Happier Grey Podcast

Episode 14 - With Sally How

June 21, 2024 Helen Johnson Season 1 Episode 14
Episode 14 - With Sally How
Happier Grey Podcast
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Happier Grey Podcast
Episode 14 - With Sally How
Jun 21, 2024 Season 1 Episode 14
Helen Johnson

In this episode I'm chatting to Sally How, so much has happened to her in the last few years. It's great the hear how she's emerging from them feeling positive and more like herself. Going grey was one of the elements of her reivention.

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode I'm chatting to Sally How, so much has happened to her in the last few years. It's great the hear how she's emerging from them feeling positive and more like herself. Going grey was one of the elements of her reivention.

Happier Grey Podcast with Sally How

Helen: Hello and thanks for joining me, Helen Johnson, for the Happier Grey podcast. I'm pro-ageing and love my grey hair, but I know it can be quite intimidating to take the plunge, so each week I'll be chatting to other women who've chosen to embrace the grey in the hope of inspiring and supporting you, whether you already have silver hair, in the process of going grey, or just considering ditching the dye.

This morning I'm joined by Sally Howe. She's the queen of joy and a bespoke jeweller. She helps creatives unleash more joy, creativity, and balance so that they can become more productive, successful, and have freedom in their business and their lives. Good morning, Sally.

Sally: Hello, lovely to be here.

Helen: How are you today?

Sally: I'm really, really good. Thank you. Yes.

Helen: Cool. Well, you're looking lovely with your grey hair. The first thing that I'm going to ask you is when did you decide to go grey? 

Sally: I've been thinking about it for a long time, but I never really had the confidence to actually do the thing. So, I've been covering up since I was probably about 30 because I went grey quite young. Then I think in 2023, early on, I just decided, do you know what I'm done with covering up, spending the time making myself look how everybody else expects me to look. 

And I just thought, do you know what? I'm just going to go with it. I'm just going to unleash the grey. And, if I don't like it, I can always go back. And, actually something really funny happened. It made me feel like, okay, this is me showing up as me.

And it kind of gave me the permission just to be more authentic, more raw, more real. And I really just stopped doing many other things as well at that time. I'd had a period of, many, many, many bereavements. I'd lost, lost seven, seven family members, seven friends and ex-colleagues and students and like, over seven years, so, it was all the sevens. And I just felt so broken, so low, I just thought, do you know what, I need to fix something. I need to make some changes in my life and I just need to just be who I am and not worry about what anybody else is thinking about me. 

I literally just thought I'm doing this. So, we went to my hairdressers and I think they thought I was a bit bonkers. They were like, okay, are you sure? And I thought, oh, do you know what? Yes, I'm gonna do it. I can always change back. So, I did, and since then I've just felt like I found me.

Helen: Okay, well, that's a very dramatic story. I think quite a lot of people I speak to, it's part of a wider transformation when they make the decision.

Sally: It really is. It is such a transformation. I mean, the new me and the old me, I can hardly recognize the old me. And I look at pictures of me and I just look really glum. And I think, do you know what? I'm just embracing the changes. I mean, I've had the menopause from hell. I had all these things going on and I literally was pretty broken.

And I just thought, you know what? This is not a life I want. I want to create something that I'm literally looking forward to, something I'm going to enjoy, which is where the joy came from. I just literally started, they're called glimmers. So, looking for something in your day that is good.

And first of all, they were really hard to find. And I just thought, you know what, I'm just going to keep looking for these glimmers. And I found a few and I kept making myself go outside in the garden and just think the nature, that's what pulled me through. I was looking around at all the things in the garden, it was like really bleak, it was really cold, and I just thought, you know what, there are still all of these things about to go into bud and to bloom and all the different things that are just under the surface.

And I kind of thought, well, that's just how I feel. I just need to find who I am and just be me.

Helen: Okay. So, in that sense, you and I are similar, in that, I went grey when I left the corporate world. 

Sally: Okay, that makes a lot of sense.

Helen: And I'd kind of been having the bleach blonde hair as part of the corporate uniform.

Sally: Yeah, that makes sense too.

Helen: Really thinking about it, but now when I look back, it's like, yeah, it's kind of like shedding a skin. 

