“The only alternative to getting older is—you guessed it, so stop watching from the sidelines and get in the game.”


Cryo_chamberLet’s face it—the only viable alternative to getting older is not one most of us are interested in. Yes, there’s that icy cryogenic thing, round veggiesbut other than megalomaniac nutjobs in the movies, who really wants to get stashed in a freezer with the baby peas and cauliflower? So you can be thawed fifty or a few thousand years later like a flash frozen ice age T-Rex and try to pick up where you left off before you decided to try life as a Popsicle? Not me. And I suspect not you.

So, what are you gonna do when getting older is the only game there is?

You are going to play as though your life depended on winning—because it does.

I’m about to dabble in a sports metaphor and those who know me well will fall out Einsteinlaughing, swear that I know as much about sports as I do about quantum quantum anglemechanics and wait for me to make a fool of myself. But I think the comparison is apt, so I shall plunge ahead, risking ridicule and derision and hope I do know enough about sports to fake my way through this.

Most athletic games are divided into periods—quarters, innings, sets or the like, which only theoretically correspond to actual time telling devices used by regular people because in sporting matches, they have Game-Clock-Frontthe miraculous ability to stop time.  In real life however, we have no such power and must let the clock run—minutes, hours, days, years flying by—whoosh! Never to be seen again. We have no pause, instant replay or measures of time that hang in the air endlessly awaiting our decision to restart the clock.

The game of life stays in progress and whether you are ready or nohalftimet, we have to keep on keepin’ on. In addition to the magical “stop action” that occurs in sporting contests, many games also grant the competitors the privilege of a half time. A break right in the middle of the game! It doesn’t matter who’s winning or who’s losing—
everyone gets an intermission. Yep. Just like that, the gift of a time out is yours without even asking for it! So no matter how the game is going half time offers an opportunity to regroup, change strategy, evaluate, assess strengths and weakness—yours and your opponent’s. Back in the locker room the coach uses pep talks, threats, prayers, shame, rants, praise–whatever is necessary for the team to either maintain the lead, or snatch victory from the wide open, hungry jaws of defeat. Half time is the chance for the game to begin anew. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if life could be the same way?

It can.

That’s what this time of your life is.

100th birthdayAlthough becoming a centenarian is more and more common these days, I accept that I’m pushing it when I say 50 is the half way mark in the game of life —but since our forties and fifties have long been considered “middle age”, there is plenty of precedent for this argument. So humor me, OK?

I used my late 40’s to assess what I liked and didn’t like about my life, to examine where I was, where I wanted to be, who and what I wanted to keep in my life, what needed to go and most importantly to decide how I wanted to approach living the next half of my life. At 50, I took myself a half-time and so should you.undo-features

We don’t have an undo button in life. What we’ve already done, the part of life we have lived already is past. But we certainly can make completely new kinds of choices going forward—you still have the have the rest of your life—however long that is.

You’re in the game.

It’s half-time.

You need a break.

Take one while you can.

half time ref



1) Draw a circle—one you will think of as an old fashioned analog clock—you know like the ones we learned to tell time on with the “big hand” and “little hand” before the digital revolution relegated time telling skills to the same “has-been” pile of memories as an abacus and gathering the family around a rotary dial phone to share a “long distance” call. Make your circle big, really big.


2) Then draw a vertical line through the middle as though it were six o’clock. Except I want you to think of six o’clock as 0—where your life began and twelve o’clock as 50.


3) Freely fill in (using any method you choose) the space between zero and fifty (six and twelve)—in other words, fill up the left side of the circle—with what you have done—the significant achievements and happenings that have taken place in your life thus far: school degrees, jobs, marriage, children, moves, even divorce and deaths. It may be pretty crowded or fairly empty—that depends of course on what you have done with the first half of your life.

Clock -fin

4) Then look at the wonder of the other half of the circle—the part that goes from 50 to zero (twelve to six). What you have is a huge blank space that you can fill in any way you choose. Using the experience you have gained through the grace of aging and consider carefully, thoughtfully, whimsically what you would like to see take the place of the empty space.   And remember—you are free to go outside of the lines!




