This is the Yoga Class Parents Actually Need

If the goal of yoga is to quiet your mind, some of us have a whole lot of work to do. Unless of course we just incorporate the chatter into class.

I’ve been thinking about my relationship with yoga and I’ve decided that I’m not sure that yoga really gets me.

I know what you’re thinking, yoga has been around for thousands of years and while I can argue that I have too, I can also attest to the fact that I often have to stifle my LOL’s when instructors talk, or I stop listening because I’m busy planning my day. I’m sure this is not what I should be doing during class, but I can’t control myself. Which really is the point of going to yoga anyway. But what can I say? Our relationship is complicated.

Practicing yoga is mentally challenging for me for a few reasons: 

1 | I only communicate with dense sarcasm and cynical wit.  

2 | When my mind is quiet, my “to do” list is loud.  

3 | I desperately want to achieve peace, so my inner yogi and my inner mom are at constant odds during my practice.

I mean, during almost every yoga class I decide I’m going to stop drinking coffee and start drinking green tea, never yell at my kids again, and give up wine so I can treat my body like a temple. You know, or some shit like that. Approximately 30 minutes after returning to my family, I’ve already destroyed my temple in an attempt to maintain my sanity.

To be clear, I love my chaotic mom life. I love teetering on the edge of outrageous fun and sudden melt-down. I love making memories and allowing my crazy kids to be crazy!

So, I think I know what parents need. If I was a yoga instructor, I’d teach only moms and dads looking to escape the chaos for an hour. I’d call it Real Yoga for Real Parents, and this is what I’d say:

Come stand at the front of your mat. Breathe in, and allow the thoughts of the day to swirl through your body, but try and keep them in some sort of order. Remember that you’ll get to that stuff, but you won’t get to it right now. Stop making the grocery list. There is no way you’ll remember everything that you are supposed to get right now. And you know you’ll forget the one thing that you really needed anyway. Let the groceries go out with your breath.

Breathe in and allow yourself to be filled with love and gratitude. Be grateful for giving yourself the time to come to yoga today. Be grateful for the love you are receiving from the universe, and from everything. Forget about that time that your child called you a “butty-butt-butt-head.” He didn’t really mean it. And let go of the fact that all you were doing was trying to get him to eat peanut butter toast. That he asked for. Before he realized he wanted a hard-boiled egg exactly like the one you made his sister. In fact, he wanted that exact one.

Allow yourself forgiveness. Yes, forgiveness for not having the foresight to have predicted that whole egg issue. Breathe out love for those tiny little dictators. Empty the breath completely from your body and with it, allow all of your thoughts of toddler frustration to leave you. Just for now. At home, it’s their time. It’s their time back there. Right here it’s your time. It’s your time right here. That’s all over the second you ride your people-wagon back home. (Ha ha! Man, I love The Goonies.)

Breathe in, and let your arms hang at your sides. Turn your palms slightly forward. Drop your shoulders and allow them to separate. Let your collar bones widen and your shoulder blades draw together and roll down your back, as if you’ve never carried a 40 pound sleeping child on your left shoulder for a half mile, just to have them wake up the moment you lay them down on their bed.  

Let your shoulders fall away from your ears. Aligning them with your hips, your knees, your ankles. Drop your left hip, which might feel awkward given that you’ve had a baby propped up there for the the past five years. So, you might need to literally push it down. Like, with your hands.

Feel the energy draw down through your legs and through your feet. Draw your arches up, but let the balls of your feet and your heels be grounded. Breathe out and plant yourself in the earth and feel comfort in your connection there. Don’t worry, there are no toys to clean up here, and no spilled milk to wipe off the counter.

When you breathe in, let the silence and peace spread throughout your entire being. Don’t panic. Nobody is behind a closed door spreading your $50 body lotion on the mirror. Well, maybe they are, but if they are it’s clearly not your fault because you are not responsible for them right now, you’re here. At yoga.

