Monday, March 30, 2009

Walking the Human Race for Robert and Hospice

I'll be walking the 10K Human Race in Santa Rosa, CA, on May 9, honoring the memory of my beloved husband, Robert Rice, and raising funds for Hospice. Hospice provided us with the support that allowed Robert to spend the last 10 days of his life in peace, dignity, and -- finally -- the absence of pain.

Nurses, personal care aides, social workers, and caring volunteers came to our home, where he wanted to die. They provided end-of-life medical care, attention, nurturing, daily help, and pain control – all at no charge to us. They answered Robert’s questions and mine, helped keep him comfortable, gently told me what to expect, and treated him with great respect. They were available day and night, around the clock, anytime we needed them – and we needed them often.

After Robert died, the wonderful Hospice staff and volunteers attended to me, providing individual counseling and group grief support that helped me figure out how to make my life work after such a great loss. I have never met a more compassionate group of people, and most are volunteers giving back because Hospice helped them in their time of need.

Those of you who encounter me in person see me dance and hear me laugh these days – I don’t know how I could have done either without Hospice. Those of you who know me and Robert only through my book and blog have witnessed me poking through the shadowy shutdown of grief to communicate with you here, sometimes sadly, but more often joyfully these days, as I embrace the parts of life that fill me with joy and let me help others.

As I heard another widow say, "When does it [the loss] get better? It doesn't get better. But I get better."

If you can help by making a donation to honor Robert and other loved ones who have benefited from Hospice care, please click here to see my Human Race donations page.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Uncovering/ Uncoloring My Hair

It's time for me to let my gray (silver?) hair grow out, I decided last November. My hair stylist, Troy of Troy Michael Salons in Sebastopol, CA, has been helping me "transition" since then, letting my gray/silver emerge while the brown/blonde recedes. At my last appointment, he cut off most of the still-colored hair, revealing me as a 65-year-old, mostly gray/silver-haired woman. (Thank you, Dan Goldes, for the photos.)

I'd wondered for years what color my hair would be if I stopped coloring it. Shimmering silver?All gray? Salt and pepper? Old looking?

When I wondered aloud to Robert, he examined my roots with an artist's eye and said, "I don't think you'd like it -- you'd look ten years older." He wouldn't mind the ten-years-older part, but he was sure I would, being in the public eye and representing zesty sexuality after sixty.

Then after Robert died, everything that mattered before no longer mattered. As I grieved, I found myself re-evaluating every decision, big and little, from whether I could say no to writing deadlines for a year (yes, I could) to whether I should continue coloring my hair.

Bottom line: we don't have the option to stay young. We can either get old, or we can die first. I wish Robert had been able to get old rather than die at 71. That brought it home for me that we only have these two options, which make looking younger than I am seem sort of silly. The point is that we can grow old with vigor, pride, and sensuality -- we don't have to pretend to be young.

I've always valued authenticity. My hair isn't brown with blonde highlights. It's ... I don't know yet, some combination of gray and brown, or maybe all gray. I always insist on telling the truth, so shouldn't I be showing the truth, too? I see women who look beautiful and radiant in their sixties, seventies, eighties, with snow white hair, or silver streaked, or any combination of their natural colors.

You could argue that authenticity doesn't hinge on hair color, any more than it hinges on whether we wear "shaper" bras or let our sagginess show, or whether we bother to get dressed or wear pajamas to the supermarket if we feel like it. We do put effort into looking good because it reveals how we feel about ourselves as well as how we want the public to see us.

And, truth be told, I don't feel brown-haired-with-blonde-highlights any more. I'm looking forward to shining silver.

August 2009 update: Here's my hair now:

Speaking of gray hair, see my review of Going Gray by Anne Kreamer. It's an interesting read if you're wondering what to do (or not do) about your hair color, looking at the social, psychological, aesthetic, even political implications.

I find it fascinating that the original, hardcover edition of Going Gray was subtitled, "What I Learned about Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and Everything Else That Really Matters," and the paperback reprint edition is subtitled, "How to Embrace Your Authentic Self with Grace and Style." I prefer the first subtitle. Which do you prefer?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Seeking Interviews for Joan Price’s New Book

3/3/09 update of 8/6/07 post: As you know if you've been following this blog, I put this book (and everything else) on hold while dealing with Robert's illness and death. I have wonderful personal stories from many generous elders and Boomers willing to share their experiences and attitudes, as well as many helpful tips from experts who want to help me spread solid information. I'm gearing up to return to my work -- it's my mission and it was important to Robert as well. Thank you for your patience and compassion, and I invite more of you to get involved.

Wanted: Women and men over 50, single or partnered, straight or gay, willing to write candidly about your personal experiences and attitudes regarding sex and aging for my new book. I’m seeking your written comments and stories about the trials and challenges as well as the joys of sexuality after 50.

This will be a follow-up to Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex after Sixty and will include stories from singles and couples, women and men, along with strategies for improving those situations that challenge us as we age. It will be more solution-oriented than Better Than I Ever Expected, dealing with the health and relationship problems in greater depth, with more expert tips. While Better was geared towards women (and those who love them!), this book will represent men and women equally.

Would you or any of your age 50+ friends like to be a part of this book? You will be identified by a first name of your choice and your age. Your true identity will be kept strictly confidential.

Interested? Please contact Joan Price now and I'll email you the questionnaire.

Update: I especially need people over 50 who have personal experiences to share in these areas:

  • single seniors (men, women, gay, straight) actively dating and/or having sex or choosing not to date or have sex
  • gay men, both single and in committed relationships
  • couples who have sought counseling to overcome sex/relationship difficulties
  • your story about ED/ illness/ pain interfering with sexual enjoyment and how you resolved it, if you did, and how you feel/felt about it.
  • physicians with special interest/expertise in senior sex
  • sexuality after major health challenge, such as heart surgery, cancer treatment
  • sexually active seniors living in countries other than the United States

I'd also like to receive questions that you hope this book will address, even if you don't wish to participate yourself.

Thank you!

Joan Price
Join us -- we're talking about ageless sexuality at

[Photo by Constance Cavallas, published with permission]