Mirror mirror on the wall…

I watch the zillion makeover shows we are now being bombarded with on TV (How far are we from a Makeover Channel—all makeovers, all the time?) but instead of being frumpy 1simply amazed at the transformation, I’m astounded that Susie Schlub, in her sweats or mom jeans, oversize frumpy top (whether she is oversize or not) and sneakers didn’t do something before she was ambushed-or secretly submitted square-1438018472-cos-jeansas “deserving” (which means they’re tired of her looking like hell) by a well-meaning daughter or friend. I am  particularly intrigued by the programs that show Ms. Frump actually looking pretty fly at some point in her past. What happened?



I sit in front of the boob tube transfixed, not by the jaw dropping results, but by the fact that Susie before-and-after-bra-fittingdidn’t seem to notice that her boobs were taking a nice nap on her waist before the Makeover Magician showed her what a proper bra could do. Is poor tired, tragic, overworked Susie visually challenged? Does she live in a world without mirrors?  How could she not know that her hairstyle, which was probably only marginally fashionable in 1982 is hopelessly outdated in the 21st Century?

How could she not know that her sensible denim skirt isn’t appropriate for every occasion—heck – that it’s hardly appropriate for ANY occasion? Couldn’t see that shoes with run mirror 3over heels need a visit to the shoemaker or maybe just to be thrown out? Never mind the help available from fashion magazines, catalogs, stores, TV shows and movies. A plain old mirror—purchased at your local discount store and nailed on the inside of a closet door or even leaned against the wall— would have done the trick. Why oh why didn’t she see herself?

Then Susie Schlub is whisked off for some dazzling duds, a clever francesca-dress-purple-frontcoiffure and magic makeup. And in the reveal, Voila! We have the modern, refreshed, jazzy— Susie Sharp! We’ve all seen these memorable moments and old Suze looks great! Mostly not the Naomi or Giselle unrealistic/unattainable standard we’ve been taught to compare ourselves too, but so much cry 2better than before that she’s hardly recognizable to herself.  Then Susie breaks down and begins to weep—“I didn’t know I could look like this! Oh! Thank you. Thank you….”  Now we’re not talking plastic surgery makeovers here—maybe a little teeth whitening – but the rest is the easy stuff.

And I’m still sitting there shaking my head wondering why didn’t you do this sooner? What were you waiting for?

The more I watched the clearer the answer became. These women, young and old, fat and thin, tall and short, married and single all had one thing in common. They had given up. Some may have given up before they started, some after getting married, having children, retiring, becoming ill, losing a job, husband, parent—but to a one, they had each become resigned to the idea that how they looked no longer mattered–that cute didn’t count anymore.

Well, I’m here to tell you that’s a big ol’ crock of “*ish”. CUTE STILL COUNTS. I will say it pretty red dress girlanother way. CUTE ALWAYS COUNTS.  It counted when you were a baby and your Mom dolled you up. It counted at six when you got that new dress to wear for your birthday party or Easter Sunday. It counted when you were fourteen and hoped “he” noticed how cute you looked in your heather blue box pleated mini skirt and matching knee socks. It counted at twenty five when you were trying to maternityimpress them on the job. It counted when you planning to say “I do.”  It counted when you put on those awful, (pre-Liz Lange stylish maternity-wear) “hatching jackets” with the dumb, sweet Peter Pan collar and bow meant to conceal your baby bump. And CUTE COUNTS now too, you have just forgotten how much.

I will concede that I probably have a predisposition to Cute Counting I understand (because I was too young to remember- but there is photographic evidence) that when I was little, in the small southern town where I was born, I was “everybody’s baby” and was gifted accordingly. My mother, in order to make sure I had a chance to wear all the adorable clothes I was given, took to changing my outfits, from hair ribbons right down to socks, several times a day.So CUTE was a part of my agenda before I knew or had any control over it.  I admit, remnants of the changing clothes a few times a day thing are still a part of my life.

