She has done it……almost

IMG_1800It has been almost ten months since I colored my hair last. Ten months, it seems like a lifetime; at the same time, it feels as if I never colored my hair. As I said before, it has been nothing like I was told, but not as easy as I thought. At times during the process, it has been a bit of fun, actually!!! My friends keep telling me I am so brave. Somehow it doesn’t feel anything to do with bravery. It has to do with just wanting something and going for it!!! On the other hand, some have called me mad….I would look old, they said. This proofs that going grey is a mixture of cheerfulness and gloom. Listen to yourself, only you can decide which one will it be.

My hair is shorter than I would like, but it’s easier to manage. The blond is almost gone on one side, more noticeable on the other. It is not completely white, darker in the back and lighter in front… uneven color, but shiny and with movement. It has stopped falling!! Getting it washed and styled doesn’t take long. I can even let it dry naturally. I will let it grow a bit when all the color is out.

IMG_1849Mostly, my new hairstyle is liberating. It has changed my life, it really has. As I have said before, I started lightening my hair when I moved to Miami and I settled for a nice honey blonde. Then it came a time when I wasn’t that blonde woman anymore. Forget the expense and the hassle, I needed to be myself again.

Since I started with this process, I have learned a few things. These are the ones I am sharing today. First, let me put something out there. If you are thinking of going grey, but are not quite sure yet: Google para-phenylenediamine. The definition will raise the hairs at the back of your neck!!! More and more I am sure this is the right path.

IMG_1852There is also the fact that grey hair can be frizzy or unruly. Some women find that their grey hair is drier and wiry. You can look for masks and creams that will tame your hair. There are many available in the market since more women are letting their hair go natural. If you chose keratin, pick one that has no formaldehyde. It can be more damaging than helpful. Fortunately, I have very straight hair, so far I have had no problems with any of these issues. On the other hand, I do have thinning hair and it drives me to distraction at times. I have discovered that products containing protein like collagen are the best for this condition. They make my hair look thicker!!!

Last, but not least, our coloring gets softer with age, according to Jane Fardon, a color consultant in the UK. We can stay in the same family of colors that flatter our complexion, but in softer tones!!! Love the fact that there is sensible advise out there. Once you start the process, you can find help everywhere.

IMG_1780Going grey is serious business. I might be making light of it at times, but I do understand this very well. You need to be sure of your decision and have the patience to go through with the process. The need to just ignore the side looks, the smiles of condescension, the comments about looking older is difficult at times, but necessary. More than once I have had to remind myself that what people think of me is none of my business!!

I have found inspiration in other women that are blogging or writing about going grey. Anna Murphy says that “the Land Of Grey is beyond rules: you have broken them all in the very act of going there in the first place”. So true!!!

Julia Crouch says it best in her book: Tarnished. “I am not letting myself go. I am just letting myself loose. Watch out“. Absolutely!!!

Moving On……

-1One of my dearest friends has retired and is moving to Canada. It is amazing to me how much this short sentence means to me. Kathy has been my friend for over 30 years and she knows me better than most. We have shared so much and gone through a lot. Our friendship is not sentimental or mushy, no sugary stuff and definitely no-nonsense. She is British and came to Curaçao in the 1980s with her parents. Her father was the last Anglican priest to serve on the island. When they retired back to Britain, she stayed behind and made a life for herself. Not easy, trust me, since she was in her thirties and single, didn’t know how to drive and has never lived alone.

I read once that the best example of an expat is a single British woman who moves abroad on her own terms and makes a success of it. I completely believe that!!! Kathy has done this beautifully. She started as a preschool teacher helper, arts and craft teacher, moved on to librarian, English as a second language teacher…you name it, she has done it in the field. All the while without really loving the interaction with small children!!! An achievement indeed…..

Now is time to start a new life and to leave behind the island she has called home for over 30 years. It hasn’t been easy to make this decision. She has many good friends and a support system there. Unfortunately, Curaçao is not older people friendly. You have to think what would happen once you are not able to really take care of everyday chores, especially if you have no family on the island.

I completely understand where she is coming from, but the move to Canada totally surprised me. She is not fond of the weather in Britain. Cold is a bad word for her, yet she has decided to move to a small town outside Ottawa!!! It is not what I would have expected of her, but she is determined to make a go of it. Good for her!! It will be fine because she is a survivor, she will make it work.

-2When I go to Curaçao from now on, she will not be there. This is a sobering thought. Since I moved to Miami, every time I visit we spend a lot of time together. We catch up with things, we reminisce, we go out to dinner, for drinks. Do not get me wrong, we Skype regularly and email….but still just seating and talking over tea and coffee or drinks or dinner is wonderful. As I always said, human contact is paramount in any relationship and friendship is one of the most important relationships we can have.

This is indeed the end of an era. It started with my move to Miami more than 10 years ago. I have kept my ties with the island and visit as often as I can, it is home to me in many ways. I have come to accept the fact that you cannot go back, life goes on and things change. Still, if your friends are there when you visit, somehow things do not seem so final.

I will miss her when I go back for a visit, but I know this is for the best. We are at a crossroad in our lives and we need to move on. Friendship like ours is forever, memories and experiences shared will not fade. Besides, there is still Skype and emails and most importantly visits to Canada!!!

