Sleeping Beauty

You ever just look in the mirror and suddenly see yourself? I mean, really see what other people see, and what you mostly have been oblivious to, for whatever reason?

That happened to me, recently.

Actually, it happened a few weeks ago, as my Snapchat account would tell you, but I've been up to my eyeballs with a wildfire and a husband who is up in the thick of it, and between freaking out over my friends' being evacuated, losing homes, worrying about my husband's safety and his job and you know, just generally freaking out as one does when the city your husband lives in for most of the year is swallowed by 483 000 hectares of out of control wild fire, resulting in 90 000 people evacuating out of a city, 1921 houses destroyed, hundreds more damaged, with no signs of the flames dying any time soon, all while your husband keeps getting evacuated and recalled back to work, over and over again like he's on a psychotic merry-go-round.

(That's a run-on sentence even a high school english teacher could appreciate.)


A few weeks ago, I looked in the mirror and was like, 'whoa, who is that old crone with the bad hair staring back at me?' I realized I had just spent a year of my life wandering around looking like a blind pioneer woman had just done my hair.  I'd have probably just ignored my reflection and continued to do what I did every day before, which was just pull my hair onto the top of my head in an ugly bun and then look away quickly, but the night before my husband rolled onto my hair and almost scalped me as I slept. Being jerked awake as your husband rips out half of your hair as he snores beside you is not near as romantic as it sounds.

It was time for a change. Life is short and hair grows. Mostly. If you have hair. Which I clearly did, since I choked on it every time it wasn't pulled up. 

I felt like I was being swallowed by hair. Of course, it's my own fault since it had been a year since I went for a hair cut. My laziness trumps my vanity. Good to know. 

So off I went, with no image in my head, no hair aspirations and no real clue as to what I wanted. Hair stylists love that. (No they don't.) The only thing I was sure of was I no longer wanted it long enough for my husband to yank. 

(So many dirty jokes to make, so little time...)

Bless you, snapchat filters. 

Of course, it was right about this moment in time, as I sat there, with a bowl full of bleach on my head that the power went out in the salon. Because that is exactly what you WANT to happen when you go to a new salon. You want to sit in the dark and ponder your future as the bleach seeps into your brain and the salon owner makes panicked calls to the power company. 

Luckily for me, (and for her,) the power kicked back on just as my stylist was really starting to twitch and my head was starting to tingle. 

Oh flash, how you whitewash all my wrinkles. I adore you.

When the towel came off, so did my stylist's poker face. My immediate reaction upon seeing her was to reach up and make sure I still had hair on my head and that it hadn't all burned off.


I'm confident but lumpy headed and multi-chinned. I'm not sure I could pull off a bald patchy look. I'm pretty sure I don't want to try.

My (novice) stylist was just having an extreme reaction to my newly neon hair. (Pro tip for novice stylists: Try to not visibly freak out when you are working on a client's hair, even if the results surprise you. It freaks the clients out.) I won't lie; I was beginning to wonder if maybe this haircut was ill fated.

The yellow really brings out my freckles, no?

It was right at THIS moment, when I was taking snapchat selfies and texting my daughter jokes about looking like an ear of corn that four men from the power company walked in to check on the power box out back. Conveniently located just behind where I was seated.

Four attractive men. Who took one look at my yellow head and all started to giggle. I had two options: I could make a crack about the price of vanity or I could wink at them and freak them out. 

I'll let you decide which route I went. 

Wink, wink.

In the end, it only took my husband trying to murder me in my sleep, 12 months of avoiding routine grooming, six hours, four freaked out men, several toners to hide the yellow and one black out to fry everyone's nerves and I walked out of that salon looking like a brand new person.

I still see a crone staring back at me when I look in the mirror. Hitting forty and developing new wrinkles every day will do that to a gal. But at least now my husband will have to try a little harder to kill me while I sleep. 

Growing Out While Growing Up

I sat in the kitchen last week and watched as my hair stylist cut and curled my daughter's hair. (Yes, my hair stylist comes to my house. Yes, she is awesome.) Ken's graduation photos loomed before us and with each wisp of hair curled and wrangled into position she resembled more of the beautiful adult she is morphing into and less of the disheveled six year old she once was. I couldn't help but sigh.

