Monday, April 27, 2015

Making Mandalas

I've been somewhat obsessively drawing mandalas lately. Thinking of myself as someone who doesn't draw, it surprises me to suddenly have a growing stash of fancy sketch books and pens. I take them along with me everywhere I go, and in any free moment, with Rick or a cappuccino or a glass of wine for company, I pull out my book and pen and start drawing in circles.

I have dozens of them already, and told myself at first to wait to see what they want to do until I have at least thirty of them. As I passed that number, and just kept going, the idea came to me to offer them as coloring pages, so that's what I'm about to do.

Have you noticed that coloring books for grown-ups are hot these days? I have no interest in a project like putting together a book. I'm more into draw, share, draw, share. That's enough. Besides, I'm kind of late to the adult coloring book party. There's a growing number of them out there, and what I like about that is that it confirms that people love to color. It makes us feel good, and that makes the world a better place.

I'll soon be offering individual pages in PDF format for sale on my website, for a very small price, so happy colorers can do as many as they want to. I have to work out the tech part of it, but for starters I have some to offer for free. I did these little mandala cards to give as a gift to those who sign up for my mailing list. Yes, we all know there's some give and take in this. I give you access to something really pretty and fun that you can use in your own happy life, and you give me permission to send you an email once a week or so, letting you know that there's new fun stuff to peruse on my website. I think it's a great exchange for all concerned.

So, my fellow colorers, I hope you'll pop over and subscribe to my mailing list. It only takes a second, and you'll be directed to instant access to the mandala cards. I hope you'll enjoy them, and stay tuned for more.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Ditching The Dye

I've been coloring my hair for years. Everyone does, right? It's what we've been taught we're supposed to do as soon as the first rogue grays become too many to pluck without creating a bald patch. My mother bleached her dark brown hair from the time I was a little girl. Her mother was my "crazy red-haired granny" until she died in her 80's. And my father's mother, who had unfortunate, wispy locks and lost a lot of hair as she aged, opted for a terrible brown wig that didn't suit her at all. Hair color seemed natural to me. Just something we do when we grow up.

I actually started dabbling in recreational color as a teenager. I went glowingly henna-red off and on, but I think henna is kind of a gateway hair color, that often leads to the harder stuff. The mess of plastering smelly green mud on one's head can become more trouble than it's worth. It did for me, and I eventually graduated to semi-permanent color from a box, to "brighten" my natural color. Later it was permanent dyes because I wanted bigger changes in my real color, and I wanted to really cover those pesky grays. I think there were about six of them at the time. Vanity is a funny thing.

One time I opted for what looked like a lovely dark auburn on the box, but ended up in a total panic over what turned out to be black hair with purple highlights. I called Miss Clairol herself, pleading for some kind of help, which led me to stripping the color out of my hair, and re-coloring it a nice normal shade of my original brown - which ended up actually being a flaming I-Love-Lucy-red. At this point I was afraid of frying my hair and having it all fall out, so I tried to live with the red, which was actually orange, and required me to race to Mervyn's to buy new clothes that didn't clash with my hair. Sigh... A few days later I succumbed to the dye bottle again, and finally got back to more or less the basic brunette shade I'd started with. My hair was not at all pleased with me.

I vowed never to color my hair again, but of course that didn't stick. A few years later the grays started showing up in earnest, and it was back to the bottle for me. It was fun for a while. I liked the home "spa time," and the fresh look I got with each touchup. And for years I never questioned my hair coloring habit. In fact, like my red-haired granny, I fully intended to color my hair until I dropped. But somewhere along the way, I just got tired of doing it. More than the actual doing, I grew tired of having to do it in order to look good. I eventually began to feel like a slave to the dye bottle, and began wondering if or how I'd ever get away from it.

I had my opening a few years ago when I had my hair cut super short, just for a change. I liked it for a while, but unruly curls like mine take more upkeep short than long, and after a few months I decided to grow it back out. While I was at it, I decided to stop coloring too, and see what color my hair really was at that point. Growing hair from short back to longish is never easy, but at least growing out the color was part of the deal, and pretty painless. I embraced it, and even liked it for a while, and then for some reason, in an "ugly" moment, I caved in and went back to coloring it. What a mistake!

While some people feel they look younger with dyed hair, I began to realize that I wasn't fooling anyone. My fake hair color didn't make me look younger. It merely made me look like I colored my hair. I even started to feel like the contrast between my "young" hair and my not-so-young 50-something face was something I was no longer comfortable with.

The word "authenticity" is used a lot in the going-gray movement (and it is a movement - just look around the internet). And yes, I do want to be as authentically me as I can be. But more than that, I'm just tired of the upkeep and the minimally effective results I get from home-coloring my hair. While professional color can be gorgeous, I can't afford to drop $100 every three weeks to keep up with my fast-growing roots. And when something that makes us feel pretty actually looks quite crappy every three weeks, it's time to reassess. So that's what I'm doing.

More than authenticity, what I want out of this is freedom. I want to travel without worrying about my roots showing and finding someone in a foreign country to keep me pretty. I'm not all gray, so this really won't be as shocking as it might be for some. And well, I just feel ready. I know it's going to be rough at times. I know there will be people who disapprove. I know I'm going to hate it from time to time. And maybe I'll go back to the red-haired-granny way of thinking - dye till you die - but honestly, I hope I don't. I hope there's more to me than that, and I hope I can give myself this gift of personal authenticity combined with freedom.

I plan to talk about it here as I go along. When I made my big announcement on Facebook this morning, there was an immediate flurry of conversation on the subject, from friends on both sides of the hair color fence. I mentioned there that if you get a group of women together for more than thirty minutes, the conversation will almost always turn to hair at some point. Our hair means a lot to us, whether we want it to or not, so we might as well just go ahead and talk about it. My list of blog post sub-subjects is growing faster than my roots, so I'm going to go ahead and document my Big Growout. It seems to be something a lot of us think about, and a lot of us want to do, but don't always feel that we can, for various reasons. Hair... wow... who cares? Well, most of us, in my experience.

So here goes. The start of a big, uncomfortable, life-changing project. Let's get growing.