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Overcoming Writer’s Block & Fashion Ennui: 12 Steps to Cheer up Older Women

12 step program for writer's block ennui sadness

by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)

If you’re a fan of my fashion articles, you may have noticed a time lag between this article and the last one. If I were smart, I would say I’ve had writer’s block for the past month. In truth, I started thinking like an old hag. I decided to feel sorry for myself... and worry about death... and spook myself about old age. Of course, this was not a conscious decision. I just sort of fell down into a huge pit of ennui.

I started to feel lost and desolate... and I felt like everything was hopeless. I have no solid reason to explain it.

how to cheer yourself up if you're an older woman

Play Dress up in Your Closet

Well, Ms. Fixer that I am, I realized I could come up with some "steps" to cheer myself up.

The following "12-step program" is written in first person (for myself), but it could work for any woman over 50 who's feeling down. Just substitute "you" for "I"... and so on.

Tina Boomerina’s 12-Step Program for Fashion Ennui (and General Malaise)

  • Step 1. Look at Photos of Cute Outfits (Window Shop)
  • Step 2. Shop for New Clothes
  • Step 3. Play Dress Up
  • Step 4. Try New Makeup
  • Step 5. Buy a Hat
  • Step 6. Forget My Age

Now, here's where it gets heavy...

  • Step 7. Ignore Everything I May Never Accomplish in Life
  • Step 8. Concentrate on What I CAN Accomplish in Life
  • Step 9. Learn to Paint (or something creative)
  • Step 10. Go to Church (maybe something like my neighbor's alternative church)
  • Step 11. Volunteer (experience the world outside myself)
  • Step 12. Write About my Ennui to Get Rid of It

Of course, I just made up this 12-step nonsense on the fly. I have no idea if it will work, but it gives me an excuse to look at cute outfits and a reason to start writing again. Also, it may help you someday when you're feeling old and sad.

Old Lady-itis & Fashion Ennui: Get Over It!

This is not my usual type of article, but I have to do something to purge my mind of a wicked truckload of debilitating thoughts that have had me on the brink of giving up for the last few months. And, you have to indulge me… because almost no other writer understands you, Baby Boomerinas (boomer women over 50), enough to give you honest information while making you laugh… or cry… So, you HAVE to bear with me. (Trust me. This article is the only thing that might get me writing again. And, I promise not to be maudlin.)

So, here’s the Reader’s Digest version of my personal 12-step program.

read about how to cheer yourself up

Look at Cute Outfits Women Over 40 50 60

Step 1. Look at Photos of Cute Outfits for Women Over 40, 50, 60:

Whenever I feel old or I look in the mirror and see my sagging jowls, I immediately think of finding Hillary _____'s plastic surgeon. (Insert name of choice, depending on age: Clinton, Duff, whatever.)

Then, I get real... and I realize I'm not going to get a face lift because I'm too chicken spit.

Immediately afterwards, I force myself to think of other ways to change my outward appearance. Of course, the obvious and realistic answer that usually bubbles up into the consciousness of my mind is that I need to find new ways of wearing (new or old) clothing to camouflage my flaws and/or draw attention away from anything that makes me look old.

The easiest way for me to come up with new ideas is to look at trendy outfits.

I can't tell you why looking at outfits cheers me up, but it does. Even when the models are 12 years old, I get a rush from thinking about different ways to adapt a current look to fit my softly deteriorating body. Looking at fashion is almost as good as chocolate and definitely less fattening. Weird, I know... but it might work for you, too.

read how I'm going to cheer myself up... maybe some retail therapy

Spring Dress & Winter Jackets on my Wishlist

Step 2. Shop for New Clothes

I like to use the "shopping gene" to fluff up my dampened spirits.

Of course, you and I don't actually need to buy new clothes to get a lift. Sometimes, just looking around (online or in an actual store) and putting cute things onto our wishlists is good enough to give older women a small rush.

And, sometimes, just frolicking around one's local thrift store is enough to turn on those major shopping endorphins.

