For those who are quick to proclaim that "50 is the new 30", Hollywood writer/producer Heidi Clements would beg to differ. "I don't think there's anything sexy about aging. I think that the secret is you have to learn to laugh at it. So that's what I try to do. By putting out every horrible thing that's happened to me," says Clements, "maybe somebody else will laugh at it." And that's what the sitcom writer of ABC Family's Baby Daddy has done in her new fictional memoir Welcome to Heidi (HumorOutcasts Press, 2014). Laced with hilarious honesty and tales from the Tinseltown trenches, Clements stories have Hollywood buzzing with speculation. The author admits that this is her truth and that she isn't finger pointing, but instead has created compilations of multiple experiences, bosses and jobs from her past. Clements doesn't sugarcoat life in Hollywood or her personal challenges, but in the process she hopes to inspire women over 50, and those who will one day reach that milestone, to define themselves and find their power.
Who better to address the stigma of aging and societal pressure than a woman who lives smack in the middle of TV land and is now finally comfortable in her own skin? Clements calls Hollywood "the worst place to age." Jokes the writer, "You should cover up all the mirrors in your house if you live in Hollywood or you'll never go outside."
Clements admits that her life has been laced with challenges. She's cornered and corrected most, unless you count her Carrie Bradshaw-esque shoe addiction. Five minutes into our conversation, it's clear that sensible shoes will never be in her future. "If you see me wearing Crocs, just have me killed," laughs Clements.
Living in a town and a business that doesn't typically embrace older women, Clements has somehow learned how to fully embrace her life:
For me, life is just beginning -- this whole second half of my life. And I think that people need to figure out how to celebrate this incredible gift that is life. And so part of my book is making sure that younger women get that message--Like don't look for your soul mate; you are your soul mate. Don't look for your other half. Find somebody who's already whole.
Clements is proud of the fact that now her career also involves being a mentor to younger women and men:
You can't be afraid of a 20-something that's going to take your job, because at the end of the day that person is just as terrified about their position as you were when you were their age. And they're actually looking to you for guidance. And the minute you realize that you could actually be a voice for somebody who's younger, they will look up to you.
In some ways, it seems like mentoring might be one of the answers to aging well. Clements notes:
If that's the stage of my life that I'm at now, then I'm going to embrace that. Because you have to. You have to not think of yourself as out of date, but just put yourself in more of a teaching position. But I think everybody's scared and nobody knows what the hell they are doing. And the minute people start admitting that, it'll be a much more fun place to live.
In between the frankness and humor, Welcome to Heidi shares life lessons, many learned the hard way. I'll leave you with these words from Clements:
I have spent my life being told that everything that I do is wrong. I am the opposite of what society tells you to be -- which is get married, have children, maybe find a career. And my career has certainly not stopped me from getting married or having children, it's just not the way that I went about life. And so for me the message is really just to be who you want to be, but be your best self. Don't be somebody else's best version of you. Follow your dreams and never let anything stop you. And learn how to laugh at life. Because it's so amazing to just be here. If you get hung up on the BS, you're gonna miss everything.