Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring Green: on depression, being an "older" mom, and going gray (or what I'm doing instead of getting a tattoo).

Me and my hair, October 2013, the last time I used permanent dye on my hair.

I've never had "good hair."  Mine has always been unruly, wild, wavy, too long, too short, too processed, too chlorinated, too neglected, too hair-sprayed.  You get the idea.  There's never been a happy medium.

Still, for most of my life I really have loved my hair, been proud of it even. It is thick, it grows quickly, and it forgave me for all of those perms in the 80s and I forgave it for totally weirding out on me on my wedding day.

Throughout my younger years I brazenly insisted that if my hair went white, like my beautiful Grandmother's before me, that I would let it go.  However, when those first shimmering strands started to appear around my thirtieth birthday I just wasn't ready yet.

I've dyed my hair for most of the past 3 decades.  In my teens and twenties it was navy blues, cherry reds, electric greens, and once even orange. Those were my favorite hair days. And even though that last one wasn't exactly intentional, I felt like myself.  Good hair days, bad hair days, orange hair days.

Later, once those white hairs started to appear I started to dye my hair in the dark auburn that my husband loves because my hair was red when he first met me. But, having to dye my hair versus choosing to dye my hair felt like I was pretending, which I suppose I was.

Then one day, shortly after my second child was born, when my hair was doing that oh, so fantastic postpartum thing where it all starts falling out by the handful, I did what I have done for decades when I go through a life transition and I got a hair cut and decided I'd color it, too. I glanced at a bottle of bright hair dye in hot pink on the beauty supply store shelf and thought, "maybe?" only to have my next thought be, "I think you're too old for that now."

As an "older mom" of two kids five and under I was a little insecure and I already had this weird feeling around all of the other moms who were about a decade younger than me, but whose kids were the same age as mine, at the playground. I didn't want to draw more attention to myself or seem like I was trying too hard, I guess. Plus, with my new postpartum body I was all for blending in, thank you very much.

With two kids, Christopher and I weren't exactly going to local shows, touring with our favorite bands, or even hanging out with our friends at the bar any more, either, so who really who noticed anyway?

So I stuck with colors found in nature and not highlighters.

Still, racing to keep ahead of my roots started to feel more like a chore than a favorite part of my beauty routine. It wasn't fun anymore.

Two more pregnancies, two more babies, and not only was a beauty routine no longer "fun" it was simply non-existent.  Hair that makes you feel beautiful? Clothes that make you feel fantastic?  Self care?  What on earth was that?

I'm just going to be honest here: during the sink or swim years of motherhood, especially when I had four kids (three age 5 and under and one slightly moody nine year old), I gave up and became Pony Tail Woman.  You know her, right?  All ponytails, all the time? I read that messy ponytails were on trend for 2014 and friends, I've been ahead of that one since about 2008.

 Here I am with my friend Jamie, Haley, and Haley's daughter Gwen.  
All three of whom have AMAZING hair.
Oh, look, my hair is in a pony tail. So on trend.

Then an alarming thing started happening:  for years now, almost every time I was introduced to someone new, they would comment that I looked just like another person they knew.  Oh, no one ever meant anything bad by it, but over and over again I would hear how I look just their neighbor/sister-in-law/old high school friend/etc.  

Kara, your generic stand in for whoever it is that you think she almost looks exactly like.

Now, I know this was never meant to be mean and often was probably a compliment, but it made me feel ... it made me feel like I was just one of the crowd. Nameless. Forgettable. Unimportant.

In two decades I had gone from "Kara, you know her, the girl with the hair" to "that woman who looks just like someone else I used to know." Pony Tail Woman.  Poor, tired, invisible pony tail woman.

Here's the truth I've come to realize lies behind that thinking:  I was giving other people's opinions an awful lot of control and a lot more consideration than they deserved.  No one really spends that much time thinking about someone else.  They don't. Not then and not now.

(Hell, I'm surprised any of you are still reading this, to be quite honest.  That's an awful lot of Kara in your day.)

What I perceived as dismissive of me (or, long ago, as admiration of me) was not really about them, but was really my own internal issue. Hello, self esteem.  I was wondering when you'd show up to this conversation.

Look, I know this whole hair issue might just be a very shallow thing that I'm trying to give deep roots to, and most people change their hair all the time and it isn't some big rambling super intense needs a long blog post thing, (ahem) ... but the thing is that I think hair is a big part of our identity.  At least, it always has been to me.

An old friend once told me,
"the only time you can afford to look like hell is when you feel amazing
and if you feel amazing, why would you want to look like hell?"

Why, indeed.

This year I've been challenging myself to be braver.  To put more pictures of myself on social media, to include myself in pictures of family outings and events, to really take the time to look at myself. That invisibility feeling starts with me. And if I want to fight it, I have to start with how I see myself.

