Embracing Your “Imperfections”

gap toothYears ago I had orthodontic braces. I wore that metal contraption – rubber bands and all – throughout the last couple years of high school, followed by a year of grueling night-time retainer wearing. If you’ve seen me anytime post circa 1990 then you’re probably wondering if I got a refund. Because today there’s a gap, front and center where my two front teeth used to meet. A big one.

At one point, a lifetime ago now it seems, I thought about re-closing it and my grandmother said simply, “Why close it? If it came back, that means it’s meant to be there. It makes you different.” She said it so confidently and with such assurance (as though she’d heard it from God himself) that I knew immediately she was right. And that validation from her was all I needed to never question the existence of my gap again. Even when some adults have asked if I’ve ever thought about getting it “fixed”.  And even when children (ok, one child) have pointed to their missing front teeth and asked me if the tooth fairy left me money too.  Even then I’ve never once considered changing my gap-toothed smile. More important than the fact that I’ve gotten more compliments over the years than comments, is the fact that I genuinely like my smile.

If only we could pull sweet grandmother wisdom out of our pockets whenever we had doubts about our perceived imperfections. We’d spend a lot less time being unhappy and a lot more time focusing on the things that really matter. What others thought about our imperfections would be meaningless, because what we knew to be true about ourselves would be shaped by someone who’d heard it directly from God himself. Wouldn’t that be a great way to start thinking about ourselves – all of it, cellulite, wrinkles and all?

So what’s your “imperfection”, and how did you learn to love it? Have you learned to love it? Share your thoughts in the comment section, or on our Facebook fan page.

Image Source: Grazia Daily


Kalin’s Chronicles: Sherri Shepherd finds her “best life” in her 40’s

sherri shepherd

Editor’s Note: A couple of weeks ago, The View co-host, Sherri Shepherd, was in town to promote her new book and Kalin had the opportunity to interview the daytime TV celeb, comedian, and mother about her recent health-inspired transformation.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Sherri Shepherd, co-host of The View, during her visit to Atlanta to promote her new book, Plan D: How to lose weight and beat diabetes (even if you don’t have it).  Her book discusses how Sherri lost 40 pounds and transformed her health, after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.  At age 45, she looks great and is just as cheerful and funny as she is on TV.  Here are some of her comments that I hope will inspire you to make your health a priority.

On why she wrote the book:  I dedicated the book to my mother, who died from complications from diabetes at age 41.  Most of the people in my family have diabetes and have lost limbs and eyesight from it.  It got to a point where it just seemed normal to us.  So when I was diagnosed with being pre-diabetic, I thought “well I don’t have diabetes, so I don’t have to change the way I eat.”  Then, in August 2007 – just days before I was to start on The View — I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.  That day I still wanted to be in denial.  I came home and ate a big plate of pesto pasta.   But eventually I realized I wanted to live for my son. And I want to help others out there who are struggling with diabetes or being overweight, which is one of the causes of diabetes.

On medicating with food:  Growing up, I had always relied on three things:  faith, funny and food.  I ate to get ride of bad feelings, and my mother’s death just made me numb my feelings even more with food.  So I had to change my relationship with food.

On making lifestyle changes:  I had to incorporate exercise into my life.  I started slow on the elliptical machine and started adding two minutes each time.  And a month later, I was able to do 33 minutes.  I also exercise at home with my son, Jeffrey and my husband, Sal. Sal and I do Salsa like we’re on “Dancing with the Stars.” (laughs)

On eating what she wants:  We have a lot of food on the set at The View and I have to talk to myself when I look at the food.  On one hand I’m thinking, “Ooh that cheesecake would taste so good!”  But I know immediately my blood sugar would spike, I would feel sluggish, I’m going to feel tired, I would go into a fog.  In fact, that’s what happened to me on The View when I said I didn’t know if the earth was round or flat.  I couldn’t even think straight. (laughs)  I went from “she’s a breath of fresh air” to “how’d she get that job?”  (laughs)  But there are times when I make the decision to eat what I want, but I know to eat some fiber right afterward so my blood sugar won’t spike.  I learned about food combinations, and I put that in the book.

