White daisy in the rain

Growing in the Skin You’re In

Recently, I read about actress and model Pam Anderson’s bold choice to go makeup-free at a high-profile fashion event, embracing life in her 50s with a more unfiltered presence. In fact, she didn’t even bring a stylist with her.

The horror.

Kudos to her, because I’ve seen The Devil Wears Prada, so I’m assuming that’s a very judg-ey crowd.

I think she looks happy and youthful.

Like Pam, many of us reach a stage in life where the urge to conform or create a certain image becomes less pressing…and also pretty exhausting.

So we start questioning: Are we doing this for ourselves or for others?

It’s a valid question. And for a lot of us, it brings on a hopscotch journey of just trying to settle in and feel comfortable with where you are.

We call it “feeling comfortable in our own skin.”

And we do all kinds of things to try to achieve this feeling. We celebrate the things that seem to work, and rationalize away the things that don’t. (I’m not mocking, that is human nature.)

But let’s flip the narrative around a little bit.

What if you learned to embrace the discomfort of being in your own skin?

Walk with me here…

Reaching your 50s often brings a cocktail of discomforts.

  • Let’s be honest, once you enter midlife you find there are some things you didn’t know your body was doing for you until it stops doing those things.
  • Some relationships you thought were solid and healthy you realize through your own discomfort may not be what they seem.
  • Goals and dreams you had when you were younger suddenly don’t seem as achievable or appropriate now, and what are you supposed to do with that?

That’s all pretty uncomfortable.

We like to avoid the uncomfortable.

We want it to just go away so we don’t have to deal with it.

So we try to shoo away uncomfortable feelings with all kinds of potions, lotions, experiences and rationalizations.

But just because we avoid something doesn’t mean it goes away. If a telemarketer has your cell phone number, then you probably already know that.

The irony of avoidance in midlife is that you’re more capable of handling things than what you realize because you have seen and been through some real stuff. You’ve already proven you can handle discomfort.

You just have to give yourself permission to use it to pull the right levers.

Learning to Embrace Discomfort

Keep walking with me here.

So, what does embracing discomfort look like?

I’m not talking about wallowing in your pain, throwing your hands up all like, “What’s the point? I guess I’ll just feel bad forever.”

Put down the diary, Bridget Jones.

Embracing discomfort is about accepting where you are, shifting your perspective and looking for what you still have yet to learn.

This is where you get the confidence to pull the aforementioned levers.

For example, let’s talk about wrinkles. I see changes in my face that I am sometimes uncomfortable with, partly because I know it’s not really going to get better.

Fact: If the timeline is moving, I am aging. We all are. (I’m a real hoot at parties.)

Now, I can do things to take care of my skin that will take the edge off a bit (hence my 9-step AM & PM skin care routines), but the reality is, if I live long enough, I absolutely will have wrinkles.

I could sit with that discomfort and worry about what I will one day look like, especially compared to women years younger than me.

Or, I can use that discomfort to remind myself of a few things. Each wrinkle means:

  • I am being blessed with long life on this earth with my family. Not everyone gets this opportunity.
  • I have had more time to keep working towards my own goals, or helping other people with their goals, people I wouldn’t be able to help if I’m not here.
  • I found humor in more than a few things.
  • I have the capacity to empathize.
  • I still manage to be surprised by life (this is how I explain the forehead lines, what else could it be?).

The wrinkles then become less about my image in the world, or to “look good for my age” and more about marking the time that I have already had to invest in others.

Knowing that, can I take actions to continue to invest in others and see where that goes?

How does this relate to feeling comfortable in your own skin?

Let’s keep walking, walking.

Identify Who You Want to Be

The key to navigating this phase is getting clarity about who you want to be. This is harder than you might think.

Ironically, you may be able to aggressively list all the things you don’t want to be. We’ve allowed our media and social environments to condition us to always focus on the things that we’re not.

  • I want to not be so anxious.
  • I want to stop being unhappy.
  • I want to stop feeling so tired.

But if I ask you, who do you want to be?

It might take you a hot minute to come up with even just a couple of things.

