Category Archives: 50+

The Final Cut: From Clippers to Shaver

It was on the eve of my 54th birthday, facing the next instalment in my every-two-weeks haircut when I asked myself, “Why not? If I don’t like it, it will grow back.”

I explored electric razors with the plan to shave my scalp for the first time. But when I say “first time”, the reality is that the transition to this point has been more than a decade in the making.

When I accepted that my hair was slowly slipping away due to male pattern baldness, rather than finding creative ways of covering up my slowly increasing Friar Tuck look, I started the slow transition of shorter haircuts.

My last attempt at long hair that ended up looking like Peppermint Patty was trimmed to a neat professional look. For a while after that, I took a bit of a detour into a faux-hawk look, which I consider my last actual “hair style”.

But when more scalp was peeking through the back of my head, to me, it was time. In every subsequent scissor cut, I went a little shorter every time. After that, it was the clipper cut countdown, starting with a “number four” with much trepidation.

The nervousness quickly disappeared through my immense enjoyment of the freedom from hair products and blow dryers, and in the reclaiming of time in the morning. The fact that a visit to the barber was now an efficient and record-breaking 7 minutes in duration was a pleasure in itself. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, Humour

Why I Envy Hat People

Do you remember the opening credits for the 1970’s TV show “Charlie’s Angels” where Jaclyn Smith takes off her motorcycle helmet, shakes her head and every strand of hair falls perfectly in place?

I realize that Jaclyn’s impeccable hair in that scene was probably a confection of Hollywood magic, but sadly, hats have been a challenge for me to navigate over the years.

When I was younger, I had fine hair. I had lots of it, but they weren’t the majestic oaks of hair that could bounce back from the slightest bit of wind, humidity, sweat, rain or pressure.

I remember times when I was very young when my mom or my grandmother would say “Come here”, lick their fingers and try to tame one of my many cowlicks. How they could choose just one remains a mystery to me, as I remember my hair was sometimes all cowlicks to the point of looking like a young, male version of Medusa.

But as an adult, the maternal spit was replaced by varying combinations of hair gel, mousse and spray, not to mention engineering skills, to build a hairstyle and to lock it in place. But one minute with a hat on my head was like a pin to a balloon, completely deflating my structure, at a time when flat hair was not en vogue.

Looking back, this most unfortunate genetic deficiency brought out a streak of stubbornness I never knew existed within me. It could have been -40 degrees outside (frankly, a normal winter’s day here in Ottawa), and I refused to wear a tuque of any kind. That was when I started buying ear muffs by the case (for some reason, I kept misplacing them) which kept my ears warm for many blustery winters. Continue reading

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Mother Nature’s Follicle Relocation Project

If there is any doubt about whether Mother Nature has a sense of humour or not, I offer you the following into evidence: hair.

Hair is the epitome of irony, isn’t it? People with curly hair want straight hair. People with straight hair want wavy hair. I’ve known people who have changed hair colours and/or hair styles with every passing season (with great envy).

We try turning our hairstyles into gravity-defying structures, or we flatten it out to look sleek and chic. Sometimes we make it do things it just wasn’t meant to do.

And as we get older, Mother Nature is not through with us yet. Oh no. The fun is just beginning.

In my case, in my 40s, she took it away a few strands at a time. She might have thought she was sneaky, but I fought back by getting a clipper cut. Problem solved, or so I thought.

Who could guess that her punchline would be the random places where she is putting it back in my 50s?

I fully expected that after age 50, trimming nose hairs would become a necessity to avoid looking like a catfish. I also expected that I might need to keep my eyebrows in check so that they didn’t look like wings and suddenly take flight in the middle of a serious boardroom meeting.

I am very lucky that I am fair haired (or at least, I was) so new stray sprouts haven’t been too noticeable. But those new “platinum” ones (btw, I love saying “platinum” as I think it oozes coolness) do catch one’s eye faster. Thankfully, there is no shortage of grooming tools to keep new growth under control. Continue reading

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The Morning Newspaper Hurdles

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I have been enjoying the experience of reading a print version of the newspaper again, as a more relaxing way to enjoy the news.

But each time I start reading one, I cannot help but remember some of the less-than-relaxing mishaps I have encountered over the years while trying to get a copy of the daily paper.

I was a subscriber for many years and home delivery was so punctual you could set your VCR to it. There may have been the rare production issue, vehicle issue or weather issue when the newspaper might not show up exactly on time. Things like that sometimes happened and we understood.

