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Category: Aging

Posts related to the aging process.

Hair Crisis…The Story Of My Life

Never Satisfied

ironing hair

Once again I am in hair crisis mode. It should be noted that I probably never leave hair crisis mode. That is, no matter what hairstyle I have, I am not happy with it..or at least..not for long. As a junior-high and high-schooler, I had longer hair (like most girls my age). I enjoyed the ability to put it up, pull it back or just let it hang loose. Of course..back in my day..if you wanted your hair straight, you did what every other girl did..you got our your Mother’s iron and ironed your hair on the ironing board. If you were good at it, you didn’t leave a crease around your head  for everyone to see, or worse, burn your hair off. And truly, I don’t think that I obsessed about my hair back then,  as much as I do now in my older age.

Big hair

I used to consider myself somewhat of a free spirit as far as my hairstyles were concerned. I went through my various hair phases. I went through the “big hair” (what were you thinking) phase. I am both horrified and entertained when looking at those pictures from back in the day. Then there was the shaved (beyond Pixie haircut) period. I loved the ease of it. But when your hair is only 1/4″ high, there is not much in the way of maintenance or styling that needs to be done. The reality is that I think that this super short look is very cool, but only on the few women whose size and facial features allow them to fearlessly carry it off . But that didn’t stop me from trying, ya’ll.

short buzz

For many years I just wore a short, blown back haircut. I was and still am about the convenience & ease of a style. But with age comes a lot of head and facial changes that can have a dramatic impact on one’s ability to wear certain hairstyles. What I used to be able to get away with is no longer an option.

Of course I can’t forget the perm phase (or two) I went through. What’s interesting about perms..is that I somehow commit to them thinking that I will end up with a relaxed, tousled style and end up looking like a basketball with hair. It is always accompanied by the stylist’s comment: Wow, you’re hair really holds the perm solution..ya think!

perm

The Lengths That I Go To..

Yes..pun intended. Bangs or no bangs..decisions decisions. What I love about bangs is that they can hide a forehead, keep hair that is close to my face from falling into my face, and in general..can flatter most face shapes. The problem with bangs is that current hairstyles which feature bangs that are attractively feathered or curled, hang at a length that puts them at mid eyelid level. Did I add that I HATE hair hanging in my eyes no matter how cute the hairstyle may be. Going any shorter on the bangs with some of these styles gets a whole different unintended look.

And What About Those Random Non-Conformist Hairs?

old newspaper

You know the ones I am talking about right. At a certain age..we start growing these gray hairs that have a different texture and form from the rest of our hairs. They sometimes resemble thin wire which someone has curled. Seriously it is as if they have a mind of their own. They refuse to conform to style and shape that the rest of the group has decided upon. I can attempt to coax, heat or saturate them with product, only to be left with the same non-compliant behavior.  I am told by my stylist that one of the best ways to tame this acting out is to “color”  or highlight them with hair dye. Of course the coloring and highlighting of one’s hair begins an expensive, non-ending, every 6-8 week cycle of doing hair battle to fight off the inevitable. It gives new meaning to the words: color guard. With one there is honor, with the other, shame.

The Search

I remember a time when I could rock an outfit and the hair to go with it.  I have always considered myself to have  a healthy amount of fashion sense and taste. I did not have to ask anyone what they thought about my hair or outfit of choice (unless a group of girls were just casually sharing with eachother). And then it happened. I started to receive well-intended comments from my daughter or others in reference to a specific clothes choice or hairstyle. Or maybe pointing out that only certain retail stores were well-suited for women at my stage in life. When asking my daughter how she thought I would look with a specific hairstyle I was considering, she would comment,..”Oh no Mom..you’re a little too old to wear that”..or “Women of YOUR age..should never blah blah blah.” What!? Women of MY age! Although I am sure that it was said with an intention to be helpful, it has had a long-lasting (will never go away) impact on my hairstyle & fashion choices.

