Queen of Your Own Life:
The Grown-up Woman's Guide to
Claiming Happiness and Getting the Life you Deserve

by Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff

Harlequin, 2010. ISBN 978-0-373-89215-0.
Reviewed by Laura Strathman Hulka
Posted on 04/28/2010

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Life Lessons

Appealing, this is an amusing, quirky, and often candid, book, the brainchild of Kathy Kinney (who played Mimi in "The Drew Carey Show") and her best friend, publishing exec Cindy Ratzlaff. Their vibrant relationship is evident in the pages, and an inspiration to women's friends (called Ladies in Waiting, or LIW in the book).

The two friends alternate voices in this purse-sized hardback, keeping the thoughts and stories brief, yet pithy. The humor is truly witty, not forced or cutesy, and throughout the book there are "Crown Jewels"—great quotes by women throughout history. For example, in the chapter on Admire Yourself for Who You've Become, Collette states, "What a wonderful life I've had! I only wish I'd realized is sooner."

The book is written as light-hearted inspiration for women who are looking at the second halves of their lives, and wondering when and how they can restore their belief in themselves. Ratzlaff and Kinney hope that in reading the book, you will give yourself seven gifts:

  1. Claim your beauty
  2. Clean your mental closet
  3. Admire yourself
  4. Build deep fulfilling women's friendships
  5. Establish firm boundaries
  6. The simple trick to finally being happy
  7. Proclaim yourself Queen of your own Life

Kinney and Ratzlaff share personal stories, both serious and humorous, within the pages. They give memorable terms to what they see as negatives—to encourage their readers to face up to parts of aging that might not be appealing. Personally, I have come to accept what the authors call my "inner crone" and I am proud to use the term "crone" to designate this stage in my life as a woman. However, the expression may bear a negative connotation, and not be conducive to self-esteem and self-actualization! For the voices in a woman's head, Ratzlaff and Kinney use the "Mongol Horde." They give some clever ideas for battling these negative thoughts, and for dealing with the Huns: friends and family that constantly cross our borders and try our patience.

Each chapter deals gently with the emotions and frustrations of working through the nonconstructive parts of life, and accentuating the support systems that hearten the reader in the purposeful goal of being all she can be. When Kinney talks about boundaries against the Huns, she makes the point that setting limits and keeping them helps keep you safe, and makes others in your life understand that whether you are saying yes or no, you mean what you say, clearing the deck for better relationships. It is a valuable lesson.

Written in a blithe, good-natured manner, the book encourages women to make active choices by making Queenly proclamations. It's an easy read, but that should not undermine the intent, nor the value of the book itself. The authors have done a clever job of promoting the book, with an active Facebook presence, a dynamic website and a line of products, yet I feel encouraged and motivated by these factors. I have created my own "Personal Coat of Arms," and have given a bit more thought to what I want from my life in my "second half" of being. After all, getting such inspiration and enjoyment from a book is a great reason to read it, isn't it?

Kathy Kinney is best known for her iconic role as Mimi Bobeck on the long running The Drew Carey Show. Kathy, whose background is in improvisational comedy, toured with Drew Carey and the Improv All Stars for the USO in Iraq and Saudi Arabia and may still be seen performing with them around the country. She is currently co-producing a project for children on the Internet aimed at furthering literacy.

Cindy Ratzlaff and co-author Kathy Kinney have been friends for more than 30 years. Cindy and Kathy met in college and performed together in New York City in various comedy troupes. The two friends share a passion for travel and the idea for this book was hatched over goulash and Pilsner in the beautiful city of Prague, where not coincidentally, the monetary unit is the Crown.

Their website can be found here and they are presently touring the country together.

(See another review of this book, here)

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