Even in the housedress hausfrau 1950’s, my mother always did her hair and wore lipstick Daddyevery single day. My dad, who worked in construction and dressed accordingly, had his Sunday and Friday/Saturday “Up the Street” suits, sports jackets and tuxedoes tailor made. As a girl, I remember going to Charlie Baker Clothier with him to look at fabric swatches and pick out buttons—because all of it mattered. Now back to my mom. In her early 80’s she brought quite unexpectedly to a halt by some fairly debilitating health issues. Even after months of being house or hospital bound—she rolled her hair every night and put on her good


robe for company because she never stopped being concerned about her appearance. Her first trip out was to the hairdresser. A few years later, when my sister went shopping and returned with a selection of dresses for Mom to choose from for an upcoming outdoor summer wedding— Mom hinted in a not so subtle aside, “and you know I think I’d also  like one of those long flowy peasant skirts everyone’s wearing this spring,” My sister got her a purple one.

So whether it’s nature or nature, my awareness of the idea that how you look affects how you feel, and how you feel affects how others see and treat you, is now so thoroughly ingrained that it no longer matters from whence it cometh.

What does matter is that you goeth out and get some CUTE. Do not let the dreaded closet doldrums—which creeps and chokes like kudzu—take over. Do not surrender. There’s help aplenty available.

So if you are still boxed in business suits leftover from our “I Am Woman Hear Me Roar/Dress for Success” days of the 70’s and 80’s, dressing up to go out to dinner in the same outfit you wore to the Mother’s Day luncheon at church, and your donning your fancy formal duds means a dowdy evening gown that screams “Queen Mum”,  or a repurposed Bridesmaid’s dress circa 1987 you drag from the back of the closet, you may not be totally lost, but your trail of breadcrumbs has definitely gone stale.


It’s time to get yourself back on the road to CUTE.

Get help if you need it. You go to the doctor, dentist, and hairdresser for their expertise don’t you? Every major department store has a personal shopper and it’s her job to help you find clothes that suit your body and your lifestyle requirements, whatever the size of your butt or your budget.

Contrary to what you may think, what you wear is not solely about vanity, it is largely about self-esteem. Back in the days when I used to commentate chubbette (plus-size) fashion shows for Hanes Fitting Pretty Pantyhose, in department stores around the country, I was not nearly as interested in what was on the runway as I was in convincing members of my audience that they could and should treat themselves as well as they did others—that being on the “stout” side— didn’t mean that unflattering clothing was somehow a just punishment for avoirdupois. It was a hard fought battle and I suspect this one may be too.

But I won much of the time—no actually the women in the audience won. They went into the dressing room and tried on something new and fashionable and more often than not, they walked out of that store with much more than a new outfit. They also had a new attitude.

Then it was fat frump I was fighting, now it’s age frump (and maybe fat frump too.) But do not let the unlined, uncellulited youth corps get you down. There’s a lot of clothing low-rise-jeansbetween teenage trashy—oops! I mean teenage trendy, and resignation retirement rags. No you can’t dress like your fifteen year old daughter or the twenty-three year old hostess at your favorite restaurant, but even without belly baring shirts (no navel piercing please) and low rise pants (I also suggest that you pass on the above-the-crack, tramp-stamp tattoo) BELIEVE ME, you can stay hot—or get hot for the first time!ambrosiadressblack-0374





Re-read this Lesson

Write “Cute Still Counts” 100 times.

Say “Cute Still Counts” 100 times—it’s now your mantra.

Go shopping!

Try on something you ordinarily wouldn’t. (Other than short shorts and a tee shirt that says “Jail Bait” in glitter.) THIS IS IMPORTANT!!

If you look cute, not shocking mind you, CUTE (that’s what the three-way mirror is for) BUY IT!







“They” say age is only a number. “I” say numbers are only a guide, not a rule to live by.


I look at numbers as representative of things that need to be measured, quantified or kept track of—like ages, sizes, grades, or as a way to keep count— miles, meals, husbands.

On the other hand I have a good friend who is a math-head, and according to him numbers are not only representative they are

Digital Universe
Digital Universe

definitive” or “exact”–even “beautiful,” the key to understanding the workings of the universe…”—he can go on and on about how sexy numbers are, and by then I’ve glazed over and started thinking about really important things like where we’re having dinner.

