Two Months to 50: Gray Hair Transition & Balance Goal Update

Two months from today, I will turn fifty.  As I lead up to that milestone birthday, I’m periodically writing about some issues in my life and things I’d like to change.  In today’s post, I’ll update you on the hair issues I wrote about last month. I’ll also bring you up to date on how I’m doing with my balance goal for 2016 and highlight some ongoing issues I’m experiencing in that regard.

I’m bound and determined to be in a better place in my life by the time I blow out those fifty candles (well, maybe just a “5” and a “0” on my cake will be a better idea).   Although I have some trepidation about turning the big 5-0, I feel that it has also been a blessing for me, as it has lit a virtual fire under me and is pushing me to make some important and long overdue changes.  It’s like a crash course in personal growth and for that I am very grateful.

Hair Update

Last month, I shared my thoughts on dealing with what I’ve termed “hair prison” and my desire to break free.  Since that time, I’ve decided to transition to gray hair and have made a start on that project by not coloring my hair for seven weeks (I usually did it every four weeks).  Last week, I had a couple of inches cut off and got a deep conditioning treatment that made a big difference in the health and texture of my hair. Here’s a photo of me right after I returned home from my hair appointment:

Debbie hair update

Deciding whether or not to go gray is a very individual decision (read some stories and thoughts from commenters here), but I ultimately made that choice because of my health.  My doctor felt strongly that the chemicals from the frequent hair dyeing were contributing to my health issues and recommended that I stop doing it.  My intense nerve pain has already noticeably decreased in the past few weeks, so that’s enough evidence for me right there.  I hope that placing my health above my vanity will result in my feeling much better as time goes on.

I was also tired of fighting a losing battle, as my gray roots appeared just over a week after my color appointments and I had to use sprays and powders to hide them.  My color was also inconsistent and I wasn’t happy with it much of the time.  Joining gray hair transition Facebook groups (if you’re interested, check out this one and this one) showed me that the transition isn’t as scary as I thought and that it’s possible to still look attractive and youthful with natural silver locks.   At this point, I’m just letting my hair grow, although I’m not ruling out highlights and/or lowlights to help lessen the line of demarcation in the future.  Since the color from those processes doesn’t go on the scalp, the potential health risk would be much lower, but it could still be damaging to my hair.  I’m not prepared at this point to cut my hair really short, but never say never.

I’m going to keep working on improving the condition of my hair through deep conditioning and decreasing my use of heat appliances.  I think that simply not applying color every four weeks will help a lot with both the condition of my hair and my overall health.  It won’t be easy emotionally to deal with the transition, but in the grand scheme of things, it will just be a year or two out of my life.   I’m hoping that the choice I made to get “un-stuck” about my hair will transfer over into other areas of my life as well.

An Update on My Balance Goal

At the beginning of this year, I decided that my main focus would be on creating a more balanced life.  This is what I wrote to lead off that discussion:

During 2015, my life became very unbalanced.  I stayed up far too late, consumed an excessive amount of information, spent way too much time on Facebook, and devoted too great a percentage of my time to other people’s problems besides my own.   I didn’t get enough sleep, fell behind on things that were important to me, got too stressed out, and my health declined considerably.  I don’t know how much different my health would be now had I been more in balance over the past year, but it definitely wouldn’t have hurt.   Stress can certainly negatively impact our health and I know that has been the case for me.  It’s beyond time for me to turn all of these negative habits and patterns around!”

I outlined a number of balance objectives related to information overload, relationships, my health, and my wardrobe and had achieved some positive results when I gave my first update about six weeks later.  At that time, I made nine additional commitments to improve upon my progress even further. I was doing great, but then as often happens, I came to a stall.   I stopped doing the things I knew would make me feel happier and proud and fell into the same sort of traps I was embroiled in back in 2015 and earlier years.

Decreasing Information Overload

It hasn’t been all bad, though, so I will start on a high note and tell you about the positive changes I’ve made in regards to balance so far this year:

  1. I have pared down my blog subscriptions by about half and spend much less time reading blogs now than I did last year.
  2. I’ve gone back to reading books again and have read about one per month so far this year.
  3. I’m better at keeping up with my email and no longer let it get so out of hand like I did in 2015.
  4. I no longer have 40 or 50 browser tabs open at any given time. While I still rely too heavy on browser tabs, I now try to keep the number to less than twenty.
  5. I have pared down my physical files considerably. I went from three jam-packed file drawers and three jam-packed file boxes down to just two full file boxes.  I got rid of a lot of legacy information I no longer needed, as well as print-outs of data that can easily be accessed online.

I feel proud about all of the above changes, especially the last one.  It wasn’t easy to pour through a lifetime of information in all of those files and some of it was painful to re-live.  I just finished the file project a few days ago and feel like a big weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.  Although most of the files were tucked away in a closet and out of my day to day view, the information overload was still weighing me down and depleting my energy.

I’ve found that as I’ve been working through all of the clutter in my home, I’ve freed up considerable energy which I can now devote to the things that matter to me in life.  It may sound hokey or “woo-woo,” but this is definitely true for me.  While it was great to let go of jewelry and bathroom items earlier in the year, the file management project had the strongest impact on me. My digital files are next and I look forward to experiencing more of a release after that project is behind me.

Ongoing Balance Challenges

I’m very happy to have made the changes highlighted above, but I continue to struggle in the following areas related to balance:

  1. I still have too many backlogs – Included are articles to read in the Pocket app (currently at 116, mostly from 2015), Feedly blog posts (currently 48, between “saved for later” posts and unread posts from the past three weeks), and “Active Sites” (35 previous browser tabs I’ve saved to view later).
  2. I’m still buying too many “out and about” clothes and not enough for my causal at-home lifestyle (see my thoughts on this topic here).
  3. I still spend most of my time alone or with my husband and don’t have much of a social life.
  4. I continue to stay up too late and don’t get enough sleep most nights. This is a big one, as sleep is critical for repairing the cells in our bodies, decreasing inflammation, and improving our health (see the effects of sleep deprivation here).
  5. I continue to spend far too much time on Facebook and not enough time on other priorities in my life. This is so important that I will go into greater detail below, as it also impacts most of the other challenges mentioned above.

Facebook – Both a Blessing and a Curse

One of my biggest issues related to balance is Facebook.  At the beginning of the year, I knew I was spending too much time on that social network, but I wasn’t sure how much.   After tracking the time spent on messaging with my various friends and in the private group I created, I learned that I spent an average of 20 hours a week on Facebook activities (and this doesn’t even include time spent browsing my feed or in the other groups to which I belong)!  Since I thought that was far too much (the equivalent of a part-time job!), I vowed to decrease that time by at least half.  Sadly, I have not been successful with this goal.

While I have decreased my messaging time from an average of 11.5 hours per week in January to just 6 hours a week in May, my time in the group I founded has increased from approximately 8 hours a week to about 10.  I am proud to have created such a supportive group of women and a safe space in which to discuss and explore shopping and wardrobe issues.  I’m happy this group is there for those who need it and I know that many of the members have benefitted greatly from its existence.  I have benefitted as well, but it also feels like a burden to me some of the time.

I feel anxious to even write that, but it’s true.  I feel obligated to spend time in the group every day and I feel guilty that I don’t spend enough time there, especially when compared to some of the other members and my fellow group admins.  No one is specifically making me feel this way, but since I’m the one who created the group, I feel like it’s my responsibility even though I created it more for others than for myself.  I was hesitant to start a Facebook group because I knew that it might end up taking a lot of my time. That’s why it took me so long to do it.  However, the thing that pushed me to take that action was that my blog started to get a lot of negative comments and didn’t feel like a safe space for conversation anymore.

I don’t want any of the members of my group to feel like they have to check in every day or spend a specific amount of time in the group.  I want the group to be fun and a resource for those who need it when they need it.  There are now so many members of the group that it’s pretty much guaranteed that someone will be around at any time of the day to answer questions or provide support.  This is a wonderful thing, but I certainly don’t want the group to be a source of stress for any of its members, including me.

Since many of us have what’s been referred to as addictive personalities, it can be as difficult to moderate our time on Facebook as it is to control our clothing purchases.  This worries me, but I know I’m not responsible for the behavior of others. Additionally, some of the group members may feel just fine with spending multiple hours a day reading and responding to threads.  But I have to honor myself and my desire for balance, which means I need to cut back and deal with any feelings of guilt I may experience as a result.   Some things in my life aren’t getting done and I’m not getting enough sleep because I’m on Facebook and that’s just not right.  I have to put myself and my health above any sense of obligation I feel towards this group and the other members, no matter how much I like and value them.

This is something that has been weighing on my mind for a long time.  Perhaps some of you can relate, if not in terms of a Facebook group, then perhaps in regards to Facebook in general, another social media network, or somewhere else where you spend a lot of your time.  Most of the things we do in life aren’t bad and many of them are actually good, but almost anything can become a problem if done in excess.  Shopping for clothes and loving fashion aren’t bad, but many of us have gotten into trouble by becoming too immersed in these things.  This is where balance comes into play and it can be very challenging for many of us.   My hope is that by sharing my challenge with Facebook, I can perhaps shine a light on the areas of your life in which you’re out of balance. Awareness is the first step toward change, so getting clear on what’s not working and why can help us to figure out what shifts we need to make in order to feel more in sync with our goals and dreams.

A New Practice and Renewed Commitments

One of my favorite books is “Happiness is a Serious Problem” by Dennis Prager and I enjoy listening to this radio talk show host’s weekly happiness hour. On a recent show, Mr. Prager suggested that if we all asked ourselves if something would make us happier before we did it, we would take different actions in our lives.  I decided to take this on and my wonderful husband made the following visual tool to aid me in this effort:

happiness question

I have only been using this tool for two days now and I’ve already started making smarter and healthier choices.  I have stayed off my computer late at night, spent less time on Facebook, and gone to bed earlier. I have also been more focused on my priorities and less prone to distractions.  I’m not nearly as focused and productive as I’d like, but it’s a good start.  Even if using the question, “Will this make me feel happier and proud?,” is the only change I make, I feel it will go a long way toward increasing the sense of balance I feel in my life.

I would like to recommit to some of the goals and practices I set at the beginning of the year, as well as include a few new ones.  Here are my balance commitments from today onward:

  1. Go to bed by 12:30 a.m. each night. Wind down for an hour before bed, which means getting off the computer (and preferably the TV as well, but that’s not as big of a problem) and doing something to slow down my brain, such as reading or listening to music.  Aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night.
  2. Pare down all of my backlogs by the end of July, including Feedly, Pocket, my “Active Sites” folder (previous browser tabs), and email. After that, I will commit to clearing out these queues by the end of each week.
  3. Declutter my digital files and browser bookmarks by the end of July. This is a big project, but so was the physical file project and I got that done.  I know I will feel infinitely better to have this project behind me, too!
  4. Get out of the house every day and engage in a social activity with people besides my husband once a week (a club meeting, a Meetup, a one-on-one get-together, etc.).
  5. Set 1-3 priorities for each day. Do this the night before so I have focus for the next day.  Do at least one of these items before logging onto Facebook or managing email.
  6. Continue to decrease my overall time spent on Facebook. My May weekly average between group participation and personal messaging was 16 hours.  I would like to decrease this to 10-12 hours per week maximum.

If I do all of the things above, I know I’ll feel much more balanced, which will also lead me to feel happier and more proud of myself.  That will be a good way to feel as I enter into my fifties. Hopefully, as a result of sleeping more, honoring my needs and boundaries more appropriately, and decreasing my exposure to chemicals as a result of no longer coloring my hair (I will also explore my toxic exposure through cosmetics via the EWG Skin Deep database), my health will also improve as the year progresses.  I will continue to work with my various health professionals on determining the causes and finding solutions for my physical symptoms, but I feel that improving my life balance will be beneficial as well.

Your Thoughts?

As I get closer to fifty, I’ll share some more thoughts on how I’m doing and what I’d like to improve in my life.   I will also do future balance updates later in the year.  But now I’d like to hear from you…

  1. If you have selected a theme for the year or outlined goals for yourself, how are you doing?
  2. What would you like to commit to (or recommit to) for the remainder of 2016?
  3. What suggestions do you have for those of us who struggle with life balance or with spending too much time on social media?

I invite you to share your thoughts on the above questions, as well as any insights you have related to the topics included in this post.   I’ll be back soon with a photography interlude and another purchase review (see my last one here).


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Comments

  1. Sarah L. says:

    Good for you for continuing to allow your hair to become its natural colour! I’m glad to hear that it seems to have helped with some of your health issues. Based on the picture of you above, I think it will really suit you and bring out the colour of your eyes. My hair is black, and in the past year it’s been getting more and more white, so I do understand how you feel about hair changing colour. But I do have to say that I believe that grey and white can be very striking colours (I once went to a classical music concert in which one of the women soloists had long dazzling white hair — it was beautiful and mesmerizing!).

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks, Sarah. I hope that gray hair will suit me. I definitely have seen it be quite striking on others. I feel good about my decision to transition, although I know it won’t be easy… Good for you for not dyeing your hair and just letting it go white.

  2. Debbie – another powerful post! Thank you.
    1. I am making progress – but not perfectly – toward my goal of better prioritizing my life activities. Specifically I seem to have put my work into a better compartment – not allowing my work to stress me as much, making sure I stick to reasonable work hours, taking things somewhat less seriously.
    2. I’d like to recommit to balancing work/life – I have a tendency to over-commit myself (I apparently seek some kind of validation by making myself absolutely necessary!)
    3. I wish I had a magic bullet for achieving balance, but sadly do not. Other than to practice mindfulness every day, taking time to stop and check in periodically, asking “If I say ‘yes’ to this, what will I say ‘no’ to?”.
    PS – so pleased that you are taking this opportunity to go natural with your hair! I hope you love the freedom from chemicals/maintenance as much as I have!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      You have been a good role model about looking fabulous with silver hair, Sybil! I look forward to my transition being done, but I’m already happy to be free of the chemicals and monthly salon visits. I’m glad you are doing better at prioritizing your activities and setting reasonable work hours. I hope you will be able to pull back on over-committing yourself moving forward. I agree that it’s important to check in with ourselves and let go of existing commitments when we take new ones on.

  3. Debbie I too have stopped colouring my hair after we met in San Diego!
    That plus all the other changes you are making all sound like sensible ways to look after your health and well-being. I think that’s fantastic news and wish you all the best with your endeavours.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Good for your for stopping the hair color, Ruth. It wasn’t an easy decision for me, but I feel at peace with it. Yes, I need to put my health and well-being above the color of my hair and my worries about the opinions of others and I’m glad I have taken positive steps in both regards. Thank you for your good wishes!

  4. Hi Debbie,
    I think with your hair turning grey your eyes will be more remarkables. Your health will get better as well.
    Maybe you should be volunteer in an organization, it could help you attend your 2016 goals (and maybe put your “out and about clothes”) and you could help others, feel useful. I also plan do the same after the holidays in september.
    With compulsive shopping we buy clothes for our dreamed life… so we have to do the way to live it and not just dream about it.
    My plan for 2016 to buy less than 36 clothes/shoes, and donate more than 36. I bought 5 tops and 1 shoes, donated 3 clothes and 5 tops + 3 shoes waiting for donation.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I hope the gray hair will highlight my eyes more, Dory. I was just hoping for improved health and more freedom, but if I look better in some ways, that would be nice, too. I used to do quite a bit of volunteering, but I pulled back on that because of burnout and health issues. I worry about having to cancel when feeling bad, but perhaps there are some organizations that allow for more flexible volunteering. Your plan for this year sounds reasonable and you are doing very well. Best wishes for your shopping and donating for the remainder of 2016!

  5. Wow! Another great post! I’m so happy to learn that your health is improving – and through your own actions, too. I’ve only been coloring my hair for about a year and I am “supposed” to go every 4 weeks but it’s always about 8 weeks until I decide to go and then have to wait to get an appointment. The colorist has long ago given up saying she’d see me in 4 weeks. I do worry some about the chemicals but in my case for no tangible reason other than I tend toward worrying.

    When I was young I had set age 50 as the time by which I would definitely know what I wanted to wear – it being so far away and so mature. 😀 At 67, I am still evolving so have to be okay that I may never know. 😀 (looks like we share a birthday) For me, it tends to be bound up with identity. All those questionnaires and strategies that begin with what you want to project to others. Heck, I don’t know. “Leave me alone?” 😀 I’m a well-rehearsed introvert who loves the aesthetics of fashion. And yet I dislike being known for that. Why?

    Yesterday I went out to vote, a couple blocks from my hone. My neighborhood doesn’t look dangerous anymore – the drug gangs mostly having been driven inside houses – but it still is.
    So I want to blend in. I always love going out to vote because the neighborhood is very safe on that day because they bring in party workers from all over. But not yesterday. There was so little activity that there weren’t even workers outside the polling place. I began to wonder if they’d changed the location and I wasn’t aware. In any case, I hadn’t worn a purse – had been mugged a few years ago in broad daylight and am wary ever since. I haven’t found any sunblock of whichever variety that doesn’t feel awful on my skin and doesn’t leave me feeling suffocated and hot. So I use protective clothing for the most part. I started with a print skirt and wore flat white ankle strap shoes with a laser cut pattern that picked up the skirt print.
    Nobody wears skirts here. Then because the top was sleeveless, I wore an oversize white jean jacket. Then a rolled brim straw hat. I passed a neighbor sitting on her steps. She’d once called out to me that “you’re like us. You *dress*.” She started up a conversation and told me how nice I looked. And it was then that I became aware of how overdressed I was. Women do sometimes wear hats here – mostly baseball caps and sometimes a stingy brim fedora. I have one of those and could have worn it and fit in a bit better in my urban neighborhood but I wouldn’t have had any sun protection.

    I can relate to how much time you spend on the computer. I find that I do it as a soothing behavior *while* I’m preparing to face up to whatever is the next thing I have to tackle. 😀
    Guess for me it’s the modern day version of worry beads.

    I’ve cut way back on the number of style articles I read. I want to be less influenced. At the same time, I want to know what “everybody” (again, nobody in my area) is wearing because I *don’t* want to wear the same popular things. So it’s full circle to the same kind of dilemma. How do you blend in when your goal is to stand apart?

    I admire how you’ve tackled and reduced the paperwork logjam. I cleared my house in a major way over a decade ago but by now I have some paperwork that needs to be reduced again. At the same time that I purely hate going through it, I know from experience that knowing absolutely what I have (and as little as possible) is immensely calming.

    I agree that Prager is a genius about happiness. I tend to be a happy and grateful person. I seriously am glad every day when all of us are alive including the very old dog. But I never thought of using the idea as a tool, the way you have. I will have to experiment. But I fear the answer for me will be that yes, this or that piece of newly thrifted clothing makes me happy every time I see it. Though I suppose this is sustained progress because when I started out purging my possessions, most of the clothing I had I hated and didn’t wear because in my mind it represented very office-y items that I was amassing “in case” something happened and I had to go to work and it might “protect” me. Yeah, I know this was nuts and that’s why I got rid of it all. At the time I really liked replacing it with the idea that “everybody has to live without a net.”

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I really appreciate your sharing so many of your thoughts and experiences, Vildy. Regarding hair color, a lot of people have no issues with the chemicals, which is probably why no doctor even thought to mention it to me until recently. I am definitely chemically sensitive, so it makes sense that the hair color could be a problem for me. If you go 8 weeks between coloring appointments, that’s probably a good thing even if the colorist recommends every 4.

      How cool that we share a birthday! I’m glad you were able to vote without incident. Getting mugged a few years ago sounds very scary. Yes, it can be difficult to balance online time as well as how much style reading we do and the number will be different for everyone. It took me a long time to even begin my paper decluttering project, but it was calming to get through it. I’m sure I will feel the same about all of my digital files, although that project seems daunting.

      I like your saying, “Everybody has to live without a net.” I think a lot of us hold on to things for “just in case” or as a sort of safety net, but it can be very freeing to let it go. It’s great that you are a happy and grateful person. I have had to work hard at both things, but Prager’s book and happiness hours have helped me a lot. I hope carrying the question “Will this make me feel happier and proud?” around will help me get to the next level with it all.

  6. I rarely comment here, but I want to say that you look so good, even after such a short break from coloring you hair. Your hair looks healthier, the cut is flattering, and the softer color is very becoming. I don’t think you’ll regret your decision.

    Re. Turning 50, as someone who is in the second half of her 50’s, let me assure you that your 50’s can be a great decade. It’s odd, but I am more visible at work and just generally, in my 50’s than I was in my 20’s. A result of “coming into my own” ? Of more confidence? So don’t dread your upcoming birthday. This may turn out to be your best decade yet.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you so much for your compliments on my hair, Renee, and your encouragement about going gray and turning 50. I have heard similar things about the 50’s from other people and I hope you’re all right that it can be a great decade. I would love to have more confidence and worry less about the opinions of others. I will try not to dread my birthday and to embrace 50. It’s definitely better than the alternative!

  7. Wow, what a great post Debbie! I think you are making the right decision about your hair. I also worry about the number of chemicals we are exposed to in our lives and you are smart to start limiting that exposure. You have beautiful eyes and a kind smile and your hair is beautiful too!

    I am so impressed that you have gone through all your paper files! This is something I keep intending to do but I haven’t made a plan. So today I am going to make a plan. It just seems so overwhelming! Thank you for giving me the inspiration to get going!

    I love the “Will this make me feel happier and proud?” reminder. Changing our habits takes work and that quote will help me to think about the consequences of the choices I make.

    I appreciate everything you share in your blog. You have great insights and beautiful photos too! My theme for this year is “Be Positive”. Your blog has been a great help to me!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I appreciate the support from you and others around my hair decision, Kirsti, and thank you for your compliments on my eyes, smile, and hair. I think that the lead up to turning 50 is pushing me to do a lot of things, including getting rid of all of my remaining clutter. I’m happy to inspire you to go through your files as well! Your theme for the year is a great one and I’m glad my blog has been helpful to you. I’m working on being more positive, too. It’s a very worthy goal!

  8. Hi Debbie. Reducing your paper sounded like a very freeing task for you. Kudos! One day if you ever decide to also Konmari this blog out of your life, I would actually be very happy because it would mean that you felt you were on your way to recovery. I’m glad you shared part of your awesome journey with us, in the meantime.

    This year, I’ve committed to minimizing my possessions to only what I love, which has also led me to also do some (ahem) spring cleaning of my relationships. I’m committed to having happy and healthy relationships with my family and figuring out how to also do so with friends. With friends, I was the person who could never say no. I understand now that saying no in a polite but assertive fashion is a required skill; not being able to do so leads to problems later down the line that could have been easily solved if I had the skills to be honest in a nice way. For instance, I almost married the wrong person! (that was a long time ago when I *really* didn’t know how to say no)

    As to suggestions for those struggling with life balance or spending too much time on social media, I think what has helped me the most is to create what is basically a life wish list. It’s a list of everything I wish I had (riches, looking young forever, great husband). I then sit around and actually try to visualize for 10 minutes of actually living that life. I think it helps because it forces me to focus on what I really want out of life, instead of drifting along and looking into every window that catches my eye. I got the idea from a book in the library called “10 Minute Toughness.” That book was meant for athletes, but it works in other areas of life.

    On a different topic, I was just reading an old article about Marie Kondo’s tips for making smarter purchases. Very interestingly, her tips seem to correspond with a lot of the things I’ve read in your blog, Debbie. Great minds!
    http://www.whowhatwear.com/marie-kondo-shopping-tips/

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, reducing my paper clutter was a big one for me, Jane. I had been dreading it and putting it off for years. One day I probably will KonMari this blog out of my life, but I don’t have plans to do so yet. When I do, it will be because I’m ready and because I am moving on to something else that inspires me. I’m happy to have been able to help you and others through my words. Good for you for “spring cleaning” your relationships and getting better at saying no. That has been a real battle for me, too. I love your life wish visualization activity and can see how it would be helpful. Thanks for sharing that as well as the Marie Kondo shopping tips article.

  9. Ruth holmes says:

    It is great you have decided to go grey Debbie. I saw a lady in Europe that had long grey hair. I thought she was younger at first glance because of how she dressed. It made me think of you and that how we look is more than just our hair. I think you would look good with grey hair. the colours you like to wear will work too. All the best for the transition.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you for your encouragement, Ruth. You’re right that how we look is about more than just our hair and youthfulness and vibrancy can be conveyed in numerous ways. I’m fortunate in that I already like to wear cool tones, so hopefully I won’t have to change too much about my style when I transition my hair.

  10. Debbie, it is already clear from your picture that your eyes will sparkle once you make the transition with your hair. I think your natural color will truly suit you! I also like the new haircut – it looks like you got some more layers than usual cut in around your face. It really looks well on you.

    As to Facebook and other social media, I decided to opt out completely. I just didn’t feel that they were adding any value to my life. But I understand that it is not the right decision for everyone.

    I hope you can find the balance you are seeking, and, as always, I admire the determined and methodical way you go about it!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I hope you’re right about my natural color suiting me, Izeve, and thank you you for the compliments about my haircut. About social media, it never used to be a problem for me until about a year and a half ago. I have thought about opting out like you have, but I’m going to try to cut back for the time being and see how that goes. I will do whatever I have to do to find balance and peace, though, as those things are so important.

  11. Claudette says:

    I love your new hair length and softer look! What an awesome article…turning 50 has motivated you and although it is a challenge, I believe that with all the changes, you will be healthier and happier…I know you are a perfectionist but could you just delete some of that digital stuff without having to go through it? Congratulations on finishing going through the paper files…feels good!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you, Claudette. I’m glad you liked this post. I definitely need to just delete some of the digital stuff. I get nervous about doing that, as I always feel that I will miss out on potentially life-changing information (you know, FOMO…), but I need to trust that I will find what I need when I need it. It felt really good to get through all of the paperwork and I look forward to feeling the same way about the digital clutter, too.

  12. Over the last six months or so I have started replacing all of my cosmetics to natural/green products and my skin has benefitted from this change. It took me quite a few hours of research to even get a basic understanding of natural/green products, companies, ingredients to avoid, etc. I did find EWG Skin Deep app helpful, especially for individual ingredients. I also use an app called Think Dirty that is similar to EWG that is very useful as well. Most of my information has been from YouTube through green beauty videos. That really helped give me a starting point for my transition. My favorite channel is Laura’s Natural Life. She is so informative and includes other green/natural products along with cosmetics. Highly recommend! Good luck with your transition with your hair as well as the other areas of your life and kudos to you for deciding to make these changes for your health and wellbeing!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you for the recommendations for healthy cosmetics, Heidie, and good for you for making the shift to more natural personal care products. I will definitely check out the app and videos you suggested. I have been so good about eating healthy food, but I know I’m still using toxic cosmetics and that may be making me sicker. I appreciate your support and encouragement!

  13. I’ve been thinking: do you enjoy late nights? You seem to be a night owl. I am as well, and if I had a life where I didn’t have to fight my biology and get up for work, I’d stay up late and sleep late. Indeed, it’s important to get enough sleep!
    Our society is structured around daytime schedules. But personally, I love the night (I suspect many introverts do). I love the quiet, the dark night sky, watching the moon and stars, the sound of the owls, the water at night, the smell of the night air; I love everything about it.
    If you enjoy the night and your schedule doesn’t demand you to be somewhere in the morning, why not indulge?

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, I’m definitely a night owl, OCD, and could identify with what you wrote about the beauty of the night. I don’t think I will ever be an early bird, but it would do me some good to adjust my schedule at least to some degree. My husband is a lark and gets up very early and we’ve been very out of sync as of late. I’m going to try to meet him in the middle a bit while still enjoying my nights.

  14. I’m so excited you decided to grow out the dyed color! I kept checking back here in suspense of your decision 😉
    And I am even more happy to hear you have already noticed an improvement in your health! That’s remarkable.
    Though I don’t know why I’m surprised, I suffer from chemical sensitivities myself. I have never dyed my hair. I am starting to go gray, and at 33 I have enough grey hair that people comment about it. Often along the lines of “pluck it out!” I dislike those comments. But I like forward to going gray , though at a much slower rate, lol.

    I like this midyear check up on our goals. I will be sure to check on mine as well.

    Thanks continually

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad that you and others are pleased with my gray hair decision, Chris. I should have known the hair dye was a problem for me, but I think I didn’t want to address it. It’s weird that no doctor ever mentioned it before, though, especially the multiple naturopaths who I’ve seen (only the most recent one mentioned hair dye as something I should avoid). I started to go gray around the same age as you and didn’t realize I would get “trapped” in the permanent hair color cycle. It’s good that you are letting your hair be natural despite what others are saying. It will be easier and healthier for you and you won’t have to deal with a “skunk stripe” like I will. I’m glad this post reminds you to check in on your goals and I wish you the best at fulfilling upon them.

  15. Sharon W says:

    Hi Debbie

    Another lovely post. That may be my favourite photo yet! You look beautiful & so serene. (Oh & the best teeth ever!!). I’ve never dyed my hair but I can understand the effects of toxic chemicals. Since embracing a more natural life after my husbands diagnosis we are both feeling so great. I use non toxic cleaning fluids & choose whole foods & we keep the home clutter free & air it out often. If only I could remember to meditate! I’m actually feeling very calm about my 50th in August as I finally feel comfortable in my own skin and I’m finally learning to appreciate the gifts that maturity brings. I find I gravitate towards compassion & serenity rather than placing too much emphasis on physical perfection/beauty. You embrace all these qualities (including the beauty!!)

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you for your kind compliments, Sharon! Good for you for never dyeing your hair and for embracing a more natural life with your husband. I’m sure both of you are benefiting greatly from that. I struggle with meditation, too. I know it’s such a beneficial thing, but I just don’t do it! That’s great that you are feeling calm about your 50th. I hope I will start to feel better about it, too. Focusing more on internal qualities will certainly help, as aging can be tough on all of us. I know that what’s inside of us is more important than the external. I hope the fifties will be a good decade for both of us!

  16. You may already know about this chemical in body care products but the reader comment about natural products put me in mind of it. Google: preservative in cosmetics allergy.
    Methylisothiazoline (and its cousins). They’ve been eliminating it in Europe but is still plentiful here in U.S. It’s in lotions, shampoos, body wash, toilet wipes, etc. Sometimes in laundry detergent.

    This stuff’s vicious. Our son had soreness and rash around his buttocks, to the point that nothing got rid rid of it and he developed open sores. Went to three doctors, including dermatologist. One day he comes home from a short stay at girlfriend’s home and says that for some reason it was really clearing up. I asked if he could think of what was different there to at home. Well, they had no toilet wipes. We use baby wipes.

    I’m idly reading some article in an online newspaper – think it was the Telegraph article about warnings over allergies to chemicals in skin cosmetics. And I see that this nasty chemical is in baby wipes! And it doesn’t just cause rashes but some people get swelling of their face (shampoos, conditioners, lotions) and I remember my son telling me he had trouble taking an exam because his hands swelled up so badly he could hardly hold a pencil.
    And, yes, a doctor had told him he might be allergic to “something.” Sure enough, the box of baby wipes had this chemical.

