The Law of Unintended Consequences

I was going to call this column “Isolation in the Land of Plenty”, but something changed during my self-quarantine—I started to enjoy it. This is brave to say, given the current climate of fear and panic buying, but I have begun to welcome the enforced pause in our frantic, frenetic lives. It’s as if someone pushed the ‘restart’ button on the world—“just turn it off and turn it on again.”

I know most of you have just begun and are probably going mad, so I’m in a unique position to give you this advice because I’ve been in self quarantine for about three weeks.

My husbands entire tour of China and Japan was cancelled (China first, then Japan) but before that, ever since that first piece of news from Wuhan in January (just one quick high-speed bullet train ride to his show in Shanghai) I’ve kept my eye on its advance.

When my husband strolled through San Francisco customs back from his cancelled shows in Japan on the first day of March, he saw no health screening security measures at the airport. He told me about it when I picked him up and I knew we had to self-quarantine.

So, when I tell you that this close time I’m spending with my husband is sacred and precious, and I appreciate it because it may never come again, I know. He travels a lot, or did. I worked a lot, or did. But lately we have been each other’s only source of entertainment outside of the internet. He can’t get away and I can’t get away, so here we are, together. Of course I wish we had our children here, too, but that would be a different experience than this timeless, intimate day to day existence.

It feels like a dream, like we somehow stepped out of an action film and now we are sitting in the audience, in comfy reclining chairs, watching the rest of the movie.

Parents are locked in their houses with their children and at first it feels insane, but once you snap to the fact that there is literally nowhere to go you can finally relax and stop running. As one young mother put it, “Today, I found myself very grateful. We made huge messes and watched way too much TV and didn’t get out of our pajamas until 4:00 p.m. Like just about every other parent in the world, i’ve had a difficult week, but the less I try to control our days, the more enjoyable they’re becoming.”

So, in this insane time, isn’t that the silver lining?

Forest Bathing

“Of all the paths you take in life, be sure some of them are dirt.”~ John Muir
‘Nature-deficit disorder’ . It’s a new term for an old malady—didn’t our grandmothers tell us to “go outside and get some fresh air”? As humans we belong in nature, of course. What is new is the that human beings (especially children) are spending more and more time in an artificially constructed civilization, created to hold us safely away from nature—artificial air, artificial light, and less and less time outdoors. Researchers now believe this results in a plethora of physical and emotional health and behavioral problems, or ‘Nature-deficit disorder’.

The more our society becomes dependent on technology the less we schedule for nature, and the more we need it. But we are all busy people, especially those of us who live and work in the city, so we need to know a magic number, the perfect amount of time to spend in nature, to counteract the negative effects of an artificially constructed civilization.

The answer is: 2 hours a week—-anything less showed no appreciable benefit .

A study of 20,000 people at the University of Exeter found that people who spent at least two hours a week (they didn’t need to be consecutive) in safe green spaces walking, exercising, jogging, hiking, or just sitting, felt better health and psychological well-being than those who didn’t.

Now we’re starting to see businesses all over the world incorporating nature into their work campuses. Therapists in Japan are even prescribing ‘Forest bathing‘ (a phrase coined by Dr. Qing Li) to their patients as an antidote to depression.

Time in nature can heal our stress, lower our blood pressure, enhance our immune system function, increase our self-esteem, reduce depression, anxiety, and confusion, fights fatigue and increases energy and vitality, Increases production of NK cells which destroy cancer and bacterial infections in the body, Increases sense of intuition and and improve our mood.

Time spent in nature reduces feelings of isolation and promotes a sense of calm and well-being. It’s easy to get started. The key to effective forest bathing is: Be mindful of the present moment.. Go to a forest (or woods). Walk slowly and mindfully. Breathe deeply. Open your mind and body to your senses. What sights and sounds are you experiencing? Absorb these sensations and simply be aware of them.

2 hours a week—that’s it.

Happy 2020! Now, start reading.

Happy New Year, and I do mean happy! We’d like to (metaphorically) gift you all a book, so welcome to our yearly book recommendations, this year for 2020. We were careful to choose each book for its special usefulness to each astrological sign and what they can expect from this next year. Admit it—We can all use a little help to max out the great energy this next year brings.

