I ask myself that question every 4 to 5 weeks. I’ve been coloring my hair for over a decade now, ever since the first signs of gray sprouted from my natural brunette thick head of hair. As the years go by, my hair has become thinner, and the color lighter. Deep brown, to light brown, to blonde(ish). But still, never gray.

When Covid hit, I thought, what better time than now? I can’t go to my hair salon anyway, so what the heck. I know a lot of friends who used that time to do just that. Let it go… let it grow… let it gray. I posted pictures on Facebook asking my friends… do I let it go gray? The response was an overwhelming YES! And so many shared stories of how free they feel since they stopped coloring their hair. I was (almost) convinced. Almost.

Until my hairdresser texted and said doors were open for one week only. Panicked, I jumped off the wagon and went straight to the salon. She fixed my skunk stripe, and then 4 weeks later I went back to asking myself the very same question. To gray or not to gray?

There’s a woman in my writing group with vibrant purple hair. No one judges her choice of hair color. She looks gorgeous! Another is in her early 30’s with a full head of gray hair –also gorgeous. My mom has a friend who is 92 years old and goes to the salon every 2 weeks to keep up her jet black hair. Good for her, I say.  

So what’s with all my self-judgment, I can’t help but wonder.

As a student of Kripalu yoga, I firmly believe Swami Kripalu’s wise words: “The highest spiritual practice is self-observation without judgment.” But then again, the man was bald for most of his life, so what does he know about going gray?

I was so curious, so here’s what I did. (Spoiler alert: BIG MISTAKE) I downloaded an app that ages you so you have an idea of what you might look like when you’re 10 or 20 years older. You take a selfie, the app does its magic, and poof! There’s your face… with gray hair and more wrinkles than a shar-pei. OUCH. I texted the picture to my sister and my daughter, who both said, “DELETE THAT APP IMMEDIATELY!” 

Next up: Mom’s advice.

My mother is 84 years old and has beautiful shiny silver hair. I decided to pay her a visit on the way home from a dentist appointment. It was 9:30 in the morning and this was a surprise visit. She answered her door—fully blitzed out, with sparkles on her shirt, her pants, even her shoes. Her beautiful silver hair was perfectly coiffed, she was fully made up (including lipstick) and had on a fair amount of rhinestone jewelry. And no, she was not on her way out, she dresses up like this every day by 9am.

Mom’s motto has always been: Better to look good than feel good. Growing up, she insisted that before leaving the house, you put on shoulder pads and lipstick, because “you never know who you might run into.”

As soon as she saw me, she said, “Are you on your way to see Jill?”  (my hairdresser)
Subtle, Mom.

I told her I was thinking about letting my hair go gray. She gave me that look that she does when she’s trying to hold in her opinion. She wrinkled her nose, and said “You sure? I didn’t let my hair go gray until I was 75.” 
Again, subtle.

After my visit with my mom, I went to my hairdresser and showed her the picture of me from the aging app. She knows all about my never-ending gray dilemma. She hears about it every 4-5 weeks.

“Is this what I’ll look like?” I ask.
“Not on my watch,” she says. “Sit down.”

And then she disappeared into the back room to whip up a batch of the color d’month.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized this has nothing to do with hair color, and everything to do with aging and my acceptance (and struggles) with the changes that go along with it. I have lived way more years young than old, so this is all new to me, and there are no guidelines to follow.

Sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and am taken aback by what I see —who is that?  Gravity is having lots of fun with my face and my body. I see wrinkles and jiggles in new places every day. Our bodies are very forgiving in our younger years, and believe me I had lots of years when I didn’t take good care of mine. But now I can’t eat, drink, or exercise the way I used to without feeling the consequences.  

I realized that I don’t have a lot of control over most of what’s going on, but I DO have control over the color of my hair. I can go gray, or black, or purple! Why not? The only one that has to like it is ME!

This aging business is no picnic. But there are perks, too, I have to admit. I feel more confident in who I am. I am grateful for my gifts and accept my faults. I make smarter choices on how I spend my time and with whom. 
It’s all about acceptance and gratitude. 

So today I am grateful for another day with my healthy body, my sharp brain, and my light brunette hair.
I’ll let you know if anything changes in 4-5 weeks.

With love, Rebecca 

p.s. What color is your hair? And when was the last time you wore shoulder pads?! Here I am with mine… and lipstick of course!

p.s.s  I’m offering a new Yogic Writing Circle program for writers of all levels who want to create a practice and need prompts, accountability, and support. If you want to learn more about it, get on the waiting list by clicking here and I’ll send you the scoop.