Meet Debbie…

Debbie Hardy Head Shot 1

Debbie Hardy

Debbie Hardy isn’t as old as she looks. In fact, she’s younger in her 60s than she was at 39! How? Well, her secrets are revealed in her book, Free to Be Fabulous: 100 Ways to Look and Feel Younger at 40, 50, and Beyond. She has appeared on local, national and international radio and TV shows, speaks to various groups, associations, and women’s retreats, and teaches at writers’ conferences.

So how do you become fabulous? The Number One thing is your attitude. You can have the most beautiful face and the most expensive wardrobe but not be fabulous. If that beautiful face looks angry, sullen, or unfriendly, you have a lot to learn about being fabulous.

In spite of many difficulties in her life, Debbie Hardy, The Queen of Resilience, maintains a positive outlook and a joyful personality. She has overcome a childhood of poverty and abuse, a failed marriage, widowhood, and many other disappointments to become CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer) of Stepping Through Life.

Debbie is also the author of Stepping Through Cancer: A Guide for the Journey for caregivers. She has spoken to professional caregivers and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

She’s a grandmother, a mentor, a friend, and an accomplished pianist who plays for her church choir.

We recently caught up with Debbie and asked a few questions:

So how did you become younger?

It all started with doing the laundry. Suffice it to say that I discovered that I was wearing my mother’s underwear. This is in the book in detail, but that’s exactly what happened. I really studied my face in the mirror and decided to do something to keep from aging. And it worked!

You give advice for women to look, act, and feel younger. What are the most important things to do?

The easiest way to look younger instantly is to improve your face with a smile. And use your whole face, not just your mouth. Some friends couldn’t understand when I told them to smile with their eyes, but when they tried it, their faces lit up. They got it!

Second, drink lots and lots of water. What happens when an apple has been sitting around too long? The apple starts to dry out and the skin shrivels up, just like ours. So if you can infuse water, you slow down the wrinkle effect. But you need water inside, not just sitting in a tub and soaking. That GIVES you wrinkles, mostly on your fingers.

Third, and most important, is to keep a positive attitude. Nobody likes to be with a Grouchy Gus, so making yourself pleasant will encourage others to be around you. And you’ll live longer. It has been proven scientifically that a deep-down belly laugh bolsters your immune system for three full days. Works for me!

 How did you get the title, “The Queen of Resilience”?

I’ve been knocked down by life and bounced back so many times that one friend calls me a Weeble®. Remember the old line for the toy, “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down”? That’s me, bouncing back so much that I’m now a resilience expert. But a “resilience expert” isn’t fabulous, but a Queen is! So I became The Queen of Resilience and I have the tiara to prove it!

 When did you start writing? Was it a lifelong dream?

I always wanted to be a motivational speaker, but writing came much later. When my husband Bryan died in 2008, I was updating friends and family on his condition by e-mail. Several of them encouraged me to put those messages in a book. That’s what inspired me to write Stepping Through Cancer.

Did you ever write that book, the one with your e-mails?

It was too intimate, too hard at the time. I quit my job about a year after Bryan’s death so I could write fulltime. However, shortly before my last day, my sister Barbara died unexpectedly. It became even harder to put my emotions on paper. So, instead of sharing my own struggle, I explained how others can deal with it instead.

If someone wants to write a book that’s been “hidden inside,” how do they do it?

As Nike says, “Just do it.” My writer friend Lizzie Peacock and I were at a conference where one speaker told us to “puke it out.” Most people write Chapter One and then edit and rewrite it so much they never get to Chapter Two. Our friend Rosalee has rewritten the beginning of her novel so many times we doubt she’ll ever complete the book! No one can edit what’s still inside you, so if you at least write the first draft, someone can work on it. In coaching friends to write, I encourage them to puke their books out. They’re relieved to know that they can just put down what’s on their minds without making it “perfect.”

What does it take to be a published author?

Writing a book is only the first step in publishing. There are about 38 more steps, many of which include the word “wait.” The best way to know the publishing world is to learn all you can: attend conferences, workshops, teleseminars, and any training you can, many of which are free. Meet and develop relationships with good writers. Leach all you can (suck out the information) from them. This is an industry of relationships, so get to know everyone and don’t burn any bridges.

Let’s get personal. Tell us about your family.

I have two wonderful sons from my first marriage: Brian and his wife Sarah live near me with their daughters Carys and Eleri. Younger son Tim lives in another state.

I also have two great stepchildren from Bryan: Gene and Lisa. Combined, they’ve given me some terrific grandchildren, two nearby and three in another state.

 What type of grandmother are you?

I’m not one to sit in a rocker and knit, but I love to bake cookies. It’s fun to help the grandkids bake, especially the easy cookies made from cake mix. They love putting M&M’s and nuts on top. And I really enjoy laughing with them. We play games, have tea parties, paint fingernails, and talk about poop. Just the thing you would expect from a gramma!