Aging Openly and Other Awesome Side Effects of Going Gray

Cristina Acosta and Isabella Acosta Barna
Me with my daughter, Isabella

I call the short little inhaling gasp some people make when surprised the “in-suck”. I named it because I used to hear it so much. Consequently, the term needed a much shorter name than, “the short little……” blah, blah, blah.

Stay in shape; take good care of your skin and teeth; take your vitamins; wear contemporary styles; these are some of the usual tips for aging gracefully.

Do all of the above and you will most likely age beautifully, extending your “youthful” qualities several more years than you might expect. You’ll feel good and you’ll look good.

I’ve done all of that, continue to do that and highly recommend it. Feeling youthful is awesome. But I’m not young, I’m middle age, and there’s nothing like the reality check of the in-suck to remind me of that truth.

Here’s a typical example of the in-suck experience:  I’m at a concert, in my dance groove and having a great time. I feel a gentle tap on my backside. When I turn around, the cute 30-something guy behind me draws his hand back and gasps. One big in-suck.

Age is age, and eventually, if we’re lucky (and not dead), it catches up with us. So, I dealt with the in-suck for quite awhile, thinking of it as my own little reality-check. But those days are over.

The unexpected, positively awesome side effect of letting my hair grow gray naturally has been a complete exit of the in-suck from my life. No longer does a younger man tap on my backside and gasp in surprise when I turn around, a much older woman than he was expecting. My new gray hair is my emissary, gently announcing my middle age status from all directions and distances.

Who knew I’d be grateful for that, but I am. I swore I wouldn’t stop dying my hair until I was at least 70. But I’ve changed my mind. I am growing older and I’m in to it. The reinvention of middle age takes focus and creativity, and I don’t want to spend my energy trying to be something I used to be or am not. My gray roots had become distracting to me. I’ve opted for aging openly, it’s my new adventure.



  1. Clifford Kapono says:

    Youth is a fleeting elixir of life, leaving you intoxicated when young until you acquire a taste for its refinement then in that single moment like a fine wine, you age with a unique quality all of your own. On a past summer trip to California, I chose to visit the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana which I now think of as destiny. Among the visiting crowd of curious art admires on that lazy afternoon, I found myself admiring an extremely beautiful woman. I had no idea how old she was but I knew she was refined like a fine wine having captured my full attention. She didn’t dye her hair wearing instead steaks of grey painted soft swirls as if by choice that bordered her amazingly beautiful face and incredible stunning eyes. I watched her cautiously not be obvious while controlling my pent up excitement. As the visiting crowd moved from painting to painting stopping briefly to admire or read the descriptions of the art at hand, I watched her move with a natural inner grace. Her choice of colors for the blouse she wore accented the clean black lines her tailored fitted slacks cut against the museums sensuous light. And when she spoke, her voice was like a sweet summers song. She was definitely one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen and I was truly smitten. Realizing I could not let this moment flee without knowing her name, I walked up to her and introduced myself asking her name. She looked at me and my heart started pounding rapidly then with a radiant smile she said, “Cristina”.

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