Monday, September 11, 2017

Losing My Graith - Gray Hair Faith

Have any of you ever had the same experience? Do you also go through periods of doubt? I have a feeling that these might be universal Silver Sister feelings.........

There comes a point, after you've grown your gray hair all the way out, when it looks "normal" compared to....let's say the "skunk stripe" phase that you start to think less about it. You walk around with your gray hair for a while, a few months, a year. You see your reflection in storefront windows as you pass by, and in the bathroom mirror, and no longer does your reflection shock you. You're not surprised, you don't ask yourself: "who is this woman staring back at me?" It's just simply you, and you don't devote as much time thinking and worrying and questioning the gray.

That's what happened to me at least. After a few years of being a full-fledged "Silver Sister," I kind of stop analyzing it all. I thought more about most other things, and less and less about my hair color.

Then this summer, something happened. I can't tell you why, but the "looks" started getting to me again. I began to notice the stares more often. Here and there, everywhere that I went, my HEAD would get the stares! Was I imagining this?

I was so good at letting the puzzled looks go when I was growing out my hair. In the beginning, most people would give my half white, half dark brown hair at least a side-glance. I understood it, I looked looney! I would look at myself too! πŸ˜…πŸ˜‚

Once it was all grown out, I remember still getting little looks from time to time. From what I figured, I was a younger person with a head full of white hair- so not something that most people were used to seeing. It was also before the 20-somethings began to bleach their hair and dye it gray! "Hashtag Granny Hair," was not a thing yet.

It was because I could understand and sympathize with the human impulse to glance at something surprising or different, that I was able to brush them off to the point of not noticing the looks anymore. Not noticing them for a long time.

Then this summer happened. I have no idea what it was. Why was I suddenly getting more looks or maybe just noticing them again? Not just looks, but more know the stares that people can do, that I myself can do when I'm daydreaming and I don't realize that I'm holding my gaze at someone in the grocery store a few seconds too long. The gazes when your mouth is kind of open and you're trying to figure out what exactly are you looking at? You know those?

Well, I got those stares, daily, multiple times, everywhere I went it seemed! I could almost read their minds from the expression on their faces: "Wait, is she old or is she a young person with white hair?" "Um....did she dye her hair white or does she have some problem and her hair went gray?" "Why in the world would she go gray?"  Things like that. That's what I *think* they were thinking.

And all this looking just got to me. I began to feel insecure, like a minor freak. I worried that all these sets of eyes were connected to a brain that thought: "WHY would she ever do that to her hair!" At first, I wanted to make sure that I just wasn't being paranoid. I need to know if I was imagining it. So, Jon and I went out on errands, to places like Costco and the grocery store. I let him know what I was worried about, and asked him to quietly observe and see if people really did stare at my hair. I also asked him to give me the honest-to-goodness TRUTH. Sure enough, ten seconds into look, two looks, three glances and on.

Validation! I was not (so) crazy. 

That's when I lost a little bit of my GRAITH. My gray hair faith. Faith in the knowledge that I was doing the right thing for me. Sure, it was good to avoid the hair dye that caused me allergies and avoid the chemicals that I had chosen not to use anymore. When I stopped coloring my hair I saved time, money and future stains to all my towels, but was this still enough to be worth it? Worth all of these stares?

We talked in the car, talked in the store, and talked again at home. Jon patiently listened to my worries and insecurities. I told him that sometimes I just wished that I was brunette again so I could simply blend in and avoid any attention. I didn't want to be a gray haired person anymore. I went through the pros and cons of coloring my hair and keeping it white. My husband, ever the diplomat, encouraged me to make the right choice for myself, and that he supported me either way. Either way? EITHER WAY!? "Come on" I said, "Just make this easy and make the decision for me!" But, he wouldn't.

In the days that followed, my feelings of grabulous (gray fabulousness) were at an all-time low. I was seriously considering dying my hair! I feared though, that if I should do this, I would lose the respect of many a silver sister and reader. I was too scared, and I just didn't know how to remedy these sad emotions.