But I don't always like what I see.

 January 2014 - I don't know exactly why, but it is hard for me to look at myself.

I'm already pretty introverted and I'm okay with that.  I have stories to tell, but I am not an open book and I never will be.  I don't want to be.

But, I think this next part might be important for some of you to read, so I'm going to take a deep breath and share.

There's another part to my story I need to tell you here:  I battle with depression.  When Amelia was about three months old, I woke up one morning numb on my left side.  After many trips to many doctors, there was never a better diagnosis then a nervous system infection.  Eventually the tingling and numbness left, after a few weeks, but in it's place was a deep fear that anything could happen to me at any time and all I could think about was the babies I'd be leaving behind and how much they needed me.  It started a downward spiral. It was a very dark time and I don't like to talk about it.

To be very honest, I'm surprised I've lived through it.

(big deep breath, because that was really hard to type, my friends)

So, in an understatement, the last three years have been hard for me.

Believe it or not, this is relevant to what I'm writing about my hair here because it nods to how well I've taken care of myself  (not well at all) and it hints at the corners I've  turned in my life that I feel deserve a pin on the map, so to speak.

I had been chipped away at by fear and worry for so long that there wasn't much of me left inwardly, my soul had been under attack for so long, simple questions like "what makes you happy?" were difficult for me to answer because I didn't know if anything ever would again. It just didn't feel like there was enough of me left on the inside.

I felt invisible.

I felt like I had lost part of what had always made me, well, me.

Today I feel good.  I've been working hard, praying hard, and taking better care of myself.  It really feels like the storm has passed and each day I wake up and I feel like there are things to look forward to and I'm going to be around to celebrate them.

It hasn't been easy to get to this place, but by God's grace I'm here.  That's a victory.

Lately I've been feeling like I need a change on the outside to reflect some of the changes happening inside.  So last month I cut three inches off my hair and experimented with different braids and styles.  But that wasn't the radical change I was craving.


So I cut off six more inches last week.  Now we were getting somewhere, and it was certainly more care free, but I still didn't feel like me.

In some ways, forgive the pun, I want to go back to my roots, where I played with color and self-expression. Where I smiled when I looked in the mirror.

So I did something a little crazy.


Adj.1.burnt-out - exhausted as a result of longtime stress; "she was burned-out before she was 30"
tired - depleted of strength or energy; "tired mothers with crying babies"; "too tired to eat"

I don't want to hide things or cover up my white hair, or my age, any more. It doesn't feel authentic to me. No more pretending.

I don't want to be the mom with the harsh dye job trying too hard to hang on to her youth, which I lived fully the first time around, thank you very much, but I also don't want to be the mom who simply "looks okay for forty" because it isn't about what I look like, not really.

And, I'm sure some people will look at me now and think I am trying too hard.  That's okay.  Maybe I am. I can certainly think of a lot worse character flaws or ways to have a midlife crisis, can't you?

I want to look in the mirror and feel like myself, not a stranger or someone else's version of me.

I really feel like I've earned the right to just be myself. 




The last decade has written itself on me in some profound ways, left the sort of marks on me that many people commemorate with a tattoo.

However, I'm the type of person who changes her mind too frequently for a tattoo, so that probably isn't a good idea for me. But I've learned to never say never.

So, here I am:  finally wanting to accept the years I've lived, the years before me, and all they symbolize.

You know what else?  I'm forty years old and damn it I've already lived through my share of awkward phases. I've paid my bad hair dues (perms, anyone? postpartum hair loss?)

As I face another phase of growth and change, it is going to be on my terms. This time I'm going to make the rules.

And I've decided that there aren't any rules.

If I want to embrace the white and make it work for me, perhaps even cheat and add in some extra, even at this still young age of forty, then I'm going to and I'm not going to be ashamed of it, even if that isn't the choice of most of my peers.

If I want to revisit the shades of my youth, temporary hair color in all of their beautiful hues, well at least these days I don't have to bother with the pesky bleaching step.  Mother Nature and my family's gene pool have generously taken care of that for me.


pictures by Jillian, who made my day when she said I was "brave and cool"

I wanted something classic and self expressive and individual at the same time, which is how I see myself on the inside. Audrey Hepburn with a rock and roll edge, blue jeans and pearls, my inner nerd and inner artist all proudly represented.

Yesterday, on Instagram, a friend asked me if I had any advice about turning forty.  Here is what I told her,

"the world is full of enough jaded, burnt out forty year olds already, so if it makes you happy, if it makes you laugh, if it makes you feel powerful and brave and amazing .... Do it! You're young enough to chase your dreams but too old for anybody else to try and be the boss of you (which is a good combo, in my five months into my forties opinion)."

