What I Wish An Older Woman Had Told My Younger Self

Like most things do, it slowly snuck up on me.

There were a few warning signs, but I am not that observant.

I had noticed I wanted and needed more naps to stay alert, but I was just thinking naps were one of my best friends.

I had noticed I had less energy, but after all I am no spring chicken. I also reasoned I was also doing more. And I could still do hard things, like hike 14 miles on the continental divide in less than 7 hours.

I had noticed I seemed to be shedding a bit more hair. But I reasoned it was spring, and I usually shed more every spring.

9 things I would give as advice to my younger self. Everything from mental health to checking my iron and hormones, to setting boundaries and playing more.9 things I would give as advice to my younger self. Everything from mental health to checking my iron and hormones, to setting boundaries and playing more.9 things I would give as advice to my younger self. Everything from mental health to checking my iron and hormones, to setting boundaries and playing more.9 things I would give as advice to my younger self. Everything from mental health to checking my iron and hormones, to setting boundaries and playing more.2 weeks later I was getting my hair cut. At the end of the session my stylist pulled his stool up and sat down to face me.

“I am a little worried,” he said. “You are shedding more hair than normal. If I were you, I would get this checked out by a doctor. My mom was shedding lots of hair and it turned out to be her thyroid.”

I was now sitting up and listening.

I saw my doctor two days later. She ran some blood tests and it turned out my thyroid was fine, but I was low on iron. Very low. And yes, hair loss can be one of the symptoms of low iron. I was suffering from anemia, caused by low iron levels. Low energy, hair loss, and being sleepy and some of the symptoms.

Every few years I get blood work done, but because my doctor had never checked my iron, so it had slipped by unnoticed.

Thankfully, 4 months of taking a high dose of iron had my iron levels back on track. I noticed I had more energy and don’t need to take naps anymore.

Ladies, sometimes we are so busy taking care of everyone else, that we forget self-care—taking care of ourselves. We need to take care of ourselves, or we can’t take care of others.

I know life is busy. And getting to the doctor can seem like another chore in a long line of to-do’s, but we need to make it a priority. We need to buckle down and not let things slowly slide until we are having real big problems. 9 things I would give as advice to my younger self. Everything from mental health to checking my iron and hormones, to setting boundaries and playing more.9 things I would give as advice to my younger self. Everything from mental health to checking my iron and hormones, to setting boundaries and playing more.9 things I would give as advice to my younger self. Everything from mental health to checking my iron and hormones, to setting boundaries and playing more.

Here is what I wish an older woman had told my younger self:

 

1. Get baseline tests in your 30’s, but especially by your 40’s. Test your thyroid, vitamin D, iron, and hormones. Get a lipid profile to check cholesterol. Get pap smears. Don’t forget skin checks for moles and skin cancer.  Test for diabetes. Get your vision checked. Get a mammogram. Schedule regular dental check-ups. Don’t forget to have your blood pressure and heart health checked.

Also talk to your doctor about other tests you may need.

The goal is to see what your numbers are when you are healthy and feeling good. Then when you recheck later, you will know how far your levels have dropped or risen and you can take action before things get so low you are exhibiting many of the symptoms of something.

Some of these tests may cost a little out of pocket money, but remember they are to determine your baseline when healthy. For example, you want a baseline of your hormones before you enter menopause.

2. Address your mental health. Emotional and psychological issues creep back to the surface if they are ignored and not dealt with. This means we have to deal with past loses, abuse, trauma, unhealthy relationships, and more, or they will eventually affect our current life and patterns of acting and thinking.

This may mean talking to a close friend, seeing a therapist, seeking out a psychologist’s help. Several times in my life I have benefited from seeing psychologists. Both individually, as a couple, and as a family. They provide a new perspective and help us better understand our self and others. They can help us find new ways of dealing with patterns and obstacles we have given up on ever changing.

9 things I would give as advice to my younger self. Everything from mental health to checking my iron and hormones, to setting boundaries and playing more.3. Study yourself. Discover who you are and what brings you joy and sadness. Learn your faults and good traits. Are you a people pleaser, perfectionist, an optimist, encourager, problem solver, an introvert or night owl? We are better able to change for the better when we are aware of what we need to change. And likewise, we appreciate our wonderful and unique self if we know what we are good at and enjoy.