  • What kind of person do you want to be?
  • What kind of legacy do you want to leave for your family? Your friends? Your community?
  • What are your values, those overarching themes in your life that you are always working towards?

Get Moving and Keep Moving

Once you start learning what kind of person you want to be, begin taking actions in that direction.

Every decision that comes your way will either take you towards that person, or away from that person.

Decide accordingly.

Take real actions every day that will actually move the proverbial needle.

I’m not talking about busy work, planning and spreadsheets and whatnot (shout out to my fellow procrastinating perfectionists).

This is pull-the-lever, step-out-on-the-Indiana-Jones-invisible-bridge kind of action.

This one thing keeps most of us from what we want.

We are afraid to use the very discomfort we are trying to avoid to actually get us moving, even in small ways.

Action begets more action.

Once you get something moving, that energy doesn’t just stop. It has to go somewhere else. Use it to take the next step.

And guess what?

When you start taking real action, you don’t have a whole lot of time to worry about how you look, how awkward you feel, that stupid thing you said, and other defeating narratives.

You are doing stuff that matters to you, and you don’t want it to stop.

Case in point, this whole post was an action towards my larger value of helping others learn the skills to get what they want from life.

It won’t go viral or start a movement. But my discomfort with feeling like I’m not where I want to be with my writing goals spurred me to act, because actual writing will take me closer to my writing goals.

The wrinkle in time

This is all less about becoming more comfortable in your own skin, and more about being comfortable with the person you’re becoming.

True beauty and joy comes from a willingness to engage what may not be working for you so you can grow and change. It doesn’t come from arriving at some predetermined destination everyone else is headed towards.

Seeing your lifelong values actually start to unfold is pretty great because it means you’re actually doing what is most important to you.

Makeup is optional.

Old dog laying in the grass

What an Old Dog Taught Me About Fear

A few years ago, my husband and son were away on a summer trip with our church youth group. I love my family, but I am still very much an only child.

I love having uninterrupted time at my behest so I relished having a few days alone in the house. There’s a lot of coffee drinking and reading. It’s a raucous time, I can assure you.

Typically I don’t get too concerned about intruders. The neighborhood we were living in at the time was safe, and the fear of someone on my property really didn’t occur to me too much.

My first night alone I couldn’t wait to settle in and get some sleep. That particular day at work had been a busy one, and I had a lot on my mind as I was trying to drift off to sleep…

BLAM! BLAM! A loud banging noise at the back of the house had me sitting straight up in bed.

I thought maybe it was one of those weird dream-like states, where you hear a loud, banging noise and then wake up.


Nope, I thought to myself. That was definitely real.

Cue the fight or flight syndrome.

My palms got all sweaty, my ears got all whistle-y, and my heart started thumping right out of my chest like a Pepé Le Pew cartoon.

Somebody’s definitely trying to break in, I thought.  I fumbled around for my glasses on the nightstand, grabbed my cell phone and dialed 911.

I tried to stay calm as I explained to the dispatcher that I heard a noise at the back of my house a couple of different times. I’ve never heard any noises there before, I told her, certainly not one so loud.

BLAM! BLAM! There it was again, oh crap!

She assured me someone was on their way and stayed on the phone with me until I heard a knock at the door.

I opened the door to see one of our local sheriff’s deputies, looking very relaxed and chill. He got some information from me and went around to the back of the house to check things out.

In what couldn’t have been more than two minutes later, he emerged right back to the front door with the perpetrator in tow… an old dog who had apparently settled in for the night next to my back door.

I guess he was having trouble sleeping, too, because his tail wagged every time something got his attention in my backyard.

Hence, the BLAM! BLAM!

Cue the embarrassing face palm.

While my story turned out not to be this week’s true-crime thriller, my physiological response was unmistakably real.

I felt fear, and my body knew it.

In this case, my reaction was appropriate because I thought I was in real danger. From an old dog.

But what about the fears that don’t come from a predator or a true feeling of danger, things like a tricky conversation with your boss, or a leap into a new life chapter?

What Is Fear, Really?

Fear is our body’s natural response to a perceived threat. It’s a survival mechanism that protects us from danger. When we sense a threat, our brain sends signals to our body to prepare us to either fight, flee, or freeze.