As you breathe out, try not to be so pissed. Because the whole lotion thing is obviously your husband’s fault. He’s probably checking some damn sports score instead of playing with his precious children. But listen, you don’t even know if this scenario is real and thus, there is NO need to allow him to ruin this time that you’ve carved for yourself. No sir. He is NOT taking this from you. NOT THIS TOO. Peace, dammit. Breathe it alllll out.

On your next inhale allow a slight smile to cross your lips. Allow your mind to let go of any chatter that gets in the way of attending to your breath. It’s inevitable that you’ll remember an urgent task you absolutely must complete immediately after class is over. But, you don’t even have a crayon to write with right now, so worrying about it for the next hour will only be punishment for yourself. C’mon. How important are those well-child checkups anyway?

On your next inhale, allow that love to spread throughout your whole body. Give yourself permission to allow your mind to wander during your practice, but assure yourself there is nothing different that you should be doing right now except what you ARE doing. Which is yoga. Remember? Breathe in and breathe out. You’re just doing yoga. That’s it. Come on, now. Seriously. You can do this. You can only think about this. Shh. You don’t hear a baby crying. Shhh. That’s a mirage.

You made it through the whole practice and you did it for yourself. I’m so proud of you. I know it’s hard, but it’s time to return to the busy-ness of being a mom/dad/human. In those moments when you feel like no one is listening to you – even though you have calmly repeated yourself 5 times, and your child still hasn’t put on their fucking socks – try and remember this moment.

Channel your inner Zen, look deeply into your kid’s eyes and say, “Please put your socks on.” one more time. Then, inhale and exhale for good measure. 

You did it. You are so rad.

Namaste, bitches!


6 Things You Can Do Today to Make Yourself a Priority

There are times motherhood feels like an all-consuming job where breaks just aren’t an option. But the truth is, you’re not going to survive without some.

It was a Saturday, the to-do list seemed like it went on forever, and my kids thought it was their duty to be my shadow.

I kept checking outside, waiting for a break in the rain, because there’s nothing worse then going grocery shopping in a monsoon. Realizing this break was not going to come anytime soon, I decided to disappear.

One of my favorite things to do when I was a child, was to pile up all of the blankets on top of myself, crawl deep inside my bed and listen to the rain. Often times, I would take my favorite book and stuffed animal and pretend that everything else in the world didn’t matter.

In an attempt to recreate the lazier days of my childhood, I grabbed a book, piled the blankets as I high as I could, and crawled into my bed. Minutes later, I heard footsteps. Oh great, I thought to myself, they found me. My daughter came over first and lifted the blanket to see where I was and what I was doing. She looked puzzled as she tried to figure out why mom was hanging out in bed reading a book.

Trying to wrap her head around this image she very rarely sees, the first words out of her mouth were, “Mom, what are you doing?” This was not a inquisitive type of question, rather an accusatory type – like: get out of bed because mom’s aren’t allowed to take time for themselves.

Next, my son arrived – he can’t stand being left out. Of course as soon as he saw his mom in a fort of blankets surrounded by books, he felt the need to play too. So with a running jump and a belly flop landing on top of my hiding place, he made his way right into my alone time.

Motherhood can often feel all-consuming. Sometimes I wonder if we’re raising a generation of kids who believe that mom is simply an extension of them. I don’t think I have ever heard anyone tell my husband to go climb under a pile of blankets and practice self-care, he just does it.

And my kids, well, they are masters at self-care. They know exactly what to ask for and what they need. When they are tired, they rest. When they want to play, they play.

Women, at least for a small part of their day, can do the same.

When was the last time you put yourself first, even for just a moment? Or how about the last time you chose to care for yourself? Self-care makes up an essential part of a healthy lifestyle that keeps us feeling happy, and more in tune with our minds and bodies.

So often our health and well-being end up last on our list of priorities as we move through our day checking off boxes on our lists and making sure everyone else’s needs are being met. We pretend that we’re superhuman, existing on caffeine and the notion that we must get everything done, and take care of everyone around us.

You can find calm clarity every day, but it requires you to make it happen. Prioritizing our own health and well-being is one of the best things we can do for ourselves, and our families.

Here are six simple tips to help you fit self-care into your busy day:

Say no to someone or something.

