Tina Sloan: If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit, Change It — and Your Life!

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Sage Advice from Soap Star Tina Sloan:
Guiding Light of Health, Beauty, and Vitality

By Christine Crosby

 

TinasGuidingLightFamilyTina Sloan, who played nurse Lillian Raines for 26 years on the daytime TV soap opera, Guiding Light, is a real guiding light for all of us, especially women “of a certain age” (50+).

Tina grew up in a happy family in Bronxville, New York, and learned early in life that she could do whatever she set her mind to do. Since she was a little girl, Tina knew she wanted to be an actor. Her mother referred to her as “Sarah Bernhardt,” a famous actress of the day, but she wasn’t in favor of her daughter taking this career path. It was the one bone of contention between mother and daughter (lucky girl). Her mother could not have been more proud of Tina’s successful acting career.

The same determination that drove her to “make it” in show business enabled her to accomplish another feat: climb Mt.Kilimanjaro. In 1987, she made it all the way to the summit of that 19,700-foot mountain.

And she hasn’t changed a bit. Soon to be 70, Tina is still following her dreams and not letting anything stand in her way. These days, her can-do spirit is focused on helping other women to overcome their fear of aging and to live the third act of their lives fully, gracefully, and joyfully.

TinasSon-and-Friend-IraqWhen the plug was pulled on Guiding Light in 2009, Tina was devastated. She had grown very close to her TV family, and to lose them was like losing her real family. At the same time, she was juggling many personal challenges, including her only son being deployed to Iraq and being the caregiver for both of her parents.

Tina is, by nature, someone who loves to help others. So, naturally, she took her caregiver experiences and the lessons she learned from them and turned them into a guidebook for other caregivers.

Her son joined the Marines after the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the United States, and he did two tours in Iraq. Between the stress of caring for her parents and being worried sick about her son, Tina started eating and gained a lot of weight. Rather than continuing on a path to obesity and poor health, Tina took action and made changes.

Being self-aware and honest with herself, Tina knew she needed to stop doing the things that were making her fat. She stopped eating white flour and sugar and started going to the gym and getting out and exercising. She is a big advocate of walking.

Then, it struck her that making these life changes was like putting on a different pair of shoes to go with the changes and challenges of life. That inspired Tina to write a book, Changing Shoes, which evolved into a one-woman play by the same title, which she is currently touring across the United States. Both the book and the play are about changing yourself in order to stay in the game as you go through the different changes and challenges of life. Tina shows how to stay vital in all areas of life while sharing funny stories and admitting her foibles along the way.

TinaNYMarathonTo see how this works, visit ChangingShoes.com. If you’re a woman who likes shoes (and what woman doesn’t?), you’ll love Tina’s site, where she shares the stage-of-life story represented by each pair of shoes and chats on her blog about “living on the stage of life” and “staying forever frisky.”

We all know how daunting it can be to make big changes in your life. Tina’s advice is to take it in small bites — one step at a time. If you can walk for only 5 minutes, start there but start now. The next day, make it 7 minutes, then 10 minutes, then 20, and so on. Before long, you might be doing what Tina did after a year: running a full marathon. She went on to run in marathons all over the world.

In addition to being a soap-opera star, author, playwright, and theatrical actress, Tina is also a film actress and speaker. One of her recent films is Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman, and her most recent is Happy New Year: Back from Iraq.

Her favorite real-life roles are as wife, mother, and step-grandmother.

 

Tina makes it clear that she is a “step-grandmother” and not the biological grandmother (not yet, but she hopes that will change one day, as her son is getting married early this year). When asked why she doesn’t just refer to herself as “grandmother,” Tina is quick to respond with one word: “respect.” She respects the “real” grandmother very much and never tries to supersede her in any way. She praises her for being a good grandmother, and the whole family, including her husband’s former wife and Tina’s former husband, are all good friends and get together often with all the grandkids.

Tina-and-husbandTina and her husband, Steve McPherson, have been married for 37 years. When asked the secret to her happy marriage, she reports emphatically that was not happy all of the time. That is what real life if like, she says.

“There were times I wanted to throw him out the window, and I’m sure there were times he wanted to do the same to me.” However, they were committed to each other and took the good times with the bad.

“Now that we’re both older, our marriage is better than ever.”

Tina and Steve have five grandchildren: Jack (17), Eliza (13), Ashlyn (10), and Alexa (8).

“The grandkids call me Tina,” she says. “We get together often to vacation and play together.”

Tina is also a “grand mom” to her great-niece, Piper. “My sister died quite young, and her daughter, Meg, is like my daughter,” she explains.

One of the best things about being a grandparent, she says, is that “When you’re not the parent, you don’t have to keep after them to eat their veggies or wear certain clothes. They can just be themselves, and so can we.”

On a final note, Tina shared a favorite quote that pretty well sums up her attitude on youth and aging:

“The young have the future ahead; all the dreams and excitement of jobs to come and families to come. They look at the old and think we have finished. That we have done all our dreams and our future is complete, not realizing we still have dreams and a future in our minds. We are not done.”  (author unknown)

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Christine Crosby is CEO and Editorial Director of GRAND magazine.

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 Tina Sloan’s book: Changing Shoes: Getting Older — NOT OLD — with Style, Humor, and Grace is available at all major book stores and on Amazon.com.

Tina Sloan’s play: Watch the trailer for Changing Shoes: One Woman’s Search for the Meaning of Life in a Closet Full of Shoes.

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Support Our Troops!

As a proud Marine Mom, Tina Sloan is actively involved in several organizations that provide a wide range of support to U.S.military veterans, especially those returning from war. Our troops need all the support they can get. To find out how you can help, please go to the Support Our Troops page on grandmagazine.com.

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