When I felt my heart racing, and my palms getting clammy that was my body trying to give my muscles the oxygen and nourishment they needed to take action. You know, because picking up a cell phone is really taxing lol.

But you get the idea.

Our bodies are wired for those kinds of responses to keep us safe.

But we also run into other fears through things like negative associations, conditioning or trauma. These are responses that we learn as we participate in our families of origin, or have experiences that we’re not equipped to handle.

If you’ve ever been bitten by a dog, you might develop a fear of dogs. Or if you’ve had a bad experience while flying, you might develop a fear of flying.

These fears are not innate but we learn them through negative associations. The brain is excellent at making connections, and once it links a specific situation or object with danger, it’s hard to break that association.

The modern workplace can sometimes feel like a minefield of stress triggers.

An email marked “urgent,” a last-minute meeting request from your boss, or even a colleague’s offhand comment can send your heart racing.

But are these situations truly life-threatening? Hardly.

Yet, your body can react as if they are, kicking into high gear with a fight or flight response that feels as real as if you’re facing a wild animal.

So, how do you tell the difference between legitimate danger and a false alarm?

Understand the Signals

First, let’s get in tune with what your body is telling you. When you’re in true danger, the fight or flight response is invaluable.

But in the office? Not so much.

If you notice your heart racing, palms sweating, or a knot forming in your stomach during work stressors, acknowledge these signals for what they are: false alarms.

Your body is trying to tell you that something is bothering you.

Take a Step Back

I can’t stress this one enough: Before responding to the stressor, give yourself a moment to step back for a minute.

Excuse yourself from the situation for a few minutes (ladies rooms are great for this).

Take a few deep breaths and assess the situation.

Ask yourself, “Is this threat real, or is it a learned response?”

Just like my late-night canine visitor, is the threat really just an old, harmless dog rather than a criminal perpetrator?

Reframe Your Thoughts

The stories you tell yourself about your experiences is often what makes a situation seem scarier than it really is.

To reframe your thoughts, start by acknowledging your initial reaction without judgment. Recognize that while your emotions are valid, they are not always accurate reflections of reality.

Then, consciously choose a new narrative to work from.

  • Identify the Negative Thought: Become aware of the specific thoughts that are contributing to your fear response. Is it a general sense of doom, a worry about personal inadequacy, or a prediction of a worst-case scenario? Get to know exactly what kind of negative thought you’re dealing with.
  • Challenge Its Validity: Ask yourself, “Is this thought based on facts or on my interpretation of the situation? Is there evidence to support this thought, or is it an assumption?” In many cases, you’ll find you are quite the master at making assumptions.
  • Look for Alternative Explanations: Could there be another way to view this situation? It doesn’t even have to be an explanation grounded in reality, literally anything will do. Aliens, gremlins, or other unexplainable phenomena are better than assuming the worst.
  • Focus on What You Can Control: Shift your attention to actions and aspects within your control. What steps can you take right now to manage the situation? By focusing on action, you move from feeling victimized by the situation to being the one in charge of it.
  • Adopt an Attitude of Growth: View the stressor as an opportunity for learning or personal development. Think, “What can this situation teach me?” Look at the situation in terms of a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset.
  • Visualize Success: Instead of imagining the worst, picture yourself navigating the conversation with your boss with ease, or managing the project efficiently. This positive visualization can change your mindset and reduce anxiety. Studies show that when you visualize something in your mind, your brain doesn’t know the difference. It actually thinks you’re there on the podium getting that Olympic gold medal in the sport of talking to your boss.
  • Affirm Your Abilities: Remind yourself of your strengths and past successes. Think about times when you’ve handled similar situations well. No doubt there are many to draw from. Affirmations such as, “I am resilient and can adapt to challenges,” can reinforce a positive self-concept.

By reshaping your narrative, you not only change your perception of the stressor but also empower yourself to respond in a healthier, more effective way.

And every time you do that, it gets a little easier to do it next time.

And if you keep doing that, you might just develop a new habit.

Great job!

Now just keep doing that!

Woman holding two lipsticks

Avoid the Overthinking Trap and Make Faster Decisions

Remember the last time you stood in the makeup aisle, just staring at those hundred shades and brands of lipstick, wondering which one to buy?

