It’s funny being 60. Like all stages in life, it has its bittersweet moments. But it also has powerful freedom, unlike any other age I have lived through thus far. A sense of confidence? A sense of clarity? A sense of finding my voice and using it? A sense of identity unconnected to the roles I have played? I am not quite sure how to describe it, but it is palpable in its energy, and it is a strong presence in my life.
Now to be fair, maybe it’s not the “age”, but rather the time I have intentionally carved out to delve into self-work over the past couple of years. Connecting deeply with my intuitive self; clearing blockages from my energetic pathways; allowing my throat chakra to vocalize in a way that seemed impossible at other stages of my life; or releasing insecurities and feelings of unworthiness. So yes, maybe this new sense of inner power is the result of all of that work, or maybe it’s the age, or maybe it is the gift from “going gray” during this COVID time. No matter where it comes from, I am grateful for it.
Being 60 has made me reflect back at “age” quite a bit, especially as my grays have taken over. When we are little, we are open and filled with wonder. Time seems to go slowly, and there is a long mysterious path in front of us called “growing up” that we don’t think too deeply about. When we are teenagers and young adults, we are often self-consumed and self-conscious, and possibly a bit too self-assured. Time still seems expansive, but the path is a bit less mysterious. We might notice people getting older, but we do not connect it to our journey. When we are 20 and 30 somethings, we are too busy (and tired) building careers and nurturing families to notice that time is passing at all.
Suddenly we find ourselves in our 40s and 50s, and we are shocked that so much time has gone by. We may even realize that we are already approaching “the change”. Dreaded, and quite frankly, grossly misunderstood and undervalued. We see it as a time of losing our sexiness. We fear we will become unattractive. We may begin to experience weight gain or sagging skin or the dreaded vaginal dryness, and we are too “ashamed” to seek support in understanding these changes. And then we notice that those grays are also starting to grow in.
For many of us, the appearance of gray hair is made worse by our insecurities, and those emerging grays make us want to cover them up so we can hold onto the societal concept of looking “young”. We get the messages every day from the media, books, articles, and celebrities that growing older is bad, that gray means older and that going gray is unattractive. We do so many things, toxic things, to our external appearance just so we can push off the acknowledgment of “aging”. We are willing to risk our health, just to stay “looking young”. We deny ourselves the gift of growing into our own unique beings with grace and ease. We aren’t fooling anyone, and in some ways, our masking of what is might be blocking what should be.
And then 60 hits -- and yes, in a way it hits. At least it surprised me. How could I be 60 when I feel like I am in my 30’s? When do I feel like I am just getting started? One voice in my head said, “Oh s--t, I am on the downhill slope toward death”. The other voice said, “Oh wow! I have newfound freedom, and an abundance of time to explore, expand, learn and relearn all that I need to in order to live fully until my very last breath”. Ah, which mindset to choose? The devil or the angel?
COVID time, in some ways has forced an unveiling, if you will, upon many of us. It has peeled back layers of mindset, of appearance, attitudes, and habits. Lots of women have engaged in the conversation about “going gray”, and there have been plenty of memes and jokes about the need for hairdressers to be considered essential workers because our “roots are showing”. Stripped of our ability to get to a hairdresser, we have to face the reality that most of us aren’t going gray -- rather, we already are gray. We’ve just been hiding it. We have just been covering up our reality and putting off the acknowledgment that our bodies, hair, and skin are changing because we feel that ‘changing’ is something to be ashamed of. That denial has the potential to stifle our voices, block our energies, and disconnect us from the flow.
If we do our 40’s, 50’s and 60’s right, we allow ourselves the space to embrace ourselves again. If we do it wrong, we continue to be defined by our roles -- daughter, sister, aunt, grandmother, mother, wife, partner, lover, friend, career, and by society’s overvaluing of external appearance. It’s a beautiful awakening that I am not my role. I am me. I am spirit. I am energy. The roles I play are gifts that allow me to touch other people’s lives. But my roles do not define me or complete me. I am whole in and of myself.
Each day I look with appreciation at my “grays” growing in and even find myself a little impatient that the process of uncovering my gray is taking so long. I wish I had had the insight and grace to allow the process to happen naturally over time when I was in my 40’s. But I cannot go back and change my 40-year-old mindset and fears. I can only embrace my now.
So no, I am not going gray. I am gray. I have been gray for quite a while. And only now, through the gift of COVID time, have I allowed the layers of the onion to peel back so that there is room for my authentic self to shine.
In Health and Balance,
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Owner, Interwoven Wellness
I created my “Design-Grow-Flow” philosophy to help women who are ready to shake loose negative self-talk and heal and nurture their health in the now.
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