12/02/2011 05:25 pm ET Updated Feb 01, 2012

Are You Ready for the Three-Way? (Come With Me for a Major Aha! Moment)

Thanks for the many terrific comments on my recent posts. Keep them coming! I read them all. A few weeks ago, one of you quoted Satchel Paige: "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?" Thought-provoking, right? Let me share with you how my husband forever changed my answer to that question. Jim was dying, and we both knew it. While I poured all my energy into his cancer care, he worried about the difficult journey that lay ahead for me. One day, he took my hand and led me to the three-way mirror in our bathroom. Yeah. The three-way. Brutal. I was in the habit of avoiding my Yoda-chin profile. Harsh overhead light left me nowhere to hide. (Thank God this wasn't a full-length mirror. And there were no sharp objects on hand.) The woman in the mirror was old: face sagging with exhaustion, eyes dull with pain. Her skin was a dry husk, her hair a dowdy battle helmet. Chronologically, I was not quite 50. Emotionally, the brain-sucking stress deflated me like a beach ball. Physically, all my stamina went into watching Jim die. Our long, loving partnership had enriched my life. This was not an accurate reflection of that. For almost twenty years, Jim knew me as vibrant, sensual, and happy. In that mirror was a portrait of denial and self-loathing. Not a great bet for success in the fashion industry. "Diane," he said, "TV is going to be a huge part of your career in the future. You can't put yourself out there like this and expect to be successful." It sounds harsh, I know, but his attitude was, "I'm dying. I don't have time to crap around." If you can't be honest in that moment, when can you be? And he was right. Like it or not, we live in a world where we're judged on looks. Maybe more in my industry than yours, but don't kid yourself -- yours too. You're not expected to look like Heidi Klum, but you are expected to look like you give a damn. The biggest "Aha!" in that huge "Aha!" moment: I looked at that dilapidated broad and said, "That's not me." There's a great moment in Fried Green Tomatoes when Kathy Bates says, "Someone held a mirror up in front of me, and I didn't like what I saw. So you know what I did? I changed." It really is that simple. Change is a fact of life. Either you embrace and steer it or you stick your head in the sand -- making it convenient for life to kick your ass. I never wanted to stop aging. (Jim was about to stop aging, and neither of us wanted that.) I wanted to renegotiate my age. Redefine it. I knew this was possible; Jim made me realize it was imperative. First, the no-brainers: skin care, nutrition, exercise, rest. Yoga alleviated the brain-sucking stress in my life. I also had some work done. (Yes, alert the Taboo Police! I'm saying it out loud: Cosmetic science is your friend. And definitely the topic of a future blog post.) It didn't happen overnight. I refer to the years after Jim's death as "The Lost Decade," but gradually, with effort, I saw myself in the mirror again. Not the 1985 me. A better me -- an accurate reflection of the beauty, power and love I had inside all along. Like a little garter snake shedding her old skin, I felt bright green, supple and slinky again. That transformation began with a brutally honest look in the mirror. So come with me right now. Don't be afraid. I'm holding your hand. Take a long, hard look and answer these three questions:
  • Is this an accurate reflection of who I am inside?
  • Is this an accurate reflection of who I want to be?
  • And how old would I be if I didn't know how old I am?

Share your answers below. Let's celebrate what's working and start a dialogue about what's not.