Once you get in the habit of doing this, you’ll wonder why you waited so long.

Say yes to yourself.

Take that cooking class you’ve been wanting to take, train for a half-marathon, get together with friends. The key here is to say yes to what you want.

Practice self-care in intervals.

Taking time for ourselves doesn’t have to be done all at once. Find 15 minute intervals throughout the day to take a breather and engage in activities you like.

Adjust your expectations.

If you find that your energy is low, and your mind feels cluttered, shift what you are asking of yourself.


Find an hour each day that you can go running, do yoga, or take a class.

Let go of one thing on your list.

Fine one thing each day that you can take off of your to-do list (maybe even permanently).

Give it a try: get a massage, or take a yoga class. Hit the grocery store alone. Sit at the naked spa with a bunch of other deserving moms (I have a friend who swears by this) or just simply grab a pile of blankets and crawl back into your own world for a little “me” time.

What a Little Attention Can Do: My Momover Experiment Week 4

This spring I turned 40, my daughter turned one, and to commemorate both, I bought an unlimited month-long hair and makeup package, “The Ultimate Zsuzs,” from a little salon down the street.

My intention is to explore how, or if, radically upping my grooming game will impact my life. Below is the final installment, week four. Click here to read about weeks one, two, and three.

Momover Day 22

On the eve of my final week of unlimited access to hair styling and makeovers at a salon on my block, my family took a much needed weekend in the woods about sixty miles away.

If a woman puts lipstick on in a forest, does it make a Zsuzs?

I wore no makeup.

Day 23

I found myself thinking about the expressions of pity and mild disgust that people use about older women: “She really let herself go.” That is actually my greatest hope for myself and all women, that we let ourselves go, abandon hangups and resentments. That we release toxic notions of self, beauty, motherhood, partnership. I would love to not just let myself go but really let myself go.

Day 24

On the train ride back to the city my family and I sat across from a college-aged woman who applied make up and styled her hair for the entire 80 minute ride. She had a kind of effortful Kendall Jenner look, albeit the working class version. She was very alien to us as I suspect we were to her as well.

Day 25

Knowing full well that I squandered three of my last days of the Zsuzs, I endeavored to commit hard core in the final stretch and try something adventurous for each of my final three visits.

Meg, who co-owns the salon, did my hair half up in a braid – a little wild, untamed, and super pretty – then gave me an intense navy-grey eye. The photograph of my face (like all photographs for this story) downplays the amount and intensity of the color. It’s just the nature of phone camera photography to not be capable of capturing how elaborately I was actually made up.

So you’ll just have to trust me that the color was extreme — and yet, drum roll – I loved it! I picked a destination about which I was curious, a new indie movie house, Metrograph, on Ludlow Street, where they have a lounge and a restaurant and everything is hyper chic, and I took myself there after the baby went to sleep.

I was so pleased to be comfortable with something so adventurous. My go-to dressed-up look for the past fifteen or more years had been a blow out. A hair stylist would straighten out the curls and the frizz and shellack me up like a beauty contestant. I see now that it was a kind of self-protective helmet.

In my 20s when my first book was published I did dozens of TV appearances and readings and I think the blow out helped me transition into a less vulnerable state, helped me hop in to an identity wherein I felt confident. In my 30s, when I started writing for the Wall St. Journal, they were sending me out to cover galas every week, and again, I think that blown out hair helped me feel self-assured, helped me feel like I fit in at the Waldorf Astoria or Cipriani or wherever the masters of the universe were meeting that week to philanthropize.

These were all opportunities where being less of who I am — less messy, less complex, less vulnerable (and, on some level, less ethnically Jewish) — was what I thought I wanted.

At 40 I wanted to find a dressed-up look that, rather than slip me neatly into a category of urban, rich, trendy, polished, professional, emotionally placid and controlled woman, suggested a hint of the wildness, the complexity, the emotionality, the creativity of my mind and my life and my curiosities. What kind of beautiful woman has the fortitude and grace for these turbulent times? Sorry folks, not the beauty contestant and not the socialite.

