Posted in A bit of history, Air, Critters, Earth, Eastern Shore, Exploring, Gifts, Home, Life, Nature, Photography, Quotes, Spirit, Walking & Wandering, Water, Winter, Woods

Vanity

Gargoyle in the woods
Gargoyle in the woods

Vanity is becoming a nuisance, I can see why women give it up, eventually.  But I’m not ready for that yet.

~ Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye

Mockingbird
Mockingbird

A couple of months before Christmas, it dawned on me that vanity was the reason I didn’t have a “big girl” camera.  I blamed it on lack of funding, but the truth is, I was spending that money to cover up one of the natural signs of aging: my gray, white, and silver hair.  If you’re at all familiar with “multi-dimensional coloring” when it comes to hair, you no doubt know that it’s not a cheap procedure.  Multi-dimensional coloring involves highlights and lowlights and sometimes something in between, but basically, it’s means more than one color.

Multidimensional color in the meadow
Multidimensional color in the meadow

One day I announced to the universe and anyone else within hearing range, that I would give up having my hair professionally colored for over a year in order to sock away the money until I had enough to buy the camera I desired.  The universe, and my personal Santa, listened.

Singing loud
Singing loud

I do have a loophole.  I can color my hair myself.  I have done that once since my announcement to the universe.  The gray, the white, and the silver have been slowly growing back, and I’m at the point now where I’m thinking about coloring it (at home) again.

Decisions, decisions
Decisions, decisions

On the last day of last year, I drove myself to town to get my hair cut.  (For those interested, it was my second driving outing and it went well, with almost no nervousness on the way home.  I have not conquered the driving phobia, but it has not conquered me, either.)  The stylist cut my hair shorter than it’s been in a long time, and after a day or two of adjusting, I decided I like it.  By the next hair cut or two, if I don’t color my hair on my own, I should be able to get a good look at what my natural color happens to be now.

Will there be any reds or browns or blondes left in the mix?  Or will it be all gray and white and silver?

Grays and whites and greens and browns
Grays and whites and greens and browns

My curiosity has just about overpowered my vanity.

Sumac berries!  Yum!
Sumac berries! Yum!

Thinking about this, and writing about it now, I wonder, well, I wonder a lot of things.  I didn’t used to do the girly-girl type of things, and it was only after I got my first good hair cut ever that I began to think about having it professionally colored.  I was reminded of my first good hair cut when I got my recent cut.  A woman walked into the salon while the stylist was cutting my hair and started asking questions about hair cuts and styles.  She had long, reddish blonde hair tied up in a pony tail.  She’d been looking online for a new cut because, she said, she’d had the same hair style since just out of high school and she’s now 42 years old and she’d recently gotten a new job and wanted to look more professional and the last time she tried a new hair cut (just out of high school) it was horrible and she never wanted to get her hair cut again because she has fine hair and fine hair is so difficult to deal with and so she let it grow and, well, she went on in this regard for a while, almost speed talking to get it all out.

Singing and singing and singing
Singing and singing and singing

Back at the turn of the century (you know, 2000), I had my first big hair cut in ages.  For a long time I let my hair grow because every hair cut I’d ever had was a lousy one.  One day, on the verge of big change, I went into a salon and I had 16 inches of hair cut off.  Although I wasn’t sorry to see it go, I still ended up with a cut/style that I didn’t like.  I told myself it didn’t matter, something I’d been telling myself all of my adult life.  In the grand scheme of things, that’s true.  The world is full of terrible problems.  A bad hair cut isn’t even a blip on the radar of terrible problems.

A drop in the puddle
Drops in the puddle

A few years later, after spending the summer of 2000 in London (England) living in the posh Notting Hill neighborhood three blocks from the Portobello Road market (pure luck and part of a sabbatical exchange), and moving from southern Ohio to northeastern Ohio (speaking in cultural and weather terms, a big move), and after a few more bad hair cuts, I finally found someone who understood my hair.  She is a genius.  It’s possible she understands how I feel about my hair (in other words, my psyche), and her genius lies not in the hair cut itself but in how she made me feel about it.  Whatever the case, I was 45 years old before I had a hair cut that I could say I liked.  Unfortunately, I had to leave my genius hair stylist behind in northeastern Ohio, but to balance things out, I think I’ve found someone here who is similarly talented without having to go through a bunch of bad hair cuts.

Good hair day
Good hair day

So when the 42-year-old woman walked into the salon while I was getting my hair cut on the last day of the last year, I knew where she was coming from.  She was me.  I was her.  The hair cut/style she wanted happened to be the hair cut/style I was getting.  I can’t remember ever loving my hair as much as I did the moment she watched it all come together, seeing my fine hair go from flat to stacked.  I didn’t love it because of me and my hair, but because of how she was seeing herself and her possibilities.

