Mary Anne, a beautiful, vibrant 63 year old woman, was dying of breast cancer. I had the honor of being her nurse and by her side in the intensive care unit, where we'd spend hours talking about life, love, death and lipstick. Yes, lipstick.

Mary Anne loved putting color on her lips. When I’d walk into her room to start my shift, I’d often find her with her beautiful engraved mirror, lining her lips and putting on her lipstick du jour. One day, I overheard her son ask, “Mom, why are you putting on lipstick?”

“Son, I may be dying, but that doesn’t mean I have to look like hell while doing it. When I check out of this world and into my next, I want to look my best.”

Two days later, Mary Anne died.

When everyone had left her room, I went over to her bedside table. There it was. Chanel’s “Beige du Chanel.” That was her go-to color when the priest would come to visit. It only seemed appropriate for this occassion.

I took off the cap with the double C logo and put some fresh lipstick on Mary Anne’s pale lips, and I secretly thanked her for one of her life lessons: there’s power in a lipstick.

A good lipstick (or any act to increase your confidence) says to the Universe:

I care.
I embrace being a woman.
I have style.
I pay attention to details.
I welcome beauty and miracles into my life.

I use lipstick to help me create the feeling I'm after.

For example:

Tom Ford Scarlet Rouge: what I pull out of my purse when I want to feel like a femme fatale.
M.A.C. Angel: perfect for those days when I desire to feel like, angel.
NARS Catfight: this is my go-to every day lipstick.

My friend, Jenny, joked about how I used lipstick to help me finish the Chicago Marathon: “When everyone else was pulling out energy goo from their fanny packs, Tonya was pulling out her lipstick.”

It’s true, and I swear, it helped me get through mile 18.

Putting on lipstick takes 10 seconds. Not a lot of time for the benefits it brings. There’s no excuse for not taking some time to look and feel your best. If Mary Anne, who was dying, can do it, so can you. It’s powerful. It will change the way you act in your world, and as a result, your world will become very different.

Now, I'm curious. What is your favorite way thing to do or put on to feel more confident? And, if you have a favorite lipstick, do share ;).


With Kisses,


The Self-Image Manifesto

You’re Invited To Live An Extraordinary Life!