Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff
Photo: Jacqueline Veissid
Women everywhere, this is your call to action! Get the grown woman's guide to becoming Queen of Your Own Life from Kathy Kinney (best known as Mimi on The Drew Carey Show) and publishing executive Cindy Ratzlaff.
"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" "You're short, you're fat, you're old and you're gray. It certainly isn't you, so back away." Be honest. We have all looked in the mirror and asked some version of that question with a similar imagined response.

Wouldn't the ultimate gift to yourself be to believe that, no matter your age, size or circumstances, you are beautiful and then go out into the world reflecting that feeling inside and out?

There is no better time than now to start to appreciate that you are perfect just the way you are. A truly remarkable woman who is more than ready to be a queen! Join us in following these 10 great steps and claim your rightful and royal place as Queen of Your Own Life. After all, ladies, if not now, when?

10. Banish.
Let go of a thought or action from the first half of your life that is no longer working for you.

When we asked ourselves this deceptively simple question, we both decided we needed to banish our fear of not being liked. By saying it out loud, we were able to call attention to the fact there was substantial evidence that indicated we were already liked—in particular by each other. We were able to laugh at our fear while reminding each other that we were indeed pretty fabulous. We also pointed out to each other that if there was somebody who couldn't see how awesome we were, it was just their opinion and did not make us unlovable. Oh, and we decided we were no longer going to wear spiky high heels that caused sharp bolts of pain to travel up our spinal column and numb our brain. Life is too short to spend it tottering around like a tipsy geisha.

9. Keep. What do you really like about yourself? Identify your strengths and decide what you want to keep from the first half of your life that's still working for you.

We found this to be a hard one because we were always taught that nice girls don't brag or call attention to themselves. How sad is it when you're too embarrassed to even admit to yourself that you admire something about yourself?

In the end, the one thing we really liked about ourselves and were both certain that we wanted to keep was our sense of humor. We like to think of ourselves as women who go above and beyond the call of making lemonade from lemons. It's like when you're out taking a walk, all dressed up in your new blouse, and you trip and fall down, skidding on your chest across the concrete through the only mud puddle in a 10-block radius. Do you cry or do you laugh? We're the kind of women who laugh until we cry and joyfully invite everyone around us to do the same.
8. Claim your beauty and power. End the mirror's reign of terror.

In the past when we looked in the mirror, we frequently saw only our flaws. Remember what happened in Snow White when the magic mirror told the queen she wasn't the fairest in the land? All hell broke loose. We believe the truth is we are all original works of art—perfect just the way we are. We claimed our beauty and power by looking in the mirror, making steady and direct eye contact with ourselves and saying, "I am beautiful, courageous, valuable and perfect just the way I am—so sayeth the queen!" It seemed pretty silly in the beginning and we did a good bit of giggling, but we said it every time we passed a mirror. All it took was some practice, and soon it didn't seem silly but simply true. Now we never even hear so much as a peep out of that damn mirror.

7. Language matters. The words we choose to speak to ourselves and about ourselves are important.

Have you ever made a mistake and heard your internal voice say something like: "You are such a noodle-head! What were you thinking?" We certainly have. Actually, noodle-head is almost a term of endearment compared to some of the nasty things our internal voices have said. The point is we wouldn't let a stranger call us a noodle-head, so why would we put up with it from our own disapproving internal voice?

Here's how we dealt with the habit of letting our negative internal voice chip away at our self-esteem. We set a kitchen timer and told our negative voice it had 10 minutes to try and take us down. Then we waited. At first, we heard some pretty nasty insults, but within minutes it had run out of things to say and was left sputtering. When the timer beeped, we laid out the new rules. "From now on, if you don't have something good to say to me, then don't say anything at all—the queen has spoken!" In the blessed silence that followed, we heard a voice we hadn't heard since we were girls. It was our positive inner voice telling us to dance, sing, play and have fun. Our true voice that guides us had been drowned out by the voice of doubt, shame, anxiety and fear. We have renamed our newly uncovered voice the Queen Voice, and we want to invite you to uncover yours.
6. Admire yourself. Give yourself a Windy Mountain Moment so you can appreciate who you've become.

We believe the old analogy of life being a tapestry. But we think that most of the time we live at the back of the tapestry with strings hanging everywhere. In that jumble of knots, we sometimes feel that we're just trying to stay out of the way of that big, sharp needle that keeps poking through. It's a great gift to yourself to stop and take a moment to come around to the front of the tapestry to see the beauty of a life well lived.

Here's how to have your own Windy Mountain Moment. Imagine yourself standing on top of a mountain on a beautiful, clear day. Look back down the mountain at the steep trail you took to get here. No doubt it does a lot of winding and zigzagging as you had to change direction to get around the occasional large boulder blocking the path. But you did it, and the fact that you made it up that rugged path to this spot where you are standing right now proves you are extraordinary and worthy of your own admiration. Every woman's journey involves detours, challenges, triumphs and a few harrowing moments. It is precisely because of the nature of the journey and your willingness to continue putting one foot in front of the other that you are a remarkable woman. So stand tall on this mountaintop, feel the wind in your hair and shout out at the top of your lungs, "I am an amazing woman, and I admire me."