Just the same, I wouldn’t have wanted to be the person at the telephone switchboard. I’m sure some people would get pretty huffy about a postponed periodical or a tardy tabloid especially in the pre-Internet age.

I mean today, we lose our… ahem… we lose our marbles when the news page takes longer than 6 seconds to fully download. I think patience was in greater supply back then.

In my first apartment, there were days when I’d open my front door to find that my newspaper wasn’t there. A gentle call to the newspaper confirmed that it wasn’t due to a production issue, a weather issue nor a delivery issue in my area. It was likely a neighbour, especially when the disappearing newspaper trick would happen in cycles. Continue reading

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What I Missed Most As a Manager

Over the span of my career, I was most fortunate in being asked a few times if I would be interested in a short term assignment as a manager, to fill a vacant position until it could be staffed permanently.

When that happened, I always felt like an award show nominee. The fact that someone thought highly enough of me and my work to extend such an invitation was a huge honour and for that I was most grateful.

I chose carefully and I accepted five times.

But looking back, even though I was told I did fine, I didn’t always think so. I was pretty hard on myself. I always thought I could have done better.

The bigger questions were why was I so exhausted when each assignment was over? Was it me? Would more training have helped? Was it a right fit for me? How did so many of the managers I looked up to make it look so easy?

As I reflected back over my agonizing decisions to accept, and the dissection of events when the assignments were over, I believe I should have paid more attention to my gut and to the struggle I was feeling.

After the last assignment, I realized that even though our society and our culture keeps telling us that climbing the ladder is a good thing, management might not be for everyone. I knew conclusively that it wasn’t for me and I finally knew the reasons why. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, Misc blogs, Writing

My Struggles with Sunscreen

After an Ottawa winter that seemingly never ended, there is no greater pleasure than the feeling of the sun’s warmth against our skin. But as some experts tell us, we can enjoy that feeling but we should be protecting that skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

I am no stranger to sunscreen. I have been wearing it pretty faithfully over the years, and stepping up the SPF number at the urging of my dermatologist. Because I am pretty fair-skinned and can burn pretty easily, it makes sense.

But much like I have described in other blog posts, shopping for a sunscreen is another never ending episode of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”.

A few years ago, I was introduced to a brand of sunscreen that I considered “just right”. It had a nice light fragrance, it didn’t feel sticky, and it held up well when I was out running. Basically, it felt like I wasn’t wearing sunscreen when I had it on. I could even reapply it throughout the day and not feel like an oil slick. To me, that was the gold standard.

But I wonder if they changed the recipe because it doesn’t feel “just right” anymore. By my schnoz, the pleasant scent now seems to present notes of chemicals (which makes me a little apprehensive about meetings in small boardrooms) and the texture seems stickier than before.

Even if I wrote to the company with my questions, would it change anything? Probably not. And there is a chance that it could be my body chemistry changing, as opposed to the product. Some colognes I wore a decade or two ago smell very differently on me now, so I wouldn’t rule out that a sunscreen that was once perfect, might not behave the same on my approaching-geriatric skin.

And so began the auditions for a new sunscreen. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, Health and Wellness, Running

Dear Loyalty Apps, Please Stop Logging Me Out!

In 2016, I published a blog post about the number of loyalty cards I was carrying and the challenge in keeping track of all of them. There had to be an easier way.

I still maintain that with impeccable client service and reasonable prices, we could probably skip loyalty programs.

But marketing wizards seem to have tapped into our basic human need to belong, and have turned clubs and memberships into an art form that seems to fill a void. Sometimes the exclusive rewards and personal offers are so well thought out that we overlook the consumer information that we have volunteered about ourselves to get to those benefits.

Shortly after that post appeared, I figured I had nothing to lose in trying to keep track of all of them with the smart phone apps that they were offering.

Initially, the issue I encountered was that my antiquity of a phone was sometimes too slow to produce the apps as soon as I needed them. To proceed with the experiment, I had to wait until my phone was retired and replaced.

When I bought a new phone, I jumped on the bandwagon in a big way and signed up for all of the apps to replace the imposing stack of loyalty cards I had accumulated.

My next task was to learn how to juggle products like a circus performer, while waiting in line to check out. I wanted to avoid the huffing, puffing and sighing from the shoppers behind me, as we all waited for an app to launch.

I became pretty good at holding different products under my armpits, between my legs, or in my teeth while needing both hands to swipe my way to the right app at the right time. I’m sure that there is some funny security footage out there to attest to my newly found skills. Continue reading

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