Sally: Definitely, yeah. Like, I do feel much more chameleon like now because like the grey, I kind of can go with any colour combination. And before I felt limited by my colour palette, and I had my colours done and everything. And now I'm just like, you can see me today I'm wearing bright pink with a blue necklace. And I can wear gold, I can wear silver, it's like, it really does not matter what I wear.

And I can just switch it up, change whatever I feel like, and if I need a bit more energy, I'll put a really bright colour on. If I fancy being a bit silly, I just put something like, really jazzy on and it really has like, unleashed my own creativity. And I can see the impact it's having on others now as well, which is so cool.

Helen: Okay. So do you find that you dress in a more colourful way

Sally: Definitely, yeah, I was one of those people that literally, I had a lot of black in my wardrobe and all the drab colours. I did sort of safe colours, and I'm still wearing some of them, but sometimes I'll put a scarf on with it. I did have loads of scarves in my wardrobe and things, but I just didn't really have the confidence to wear them and now I just don't actually care.

I just put them on anyway and I think, well, anybody that doesn't like what I'm wearing, that's their problem, not mine.

Helen: Okay, so it sounds a little bit like you were hiding behind your hair colour and your clothes.

Sally: I was hiding behind everything. I was really in fear of the world, really. It's like, I think I was just frightened to show up as me. And I know why it is now. Cause I've been through like grief trauma therapy and I've sort of discovered more to the issue. But, that's probably for another conversation.

 I sort of was frightened to show up as me and I just worried. I was a real people pleaser.

Helen: Can I take you right back can you remember when you found your first grey hair?

Sally: Oh, yeah, it was before I got married. It was like 25, 26. I think yeah, a long time ago.

Helen: And how did you feel about it at the time? 

Sally: I think, at the time you think oh my god, I’m going grey already it’s like yeah, it was not great, great feeling it’s like getting old a 25, that’s a bit, bit horrible. You don’t want to feel like you're getting old. And I think at such a young age.

Now I look at 25-year-olds and I think, just go with it. It's like, doesn't actually matter at all. And I think I even remember pulling some of them out, because I didn't want them to be there. I didn't want anybody to see them. It felt like something that should be covered up

Helen: Okay. 

Sally: I think adverts and the media expects you to be sort of slick and polished and show up as perfectly coiffured and like, you can see my hair today is like quite scruffy.

It's like, just as it is, I just go with what happens with it. And I'm not too precious really. I just think, well, do you know what, some days I have it straight, some days I have it like a bit wavy, a bit wild, some days I curl it if I feel like it, but I don't if I don't, you know, it's kind of whatever.

Helen: I do know mine's quite long, 

Sally: Yeah, yours is gorgeous.

Helen: And it's nearly always tied back. It's in a plait today because I've been doing yoga.

Sally: I'm very jealous that you can plait yours. Mine isn't quite that long. I've had it snipped a little bit recently, so it's like literally collar length. I do, put mine up in a bubble, and tie it, and do a few fun things scarves and things. And have a few clips, and it's like, I don't actually care anymore. It's about fun really, isn't it? 

If you take yourself too seriously, life's serious. It's like, there's gonna be things that are gonna happen that are bad, and you know what, I'm storing up all that joy, so that actually when those happen, I know that I've still got more joy to come, you know?

Helen: Yeah, yeah. Okay, can I ask you, what colour was your hair and what colour did you dye it when you started dyeing it? 

Sally: Okay, very interesting question. I had, I have had, all of my life, many, many different colours. So, I’ve been, I’ve had brown, that was the first. Just fairly brown, I went a bit blonde, I had it almost black. I’ve had green, pink, purple. I’ve had a red stripe down the front. It’s a bit purply now because I've used the colour toner. It's just, I leave it in a bit long almost on purpose, so that it just looks a little bit more colourful occasionally, but yeah, I've had lots of different colours.

Like I've been bright auburn. Yeah, bright red. It's like I've had all the different colours, but recently, I had it brown it was just like a deep sort of chocolatey brown. And my website pictures, they're still that, because I haven't had time to get a new set done, I need to do that at some point fairly soon.

Helen: So, when you came to grow it out, it was dark brown, as you said, how did you choose to grow it out? 