Enter the pivotal moment of my graith rebirth, summer 2017! πŸ˜†πŸ˜œ I hope for those of you who also struggle with your graith, that you have trips to Costco like this too........

The day I began thinking about coloring my hair, a few minutes after the "last stare that broke the Lauren's back,"  I said: "Jon, that's it. I can't look like such a weirdo anymore. I need to dye my hair!"

But no more than two isles later, the hair Gods must have been looking down on me, because a young GUY called out. I kid you not, called out to me from his table, (after I turned turned down his offer of "The Worlds Best Pillow,") and said "Hey! Your hair is really cool." Ha! What? Who, me!? "Yes," he said. "I really like your hair."

Now, I know what you are thinking, he's just trying to get me to buy a pillow and all, and this might be true! But he seemed so genuine and we got into a conversation about my hair, and I don't think he was trying to fool me. This young man said that he liked the gray, and then worried that he might have said something wrong after I thanked him for saying that and told him that I was tired of being gray though . He asked if it was difficult to get my hair to that color, and asked what I would dye it next. This made me smile. I said it was just my natural hair color, and he was shocked! Oh young're so young. I wish I was so young. I am so old now....... 😫😭😭😭

Seriously though, it was very kind of him. I thanked the pillow salesmen and then I was on my way to the potato salad holding my gray head a bit higher.

Wouldn't you know it, three seconds later in the potato salad isle, the most wonderful, sweet, kind woman came up to me and said: "I just love your hair!" I couldn't believe it. Maybe I thought....the universe was giving me a sign to not to dye my hair. "Thank you!" I said. She went on to point to her beautiful streak of pure white hair, and to talk about the ordeal of trying to figure out how she was going to get through the grow-out process. Then she candidly told me about her health issues, including MS, and how she wanted to stop applying chemicals to her body. That was very moving to me. What a brave woman. We talked a little more and I even shared my blog with her. I mentioned the support groups for men and women on Facebook, where we all encourage each other through the hard parts.

I went into Costco that day longing to color my hair, and I left with a renewed understanding of why I'm on this journey. I think it's to band together with others out there who are struggling with their own reasons for having to bare their natural hair. Without each other, I don't think it would be possible. For myself included! It was the brave women that went before me, that stopped coloring their hair, and shared their pictures, triumphs and struggles online. Without them, I would never had made it a month or even a week. I owe so much to my silver sisters, and that's why, with this purpose, I will keep going. I have my faith in this crazy journey the call "going gray" again.

Until Next Time!


Thursday, September 07, 2017

The Holy Grail of Hair Products! If You Want Silkier, More Shiny Gray Hair, Try These Two!

Are you ready? Do you want to know about the two products that have CHANGED my hair!? The two easy to find and affordable items that have basically stopped my never ending search for the holy grail of products? I've been testing them out all summer long, and now I can not only personally recommend them to you, but I can firmly say that are now essential routine.

Before I tell you though, let me just touch on the equally important first step that you need to do in order to set the stage for bright and shiny looking hair - find a great shampoo and conditioner! Particularly one formulated for gray and white hair. They're often called "purple" shampoos and conditioners. They work to keep your whites white and to make sure the dull, yellowed tones that can so often develop on light hair, away! 

I've been through my fair share of "purple" shampoos and conditioners, and I've written about them over the years on the blog. In the end, I found my favorite duo more than a year ago, that I continue to use today and feel confident in recommending.  

It's the Joico Color Endure Violet Shampoo and Conditioner and I use them regularly to keep my hair looking its best. Sulfate and paraben-free, and in GIANT 33.8 oz bottles, these two last me at least three months each time I purchase them. After playing around with these two,  you'll begin to notice your white hair being a bit lighter and brighter. Take note, and try to figure out how often you need to use these purple products and for how long to leave them on your hair before rinsing to get your perfect result. Once in a while, when I used them too many times a week, or I go a few extra minutes before rinsing, my hair gets a temporary purple/gray cast. That said, I quickly realized that I only need to leave the shampoo and then conditioner on for a minute to get my optimal results, minus the purple. Play around, this set of shampoos and conditioner is so incredibly worth it!