De-cluttering my Brain

IMG_1083This month of June, I am participating in a de-cluttering challenge. Started by my friend Prati, in Mumbai, this is a 30 day challenge to achieve a simpler life. Everyone that accepted the invite is going to follow a cleansing effort to empty our lives of clutter and let positive energy come in. Now, you know this is one of my pet tasks, a never-ending process I started a while ago. This idea, though, is fabulous…we are doing it together, challenging and  encouraging each other and working together to meet our goal.

Prati provided us with a to-do list, with specific parts of our home for each day. She didn’t forget to let us know that emotional baggage needs weeding out as well. Another important part of this exercise, but not as easy as the rest…I should know, have tried and struggled with it. Still these two area are at least on their way.

Today, after just a few hectic days, I was exhausted. Getting rid of your clutter is hard physical work. Since I had started already, I needed new ideas, new ways of tossing the old and listening to the new. New ideas to help good energy flow into my life and allow Magic to happen!! Thinking and thinking, lo and behold, it was all in my head: I need to de-clutter my brain!!! Brilliant, some of you will say….what? would be the response of others. Totally understand, I am known for my strange ideas and my peculiar ways. Let me walk you through this necessary exercise.

Our brain is the most complex organ we have. This is not a biology class so I would not go into boring details; even if I wanted to, I don’t know enough!!! Suffice to say that without it we cannot think, make decisions, plan, reason or remember. It allows us to have self-control, abstract thought and perception. These are only a small part of the functions of this marvel and this marvel is a huge storage space!!! I know, this is not scientific thought, but then, I am not a scientist……

Aside from knowledge, all our worries and our fears, all the nonsense we pick up from our daily life are stored in our brain. We cannot control this, so in time, this space fills up. We cannot sleep, we are tense and on edge, we cannot let go of a thought, we turn ideas and possibilities in our mind. I know this is true for me, how about you? Don’t you feel some times as if you need to just delete everything and start anew?

Well, there might be a possibility. As everything else we put in storage, everything we accumulate, everything we do not need anymore, the brain should be de-cluttered. To do this, it’s necessary to accept the need to do it and to start throwing out the useless stuff in our brains. Sherlock Holmes said that he didn’t need to keep certain information in his brain…either it was useless to him or it was irrelevant to his work. There are things, he said, we cannot used for anything, so once we learned them we should discard them. In our case, if we cannot do anything about it, discard it. If we cannot use the information to carry out something relevant to our lives, discard it. I wish it was that easy. So today, I sat and devised a way to de-clutter my brain.

We are not a computer, things cannot be deleted. Our worries and fears will still be there, our amazing collection of useless information will still be there, but we will be able to go around that and bring forward other things that will calm us, give us peace and let us enjoy what is important.

Here are some ideas I came up with. I will repeat one or another on a regular basis:

Breathe: yes, again we have come to this simple solution. While we do that properly and concentrate on inhaling and exhaling, our brain relaxes and our thoughts become more peaceful. While we are talking about this, how about a little yoga? or stretching?This really works for me.

Create beauty around you: put flowers around your home, surround yourself with beautiful things. A pleasant environment will relax you and your mind will have something else to concentrate on. How about gardening? My orchids give me a lot of pleasure and distract me. Believe me…….

Laugh or cry: vent your emotions so you can clear your brain in a crisis. Haven’t you felt better after a good cry? Somehow you feel spent and relaxed. Or after a good laugh, haven’t you felt just light-headed and happy? I know this is effective, I just need to do it more often. Do it as a matter of course, as an exercise.

Have a mantra: repeating a phrase is something that has been used for centuries to calm down. Find one that speaks to you. I try to get my brain to repeat mantras….not always the same because it depends on the crisis, the occasion, the need to concentrate or to let go. “There is a way and I have found it…..” was the one I used today!!!

Keep a journal: all those thoughts that keep your brain in turmoil, all those conflicts that you try to work around, the fear that you cannot control, the useless knowledge that keeps popping up, write them down. Take a notebook and a pen, more effective that way, and pour your brain out. Simple, you can get back to them, but you don’t need to keep bring them up and ruminating them. If you cannot let go of a thought, write it down. The worst it can happen is that you can find a solution!! I have kept a journal for years.

Be silly: I love this one. Sing out loud and dance without care around your house. It is liberating and will not allow you to keep thinking or worrying. Besides, it is wonderful fun!!!

Accomplish small tasks: This is a great way of gaining control. Take time to tidy your work area, clean you keyboard, your computer screen, change the flowers, water your plants. Plan your weekend, arranging things ahead of time means you can anticipate the pleasure.

Make small changes in your routine: listen to different music, brush your teeth with your left/right hand, walk on a different place, have breakfast for dinner. Change challenges the brain and forces it to revise negative thoughts. Besides, it would make you think differently dispelling other nonsense!!

I did try some of these today. I even had time to take a nap and read for a while, other two wonderful things to keep in mind. It was a productive day and I feel relaxed. It was just a matter of paying attention to my most important storage space: MY BRAIN!!!

Declutter Projekt