Google Search>  70 Respectable Yet Modern Hairstyles for Women Over 50

Sadly, I find myself googling ” Best hairstyles for women over 50. “ or “Should older women wear Bangs.” Of course I got the full low-down on us older women. Along with pictures of every aging actress whose still alive. Of course there are the beauty tips that accompany the images, such as this one I found: “Bangs can visually take years off your look–they bring attention to your eyes and keep attention off your neckline, which tends to get saggy and wrinkly even on women with the best plastic surgery.” Or this other tip: ” Play down a wrinkly neck with shoulder length hair .” Apparently it is universally understood that we older women are on a mission to do everything we can to hide or camouflage our multiple facial flaws. I found myself thinking about the fact that few men, with the exception of some fashion-conscious metro-sexual men would care about specific hairstyles for men over 50 (or under 50 for that matter).  I found myself wondering what a man would say to some well-meaning person who told him that after 50 years old, he should never wear a ball cap or a cool graphic Tee shirt. The only response  that I think he would give is either a crude two word response or it’s matching crude gesture. Because men don’t care. Of course I knew this already about my husband. Probably almost every woman anywhere has attempted to help style her man’s hair with a blow dryer or worse..tried to save them a few bucks from having to go to the barber. (Sorry honey…you’re sideburns will grow back). My only shaving grace is that I no longer give him haircuts after that the first one thirty-something years ago. Anyway, my point is that women seem to be the ones who are hyper-focused on vanity and how their hair, etc. looks.  As much as I would like to take myself out of that group, I can’t. Of course I care..whether I want to or not. It’s ingrained into my large pores.

So What’s The Answer

The only thing worse than having a hairstyle that you hate..is getting a new hairstyle and then not being happy with that either. Inevitably, I end up at the same place even if I like it for awhile. Why is it I can’t be satisfied with my hair ever? I wanted it all grown out and decided I had; had too many years of short hair. It was time for a change and so..I decided on a cute, ‘can’t go wrong’ Bob hairstyle. The cut: It’s cute..there is nothing wrong with this style…it’s me. The hair starts to find it’s way to my face or in my eyes. This leads to me pulling a strand on either side of my face back with barrettes. What I like: The hair stays out of my eyes. What I don’t like: Me with two barrettes holding my hair back. Next, I move to headbands (I have them in every texture and color). What I like: The hair stays out of my eyes. What I don’t like: The matronly look of me with a headband on and the two painfully cavernous holes/knots that are created directly behind each ear. If I wear the style as it was cut and intended to be worn, it is necessary for me to heavily spray it with hairspray to hold it in place. The only thing worse than using all of that hairspray is having crunchy, scarecrow hair.  I never dreamed I would be my age and be this conflicted about such a  seemingly insignificant issue. Oh the problems we see.

And The Winner Is..

I don’t know. I am still vacillating between the ‘Throw Your Age To The Wind’ Mid Length Bob With Bangs;  the ‘I’m Old And I Don’t Care’ Disheveled Dirty Bob Without Bangs or the ‘Keep What You’ve Got And Save Your Money’ Bob. What I do know is that what goes around comes around..so if I wait long enough..I’ll be in style again.

What-goes-around-comes-around

 

Call Me Vain/Vein

Perspective

grandmother-silhouette_318-59578

I remember a time when I thought 30 years old or anyone in that age range sounded ancient. I couldn’t even comprehend life beyond my ego-driven teen-centric self. But a strange thing happened. Just like some kind of movie magic alien event, my body began to age while my mind stayed in it’s youth. 

I still feel like me, but the calendar and birthday celebrations say, “not.”. Strangely, this bizarre phenomenon has continued through the years. It’s as if a Star Trek Transporter landed me at this place and time with someone else’s body. I’m not okay with this. I liked my body just fine. And since arriving, I am discovering unapproved body changes.

Mirror Mirror On My Wall

liver-spots-on-face-251x300

I find myself in a daily analysis of conflicted discovery. For instance, this development that they call “liver spots.” Can I just say, “What the hell!” Where did these off-color oddities come from anyway? I’ve scrubbed, I’ve moisturized and tried various make-up camouflages to no avail.

Of course I have already devoted another separate post to my random facial hair growth in all of it’s appalling glory. Random facial hair for a woman is worthy of an anti-depressant prescription. People always wonder why it takes a woman so long to “get ready” to go somewhere. Well this is why. We are desperately trying to address our physical issues so the whole world doesn’t discover our shameful body secrets.

In Living Color

Your varicose veins

And then there are the varicose veins. Veins are one of the obvious external genetic markers we gain from our parents. They come in all different colors, shapes, thicknesses and patterns. Even if you’re lucky enough to be born with “good” veins that stay hidden in your body parts.. things change. I can now see what resembles a google map on both of my legs. Of course some of the map markers include the small red clusters, they call spider veins.

I’m not sure why veins start to change shape, maybe it has something to do with the American diet and how we clog them with plaque and the like. But my veins have suddenly decided to bulge and take on a rope-y appearance. I always knew I was a twisted sister..but thought it was in a fun, charming kind of way.

Now for the fix..what is the answer? I’m not one to rush to a plastic surgeon to fix my veins or other parts unless they are more than a cosmetic problem..which at this point, they are not. Yet I am vain enough to be bothered by them too. Doesn’t everybody want a body to match the age they feel like in their head?