Ok, the moment you have all been waiting for! So....... at the end of spring, I was just tired of my frizzy flyways and I felt like I wanted my hair to be shinier. Summer was coming and for me, that means HUMIDITY and crazy hair! I decided to look for something new. A product or two that would help me accomplish my goals - more shine, less coarse frizziness and something to hold my style, even in outdoor heat and humidity. 

The problem was, because I had been pretty rigid about holding myself to only more natural products, I kind of tried everything already! Then one day I was at Target, in the haircare aisle. I passed by on the shelf an old friend, a familiar logo. It was John Freida's Frizz Ease line. As a teenager with curly, wild hair, Frizz Ease was a lifesaver for me and I used it everyday. Over time though, I stopped. I didn't want to use conventional products with all of their ingredients and I had heard that silicon wasn't great for keeping white hair white. So, as an adult, Frizz Ease never crossed my mind.

I'm not sure what prompted me to pick up a bottle of the Extra Strength Frizz Ease Serum or the Frizz Ease Moisture Barrier Firm Hold Hairspray, but I think it was simply hair desperation!

I'm so glad that I let myself just try it out. It's been over three months and not only have I NOT noticed any "yellowing," but my hair is SIGNIFICANTLY softer, less coarse, less frizzy, and more shiny!  The serum has not dulled my hair, even with daily heat styling. I'm pretty sure this is because I take the time to regularly use my purple shampoo and conditioner.  I really keep up on my end, combating the yellowing. This is a good point to remember.  The hairspray was a God-send in the summertime. My hair pretty much stayed smooth and didn't go bonkers in the humidity. It was also great to keep my flyaways down and I feel like the spay adds a touch of shine.

Here's an odd picture of the back of my hair too, for some reason....

You can see, for somebody that normally has fairly thick, unruly and frizzy hair, these two products certainly help for everything to lay nicely and to calm down!

I'm not just trying to sell you products. Truly, these are things that I have found through years of weeding through all kinds of brands and items. These are "tools" that I would recommend in a heartbeat to any Silver Sister on the street. I like sharing what I've found works, so I can give back to others as they helped me in the beginning of my gray hair adventure. I hope that some of these tips and products will help you too, and that you'll go forward with confidence and a smile on your own journey!

Until next time.....

Shine on my Silver Sisters!!!


** This post contains Amazon affiliate links. For a full explanation, please see my complete disclosure HERE! Thank you!!! **

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

The State of the Noah (and Lauren) Address

And just like that.....he went back to school!

In the springtime, when Noah went to an admissions visit at his old school for evaluations, I wasn't sure about everything. Would my child be ready for what they call the "rigor and pace" of the middle and upper school? Was it a good decision to toss him back into the fast moving currents of a competitive private school? Didn't I whole-heartedly embrace the message in the movie "Race to Nowhere, " - that the current American educational model promotes painfully over-scheduled extracurriculars, crushing academic pressure, nearly inevitable student burnout and the loss of a free childhood? I did! I did believe all of these things. (I still do honestly).

So that's why, after his three-day visit in April, after they delivered the news that he was accepted back in, I looked Noah squarely in the eyes and said: "Do you want to do this? Are you ready to commit?"  He squirmed in his chair, scratched his head and let out a sigh.  "Ohhhh I don't know what to do," he said, "It's a lot of work."  I also thought, "It's a lot of tuition!"

The three of us decided that until Noah was sure that he wanted to return and SURE that he was up to the challenge and committed to doing his best, school could wait. I loved homeschooling in theory anyway, loved the"good days," at least,  and the fun adventures and the excitement of learning in new and dynamic ways. I love the slow pace and the freedom, and most of all, living outside of the what society dictates. I LOVED BEING A Non-joiner, it THRILLED me! 

So with a bit of fear and some worries of regret, I turned down the school contract for the 2017/2018 year and we went on our way. 