And then, after a gazillion minutes, you walked out of the store without buying any because you couldn’t decide between two slightly different shades of red?

Welcome to the world of analysis paralysis

You know, it’s that point where you’re so tangled up in all the variables and consequences of a particular decision that you can’t even remember what you were looking for in the first place.

To be fair, there are way too many lip color options now: highly pigmented colors, sheer options, long-wearing options, moisturizing ones, shimmers, high-gloss ones … sheesh. There goes the afternoon.

If the decision isn’t super clear and obvious, it’s easy to just shut down and kick the lipstick tube down the road for another day.

So how do you make decisions (cosmetic and non-cosmetic) without getting trapped in overthinking?

Why Do We Get Stuck?

So, why does this happen? Why do our once-decisive selves now find it daunting to choose a dress for the party, or decide on a vacation spot, or even pick a new hobby?

Well, with age (and hey, a lot of wisdom 😉), comes the understanding of consequences. We’ve seen the highs and lows life can bring, and that experience can sometimes make us overly cautious.

We end up seeking perfection in our choices, and trying to avoid any potential pitfalls.

The Beauty of Tiny Steps

Here’s the deali-o: No decision is ever going to be 100% perfect.

And while considering possible outcomes is always prudent and wise, over-analyzing can stop you in your tracks.


I’ve found that in many cases analysis paralysis sets in because you are trying to solve the whole thing all at one time.

I believe math people call it “solving for x.” A website called “Math is Fun” (it most certainly is not 😀 )  describes it this way:

A Solution is a value we can put in place of a variable (such as x) that makes the equation true.”

So you’re walking around trying to solve big problems by finding one big solution that will just make it a one and done.

And when that big solution doesn’t materialize in your time frame, you start second guessing your ability to solve your own problems.

What if, instead of trying to solve the whole enchilada, you took baby steps?

When you take small, experimental steps, you gather real-time data. It’s no longer about all the things that might happen; it’s about what’s actually happening.

This feedback, whether it turns out to be positive or negative, provides a clearer direction for your next move.

It’s like trying out a fitness class before committing to a membership.

Break Free from the Analysis Paralysis Cycle

So, how can you start taking these steps, especially when your mind is swirling with a million “what ifs”?

  1. Embrace the Power of Now: Instead of pondering and wondering endlessly, give yourself a set amount of time. For example, if you’re deciding on a new hobby, research for two days and then take a trial class by day three. Limiting decision time pushes you into action.
  2. Acknowledge That Mistakes are Okay: Look, we’ve all been there. Worn a disastrous hair color, chosen a less-than-stellar vacation spot. But didn’t we also laugh about it later? Life’s too short for perfection. Embrace the missteps as they come; they often lead to the most delightful stories!
  3. List It Out: When in doubt, write it out. Jot down the pros and cons. But take it to another level: also write down the worst-case scenario for each choice. Most of the time, you’ll realize the worst isn’t that bad, or if it does happen, you have the ability to get through it.
  4. Talk to a Friend: Sometimes, all you need is a chat with somebody else outside your head. They can provide a fresh perspective or simply be the sounding board you need.
  5. Remember, Not Deciding is Also a Decision: And often, it’s a decision that leaves you in a standstill. So, while you’re waiting for the “perfect” moment, you might be missing out on several pretty awesome ones. So just, you know, do it.

Kickstart Your Decision-Making Mojo

Here are some of those baby steps to get you moving when you’re skating through the peanut butter of indecision:

  1. Start Small: Have a minor decision to make? Practice with that. Maybe it’s trying a new recipe or picking out a book. The point? Get used to what it feels like to decide and act quickly.
  2. Set Decision Deadlines: Set aside specific times for reflection and decision-making. Once the deadline is up, make your choice, take a deep breath and roll with it.
  3. Celebrate Your Decisions: Yes, even the not-so-great ones. Every choice is a learning experience. Cherish it!
  4. Journal Your Journey: Documenting your decisions and their outcomes can be enlightening. Over time, you’ll notice patterns, helping you make better-informed choices in the future. Trust me, this is really powerful!
  5. Stay Curious: Adopt a learner’s mindset. Be open to outcomes, whatever they might be. Cliche, I know, but sometimes the journey is more enlightening than the destination.