    I made sure to examine every single personal use product that comes into this house. I have family trained now. I threw out every product we already had that had this. Son’s debilitating rash went away immediately and stayed clear for years now. Worth looking into. If you eliminate this and miss favorite products, quite often the generic version sitting next to it on the shelf does not contain it.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing about this chemical, Vildy. I did not know about it before! I’m sorry your son had to go through that, but good for you for figuring out the problem so that he could get past it. I don’t think I have this particular allergy since I don’t have rashes, but I will aim to stay away from it anyway since it sounds nasty! I can’t believe how many toxic chemicals are in our personal care products (not to mention our foods). I have been reading more about this issue lately and I’ve been amazed at what I’ve learned. We really do need to be careful. I’m going to read all of my labels much more closely now!

  17. Wow, that’s amazing that you’ve felt a difference in your health already, Debbie! Glad to hear it. I discovered and started using the EWG database over ten years ago, when the concern with cumulative chemical burden, eating organic, etc was still kind of fringe (at least in the US). I’ve watched it grow in popularity and public awareness over the years. Whereas before I had to explain why I made the non-mainstream food and personal care product choices I did, now most people seem to at least have a basic idea for the concept. I was also influenced by our time living in Germany, because Europe was/is way ahead of the US on these issues. Personal care products are regulated there in a way they really aren’t here. It was much easier there to make good choices, actually! Quality products with safer ingredients were readily available.

    Anyway, I know I’m biased but I think your hair looks so cool – I love the look of growing out roots. There is so much diversity nowadays in clothing/hair choices, I think so much more goes! I am eager to see how it comes along as it grows, how it will look with your “look”. I think it will look kinda awesome! 🙂

    My unofficial word this year is “healing”, although it has been rough going. I stagnate. I feel like a big wound that is so slow to get better and when (if) it finally does, the scars and new tissue may be twisted and unrecognizable and I don’t know if it will look like me, or what I imagined to be me. Maybe I should have picked something that comes before healing, like triage or critical self-care, I don’t know. For now I have just been collecting quotes or references or whatever seems somehow related to healing for me. I wish I could see the way to recommit to this and how, so for now I will just tuck that idea in.

    On another note regarding the social media management, I like others ended up getting rid of my FB account. But when it comes to opening tabs or doing internet research – when I start a new topic, I open it in a new browser session (often a “private” one), so that all the pages for that topic are grouped in one internet session and not with other unrelated things I might be looking at or working on. I do that multiple times if needed. Then it’s easier to bring a particular session to a close and wipe out all those tabs for that one particular topic, once I’ve saved or gleaned what I needed, without have to make decisions about a bunch of other pages or topics to do so. Hope that makes sense. It’s a small thing but works to help keep my browser tabs from getting out of control.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I may have “spoke” a bit too soon, Claire, as my nerve pain has worsened again 🙁 I hope it’s only temporary… But it’s still a good idea for me to avoid the hair dye since it was for sure making me sicker. I know that personal care products are regularly a lot more stringently in Europe than in the US. I hope we will follow suit soon, as I’m sure there are lots of people getting sick from these products.

      Thanks for your kind words about my transitioning hair. I know it will be hard when the “stripe” is wider, but I’ve also heard that it becomes less pronounced as our hairs don’t all grow at the same rate. I have seen a lot of pictures of women at various stages in the process and it seems that after about 4 months or so, it gets easier. Fingers crossed…

      You still have over half the year left, so if another word besides “healing” seems like a better fit for you, I encourage you to change it. Collecting quotes that resonate is a good idea. Perhaps over time, things will come together better. I felt VERY stagnant about balance, but approaching 50 has kicked things into gear for me lately.

      Thanks for the tip about the browser tabs. My husband does the same thing it turns out. This is a good way to be more deliberate about the tabs so they don’t get so out of hand. I thought of getting rid of Facebook last year, but then I started the “End Closet Chaos” group. I love the group, but I really need to watch my Facebook time. I have been doing better with it since I wrote this post last week, but I know it is a work in progress and I will have to continue to be mindful.

  18. Debbie, how beautiful! I like it already and look forward to seeing how it will look later on. You have a youthful face (not sure, but perhaps a ‘gamine’ component there?) and I think the look will not age you at all, on the contrary. I’ve had good results applying extra virgin coconut oil (organic) to the hair for about an hour or two pre-shampoo (for reducing dryness and improving condition). This was another thoughtful and motivating post, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Just had to add, as others too have noticed, the effect this has on your beautiful eyes — it is true, they seem to sparkle even more!!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you for saying a have a youthful face with a gamine component, Luna. That was a nice thing to read, as was what you said about my eyes sparkling more. I also appreciate the tip about conditioning with coconut oil. I have read about that elsewhere and want to try it, but I’m unsure how much to use and if it will be hard to wash out. I remember doing a deep conditioning treatment with mayonnaise years ago that was SO hard to wash out. I don’t think I would ever use mayonnaise again, but I really should give the coconut oil a try. My hair definitely needs all the help it can get!