To Throw A Wrinkle In The Mix

wrinkle face

I can’t talk about the dreaded aging process without including wrinkles. I understand that they are inevitable. I also understand that genetics, again, plays a role in the timing and nature of those wrinkles. For instance, I am part Cherokee Indian. I didn’t care so much about my heritage as a kid, nor did I have any desire to go research my ancestry or the family tree. I remember that my father was very knowledgeable about our Cherokee roots. However, as I got older, I started to find more interest in my Cherokee ancestors. I learned that I was related to Chief John Ross of the Cherokee Indians. My dad had has his tribal card to the Cherokee Indian Nation, and I later decided to obtain my card as well. When I noticed that there was an upcoming PowWow in the area I live in, my husband & I decided to go. One of the things that I found very fascinating was that when I looked around at the people there, I could see myself in their faces. I could see the familiar deeply ingrained mouth and nose lines that resembled my Cherokee father and grandfather. The same ones that I have now.

And even though there is a quasi-cool reason for having deeply embedded wrinkles & grooves in my face (at least some of them), it doesn’t negate the difficulty of hiding or minimizing them. I have on occasion come across totally confident women who wear their wrinkles like a badge that they earned and are damn proud of them. I am just not one of them.

What To Wear

webmd_rm_photo_of_painiful_bunion

Aside from our daily efforts to do battle with our cosmetic imperfections, we are faced with special occasions. You know the ones I’m talking about right. You’ve been invited to a summer wedding and immediately launch yourself into the dilemma of what to wear. And isn’t it funny (in a non-ha ha kind of way) how we immediately start trying to make a clothing choice based on what others are likely to see. Oh, I love this dress, but it shows my “old lady” arms. Or geez, this dress would work if it didn’t have that slit down each side to reveal my pasty legs and varicose veins. Aww, I love these shoes, but they hurt now because of my bunions.

Men don’t understand why it takes us so long to make a decision. Why can’t we just pick something for gosh sakes. I have now been married 35 years and my husband has never grasped the concept of why women buy “cheap” shoes to match the outfit. “Why would you put yourself through pain like that?”  Or how about this suggestion from him, “Why don’t you just wear your tennis shoes, they’re comfortable.” “Well, because the only impression worse than calling attention to my flaws, is presenting the glaring impression that I have absolutely no fashion sense.” Women get this.

The Arsenal

My latest cosmetic weapon is my new self-tanning purchase. Admittedly, in my youth I had what can only be described (or perhaps I should say diagnosed) as an unhealthy tanning addiction. God only knows what I have done to my innards from tanning bulbs placed 6″ from my face. For years my mantra was: No matter how big it is, it looks better tan! It gives the illusion that I am in better health than I am, or even better, that I must have just returned from a fabulous vacation. When in reality..well..whateva.

So back to my recent purchase, my spray-on tanning product. Like many of you, I have purchased at least a handful of self-tanners, usually from a drugstore. I get them home and start to apply them, only to be met with a funky, what is that, smell. You know the one I’m talking about..it is a very distinct odor which may lead people in close proximity to think you missed your shower that day. Nothing that a little well-placed perfume won’t fix. But it’s not just the smell that is the problem.

Inevitably when applied to my body, I am left with a streaky, ‘missed a few’ parts semblance of a tan. Or even worse, an overly dirt-like appearance in the rough areas of my elbows, knuckles or ankles. I am not sure which is worse: Having my self-conscious body issues viewable for the whole world to see, or having an epic tan fail which screams, get your money back, it didn’t work! Snicker snicker.

Tanning Streaks

Past experiences have lead me to google the top rated self-tanners out there. I don’t know if all of the reviews on Amazon.com are real or not, but they definitely influence me when making my purchases. So I was pretty impressed when I found a product called Fake Bake which had over 4 thousand reviews. I have to believe that many of those were the real deal and as such, slashed my deliberation time to about a minute. I picked the Fake Bake Spray Tan and a tanning balm blending product. With my Prime membership, it was only a matter of a couple of days before I would be able to attack my cosmetic worries. In the meantime, I binge-watched young women on YouTube doing Fake Bake self-application videos. I learned, like, it really smells tropical, like, not those drugstore self-tanners. Like, it is really easy to put on. Like, it isn’t streaky, like those others. Like, you’ll really like it. Yes, like, I did say that the women were, like, youngish.

And The Outcome Is..

