Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Look for Joy Amid Midlife Melancholy

DEAR HARRIETTE: I look in the mirror and hate what I see. I don't know where the years went. I used to be cute and thin and attractive, or so I thought. Now I look overweight and sad.

I guess I am kind of sad. My boyfriend left me a few months ago, and I feel bad. I don't know if this is a midlife crisis, like people talk about. All I know is I hate looking at myself, and I don't really like my life so much. I go to work and come home and don't do much else. I need to get out of this rut. -- In a Hole, Syracuse, N.Y.

DEAR IN A HOLE: You have mentioned several things that could lead to self-doubt. The aging process is real for everyone. It can be hard to accept that your body is changing in ways you don't like -- especially if you once were thin and now are not, and only now are realizing that it can be troublesome.

The great news is that you can do something about your weight. Step away from the mirror and into a gym, or even turn on an exercise program on TV. You will be amazed that moving your body can help you get fit and improve your mental outlook. It will not happen overnight, but it does work.

As far as the ex-boyfriend, it is important to mourn the loss of that relationship and move on. Remember what you appreciated about that bond, as well as what didn't work. Recall what you liked about yourself, then embrace those qualities. Reflect on what you liked and disliked about your boyfriend. The things you appreciated should be the qualities you look for in a potential new partner.

If you have any girlfriends to hang out with, make a date with them to go out and have a good time talking and laughing. Look for easy, fun opportunities to bring joy into your life.

Also, look for a therapist who can help you think through your state of mind and find some peace within yourself.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I want to go on vacation, but my husband doesn't want to go anywhere. Every time I ask him, he shrugs it off and says he isn't leaving his house.

My girlfriends are going on a spa vacation for a long weekend, and I think that would be really fun. I want to go, but I'm afraid to mention it to my husband. How can I bring it up? -- Need a Vacation, Memphis, Tenn.

DEAR NEED A VACATION: Your husband may be thrilled that you have a getaway option with your friends that will satisfy your thirst for travel without a commitment on his part. With excitement, tell him about the idea. He may surprise you and be happy about your plan.