Home > Daily Special

Cool Like the Other Side of the Pillow

By Hildie Westenhaver

I was in New York City last week and you can’t spend more than an hour there without pondering the idea of coolness. Am I cool? Am I not? These are the kind of soul-searching questions I ask myself. And the conclusion I came to? I am, in fact, incredibly cool. Let’s look at the facts, though:

1. I am 38, which is middle-aged no matter how much I don’t want it to be.

2. I drive a minivan. It’s a joke on wheels. A minivan! Why don’t I just start wearing mom-jeans while I’m at it?

3. I live in the suburbs. Not only that but I live in a neighborhood where my house is one of ten floor plans that residents can choose. In other words, bland and ordinary.

As a teenager I fantasized about the stunning London townhouse I’d live in when I grew up. And my swanky job at an art gallery. And my dashing French millionaire husband.


Didn’t quite work out that way. But I’m fine with it. Not just fine with it; delighted with it. What does a sixteen-year-old know about being happy? Not a whole lot. Teenagers (and, sadly, many adults) equate coolness with clothes and hairdos and purses. But those are fleeting and silly. How many dreadful people have nice outfits, great highlights and a $300 bag?

What is cool, then? How can I, a subdivision-dwelling, Costco-clothes-wearing mom, arrive at a self-diagnosis of “cool”? Here it is: Cool isn’t about stuff. If you think it is, then you are not and will never be cool.

Cool is about being. Cool is about attitude. It is confidence. It is living deliberately. It is courage to be who you are.

Take my minivan, for example. It has a lazy-Susan under the floor. Cool. I can pile two-weeks worth of groceries on top of the double stroller and there’s still plenty of room in the back. Cooler. I can open its doors with the flick of a finger. Coolest. Let’s see you try that, Mr. Mercedes Convertible! Your little silver hood ornament can only take you so far. So what if people say my car is lame? I say it’s not. I say it’s just about the sweetest ride on four wheels. I say it’s cool. And I believe it. I make the car; the car does not make me.

Coolness transcends the house and the car and the wardrobe. It’s in the attitude. It’s not sheepish; it’s not embarrassed.

In other words, coolness can stroll along Fifth Avenue kicking up its outlet mall heels.

About Hildie Westenhaver

(Blog Team) was born and raised in Detroit, but is happy to call Austin, TX home now. She majored in Art History and Geography at BYU and graduated a week before having her first baby. There have been five more babies since then. Hildie is an avid baker and tries to fatten up the people she loves.

25 thoughts on “Cool Like the Other Side of the Pillow”

  1. We're moving to NYC in August. And I'm going to print this out and read it every day…so when I walk around in my target outfits and mary-jane flats and compare myself to the high heeled, fast-moving fashion kittens-I will remember that I AM COOL.


    Okay, maybe I will need to read it twice a day.

    Seriously though-thanks for this. It's just what I needed.

  2. I loved this post! Oh my goodness, you really targeted what I've felt. I lived in Europe for 5 1/2 years, did a lot of traveling and visited some of the coolest cities in Europe and Israel. I never felt stupid or unfashionable when walking around Paris, London, Amersterdam or wherever. I loved it. Then I moved north of NYC. Visiting the city makes me feel like the biggest country bumpkin in the world. Why? I have NO idea. For some reason the city makes me nervous. So I am going to stop feeling insecure, visit the city and enjoy it for everything it has. And stop worrying about my warm coat.
    (Perhaps its my fear/hope that Stacey and Clinton of TLC's What Not to Wear will see me and think I'm a perfect candidate for a makeover. Which would be very cool, except it wouldn't because then you would realize how badly you really dress.)

  3. Anybody who walks down the street in Mid-town Manhattan is cool enough. Few of them actually live there. Walking down 5th avenue on a Saturday morning is like being one droplet in an ocean. One face is just like another. My visits to Mid-town have been pleasant and people have been just like people anywhere else. You see what you look for.

    Fact #1: If you are 16, 38 is over the hill. If you are 60, 38 is youthful. Middle age isn't an age range it is a state of mind. If it has to do with the middle of a woman's life, and if women live to be on average over 80, middle age doesn't really being until the mid 40s or 50s these days. If you are in good health and as cool as can be there is no way you are middle aged.

  4. Yes! Love it!

    I'm a 26 year old SAHM. Guess what a lot of my peers from high school are doing?
    They are walking around with "nice outfits, great highlights and a $300 bag!"

    There are some days where, by the worlds standards, I'm doing the most uncool job ever.
    I got an update from a trendy-friend from HS who just spent a month traveling around India and that day was not particularly great on the domestic front. I have to admit that I was a little jealous. But it made me step back and reevaluate how "cool" I am.
    And the verdict…I would take my minivan, battling baby weight, home cooking, bad-self any day over being a trendy jet-setter. The world's got nothing on the contentment I feel rocking my babies to sleep or tearing up in a testimony meeting because the Spirit spoke to me through another Saint.
    Satan is the master of making mammon look cool and desirable.

  5. I've lived here in NYC for almost 22 years now.

    As has been suggested, its really no more or less cool than anywhere else. Its much more convenient (we walk to the grocery store, deli, pizza place, etc., all on the same block). We don't need a backyard, the park is only a couple blocks away.

    And, believe it or not, the schools are reasonable, especially if you get good advice about schools and approach it aggressively.

    So, while it may not actually be that high on the "cool" spectrum, I can report that NYC is ZION, at least for me.

    Amanda, should you and your husband want advice on living here, feel free to drop me a line: kent [at] motleyvision [dot] org.

  6. Thanks! I needed that, as I am going through "it's spring and I have nothing to wear" pains.
    Don't forget that all of God's children walk around with some kind of worry in their hearts — a smile given can lift your spirits and theirs!

  7. This is a fun post. I think my life is super cool because I'm a genealogical jetsetter and I have lots of unusual adventures in Eastern Europe, but both of my sons have said, "Now that you're an empty nester, why don't you go back to teaching?" They think I was much COOLER as a high school English teacher. I'm so glad that I have the freedom to create my own flavor of COOL and I really only care what the Lord thinks about me anyway. I LOVE temple work and my ancestors are always grateful. They never whine or complain like high school students. How cool is that?

  8. Margot is quicker than me — I was about to hunt down that same video.

    Jennie, your minivan is way cooler than mine. When I give rides to neighbor kids, they just stand by the van waiting for its doors to open on their own. Which the doors don't ever do.

  9. I agree that cool is an attitude. But my we like others to know it too!
    By being around some of the younger set – i think just by using cool – we have already missed the boat by today's standards. oh well…..

    i agree about NY too. I went there and immediately felt like the first time i got off the farm – it wasn't. very strange

    There is an openness in cool – i like to try and keep that – and a few old hippy ways!

  10. Great post! Confidence is the coolest. True confidence comes from knowing your a daughter of God, right!

    I have always thought it was lame to say a minivan wasn't cool. Hello! I have kids to drive around, and they are great kids. How cool is that?

    I live near NYC and like to go there. I am somewhat oblivious to my lack of coolness in the looks department, so that helps me still think I am cool when I walk down the street. Plus it is my temple district, and that is pretty cool too! : )

    Loved the Costco clothes comment: me too.

  11. Oh. I am so uncool. I hate it when "your" is used instead of "you're". Sorry about that.

    Should have read: True confidence comes from knowing you're a daughter of God.

    And that you know how to spell. : )


Leave a Comment