I feel like I'm on my way there.

I need a badge, something that says I've lived through something extraordinary and it has profoundly changed me.

No one else has to like it.


Because I love it.
And I love me.
Right now, just me.

...  ...  ...  ...  ...

Tell me, friends, what brave things have you done lately?
Share in the comments so we can cheer each other on.

...  ...  ...  ...  ...

Want to keep up with me?  You can follow me here:



91 comments:

  1. Go you! You look so pretty... and so happy! I bet Jillian wants to dye her hair too?

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    1. You know her so well, Cathy :-) She actually has a little blonde streak now and she's thinking of hot pink.

      Thanks for your kind words!

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  2. Kara, you don't know me. I think I stumbled on your blog through Mandi Ehman, a friend from church. But... it's looks amazing on you!! I mean that. You look fantastic!

    Brave. Hmmm? Ya, two years ago I chopped off my hair that hung to the middle of my back and went with a pixie. I love it and I feel like "me" again. I started when I decided I was sick of not doing things just because I scared. And I'm still working on that. =)

    Krystal Griffin

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    1. Hi Krystal, thanks for introducing yourself. Mandi is one of my favorite people, so I'm glad to "meet" a friend of hers!

      yes, I'd say chopping off long, long hair into a pixie is certainly brave!

      You're so right: we just hit a point where we get sick of being scared. I'm still working on it, too. I wish I could learn to give in and be brave sooner. Maybe when I'm 50? ;-)

      Best wishes!

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  3. I can relate to so much about this post, Kara. But I will just say that I'm an older mom, too - I'm 46 and my son is 9...I let my gray grow out five years ago to chin level, and then I caved and colored it again, much to my regret now. I was actually really disappointed it wasn't more gray. And I got zero positive feedback from anyone (besides my husband, who encouraged me and even bought me Anne Kreamer's book Going Gray), which I wish I could say didn't bother me, but it did. So I just want to tell you I think you look gorgeous and that you are brave and cool, too. :)

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    1. Thank you, Lori. I'm sorry you got zero positive feedback. I'm a little nervous about what the reaction will be beyond my little "bubble" but kinds words like yours certainly help. Thanks for taking the time to write that.

      Here's to us gorgeous "older" moms! :-)

      PS - Going Gray is on my to read list. Did you like it?

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  4. Wow Kara, that was deep, beautiful,and powerful. You look great. Rock on!

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    1. Thank you! Sometimes we just have to do things differently :-)

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  5. It was interesting and there was a lot I could agree with, but I thought the book was just okay.

    I worried too much about what other people thought - if YOU are happy with it, that's all that matters. And you should be, it looks great. :)

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  7. Your hair looks fantastic! And fun! But your expression in those last photos is what is really awesome to me. You look brave. You look like you can handle anything that life throws at you! Isn't hair interesting like that? I chopped 8 inches off a few months ago, in the midst of a horrible midwestern winter funk. I felt like me again -- a little more so with each inch of hair that hit the floor. It's hard sometimes as mamas to express ourselves. Mothering can so easily become our whole identity. Here's to colorful hair, ankle-breaking boots, purple eyeliner, irresponsible toenails and wearing band T-shirts well into our 80s ;)

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    1. Ah, those midwestern winter funks. I wonder if many will be making radical changes just to shake the blahs of the long, long winter off?

      And, I'm giggling because in those last few pictures guess what color of eyeliner I'm wearing? ;-)

      Rock on, mama friend, rock on!

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  8. Oh my goodness. I guess those three littles noticed the color if not the cut. You showed them! My hair is so short now,spiky even. It feels so good!

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    1. Ha! Yes, THAT one got their attention :-)

      Max told me I looked "creepy" even but I think he might have meant it as a compliment? Who can tell with seven year old boys?

      Here's to feeling GOOD!

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  9. I don't think your post on hair was frivolous. Hair is a surprisingly important part of identity for a lot of women (myself included). I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, and one of the hardest things about that diagnosis was losing my hair. I'd always had long long hair, and to have it all fall out was much harder than losing a breast. Now it's starting to grow back and I'm having fun spiking it up while it's short. Sometimes, you just have to have fun with it, right?

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    1. I cannot imagine how devastating that must have felt. I'm so glad you're having fun spiking your hair and that you're being so proactive about choosing to have FUN with it! Good for you!

      I don't know if you watched the little video in this post (no big deal if you didn't) but I mentioned that some women inspired me and one of those unsung ladies is my Aunt who is a breast cancer survivor. Her blonde hair fell out and what came back what silver gray, very Jamie Lee Curtis. I've always admired the way she chose to rock the look - after all she'd been through, she deserved to feel like a rock star and she is incredible!