Each decision, whether big or small, is a stepping stone towards growth, experience, and understanding.

So, the next time you find yourself stuck between two shades of lipstick or a more profound life choice, take a deep breath, gather your thoughts, and then just take a small leap.

It’s not about the outcome but your commitment to take action, any action, that counts.

You’ve got the wisdom and experience to face whatever comes next. Embrace it!

Broken skincare bottle

My Skincare Saga: What a Broken Bottle Taught Me About Value

Like many of you, I love trying out new skincare products. Especially those that come with rave reviews.

I recently ordered one such item from a great brand on Amazon. A skincare influencer I follow recommended this product, and I was eager to make it part of my regular 9-step AM & PM skin care routine (okay, it’s not quite 9 steps but let’s just say my Gen X skin has me super committed to my process). 🙂

This product was pictured in a lovely brown glass bottle, with all the trappings of elegance and effectiveness. And a pretty decent price, too.

When Elegance Meets Envelope

Picture my surprise (and not the good kind) when the package arrived and I found the bottle crushed, its contents spilled all over my other purchases. They had packed it in a small, lightly padded envelope inside a larger padded envelope.

No box. No extra bubble wrap. A glass bottle.

The image above gives you a glimpse of the mess (I’ve hidden the brand name, as I’m not trying to tarnish their reputation—I did receive a friction-free refund from Amazon, after all).

Disappointment doesn’t even begin to cover it. And yes, while Amazon promptly issued a refund, I felt compelled to write to the seller on their website.

My intent? To let them know about the inadequate packaging.

Were they aware that Amazon was sending the product out this way? I used to own an online shopping store, and when customers reached out to show me damaged items or packaging, I at least appreciated the opportunity to see how I could avoid that in the future.

Broken Bottle, Broken Connection

This brand’s response, while fairly prompt, lacked a fundamental human touch. Two things stood out:

  • A Missing Apology: It wasn’t their goof, I get it. But at no point did they express regret for the mishap, or even acknowledge the fact that in my email I had let them know I’d been looking forward to trying their product. The “Great Crushing” had left me disappointed …er… crushed, that I hadn’t been able to make that product step #10 in my routine. It felt like they missed a beat in connecting with me, a potential repeat customer.
  • Defending Without Empathy: Their email went on to justify their packaging choice, highlighting that out of half a million shipments, only a handful had met the same fate as mine. They explained that better packaging would increase costs, which, of course, would make the product more expensive. I couldn’t help but think, “Sooooo, I’m just one of the unlucky few, then?”

Imagine if they had simply acknowledged my disappointment and offered a gesture, like sending a free bottle, or at least a coupon. At a minimum that would have demonstrated their ability to get the product to me intact, just like the other 499,999+ customers.

I’m not trying to sound entitled because after my refund, quite frankly, they don’t owe me anything at all.

I understand that.

But that $20 bottle could have converted me into a loyal customer. I would be using it twice a day forever, you know?

Golden Age of Gas and Greetings

This experience got me thinking, especially about how service seems to be dwindling in many areas of our lives. We all like to complain about that now, don’t we?

Full-service gas stations were still a thing when I was a kid. So that’s my point of reference.

Just think about the last time you visited a fast-food restaurant. Have you noticed how often they get your order wrong? Or how the person at the counter is more engrossed in their phone than in ensuring you have a pleasant experience?

We exchange our time, energy, and hard-earned money for these services and products, yet more often than not, we’re now met with a mediocre experience.

And on some level, we’ve learned to be okay with that because… labor shortage, or disengaged employees, or just … reasons.

Obviously, this is not just about a bottle of skincare. And it’s not even about great customer service.

This was about me recognizing the value of my time and energy. At the end of the day, this was a $20 item, and, yes, I could have just re-ordered it and called it a day.

But I had to ask myself, is this the experience I really want?

Do I value my time and energy enough to keep looking for a skincare product that isn’t just effective, but is backed by a brand that honors the decisions I make with my wallet and attention?