CAPRICORN (Dec 22 – Jan 20)

This is your year! This is the time to put all your grandiose plans into action. You’ll find no goal too big, no dream too far fetched. To help you along a little, we recommend reading Super Attractor: Methods for Manifesting a Life Beyond Your Wildest Dreams by Gabrielle Bernstein. Capricorn’s are magnetic this year, so think big. No, bigger than that.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov 22 – Dec 21) Finally, 2020 is the year you’ve been waiting for, the big payoff, the pot of gold at the end of your work rainbow. But, you need help to handle this windfall with grace and aplomb (and not shoot yourself in the foot), so we insist you use The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey as the template for your new prosperous reality. You can do it.

SCORPIO (Oct 23 – Nov 21)

You’ve often been accused of hiding behind a wall of silence, but this year that wall comes down. Communication is your Golden Ticket, and the world is your audience. So, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About The People We Don’t Know, the new book by Malcolm Gladwell will be an essential and necessary tool.

LIBRA (Sept 23 – Oct 22)

This year your focus is on home and family, expanding, improving, and growing everything connected to it. You feel the worldwide movement towards a cleaner, more authentic environment on a personal level and you can benefit from a thorough de-cluttering, both metaphorically and literally. The book you need for 2020 is The Minimalist Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life by Joshua Becker, who may be a little easier on your book collection than Marie Kondo.

VIRGO (Aug 23 – Sept 22)

2020 brings out your most fun, creative, self, so you should really like the book Embrace Your Weird—Face Your Fears and Unleash Creativity by that clever writer/producer/actor Felicia Day. This book offers unique techniques to conquer anxiety, fear, procrastination, perfectionism, criticism, and jealousy—all natural tendencies for Virgo’s, but enemies to your creativity.

LEO (July 23 – Aug 22)

This year 2020 is a circus! It’s possible you’ve never been as busy in your life as you will be this year. We have an image in our (collective) mind of you as a juggler, trying to keep all your balls in the air, determined not to drop any. We know you will need and appreciate the new best-selling book Everything Is Figure-out-able by Marie Forleo. She even narrates the audiobook herself, so you can listen to it while you’re too busy to sit still with a book. Multitasking is your new superpower.

CANCER (June 22 – July 22)

By the end of this year you Cancers will be relationship pros, and we mean all sorts of relationships, from business colleagues to ‘flat mates’. You may need a little help navigating and organizing that tricky landscape, so I’m recommending the remarkable book I Hear You: The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extraordinary Relationships by Michael Sorensen. you will be able to get lots of experience to use this book as your manual this year.

GEMINI (May 22 – June 21)

Death and rebirth, endings and beginnings, you Gemini’s are in for a very intense year. You’re trying to figure everything out, what to end, and what to start working on, so you may need a little help. Do we have the book for you—just read Big Magic—Creative Living Without Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. Then email me. It’s THE unexpected gift you need for this year.

TAURUS (April 21 – May 21)

2020 is your year for travel and philosophy, even if you feel a little stuck, especially if you feel a little stuck. You can use the book The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner to help you travel your world. It uses a quirky and humorous mixture of psychology, science and travel while the author investigates not exactly what happiness is, as much as where it is.

ARIES (March 21 – April 20)

Don’t fight it, argue about it, or run from it—you are living in a powerful career year where you can grow your dreams exponentially. Try not to get angry at the ‘Universe’ for forcing a new direction on you (you know what I mean.) Read Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Heart by the remarkable Brene’ Brown. And just go with it.

PISCES (Feb 20 – March 20)

No hermit-ting for you in 2020. All you sweet souls must read The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters’ by Priya Parker. This book will give you the ammo you need to really tackle this next six—eight months and get the most out of your group interactions, because groups (and followers, and fans, and friends) are pivotal. And profitable.

AQUARIUS (Jan 21 – Feb 19)

This is your year for self-examination, delving deep into the recesses of your unconscious mind and establishing who you really are. You’ll find a big payoff at the end of this introspective cycle, so we recommend the book The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson. This book that will also help you dig deep into the hidden motives of the people you deal with as well. And you will love that.

Are you Happy to see me?

For various reasons this last year, I’ve spent a lot of time in the front office of Dripping Springs Middle School. Teachers, parents, nannies, and children come and go, and It’s interesting for me to notice how all these folks greet one another.

The woman behind the desk (I still don’t remember her name) always has a smile on her face and seems to be genuinely glad to see me every week, though I know it can’t be true. For my part, I make that poor women jump through three hoops before finally my guy, the reason I’m in the office of the DS middle school in the first place, pops his shaggy head through the office door twenty minutes before the rest of the school let’s out.