So did it work? Well..my first time application impression is ..not bad. I need to practice my method of application and getting the correct amount of product on the tanning mitt. The smell is pleasant and the effect is immediate. It does not have the orange tint that I have typically been left with. And lo and behold, it has indeed minimized the appearance of my varicose veins. That works for me. In fact I’m changing my title from Call Me Vain/Vein, to Call Me Almost Tan. Stay tuned for future updates from Sandy’s The Annals of Aging Ungracefully.

Until then..keep fighting the good fight ladies, and stay as TANfastic as you are!

Sandy 

 

To Eat Or Not To Eat…

That Remains The Question

healthy heart

If you are human, you eat. We are taught at an early age that we eat three meals a day.  Along the way we add snacks and in-between pick-me-ups, either good or bad for us, or somewhere in between.  For many of us, food has had far more impact in our lives than we ever would have guessed or given credit for. When we were young, we learned that a sweet dessert or candy bar was the reward for a desired behavior. If you grew up in the south, like I did, you learned that “food is love”.  Food was cooked in abundance and eaten equally all in the name of family unity. It was as if my Mom had an automatic serving arm that piled food on your plate if part of the plate surface was starting to show. By the way, this happens in most southern families.

Food Is Love

Trying To Find Our Food Identity

women body sizes

At some point, we recognize that food has become some kind of problem for us. We have forged an unhealthy relationship with food or maybe with the wrong kind of food. I find myself wondering how many people make it through their lives without having some type of food issue. For women, it typically involves how food has impacted our physical appearance and how we look in our clothes. It’s not just women who think about food in this way, men do also. I just think women obsess about it more. When we want to look good in our clothes or have an upcoming event to attend, we suddenly realize that food has changed us in ways we don’t love. Did the food do this to us? Or did our ingrained food eating habits do this? I think I know.

Which “Diet” To Align With?

I have lost count of the diets I have tried and failed at. I should have a lifetime membership in Weight Watchers. I loved Nutrisystem and my 31 pound weight loss, until we stopped eating on the plan. I also thought the Cleveland Clinic Diet (which had nothing to do with Cleveland by the way) was the answer. Three days on and the rest of the week off?! I could suffer through anything for 3 days. I lost weight with that diet also. There are always merits to these diets that sound really great at the time we try them. Somewhere along the line..we read that we need to lose the term “diet”.

Lifestyle Change

Choc syringe

Yes, it needs to be a “lifestyle change”.  Okay, I get it. Let’s get rid of the temporary mindset of diet and think eat healthy forever. I understand the concept and think it is a great idea. The problem is a lifetime of SAD (Standard American Diet) eating. I think my pores actually crave sugar. They have become accustomed to chocolate in every form. There’s always a caveat to my diets. It is the secret (in my head) unspoken whisper that says..you can probably stick to this diet for awhile..but you know you will never give up chocolate for anything or anyone. I am not sure when chocolate became that important in my life, but it did. Each time I fail at a diet, it is because of my addiction to sugar. Life is hard enough without having to give up sugar, right.

Older Age & Poor Health

And then we arrive at this destination that we call older age. (We called it old age until we arrived). Most if not all of us are facing health problems. For me, it has been a lifetime of health issues and was not sudden. My diet, however, has done nothing (ever) to assist my body into better health. I have never really looked at food as a possible culprit to any of my health issues. Like most of us, I figured it was just family genes & the luck of the draw. We all grew up (at least those of you in my old-er age group) with that food pyramid that told us how we were supposed to eat & how good it was for us. Little did we know that some of the very food sources that we thought were good for us, were actually offering a steady dose of inflammation into our bodies.

So Here I Am Back At The Starting Gate..

Deer in headlights

As I contemplated all of the health issues that both my husband & I are facing, I found myself wondering about the food we eat. Being the researcher that I am, I started to look more seriously at food plans. In the past, I found myself doing a comparison of the Paleo, Weil & Anti-Inflammatory diets wondering how to marry them into one plan that I could live with. Typically, I end up like a deer in headlights…stuck at an inpasse..doing nothing. But recently, on a sick day at home, I watched Dr. Oz and the guest that he had on the show, Dr. Joel Fuhrman. I had read Dr.Fuhrman’s book, Eat To Live a few years before. Both my husband & I read the book and thought that it made real sense to us. We started eating according to the ETL plan & began to lose weight. I am not sure what happened. Probably like all of the other times in our lives, when we “fell off the wagon” as they say, it happened again. Some sweet delicacy, or function we went to offering a table of SAD options…it only took us a second to dive back into our horrible eating patterns. It always takes only a second.

eat_to_live_new

But this time it is different. Our health is at stake. It always was, we just didn’t think about it or care enough to do the work of helping ourselves. It is time. Admittedly, I am nervous. Can we really do it this time? I mean forever?! The good news is that we are allowed fruit on this plan, but not all of the artificial sugar we are used to. It requires a commitment and real planning. No different than anything else in our lives. We plan vacations, family events, etc. So why should we not make the time and effort to do the same for eating the right foods. The convenience of fast food and having no time in our lives are part of our reason and rationale as to why we remain in our unhealthy eating patterns.

