Feeling my way along: defining new comfort zones

Judi Dench…love that hair, and greatly admire her


I’ve decided to get my hair cut really short before we leave for Mexico. Since my initial leap last fall into the world of short hair, every cut has gotten shorter. The idea came to me yesterday while I was driving home from the grocery store and it was followed by the thought, “Do I dare do this?” What if I don’t like it? What if I am not comfortable with the way I look?

I know that I will love the way it will feel.  I once had this fun idea once about clothes. I thought, “What if i invited a bunch of women over for a clothing exchange, and the only condition would be that all of the items of clothing had to be super-comfortable and lovely to feel but we would choose by feel rather than sight” (we’d be blindfolded or something like that). What different choices I would make!

So much about how I look, when I’m really honest with myself,  has less to do with personal preference and comfort, and is more about how I will appear to others. When does this switch happen…Turning our vision away from what feels good to us, and directing it outward, watching the eyes of others for approval or disapproval. When did my “comfort zone” begin to be dictated by what I thought others wanted or approved of for me?

For years I wore under-wire bras because I thought they looked better. I tried one on the other day, and felt like I was in a medieval garment of torture. …it did however make me look a little more shapely….but who cares? I am not trying to find a mate to procreate, and even if I was single and hoping to find a partner by “fixing things up a little”, he would have every right to claim, “false advertising” when the “naked truth” was revealed. Hopefully, at this stage of life, someone would be attracted to the woman who I am underneath the baggier, wrinkled skin and flesh and we would connect at a deeper, (feeling) level.

Maybe it’s time to consider feeling my way through life, and honoring myself by making decisions that feel good!

“A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown”. Denis Waitley

30 thoughts on “Feeling my way along: defining new comfort zones”

  1. Wow, I so agree about the underwire bras! And with defining one’s self through an interior locus of control. I’m actually thinking of going the other way with my hair. It’s been really short ever since I opted to let my natural grey grow in, but because women ‘of a certain age’ are encouraged by society to cut their hair into little football helmets of control, I’m going to grow my grey hair long! I’ll feel like some modern day witch… woohoo! It will get a little flat under the motorcycle helmet, but I’ll find some way to deal with that. 😀

    Judi Dench’s hair does look amazing, though, and I’m sure yours will, too. There’s something very liberating about really short hair … mere seconds to wash it in the shower, a quick rub of the head sets it to right after a strong wind. I’ve enjoyed it, but it’s time for a change for this grey head!

  2. Go for it! For years I wore my very curly hair long (and colored it) and struggled with the tangles, the humidity, the constant touch-ups, and an unnatural fear of open car windows. A few years ago I gave up both the coloring and the length and I have never been sorry. So much easier to deal with and (truthfully) so much cuter. So much more me. With the exception of everyone except my mother (who still isn’t thrilled with my decision but she’s gotten used to it) I’ve actually received more compliments on the new look than I ever received when I wore my hair long. A nice bonus.

  3. You know what, Mary? You are our ‘Everywoman.’ You write these wonderful blogs that just pierce the perceptions we all share, and lay it right out in the light for each of us to say, “Yeah, that’s ME! I do that, too!”

    You are going to look so great with short hair, and you’re going to love it, especially on your casual and breeze-blown trip. No muss, no fuss. And Judi Dench, as gorgeous as she is, will have nothing on you!

    Have a smacking grand time with the family. We’ll be thinking of you and missing you, and looking forward to more ‘Mary wisdom’ when you return. 🙂

  4. from a long time long hair gone short gone long gone colored gone gray i’ve learned one thing….hair grows. mary have a great time and soak up some sun for the rest of us.

  5. Oh yes, do it! You will look even more gorgeous but more importantly you will feel wonderful and light and free and sassy! And when we feel wonderful, that beauty just shines! Can’t wait to see your new cut! What a great idea! Much love, Mary!

  6. Our comfort zones are developed at a very early age Mary. I remember when my daughter was 3 years old – and for her birthday was given a skirt with really fancy pockets by her grandparents. Now, she hated to wear anything with pockets – (who knows why…) but I’ll never forget watching her sweet face pretend to be happy – to please her grandparents – when I knew she was very disappointed, and also knew she would never wear that skirt – and she never did….
    I think if we are lucky, we get to make these changes in our lives. The alternative would be to live a life – a slave to pleasing others – unaware as to what might have been. It’s the undoing that certainly produces anxiety – how could it not be?
    I think what ever you do with your hair will be great! I always admire women with really short hair. There is a certain nakedness there – no hiding!