He’s happy to be out of school early, and it shows. I’m happy to see him and I make sure I show it—big smile, big affectionate greeting. When our eyes meet and he sees mine light up when I spot him, he smiles at me too and we’re off.

He immediately starts telling me about his day before we even climb into my car, about the new 3D goggles at the library, or the new code he’s learning, or the plans he has for a future career with his 7th grade best friend. I’m purposeful as I listen with rapt attention. I ask sincere and thoughtful questions—this is the favorite part of my day.

Early in my teenage years, high school actually, I had a boyfriend who dropped by my 6th period office occupations class once a week. The event made me acutely aware of the importance of initial greetings. He’d tap on the window to let me know he was standing there and I beamed at him, happy to see him. I let my happiness show. Later he told me, that moment, the moment when I spotted him and smiled obviously happy to see him, was the favorite part of his day. A moment. One moment, one smile.

Much later when I find myself married to a man who travels frequently, I make a special effort to pick him up at the airport in person, face-to-face. I park close in and wait for him at the foot of the escalator, searching each face as they step onto the top of the moving stairs, looking for my guy. The moment when I spot him among all those exiting travelers is the best part of my day.

If you really want to get happy, go early to an airport and watch the arrivals. The joy generated by that first sighting, those first smiles, those kinds of huge happy-to-see-you grins on others is infectious. You can’t help but smile, too.

But I’ve also seen arguments started, arms tugged, questions asked and barely answered, backs turned so some poor soul needs to race to catch up, and I wonder how much sweeter an interaction can be if at the very beginning, at that first eye contact, that first face-to-face, it starts with an obvious, “I’m really happy to see you”.

It just may be the best part of someone’s day.

Our Spidey Sense

Recently I came across an interesting article on, “The U.S. Military Believes People Have a Sixth Sense” and I just had to laugh. I remembered all the times I’ve had interesting discussions with cynics about a ‘Sixth Sense’, something I believe everyone is born with.

Our ‘Sixth Sense’ is inner knowing or intuition, a noun, defined as “a (supposed) intuitive faculty giving awareness not explicable in terms of normal perception. Similar: instinct, intuition, intuitiveness, clairvoyance“. But, many people refuse to accept the notion that there might be another, inherent way for we humans to collect information using something outside of the five senses we were limited to in school: Sight, taste, touch, hearing, and smell.

Every chart I found, decorated with happy, smiling faces of children, showed only these five senses, no other options. Science has already proven those charts to be woefully out of date and inaccurate anyway, because we now know we have more senses than Aristotle’s five. We can add: Sense of pain, Sense of balance, temperature differences, sense of direction, and sense of time.

We humans use our senses to help us survive, like many animals. Spiders can measure prey and predators just by sensing them, Comb jellyfish can sense direction without eyes, and pigeons use what scientists think is magnetoreception to get around. How millions of salmon are able to pinpoint the exact rivers and streams they were born in and travel thousands of miles to spawn there, has puzzled scientists for years and remains a scientific mystery. These guys obviously use a sixth or even seventh sense to help them survive.

Could we be trained to use our sixth sense? The US military thinks so. Field reports during battles often documented a ‘sixth sense’ or ‘Spidey Sense’ that alerted certain soldiers to an impending attack or I.E.D. The Pentagon wanted to figure out a way to maximize this ‘Sixth Sense’ for operational use. Because of the stigma of ESP, they changed what they called it. “Under the Perceptual Training Systems and Tools banner, extrasensory perception has a new name in the modern era: ‘Sensemaking.’”

It’s not hocus-pocus if the military is using it, so why are we as a culture so adverse to acknowledging it? Why are we holding on to an out-dated and inaccurate chart? And why are we still teaching it to our children?

I, for one, am all about maximizing my ‘Spidey-Sense’ or ‘sense-making’. Who knows? It just may save the lives of a few of my favorite humans..

Embracing camp culture . . . As a grown up

It’s the end of summer. Kids are coming back from a mind-boggling variety of summer camps–from week-end art camps to stay-for-a-month horse riding camps and everything in between. But while I was reading American Airlines in flight magazine I saw an ad for a different kind of camp, a camp for grown ups. The “Game of Thrones” camp is a role-playing camp and so authentic they only dry clean the real fur cloaks twice a year. One can only imagine the authentic smell.

