The media you surround yourself with matters.
Hippie-Trippie. Fluffy. Too Happy. Unrealistic.
In my early twenties, this is how I would have described self-help as a genre. Self-help seemed like a fluffy genre of ideas that were too good to be true and unrealistic. But as my thirties approach and I started to really struggle with positivity, I turned to the genre out of desperation, to be honest.
I’d heard a lot about a book called “Girl, Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis and decided to give it a go. And you know what? It had an impact. A huge one. For one, I realized I wasn’t alone in my thoughts. This thing called being human, turns out, isn’t easy. And her book resonated with me on a deep level. As a high-achiever, I connected with her perfectionist tendencies, her desire to always chase more, and her worries about life passing her by.
From there, I continued pulling self-help into my sphere. I made simple changes.
The Skinny Confidential
2. I made a positive playlist of songs that boosted my mood no matter what. Songs that I
couldn’t help but smile or feel energized by. When I was feeling blah, I’d pop in my
earbuds and find an instant mood boost.
3. I started following positive social media accounts that gave me a boost. Instead of
mindlessly scrolling through people who made me jump into comparison syndrome, I
chose to follow people who boosted me.
Some of my favorites:
Olivia Marie Plath
4. I kept reading positive books, especially when I was really struggling.
Some of my favorites:
The Gap vs. The Gain by Dr. Ben Hardy
Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis
You are a Badass by Jen Sincero
5. I started putting positive quotes on sticky notes for me to see every day. There is one on
my desk. There is one in my closet. There are several on my mirror. These quotes are
my life mottos, my goals, and words that inspire me to kick-ass.
Small Changes Add Up
When you’re in the middle of feeling blah or like life has lost its shine, it’s hard to imagine that a few changes like adding a positive podcast or an upbeat playlist will make a difference. But I’m here to tell you that most days, we have to fight for positivity. We have to fight to feel energized, especially in a world that tries its hardest to bring you down.
Adding in some positivity, some words that inspire you really does make a difference. The work part of it is that you have to find who and what speaks to YOU, specifically. You have to search for the quotes that light you up, the podcasts that energize you, and the books that resonate. Sometimes, these will be out of your comfort zone at first. Sometimes, they will be about topics you don’t want to admit you need help with. But I encourage you to let that go, to fight for who you want to be.
Join me next Monday as we visit another tip for rediscovering the magic in your life, and be sure to click here to read week one’s post about why it matters in the first place.
Author L.A. Detwiler
Afraid to turn 30? Feeling blah? Quarter-Life Crisis?
It was a simple joke, but I remember tearing up that night as I fell asleep. “Almost Thirty” the birthday cake had read in pink frosting, my husband smiling as the family laughed. At twenty-nine, though, the prospect of turning thirty induced an increased heart rate, sleepless nights, and terror.
There are a lot of reasons I think I was so afraid of turning thirty. Part of it was probably because of the movie Thirteen Going on Thirty, where thirty was the magical age that was the end of the line. It was the age where you were supposed to not only have your shit together but be thriving, too.
At at twenty-nine, I really didn’t feel like I was set to thrive in my thirties–although you wouldn’t know it from the outside looking in.
From the outside, everything was “normal” in my life, maybe even a little magical. I was married to my junior high sweetheart, and we had a house with a dog. I was teaching, my dream since I was a little girl, and I’d even had a few novels published. I hit the USA Today Bestseller’s list and was also teaching at a college one night a week.
But the thing is, I was terrified to turn thirty–and I think it’s because even then, I think I’d realized something so many of us face, especially in modern society: adult life isn’t magical. In fact, a big part of growing up feels like letting the magic behind. And that terrified me.
Are you struggling to find joy?
At thirty-five, I’d like to tell you my tears about the new decade were unfounded. I’d like to tell you I cruised right through the decade of terrors. But that would be a lie.
The truth is, the beginning of my thirties sort of sucked. Some of it was specific, external events, such as my husband losing his job and my mastiff, my soul dog, dying. Some if it was also because of the dreaded 2020 year and all that ensued from that. But to be honest, I think a lot of it was just internal. It was me realizing that even though I had everything I was supposed to want, I was walking through life like a zombie. I wasn’t happy or fulfilled. I wasn’t joy-filled. I was, most days, just trying to survive. There was a meme I saw around this time about a vending machine with a sign that said: The light’s still on but actually dead. And that meme, which was supposed to be funny, was exactly how I felt.