      I hope you have many incredible days ahead of you and that the hardest is behind you. Thanks for taking the time to leave some kind words here today. I'm inspired!

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  10. Love this post! I too am working on getting my "me" back! Can I make a pun...that you really are "jaded"!!! Sorry, I was looking at the pics of green hair and reading those words, and my kookiness slipped out! Rock on MOM!!

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    1. Ha! I know right? Accidentally making clever jokes ;-)

      Getting ourselves back, reclaiming those lose pieces, it is a daily choice and man, I know not easy. Here's to doing it anyway, right? And, yes, to rockin' on!

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  11. i love your green hair! love it love it! i turn 40 in june, and i am excited and happy about it. go 40! and i know all too well about depression too. many years were wasted away in that state. you've inspired me. :)

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    1. Ah, yes ... if there's anything that can threaten to topple me back into depression it is the guilt of all of those wasted days that I cannot get back.

      I'm finding that 40 is not nearly as scary as I feared and good for you for being so positive about it and eager for it. It is something to be excited and happy about and I wish I'd realized that sooner. I'd have had more fun :-)

      Go 40, indeed!

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  12. Bravo!! I loved everything about this post! There really is a point where making yourself happy is the only way to go, and I applaud you for taking that leap! Funny that your "hair" post came up now, as I'm struggling with the decision to give up the "messy bun" style that is very me, for something a little more trendy. You've given me a lot to think about!

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    1. Thank you!

      Yes, you're right: there comes a point where you just can't take the sad and the burn out any more and you either are going to wallow in it the rest of your life or you're going to force yourself to snap out of it and CHOOSE happy (and it really is the only way to go, yes indeed!)

      It helped for me to go in baby steps ... first a hair cut, then a little shorter ... then, well you know the rest of the story. I think baby steps to change is okay if it gets you where you want to go. Being yourself is what matters. Best wishes to you as you think about this decision.


      .

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  13. I could have written all of this. ALL OF IT. But I'm not brave enough to share this part of myself. Thank you for being he brave one. I often read your writing and wish I could have coffee with you. :)

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  15. I LOVE IT! And, I'm so glad you did live through it all Kara, so you can encourage us all that we can too.

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  16. I love it. Your entire face lights up!

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  17. It's gorgeous! I am so excited! I've secretly been wanting to get a little nose piercing but I'm a coward. I look at your hair and think... I should do it.

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  18. You and your hair are fantastic! What a great way to "give" to yourself. I'm an older mom too ( 42 with a 7 year old) and I colored my hair red then blue then red again when he was a baby and I was feeling postpartum frumpy. It really gave me the shot of confidence I needed then and now you got me thinking it might be time again. Rock that green mama!

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  19. Your confidence radiates and complements the green! I am presently stuck in ponytail zone and plan to change it this week with a cut & colour!!

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  20. Thank you for sharing your story. I agree with an above commenter that hair is not frivolous at all. I heavily highlighted my hair for about 15 years; I was basically a blonde. Then, almost two years ago, my son died. Within a month, I dyed my hair DARK. I was in so much pain and wanted my outward appearance to reflect that. While the acute grief has faded and I'm doing ok, I have not gone back to highlighting, and I don't know if I ever will. Going back to the highlights, in my mind, would be inauthentic to the person I am now.

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  21. I know I already told you, but I love this so much. SO MUCH. You look amazing. I mean...it's just the best. I would never have thought to do green but it's so flattering with your coloring and makes your pretty eyes pop and I just AHHH! Love it. And the shorter cut really compliments your lovely face. <3

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  22. Hi, I am a first time reader and loved this post! I have battled depression for over 15 years, wishing that it was easy to just beat it once and for all. Maybe God uses it to keep me reliant on Him. Could help noticing how your eyes just sparkle in the last photos!

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  23. First time reader and I LOVED this post! I too have been battling depression (since my late teens) everything you said is so much how I feel! Like there is almost nothing left! Thank you for your brave words they have helped me so much. And I love your hair! You look so absolutely happy and at peace in your last few pictures! You are beautiful. I am finding my way slowly back to the things I love. And yes I have stopped dying my hair and letting my grey, which I have been collecting some I turned 20! Some through. I may change my mind and start using henna again but like you said, it will be MY choice and not something I feel I must do. I also just cut 10 inches of my hair and it was very liberating! Is that weird? LOL Thank you again for your wonderful post it had helped more people than you know who believe they suffer alone!