My husband and I don’t have that many opportunities to really dress up but every so often we are invited to something fancy and now, with my wild blue look and wild braided hair, I was really ready for that.

Now it was also possible for me to zsuzs myself up with the braid and the blue eye and go to the movies, or to a bar, to take on the adventure of the city like I used to when I first moved here for college. I’d found an expression of beauty that was exciting made me feel at home. Refined glamour or fancy glamour had always felt phony to me, like I was projecting a lifestyle I didn’t have, and aspirations that weren’t mine.

Day 26

I became aware — because of writing this series — that on several occasions I’d described the process of putting myself together as a dignifying process, which meant that on some level I thought of my home life as undignified.

That’s a rather intense concept, and likely insulting to people who do domestic labor, and probably worth my time to unpack. What exactly lacks dignity in my efforts to keep a home running? And how can I make my home a place of genuine retreat and not just a throbbing, scrambling To Do list?

[su_column size=”1/2″]Momover makeover week 4 bold lip[/su_column]

[su_column size=”1/2″]Momover makeover week four, hairdo [/su_column]

Day 27

I said I wanted to try bold things so Meg did a big cat eye and an almost fluorescent red lip. She loved it.

I did not. It felt utterly not me. Way too much theatricality in a Betty Page-style that didn’t resonate. But I wore it anyway to a conference in Middle Eastern American theater that I was covering. I felt like sticking with looks that were outside my comfort zone was part of the experiment. I was open to my opinion of it changing.

But it didn’t change. When I wasn’t immersed in the work and remembered how done up I was, I felt embarrassed.

Day 28

I met with a friend who is an editor at a magazine for a drink last night and got an assignment from the magazine the next day.

Did I get the gig because I had attended to my hair and makeup before we met up for the drink? No, I got the gig because I had several hundred features under my belt and a strong pitch — but the Zsuzs helped. I’d been wanting to write for other publications for years, but between trying to get pregnant, being pregnant, and having a new baby, I just didn’t have the bandwidth.

The Zsuzs had had a strange course. Initially it depleted me but eventually it energized. I was finding myself with a new energy for my career, a new energy to network, to present myself in new ways, to conceive of new projects. It put fuel in my tank. It got what was stalled moving.

Day 29

I went for my final appointment at Joli Beauty Bar and Chardé, Zsuzsi, and Meg were all there with flowers, a card, and a chocolate cake for me. I was very touched and pleased to see that it was as important for them to convey that a genuine relationship had formed as it was to me.

Meg did a blow out and a bright teal eye.

Zsuzsi asked, “What do you say to doing fake eyelashes?”

“I say yes,” I replied.

After the appointment, I met up with the same friend I’d seen during the first week of the Zsuzs. She remarked how differently I was talking about hair and makeup from when we’d last met for a fancy drink. 

In the end it had been a transformative process — not on the top ten most transforming events of my life, but still powerfully and mysteriously life-altering. I attended to my face and body and brought myself into a routine of grooming. I saw that beauty was less fraught and more fun at 40 then it had ever been before. I tried a wide menu of looks for hair and makeup and landed on a handful that I really loved and felt either at ease with or pleasantly charged in.

What coalesced was a greater desire to be out in the world and pursue curiosities and opportunities. And with that comes an infinite realm of possibility.

Group of women involved in the momover experiment

What a Little Attention Can Do: My Momover Experiment

Editor’s note: This is the first in a four-part series in which writer Lizzie Simon will examine the ways that radically upping her grooming game impacts her life, her sense of self, and her interactions at home and in the world. 

There is no paid consideration involved in this series.

This spring my daughter turned one, I turned 40, and for the first time I stepped into a tiny salon on my block called Joli Beauty Bar to inquire about a deal they were offering: unlimited blowouts and makeovers for a month for $250, “The Ultimate Zsuzs.”

I had walked by this place every day, multiple times a day, since it opened in September, and it had me thinking a lot about grooming. It’s an area in which I’ve never been particularly high achieving, and one that had really taken a hit since having a baby.