That article got me thinking about my own, most recent (and more pleasantly scented) grown up camp experience at Full Moon Resort in the Catskills. It’s called Music Masters Camp because the resort invites different master musicians to host week long intensive music camps. Usually about 100 Campers leave their cell phones and good internet behind for the woods and streams and their new home; tents, cabins, barns, and a communal dining hall.

My particular camp, the “Three of a Perfect Pair” music camp is held in August and hosted by three musicians who have played in the legendary group King Crimson: Pat Mastelotto (my husband) Tony Levin and Adrian Belew. King Crimson is considered the godfather to a genre of tricky and difficult-to-play music called ‘Progressive’, and it attracts a unique combination of talented musicians and brainiac fans. No, I am not a musician, nor a brainiac fan. I went with my husband.

For the first couple of years of attending this camp, I maintained my role as an interested observer. But a wondrous thing happened; I became one of them. This camp is now my camp, these Campers are now my people. It’s more like being invited to join a secret society and discovering, in addition to a common interest, a love for each member. We even have our own ‘Honk’. How did this happen?
It’s a simple technique, really, and it’s frequently used by foreign language schools. It’s called ‘immersion’. I was immersed up to my eyeballs in camp culture. And it changed me.

How does camp culture work? Professor H. W. Scarlett once wrote, “You get a rustic setting, away from modern devices … so you’re connected to the natural world and thrown back for the first time on your own instincts. Camp stresses caring – not a phony kind of care, but a very deep caring for the group. It takes time to develop that sense of community.” That’s why going every year seems to be important, and why it took a few years for camp to ‘take’ with me. You can’t just observe camp; you must immerse yourself in it.

Real camps, of course, sell the dream of perfecting something; that’s why you sign up. It actually does happen, but that’s not the treasure you take back with you to the real world. The true value you get from the camp experience is change. As camp photographer Avraham Banks wrote, “Now i feel like an old piano that was finally tuned. For how long will i maintain the change? There are people i met that made my life better.”
Me too Avi, me too.

Thirteen pieces of advice to my favorite thirteen-year-old on her birthday

1. Forgive people. Even if they’re wrong. Even if you’re wronged. Even if they don’t ask for forgiveness. Let it all go—holding on to a grudge is poison to your soul.

2. “Eat food, not too much, mostly green.” ~ Michael Pollan

3. Keep your passport current. Travel is the best education, and a current passport means you’re always prepared for a spontaneous trip.

4. Spend a little time with nature every day. Take off your shoes and walk barefoot in the grass, dig in the dirt with your hands, plant a pot of flowers for your balcony, sit under a tree with a book, open a window and listen to the rain. Civilization causes stress and illness—nature is the antidote.

5. People will tell you to narrow your focus and concentrate on one thing. Don’t listen to them. Follow your muse in whatever direction it takes you, even if just for a short time. Make art, make music, dance, do things just for fun. You’ll be a better, happier person for it.

6. Learn to cook a few cheap, decent meals. Feeding yourself will be a lifetime occupation. You might as well enjoy your own cooking.

7. Don’t be afraid to say “No” and mean it. It’s not necessary or healthy to be agreeable all the time. Stand up for yourself. Set boundaries. Walk (or run) away if something feels unsafe or makes you uncomfortable.

8. Take photos and actually have them printed. You’ll be glad later when you and your college friends find a box of old photos in a closet and stay up all night giggling over them.

9. Never visit anyone’s home empty handed. Always bring a gift, even if it’s just freshly picked flowers.

10. Learn to listen. So few people really listen to anyone else. Undivided attention is the greatest gift you can give someone. Put down your phone and listen, face to face, eye to eye.

11. Happiness is a choice. It’s a bad habit to give anyone credit for your happiness, or blame for your unhappiness. Every day decide which way you want to feel and work towards that.

12. Learn to ask for what you want. It’s sometimes easier for girls to complain about what they don’t want, than to say exactly what they do want. Be clear about what you want—you’re much more likely to get it.

13. Say your “Thank you’s”. Gratitude takes you further in this life than any other single thing. Say “Thank you” often, not only when someone does something nice for you, but first thing in the morning, out loud, and often throughout the day. If you’re having a difficult time, stop and say a few “Thank you’s” and mean them. Watch how things change for the better.

A tale of failed Conversion Therapy

I started my young life as an entrepreneur.