On learning to love new foods:  I’ve started to love kale and my husband makes it four different ways: sautéed kale, kale salad, kale chips and kale smoothies.  He even made turkey burgers and substituted kale for the lettuce.

On forgiving herself:  One time I went to Popeye’s and it was good going down.  But I had to get back on track the next day and forgive myself and remember all the good stuff I’ve done.  We kick ourselves too much when we’re down, so always pat yourself on the back for the good things you do.  I have a whole chapter in my book on forgiveness.

On being thankful:  I’m thankful for diabetes, because it has made me make a conscious commitment to my health.  I’m not on medication anymore, because of the lifestyle changes I’ve made. And at age 45, I feel the best I’ve ever felt in my entire life!


Kalin Thomas is an award-winning multimedia journalist.  She is a former travel & lifestyle correspondent for CNN where she traveled to six continents, including Antarctica.  She is writing her book, Do You Know She’s Black?  The journey of CNN’s first black travel correspondent, for a 2015 debut.   For more, visit www.KalinThomas.com.

Five for Friday: Five Natural Beauty Solutions for Women at 40

Aloe Vera Gel for Age Spots - Women at FortyOn Wednesday I shared my thoughts on celebrating earth day, simplifying our lives, and living more naturally.  I also shared that I’m developing an eBook of natural beauty solutions for women at 40. The eBook, the first in my new 40 for 40 series, is tentatively titled, Radiance: The natural guide to radiant, healthy skin at 40 and beyond. It will include 40 tried and tested simple alternatives (or enhancements) to commercially available beauty products.

I’m not a member of the anti-aging brigade, with its endless wrinkle cream demonstrations and elusive fountains of youth. I find aging, and almost everything that comes along with it, far superior to the alternative. I also don’t buy into society’s narrowly defined standard of beauty or the notion that we can, or should try to, “buy” our way to happiness. If I’d accepted every botox, lipo, and plastic surgery business that wanted to advertise on this site, I’d be writing this post from somewhere in Bali. But I’ve made a conscious decision not to because we deserve better.

So, what’s a woman at 40 to do?

I think it’s good to always want to look and feel our best.  Our best. Untarnished by the expectations and definitions of others, and unsullied by comparing ourselves to others or even to our former selves. It’s quite a balancing act – the desire to push against societal pressure to look 21 all our lives versus the fact that we do want to look our best selves for as long as we can. One of the ways we can do it is by making smart, conscious decisions about the products and ingredients we put on our skin.  We can buy more responsibly, and we can find solutions in our own home.

So whether it’s a remedy for dry skin, age spots, or a good moisturizer you seek, here are 5 simple, natural solutions you can probably find in your pantry…

1. Banana Skin for Adult Acne – You thought your days of acne were over. Not so much? This acne remedy is as easy as it gets. You know that banana peel you’re about to throw away? Don’t. Take the bottom half, cut one segment off and rub the inside of the peel against your acne spots until the inside of the peel browns. Leave the residue on your face for anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight and then rinse. Continue daily until the acne subsides.

2. Aloe Vera Gel  for “Age Spots” –  Because we begin noticing these darker pigmented spots on our skin in our 40s, they’ve been dubbed aged spots. But age spots can happen at any age, because they’re (for the most part) caused by sun exposure over many years.  Age spots aren’t dangerous, but if you’d like to lighten them, applying aloe vera gel is said to do the trick.

3. Coffee Grounds Exfoliant  – When you’re done with your morning cup of Joe, don’t dump those coffee grounds, use them to exfoliate. Mix 1/4 cup used coffee grounds and one egg white.  An alternate recipe calls for mixing 1 Tbsp coffee grounds with 1 Tbsp of water or olive oil. Massage onto face, let it dry and then rinse with warm water. When used as a body scrub, caffeinated coffee grounds are also said to help relieve cellulite.

4. Vitamin E Moisturizer – I know several women with flawless skin who swear by this easy, inexpensive facial moisturizer. Simply break open vitamin E capsules and gently massage into your skin. I find that in the winter especially, Vitamin E does a great job at keeping the dryness away.