But over the past years, as I’ve tried to sort through that feeling, tried to re-discover joy, wonder, and adventure, I’ve come to learn this: I’m not the only one.
That’s the thing, dear reader. I think so many of us, especially women, walk around with the perfect smile on to convince others we’re all good. We post on social media, we use our manners, and we tell ourselves we have to be grateful. We convince ourselves that it’s selfish to want anything more. But more and more I’m understanding that for so many of us, the thirties bring about a shift for so many of us–a shift from chasing that dream we thought we wanted to the reality setting in that maybe that wasn’t what we wanted at all.
For some of us, it also brings about that dreaded question: Is this all? Is this really all there is?
Five years in, I can tell you that I don’t have a magic potion or a quick solve or a simple change to make it all click for you. It’s work. It’s a whole lot of steps forward and steps back. However, I am here to tell you this: It IS possible to find that spark again. It IS possible to enjoy your life more, to feel more fulfilled, and to get excited again. It’s possible to find the magic, in short.
Which brings me to my first tip for rediscovering the magic: You have to face the fact that you’re not happy. I think we live in a society where women are encouraged to hide emotions that could be “ugly.” We’re told to plaster the word “blessed” on bracelets, throw pillows, and posters. We’re told to be grateful for what we have. And I’m all about gratitude. I’m all about appreciating the small things and what you’ve got.
But I don’t think it should come at a cost of masking your true heart. I don’t think it means we should walk around with a smile on when our life is making us miserable. I don’t think we should pretend to glow when our soul is dying.
So the first thing I hope you do today is to ask yourself: Am I walking around feeling dead inside? Am I struggling to find joy in my everyday life? Am I miserable more than I’m happy?
It’s not an easy set of questions to face, especially when you feel like you’ve followed the prescribed path to success and done it all right. It’s not easy to wake up one day and realize your dream might no longer be your dream, or that you might have to make changes.
Still, five years later, I can tell you it’s worth it. I see people in the grocery store who say I just look happier. I see myself in the mirror and I no longer see a woman who is cracking as she tries to smile wider and convince everyone, including herself, that life is perfect. I see a woman who feels a spark again.
Come Back on Mondays For Specific Tips
Over the next few Mondays, I’m going to be digging deeper into this topic and sharing with you tried and true tips that worked for me to pull me out of my rut, to put me in a better headspace, and to set myself up to thrive, not just survive, in my thirties–and beyond.
If you’re someone who has struggled with feeling blah, with feeling like the spark is gone, I hope you’ll join me on Facebook www.facebook.com/ladetwiler or on my blog www.ladetwiler.com. I’m really hoping that by coming together to talk about the struggles of identity, fulfillment, and rediscovering joy, we can uplift each other and encourage each other to take the road less traveled by–the road to true fulfillment, which is sometimes more difficult than cruising along but worth it.
If you’re struggling to find your passion or to find happiness; If you’re unsure of your career or wanting to chase a big dream but are scared; If you’re not feeling like yourself; If you’re feeling miserable; If you’re feeling more negative than ever; then join us. It isn’t a straight, one-size-fits-all path to happiness. But I’m hoping some of the tips and tricks that worked for me might inspire you.
Feel free to send this along to a friend who might need it, and thanks for being here with me!
Author L.A. Detwiler
You stare at the photograph from ten years ago and realize with frustration you don't look the same.
Your skin is looser, your stomach is bigger, your legs are chunkier. Your arms are thicker now, and you wouldn't dare squeeze into an outfit like that. Maybe the scale says you're heavier. Maybe you can't fit in those jeans anymore. You are not the same, and it irks you to the core.
So you do what the media has taught us to do. You say no to the birthday cake when you want to say yes. You cut calories so you go to bed hungry. You make yourself dizzy, all in the sake of calorie deficit. You deny yourself any joy when it comes to food. Maybe you try a diet where you cut out a certain group of foods altogether. Starvation is your new mantra, even though life feels joyless. You are not the same.
Maybe you start counting your steps obsessively, and even when your body screams for rest, you push it anyway. You lift weights until your shoulders ache. You skip fun dates or time with your dog or dinner with friends because you can't miss the gym. You take up running even though you dread that alarm clock every single morning because of it. If you didn't sweat enough, you're not worthy. You have to earn rest. You are not the same.