4. Exercise. I know it is hard. But walk a little. Dance in the kitchen. Garden. Do squats while the pasta is boiling. Run up the stairs. The goal is to move. And to move in different ways.

5. Form meaningful relationships. Make friendship a priority. Friends to do things with. Friends to share good and bad with. Friends that will listen to you and help when hard times hit.

6. Learn about menopause long before it hits. Read about it. Talk to older women. Discuss the symptoms and treatments. Find out all you can so you are prepared. It’s kinda like childbirth. Everyone’s experience is a little different, but there are enough commonalities that overlap that you won’t be the only one going through what you are experiencing.

9 things I would give as advice to my younger self. Everything from mental health to checking my iron and hormones, to setting boundaries and playing more.7. Engage in self-care. All the above is taking care of yourself. Now add a few other ways to care for yourself and nurture your soul. Like quiet time each day. Drinking your favorite tea. Reading. Calling a friend. Sleeping on your favorite sheets. Painting. A girl’s night out. Playing the flute. (As we are all different, your self-care will look different than other women’s self-care.)

8. Learn to love yourself. Realize your worth. Whose you are. And how valuable you are. Deal with your insecurities and critical voice. Replace lies with His truth. For when we are less hard on our self, we are less hard on those around us. And we are better able to love and care for others in the way they require or need.

9. Set boundaries. On your time, emotions, and life. Don’t let yourself get worn out by doing too much or by not saying no. Refuse to feel responsible for things you are not responsible for. Practice self-control.  Remember to control what you can and leave the rest in God’s control.

When we take care of our bodies physically, emotionally, and mentally, we are doing ourselves a favor, and those around us a favor. We will have more energy. Feel better. Enjoy life more. And be better at loving and serving those around us.

Let’s commit to doing this.

I’ll take care of myself.

You take care of yourself.

9 things I would give as advice to my younger self. Everything from mental health to checking my iron and hormones, to setting boundaries and playing more.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa

 


If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the Discussion: What do you wish your younger self had known ?

9 things I would give as advice to my younger self. Everything from mental health to checking my iron and hormones, to setting boundaries and playing more.May link up at Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

9 things I would give as advice to my younger self. Everything from mental health to checking my iron and hormones, to setting boundaries and playing more.9 things I would give as advice to my younger self. Everything from mental health to checking my iron and hormones, to setting boundaries and playing more. 

Stop Apologizing for Your Appearance

It was one of those days. Full of plans. Many didn’t get done. Some did.

I dressed in track shorts and a t-shirt, planning to change before my evening meet-up.

After waiting 45 minutes for my son to emerge from his after-school meeting, I shot home. In less than 40 minutes, I had whipped up dinner and threw it in the oven to bake. I wiped the sweet from my forehead and headed to an hour-long appointment just a few minutes away.

I was still wearing my track shorts and t-shirt. While I had debated changing into some cute clothes for the appointment, making dinner had won the coin toss.

In my mind all my plans worked out. I expected to return home, freshen up, change into a cute outfit, and meet my friend at Panera looking calm, cool, and much better than I had all day.

Well those were my plans. And if I had been listening, I might have heard life laughing at me.

I came out of my appointment, looked at my watch, and realized I was meeting my friend in 15 minutes. The hour I thought I had to primp and change, well I had forgotten to add an hour for the hour meeting. Oppps!

I had a choice. Meet my friend wearing my track shorts or go home, change, and be late. I choose the first, but I was disappointed.

I knew she would look cute and I would look . . . like I had been running all day.

I also had another choice to make. I could worry and fret and maybe beat myself up for my lack of time awareness and planning of my day, or I could go and enjoy the time together with my friend.

I choose the later.

And while I knew I shouldn’t make a big deal about it, or draw attention to my lack of outfit planning, still, before I could slap my hand over my mouth, I was telling her hi and apologizing for my outfit and saying I had planned to wear something cute. (Probably because she was looking so cute and I didn’t want her to think I wore this 24/7).

Why do women apologize so much about their appearance? We need to love and appreciate our bodies, not apologize about them and pick them apart.Why do women apologize so much about their appearance? We need to love and appreciate our bodies, not apologize about them and pick them apart.Why do women apologize so much about their appearance? We need to love and appreciate our bodies, not apologize about them and pick them apart.Why do women apologize so much about their appearance? We need to love and appreciate our bodies, not apologize about them and pick them apart.Ladies. Do you see what I was doing?