I used to have hair like that.

What, you thought I was going to talk about how hard it is watching your kids grow up only to let them go? Please, I'm not that deep. 

(Note to self: You should write that post.)

(I will. Just not today.)

When I was a young child my hair was fine blonde wisps that, when not dirty with the sweat of a hard day's child's play, floated like finely spun spider webs and shone like gold in the afternoon sun. Time tarnished my hair, vanity bleached it, and finally, over a year ago, aggravation hacked it all off.

But vanity is a hard thing to let go of, once it's climbed onto your back like the monkeys at the Rock of Gibraltar. I watched my daughter's teenaged locks shimmer with the glow of youth as she tossed her mane over her shoulders and instinctively my hands went to my own head of hair.

Okay, so the monkeys of Gibraltar were less on back and more on my head. Whatever.

I'm rocking the dirty dishwater blonde/brown hair, highlighted with the greys I never knew I had all while trying to grow out the pixie cut my husband loathed and lose the ten pounds I invariably gain over the holiday season.

It's a bad time of year to have mom hair. God bless the toque.

Nothing says 'youthful and carefree' like covering up what is now effectively a mullet, with a fuzzy hat with hands that clap when you squeeze the pompon on the end. The boys' on the basketball team love it.

(Love can be defined here as rolling their eyes and mocking me in the locker room, but hey, they do it with affection.)

The last time I tried to grow out my hair from a pixie cut, I was numb with grief. My kid had just died and it didn't matter that I had dyed my hair an atrocious shade of brown that looked green in certain light. I just didn't care. (Oh hey, it only took me eight years to find an upside to grief. There really are silver linings to every storm cloud. Go figure.)

However, the only thing I'm grieving right now is the size zero pants of my youth and the fact I've reached the age where people just automatically assume I'm old enough to be somebody's mother. It doesn't matter that I'm four somebodies mother; my ego has firmly strapped on the blinders of aging and is planted in the land of delusion.

This makes growing out a short hairstyle painful. Toss in the whisker from a new neck mole just discovered, those tedious chin hairs that dodge tweezers, cheek fur growing increasingly thick and more lines on your neck than on the front page of a newspaper and I've decided I'm never cutting my hair again.

I'm going to go full on Crystal Gayle, unless of course my hair starts to thin, in which case, I'm buzzing it all off and asking my grandfather if I can borrow my (bless her soul) grandmother's wig. 

The older I get, the more comfortable I tend to be with how I look. I no longer exercise or diet to stay thin; instead I work to stay strong enough to ably care for Knox; I rarely wear makeup beyond blush and mascara and only because I tend to look a tad corpse-y without it, and I can't remember the last time I showcased my 'girls' or for that matter, shaved my legs.

I am what I am, as the saying goes, and I'm pretty happy with all that I am. 

Except for this mop on my head. 

I walk past a mirror and I laugh. I can't help it. The mullet shag look amuses me, as does the fact the longer it grows, the frizzier and curlier it becomes. There was a time I'd kill for curls. I don't recognize the middle aged mom staring back at me. 

The only golden hair locks in this house are the ones on my teens' heads and I'm slowly making peace with that. Time waits for no one and waist sizes and hair follicles change with the passing of time. My beauty inspiration may be less Gisele Supermodel what's-her-name and more Helen Mirren nowadays. I'm learning the fine art of aging gracefully.

Even with the toque that waves.

Which is why, (yes, there is finally, 800 words later, a point to this prose) when I received a message on Facebook last week (thanks Maria) that someone was stealing the pictures I post on my Facebook page and passing them off as her own profile pictures, I chose laughter over frustration. 

It wasn't the first time it's happened, and likely, thanks to the grace of the Internet, it won't be the last. Some poor soul out there is so unhappy with how she looks that she chose the face of some random middle-aged blogger to pretend to be.

I know how it feels to be so desperately unhappy with everything about oneself that what is reflected back at you in a mirror saddens and dismays you. I live with the beauty of my youth reflected back at me every time I see my teenaged daughter and I know my reflection is not what it once was.

But, bland and boring coloured mullet hair aside, it's going to be all right. I've still got it going on, it just takes a moment more to see it. Joy and love is reflected with every crinkle in the corner of my eyes, persevering through the age spots and whiskers. It's a different type of beauty, but it's there.

