Battling with grays and strays

gray and stray
Battling with grays and strays

Grays and strays – just another dandy way that menopause shares its, dare I say, hair-raising, life-altering change.

About three years ago, I colored my hair for the last time. The gray was in for the win, and my scalp became irritated from the dye. My last, paid-for hair hurrah were highlights and low-lights, which camouflaged the incoming gray. Midlife was sucking the life right out of my melanin production, creating a source of natural color streaks. Albeit gray in color, the strands contrasted with my brunette beginnings, thus giving me, um, a new type of highlights.

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Menopause transformed the bedroom into a brothel

wpid-2014-06-27-12.17.31.jpg.jpeg“Say what you want about long dresses, but they cover a multitude of shins.” – Mae West

Yes, peri-menopause is making me a changed woman. It is doing things to my body and brain that I never knew it could. It is also changing my house. How, you ask? Because menopause is transforming the bedroom into a brothel.

But, not in the way you would think.

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Dressing rooms, blue jeans and a midlife crisis

I have been accused of being “too picky.” Personally, I prefer “selective.” A perfectionist? Maybe.

That could be why I detest shopping for clothes.

Especially blue jeans.

I can’t seem to find the perfect jeans, which is why when I find an acceptable pair, I wear them over and over. Honestly, I could just kick myself for not buying several pairs of the acceptable jeans, because they became my Favorite Pair – and now they are way beyond fixing. Not too long ago, and totally pushing my luck, I did indeed wear Favorite Pair to the store. Just a quick dash in and out, I told myself. But then, I ran a few more errands. And, when I got home, to my horror, I noticed that somewhere along the way, the patch that held my jeans together fell off.

Yikes! I’m not sure I want to know how many people saw the gaping hole in my jeans. I am not a teenager anymore.

But I digress.

Knowing that this search and try-on process is going to take me to where I don’t go mentally, I decided to arm myself for battle, and make things easier by wearing my awesome, comfy yoga pants instead of my back-up pair of jeans, which I don’t care much for. Plus, they were in the laundry pile, since they have been overused with the demise of Favorite Pair.

Ah, my yoga pants. I use them for exercising and as my errand-running back-ups. And, well, when I realized Favorite Pair was probably going to become further worn-out with household chores, I started wearing my comfy black yoga paints. To clean. With bleach.

Thank goodness that a black Sharpie marker covered my mistake.

Anyhow, back to the hunt.

I dug through piles of denim, like a dog digging for a bone. My favorite style of jeans has to be here, I thought to myself, as panic set in.

Nope. My favorite style is gone. History.

Which meant finding a replacement.

Great. I became overwhelmed at all the choices, but marveled at all the fashionable opportunities available. Why, with a little luck, maybe even I could look like that mannequin!

So, as with any change, I embraced a new look with an air of excitement and a bit of apprehension, plus two sizes of style of jeans, because, Lord only knows which clothing manufacturer’s styles and sizes are going to fit. I dashed off to the changing rooms, with anticipation of my new look.

After the first few attempts, I started to get worried. Nothing fit. So, accepting that I probably gained a little weight – though Favorite Pair never let me know that – I started looking at other sizes. And other brands.

No luck.

Getting frustrated, I literally wanted to cry. In a sea of clothing, I was drowning in waves of panic. Nothing fit ME. Negative thoughts started popping into my brain, like the clothing manufacturers having a “thing” against me and women my age. The dream of looking like the mannequin – gone, just like the youthful body I once had. I felt old and washed up – as if I couldn’t do anything right. Negativity was oozing out of every pore, and I started thinking of all my failures, especially my chosen career path. How could I have known that my favorite industry would change, and be replaced with a cool, new style that, no matter how hard I tried, I just had the hardest time getting a good fit? Like my faded old blue jeans, I guess I miss my “faded” old career.

Tears of frustration welled up in my eyes. So, this is midlife, huh? Well, the fighter in me came out, and had a smack down with my toxic emotions. And I got back into the ring.

Yes, I was getting older, and my body was changing – that’s life. Yes, there has been some serious grief and loss and change in the past few years, but there has also been great growth and love and joy. There are going to be frustrations – that’s life, and that’s not going to change. And it is a good life, so keep moving along.

Wiping my tears, I stepped out of the changing room and put the all of jeans that didn’t fit on the “don’t want” rack. Seriously, I had tried on at least 16 pairs of jeans. I apologized to the woman who had to restock them. She smiled and said “No problem.” I think she saw the mascara smudges from my tears.

“There is a perfect pair for you out there,” she said, and pointed me in another direction. “Just keep looking.”

She was right. Not just about finding the jeans, but by reminding me to never give up.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb