Permission to Shine

I am a scientist…and this is a study I have been working on for the last three years.


Hypothesis: Women feel better and see the world differently when they take care of themselves.


Primary Aim:  Encourage women to shine their beauty every day (even if they are just going to Target.)


Inclusion criteria: Women. Even the grumpy ones. (maybe those especially haha)

            Exclusion criteria: Hmmm…still working on that


Secondary Aim: Help women help other women to shine.


Background:  Somewhere between school, a career, family and the grocery store, women lose their own sense of self. They focus on everyone and everything but their own unique beauty they have. They stop putting on their best self. They stop smiling and start hiding. They compare themselves to models and younger versions of themselves and stop appreciating all the beauty that lives within them.


They shop for their kids and dress their homes. They drive others to sports practices and don’t have time to walk themselves. They make sure everyone else has what they need all day but go to bed exhausted. And in the morning, the last thing they think of is how to harness their own sense of style, their own beauty, and their own inner light.


In other words, they forget to shine.


Case example: 40-some year old cardiac anesthesiologist, Midwest wife and mother of four. For several years lived around the clock in scrubs and yoga pants. Forgot what it was like to rock 3-inch heels and feel great in lipstick. Dreamt about manicures and pencil skirts that fit. Took care of everyone else until one day she decided to


Take. Her. Shine. Back.


Suddenly remembered how great it felt to take care of herself and started living healthy, dressing nice, and making time for herself.


OK For Real: I know this because I have lived it. For years I put everyone else’s needs before my own. And the older I became, the more responsibility I had, the more my own sense of style and inner beauty faded into the background. And guess what? I fit in. I fit in with moms wearing yoga capris with their hair in ponytails and maybe some Chapstick. I fit in with career women who wore every shade of gray and black cardigans to blend in and be taken seriously for their work and not their lip color. Everyone expected this of me, and guess what? I expected it of me.


But the truth is, I was so dull. And sad.


I was so sad.


So I stopped.

Why is it that at a certain age, or when we reach a certain level in our career, or a certain pay scale, it means we as women must stop shining? Why does it mean we must hide our beauty and our color and our smiles and our laugh and our strength and be “less” that who we were when we were younger? Why must we hide in cardigans and ponytails and sweat pants?


Who said our most beautiful years are over?


The truth is, the most beautiful women I know aren’t under 30.


They also aren’t a size two.


Two years ago I started on on-line group for 30 of my female friends who were doctors. It was gutsy and completely scary, but as I looked around me, whether at the soccer field or the hospital boardroom, I saw women being less than themselves.  I wanted to help the women in my little area of the world.


I encouraged them to spend 15 minutes at night on themselves before bed. I invited them to take time to move more, to eat better, to get rid of clothes that didn’t fit. I encouraged them to get rid of every item in their closet that didn’t make them feel wonderful wearing it.  I invited them to encourage each other when they were brave enough to try a new lipstick color and that it was ok to swap a ponytail for a bun. I told them how great they looked when they wore the dress that had been hanging in their closet for five years waiting for a “reason” to be worn.


What happened was amazing. Women physicians started encouraging other women physicians to take better care and to stop hiding themselves. They shared self-care hacks and career advice. Women started spending time on themselves and feeling better. Their relationships improved. They made friends with other women in the group and transformed themselves. Soon 30 women became a very powerful group of 5,000+.


To be honest, I know that this blog is going to get a lot of criticism. People will call me shallow and they will not get the message. But the truth is,


I don’t care.


I care about the women who feel lost. They feel hidden and sad and dull. I know. I have been there.


And before you count this message out, did you know that a person's commitment to self-care has been attributed to his or her professional resilience? Interesting fact, isn't it?


My message is simple: Wear the lipstick. Go for the walk. Wear the shoes. Don’t wait  for an occasion to look and feel great. Don’t see your most beautiful self as your prom night. Hahaha!


BE BEAUTIFUL YOU – whatever that is for you. Only you know. Maybe its 4-inch Jimmy Choos. Maybe it’s Nikes. Maybe you feel great in bright lipstick. Maybe makeup to you is putting on face moisturizer.


I always say lipstick and leadership aren’t mutually exclusive. I know I don’t look like others expect me to at times. My light shines too bright for those who would feel better with me in a black suit and flats.


Guess what?


I am SO much happier embracing my own sense of style.


I am SO much more complete leading as MY BEST SELF.


This is permission for you to do the same.


Don’t dim your own light.