Everybody I know is being treated for depression, it's so common, and I think there's a better way to get out of your depression. Go do something you love to do.

Was there any specific event in your life that triggered this book?

Well, I had four kids in three years-all boys. When I wrote Surrendering to Motherhood, the children were ages three, one, and newborn twins. My whole self was immersed in motherhood. I quit daily journalism to raise them and moved my whole life to home.

But recently I noticed that my 13-year-old is two inches taller than me-they're really beyond the cling to Mommy" stage-and I asked myself, Who am I beyond Mommy? That stage of life where it's "need me, love me, you're everything to me" is fleeting, so that was part of it. Another thing-I had a miscarriage at the age of 47. I was so excited when I was pregnant again. But I realized when I miscarried that it was time to do something I'd never really done: I'd birthed books, babies, magazine articles, but I'd never birthed myself.

So many baby boomers are going through the same thing at the same time-dealing with disappointments, aging, the transition out of parenthood.

The thing with the baby boomers is we're going to be cool at every age. I'm 48 now. I work out twice a week, and the people next to me are always older than I am.

Though I'm still in the parenthood stage-I have 9-year-old twins at home-I want to be strong before I'm out of it. The time to get strong is when you're still in the thick of it, and not to be like so many of my 50-year-old friends who flounder when that last kid goes to college. I want to know exactly who I am, exactly how I can get through the day right now! There's work to be done on the self that's apart from the family.

How could something as simple as getting back to your childhood passion-riding or joining a choir or playing basketball-be such a transforming experience?

You validate yourself by yourself. It's not someone telling you how well you're doing. It's the thrill of accomplishment, the thrill of the ride.On horseback I just joy-ride. I'm not competitive anymore, I just get on my horse and go. I'm not doing it for the reward. I'm doing it because it makes me feel happy, I'm capable at it. Too often as parents we're relegated to the sidelines of life. We watch as our children exult in new sports, they get up on water-skis for the first time. They score a goal or they place in a state tennis match, and what do we do? We shlep `em around. I say, get back in the game.

I know a lot of people taking piano lessons for the first time at 50, I know a lot of people working out with weights for the first time at 67. My mother is not the only 83-year-old working out at her gym in Chicago.

What do you tell people who are disappointed with their lives, who look back at all the might-have-beens?

We have the power right now to live our lives with urgency. The people who are disappointed with their lives need to change their lives right this minute. And they can! And it doesn't mean leaving your job, it means doing something that makes you feel good about yourself. Don't let yourself die. You're still alive.

In the chapter "Can Botox Fix Your Soul?" you come down hard on plastic surgery. Why are you so critical of it?

Men and women seeking plastic surgery need to make sure they are doing so for the right reasons. Those who think a facelift or lifting other body parts can resurrect a sagging life are setting themselves up for disaster. ...We all have friends who go at it again and again, with repeated liposuction and implant procedures, and multiple Botox treatments. To what end? Even in the hands of the [best] surgeons, you can never win the race against time. Wrinkles and rolls return. So I say we work on accepting the vision in our mirrors as the aging process naturally unfolds, staying in the best possible shape with a healthy diet and committed exercise program.

Those of us striding swiftly into middle age need to band together to shatter any lingering myths that being sexy and whole has anything to do with age. I would never want to be 27 again. At 27 I was floundering. At 48, I know exactly who I am. There are plenty of mature, unretouched people in my book with sexy, adventurous, very hot lives. When you are passionate about who you are and what you are doing, added lines and increasing strands of gray don't seem to matter as much.