Okay..I’m declaring it once again. We will get ourselves healthy…even if it…okay..I’m not going to say, kills us..because it is going to kill us if we don’t do this. I will just say, I know that this will be a challenge for us, but we can do it. And I’m not gonna lie, if I were able to get back into the clothes in the small end of my closet, that would be a real bonus too! So my new motto is: Eat To Live & Write For Fun!

Until next time…

Bon Appetit!

Sandy

What The Pluck!

Cosmetically Disturbing

woman tweezing chin

It’s inevitable..we change both mentally and physically. Especially physically. Some folks will go to great lengths to hide or remove their unwanted signs of aging. For others like me, we just do the best we can.

I am not sure when it happened..but I suddenly became aware of the fact that I was growing random facial hair in a small chin cluster. In fact..it was probably about the same time that my son was sprouting his first facial hair. Of course, I certainly didn’t want to call attention to this fact or that my hair growth might have been more impressive than his. Interesting to know how proud he was of his hair vs how horrified I found mine.

The more I speak with women in my age group, the more I have  realized that I am not the only one in the unwanted facial hair group. Approximately, 20 million American women remove facial hair at least once a week. Likely for most of us, it is hormone related and naturally occurring, rather than medical in nature..but disturbing non-the-less.

As I read about facial hair, my source noted that before puberty, facial hair is a fine, thin type known as “vellus.” With the onset of puberty, hormones transform some hair to a course pigmented variety called, “terminal.” I kid you not, not only do we get unwanted hair..it’s terminal.

Equally Unflattering

hot wax

What I find equally unflattering is the process of trying to remove these unwanted visitors. There are various methods that we try in hopes of causing a stunted growth process that will stop their growth forever..but they continue to grow in defeat of our efforts.

There is the ” Hot Wax” method..the nice warm, soothing feel of warm wax on your face..until it’s ripped off with a harsh jolt of pain. Yes, this removes the hair temporarily and leaves one with a bright, red patch of smooth skin that stands out like a stop light. But no worries, my hairdresser dabs a bit of Witch Hazel on the area of attack & slightly pushes the cotton ball with pressure, to mask the intense stinging. It’s up to me to dab the tears out of my eyes. It’s hard to believe that women will put themselves through this process repeatedly with limited relief and no hair growth end in sight. Oh, be sure to schedule this type of removal when you don’t have an event to attend for a couple of days.

TweezerMan

fight-tweeze

Of course there is the Tweezer method. I find it interesting that one brand of this small torture device is called: “Tweezer Man”. I’m just sayin. Every woman has a pair of tweezers or four. We have our flat tips, our angle tips and our pointed tip tweezers. We surely have our trusty multiple magnification mirror and  our pick of pastel tweezers and are ready for action. I can think of few things less flattering than a woman with her mirror, tweezers, and pursed lips as she plucks with a vengeance, oblivious to the world (or people) around her. My thoughts are that this approach should be reserved for a private setting with no visitors (with the exception of a female slumber party using wine as the anesthetic)…though some women pluck in public with wild abandon and intention.

I suppose if your budget allows for it, and you are so inclined, you can go pay a cosmetic doctor or technician to remove your unwanted hair by laser. Physically, this approach is probably less painful than the primitive torture methods described above, but likely with a pricey cost for the privilege.

What About Bleaching?

Biggest accomplishment - Copy

I know some women who prefer the “bleaching” method. If you can’t stop em’ from growing, just bleach them so they blend in. Hmm. Just reading the instructions on the these bleach boxes is intimidating to me. And based on my past experiences with hair dye, I think that this method would be better left to the professionals who have been trained on how to use dye. Anyway..there’s just something about my husband running his hand through my furry face that doesn’t seem right..even if they are lightly colored.

Our Plucking Plight

True friends

So there it is..the perpetual plucking plight of the middle-aged woman and beyond. The positive thing about growing older after middle age..is that at some point, you don’t care. You don’t care if these unwanted hairs grow or live in harmony with your liver spots, dry skin and wrinkles, or not. Actually, I think that there is probably a comfortable freedom in not worrying about these pesky hairs.

Here’s to older age and not caring about the physical expressions of ourselves. But until then… pluck on Princess!

Sandy