Sally: Okay, I chose to fade it out by going to the hairdressers and they actually gradually introduced a bit more of the grey, lower down, so it was a gradual transformation. I did grow the roots to nearly to the top of my glasses, and I just thought I can't do this on my own, I just thought I need to have a little bit of support with this.

I think it did seem quite hard, and I was probably on the point of thinking, oh I don't know whether do this or not do this and I need to get some advice. So, I went to my hairdressers and they were brilliant. They're absolutely fantastic. And they helped me make that transition without it looking quite so severe.

Cause it was a really dark Brown colour. It was quite contrast.

Helen: So, did you have several different sessions dyeing it gradually greyer?

Sally: Yeah, I did. I did. I'll be honest. Yeah. Yeah.

Helen: It’s really interesting to me to see what different people do.

Sally: Yeah. Yeah.

Helen: And did you keep the length then while that was happening?

Sally: I did keep the length while that was happening, and I've gone recently a bit shorter, but it was, at least two or three inches longer than it is now when I started the transition.

Helen: So well below your shoulders.

Sally: Yeah,

Helen: What did you do when you were actually growing out? Did you tie it back? Did you do things with it or did you just leave it?

Sally: I just left it at that point, and think it's only recent that I've started doing more with it.

Helen: Okay, but you were fairly comfortable with the process other than the very beginning when you had those first roots.

Sally: Yeah, I was even comfortable with it. But I just wanted to get there faster because once I could see that actually the grey that was coming out, I quite liked, the colour is quite silvery. It's not white yet but I think it will probably go white eventually when all the others go but I'm just going to leave it now to natural.

 I've not coloured this for months and months now, this is how it's going to be and it's just going to carry on like that.

Helen: Having coloured so long, I'm just wondering about what condition it was in before you chose to grow it out and what condition it's in now?

Sally: It was in good condition because I go to a really good hairdresser so it wasn't in a bad condition at all and it's still really great condition. It's not suffered at all from the colouring or anything. I think I've got a great hairdresser and they look after me.

Helen: Cool. What sort of shampoos and conditioners are you using and has that changed? 

Sally: I buy a conditioner and a shampoo from my hairdresser. And I’m still buying that and they’ve actually been quite good at just recommending what to have. I just buy what they recommend and I carry on using that. Although I have bought a, purple one, which I bought myself. It was Amika or something like that. I think I got it from TK Maxx. It was cheaper than normal, but it's quite a nice shampoo.

It's quite good. Cause it just gives it that, less brassy look. Cause I think sometimes it, goes a little bit brassy well, mine does anyway.

Helen: I think you can do that in the sun and also swimming, you can do that to it. Okay. So, I'm going to ask you in terms of life generally, what other changes have you made then since you've gone grey? 

Sally: Okay. There's a lot of changes. I have stopped drinking alcohol, I've been doing that for 10 months, so that's since going grey.

I have been drinking a lot more water. I have been watching what I eat. I've gone down from a size 20 back to my size 16 that I was, before I started to be so sad and to eat so much.

I have been exercising more. I do wild swimming and cold plunging. I've got a cold plunge pool out in my back garden that if I can't go wild swimming, I go into my cold plunge pool a few times a week, minimum. Every day when I can. 

Yeah, lots and lots of changes. So many things we could be talking for hours.

Helen: I'm guessing you're feeling healthier as a result.

Sally: Oh, my goodness, yes. I literally, I'm not wearing makeup on my face at all. I feel far more alive. I feel far more happy. Literally, I'm just a different person. I feel so much more. I've got loads more energy. I feel a lot more able to just rock up authentically, as I said. I feel like I've transformed my life and it's like, why did I leave it this long to do it? But at least I did it.

Helen: That’s just brilliant to hear. Okay, so, I'm going to ask you another question. Have you got any friends and family who've gone grey?

Sally: I have got some, yes. My husband's grey. My Mum is much more dark grey than me. She's much more salt and pepper. She's never ever dyed her hair. And I've got a few other friends that have got grey hair, but yeah, not so many of them. Most of them I think do dye hair.

Helen: Yeah. And how did they react when you told them you were going to go grey?