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  24. Your hair looks awesome! Two years ago, after getting the worst haircut of my life and feeling like a frumpy mom, I did something I've always wanted to do, I buzzed my hair totally off! I was so worried, at first, about what people would think and if they might think maybe something was wrong with me, teenagers shave their heads, not 30 somethings moms. I know there will always be people that don't get it, but I have found that I get more comments from women wishing they could be bold enough to do something like I did. I really love having short hair, and weirdly enough it makes me feel more feminine to have it this way AND it makes me feel like me, just like you were talking about. Pretty much this whole post is full of things I've thought or felt about hair and identity and age and worrying more about what people thought than what I wanted and liked, except written much better than I could have done it! Thanks for the great post!

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  25. Kara,
    I love your style. I love that it shows your personality. As mom's, I think it's easy to lose ourselves in "momville" and forget our own passions. Rock the green, while simultaneously encouraging others to exist outside their own comfort zones. Seeing your authenticity might help them find their own. 'Twould be sad if we all looked the same.

    Peace to you.

    Simone

    I did get that tattoo at twenty-one, and at 39, I regret it. I wish I would've been brave enough then to just do the hair. I have four kid- 20 months to 18 year-old. I had a friend cut my long locs into a bob. Loved it, now I miss the easy ponytail. Bravery can sometimes mean just saying yes to our authentic selves and being ready to deal with the consequences

    Love it. Thanks for sharing

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  26. I agonized over this very issue today with my sister-in-law. You DO look very cool. Great post.

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  27. I linked here from Simple Homeschool. I love the length and color. (I am not brave enough to do the color!) I chopped 12 inches off a few weeks ago. I felt like a burden had been relieved. I sent it all to Locks of Love and love my new 'do. We all have our weights. Mine is my skin. I look at you and think, wow, I want skin like that! Mine didn't look that good at 20!

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  28. If it makes you happy or makes you feel better, then I'm happy too ! No matter what you do, if it makes you happy, then it's a good idea !
    xoxo

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  29. I have never met you, but WOW you look great because you look SO HAPPY and confident. Way to go!

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  30. I discovered your site through Jamie's Simple Homeschool links and resonate with so much you're saying about self-image and older mom-ism. But you're far more adventurous hair-wise than I. I have thin straight hair which lends itself to no style at all, beyond the ponytail/braid/bun options. Basically I've had the same hair style (none) since I was a toddler. My hair bravery hasn't extended to dye, mostly because I'm lazy and don't want to deal with roots. But I'm thinking of going pink. I've only done it with temporary dye so far, catapulted into it after an unpleasant public encounter (which I obsess about here: http://lauragraceweldon.com/2012/09/26/dying-my-hair-pink/)

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  31. Holy cow. I am laughing out loud. I just chopped my hair off into a pixie because I, too, have come out of a period of depression, and I decided to say, "I'm doing exactly what I want to do, something that makes me feel free. Something that lets me be me." Wow. This is a great post and an even better hair color! Rock on!

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  32. Amen! Go Kara! My word for the year is courage. I am trying to figure what to do with all if my grey hair, some days it bugs me, some days not so much.

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  33. LOVE! I have been following your going gray Pinterest board. (and some others that make me want to ask a ton of questions but I will keep my crazy fandom to myself lol) Is this permanent dye or did I miss that somewhere? YOu look awesome and Jillian did a great job as your photographer!!

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  34. Yes! Go Kara! I've "only" hit my 30th birthday but am feeling the internal pressure to settle down now that I'm a mother - after years of crazy hair colours. I'm also struggling with wanting to wear my preference for geek t-shirts and younger looking clothes but thinking I need to look like a responsible parent.

    I may not have escaped entirely from my post partum period of depression and anxiety but I am definitely starting to break loose, and wanting to express myself. I do still feel the need to ask my husband for his opinion on well, everything.

    Your line really struck a chord with me: No one else has to like it.

    I'm going to put that on my wall. Thank you.

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  35. Well, Kara, green has always been one of my favorite colors; it looks great on everyone and everything! From one introvert to another, I admire the risk taking and sharing. Forward is the only way to go! Angela Muller

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  36. Thank you for this. I found your link through FB and your post couldn't be better timing for me. As I head into 34 I already feel like I'm starting to shy away from taking those risks I used to. Best to catch that before it settles in :) Thank you for being brave, and authentic and generous enough to share your thoughts. BTW the green makes your eyes "pop" with so much life! Love it.

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  37. You are brave AND beautiful! The green just makes me smile and wonder, "Can I find my brave?"

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  38. You are so beautiful! It works soooo well--I'm impressed with your story, your choice, your example.

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  39. Found the link to this post on FB. Your post was beautiful and that green is gorgeous! Yay 40. :)
    Tiff

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  40. Wow...I teared up reading this because I feel exactly the same way! Your hair and your attitude are amazing!!

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  41. Super hair. You are an inspiration.