Then summer hit. Summer, long stretches of day when Noah's study group at his tutor's was not in session. His soul outlet for social interaction beyond the "playdates" that he so actively resists. All he wanted to do now was play his online computer games, game while talking to friends over Skype. Nothing could entice him to willingly go do something else, no trip to the pool or a lake, no museum, park, movie, playground or even amusement park. He just had zero interest in anything other than his video games. We kept up with our plans to homeschool year-round, which included summertime math and writing, but getting my tween to sit down and do that was like pulling teeth. Not like it was easy for any part of the past two years, but the older Noah became, the more complex it got, the more I waited for his intrinsic motivation to kick in.

One day, in the beginning of August, I came home to find him sitting in front of his computer yet again, unmoved, in exactly the same spot that I saw him hours before. Something inside of me just surrendered. It's like they say- a switch just flipped. Involuntarily, I swear, something made me blurt out words I did not think I would ever blurt! "Noah, I can't do this anymore. You need to go back to school."  And just as shockingly, he replied instantaneously with an enthusiastic: "Ok!"

That was perplexing....for us both! So it was, a conversation and a few emails later, that Noah was back at his old school, re-testing his math, visiting for orientation, and today, he JOYFULLY rode off on his bike....

*On a side-note, as excited and super happy as I am for us all to have this new chapter at school, I can't deny that I have carried with me a bit of sadness for the loss of our homeschooling days and the truly wonderful homeschooling friends that we've made. I feel as though NOTHING else in my life has changed me as much as the experience of Noah unexpectedly leaving school and having to find our way. Homeschooling taught a most valuable thing- that LIFE IS OURS TO MAKE IT. That you CAN do what you need to do, that you CAN do what your child needs. That you DON'T have to let others pressure, scare or worry you into taking the path that you think is not right for your son or daughter. While I had heaping amounts of encouragement and support from friends, family, teachers and doctors, a few warned me that homeschooling could be a disaster, that once I stop trying to FORCE him back into school, that he will NEVER go back!

Well, look at Noah now- happily going back to school under his own steam. Happy and healthy, not worried or anxious at all. A fine writer, a great reader, a boy who can carry his own in math. Friend of friends and eager to start an after school history club. HE'S FINE! I'm so grateful that I listened to my inner voice and didn't let fear stop me form doing what I felt was best for us.

My dear readers, no matter what you face in life, whether it's a parenting issue, or your career or making a huge decision, know that it's ok to follow your heart and if your heart is telling you to, take a little break from following the flock. It will be ok. πŸ’—

So what's an ex-homeschool Mom to do? Well, for me, it included a new 6:00am wake-up call, the re-instament of my Blogilates routine:

Some laundry, some cleaning, an errand, a dog walk, the ironing, dinner prep and a lot of coffee. A LOT of coffee....

One of my newest ex-homeschool Mom duties though, is to hopefully off-set some of the tuition costs through working on this blog and other places in this vast blogosphere.  Also, I STARTING AN ONLINE CLASS and TRAINING in a week!!! More on this in another post, but hopefully, it will lead me to being able to support, encourage and coach YOU in the near future! πŸ˜‰πŸ’—πŸ˜‰

In the meantime, Josie and I promise to not waste anymore time playing around with the Photo Booth  app.  

Instead, I'll come to you next time with my NEW FOUND HAIR PRODUCT LOVE that has smoothed out and added shine to my hair unlike any other product before it. I've been testing this for you guys for a few months, and since there hasn't been any issues, I'm excited and ready to share!!! 

Ok, this is my cue. I'm off to figure out dinner. I think it's going to be something easy tonight, like this One Pan Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli and Rice from the Girl Who Ate Everything!  I'll let you know how things turn out, and for more of my top-pick recipe, from family meals, to vegetarian, Trader Joe's dishes and healthy selections, please visit How Bourgeois' Pinterest page!

Until next time!

Well, almost. Today still counts, right? It's September, it's the first day of school! It qualifies as "fall," right?????