5. Build and nurture trusting friendships. Face life's joys and challenges with a friend by your side.

Every woman needs at least one good friend to watch her live life so she can occasionally ask, "How am I doing?" trusting she'll get an honest answer. These agenda-free friends are women who want nothing more for you than for you to be your very best.

Through our 30-plus-year friendship, we have offered each other unconditional love and support. Our relationship gives us the courage to take risks knowing that whether we fail or succeed, we will still continue to support each other. We work really hard at our friendship. We know that to have a good friend, we must be a good friend. We try not to take each other for granted, we plan great friendship renewal vacations and we cheer each other's accomplishments without jealousy. And when we fight—and yes, we do get cranky and fight—we are quick to apologize. Not because we are candidates for sainthood but simply because the friendship is too important to lose.
4. Set strong boundaries. Mean what you say and say what you mean.

Does this sound familiar? You're just about to sit down to have some well-deserved me time when after a surprise phone call from your sister, you find yourself in your car with her three children on your way to Chuck E. Cheese wondering why you said yes when you really, really, REALLY wanted and needed to say no and resenting the heck out of your sister.

We were saying yes for reasons ranging from fear we wouldn't be liked if we said no to "at least it will get done right if I do it myself." In the end, the reasons don't matter because if you say yes to everybody else when you don't mean it, there is nothing left for you. We've discovered by walking through the uncomfortable feeling of saying no, there is incredible peace and freedom on the other side. We found we had to practice saying no because it didn't come naturally to us. Here's our trick. When someone asks us to do something, we say, "Hmmm, let me think about that and get back to you." This buys us time to carefully consider the request. We look at our schedules, think about whether this is something we have the time or really want to do and then call the person back with our thoughtful response. Whether it's yes or no, we owe it to our friends to be honest because, let's face it, friendship is not something that thrives well if there is resentment. Ultimately, we've learned that if you do what's best for you—you do what's best for everyone.

3. Learn the simple trick to finally being happy. As we say in the Midwest, "It's time to poop or get off the pot."

The bad news is we are not born knowing how to be happy. It turns out it's a skill we have to learn and practice, like riding a bike. The good news is that just as with bike riding, once you learn it, you will always know how to do it, and with a little practice you'll get really good at it. Remember the story of Pollyanna? By finding the positive in every situation and being glad about it, Pollyanna affected an entire town and changed everyone's lives for the better. What was so bad about that? We'd like to know when Pollyanna became a four-letter word? We practice being happy every day by embracing our inner Pollyanna and finding something each morning and evening to be glad about. Some mornings all we can say is, "I'm glad I woke up." At night we might brush our teeth and say, "I'm glad I have teeth." Other days, we're able to say, "I'm glad I have a passion for writing," or "I'm glad I can rewire a lamp." The more we practice the glad game, the less time we spend focusing on what we don't have and the better we feel. It's like going to the gym. Start small and build your happiness muscles.
Queen of your Own Life by Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff
2. Place the crown firmly on your head. You queen up well.

There are rituals for every major milestone in our lives: birth, graduation, marriage, death. Yet there seems to be no satisfying or affirming ritual to mark a woman's passage from the first half of her life to the second half. We'd like to correct that right now.

To become the queen, all you have to do is throw a party. There's no right way or wrong way to have this celebration. It's your party, and we say give yourself permission to have it your way with bratwurst and beer or caviar and champagne. You decide.

However, that said, there are three mandatory things we feel you must do: (1) You must stand up and in full voice declare yourself queen of your own life, (2) you must do it in front of your trusted friends and give them a chance to do it as well and (3) eat cake. Okay, this one is really optional, but what would a coronation be without a cake?

You can have this celebration as many times and as many ways as you want or need. Again, the only way to get it wrong is to not have it at all. So give yourself a crowning party. If not now, when?

1. Pass it on. "Hear ye, hear ye," says the queen.

Now you're officially the queen of your own life. In order to keep your newfound royal status, you must help other women find their power, beauty and happiness by sharing how you found yours. The truth is, we have been keeping a secret from you. You already were the queen of your own life. You just needed a couple of good friends like us to hold up the mirror so that you could see what we see—the best in yourself. Be a good queen and a good friend and go help other women see their best selves. It's good to be queen.

Do you relate to Kathy and Cindy's plight to find happiness in the second half of life? Comment below.

Read an excerpt from Queen of Your Own Life

Kathy Kinney is best known for her iconic role as Mimi Bobeck on The Drew Carey Show. She has acted in over a dozen films, guest-starred on numerous television shows and has toured worldwide with Drew Carey and the Improv All-Stars. Kinney may also be seen in the title role of Mrs. P at MrsP.com, a website for children aimed at keeping the joy of books and reading alive.

A veteran publishing executive,
Cindy Ratzlaff created marketing campaigns for more than 100 New York Times best-selling books, including The South Beach Diet. She is president of Brand New Brand You, which specializes in using new social media platforms to increase brand awareness, and is co-founder of the online publishing company Supreme Social Media.

For more information about the book
 visit QueenofYourOwnLife.com.


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