I was apologizing for my appearance.

And it wasn’t like I was standing there in my birthday suit. Or even needed to apologize. I hadn’t shown up at Panera Bread wearing something inappropriate.

But there I was apologizing for my appearance because I had planned to wear something different. My expectations were cute outfit. Reality was gym clothes.

Quite frankly, I was embarrassed and a little upset that my expectations hadn’t turned into reality.

Did I need to apologize for my appearance?

No.

And what did apologizing for my appearance do?

Well, it put all the attention on me, and my perceived deficit.

Instead of greeting her and making her feel cute, I was asking her to make me feel better about my perceived un-cuteness.

Of course, my friend did what any friend would do, she contradicted me and said I looked fine.

Ladies. Why do we do this?

Why do we apologize for our appearance?

Why do we pull the focus on us and then wait until our friends disagree with our concerns?

Why do we feel so insecure that when we don’t meet our expectations concerning our looks, we start apologizing?

Apologizing for something that doesn’t need to be apologized for.

Because the truth is, when we apologize for our looks, rarely is it necessary or called for.

Why do women apologize so much about their appearance? We need to love and appreciate our bodies, not apologize about them and pick them apart.

Quick Question?

 

Have you ever heard a guy apologize for his appearance?

“You’ll have to excuse the stubble on my face. I didn’t shave this morning.”

“These nails? I am embarrassed to leave home with them looking like this.”

“Can you believe my hair? It just won’t behave today.”

“This shirt? Well thanks, but I should have gotten rid of it years ago.”

“Sorry my muscles are so small, I quit working out last year.”

“Can you believe my thighs in that picture? I need to quit wearing shorts.”

No. Guys don’t apologize for their appearance, pick themselves apart, and put themselves down.

 

Why do women apologize for their appearance?

 

We were created to be beautiful. And we want to be beautiful.

We like it when people notice us.

Nothing wrong with that.

Maybe part of our problem is that we have these voices in our head.

The voice that tells us we are not enough. Beautiful enough. Skinny enough. Young enough.

The voice that keeps us from jumping into the family photos because we don’t look the way we want to.

The voice that tells us what society expects us to look like and how we are failing to conform to the airbrushed women in print form.

The voice that picks apart our body, as if it is made up of pieces.

The voice that compares us to other beautiful women in real life and on social media.

The voice that wants to be accepted and part of the in-crowd.

The voice that sounds like our mean step mother who is granting no good wishes on our behalf.

The voice that focuses more on our appearance than our personality or any other aspect of us.

On and on it goes.

These voices cause us shame. To not appreciate our body. To doubt our appearance.

They cause us to apologize for our appearance:

When we run to the grocery store and bump into our boss wearing our pajama bottoms and our husband’s tee-shirt.

When people try and herd us into photos.

When we don’t look as good as we think we should.

When we are disappointed with our looks.

We apologize quickly and often for our appearance.

Why do women apologize so much about their appearance? We need to love and appreciate our bodies, not apologize about them and pick them apart.

Picking apart our looks starts early.

 

I remember entering my teens and hanging out with the other girls my age in the dressing area of the lady’s room at church. One day some girl complained about her tummy. That she needed to lose some weight. We sympathized. Told her she looked good.

But it started something.

There became this unspoken rule that we were not supposed to come in and admire ourselves in the mirror and think of ourselves as pretty. No noticing our good points aloud. Instead, we were supposed to come in and notice what was wrong with us and our clothes.

Our crocked teeth. Our short eyelashes. Our dull hair. Our freckles. Our old skirt. Our too fuzzy sweater. Our unperfect toes. Our too thick thighs.

And the sad thing was that we were all skinny. All of us beautiful teens. But we wanted to fit in, so we bemoaned our waists and talked about diets when not a one of us needed one.

We will find what we look for.

 

If our definition of appearance is perfection, we will be disappointed all our life with our looks.

If our expectation for how we should look and the reality of our appearance don’t match, then we will be unhappy with our appearance.

If we are out to find the many faults with our bodies, then that is all we will notice.