I have an early memory of selling tiny scissors I made from splicing two little flowering weed sprouts together.

I was four years old.

I worked on those creations in our back yard for over an hour, then borrowed a white dish towel from my mother’s kitchen drawer and covered a dinner plate with it. I placed my art pieces carefully on the plate, then headed off down our street with the intention of selling them.

I went door to door with my miniature weed scissors, smiling and tossing off my four-year old sales pitch to each neighbor. I’d ring the doorbell and when they answered and appeared at all interested, I set my plate down. Then I demonstrated how to magically make these tiny green things move by working the two halves of the buds back and forth, the scissor action moving the miniature flowers.

“What do we do with them?” one neighbor asked.

“They just look pretty”, I answered. I thought that was enough.

Then I pocketed my 3 pennies and moved on with my plate of scissor-flowers to the next house.

I got all the way to the end of our street when, right in the middle of my spiel to the last neighbor I felt a tug on my arm. I turned around, then looked up to see my mother. Her eyes blazed, her teeth clenched, her hand squeezed my arm. “What are you doing?”, she hissed, then apologized to the neighbor.

She proceeded to march me back down the street, door to door, and made me give back every penny, forcing me to apologize each time.

It was an early attempt at conversion therapy. And it didn’t work.

I couldn’t understand what I did wrong. I made something pretty and people paid me for it. Why was that bad?

My mother, needless to say, did not share my enthusiasm for art or sales. She disapproved of my career choice then, and she disapproved of every career choice I’ve made since then, till the day she died.

If my mother’s relentless and unceasing efforts had paid off, I’d be currently celebrating my wedding anniversary to my high school boyfriend, going to church 5 times a week surrounded by the four perfectly behaved and solemn children I homeschooled as a stay-at-home mom, chubby and well-fed from the three square meals I cooked for them from scratch. Every day.

She never approved of my work, or any woman working outside the home and in point of fact discouraged and disparaged it. Yet, as much as I wanted to please my mother, I was who I was, and I am who I am, still. It was obvious and apparent who I was when I was four and nothing she did or could have done would make me into someone else.

It’s usually like that with children.

The Manifestation of an Ovation

I’m going to tell you a story:

Last month my husband had band rehearsals in England and this time I got to go with him. I spent three lovely weeks eating local Turk-Itali-pub-Indi- food and visiting the villages and the friends who lived and worked there.

One of these friends was a famous guitar player, and we got to tour the lovely house he and his wife shared. Looking at his guitars and other beautifully organized instruments I saw an Ovation guitar sitting on a stand.

I thought to myself, ‘So, an Ovation is good enough to live in this gentleman’s home’. This got me thinking about my old pink Ovation guitar, lost to me for the last fifteen or so years.

His Ovation was black not pink, but it was the trigger.

When I lived in Austin (the city, instead of the outskirts like I do now) I had a little house smack in the middle of everything. It was nestled in in the secluded Travis Heights neighborhood, but it was only four blocks from my salon on busy South Congress Avenue.

Lots of musician friends popped in and out of that salon and lots of fun, spontaneous hangs happened there and at my Travis Heights home.

One of my friends was planning a quick trip to the big guitar convention at Palmer auditorium one weekend and he asked if I wanted to come along. Of course I did—I’d never been to a guitar convention.

As we strolled down the isles gawking at all the guitar designs and colors, my attention was caught by one guitar in particular. It was a pink-stained burl wood-faced Ovation Ultra acoustic guitar with pickups. Very unusual.

I kept thinking about it, isle after isle. Towards the end of our time at the show, I walked back to the stall where I saw the the pink guitar and it was still there, with it’s price tag of $300.

I asked the bored-looking guy standing next to it, “Would you be willing to come down on the price?” He thought about it for about five seconds, and then said “Sure. No one wants a pink Ovation”.

We settled on $225 cash.

I had to run to the cash machine and back but I paid the guy, and the guitar was mine. And I didn’t even play.

I took it home to my little house and sat it on a stand in my living room next to the couch. In the years I lived in that house, everyone and their brother picked at that guitar while they sat on my couch. They always said, “Sounds good for an Ovation”.

That guitar was borrowed for gigs, played with love late into the night by some great musicians, and used on records and I had a lot of memories attached to it.

Then I started dating my husband, and eventually we decided to try living together in his house in The Hill Country.

I turned my little Travis heights house into an Air BnB and left the guitar on its stand in the living room as part of the ambience. It looked interesting on the website and I thought it looked good there, next to the couch.