Unfortunately, for those of us living off interest income or static pensions, the best rush still comes from actually buying something. It's called retail therapy for a reason. What can I say? It may be the hunter-gatherer instinct in women or it may be the thrill of opening a "gift" from FedEx... even though we realize we've purchased the gift ourselves. (Note: Small doses of shopping therapy are fine. Just don't depend on shopping alone to drag yourself out of a black hole... for obvious reasons.)

Try mixing and matching things in your closet

Play Dress Up by Mixing New Outfits

Step 3. Play Dress Up

Remember when you were a little girl and you put on your mother's huge dresses and sweaters, piled on all her jewelry, and clomped around in her oversized heels? Well, I hope you had a chance to experience that. Maybe you spent your whole life at daycare or in front of the boob-tube babysitter. However, if you had a childhood like mine, you'll remember the joyous feeling that comes from trying on your mom's elbow-length gloves and proper little mink hat.

Sure, mom got angry at you when you smudged a little lipstick on her favorite suede shirtdress from San Francisco (we didn't mention that a little sister secretly did the damage), but let's forget about that scene. And, let's remember the playful attitude of trying on different clothing combinations that made you... and your mother... smile.

Those same types of wild, carefree, outrageous fashion faux pas are all the rage these days. So, step number three involves putting all your separates and accessories together into artfully naive combinations.

What are you looking for? A new way to wear everything in your closet.

Try layering short over long and long over short. Put a winter coat over a summer dress... or a swimsuit. Wear your purple slip under a short coat and add Chanel-like pearls. Make up your own flipping fashion rules. (If you discover a new and "unusual" outfit that might be good, wear it to the grocery store to try it out. No one judges last minute outfits worn to the market.)

When you go through all the stuff you own, you may find tons of clothes and accessories you forgot you had. And... if nothing else... you'll definitely get a good laugh out of this exercise.

read how I am trying to get over sadness ennui the blues the doldrums whatever you want to call it

Try New Makeup to Combat the Blues

Step 4. Try New Makeup

Go ahead! Try some new colors that you never thought you'd wear. Cosmetics are not tattoos. Your new makeup will wash off.

And, hey, the worst thing that could happen is that people might think you're a drag queen... haha... but I promise you'll survive. Why not have a little fun with different shades of eye shadow and blush and lipstick and nail polish? Heck... make your hair pink if you can figure out how to do it.

read how to make yourself feel better with retail therapy and more

Buy a New Hat

Step 5. Buy a New Hat

I remember watching an ancient episode of I Love Lucy or some similar black-and-white sitcom, in which the husband told the wife to go out and buy a new hat, because it would help her get over her depression. Well, I was about six years old at the time, so I didn't understand how a new hat could possibly make anyone's mom feel better... but these days I totally get it. And, now that I have a better understanding of the mood-altering capabilities of hats, I have a serious case of QEE (Queen Elizabeth Envy). Actually, I have something even worse. My doctor thinks it's either RFE (Royal Family Envy) or HAD (Hat Affective Disorder).

Seriously, it is truly amazing how the simplest of hats can help transform the way people perceive you. And, this change leads to a transformation of how you perceive yourself.

read how to kick the blues when you're feeling old

Don't Dress or Act Your Age

Step 6. Forget Your age

I'm not saying you should forget your age when it comes to fashion. I'm saying you should forget your age when it comes to everything you do. Sure, your little aches and pains will creep in and try to remind you that you're not a kid anymore, but do your best to ignore those signals... and to ignore the stares of immature salesclerks and huffy boomer cohorts.

I've found that when you dress (just a tad) too "young" for your demographic, you feel just a tad younger.

Do something creative when you're sad during holidays

Happy Freaking Thanksgiving

Steps 7, 8, 9. Forget the Past, Concentrate on the Future

Read the title above for the next three steps. It's self explanatory.