Sally: I didn't tell them. I just literally did it. I didn't actually want their opinions or their advice on it. I just thought I'm going to do it anyway. So, what's the point in asking? I don't need to ask permission from anybody. So, I just literally did it and said, I'm doing this thing. So, I did it.

Helen: And what sort of reaction have you had from people since?

Sally: Yeah, it's been really positive actually, people say they like it, and some people have said they think they might do theirs, and a few people have started doing theirs as well, so it feels like, just giving myself permission has given other people permission.

Helen: Okay, that's cool. I think it's one of the biggest concerns that people have before they go grey is that they're going to get a negative reaction from people.

Sally: It's made me feel like I'm embracing my age, and my knowledge, and my confidence now, because I never was confident at all. And I now feel like, okay, I'm rocking up as me. I'm okay with that. I'm good with that.

Helen: Which is a great place to be.

Sally: Absolutely. Yeah, I feel sad for the old me actually. And I wish I'd have known what I know now, then. So, my words of advice to myself as a young person would be just embrace what happens, and rock with it. You know, don't try and be who you're not going to be. And I remember agonizing over images of me and I didn't like it to ever be in a photograph.

I didn't like how it looked. I didn't want to be in the photographs, because I felt like anxious about how I, showed up really. I think I didn’t feel like I was good enough. I didn’t feel like perfect enough because if all the images we get in the media and everything, And how other people were expecting me to be.

And I think if I could tell my younger self, just take no notice of what you think everybody should be and do you.

I think, wow, what my life would have looked like now. I mean, I love my life, don't get me wrong, but I think the life I'm creating now is amazing. It's so much better than the life I was living.

Helen: Yeah.

Sally: So, I wish I had done it earlier, but you know what, you can’t go back, you can only go forwards. I'm just creating this incredible life now. With things that I'm looking forward to in my diary, I'm planning more, I'm putting more fun things in, I'm making time for me. And I think that all of those things just add up to a life worth living and a life with joy.

Helen: Yeah.

Sally: So, it's kind of just embracing the fact that I am who I am. You can't go back, you need to move forward, and just create something that you want to be in.

Helen: That's a fantastic attitude, loving that. So quick, final question for you then. If somebody came to you and said, I'm thinking about going grey, what advice would you give them or what would you say to them?

Sally: It really depends why you want to do it. But, if you want to do it, just do it. You can always dye it again. It’s like. But honestly, I think once you’ve gone to that place that you've, gone, you've embraced that colour, and grey's like actually a really pretty colour, that complements everything. So literally you don't worry about matching anything else to it.

It's like you wear what you like. Be who you like. And actually, you're only gonna be hiding into the background, if you're hiding into the background, so don't.

Helen: Okay, I think the other thing for me, as well as that your grey hair suits your skin tone at the stage that your skin is at.

Sally: Yeah, yeah.

Helen: It isn't just your hair that changes. Everything changes over time.

Sally: Yeah, definitely, and I think not wearing the makeup. I've realised that some of the makeup I was wearing made me look like a funny colour. I look at photographs and I think, what was I thinking? But you know what, you go down that route and you're covering up things like blemishes and spots and whatever, and you just think, do you know what?

Nobody's flawless. We're humans. We've all got flaws. Let's just embrace those and just be authentic. And actually, as you say, it is suiting where I'm at with my stage of life. And I'm happy with that. And I think actually, once you sort of get your head around that, it frees you to actually just care less, enjoy more.

I think it's unleashing my creativity more because I'm just not worrying how I show up in the world or what I do. I'm having fun.

Helen: Being you. 

Sally: Yep.

Helen: Cool. Well, I think that's sounds like a really good place to leave this because you're on a high in your life and that's brilliant.

Sally: Yeah, definitely. I mean, we've all got set number of hours in the day, and days in the year, and we've all got different numbers of days left, and we don't know how much we've got left, but we might as well enjoy what we've got.

Helen: Completely. Thanks so much for joining me, Sally. It's been lovely chatting to you and I'll wish you a happy weekend.

Sally: Thank you. And the same to you.

Helen: Cheers.

Thanks so much for joining me for this week's show. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have. I'll be back again next week, but in the meantime, you can follow me on Instagram at happier. grey. Have a great week.