But one day when he started talking about types of numbers—Real, Imaginary, Complex, Prime, Negative, Positive, Rational, Irrational, Sublime —I perked up. Really! I did. In the midst of his treatise on the beauty of
mathematics, he had somehow managed to recapture my attention. I couldn’t believe it. Me interested in numbers that didn’t have to do with the balance in my checking account or whether a shoe was in my size? Yes! Because he was using adjectives I understood clearly. I even used them in my own ordinary, everyday, decidedly math-impaired language. Crisp descriptions, which, when added to a word, a phrase or a sentence, in just the right way could clarify content or intent—they spoke about expectation, probability and attitude. I was psyched. I realized that his numerical adjectives, when used around us mere mortals –those who do NOT do logarithms for fun number diagramand relaxation–not only told you what was there, they told you how to feel about it. Of course by now, I was no longer even listening to him. I was off on my own tangent because I could already see how his Real, Imaginary, Complex, Prime, Negative, Positive, Rational, Irrational, Sublime NUMBERS fit exactly what I thought about aging.

Age, like weight, IS what it IS. Lying about it does not change what it IS. Your fibs may fool some people, but you never fool yourself—unless you are a fool. But age can also be like size—you know how the sizes vary depending on where you shop or how much you spend? As much as we would like there to be some kind of agreed upon industry standard by which all clothing is measured, there is no such thing as a uniform “true size.” So the bottom line is that the size you wear, is the size that fits.  And thanks to people, mostly us boomers on a mission to defy the calendar, (and sell books) we can now have a variety of “measurable” ages. emotioanl-age-vs-chronological-ageThere’s Chronological Age (We know how this one works—count up from birth), Biological Age (Medical tests indicate how well or poorly our bodies are handling the passing of time), then we have Intellectual Age (Are we too old to be this dumb?) Emotional Age and Social Age (Are we mature? Do we play well with others?)

Those delineations may work for some people, and even though I have no clue what the words mean mathematically, I like my friend’s number theory terminology better.  Real Age, Imaginary Age,  Complex Age, Prime Age, Negative Age, Positive Age, Rational Age, Irrational Age and my personal favorite, Sublime Age.

So what’s a nifty fifty-something woman to do with so much to choose from? Well, that’s the beauty of this age theory—you get to pick. Isn’t that what we want? Some say in the matter? From back in the day when we were sitting-in, loving-in, marching, burning bras, controlling birth, renaming ourselves Ms—it was about making the choice ours. So here goes—


Real Age—OK it’s on your driver’s license and passport so you’re stuck there.

Imaginary Age—How would you like to feel? Look? Caution: Be realistic, eighteen is out of the running, but Emotional-Age-1200x1046if you feel thirty-five, so be it.

Complex Age—You are interesting, layered, multi-faceted—Way better than “Simple” wouldn’t you say?

Prime Age— Isn’t it always the best, most usda-prime-gradeexpensive cut of meat? Enough said.

Positive Age—YES. Because it’s all how you look at it, and by now, you are positively who you are.

Negative Age—It’s time to subtract the negative things (and people) in your life.

Rational Age— You are old enough to know better.

Irrational Age— You are old enough to know better

Sublime Age— Supreme, impressive, awe-inspiring. Yep. That’s you.





1) List 5 things about you that seem/feel/look/are younger than you are.

2) List 5 things about you that seem/feel/look/are older than you are.

3) List 5 things about you that seem/feel/look/are exactly right for your age.calculator_large

4) Now, add these, divide the total by the number of the month of your birth, subtract the day of your birth from that and multiply by the year…take the average of these numbers and… Just kidding.

5) Look at your list, pick 3 things you need to change in order to be your Sublime Age.

6) Change them. Throw the rest away.

7) If there’s nothing you want to change, STOP READING NOW.




“Stop worrying about being good enough. You are good. And you are enough.”



Congratulations! You’ve arrived at the place where it is time to take your inner critic off the clock.