Brushing teeth, showering, shaving, moisturizing, tending to my roots, toenails, brows, pubes, putting on a little lip gloss and mascara, wearing clothes that are clean and that fit, adding a key piece of jewelry to the mix— some of these things happen some of the time, some of them happen none of the time. 

There have been few apparent consequences to my shlubbiness. I work in a co-working space as an author and freelance arts reporter for the Wall Street Journal and I Airbnb a home in upstate New York. Both professions require no fuss, no muss.

I live in a neighborhood – the East Village — where there are indeed glamorous people, but I don’t actually know any of them. The hiking sneakers I wear almost every day are sneered at in exactly none of the places I typically inhabit. 

I think of myself as someone who has a pretty decent self-image, which is to say, I feel I am good looking enough. It was agonizing to me in middle and high school to not be one of the beautiful girls but I got over it. That existential achievement occurred a long time ago.

Lizzie - before

Yes, perhaps sometimes it’s dispiriting that men flirt with me about 10% as often as they did when I was in my 20s, but it’s also nice to not be sexually harassed on the street. I know for sure, from the various playful grabs at my body in the kitchen and living room and bedroom, that I’m attractive to my husband. There is no crisis.

Still, from time to time as my 40th birthday beckoned, I thought: Maybe it’s time to up my game, put a little time and energy into self-presentation, to walk proudly through the world. Invariably, several minutes later, that aspiration has dissipated and others prioritized — writing projects, time with my husband, baby, 13-year-old stepson, friends, self, bed. 

Which is why it was interesting that Joli and the notion of unlimited upkeep persisted in my consciousness. How would my life change if I got my hair and makeup done a few times a week for a month? Would I feel energized by it? Would people flirt with me more? Would it send me out into the world more, wrest me from the couch and Netflix into adventure and pleasure? Would it lead to career opportunities? Or would it be a colossal waste of time? 

And so I found myself wandering into Joli Beauty Bar where I encountered its co-founder, Zsuzsi, who welcomed my experiment. “Most of the women coming in are childless,” she said. They’re prepping for dates or wedding-related events or they’re married with extremely active social lives. “Once a client tells us she’s pregnant we know we’ll probably lose her.” Oh dear.

Day 1

Before and after

My stylist, Chardé, gave me an iPad with a Pinterest board to choose from dozens of makeup and hair looks.

“Why don’t you do whatever you think is best,” I said.

I realized I was entirely out of touch with any of my own instincts about personal style and overwhelmed/intimidated at the invitation to make aesthetic decisions.

Chardé decided to go for the “lived in” look for my hair which, fortunately for me and other time-strapped moms, is apparently on trend.

I tried following her every makeup move on my face but quickly lost track. The thing about professional makeup artists is that they utilize techniques and tools and products that you don’t have — lots of them. I’m pretty sure she used 20 different products on my face, and that was for something “easy and approachable.” 

A second generation aesthetician, Chardé is a single mother to a seven-year-old. “It’s really easy to let yourself go as a mom,” she said. “You don’t remember that when you’re good, everyone’s good.”

So true. But grooming demands a shepherding, or hoarding, of one’s time – mind and body. Family life demands relinquishing control and sharing time – mind and body. But what our home actually requires, the thing that makes it all work, is me toggling between sharing and hoarding my resources to my own sense of satisfaction.

It wasn’t clear to me whether fancy hair and makeup had anything to contribute to my feeling satisfied. Because after Chardé finished her work on me, I was all dolled up with no place to go.

Eventually the baby woke from her afternoon nap and we strolled to Rite Aid where, among other things, I bought a palette of eye shadow, some makeup remover, and some cookies in the shape of teddy bears. Then I took my daughter to the park because she loves to see dogs and she loves the swing. Then we sat outside a tiny restaurant next to our apartment because she likes to watch the dinner service unfold and flirt with the servers.

Did it matter that I was done up? It did not.

Who was this beauty for? Unclear.

Day 2

One of my recurring nightmares is that I have a second apartment somewhere that I’ve forgotten about that’s in horrid disarray. In the 24 hours following my first beauty appointment, my appearance felt like that second apartment.