I hope you find your beauty and your strength, anonymous photo thief. 

I hope that you can one day look in the mirror and laugh at the bad hair and love yourself through it.

At the very least, I hope you find the wisdom to steal pictures from someone who doesn't have to carefully angle the camera to hide her chin waddle and use a million filters to smooth out the wrinkles like I always have to.

But in case you don't, let me help you. Here's a picture you can use anytime you decide your own portrait is unbearable:

You're welcome.


Living a Lie

Thursday, July 18. 4:17 pm.

That's the moment everything changed. By 'everything' I mean nothing, and by 'changed' I mean 'stayed the same' but I just paid the dues for my poetic license so I figure I may as well use it.

I was sitting in a parking lot, waiting for Nash to finish his basketball day camp and that's when it happened. A glint of something shiny caught my eye in my rear view mirror.

A grey hair. My first grey hair. 

At 37 years old, I sprung grey. I know, I know. Ridiculous. I'm writing about ONE single grey hair. Clearly I need a bigger life. But here's the thing. My mom? She wages a war with white. My brother at 38, has more salt than pepper and my younger sister? Has an enviable skunk streak that I always said I'd pay good money to imitate if I had her colouring.

I was the one without any grey. And now I'm not. My family bragging rights had been revoked.

It's as though my always wheat blonde hair suddenly started darkening on it's own so that's it's a shade of dirty dishwater, not really brown, not really blonde and I'd spend the rest of my adult days trying to find a hair colour that brings any spark of colour to my head.

Oh wait, that already happened.

A grey hair is just another insult my hairline likes to dish out. 

It's like I don't even know who I am anymore. My entire identity was a lie.

(I did say I needed a life, right? I stand by that statement.)

Grey hairz. I haz them.

When Nash hopped into the vehicle the first thing I did was point to my forehead.

"Do you see this? Do you? Do you?"

He blinked rapidly, confusion written all over his face. "Um, do I see what?" he asked cautiously.

"THIS!!" I screeched as I pointed like a mad woman to my lone silver hair.

"Er, I, um," he leaned forward, seemingly peering at the hair in question. "All I see is a crazy woman and a wrinkle." 

"A WRINKLE! Not that! It's not a WRINKLE. It's a parenting line. They hand those suckers out with every baby you get. No, I meant the grey hair! I found a grey hair! My first!"

"I don't see anything. Except the wrinkled crazy lady."

My cheeky son may be myopic but the mirror didn't lie. My first grey hair stood out like a neon sign advertising the tragic end of my follicle youth.

I spent the night telling everybody and each time I got the same response. Ya, so?

It would seem, no one cares about other people's grey hairs because they're too busy hiding their own, or you know, having a life. Whichever.

I consoled myself by telling my reflection that it was only ONE grey hair. I can handle the boob drop, the cellulite, the chin whiskers, the nipple wires, heck; I even accept the loose neck skin, the crows' feet and the wrinkled brow. But the grey hair? Grey hair tips the scales into a direction I may not be able to navigate back from. At least it was only one hair. I had time.

Or so I thought.

As I sat in my stylist's chair on Saturday, shooting the breeze, catching up on each other's lives, I suddenly remembered my new follicle friend as she painted my dishwater hair yellow. 

"I found a grey hair this week! I can't believe it! A grey hair!" Surely my friend, my stylist, would understand my pain like no one else seemed to.

I expected her to stop painting my head and tell me to "Hush up! No! That's horrible!" Or tell me, "No way! Where? I didn't see it!"

I didn't understand the sounds coming out of her mouth.

It sounded like ... laughter.

"Took you long enough. You've got at least ten percent grey. Maybe more, Tanis."

Ten percent?! 

My mouth dropped.

"Ya, I didn't want to say anything. You've an entire colony right about here," she said as she tapped my head.

It turns out I've been living a lie. 

I have to tell you, I am okay with that. The lie made me feel good. Made me feel young. Next thing I'll find out is my ass is flat.

NOBODY LOOK. I don't want to know.

Now excuse me, I'm going to be obsessing over newly sprouting grey weeds in my garden of luscious locks while I wait to get a life.