I’m not talking about your inner Wise-Her—she tells you things you need to know, like you really should check the air pressure in your tires before you get on the road.  I’m talking about your Inner Harpy with her little negative barbs aimed squarely at your self-confidence.harpy Like the Harpies of mythology, she is fierce, bad-tempered and relentless. She’s the one who makes you wonder if you’re good enough. By now her nagging little voice has been whispering bits and pieces of self doubt into your psychic ear for decades, so long in fact, that at this juncture it seems like harmless white noise—you aren’t even aware of her presence any more. But she’s anything but harmless and she needs to go.  Now.

Your Inner Harpy probably uttered her barbie book bagfirst words back when you were a little girl and she was just a little Harpy in Training (H.I.T.). You hadn’t begun to “develop” yet—as they used to say, much less develop any anti-Harpy skills. So she went to work on your young, defenseless, happy little self. “How blue book bagcome you don’t have a Barbie book bag?” (Translation: The CUTE girls all have Barbie book bags while you have the practical blue one your mother insisted would last a couple of years.)  “Why don’t you have streamers on your bike?” (Translation: But even if you get streamers what if bike with streamersthey’re not the right color?)  b grade“Only a B in geography?” (Translation:  Not quite as smart as Melissa huh?)  “If you could jump higher you would have made the volleyball team.” (Translation: You’re too tall/short/fat/awkward— what ever gave you the idea you could be an athlete?)

And there you are, all of eight or nine years old and already the seeds of insecurity, of not being good enough are starting to germinate, and you don’t even know it.

The persistent little H.I.T. was good at her job and you weren’t trained to deflect her slings and arrows—so she grew stronger. By the time you were in your teens, traveling the harrowing hallways of high school, when the desire to fit in is at its most virulent, your Harpy really came into her own.PHI+hallway+lockers

You name the area of vulnerability and she found a way to attack you there. Her voice became insistent, shrill, unrelenting and far more direct than it had ever been before. Her words poked whatever spot was most tender and she reminded you in a non-stop barrage that you were not smart enough, pretty enough, tall enough, skinny enough, curvy enough, popular enough. Others were. You were not. It didn’t matter WHAT they were that you were not.  Whatever it was, they possessed, in abundance, all the qualities that you lacked.  Tsk. Tsk. How sad. Too bad for you.

comparison-fitnessAnd so the plague begins. Its most telling symptom is unconscious comparison—almost always to other women. We compare ourselves to our friends, sisters, mothers, cousins, co-workers, neighbors, strangers, bosses, movie stars, and sadly even to our daughters. Sometimes we know we’re doing it, but mostly we’re unaware of how many times a day we think of ourselves in terms of how we measure up to someone else, or someone else’s expectations. Those expectations are, more often than not, a presumption on our part—flawedbecause if we don’t think we’re good enough, how can anyone else possibly miss the bright flashing neon marquee on our forehead announcing our long list of shortcomings to all the world?  Believe me, despite the fact that it blinds YOU nearly every time you look at yourself, THEY don’t see it until you point it out. Why? Because they’re far too busy worrying if you are scrutinizing their list of personal inadequacies.

Now of course I’m not saying we’re all perfect—far from it. And I’m not advocating the “good enough for government work” standard here. Nor am I endorsing complacency or mediocrity as acceptable. We should all try to improve, to be the best we can be—to live the best lives we possibly can. But what that best is should not be determined by a comparison to an unfair and often impossible to achieve standard we have imposed on ourselves.

It’s time to stop being so self-critical. Give yourself some slack.i-am-enough

You know, or you should know, there will always be someone more beautiful, smarter, thinner, richer. And she may even appear more successful and happier, but so what? What she has or is, in no way adds to, or diminishes you. And you my friend, with your flaws, blemishes, frailties and peccadilloes are good enough.





1) The next time you go to the movies, buy yourself a BIG box of Good & Plenty. You remember the Day-Glo pink, and white candy from days of yore? ChooChoo Charlie and that train? They may even still sell it in stores, but the movies are probably a pretty good source.good and plenty


2) Put the Good & Plenty wherever you keep your vitamins and have one piece every day along with your multi-vitamin. Even if the black licorice flavor isn’t to your liking, eat it anyway. This isn’t candy, or dessert. It’s to remind you that not only are you good enough–you are good. AND you are enough.


3) If you’re not convinced when the box is finished. Buy another one.