The Old Grey Mare

The Old Grey Mare  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

♫ The old grey mare, she ain’t what she used to be, ain’t what she used to be, ain’t what she used to be! 

Thus, I was serenaded by the Bear  in the bathroom, who to his surprise and delight noticed grey hairs sprouting around my hairline. Even at the ripe old age of 40, the Bear still has serious lapses of judgement.

I asked the Bear today if he considered himself middle-aged. He replied easily that he did. I was reading an article in The Hoopla that said that 70% of people in the early 50s think that middle-age begins at 55. Really? Perhaps a contemplation of what ‘middle-age’ really means is in order.

True, middle-age has a decidedly unsexy ring to it – but really, so what? Who says that we have to be youthful and sexy all our lives? Why on earth would we want to? To me, middle-age is just a sign-post that says ‘middle-of-my-life’. Here I am, an adult in middle years, growing in wisdom and experience and still in good health. In my prime, really. Think of aging like a Seasonal Wheel: if we are born on the first day of Spring, then in middle life we are heading into Autumn. And what do we do in Autumn? We harvest. We reap what we sow. We have worked hard to get where we are!

Autumn Landscape
Autumn Landscape
(Photo credit: blmiers2)

So now I have a sprinkling of grey hair on the edges of my still dark hair. I look around to see if other women my age are going grey too. Well, probably, but the vast majority of women dye their hair, so it’s hard to tell. It’s a tricky thing, dying your hair to cover your greys. It’s quite a commitment really; in fact it is a total pain in the arse. A hair appointment is needed every 3 weeks to keep the greys covered, which costs a fortune in time and money.  And this is the big one – when do you stop? And how? And what do you do with your hair while the colour is growing out? Perplexing.

I have been turning these things over in my mind for at least 15 years now. You see, I have never worshipped at the shrine of youth. Autumn is my favourite season, for lots of reasons. Relief from the heat of summer, the productivity of the cooler months, the sheer beauty of the changing season. When I was a child, I would gaze at women’s clothing in clothes stores and yearn to have a womanly shape to put in them. To me, childhood was that time in my life before I became an adult – an adult! When I grew up I would be able to arrange my life the way I liked it. I would make my own decisions, go my own way. Sometimes this is even true :). I knew I would like being an adult better than I liked being a child, and I was right. I do.

I love that every year I grow older, I become wiser, more more experienced and more comfortable in my own skin. I feel stronger within my spirit and I know more about what I value and what is important to me. Let’s just say I have a hell of a lot more perspective than when I was 20.

And if as part of the process of gathering wisdom and experience I also gather a few (or a lot) grey hairs – so what? Give me wisdom over eternal youth any day.

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”

–Sophia Loren


  1. Sara, loved this post. And I agree with you. Fall is my favorite time of year and it’s difficult giving up that bloom of youth, but it’s nice being so much wiser. I don’t know if it’s like this where you are but where I am, it’s pretty youth-obsessed. Grey hair (although I still cover those few strands –which why are they always in the front) and all that are signs of a life well-lived and a reason to celebrate. Love the Sophia Loren quote. Going to have to write that one in my book of quotes. I’ve got a decade on you, so trust me you, friend you are far from old/middle-aged. Life is good and what you do with what you have, no matter what one’s age, is what matters :).


    • Thank you Brigitte. At 36 I definitely do not think I am old; but I do think it is useful to think about old age (or middle age), and prepare for it. I think my country as whole, is fairly youth obsessed, although much of it is unspoken. In the rural area where I live, people seem not as obssessed – maybe we are more in touch with the seasons in every way.


  2. Dear Sara,
    Ah….I need to hang around with you more often. As my youth is waning at age 40…almost 41….I’ve been thinking about the whole aging thing. I love so many aspects of it. The internal revelations? Awesome. The external? Well, I wish those were not such big changes.
    But, what’s awesome is that my appearance will force me to be less vain. I’m not abou to undergo surgeries and lifts and tucks…so I will be the real deal, whether I like it or not.
    I choose to like it.
    Love, Lis


  3. You’re much more enlightened than I was at your age. It was sometime around 36 that I felt the dark side of aging and wondered if my life was over in some way. In my forties, I discovered that there was so much more to life than I had realized. Since that time, I have enjoyed the autumn of my life and the fall into aging. I would say that a certain part of aging has to do more with your mind than your body. I do my best to keep a beginner’s mind, while also cherishing the wisdom of aging. Thanks for your post, and reminding how far I’ve come since my younger days. From my experience, life keeps getting better as I age.


    • I would agree that our mind has much to do with how we age – both with how youthful we keep our mind and outlook, and our degree of acceptance or not of the inevitable 🙂


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