Sisterhood

I once had a friend who told me she felt sorry for me because I did not have a sister.  She was very close to her own sister and could not imagine how I got through life being my parents’ only daughter. 

It is true that there is something very special about a sister relationship.  Knowing each other and loving each other and growing through life together is a source of great strength and joy.  God gave women sisters to be companions on the journey.  When one sister falls, another is there to laugh… and then help her up.  When one sister goes through an experience, good or bad, other sisters rejoice with her and mourn with her.  When a sister is going down a dark path, it is a great blessing to have another sister shining a light and suggesting a different direction.

Yes, sisterhood is a wonderful thing.  My friend had it wrong though. I do have sisters.

I have a sister who saw me through a painful divorce.  She stayed on the phone with me for hours at a time, listening to me cry and despair of ever being happy. As the years progressed, she supported me in everything I’ve ever done. She helped me build confidence and joy in myself. Without her, I don’t know that I would have lived beyond age 30.

I have a sister who listened and observed and figured out the best things to do for me while I struggled through my mother’s decline and eventual death.  She just knew what I needed and provided it.  She is also absolutely the best person I have ever met at knowing the exact right thing to say all the time. 

I have a sister who came to me for career advice, blossomed because of the conversations we shared, and included me in her joy when her efforts bore fruit.

I have a sister who walked with me on my road to reception into the Episcopal Church and continues to support me in my faith.  She respects me.  She understands me.  She loves me. 

I have a sister who let me help her when things were difficult for her.  Instead of pushing me aside when she was mourning, she allowed me the honor of doing something for her.  In letting me take something off her plate, she gave me the satisfaction of helping and also showed me that she loved me enough to let me close.

I have a sister who went with me when the Disney Fairy Godmother reimagined me into an aging, chubby Tinker Bell.  Not only did she go, but she enjoyed it and could not imagine why anyone would think it weird. 

I have a sister who is willing to gently tell me when she thinks I am doing something wrong… and also convinces me that I am lovable in spite of the unlovable action. 

I have a sister to whom I can say anything without fearing that I will be judged, misunderstood, or hurt because of it. 

I have a sister who, while my ego and sense of sanity crumbled during a few particularly painful interludes during my work life, could always convince me that “it’s not you; it’s them.” Without her, I think I might have experienced a psychotic break with reality. 

I have sisters who make me feel like the joyful child I used to be.  I have sisters who make me feel like the carefree teenager I never was.  I have sisters who admire the adult I am today.  Often, all these sisters are the same people. 

These are just a few of my sisters of the soul. It is true that I have no sisters by birth, but I am abundantly blessed with my sisters by selection.

Who are your “sisters?” Are they by birth or selection?  What makes the relationship so special?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Hug a sister today!

Terri/Dorry 😊

The Greying Of America… Or At Least Of One Particular Head In America

Some time back, I proudly declared, “as long as I had a checkbook, my hair would not be grey.“ (http://www.terrilabonte.com/2016/11/the-anti-frump/) I have been coloring my hair since I was sixteen and I could not imagine a time when I would be abandoning that practice.

Recently, something happened that made me question my stance on applying toxic chemicals to my head.  My scalp started to itch. 

If I am absolutely honest and face the facts, it was happening for several months.  I go to the hair salon every four weeks or so.  I’d come out of the salon, feeling sassy and stylish, but also scratchy.  At first, it only lasted a day or so after my salon visit and I didn’t notice it much.  I thought it was a fluke.  As the months progressed, the itchiness seemed to last longer and longer.  It also seemed to get more intense, urgent, and severe.  I scratched my scalp like a dog with fleas bites her coat.  The discomfort was getting harder to ignore.  I thought about what could be causing the issue, but didn’t think about the hair coloring.  I’d been coloring my hair so long, I almost forgot that it was an unnatural process.  I was also doing a keratin treatment to make my unruly hair more sleek, straight, and manageable.  While that wasn’t anything new, it was certainly newer than the hair color. I decided to try discontinuing the keratin treatment to see if that solved the itchies.  It did help a little, but I was still scratching more than socially acceptable when it was time to go back to the hairdresser. 

I realized, with growing horror, that I might be having a reaction to hair dye.  As I said, I have been dying my hair for years with no apparent ill effects.  Still, I know people can develop allergies over time.  I scoured the internet looking for a solution.  I talked to my hairdresser.  There did not appear to be any remedy except to swear off coloring my hair.  I found that idea so distasteful, I could barely talk about the possibility.  My hairdresser sketched out an exit plan for me to stop the coloring with the least amount of angst, but it boiled down to her proclaiming, “no matter what, it is a process.”  You see, if I stop dying my hair, not only do I have to deal with my real color (which is presumably two shades greyer than “old”), but I will have to endure many, many months of the oh-so-attractive “skunk look” that happens when my roots become visible. 

I told my hairdresser that I wasn’t ready to stop coloring my hair just yet.  For one thing, I was getting ready to leave on vacation and I figured I could put my head through the chemical wash again in order to ensure one more batch of vacation pictures in which I did not look like something the cat dragged home.  It was in the back of my mind, though, that I would probably have to start that “process” my hairdresser so appealingly described at some point in the near future.

As it turned out, my itchies disappeared.  I am not sure why it got better.  I changed conditioners at home and went back to using the heat protection cream I discontinued using some months ago.  I’m not sure if that was the solution. I typically was most itchy right after the salon, where they presumably coated my hair with every luxurious potion known to woman given the price I was paying. Whatever the reason, I am pleased to report that my scalp is no longer itchy. 

The whole episode did start me thinking, though.  What was it about the notion of going grey that was so repellent?  Why was I willing to suffer constant, desperate itching… to say nothing of whatever other health risks I undertake when I let toxic chemicals seep into my skull… simply to avoid it? 

It isn’t that I think gray hair is intrinsically unattractive.  I see woman all the time who have gorgeous silver and gray locks.  They still look polished and youthful by taking good care of their hair. It isn’t the fact that my hair has always been the only aspect of my looks to which anyone could remotely apply the term “pretty.”  I never felt that some reasonably attractive hair could overcome the general unattractiveness of my appearance.  Being vain about my hair would come under the heading of “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”  I can certainly leave the deck chairs be.  It isn’t even the months or years of “skunk look” during the growing out phase that terrifies me.  That is a self-limiting condition and will eventually pass.

I think what really bothers me is that, if I stop coloring my hair, I won’t look like “me” anymore.  It is not that I am afraid that the person in the mirror will look old.  I am afraid the person in the mirror will look unfamiliar.  Will I think about myself differently when I see the grey hair?  Will I behave differently?  Will other people see me anymore or will they just see grey hair? 

I know that the answer to all these questions is probably “it depends.”  I think the answers are probably at least partially within my control.  Maybe I should not be spending so much time wondering about whether these things will happen and spend more time on figuring out how to prevent them from happening.  The truth is, I am the same person whether I have brown hair or grey.  If I want the world to believe that, it is up to me to do some marketing of myself.  More importantly, if I want to believe it, it is up to me to develop a sufficiently strong sense of self to withstand the greying of my hair. 

When we discussed this subject before, many of you mentioned that you were fine with your grey hair.  Did any of you “go grey” after years of coloring your hair?  What obstacles or difficulties did you face?  How did you overcome then?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Have a silver day!

Terri/Dorry 😊