Sure, you may have spent half your life taking care of your children and other people. No, you haven't accomplished everything on your list. So what? You're not dead yet. There are lots of places to go and things to do before you croak. And, you're never too old to become the next Grandma Moses... or Georgia O'Keeffe... or Petra Max... or Martha Graham... or Billie Holiday... or Dale Evans... or whomever you wanted to be as a child.

Keep reading the steps. You will see that shopping and accomplishments are not the only things of value in life. Sure, fame and goodies are fun. And, it's helpful to your disposition if people treat you well because you don't look old and faded and decrepit. However, possessions are just a means to an end. For example, ownership of clothing will help you maintain your good name... by keeping you from being arrested for indecent exposure.

Yep, walking around buck naked would scare the young 'uns so much they'd need new underpants.

ways to get over depression, including religion, fashion of course, and more

Find a Religion

Step 10. Go to Church

Even though I'm a spiritual person and I love sitting in old cathedrals, I'm not a big fan of traditional churches with all their archaic rules. (Who coulda guessed that?) However, my neighbor says her church is loving and accepting of all people. Well, I haven't gone to any of the services yet, but I've seen the beautiful new facility and it feels like 'home'... in a good way.

I also met a few of the congregants when I checked the place out, and they seemed very open and friendly. And, although I didn't spend much time chatting, my instincts tell me that those people are not the types who want to push their dogma on me or try to buy their way into heaven with converts. This will be my third serious attempt at finding a religion that's somewhat compatible with my own idiosyncratic beliefs, which consist of an amalgam of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, science... and a few other things.

get over depression and creative block


Step 11. Make Someone's Life Better by Volunteering

You don't need me to explain this. However, if you're already volunteering, you can tell me where you like to volunteer... especially if you live in Bend, Oregon. I haven't signed up for anything, yet.

Step 12. Write About Your Feelings

I've just written a little about my feelings in this article, and even though I won't be seeing either or my kids for Thanksgiving (again), I do feel I can go on after writing this stupid article. Yep, I was so bad I slept for three days. I was hoping I would just disappear if I didn't eat anything... or do anything.

Unfortunately (well... fortunately), I woke up... probably because I was hungry. And, here I am. I'm back at my desk writing. (So, if I haven't answered your email from three weeks ago, you now know why.)

I guess it's okay to get old. It kinda sucks, because I don't feel like I have enough time and resources to do all the things I'm capable of doing. But... screw that. All I can do is my best.

What should you do if you don't have a blog? I suppose you could get the same cathartic feeling from writing in a secret journal. You probably won't want to publish your thoughts online, but let me know if you DO. I may put it on here (anonymously if you want). And, there's something about writing things down. The process of scratching out symbols helps you let go of whatever it is that's bothering you. And, if it doesn't, it helps you clarify your situation.

Blah blah blah... buy something if you have the money. You'll help the economy of China and the act of doing so will help you feel better. (Yes, that's supposed to be a joke. I'm trying to make you smile.)

Articles to Cheer up the Lives of Baby Boomer Women:

Shopping Tips for Chic Baby Boomer Women by Carolyn Hirsch

Baby Boomers Ruined America?

It's Hip to be Old: Things They Should Make for Baby Boomers

Colorful Fashion: Lively Colors to Spark up Fall & Winter (this article is from last season but I still love looking at the cheery colors)

read about blogging and ennui

Main Photo

Photo Credits: Prshots.com, Flickr.com, Wikimedia Commons, Tina's painting room.