But the opposite is also true.

If we don’t base our worth on our appearance or looks, or weight, or how many times we have exercised this week, then we will be more comfortable and satisfied with our self.

If we are flexible with our expectations concerning our appearance, we will be happier and more comfortable in our skin.

If we quit comparing our self with others, we can more appreciate our good points.

If we make a point to appreciate our bodies, we will be grateful for them and notice good than bad.

If we realize our specific deficits are considered desirable by others, or know that there are others who would love to have our body, then we can be kinder to our body.

If we look at our self more as a whole, instead of body parts that need fixing and sent to the shop for a tune-up, than we will be more positive with our appearance.

If we see our self through God’s eyes we will see we are good enough, and that his love is not based on our looks.

If we stop to see our self through the eyes of our family and friends, we will see our self in a new light.  Why do women apologize so much about their appearance? We need to love and appreciate our bodies, not apologize about them and pick them apart.

Seeing our self as others see us can change our need to apologize about our looks.

 

Do you know that others see you differently than you see yourself?

When you see a picture of your family or friends, do you automatically start picking it apart? “Oh look! Her eyes are closed and her smile it to big. Don’t even get me started on how her jeans are a season old. And if she would have turned sideways a little and pulled her tummy in and her shoulder back, well then she would have looked better.”

Of course, you don’t.

And when my friend saw me in Panera Bread, she didn’t think, “Oh look, Theresa came as slob of the week in her exercise clothes. What a fraud. I bet she didn’t even exercise today. Well I know what she thinks of me. Why she didn’t even have the courtesy to dress properly and show me some respect.”

Of course, she didn’t.

Even if I think or felt like she could have been thinking this, I know she didn’t.

See that voice that I may be attributing to her, is really my voice. Not hers.

She was just happy to see me and spend some time together.

Just like I would have been happy to see her and spend time together. No matter what she was wearing. Gym clothes or dress clothes.

And that is because we have a relationship. And that relationship is more important than what we wear or look like.

So, quit hearing your voice and overlaying it on your friend or family, and thinking it is their voice. Their perceptions.

Your kids don’t look at you and see your cocked nose and to big feet. No, they see their loving mother who hugs them and feeds them and takes care of them.

Your friends don’t notice your thighs and wrinkles, they see your good qualities and how you reach out to them, bring them a dinner in hard times, and how you make them laugh.

Your husband doesn’t see your graying hair and stretch marks, he sees you as his companion. He sees your kindness and hard work radiating from your strong hands and gentle heart. He sees you as the person he couldn’t live without and who completed him.

So, do yourself a favor.

Quit badmouthing the picture others have of you in their mind.

Quit making them uncomfortable by listing what is wrong with you today in the department of your looks.

Quit apologizing for things they don’t see in you.

Instead, start seeing yourself through the eyes of those who love you. Because this is a more realistic picture of yourself. Not the one in your mind.

And while you are at it. Stop apologizing for your appearance.

I’m going to.

Let’s join together and save those apologies for necessary things.

Apologizing for our appearance is simply is not allowed anymore. We need to quit being so hard on our self (and thinking others are being hard on us too).

And when we feel the need to apologize for our appearance (which is focusing on us and what’s wrong with us), we can instead focus on the other person and compliment them or ask them a question.

And when we get a compliment, don’t apologize it away. Instead, take it and hold it, and enjoy it.

And best of all, believe it.

Why do women apologize so much about their appearance? We need to love and appreciate our bodies, not apologize about them and pick them apart.

 

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa

 

P.S. Want to read more on this topic? What if Your Body is As Good as it Gets?  by me. Dear Moms, Stop Hiding Behind the Camera, by Candace Playforth. And Are You Tired of Not Feeling Good Enough? by Laura Hicks.

 


If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the Discussion: Do you find yourself apologizing for your appearance?

Why do women apologize so much about their appearance? We need to love and appreciate our bodies, not apologize about them and pick them apart.

May link up at Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

Why do women apologize so much about their appearance? We need to love and appreciate our bodies, not apologize about them and pick them apart.

Why do women apologize so much about their appearance? We need to love and appreciate our bodies, not apologize about them and pick them apart.

Will the Real You Please Stand?

 

Do you ever see someone else and suddenly do a double take?

