DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m 30 years old, and I've always been really insecure about my body. During the summer, my friends and I have pool parties and beach days. All of my friends wear bikinis, even though not all of them have perfect bodies. I admire and envy their confidence; I simply don’t have it. I am so insecure about my body that I have not put on a swimsuit since my teens. I'm afraid that I'm spending my best years being defeated by my own insecurities. I would love to get into the pool, and I would love to go to the beach. I don't want to stand in my own way. How can I take the steps towards accepting myself for who I am? -- Summer Body
DEAR SUMMER BODY: Because this is a deep-seated issue for you, you may want to get some professional counseling to help you sort through your insecurities. Body image is an issue for many women and men. Believe me, it comes up a lot as we inch closer to summer.
Apart from counseling, here are some other things you can try. Get comfortable looking at your body in the mirror. Stand in your underwear in front of the mirror and look at yourself head to toe, front to back. As you look at yourself, say, “I love you just the way you are.” Repeat it like a chant. Offer love to yourself. Welcome your full self as you are. Do this every day, and after a while, you will begin to believe it.
Now, invest in a bathing suit. It can be a one-piece. It can even be a bathing suit with swim shorts. Find something that you feel comfortable in. Then drum up the courage this summer to go for it. Trust that your friends will support you. Choose to be free and to have fun.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently lost my grandmother's ring. My mom gave it to me as a wedding gift three years ago. I've always been really close to my grandmother, but I was afraid to wear the ring because of how precious it is. I thought I put it away in a safe spot, but somehow I’ve misplaced it. I'm very scared to tell my mom that I lost this family heirloom. It was supposed to be in my family for generations. What should I do? -- Missing Ring
DEAR MISSING RING: Before you share the news with your mother, step back and think hard about where the ring might be. Talk to your husband about it, and ask him to be on the lookout. Look under the bed and in all of your drawers. Don’t give up. Scour every nook and cranny. Perhaps it is not gone.
If, after a thorough search, you still can’t find it, then tell your mother. I say that with one caveat: If your mother is unwell, of fragile mind or body, keep this information to yourself. There is no need to worry your mother since there is nothing you can do about the loss, in terms of replacing the ring. So, weigh the emotional consequences of telling your mother versus keeping it to yourself. Tell her only if you think she can handle it.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)