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  42. You are brave and cool, and you have AMAZING skin! As an older mom with long dark graying hair, I am coming to a sort of awakening myself. I am tired of the ponytails and "I just can't muster up the energy to look good" reflection I see before I go out. Thank you so much for sharing this--I am inspired to do something to have an identity again!

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  43. Love it! A few years before first kid, I cut my hair off into a spiky pixie, and I've loved it ever since. I have strong features (aka big) and some crazy cowlicks. But its mine. My husband loves it and I feel brave for chopping it off. I also went No 'Poo after my first was born, because you can always look like junk with a newborn, and no one cares.
    I too suffer with depression. Still working on my meds but every now and again I want a do over, so I give myself a hair cut. A few times I used the wrong guard (EEEK!!) but it makes me laugh and reminds me what really matters. I remember that I am God's favorite (and so are you because HE can do that) so I have no one to please. I just wish I knew this when I was younger. So rock that hair!!! Own it!!

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  45. I came across you a while ago via Parenting Passageway and have admired your honesty around depression, post-partum depression, and the harsh realities of living this way while showing up to be a wife, a mother and an educator. THANK YOU. Keep rockin' the funky hair!

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  46. I LOVE your new look. You look amazing. I'm sure some of its the hair, yes. But I don't know, you just look confident and happy or something. And I don't even know you lol! I've been very nervous about an upcoming hair appt where the plan is to cut off my very long, naturally blonde hair and go with an auburn-ish cute shoulder length look. Reading this has inspired me, and really made me remember why I made the appt! I'm 38 and ready for a big change. Thank thank thank you for writing this. You truly look amazing! !

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  47. I love it! Ah, this is so good. Thank you for being brave and for being you!

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  48. I LOVE the green!!! I started thinking I might like a bright purple streak! I'm in the same phase, my hair is driving me nuts! I recently lost weight (FINALLY) after all the kids and a friend took me shopping. I bought skinny jeans and I LOVE them! LOL. I'm getting me back and I really like it :)
    Way to go for being brave and letting yourself shine!

    Kelli S

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  49. BWL -- Thank you! Thank you for your honesty and bravery. I am in my 40s, have a career and 3 children that I struggled for years to have (all healthy) and feel so blessed. BUT, I too have been struggling with what makes me happy (besides my children). Who am I now and if I don't know how do I find out? I am good at being alone but I am not that any more (thank goodness) but it poses a serious problem/challenge. I am irritable and impatient more than I would like to be and I feel I am alone ... that is until I read your post. I recently cut my hair really short and bleached it blond (platinum). While I am not sure how I feel in it (it was a HUGE stretch for me) it was/is good to stretch. I needed that and it turns out I needed to read your post. Thank you! I will continue to work on my irritability (is it anger, depression?) and I hope to find the happy me again.

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  50. You know I love it. And I hear you about the last three years. Sometimes I think wow, I made it through that. Big hugs, you lovely rocking hair goddess. ����

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  51. I just read your blog which was mentioned by a niece. I became a Mom at 42; an older Mom who was lucky to have her "one and only" who is now a freshman in college. Age can be determined sometimes by association, so many felt I was much younger than I was while my son attended elementary through high school. I was often told "No, you can't be THAT OLD"... I took that statement as a compliment. Now that I am into my 60's, I often wonder if my choice of clothes is "too young"... should I do something different with my hair? I've decided to continue to do what I feel comfortable with. As you have mentioned, I too have suffered through bouts of depression... it is hard to pick yourself up sometimes, but ya gotta acknowledge what is going on and find that one thing that will get you back on track. Having good honest friends and a comfortable sense of self is very important. I applaud you for sharing your experience, which, in itself shows me that you are getting comfortable with YOU! Best wishes for the awesome years you have before you!

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  52. Charming, delightful, courageous... I love this post for so many reasons. Fist time reader, mom of four, not quite forty, no tattoos - but just joined a roller derby team in New Zealand... feels a bit like green hair for me. Thanks for sharing your heart.

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  53. Just awesome! You are a gorgeous woman with a lovely insight into yourself and the world and it would be a shame to have you not noticed.

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  54. Having lost my hair to chemo at age 39 I totally get how much it affects our self identity. I was a natural red head when it fell out but it came back an ugly brown color. I had sworn to never color my hair but I could not identify with the person in the mirror anymore. I am now an artificial red head and it has helped, although at times I feel so fake...I miss my old hair and mourn that it will never be the same again.
    You are very brave...good for you! Since beating cancer I say I am living my 2nd life and I'm going to live it how I want...I would say the same goes for you/ Have a great 2nd life!!

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  55. Oh, sister, this resonates so deeply with me! I just turned 40 and miss the girl with the bright pink streaks. *sigh* Way to be brave!!!