A sense of defeat had set in. Grooming was a domain that required vigilance and attention to detail. I was already tracking the bits and bobs of a baby, a 13-year-old step son, two homes, a book-in-progress, the New York dance and theater community, my friends and family, and a digestive condition (don’t ask) that requires a rather elaborate attention to nutrition. I needed fewer things to be vigilant about in my life – not more.

My resistance to taking on hair and makeup was, in part, the resistance of someone who didn’t want two new domains of responsibility in which I might fall behind on a regular basis.

This experiment can’t turn in to something punishing, I kept thinking, later in the day, while strolling with the baby post-afternoon nap. We were on our way back to Rite Aid to pick up some more product Chardé recommended, plus bleach for the dark mustache hairs I discovered while sitting in the salon chair.

Those hairs weren’t the only unpleasant discovery I made there. I also noticed chin hairs in need of plucking and a new mole on my left cheek. It was a small mole but it told me something big: I hadn’t really looked at myself in the mirror for very, very, very long time. 

I thought that having polished hair and makeup would be fun but instead it brought about a mildly agonizing self-consciousness and guilt for spending my time/energy/resources on something so trivial when I had so many other things to get done. Not to mention the world is full of so many more worthy opportunities and problems.

But is it trivial? There are indeed sad and wasteful and small-minded aspects to devoting oneself to one’s appearance, but there’s also something sad and wasteful and small-minded about abandoning one’s appearance.

I wanted to stay resolutely on the life-affirming side of things. I hoped to discover that grooming can inspire a lively way of engaging the outside world, it can contribute a sense of dignity to the identity narrative you’re telling yourself and other people, it can nurture the friendship with self (the greatest love of all, as Whitney said).

Beauty on my terms, for my own satisfaction. It was worth discovering and defining.

Day 3

Meg, who co-owns the Beauty Bar with Zsuzsi, styled my hair and makeup in my second appointment at Joli. Several times she called what she was doing “the effortless look,” which tickled my funny bone because effortless is exactly what I’d been doing on my own.

I really liked supporting Zsuzsi and Meg and their small indie business. They came across as smart, real, immensely knowledgable about hair and makeup, and empowering. They were not at all oppressive about beauty. And they weren’t constantly trying to upsell me.

But I wasn’t having fun. The night before I’d been to a Passover seder with my aunts, uncles, cousins, husband, and baby in Harlem, where we drank and ate and read and sang and talked together for hours about the meaning of life and love and suffering. That was fun. The beauty parlor was more like school or work.

I’ve been thinking a lot about fun recently – about how shitty women, particularly mothers, are at identifying what is pleasurable to them outside of their domestic role, and then carving out time and space to partake in it. In the whole ecology of self-care, I think fun is hugely important. The fact that I wasn’t having fun at the beauty parlor made me worry that something deadeningly un-fun had unfurled inside of me since having a child.

Regardless, at the end of the day it felt silly, wasteful, even a little tiring, to have logistiticated for this time in the salon when all I was going to do afterwards was stroll my baby to Tompkins Square Park. 

Who was this makeup and hair for? Certainly not my husband. His knee jerk response to seeing me all done up was: “Can you wipe it off?”

I had room in that day for one activity to myself and it ended up being the beauty bar. Seeing a friend, working at The Writers Room, or taking a yoga class all would have been far more fulfilling.

Day 4

This morning on my walk to work I clarified for myself what I wanted from this experiment: to develop three looks – daily, professional, and special event. I planned to tell the beauty shop ladies this, plus the fact that I didn’t want to deal with foundation any more. Somehow it was foundation that felt the most false, the most like a mask.

At sunset I walked across town with my husband and my baby to an art opening. My hair was still done from the zsuzs the day before and I applied makeup — lip gloss, blush, eye shadow, mascara, eyeliner — that I felt good about.

It was fun to walk across town as a family with the feeling of being put together, to encounter at the opening, held in Diane Von Furstenberg’s garage, particularly glamorous friends, and feel the dignity and freshness of having spent a little time and attention on myself.