  • Main Photo: Mike Licht Flickr Creative Commons.
  • Play Dress up in Your Closet: Accessorize.
  • Look at Cute Outfits Women Over 40 50 60: La Redoute, Long Tall Sally.
  • Spring Dress & Winter Jackets on my Wishlist: House of Fraser, Hobbs, Barbour.
  • Play Dress Up by Mixing New Outfits: Littlewood's Ireland, White Stuff, Debenham's.
  • Try New Makeup to Combat the Blues: Accessorize.
  • Buy a New Hat: Accessorize, La Redoute.
  • Don't Dress or Act Your Age: Lipsy, Dorothy Perkins.
  • Happy Freaking Thanksgiving: Watercolor of Chief Joseph (detail). I didn't really give my painting that name. It just seemed appropriate because tomorrow is Thanksgiving and my kids are far away. (There must be some trick to photographing paintings. This thing looks way better in person.)
  • Find a Religion: Rose Window Richmond, Buddhist Art, Illuminated Manuscript of the Pentateuch, all Wikipedia.
  • Volunteer: Christmas outfit Primark UK.

What do you think of this article? I know it's a bit weird, but it knocked out my depression. Leave a comment at the bottom of the page.

Tina Boomerina (AKA Christina Gregoire) is a Baby Boomer born at the end of 1952. Her mission is to make the internet a kinder and gentler place for Baby Boomer women around the world. Tina's specialty is fashion for women over 50.

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  1. kay kerns

    Happy freaking Thanksgiving! Love the watercolor. Now I know why I haven't seen you online much. Those are a great suggestions for breaking out of a depression. I do some of those things too and it does help. Still planning on leaving for AZ on the 6th of December. Please say a prayer and wish us a safe trip. (hugs) kay

    • Tina-Boomerina


      I'm finally back. I went into a freaking funk because it's the holidays and my kids are far, far away. Ray did the same. It's a good thing we aren't big drinkers or we'd be rolling down skid row right about now.

      Hope you had a safe trip... belated prayers. Let me know if you did move to AZ. I'm working on Ray to see if he wants to get an Airstream or an el cheapo condo in AZ. After moving here, I discovered it goes below zero fairly often in winter. Eeek. I still think I would have moved to Bend, but I've never lived anyplace this cold.

  2. Joy Ross

    Although I grew up in the 1950s, I was born in 41, I love your article and relate to so many of your ideas. You encourage me, especially I feel guilty for spending so much time reading about fashion. I love fabric, textures and color, but as I get older I seem to gravitate toward neutrals, black, white, greys. I am a sool summer as least I think so. Nevertheless, you encourage me to keep trying to look my very best even though I spend most of my days at home with my invalid husband. Thanks for sharing your heart. I pray that you will go and try that church that offers love and acceptance as you give us petite plus ladies about our messed up bodies, mistaken idendenties and superficial outlooks on life. Thanks again.

    • Tina-Boomerina

      Joy, you're a boomerina!

      Don't feel guilty for reading about fashion.

      1. Fashion is an honorable diversion from "real life" problems.

      2. The older we get, the more important fashion becomes. A gal can wear anything in her 20s or 30s. You and I have to think it through before walking out the door.

      3. Boomerinas don't want to look ancient and wearing the right stuff can help.

      4. Fashion is a cheap addiction. Well, as long as we don't go crazy with the credit cards... and, from what I hear, fashion is generally much cheaper than other addictions like recreational drugs.

      5. If you're stuck at home taking care of your husband, you deserve a little fun. And, looking at fashion online is about as fun as it gets. Well, that's a lie, but I DO like to wander around online when I need a little inspiration.

      Joy, my sister is a cool summer and she looks great in all kinds of neutrals that make me look... like I need an undertaker.

      Japanese women wear brights as children, and then they go more and more neutral as they age. So, I think black, white, greys, and neutralized pastels sound about right for you. (Everyone is different, though.)

      I still haven't made it to the church, but I made it through the holidays without my adult children. (I miss them so much. They live far away.) And, I plan on going to the new church soon.

      I'm sure you don't have a superficial outlook on life and neither do I. Yes, it would be fun to talk about politics (all politicians are evil) and religion (my own spiritual views don't fit into anyone's dogma), but we all need a reprieve from the big picture from time to time.

      I hope this website is a good place to escape the things that weigh us down. It is for me.