  7. I love Judi Dench’s hair. Just remember that you will have to pay more visits to the hairdressers when you have short hair. I went short a while back and that was the part that I hadn’t reckoned on. It’s more expensive! And underwire bras – gave those up a while ago. So painful.

  8. “but because women ‘of a certain age’ are encouraged by society to cut their hair into little football helmets of control” I laughed when I read this because I swore once my hair turned grey, I was not going to wear ‘a helmut’ of grey hair on my head. Instead, I was born with curly hair and it gave me so much grief..I cut it off when I was allowed to take charge of myself at the age of ten or so and wore it short most of my life, straightening out the curls with a hair dryer and brush. Then, one day in my sixties, I missed a hair cut, my hair happily turned back to its natural curls and it was grey. Now I look like Shirley Temple in drag. I have a mop full of grey curly hair and I love it. And I’m lucky to still have hair…lol. I also, in latter years have been buying my clothing from Sweden: Gudrun Sjoden. She designs for the ‘mature’ body and between elastic and loose clothing, I am a happy camper and don’t care ever to see another pair of panty hose in my life. So go for it, Mary, whatever you want to do, do it. Judy Dench as good facial bones…she can carry off the short hair. But I’ll bet she doesn’t wear a motorcycle helmet and I’ll bet she spends a bit of time getting herself to looking like that… makeup and all. I found with short hair I did need to wear a bit of makeup…my face was more exposed. And, besides, hair grows.

    SandyP in Canada

    1. Thanks for the clothing tip, Sandy P! I love to see ‘mature’ women well put together in flowing garb….beautiful but still comfortable, and I am always wondering where they got the clothes and how they put the look together.

      1. I have to warn you, Suzanne, aside from being Shirley Temple in drag with grey curls, I’ve been dressing in loose clothing for years and years. The clothing from Gudrun Sjoden is unique, quality made, lovely colours and since I’m a gypsy at heart and while not as young as my gypsy heart any more, I find the clothing I buy, tops, trousers, a skirt or two….unique and different. Her line may not be for everyone but her designwork speaks to me. SandyP

  9. My mom, whose hair went white in her 40s, started wearing a ‘wash & wear’ haircut like Judy Dench many years ago. My aunt, who was much more status- and appearance conscious than my mother, was always trying to get her to let it grow and color it. My mom stuck to her guns and kept it short, and she looked great. It was her trademark, and with her strong features and friendly personality, it suited her perfectly. Whenever I see a photo of Judy Dench, I think of my mom and of how much I miss her (well, I don’t need a photo for that). Go, Mary!! Do what works for you,and remember that what you see when you look at the world (and how you see it) is more important than what people see when they look at you.

  10. Recently got Judy Dench’s memoir (and furthermore) and can’t wait to kick back with it. I too love the run-my-fingers-through-and-go unfussiness of short hair. I was raised conservative Mennonite and didn’t get my hair cut until I was in my 30s, gradually got shorter and shorter. I sure don’t miss the time and effort and hairpins, and I do love open car windows!

  11. Am in this same space myself…..learning to use my ‘outside’ less and more of my ‘inside’. It’s tough learning to feel through things, to give yourself permission to do things because they are more comfortable for the soul. But I figure this, if I’m not comfortable and happy with myself then I’m going to be a bitch to live with and I just hate obnoxious people.
    BTW, Denis Waitley is one of my favourite authors.
    Have a lovely day, Mary. 🙂

  12. I remember when I was in my 30’s and dating. This was in the early 1980s (I’m 71 now.) I wore my hair in a long blonde flip style. One of the young women that we double dated with mentioned that I would soon need to be cutting my hair as the long hair was going to be aging me. Certainly was not thrilled with that comment. Ultimately, I did cut my hair short for quite some time. Enjoyed the ease, but not always going to get my hair cut. So, I’m back with the long hair, only now it is either in a bun on top of my head or a pony tail. The blonde is definitely mixed with lots of grey. I’m not into fussing or trying to please anyone now. I also just remembered that I used to care so much about looks (or not), that I would go to the grocery store with my hair in those pink clamp on rollers so that my hair would be always ready to go (in case I needed to look good for someone else). Ah, the good old days.