You cover your body everywhere you go. You change your outfit twenty times because of the way your shirt clings to your stomach pooch or your leg cellulite shows in those shorts. You are not the same--and that is your deepest, darkest secret you hide at all costs.
You worry about what others think as they peruse your social media. You're terrified of being "that girl" who let herself go, who looks bloated and chunky compared to who she was.
You are not the same.
But you know what? You're damned right you're not the same. Because after all these years, you really shouldn't be. You've lived life. You've had successes and failures. You've fallen in love, dealt with heartbreak, lost, loved, lost again. Maybe you've had babies. Maybe you traveled the world. Maybe you learned new skills or took up new hobbies. You've made new friends and taken new jobs. You've survived. You've failed. You've conquered. You've learned.
You've done that thing you never thought you could do. You showed up when you didn't want to. You made life better for others. You saw that sunset that you can't forget about. You got on the stage, you stood up for what was right. You had surprise after surprise, some good and some bad. You lived through countless days of wonder.
You've grown in so many ways in the past ten years that no, you're not the same. You've outgrown that girl you used to be in all the best ways. You are wiser now, smarter, more mature in some ways. You are more open-minded yet also more grounded in who you are and who you want to be. So of course, you are not the same. Isn't it crazy we would expect you to be?
You are not the same--celebrate that, not just emotionally, but physically, too. Stop seeing the changes in your body as something to hide. Celebrate who you are, right now, today. Celebrate every beautiful inch of yourself. Stop hiding. Stop trying to "get back" to the size or shape you used to be. Stop looking back.
I think the sooner you learn to love yourself, to love the skin you're in right now without comparing yourself to yesterday--that's when life opens up. That's when true joy settles into your bones. That's when you can exhale, live your best life, and be truly, 100% healthy.
Stay Safe and Be True,
“Those who succeed do what others won’t.”
An awkward haircut, an uncertainty about where life was headed, and a Jansport backpack accessorizing my ninth-grade self, I walked into the biology class rumored to be a nightmare. The teacher, Mr. Stevens, was known as being very stern, tough, and a no B.S. kind of guy. I was always the studious type, but I knew that Honors Bio was going to be a challenge.
I was right.
Looking back, that class was probably harder than most of the college classes and grad school classes I would take years later. Mr. Stevens pushed us to the limit of our academic abilities. On a Friday, he’d assign a chapter that we would be tested on less than a week later. Words like mitochondria and photosynthesis floated in my fifteen-year-old brain; I would look at those chapters and wonder how I would ever succeed. I cried. I worked hours and hours on weekends. It was no joke.
But through it all, Mr. Stevens always reminded us of the sentiment: Those who succeed do what others won’t. He always pointed out that the last word was won’t, not can’t. In other words, those who achieve their goals put in hard work, something most people won’t do.
And here’s the thing—that class changed everything for me. First, I realized I could do it. I could be successful with dedication. Now, over twenty years later, I still think of those words and those lessons I learned. I might not remember the full photosynthesis process or every bone in a frog. But I do remember that when things feel impossible, I’ve been there before—and I also know I’m capable.
Mr. Stevens gave me something I think we don’t value enough in today’s education system and in society in general—the chance to work hard and challenge myself. Through that hard work that sometimes made me cry, I learned grit, tenacity, and most importantly, confidence. If you’re never pushed past your limits, you’ll never know what you’re actually made of.
And finally, he taught me that to get where you want to go, you have to be willing to make sacrifices. You have to sometimes do what others won’t.
You have to get up at 5 a.m. so you have time to work on that book.
You have to turn off Netflix to study for that degree you’re chasing.
You have to plan ahead so your meals don’t get off course when you go out with friends.
You have to sweat a little, sacrifice a little, and be willing to get knocked down.
You have to do what others won’t in order to live the life you want.
I’m so thankful that twenty years later, Mr. Steven’s words still ring true for me, still inspire me to chase greatness. Most of all, I’m thankful that the tough-love teacher (who probably would be scolded today for his tactics) came into my life when he did so I could learn the true value of hard work and also my own capabilities.
USA TODAY Bestselling Thriller author with Avon Books (HarperCollins), The Widow Next Door, The Diary of a Serial Killer's Daughter, and other creepy thriller books