Then my little house was robbed. The thieves took all the electronics, and my pink guitar. I felt the loss of that guitar more strongly than the loss of a replaceable flat screen and I thought about it a lot after it was gone.

I bought another pretty guitar with birds on the front inlaid with mother of pearl, but it just wasn’t the same. It never lived in my little Travis heights house, it was never played by friends.

And it wasn’t a pink Ovation.

For two weeks after we visited our guitar friend in England that pink guitar kept coming up in my mind, and it became almost like a mental obsession. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

So, last Sunday I pulled out my cell phone and Googled ‘Guitar, Ovation, Pink’. And just like magic, a photo popped up on my cell phone. It looked exactly like my guitar, my pink-stained burl wood Ovation Ultra guitar.

I saved the page and kept searching, to see if that kind of guitar was common, or if there were more of them, but no. I couldn’t find another one. Apparently, the only guitar like my old guitar, for sale at that moment, lived in a music store in Aurora, Colorado.

Of course I contacted the store.

I told myself, “If the pegs are gold, I’ll know it’s mine’. Then, ‘I’m going to buy it. Even if it isn’t really my guitar, when I look at it I’ll smile’

I bought it immediately.

The price: $225.00.

In three days it arrived on my doorstep. I unpacked it and looked it over completely. Yep. Gold pegs. My guitar. It even had the chip in the finish at the back of it’s neck my friend made with his ring.

True Story.

That’s my definition of the word ‘pinkchronicity’—The happy accident that feels “meant-to-be”


Free Your Hair and the Rest Will Follow

Everywhere we look, we see hair in every color of the rainbow. This feels new, but it’s not. We’ve been coloring our hair for centuries. We have historical records depicting romans sitting in the sun with hair soaked in a lime wash, baking and gossiping for hours while their hair turned orange. Anthropologist Harry Shapiro wrote: “So universal is this urge to improve on nature … that one is almost tempted to regard it as an instinct”.

Today, hair coloring is so popular, 75% of women color their hair, compared to 7% in 1950. In Nora Ephron’s 2006 book “I Feel Bad About My Neck”, she gives hair color total credit for turning back the clock on aging. She says hair color is “. . . the most powerful weapon older women have against youth culture.” No one wanted to be gray.

But attitudes toward gray are shifting, fast. Pinterest reported an 879% jump in the use of the search term “going gray” from 2017 to 2018. The last time gray hair was this hot was probably the 1700s, when Marie Antoinette types would dust wigs with white rice flour. So, why is ‘going gray’ on everyone’s minds? When you noticed your first gray hairs, you found you could cover them pretty easily. And infrequently.

But, gray hair is progressive–10%gray isn’t noticeable much as it grows out. But 10% becomes 20%, 20% becomes 30%, then 40% and twice a year root touch-ups become every six week visits. Once your hair hits 50% gray, your percentage of white/gray to natural hair moves pretty fast, and before you know it, you’re seeing your stylist every 3 weeks—you have now become a slave to your hair color.

White roots and shoe-polish-looking hair color is no longer stylish or young-looking. In fact, obviously dyed hair is now considered ‘aging’. It’s also time-consuming, expensive, and annoying. How did this panacea to aging become a monkey on our backs?

Maybe all the fake news and daily lies makes us determined to create more transparency in our lives (and our beauty routines). Maybe we crave ‘Real’, or the illusion of it, anyway. Maybe we’re just busy, and need less on our plates.

So, what to do? You can free yourself from hair color slavery. If your hair is tinted brown, the process of letting your gray grow out could demand a major salon commitment, involving multiple bleachings. One stylist in Phoenix says it takes 9 hours, and don’t even think of getting off cheaply. Even embracing your natural gray can entail a lot of salon time or torturous hard color lines, to grow out existing dye.

Or . . . you can subtly change the way you color your hair, blending rather than ‘covering’ your natural gray. Get back to your previous stress-free maintenance schedule—it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. There are tricks. We like to call this clever process “Hair Color Renovation“.

Every head of hair patterns the gray in a different way and it’s different with each person. Hair color is sort of a science experiment and gray hair—fake or natural—must jive with your coloring to work. You have other options. It’s not always eliminating the salon color process itself that’s liberating, it’s the option to choose, to make the trip to your stylist be whatever and whenever you feel. It should be your choice. Free your hair.