5. Dry Brush Scrub – Our bodies detoxify in a number of ways, including through our kidneys, lungs and skin. Our skin is responsible for a quarter of our body’s daily detoxification. Dry brushing stimulates the lymphatic system, improving circulation and detoxification. Dry brushing also helps remove dead skin cells, softens skin, and helps reduce cellulite. Always brush skin when it’s dry,  moving from your feet upwards, and before a shower or bath. If you don’t already own a body brush, Fantasea Natural Bristle Body Brushis an affordable and highly rated option.

 Do you have any natural beauty solutions that work wonders for you? Share them here, or on the Women at Forty Facebook page.

Note: If you have allergies, or are sensitive to any of the above ingredients, do not apply them to your skin.

On Earth Day, Living Simply, and Going Natural

Live simply so that others may simply liveMonday, April 22nd was Earth Day. Put simply, recognizing Earth Day increases awareness and interest in all things natural.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a granola-eating tree-hugger to appreciate Earth Day, and this isn’t a preachy stop-doing-that-or-small-furry-creatures-suffer post. It’s a reminder that everything, from the food we eat to the beauty products we purchase, impacts us on a local and global level.

For me, Earth Day reminds me to step back from the constant barrage of media messages telling me to consume more.  It prompts me to make more mindful choices that allow me to live more simply. Choices that allow others in this world to simply live.

From purchasing locally grown food, when available, to making your own beauty and skin care products, living more naturally has its benefits.

On Friday, I’m dusting off my old Five-For-Friday format to share five natural beauty solutions that women at forty (or any age for that matter) can probably find right in their pantry. The solutions are simple, inexpensive, and most importantly, all natural. The post is actually a sneak-peak at an eBook I’m working on about natural beauty solutions for women at 40. The eBook, the first in my new 40 for 40 series, is tentatively titled, Radiance: The natural guide to radiant, healthy skin at 40 and beyond. It will include 40 tried and tested simple alternatives (or enhancements) to commercially available beauty products.

Until then, I encourage you to think about ways you can slow down, simplify, and incorporate natural alternatives in your lives.

If you’ve already incorporated natural solutions into your lifestyle, please share them in the comment section or on the Women at Forty Facebook page.

Kalin’s Chronicles: Love Your Heart

Go Red DayIn the United States, February is the month of love, but it is also American Heart Month. So I’m mixing the two to tell all you “Women at Forty” – and older — to love your heart this month.

Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death among women – more than breast cancer?

Here are some tips on symptoms, prevention and places to go for more information on how you can love your heart to health.

What is heart disease?

Heart disease – also called cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease – is a simple term used to describe several problems related to plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. As the plaque builds up, the arteries narrow, making it more difficult for blood to flow and creating a risk for heart attack or stroke.

According to the American Heart Association, one in three women has some form of heart disease.

Heart attack symptoms in women:

• Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
• Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
• Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
• Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

***If you have any of these signs, don’t wait more than five minutes before calling for help. Call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.

Prevention tips:

• Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to learn your personal risk for heart disease.    Quit smoking — just one year after you quit, you’ll cut your risk of coronary heart disease by 50 percent.
• Start an exercise program. Just walking 30 minutes a day can lower your risk for heart attack and stroke.
• Reduce stress — meditation is a good option.
• Modify your by eating less fried foods and red meat, and using the leaner white meat of skinless chicken.
• Per TV’s Dr. Oz:   lose belly fat and get enough sleep.  Belly fat and insomnia can both lead to heart disease.

Women’s Heart Resources:

• Go Red For Women

My Life Check Risk Calculator
National Coalition of Women with Heart Disease
Sister to Sister

So during this month of love, do something loving for your heart — it pumps hard for you!

Kalin Thomas is Women at Forty’s Travel & Leisure Editor. She is also Senior Writer/Photographer for SoulOfAmerica. Before starting her own multimedia company, Kalin spent 17 years at CNN where she won several awards for her work as producer/correspondent for CNN’s weekly travel program, CNN TravelNow. She is currently writing a book about her travels. For more information on Kalin, visit www.seetheworldproductions.com.