Thoughts of being nifty at fifty have been ruminating in my head for a long while now. I happily and confidently began the journey of letting my hair turn grey when I was forty eight years of age, although not for the obvious ageism concepts one might think. Thus come my 50th birthday I will proudly have just a few strands of brown left at the edges of my long grey shiny mane that bounces in the sun. This makes me giddy, as I am completely and fully a new woman with new grey hair. I have shed my old skin, grew a protective shield and I am ready to live anew. Things have been percolating inside of me for awhile now and it is time to let them free. I am looking forward to freely being.
Thus has begun what I consider an exciting, thrilling and monumental part of my life. A chapter that I plan to devour like a delicious piece of moist chocolate cake with a thick creamy velvet icing, devouring each little bite like a moment of time. I feel like I am a fine wine that has been quietly aging for decades and I am about to be corked, let free from my dust covered glass bottle into the universe to freely be me. I don’t actually drink wine but I have begun occasionally enjoying the drink a nice gin and tonic with citrus, it just seems fitting with this chapter of life and it pairs well with my long grey hair. I often wonder where gin it has been all my life thus far.
The past few years have provided an unbelievable amount of time for thought, reflection and much rumination, a unique opportunity to create vision, purpose and happiness in my daily life. I plan to enjoy each of my days painting, writing, gardening with a splash of other interests thrown into the mix. For example, I have taken to practicing my cooking and baking skills of late. Searching for exciting recipes, developing modifications to fit my highly individualized eating requirements. If all else fails meaning my energy, I make a fabulous healthful salad with a flash dressing. A life long learner I like to have something on the go to learn, as it gives me happiness within a challenge. And being a unique kind of woman I have never taken to cooking. Having a partner who considered applying to chef school, loves to cook and makes delicious healthful meals, cooking wasn’t necessarily a requirement.
My ultimate focus in life going forward as a nifty fifty year old woman is purpose. There are a plethora of artist stories documenting their art careers beginning around the age of fifty. For me this plan has always been, although it altered drastically upon becoming chronically ill and disabled. My life plan was to begin a full time art career upon retiring from teaching. Now, it is unlikely I will be of ability to hold a full time art career but I simply don’t know what my future will look like. Instead I will throw on my multi coloured scarves with contrasting converse and step into each day with no telling what might come my way. Dedicating my days to painting in my studio gives in return gives me purpose.
Which brings me to the topic of truth, a topic I often write on and speak freely about. Recently, I began thinking about how I could depict truth in my paintings. This lead to a new collection of paintings. My never failing intuition guided me to using colour to represent truth, identity and character in my paintings as it is a true measure of emotion. The use small organic circles to depict the elusive energy within me and the larger organic circular form represents my life coming full circle at fifty. These new paintings are a collection called True Colours and that is exactly what they are. It became clear to me that my nifty fifty years are my true colour years, a time to radiate like the happy colours of the rainbow.
I have always used my devotion to fashion as a statement, never ever enjoying dressing for conformity. It has always been part of my individual expression much the in the same way I express myself in painting. Currently, I am into bright colour combos and loving it. I have always mixed and matched the colours of my socks, scarves, shoes and bags with my outfits, it is my happy fashion vibe.
Each morning I dress for myself it makes my heart happy. I don’t leave the house although I am dressed for it. I do my hair, put on lipstick but I don’t wear makeup I never have, my choice. I top it off with a funky coloured shoe and scarf combo. You might say I wear my true colours. All for me, it makes me happy. I deplore society telling a person what to wear or how to look, especially when it comes to age or sex. Thus my grey hair is a statement too. A decision, which hopefully in time becomes a revolution. I celebrate aging as a woman. I stand against ageism and sexism, utterly. I use my fashion as a caveat to evoke conversation, create awareness and make a statement as an aging unconventional woman.
If I was to tell you my grey hair has nothing to do with my age, you may be in disbelief. A great many people have grey hair in their twenties. In fact, I had my first grey hair in my teens. If I let my hair naturally change I would have been grey in my twenties. And I am not the only one. Woman are conditioned to be ashamed and mortified of a grey hair, the first reaction being to start pulling them out of their head. A self mutilating strategy subjected on one by shame. In my personal experience, grey hair had nothing to do with my age. I say yes to the grey hair revolution, it is time to shine truth on women’s natural beauty without a connection to age.
As part of the tribe of middle aged woman, I have stepped through an open door into an big pink human sized eraser. It has been common practice for women of middle age to become erased from commercialism, television and film once they begin to elegantly age as all living beings do. Of course there are many commercials aimed at middle aged woman for hair dye to cover grey hair, makeup covering wrinkles and skin cream promising a youthful glow. It is all about hiding ones true colours. Let’s celebrate our true colours and let them shine like a rainbow.
This tribe is full of fantastic independent and strong woman with a clear voice. It is well documented that woman come middle age often begin to see things for real, speak freely on topics concerning our needs, all the while not concerning ourselves with the perspective or opinions of others who may disagree with us. It wasn’t long ago that I saw a wonderful write up on Helen Mirren, she commented that one thing she would have liked to learn earlier in life is to say ‘Fuck off’. Without any regret. I happily have found my fuck off voice and I am now guided by unwavering deep intuition which never fails me, ever. I often know things before others and see things that others don’t. This is why I live by a zero disrespect tolerance policy. No chances, those are for kindergarten children, I should know I taught this to kindie children for over 15 years. This keeps my peace and saves my energy reserves. It also means I don’t take crap.
A couple of years ago the mythology of the Celtic Wise Woman came to me, this resonated deeply like a voice whispering in my ear. Voices from the many female ancestors who walked grounded on the earth before me, talking to me and sharing their wisdom, like a deep awareness of intuition. My own mother who also had a deep gift of intuition often speaks to me, regularly guiding my thoughts, words and actions. I think to myself daily, what would my mother think of this? Once, long ago Celtic women were the keepers of the water wells, the most sacred life source. The wells dried up long ago covered in brambles but remain quietly hidden in the ground. It is time to reconnect with the earth, find my voice and the peace within me.
In modern civilizations woman have been married off to men as if they were an investment property. Taken from their sacred role of keeper of water wells. Recently woman have had to stand as one for their basic human right as an independent person demonstrating in parades such as the Woman’s March, only one hundred years after the worldwide Suffragette Movement. I look forward to speaking my mind and defending the rights of woman. Fifty will be my feminist years. My actions have always followed my principles choosing my own path in my life as a woman, unconventional it has been and that has been my choice. Although I have been a life long feminist I never had a platform to speak from like I do now with my art, my voice and tribe of women.
In order to honour my fifty years of life, womanhood and celebrate the wisdom of aging woman an idea for an art initiative came to me. A project using photography to document my journey onwards. Each year for my remaining years a photograph taken in the same place, wearing the same approximate outfit to celebrate the aging woman, being a woman and the strength of women. This will be my first creative project with purpose in my fiftieth year. Thus, I step into my nifty fifty’s with Brandon and my companions Dolores and Fionny with the thrill of excitement. With peace, love and happiness I am off to continue my celebration of my nifty fifty’s.