’ve had nice orgasms this week, thank you very much!

So this one, where someone told me that I couldn’t go gray finally brought one of those “can’t do this and that’s” home. And so, the journalist in me said “document”.

For the past twelve months I’ve been putting my learnings on YouTube. Here are all the video from start to finish.
#1 Let The Grays Begin

#2 Sh*t People Say When You Grow Gray Hair 

#3 Self Acceptance While Growing Out Gray Hair

#4 Gray Hair – Coping With Opinions of Others

#5 Makin’ Like Clooney When You Grow Gray Hair 

#6 Rock Your Gray Roots When You’re Out On The Town

#7 What If Growing My Hair Out Gray Makes Me Look Old?

#8 Gray Hair: Dealing With Wobbly Moments

#9 Exploring Color When You Grow Gray Hair

#10 Gray Hair: Activate Your Inner Badass

#11 Going Gray: A Love Letter To Under 40’s

#12 Things My Ex-Hairdresser Taught Me About Growing Gray Hair

#13 What If Your Gray Hair Doesn’t Look “Good Enough”?

#14 Gray Hair: What You Need To Know About Haircuts 

#15 Gray Hair: Do You Have To Be Brave When You Ditch The Dye?

And in the podcast above, I share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned. Like I say in the episode, it’s taking such a long time for this all to unfold that it will probably be another year of documenting before I fully understand exactly what I’ve done.

All I know is that I feel good. I feel pretty. I feel challenged. And all of that is okay.

Oh, and that hairdresser? He doesn’t work there anymore and wherever he is, I wish him well.

Need some advice about a midlife issues? Want me to research something you’re confused about? Ask me! All you have to do is leave a message – keep it to about one minute maximum – and if possible, I will include it in an upcoming episode. You have the choice to leave an email address and if you do and your question is used in the podcast, I’ll send you a digital copy of my book Be Your Own Change Guru: The Ultimate Women’s Guide For Thriving At Midlife.

So, with that in mind – got a question? What is on your mind and how can I help you? Record your message now.

Podcast – TCG 2.0

The Change Guru 2.0 is a new weekly podcast on iTunes dedicated to all things over 40. These are candid, unscripted chats, often solo, sometimes with guests, where I share what’s on my mind. Every episode is loaded with tips and inspiration to make your life rock.

Subscribe to the show on iTunes

Subscribe to the show via Stitcher

Listen to all 68 episodes of TCG 1.0 on iTunes

 

You can support the podcast by buying my books: 

Be Your Own Change Guru:The Ultimate Women’s Guide For Thriving At Midlife

How To Find Your Purpose After 40: The Secret To Unlocking Your Unique Gift To The World 

So – back to this week’s podcast – Are you doing the gray hair thing? What lesson can you pass on about it?

Leave a comment below.

Why Growing Gray Hair Makes Me Want Color!

 

I have no idea what it is but lately I’ve been really craving color. Perhaps it’s that it’s winter in Sydney, Australia?  No, it can’t be that as it’s been a stunning winter. I think the blame really falls on a habit I have, that I didn’t even really know I have and that’s the reality that I wear too much black.

It all started when I went to school in San Francisco in the early 80’s. Black was the color of rebellion and punk and I loved it. It was such a refreshing change from the surfer girl that I had grown up as. As time went on, black was the color of choice for my travel clothes, my yoga gear and my power suits.

But as I’ve grown out my hair gray, I feel like I want to break through from this limitation. It reminds me a lot of when I travel in India and the women are so amazingly colorful. When I’m wearing black in India, I feel like a big drag. I end up buying all these intensely vibrant clothes and fabrics over there, but then I come home, back to the city, back to the black uniform, and I morph back into the standard uniform of metro living.

So in this video, an episode of my Gray Hair Adventure – I share a little discovery I found in the iTunes store that helped me bring a little more color in my life. Have a look and let me know if this inspires you to have a play outside the basic black box.