    I also wanted to mention a couple of Judi Dench movies. One is an older movie that I just adore – The Last of the Blonde Bombshells. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0220608/
    The other one is just due to be released – Marigold Hotel. Big article in USA Today about that movie. http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/story/2012-05-03/cast-talks-marigold-hotel-judi-dench-tom-wilkinson/54710920/1

    Moral of the haircut topic – let’s just be ourselves and do what feels right for us.

  13. Thought I’d post some hair cut memories also. When I was in my 30s and dating after a divorce, I wore my hair in a long blonde flip. (I’m 71 now.) One of the women I double dated with was “kind” enough to point out that I would soon need to be cutting my hair to be more youthful. Ultimately, I did cut my hair, but found I did not like going to get my hair cut so often. So, now for many years the long blonde hair is up in a bun or pony tail and there is lots of grey mixed in with the blonde. Another hair story takes me back in time also – to the time when I would wear the pink clamp on rollers to the grocery store – I had to be ready at the drop of a hat to have “good hair.” Needless to say, times have changed and whatever is going on with my hair – that’s what’s going on.

    By the way, one of my all time favorite movies is one with Judi Dench – The Last of the Blonde Bombshells –
    She has another movie that had a big article in USA Today – Marigold Hotel. Eager to see it.

    Bottom line – let’s all just be ourselves – what other choice do we really have?

  14. What a fun sassy post and so many replies, all of which are already loving the newly coiffed Mary! What a fun thing to do right before vacation – little adventures, big adventures, go for it Mary! My friend who is 75 was so happy, like a little girl yesterday when finally! she found someone to cut her hair into a short pixie like cut. Her still very beautiful face looked almost impish, and I swear there was more of a twinkle in her eye! And no matter what, hair grows back, so have fun with the lighter freer you Mary! I can almost hear us chattering all at once this morning (or is that clucking?) Have a wonderful trip – we will miss you! Sandy, thanks for the tip – I’m going to check out the Gudrun Sodjen site.

  15. Well, I woke up with hair on my mind, so this is a timely post for me. To cut or to curl? that is the question. I used to wear my hair permed and just pick it and go. What to do, what to do? Actually, I’m happy to have hair to be concerned about. When I was going through my breast scare last month (turned out to be benign, TYG) – I knew it was a blessing to have hair. I remembered when my mother was going through chemo due to lung cancer, lost her hair, and wore an itchy wig. So even tho’ I awoke with sleep-tosseled hair, everyday is a good hair day. Have a wonderful, magical trip, Mary.

  16. Hope you will treat us with a photo when you make the leap and become comfortable with the unfamiliar! Enjoy, enjoy.

  17. You make me laugh, Mary (and that is an achievement!). I have been cutting my hair shorter and shorter too. I also have reached the stage where my comfort is more important and what other people may think. Why did I wait so long!
    Anyway…have a really wonderful holiday.
    Best wishes, Carolyn

  18. Love it. I am saying yes to more things that make me feel good rather than what other people’s ideas of what looks good etc.

  19. Who cares what others think?! Usually they’re only worried about themselves anyway! 😉

    I’m 60 something and I had long, grey, curly hair for a long time; now have extremely short grey hair, very Buddhist-looking. It’s so easy! My hubby actually shaves my head with a #8. LOL We spend a lot of time outdoors, travelling, and camping so it fits my simple lifestyle and it’s free!

    Go for it and enjoy!

  20. Oh Mary, post us a pic of your new cut when you get it. Good for you! Actually it was my man who helped me with the notion that everyone out there really isn’t all that concerned about how I look! And he was so right! I dress for comfort unless absolutely necessary. I hate bras.(Use only when necessary. I much prefer a cut down man’s undershirt!) Love sweats. Hate jeans! And on and on…
    I think you’re leaving very shortly! I am thrilled for you and your family. Safe travels, Cindy

  21. I’m so late to the post today, but want to add that I think you will love short hair Mary! I have been wearing mine in a short “pixie” style for a bit and find it suits me just fine! No muss or fuss just wash and go. I’m a very big fan of comfort too! Ahh Bra anyone!

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