Life used to be very structured when our family was younger. I really enjoyed that. Structure is dependable, predictable, reliable, and comforting. My zodiac sign is Cancer, the crab, and those words are happy words for Cancers when it comes to their family and home.
It’s a funny thing though, kids insist on growing up and, very slowly, the structure begins to crumble around the edges. Slowly, ever so slowly after school activities chip away at a carefully planned day. Then college pulls a birdie from the nest for weeks at a time. Oh, and then friends and boyfriends complicate my carefully nurtured, desperately protected structure, and before you know it, life resembles unpredictable chaos much more than structured coziness.
I plan delicious dinners, like the Southwestern Skirt Steak with Cheese Grits you see above, assuming everyone will be home to enjoy it together. The day arrives for the planned dinner and, suddenly, I’m flying around the kitchen to try to prepare it on an earlier schedule because I have to leave at 6:30 for a meeting at school. I have to gobble it down without savoring my bites. Oh, and Annie, who was out all day with her boyfriend, isn’t even home yet to sit down to eat it with us. She stops in while I’m out, grabs her portion and takes it over to her boyfriend’s house to eat there while he has the dinner his mother lovingly prepared while they were out.
Structure? What’s that?
But, I’m getting better, one day at a time, at letting go of the old structure. I can read the bold handwriting on the wall and it’s screaming that I’d better just accept life as it is, and not try to force things to remain the way they once were. I sincerely believe my Zentangle practice is helping me accept life’s changes. Don’t judge what life writes on our daily tile, don’t fight it, just move on and adjust accordingly, even if it looks ugly from the close up view. At arm’s length, things can begin to look better.
There’s a new tradition on the internet where writers and artists choose their word of the year. I’ve been thinking this over since January 1, the date for resolutions. Instead of resolutions, I think a word is a much better way to frame our expectations for the year ahead.
Some of you may have guessed my word already. The word is Acceptance. I’m continuing to accept the changes in our family, and in doing so looking for the silver linings. I’m not ready to celebrate those silver linings, but I am beginning to accept them better.
This active philosophy of Acceptance brings me to a new challenge for the year. Some people challenge themselves to lose weight. Other people create a challenge to learn a new language. I’ve decided to challenge myself to Accept my natural hair color.
Okay, before you yell at me in horror, I beg for your support instead. I’ve never liked coloring my natural hair. I hate the chemicals, the expense, and most of all the time invested in that salon chair. As a society, we’ve all bought into the concept that we should work on ourselves to achieve some kind of media established ideal look. I went from coloring my natural color to cover the gray hairs, to coloring a lighter color with highlights to avoid the skunk stripe I saw on my head every 4 weeks or so. Ick. While my stylist has done everything a good salon does to make my processed hair looks good, it doesn’t really last beyond two weeks or so. And let’s face it, the older we grow, the less we’re fooling anyone with our colored hair. Gray hair or colored hair, age reveals itself in other ways. And if you don’t watch your weight, your posture, your clothing and your attitude, ultimately you will look like an older person with colored hair.
And so, this year I’m going to accept my natural hair as the color grows out. I’m going to see what the mix will be of dark and gray. It’s going to be interesting. Especially as the line of processed hair moves down my head. Shudder. But by declaring it to you, I now have to follow through, don’t I?
If you see me in person, please help me to keep my resolve. At the end of this year, the change should be complete. And, worst case, if I hate it I know my stylist will have a nice comfy chair waiting for me to choose a new color and begin all over.
By the way, here’s how I looked two weeks ago when I had my last haircut and skipped my color touch up. Annie helped me take this “selfie” since I’m not very skillful at that. Would you like to see monthly progress reports on my hair growing out? If so, please let me know in the comments. If there’s enough interest I’d be willing to share it to help any of you who are curious what it would be like to do the same. If not, you’ll just have to take my word for it.