Bestselling author Michelle McIvor, whose new book The Glow Code: A Cheat Sheet for Feeling, Looking, and Being Your Best at Any Age (Rowman & Littlefield) publishes in June, spoke with PW about the power of “creative pulses,” eyebrow lamination, and how women can do much more than just age gracefully.

The book begins with a story about how you found a couple of gray hairs in your eyebrows. Would you explain how that led you to the understanding that a lot of women in midlife would benefit from a book like this?

When I found those gray hairs, I wasn’t thrilled, to be honest. They were the physical, visible reminder that I am aging, and there’s no hiding it. But having that thought also made me question my attitude because it was at odds with my belief that aging is a privilege. Clearly, some of my old routines and mindsets didn’t match the person I had become. I thought, screw this. I’m ready for something different. And I figured that if I felt like that, other women likely did, too.

What we needed was a cheat sheet, something to cut through the noise, misinformation, and trendy fads aimed at women to offer simple but effective advice that we could easily understand and use. I wrote The Glow Code to help us all live and feel well for as long as possible and, hopefully, appreciate the journey.

How did you go about selecting the experts you interviewed for this book?

Beyond looking for leaders in their respective fields, it was important to me to get advice from other women – after all, who can relate more than someone going through the same journey? That’s why 35 of my 37 interviewees are women. I also wanted to include as many diverse voices as possible. I kept those goals in mind when looking for psychologists, makeup artists, scientists, pro-aging advocates, and other experts so that the advice in my book would be applicable and feel relatable to as many women as possible.

In each chapter, you road-test the experts’ advice. What suggestion(s) surprised you the most in terms of its/their effectiveness in your own life?

One that surprised me most came from Brigid Schulte, author of the bestselling book Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time. I interviewed Brigid about how women can incorporate creativity into their lives, something many of us struggle with because we have so many demands on our time. One of her most effective tips was her suggestion to incorporate “creative pulses” into my day.

A “creative pulse” is a short chunk of time–as few as 10 minutes–you set aside for something fun. When Brigid works, for example, she takes frequent 10-minute breaks to work on a jigsaw puzzle. In my creativity chapter, I discuss how incorporating 15-minute creative pulses has allowed me to pursue my new hobby, knitting. In the last year, I’ve knitted a scarf, two cardigans, a dress, a toque, and half a baby blanket. Creative pulses are the magical element that helps me get it all done. Well, except for that tricky baby blanket.

The other most profound change in my life: eyebrow lamination. No joke.

The book covers topics that are fairly intuitive for a book on aging gracefully, like weight training and getting enough sleep. But it also covers topics like choosing wine and buying art. How do they fit in?

At some point in my early forties, I understood I was supposed to know a bunch of adult things like how to cook a meal for a big group, comfort someone who’s grieving, invest in art (and in my savings account!), and identify a great glass of wine on a menu. But my knowledge about most of those things was flimsy. I knew that if I still needed tips and advice on being an adult, many of my readers would, too. So, I decided to include a chapter filled with how-tos and hacks to help us all feel a little more adult and sophisticated – and boost our confidence along the way. Women in midlife are coming into their power, and I love the idea that we keep growing, learning, and evolving as we get older.

A lot of women in mid-life are very busy and overwhelmed. What would you say to someone who sees the idea of optimizing their life as just another task on a long to-do list?

I feel you! I’m busy and overwhelmed at the best of times. The great news is enacting the advice in The Glow Code doesn’t require massive changes or time-consuming commitments. Some of my most impactful life edits have involved scaling back on something I was already doing, like my skincare routine, or adding the bare minimum of something else, like meditation. Ultimately, I learned that making small tweaks creates big impacts, and I hope that inspires women to give The Glow Code a try.

But if you’re not into optimizing anything, my book offers an uplifting take on aging as a woman, reminding us we can live well, be proud, and chase dreams at any age. That alone is a message I’m excited to share with readers.