Claiming Your Worth in a Checkout World

What are the things in your life that you’re just putting up with because it’s convenient and comfortable?

Where are you accepting the “lowest common denominator” instead of seeking what truly honors your worth and value?

Sometimes, to get what you truly desire, you have to be willing to say no to things that don’t represent what matters most to you.

You may have to give up convenience or cost, but in the end, aren’t you worth that?

Blue sneakers with a yellow arrow facing right.

Bust Out of the Expected Life Script and Embrace Your Dreams

Do you feel like you’re supposed to follow a specific timeline? We bolted out of high school with all kinds of latch-key-kid bravado, and even though we wanted to pursue our own specific gifts and talents in our very own special way, there was still kind of this prescribed road we all tried to follow.

College, grad school, start a career, get married, have kids, work for a few decades, retire.

It’s as if we expected our lives to follow a neat, orderly path, one milestone conveniently leading to the next.

As if.

But let’s really look at that for a minute.

Life is unpredictable, and after 2020 I think that’s a major understatement. Life is clearly a series of twists, turns, and surprise plot points when we least expect them. It’s hardly ever a neat and tidy journey from Point A to Point B.

So why do we keep expecting it to be that way?

I came out of college with an undergraduate degree in English Literature and no idea how I was going to use it (no teaching for me, please). I went from advertising to administrative work and back again. A few years later a new thing called the Internet took me down the yellow brick road to web design, of all things, which brought me into corporate marketing and communications.

The high-stress environments I always seemed to find myself in parlayed into yet another career as a mental health therapist. I was the office therapist before I became a therapist with an office. Poetic, right?

I went from William Shakespeare to Carl Jung in a span of about 25 years (with a little Frasier thrown in just for laughs). I couldn’t have predicted any of it, and it’s been really cool. And on top of my professional journey to Oz, I am a grandmother, which is the best role I could ever have, hands down.

But I still sometimes carry around the nagging feeling that I should be in a certain place “by now.” I can’t even really tell you what that place is, it’s just an echo of some kind of societal map that no one bothered to unfold for me. Even though no one drew any particular timeline for me, I still feel like I should be hitting some kind of arbitrary markers in this “time of my life.”

It’s like a weird Gen X FOMO.

Why do we to place ourselves (and let others place us) in these timeline boxes? Who made these rules anyway? Here’s a better question: Why don’t we break these rules more often?

The Myth of the “Right” Timeline

We’ve all been sold a myth – that there’s a “right” timeline for achieving our dreams and goals. It can feel like there’s an invisible stopwatch clicking away, setting deadlines for when we should have accomplished our biggest life goals.

Even if others don’t put that kind of pressure on you, my guess is that you’ve become pretty adept at putting that pressure on yourself. You probably did that in your 30s, too, and created all kinds of angst for yourself. Good timesl

Speaking to my high performers, overthinkers and all points in between here: Your timeline is YOURS. It doesn’t belong to society, to your family, or to anyone else.

It’s your journey, your pace, your dreams.

Embracing your unique journey means ditching these arbitrary timelines and pursuing whatever’s rolling around in your heart, regardless of your age or life stage.

Want to start a business in your 40s, 50s, or 60s? Do it! Who knows what you might create for yourself, your family, and the world around you? You may end up having so much fun that worrying about retirement might not be so top of mind anymore.

Thinking about switching careers, or even going back to school? It’s always a good time to invest even more in your own skills and talents. As awesome as you are right now, maybe you haven’t even lived up to your professional potential yet. Can you imagine?

So what if it looks to everyone else like you’re starting over. Nothing is ever wasted and every experience matters.

The younger folk don’t own the energy and focus to accomplish big goals. They’re determined by your passion, drive, and willingness to work towards them. And being in this “time of your life” means you know where a lot of the potholes are so that makes you an even smarter bet to win.

Have the time of your life

Don’t be afraid to listen to that inner voice that’s whispering about what still feels unfinished in your life. Don’t drown it out because it doesn’t align with some timeline given to us by popular society.

Ditching society’s timeline means you’re brave enough to follow your dreams at your own pace.

So, what are you waiting for?