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  56. "I had been chipped away at by fear and worry for so long that there wasn't much of me left inwardly, my soul had been under attack for so long, simple questions like "what makes you happy?" were difficult for me to answer because I didn't know if anything ever would again. It just didn't feel like there was enough of me left on the inside.

    I felt invisible.

    I felt like I had lost part of what had always made me, well, me. "

    This was totally me not much more than a year ago. Thank you for finally putting words to it so well. It very much spoke to me.

    It may not carry much weight, because we have never met, but what you did today with your post was incredibly brave, and I'm so glad you shared that part of yourself. It is *HARD* to bare our souls and share what is closest to our hearts.

    You asked about our brave moments?
    My Brave moment came last year when I underwent complete and life long commitment to lifestyle change, and had gastric bypass surgery, to take my life and health back.

    I have lost 130+ pounds now and am fully participating in life now.

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  57. This is one of the best things I have read since becoming a Mom 5 years ago. 4-0 in November. Thanks for sharing.

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  58. I love it! Makes me miss the purple hair I had in highschool. :-)

    And thank you so much for sharing. I too have lost myself to depression and or/health issues over the last few years and I'm ready to find those bits of myself again, they keep popping up here and there.

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  59. This was amazing and heart-wrenching to read! I LOVED IT! Relevant, honest, raw, beautiful IT LOOKS AMAZING on you and your happiness shines in those last pictures. Be brave!

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  60. Wow! This is my first time reading your blog and I have tears in my eyes. I am so blindingly tired with 3 little ones and homeschooling and I feel lately like there is nothing left of me to find. My children are dressed and clean and happy but I lack the energy to shower daily. I NEEDED to read this today so much. I'm tired of hiding and being afraid so I'm not going to be anymore. I'm going to live instead of existing because no one is promised tomorrow. I certainly don't want them to remember a mother that was stressed, tired and angry all the time. I want them to see me as I used to be, full of life and color.

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  61. I think it shows your strength - inner strength as visible outer confidence! And I'm "green" with jealousy! :)
    We older moms need to hang together and support each other - and find like minds nearby to go shoe shopping and get mani-pedis with! Seriously, it's so much more fun to do girly stuff in a group. We NEED to schedule "pretty mama" time! I've challenged myself lately to get more dressed up, even if I'm not going out anywhere. The sad old Tshirt and jeans is so uninspiring. I'm going to wear more dresses! And jewelry! How hard is it to put on a necklace or earrings, right? Takes two seconds, makes a world of difference in how you feel about yourself! <3 your new do!

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  62. LOVE the hair and let me say that I read this in just the right moment. I have been where you were writing for a long time. As an "older" mother of two, who "used to be" the person always remembered and now is ponytail lady I so identify. I have been talking with my husband about coloring my hair and if he thought it would look like a midlife crisis. LOL So, now, I'm going to do it! Also, the comment about my mind changes too much for a tattoo is precisely why I don't have one... yet. ;) Thank you for sharing.

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  63. I think you have curly hair my dear. It clearly isn't poker straight and has some thickness and wave. You must check out this book: http://www.amazon.com/Curly-Girl-Handbook-Michele-Bender/dp/076115678X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397574240&sr=8-1&keywords=the+curly+girl+handbook

    I know it may not seem like you have hair wavy enough to make curls but I would be shocked if you don't based on the pictures. Check out this video: http://www.mydevacurl.com/curly_lifestyle/videos/devachan_featuring_lorraine_massey

    Anyway, I can't say enough about this and how it has made my hair so much nicer. My hair is very similar to yours. Find a stylist trained in this method by using this link: http://www.mydevacurl.com/curly_stylist_finder

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  64. I'm 45, quit my teaching job, pierced my nose and I paint with our oldest daughter who has Down Syndrome. I decided to just be me. We paint for The Happy Soul project. I took the advice of my daughter and just went for it. Today we live the way we want, on our terms, and with grace. I applaud you for sharing and for being true to YOU. Love it :)

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    1. Very refreshing to hear this :)

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  65. I recently left my teaching job as well...part-time English at local community college....to homeschool my kids full time. I'm 42 and most of what you wrote has been happening to me as well this past year. And I've been "blah". Reading your article made me cry...very inspiring and helpful to those needing that push to get out of that of "stuck" feeling. Of course now, I want to cut my hair. ha

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  66. When a friend linked to your post on facebook, I think it might have been a sign. I am 41 years old and I have been wanting purple hair for a few months now. But, I just didn't think I could "pull it off." After seeing this, I do think I might give it a go.

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  67. Hi, Kara. I stumbled onto your blog today through a couple of links on fb. I'll start by saying, normally I don't read blogs this long. When your thoughts kept reminding me of mine, I kept reading. I don't have four kids and I'm far past my 40's, but we still have commonalities.

