Let Go of My Ego

This blog is dedicated to my friend Sally O’Malley Whitten Lara. 

As a long time friend of my mother’s, Sally has always been a part of my life since I can remember.  Mazatlan, carpools, St. Francis, weddings and breast cancer, she has been there.  Not only do we share a similar hairdo, as a breast cancer survivor herself, she has been an inspiration, sending me encouraging cards and thoughtful gifts throughout my own battle, lifting my spirits when I was low, giving me hope and strength to keep going. 

Sally, now facing cancer again, is the pure personification of the archetypal figure and stock character of the gorgeous wise woman in which I dedicate this blog. 

This is for you Sally!

Sally in bright orange front right

The other night, while sitting around the dinner table discussing the merits of long hair vs. short hair, Maggie said, “Mom, whenever a guy used to flirt with you, I would give him the evil eye and he would look away.  I don’t have to do that anymore, because they don’t look anymore.” 

Ouch.  That hurt. 

But, Maggie is right.  Men don’t look at me like they used to, unless they are over 50 or European.  It seems I am bit of a conundrum to them these days.

But, it is not true of women.  Women of all ages and nationalities seem to love me, or shall I say love my hair.  They stop me in the grocery store, on hiking trails, at school, and at coffee houses, to tell me, “I love your hair,” or “You are so brave, I have always wanted to wear my hair short, but I am too afraid.”  

Just the other day while getting a pedicure, the Vietnamese women asked me, “Are you a model?”  Then, at Mother’s Market, a woman asked, “Who does your hair?”  She was shocked to find out that I do it myself.  I use my husband’s clippers, No #3 on the sides and #8 on top. 

And, to top it all off, a very brazen lesbian at the International Orange Festival stopped me to compliment my short cut.  After we chatted a bit, I told her that I had breast cancer.  She then asked, “Can I give you a hug.” 

“Of course,” I replied.  She gave me a very big long hug.  In fact, she wouldn’t let go.

I love my hair, it’s empowering.  And, I love that so many women love my hair.  That’s empowering as well.  Not only do I like the way it looks and how it makes me feel, my short silver strands represent the new me, the reinvented me, the Deanne after cancer me, rising from the rubble. 

Me with my short silver cut


Raundi, Deanne, Savanah and coconuts at Doheny Days

But, there are moments, I confess, that I miss my long golden brown locks.  Because with it, came a glance from a handsome young guy in the car next to me, a door being opened for me or a flirtatious “hello.”  Not only did it make me feel good, it fed that ego of mine.  And, I admit, I have a big ego. 

Me, before cancer with long golden brown locks.

But, today, I have learned that it is more important to feed my soul than my ego, accept me for me and wear my natural silver hair with pride. 

“There is a difference between fleeting ego happiness and souls long term contentment…Know the difference and you will find your peace.”…Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Women seem to know this about me, as if I am now a part of some sisterhood, especially the older generation.  These women, eccentric and peculiar, odd but familiar, their bodies tattered but their souls pure.  They are our mothers and grandmothers, our old wives, worn but wise.  With their hips wide, stretched from giving life, breasts famished from nourishing new generations, and hands withered from both cleaning and caressing, they let go of their ego a long time ago.  They are absolute unconditional soul and seem to have found some resemblance of peace.    

It seems Harold was on to something when he fell in love with Maude.

We can learn much from this women archetype.  They are the crones, the stock character, the wise woman of myths and fairytales.  In the old myths, these women represented wisdom, nourishment and life.  Unfortunately, our modern fairytales have warped their image into the power hungry queen or decrepit old woman.  With warts on their noses, cursing us with deadly apples and candy houses, we have learned to be afraid and avoid them. 

This is not a surprise, of course, since our modern culture worships youth, beauty and skinny jeans.  We love the Aphrodite’s of the world.  It is almost an addiction, defining ourselves based on our looks rather than our talents.  As Germaine Greer says in her book, The Whole Woman, “Every woman knows that, regardless of all her other achievements, she is a failure if she is not beautiful.”

I could grow my hair out.  I could color it.  But, I won’t.  Not now any way.  I would be saying grace to the wrong goddess.  No, I will keep my silver strands, avoid the harsh chemicals and learn to let go of my ego.  I will not deny Hera, the strong and wise queen. 

These women, these beautiful wise women, they know something that we don’t (or we are just tapping into).  Whether they went through the pains and joys of life or sat back and watched, they have much to bring to the table besides roast beef, mashed potatoes and apple pie.  We just need to listen.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog called “44 Going on 16.”  Today, it would be entitled “46 Going on 65” as I learn the ways of the unconventional shrewd crone.

So, not only is this blog about my continued work in transforming “me” from an ego driven life to soul driven.  It is dedicated to the Aunt Mildred’s, Grandma Mac’s and Sally O’Malley Whitten Lara’s of the world.  It is in honor of my mother and yours.  It is in celebration of the old crones, the archetypal dangerous old woman, the Hera’s and the Maude’s.  It is to pay homage to every laugh line, age mark and gray hair.  It is to show respect for every stretch mark, cesarean scar and varicose vein.  It is to understand every mistake, every sacrifice and every human being brought to life by these radiant women!  I am in awe of you as I strive to become more like you!  Thank you!

3 Responses to “Let Go of My Ego”

  1. Kathy McAleese Says:

    Deanne you look absolutely wonderful, you have always been beautiful but now you SHINE
    I am so proud of you and I think you should get your blog published you are also an awesome writer, your words captivate me as well as many others I am sure
    Love to you all Aunt Kathy

  2. Sheri Black-Flynn Says:

    I wrote a message and think I lost it so my apologies if this is redundant.
    I saw you sing last year at Cocktails 4 the Cure. I thought you were a beautiful, amazing woman. I was a bit taken aback at my own insecurity as you exuded such strength and confidence.
    And you are right, as women we, I, would not want to bear the struggles that you have had, but to show your level of graciousness and bravery would be a badge of honor.
    A real man would see your true beauty and appreciate your strength.

  3. Charlotte Brooks Says:

    Beautiful…..and so true! Thanks Deanne, you are a wise one.

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