top of page

 40 Over 40 for 2023
Debra Sloss



You don’t have to be good at something for it to be a worthwhile endeavor. You just need to want to do the thing and if you keep doing it, you will get better at it. And being good enough can be great!

AGE: 58

PROFESSION: Psychotherapist /Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

What is the best thing about being your age?

I feel more bold and less afraid of failing at something or not being good enough. I feel freer to take a “might as well try” attitude about a lot of things in my life. I also feel more contentment more of the time.

What hardships have you endured that you feel have made you stronger?

Raising three very physically active sons was like running a parenting marathon that really helped me develop endurance for challenges. But the hardest things in my life so far has been finding out my youngest son is on the Autism Spectrum and watching his ongoing mental health challenges and profound suffering. For 7 years of his adolescence and teens he was in continual crisis and I worked day and night to keep him alive and try to find ways to improve his mental state. While his life and being in relationship with him still has many challenges, today we no longer are living crisis to crisis. The result of these experiences turned me into a die-hard mental health advocate and host of a radio show about mental illness, a NAMI volunteer who facilitates support groups for parents of children/teens with mental health challenges and instilled in me a deep humanity that recognizes and understands suffering in others in much deeper ways.


What's your favorite thing you have checked off your bucket list?

Honestly, I have not made a bucket list. But some of the things I feel satisfied with are:
• Getting to be a mother and raising 3 sons and seeing that they are kind and caring people
• Doing work (both professionally and volunteer) that tries to make the world a better place to live in.
• Living long enough to enjoy being a grandma!
• Eating incredible freshly made pasta in Italy before having to go gluten-free
• Exploring new places by bike: Italy, France, England, Wales
• Fall biking in Vermont and the Sierras
• Really good girlfriends!


What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Generally I would have found this question really hard to answer because I would have a thousand answers…except that I had an experience on New Year’s eve just a couple of months ago where I thought to myself, "there is nothing more I could wish for in this moment.”

Here’s the scene: this past year my husband and I sold a property we had bought 30 years ago with a dream that didn’t materialize. We used the funds to buy a condo in Colorado close to our oldest son and his family. On New Year’s Eve we baby sat for our 1 year old grandson at our place so his parents could have a night out with friends. We had a great time playing with him, feeding him dinner, doing the bedtime routine, reading books and putting him to bed. It was the first time he’d successfully gone to sleep at our new place. As my husband and I went to bed that night, I was totally filled up with so much joy. Glad that we had materialized this dream of being able to provide support to our son and daughter-in-law and getting to be an everyday part of our grandson’s life.

What is your most treasured possession?

A couple of sculptures made by my Grandpa Mike. My garden clippers, fork and spade.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Hands down….my kids!  But I also feel satisfied at knowing that in my work I have been able to help many people and proud of the collected works of my STATE of MIND radio show and podcast.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would either like to be more efficient or better at estimating how long things will take me. But I would pick the first one first as I would love to get more done in any given day! Oh yes, and that I could spell better.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Jewelry (especially pieces made by my sister) and boots.

What is a trait you are most proud of? I am genuine and authentic. I also am a person who will make things happen, especially when I see an unmet need!

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t be afraid  that you might not be good enough…just go for it…what ever it is for you in this moment. And know that  you don’t have to good at something for it be a worthy endeavor. And whatever you do with regularity, you will get better at it.”

I wasn’t afraid of physical challenges but I was afraid of bad grades or not being chosen, or trying to make music and I this kept me from pursuing certain opportunities. In my younger years I tended to leaned into the things that came more easily and that I could quickly become good at avoided some that would have been more challenging for me. In my adulthood I leaned that I could do anything I wanted to do if I didn’t’ think I had to be good at it. It opened up so much for me!


What is your motto or favorite quote?

One thing I say to myself often is “If you’ve got people doing anything together, you’re gonna have problems.” This really helps me not get bummed out, feel personally attacked or unappreciated when conflict of ideas, wants or needs inevitably arise.

I also really like, “Today…I am going to embrace chaos” and “Live well” because of the personal agency in both those phrases…I can choose how I experience this moment and can choose to live well, each moment, each day.

Words of wisdom to younger women
There are many things I wish I had understood younger in my life…..
1.    You can’t have it all, but you can have a lot! Compromises will be necessary, especially for women and mothers.
2.    You don’t have to be good at something for it to be a worthwhile endeavor. You just need to want to do the thing and if you keep doing it, you will get better at it. And being good enough can be great!
3.    Don’t be afraid to fail or suck. We’re all going to, more than we care to in our lives anyways… Just do the thing and most likely you won’t fail or suck after a while. And you might never be great either…but who cares if it lights you up.

Additional thoughts...
You are going to need a healthy dose of humility!
While I am having a hard time with the fact that so many phases of my life are behind me and I can feel the pull of nostalgia for times past.  But what I am working on now is acceptance of right now and that the only constant is change and know that it will be healthier for me to look forward into the unknowns this phase of life has to offer. Acceptance is also a big theme: accepting the changes to my looks, to my physicality and how my body works for me, and to the need I have to work and live at a slower pace.


Would you like to be part of the 40 over 40? 

Find out more about it HERE

bottom of page