    Five years ago, when I lost 30 pounds and HAD to replace clothes in my closet, I was drawn to purples. Before long ALL my clothes were purple. Purple makes me smile. I found I was getting more compliments, from strangers and acquaintances alike, with my distinctive wardrobe choice.

    After awhile, people started asking me if my house was purple. No, but I did redecorate my guestroom in shades of lavender and I have lavender accessories in my bedroom.

    Next came the car. I researched online which vehicles came in shades of purple. After deciding on size, and reading consumer reports for reliability, I found my car online and drove to a dealership 100+ miles away to buy THE one for me.

    Last year one of my teen grandsons suggested I dye my hair purple. After mulling it over for a few months, I did just that six months ago. (Wow! I didn't realize how much courage that would take to go out in public.) The newness has worn off, so I'm no longer self-conscious about my hair. I have received more compliments in these months than I had in my entire 68 years. It's rare that I receive a compliment from anyone of my age or older. In fact, my BFF's comment was "WHAT have you done to your HAIR?" And continues to ask, "When are you going to stop this nonsense?" Other than her, if people don't like it, including my husband, they don't say anything. Many others, including very young children and teens, will cross a store, restaurant or street to tell me that they LOVE my hair. When my daughter and I went on a cruise in January, she said "It's fun to walk behind you, just to see all the heads turn, the smiles and the elbowing of companions with gestures in your direction."

    So, how long will I be the old lady with the purple hair? I really can't say. The upkeep is a real pain. It's not a quick "shampoo in" haircolor. I tried that first and wasn't happy with the results. My hair has to be bleached COMPLETELY white before applying the dye. It's difficult/impossible to keep the dye off skin, clothes, and anything in the vicinity of the operation. So, we'll see. In the mean time, I'm enjoying every single compliment.

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  68. I don't even know how I got to this blog. (One link led to another...) But I'm glad I read it. I used to dye my hair all the time in high school and college, and then I stopped. I guess I thought I'd end up working in Corporate America at some point and need to fit in to a certain standard. The thing is, hair dye has come a long way over the last 20 years. Colors that once were considered "punk" on teenagers, can be beautiful and classy on women. I applaud your boldness, and I am considering what fun hair changes might be in store for me.

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  69. Hi kara ~ I'm happy for you but take it from an older woman, when it comes to my hair I leave it to the professionals at the salon. She is a wealth of knowledge and I don't feel like I'm guessing :)) good luck!

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  70. I love it! I've been on a similar journey lately. I recently realized that I want to look in the mirror and see me again, too. I have three babes aged three and under, and I think I've always been "ponytail girl". I've decided to get my hair put in dreadlocks. Now I'm just trying to get a group of people to help me do it!

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  71. I love it! Your post really moved me, thank you for sharing this part of you with us. (I'm a new reader, sent over from Art of Simple.)

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  72. A friend of mine linked to your blog. First of all, you look younger than you are! If I just saw you out and about without having read this, I would guess you were in your early 30s.

    This was one of those reads that I needed at just this moment. I get depressed off and on. It's been a long "on" this time.

    I guess I've been brave just by sticking it out with myself. Thank you for getting me to think about that.

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  73. Wonderful - your hair looks great, and very YOU. And lord knows you're not alone in your struggles with depression, but so few people talk about it that it always feels that way. Hugs to you and thank you for your courage!

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  74. Awesome! I just got my nose pierced for similar reasons. I want to look on the outside the way I feel on the inside. And I was tired of worrying about what everybody would think. Kudos to you!

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  75. GOOD FOR YOU!!! Just found your blog today after listening to one of Tsh's podcasts. I loved what you had to share about all you've been through and wanting to do something brave FOR YOURSELF to commemorate it. Keep being brave and keep sharing your gift of words! Sending you blessings!

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  76. What a beautifully written post. I really like your new haircut, and think the green is amazing! I'm about to turn 47 and although I've gotten more secure with age, I still don't like looking at myself in the mirror. I was doing something similar with clothes - wearing sweats all the time. I decided this year to stop that and start wearing pretty things that make me happy. I started a blog, started wearing "clothes", and I feel so much better about myself. I will be back to read more of your blog! Have a great day.

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  77. Hey Kara,

    I found this post via the Art of Simple podcast. It was fun to read! Thank you for writing it. :)

    You had asked earlier if "Going Gray" was a good read.... Yes! I LOVED it! So fun and easy and fascinating and thought-provoking! It's been several years since I read it so I might revisit it sometime for some lighter reading this year. It's definitely worth reading (and, in my opinion, re-reading too)!

    Peace be with you!

    Hannah Joy

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