  3. Nancy Dahl

    This article came at just the right time for me. It made me laugh and I realized we are not alone in our angst at certain Birthdays and Holidays. You hit right on the mark, Tina. I was bumming about having no kids here for Christmas, and reading your feelings made me feel in touch with you and your readers.

    It helped me to focus on what I value. Color, vibrancy, gentleness, etc. There will be time to see my kids. And grand kids. And it is time for new ideas, I am dropping old traditions that don't express who I am now.

    Like cooking a big turkey all day for a fancy sit down dinner. My kids want to stay home and enjoy their children.
    Today I am going upstairs to find new combinations of outfits to express my energy.LOVE TO YOU, Nancy

    • Tina-Boomerina


      Wow! You sent just the right comment. It really helped.

      You are right about everything... kids, turkey, all. I hate December (now that my kids are gone). I'm almost better. I love January. It's almost here.


  4. Tina-Boomerina

    Why would I ever say:

    If not... what can you do?

    What I should have said was:

    If not... eat ice cream.

  5. Jill Aaron

    I'm so sorry to hear that you've been depressed. I adore hats, too, but I feel very self-conscious wearing them, because no one else does. Are you British? That would make it easier. I don't like people looking at me, so the few hats I have stay in the closet, except for the newsboys I occasionally wear if it's raining, and the fake fur thingie and knit hats for winter.

  6. katy-jean at keeknits

    Another great article, thank you very much...the Lord had me find you this late evening and having the deep dark blues kind of night!!! I just commented on another article you wrote ( finding the right leggings/jeggings)! Yes I too am trying my best to shake off these "too old, feeling sorry for myself, empty nest syndrome). This year has been an exceptionally difficult one. There has been quite a few to too many deaths that have plagued all around me, I think I need to go to grief concelling I ask myself who's next and get such a scary feeling inside because I feel so alone myself at times. I don't get out very much because I am disabled and don't have any girlfriends, no grandchildren yet, no sisters, one far away brother, one distant step daughter, one husband hahaha and one just moved out for good son!! That's made have the empty nest blues feeling! I hope that you and your loved ones made it through this last storm over the weekend in the best of health! I send my prayers and well wishes to all of your followers and friends who are still without electricity or had to be evacuated out of there homes. Its times like these that pull me out of feeling sorry for myself and start counting my blessings!!! I have a rented roof over my head, a full belly, a warm bed, clothes on my back, shoes for my feet, clean water, couple pennies in my purse, all the basic necessary means to take care of myself and then some, I am loved by my family, and neighbors, I am a child of God who has blessed my life abundantly and should be looking at all the things I have and take for graanted everyday and say thank you to Him a whole lot more than once or few times a day that I do!!! Like right now I am thanking God for you! May the Lord bless you, your family, those whom you love and to all you call friend!!!

  7. Patti Bobek

    Hello Tina,
    I want to tell you how much I enjoy your attitude on life. I am at the stage, aka age, where I think I am old then think I am not and can do anything and everything, I guess the second thought is the best. I was never much into fashion, I guess mainly because all of my life I never really had the extra cash to spend much on fashion. But I try to look ok, business casual for my work and comfy clothes for outside of the job, often they do intermingle with each other and that's ok , on occasion. I love your attitude on getting out of a funk, I do try and do many things to get out of my occasional spells of funkiness as well. I have a teenage and college student and they do get me in my moods a lot, their troubles become my depression, etc. I am looking to find ways to be more creative to keep my mind on my things and not troubles, so far no luck for any great amount of time, but I have faith I will find my way out of those funks too. I enjoy your articles and will be stopping by more for guidance and chuckles . Thanks, Patti B

  8. Chris

    I think older women and seniors need to try to stay young. This is great!

  9. Yolanda davis

    Liked your article very much. I understand. Keep writing.
    Y. Davis

  10. Linda

    so relate to your feelings, and I think this article is brave and wonderful. thanks.
    PS my fix for feeling like this is to get totally absorbed in my garden..... only works if it not 10 below zero. Then it's hot baths and good books!