Brush
Pine needle brush

Have you read the The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho?  There’s a part in the book where the alchemist reads the story of Narcissus, a story he was familiar with, but one that ended differently in this telling:

But this was not how the author of the book ended the story.

He said that when Narcissus died, the goddesses of the forest appeared and found the lake, which had been fresh water, transformed into a lake of salty tears.

‘Why do you weep?’ the goddesses asked.

‘I weep for Narcissus,” the lake replied.

‘Ah, it is no surprise that you weep for Narcissus,’ they said, ‘for though we always pursued him in the forest, you alone could contemplate his beauty close at hand.’

‘But… was Narcissus beautiful?’ the lake asked.

‘Who better than you to know that?’ the goddesses asked in wonder. ‘After all, it was by your banks that he knelt each day to contemplate himself!’

The lake was silent for some time. Finally, it said:

‘I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected.’

‘What a lovely story,’ the alchemist thought.”

~ Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

The vanity of the holly
The vanity of the holly

Well, this is a very long post.  I don’t know why I’m rambling on so much lately.  Maybe because it’s winter, and winter is a good time to tell stories.  Whatever the case, thank you for dropping in and spending some time with me today.  I hope your Sunday was relaxing and restorative.  I went out and about with my new camera early in the day.  It’s warm (near 60), but that won’t last.  We’ll be back to a high of 20 by Tuesday.  For those you already feeling the arctic chill, I wish you warmth and a good cuppa hot chocolate or tea.

Time to fly away
Time to fly away

Be good, be kind, be loving.  Just Be.  🙂

Today’s joys:  The little birds spending time with me; playing with the telephoto lens; sharing a piece of Smith Island Cake with M; warm weather (compared to what some people are experiencing, it was a heat wave); green tea.

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Author:

Robin is a photographer, artist, writer, wife, sometime poet, mom, grandma, daughter, sister, friend, and occasional traveler currently living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She finished a 365 commitment to get outside every day in 2011, and has turned it into a lifelong commitment taking one or more walks each day. Robin will continue to share her walks through her words and images on Breezes at Dawn. Older posts can be found at Life in the Bogs, her previous blog. Robin and her husband are in the midst of renovating the house and property they refer to as the Wabi-Sabi Ranch, 35 acres that include marsh, a dock on a tidal creek, meadows, and woodlands. Every day brings new discoveries.

37 thoughts on “Vanity

  1. I’m SO with you, Robin! I have not had my hair colored since arriving in Ecuador 8 months ago, and it’s beginning to get to me. Fortunately color is much less expensive here, but I’m not confident that folks here will know what to do with the amount of white hair I have. It takes skill to get color to stay in really, really gray hair. And I always did the highlights and lowlights. I had an amazing colorist in Lexington. We’ll see what I decide.

    By the way, I love that Atwood quote, and “Cat’s Eye” is one of my ail-time favorite novels.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

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    1. Thank you, Kathy. Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite authors. 🙂 You’re right about gray hair and skill in coloring. I have resistant gray, so getting color on and getting it to stay on can be quite a challenge.

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  2. You got me thinking… The last groupon coupon cut hi lite I got, in November, is a really good and really short one. I don’t look like the pine needle brush anymore.

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  3. You are Every Woman. And hair is Everything. But it’s like the comet that comes only a few times in your life. At least it seems that way to me. I enjoyed your thoughts and photographs so much.

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  4. I stopped colouring my hair quite a while ago. The teen love says I look beautiful with wisdom highlights. Vanity is most beautiful when it’s overshadowed by nature. Thanks for a lovely post, Robin.

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    1. You’re welcome, eM. And thank you. I love the term “wisdom highlights.” It’s interesting how changing the name of something can change how we see it. 🙂

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  5. I am glad that you shared this blog. My hair is…the way it is. No one can seem to get it right and if they do..it’s horribly wrong in two or three weeks. OR they can’t ever cut it the same way again. OMG I commented on a girly blog. sigh lol shhh maybe no one will notice
    ps. i thought everyone liked their hair(cut)(stylist). silly me.

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      1. It was almost 70 by late afternoon, Elisa. I think the southerly wind brought the warmer temperatures. It’s getting cold today, though. It won’t be as bad here as elsewhere. 20 for a high tomorrow.

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  6. Oh hair, sometimes I wish I was one of those women who looks awesome with a shaved head. Here’s a funny thing from the Canadian here. I thought your post was going to be about a new cupboard in your bathroom – a vanity!!

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    1. lol, Joss! We call them that here, too. And it very well could have been about a new cupboard in the bathroom since that’s one of the things we’ll be doing eventually. 🙂 I’ve threatened, from time to time, to shave my head, but I don’t think it would look particularly good on me.