Afterwards, my husband took our baby home and I met up with my best friend from high school for a swanky drink at 11 Madison Park. She’s a curator, poet, and Buddhist scholar, and actually a pretty glamorous person, too. She’s always dressed in a way that I admire — stylish but completely individual, and her makeup is the kind of minimal that I’d like to espouse.

She was excited to see me “upping my game.” I was just excited to look at her. We love each other’s faces, these faces we’ve confessed to and sought out and humored and challenged and cracked up. Seeing her face, I realized how much I like the look of real skin on an adult woman.

My skin has lines, creases, dark spots, acne scars, and unevenness in tone, but I like that my history shows up on my face. I want it there, I just want my eyes and lips to pop out as beautifully as they can from that complex, not entirely tamed, imperfect terrain.

It occurs to me that all of the models on the Pinterest boards were in their teens and early 20s, how terrific it would have been instead to look at dozens of photographs of middle-aged women, how much I like looking at older women’s faces, to see idiosyncratic examples of beauty and identity on a face bearing experience, care, and damage.

Who might this beauty be for? Each other.

Day 5

My husband and I went to see a brilliant, spectacularly inventive, invigorating performance by a tap choreographer, Michelle Dorrance, who I’d just written about for the Journal. I dressed up and applied makeup and it felt really good to show up in my professional world looking put together.

Afterward we had a drink and a bite to eat in the restaurant next to our house. My husband brought up my experiment with makeup and hair. He said that he didn’t get it, that when he saw me after the salon the first two times, it freaked him out, he didn’t recognize me.

It gave me the opportunity to talk about why I was doing this, to talk about self-care and beauty rituals and identity as a new mom and a woman on the other side of 40. I was grateful to be in a marriage where grooming didn’t matter but it felt good to enroll him in what I was doing, rather than have him be alienated by it.   

Day 6

I explained my new take on foundation to the aestheticians at Joli — which they happily ceded to — and the whole enterprise of getting done up felt more fun, less charged, less estranged.

Day 7

I think I have found my day look. It’s very simple — a kind of white silver incandescent eye shadow, mascara, blush on the apples of my cheeks, and a colorful lip. It’s a simplified version of what Meg showed me on day three. It’s fast, fresh, understated, and pretty.

When I left the house today my husband said, “Bye Lizzie-upping-her-game!”

Day look

Clothes are the next frontier. I don’t know where to shop or what size I am or what my style truly is, but I don’t have the money to explore that right now. So I’m just taking an extra couple of minutes to find things in my closet that I like, to wear flats instead of hiking sneakers, to put on a necklace. The necklace, I mean. I own one necklace that I like.

But a shift has occurred. I’m starting to feel more than just good looking enough. At no other point in my life would I have chosen my face from a Pinterest board, but that’s changing as I think more and more about how marked my face is with all that I’ve seen and experienced.

The kind of honesty, hard work, and grace I know I’m capable of at age 40 is really quite beautiful. I’ve survived a variety of heartbreaks, failures, tragedies, and traumas with hopefulness and empathy intact. That’s beauty and it’s in my face. That’s only occurring to me now because of the wrestling with and contemplation of my appearance demanded by the Ultimate Zsuzs. 

Less Distraction Means More Happiness

Practicing these four skills can provide the substrate for enduring change, which can help to promote higher levels of well-being in our lives.


Practicing these four skills can provide the substrate for enduring change, which can help to promote higher levels of well-being in our lives.

1. Resilience

To paraphrase the bumper sticker, stuff happens. We cannot buffer ourselves from that stuff, but we can change the way we respond to it.

2. Outlook

…the ability to see the positive in others, the ability to savor positive experiences, the ability to see another human being as a human being who has innate basic goodness.

3. Attention

Across a large group of adults in America, researchers found that people spend an average of 47 percent of their waking life not paying attention to what they’re doing.

4. Generosity

Human beings come into the world with innate, basic goodness. When we engage in practices that are designed to cultivate kindness and compassion…what we’re doing is recognizing, strengthening, and nurturing a quality that was there from the outset.