Donna Longuillo, New Jersey

Deciding to allow nature to take it’s course and to sport gray tresses is a very personal choice. For some it is no choice at all but for me it took careful consideration and thought. It was an exploration into my past and an examination of my life.

For many years while I dyed my hair, I watched women with beautiful white tresses and envied their bravery to not cover it with color. I secretly adored the salt and pepper crowd. When I would see a white haired lady, I would take stock of her age, skin and coloring. How was she dressed? Was she a business woman or a stay at home mom? Did she look sleek or dowdy?

As I considered my options, it became an obsession. I wanted answers. How would I look? Should I take the plunge? I researched online. I polled friends and relatives. A few were appalled. “No, don’t do it!” They cried. My mother asked why I wanted to look old, she insisted my skin was too fair and that I would look washed out. Others offered words of encouragement but admitted they could never do it themselves. Those who were already lovely silver haired ladies cheered me on to go ahead.

The more I thought about it and the more I watched other women, the more I wanted to embrace my locks. Coloring my hair was an expense and a chore. I disliked how it looked when my roots began to show. Yet, still I was afraid. Afraid of growing old. Afraid I would be thought of differently. Afraid of how it would look as the artificial color grew out.

Then one day in meditation while sitting with crisp clear air around me and green grass beneath my bum, I considered who I was. The mother, the grandmother, the teacher, the elder, the crone. The hippie, the mentor, the naturalist and spiritual being. Soap maker, artist, crocheter, musician, herbalist, social worker and friend. I thought about who I wanted to be and realized that I liked me just the way I am.

I thought about who I wanted to be and realized that I liked me just the way I am.

It didn’t matter if I had gray hair. It didn’t matter that I was over the half century mark. As a matter of fact, I was PROUD of it. I wanted the world to know it was okay to be me. Okay to be old. Okay to look my age. — My life was my wisdom. I had worked hard to get here. I had battled cancer, lost loved ones, raised children and loved grandchildren. There is no shame in my age. I no longer wished to hide it.

I wanted the world to know it was okay to be me. Okay to be old. Okay to look my age.

And as I became enlightened, I became excited. I couldn’t wait to grow out the color in my hair. Couldn’t wait for my outside to catch up to the inside. Couldn’t wait to embrace the true crone that I am.

Growing out my hair took about nine months, because I didn’t want to cut it short. The first thing I did was to have streaks of color stripped out, like highlights. It helped blend in the shades of white and dark brown. The hair dresser suggested I come back in a few weeks to touch it up but that felt wrong to me. I mean, the whole point was to go natural. So I waited the rest out.

Now the reaction of those around me are mixed. Some tell me they love how it looks and their opinion seems to be genuine. Others have been honest and told me they don’t really like it. Others still quietly offer no opinion at all. My hair colored mom does not like it one bit and is always trying to convince me to color it again. I respect the love that comes from all fronts. However in the end, it really doesn’t matter… I love my gray hair… I love not coloring it… I love looking in the mirror and seeing the real me. ..I love being my authentic self. I feel as though I have finally fully embraced my crone.

To gray or not to gray.  For me there is no question.

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