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  7. One thing about hair – it grows back (Whew – been through some horrid cuts…and hard to move and leave a good hair cut behind! I’m hoping for my grandmother’s shining silver…and envy the Georgia O’Keeffe simplicity – headed that way.
    Look – the pictures of greys/greens and the puddle – just perfect. A good camera will help some people, but add a person with a great eye to a good camera and you have magic.
    (rambles always welcomed)

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    1. That’s true, PhilosopherMouse. It’s one of the reasons I don’t worry too much about a bad hair cut. The first two times I had my hair cut here, it was not great and didn’t grow in right. This last hair cut and styling was done by a different woman at a different place. She did a good job so I will continue to have her do it from now on. I’m hoping for white hair rather than the steely gray my grandmother had. We shall see. 🙂

      Thank you.

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  8. Totally get the horrible hair cuts My hair is curly and hard to cut in different ways than fine hair. You have to find someone that knows how to handle it. I’ve been threatening to stop coloring too, just to see how gray I am. I think I might be totally gray now. My hairdresser keeps saying I’m too young…but she might be in it for the $..who knows! 🙂
    What is the bird in your header?

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    1. My hairdresser in the Bogs used to say I was too young to stop coloring my hair, Dawn. She probably was in it for the money, but she was a genius with my hair so I didn’t mind. 🙂 I don’t know what kind of bird that was in the header. I’ve been trying to identify it. No luck so far. Maybe I’ll post the pic tomorrow and see if anyone reading knows what it is.

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  9. Seems to me that you and your new camera are getting to know each other well .. congrats.
    As for the hair … circumstances have made it hard to get to my stylist and friend for a cut, let alone color. I have always wanted to grow my hair out again since I cut it in high school, now was my chance only I have discovered that my hair barely grows at all (or breaks off). I have started coloring it myself again .. I am not totally gray, but the gray that is there makes the brown hair look dull and me feel old … I color for how it makes me feel.

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  10. the hair conundrum never ends … S cut my hair for ages because there was no-one else … then I found a brilliant short-hair stylist who also played around with colour … but tragedy struck when I went for an appointment and found she had left the salon … and I had a really really bad haircut … which has not recovered even with both of us hacking at it … luckily other women were inconvenienced so our treasure was tracked down and has agreed to a little private arrangement once every 6 weeks .. hopefully good for her and good for us!

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    1. Interesting, Christine, how so many of us are not satisfied with our hair. I’m glad I posted this. And I’m glad you convinced your treasure to agree to a private arrangement. A good stylist is hard to find, and worth keeping when you do find one. 🙂

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  11. I remember well those days of having hair and finding stylists who could give me a good cut, and the coloring and experiments to find what was best, some successes, some failures. Then came the time of chemo, loss of hair, that hair that decided not to return to what it was. From thick and course with natural wave to thin and fine and impossible to style. So now I have learned to love the natural blonde/gray mix and to accept my hair as it is – easy to care for because styling it is not an option. I always wished for wash and go – now I have it. Not precisely the way I wished, but . . . . I guess, perhaps, the moral of the story is watch what you wish for.

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  12. I am fortunate. I love my hair. The silver that’s bursting forth. And the hair cuts? I’ve had some dusies. But it always grows back. 😉 I just have to humor the face looking back at me for a few days. 😉

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  13. I believe that vanity has its place, when you know that beneath the boxed colour of your hair, there lies a patchwork of colour…but what colour is it?! I read somewhere once that after the age of forty a woman should cut her hair short (is there such a thing as hair etiquette?!) and I simply detest that theory! I will grow old, gracefully, with long hair of whatever colour I choose. But I use the home boxed dyes, it saves money to buy the fun things with; but who would have thought the saving could buy a new camera? Well worth the change in your hairdressing routine. 🙂

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    1. I think so too, Joanne! The new camera is well worth forgoing having my hair colored for at least a year. Longer, since I’m having so much fun. 🙂 I’ve heard that about women over forty and short hair. I think women should have whatever length they want, no matter what their age, although I’ve seen some beautiful older women go from long hair to short hair and it seemed to lift about ten years off of them. I think that may be why it’s recommended. But I also know beautiful older women with long hair who seem ageless.

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  14. I love that story, Robin! wow, it leaves such a peaceful feeling. Like that, perhaps, vanity is not the evil villain after all. So many things we spend a lifetime fighting and it turns out there was a gift buried there all along. Vanity may the young forming of self-love, of self-acceptance. It’s just not fleshed out yet into its many colors. Thanks for this thoughtful post.

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  15. Wonderful post, Robin!
    I’ve never had my hair professionally colored, but I’ve been making hubby do it at home for years! I’m not ready to let the color grow out and find out how grey my hair really is (and judging by the roots, it might be ALL grey! Yikes!)

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    1. Thank you, Michaela. 🙂 It might be fun finding out what’s under the coloring. Then again, I may run for a box of hair coloring as soon as I find out. lol!

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Comments are delightful and always appreciated. I will respond when I can (life is keeping me busy!), and/or come around to visit you at your place soon. Thank you!

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