      • Debbie, you are welcome — the truth needs to be spoken : )

        The coconut oil treatment works well in terms of ease of washing it out – start with half a tea spoon or less and see how it works. I use that amount on average but sometimes I use less, other times more. ‘Discovering’ natural oils a few years ago has made all the difference. I sometimes also apply just a tiny bit of jojoba (to scalp/hair) or avocado oil (to hair) (I get the ‘inesscents’ brand at Whole Foods, very tiny amount on the hair) after washing and styling as my scalp is very dry. For some reason, silicones and acrylates/polymers in leave-in products really do a number on my hair so I avoid them, unless the product is to be washed out. All the best : )

        • Debbie Roes says:

          Thanks for coming back to answer my questions about the coconut oil treatment, Luna, and for sharing more thoughts on using various oils on hair. My scalp isn’t dry or oily, but my ends are super dry and soak up whatever I put on them. Because my hair is frizzy, I do use serums (which usually include silcone), but I also use leave-in conditioners and oils. We’re all different in terms of what works, but I often wouldn’t even think to TRY something until someone comments about it. I will try the coconut oil treatment soon and report on how it works for me.

  19. Hi Debbie, I think that you are so brave for letting your hair go grey, and seeing these early pics, I know already that you will be stunning with it! About all those “backlogs” — what if you just deleted them and started the clear-by-the-end-of -the week approach now? Alternatively, what if you made lists of what articles were in each, and then only read those articles that you can remember were there (similar to the clothing exercise done earlier?). I had a huge list of recipes on my computer that I was planning to make, and then my computer crashed and I lost it. For a split second I was upset it was gone but then a calm feeling came over me, I no longer felt that ” I had to” make all of those 100+ recipes and if I bookmark one now, I make it within 2 weeks, or it gets deleted 🙂

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I appreciate your saying I’m brave, RM3. I will have to be braver as time goes on, I’m sure, but it helps that I announced my intentions on the blog and that I’m doing this for the sake of my health more than anything else. I read your comment on the day you sent it but didn’t get a chance to respond until now. However, I thought about your recommendation to delete all of the backlogs now and I just might do it! It makes me nervous, but it would be a big relief (I understand how losing your recipes led to a feeling of calm). I may do a sort of compromise and allow myself a certain amount of time (maybe 2 hours) to go through them and then delete everything after that time. That way, I will have to choose which articles I really want to read. I think it’s good to have a rule about backlogs like you do with the recipes. Some of the articles I have are from over a year ago and I’m sure I wouldn’t miss them if I deleted them all.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Wanted to share some success with you, RM3… Last night, I deleted all of those “to read” articles without even looking at them and then I deleted the app from all of my devices shortly thereafter. I was nervous to do it, but felt very relieved afterwards. It was very freeing to do and is spurring me on to tackle the rest of my digital clutter. Thanks for planting the seed!

  20. Looking good! I got lots of compliments on my eyes when I went gray and it does make me look younger because now my hair looks older than my skin rather than the other way around.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I definitely noticed your eyes much more after you went gray, Tara, so I can understand how that may end up being true for me, too. Good point about hair looking older than skin rather than the other way around. It makes excellent sense! Thanks for inspiring me! I may not go the pixie route like you did (but you never know), but your transition definitely set the wheels in motion for me and I’m grateful for that.

  21. Debbie, am amazing connection between women starting to want to color their hair and becoming ruled by time management/efficiency practices. Great article in general.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/the-middlepause-what-no-one-tells-you-about-turning-50/

    “the spread of Taylorism led to a sea-change in the way midlife was viewed that showed itself not only in sweeping pronouncements made by doctors, sociologists and psychologists, but in the little ways that ordinary people behaved: rounding down their age for census questionnaires, and acting on a decided reluctance to go grey: sales of hair dyes shot up in the Twenties and Thirties.”

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thank for sharing the article, Vildy. It was very thought-provoking for sure. I have been ruled by time management/efficiency practices for years, probably longer than I’ve been coloring my hair. Maybe with the gray hair, I will become at least a little more relaxed with feeling like I have to be doing and accomplishing stuff all the time. It’s good to get things done, but I could certainly benefit from being kinder to myself!

  22. Sarah S. says:

    I think this decision will be very freeing for you, Debbie, although I imagine it will be hard to deal with as that grey stripe gets bigger. My aunt did the transition at age 50, and although I never thought that the short hair phase suited her, she has had magnificent silver hair for the last 20 years since then. Based on how nice her hair looks, I made the decision to never even start coloring my hair and decided to go grey naturally. I also never use any heat treatment, but even so, my hair health and texture has definitely been suffering in the last year (approx. since turning 47) and I dread it becoming worse. I expect it will do as I approach 50 too. So, condition changes may just be a “thing”. Anyway, your hair looks lovely in your photo, and it’s a nice prompt to me to maybe go and book myself a deep conditioning treatment too.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, I am worried about the gray stripe getting bigger, Sarah. I may be wearing a lot of pony tails, as well as hats and scarves. We shall see… I’m trying to take it one day at a time. I don’t think I will go short, but I’m not ruling it out. It’s good that your aunt’s silver hair influenced you not to get on the permanent color train. I wish I never would have, either. I imagine that hormonal changes affect hair condition as well as dye and heat. I know that hair can get thinner with age, as well as more fragile. I highly recommend the deep conditioning treatment. I’m going to do at least a few more. I have more money for this now that I’m not dyeing my hair every four weeks anymore!

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