Maybe they look like your twin. Are wearing something you own. Saying something you would say. Have the same name and hair color. Or they have some quirky mannerism you have been teased about all your life.

Anyway, you stop and stare and can’t quite tear your eyes away from them, even if you are beginning to feel a bit like a scary stalker.

We were ordering ice cream when I turned around and there was a lady walking towards us with her husband and kids. And darn, if she wasn’t wearing my skirt — the same blue pencil skirt splashed with brown and tan flowers that I had at home in my closet.

I looked at her again and realized it wasn’t my size, so she hadn’t snuck into my closet and borrowed, or stolen my skirt. But what was she doing with my skirt?

I kept watching her, feeling like she was imitating me. Like she had stolen my identity. As if I was somehow watching myself. I was caught in a deja-vu moment. I couldn’t tear my eyes away.

I felt like saying, “Will the real Theresa please stand up!”

 

How I let my self-identity and worth be stolen?

 

It was a skirt I had bought last year. One I thought conveyed my personality. Of course, I knew I hadn’t bought the only one. But it was the first time I had bumped into someone wearing something I owned. Something so distinctive. Not like a gray t-shirt or black leggings that everyone else had.

We eventually wandered away, but I kept thinking about that lady wearing my skirt.

Obviously, she wasn’t trying to imitate me or pretend to be me, but it kinda felt like it. And it felt like maybe she was a better me.

Suddenly I felt like I wasn’t as unique as I thought I was. Or was told I was.

I wondered if she had the same taste in clothes as me. In what other ways were we alike?

She didn’t steal my identity, but suddenly it felt compromised. Almost fake. Not quite real.

And yet I was still the same person. Nothing had changed, expect I had seen another woman wearing my skirt.

On a good day this would have had me laughing and complimenting her good taste, but on that day it had me doubting and wondering.

Maybe because she looked more put together than I did. She appeared more confident, relaxed, and her children were smiling and looked to be about perfect.

She didn’t look like she had fought with her toddler to get his shoes on. Made only popcorn and apple slices for dinner. Had a run in with her teen. Or words with her husband.

See, that is what comparison looks like. Them winning, and you feeling lower than a flattened and blackened penny.

And all because she was wearing my skirt that I thought looked like me. Maybe was me, on some days.

Self-identity and worth, what contributes to them?

 

If we are not careful our identity gets stolen. Compromised. Hidden. Disbelieved.

We doubt ourselves. Question ourselves. Compare ourselves. Feel like imposters.

We do everything but believe the truth of God. Who says we are his beloved. His child bought and paid for. Whom he delights in.

We instead listen to the voices in our head. The voices whispered by our enemy saying we are not enough or do enough. We listen to the voices of society that tells us we should be all and do all.

The lies get louder than the truth. They dare us to prove them wrong, and we can’t. Not of our own power. Not of our own strength.

Improving your identity and self-worth problems.

 

Ladies, this is our dilemma.  Are we going to believe the voices of others that lie to us, or are we going to choose to believe the truth teller who loves more than we can even fathom?

Are we going to argue and protest and say no way when he calls us beloved? Or are we going to say thank you and accept the free gift he is handing us?

Are we going to try to earn our worth and identity by what we do and accomplish, or accept what he has accomplished for us and freely gives us?

Are we going to believe the lies swirling in our head and around us, or believe his truth captured in written words?

Don’t let someone or yourself tell you that you are not of worth. Because you are. Not because of what you say or do, but because he says you are.

Don’t let your past, present, mistakes, sins, or faults determine your identity. We don’t need to be perfect because he is.

Don’t let your identity be determined by others — your mother, kids, husband, friend, boss, teacher, co-worker, neighbor, or your negative self-talk. Evaluate their words and see if they are true? Right? Do they align with your true identity given by God?

Tell yourself the truth daily. Tell your sisters the truth. Your children. Your mate. Your co-workers and neighbors.

You are valuable. Loved. Precious. Enough. Your worth comes from being his and not what we do or say.

Let us proclaim the truth loudly and drown out the lies that are swirling through the air stealing and trying to change our God given identity. Our worth.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa

 

P.S. To protect our identity and worth we need to listen to the right voices. What Voices Are You Listening To?


If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the Discussion: What steals your worth or identity?

May link up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory);  Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).