Tamsen Fadal is an Emmy award-winning TV Anchor at PIX 11 in NYC, an Author, and a Midlife Enthusiast. She’s also a wife, a bonus mom to two, and a fur mom to a 17-year-old Chihuahua.
As you’ll hear, Tamsen is passionate about sharing inspiring stories about women who are changing their lives in a BOLD way. She recently turned 51, sparking new experiences, insights, and questions about this mid-life moment.
Tamsen recently launched Coming Up Next, a podcast series to support women moving through midlife changes, menopause, new career directions, and all the other new choices and possibilities that women face at this time in their life.
In this episode, Tamsen shares how she channeled the shame from going through a public divorce into becoming a best-selling author, helping countless women fall in love with themselves after divorce, how living long enough to experience menopause is a gift, how outliving her late mother is sparking new resolve in her 5th decade on this earth, and how she should probably never cut her hair really, really short ever again.
Sh*t I Wish I Knew In My Twenties (SIWIKIMT) is a podcast dedicated to helping 20-somethings thrive in their twenties, not just survive.
Host Debra Alfarone knows how hard being in your twenties can be. As a high-school dropout turned-network-TV-correspondent, she learned most of life’s lessons the hard way. She overcame the odds and now covers the White House for CBS News nationally. She’s also a confidence coach for young women in the TV news industry.
Tamsen: And then one night I just got so anxious about it and the hot flash and my heart was beating out of control and one of the guy – I said out loud, “Hey, if I fall over or someone catch me I’m not feeling great.”
Debra: Welcome to “beep” I wish I knew in my 20s. Today’s guest, Emmy award-winning TV anchor, author, and midlife enthusiast, Tamsin Fidel.
Tamsen: This is breaking news from pix 11. “FDNY confirming now this is a helicopter that crash-landed.” “A lot of blame going around isn’t exciting. Now you can feel the electricity”
Debra: But my favorite title to describe you Tamsen, is a woman who supports other women. Welcome to the podcast.
Tamsen: Thank you. Thanks for having me. I’m so proud of you. I’m loving this.
Debra: Tamsen and I worked together at pix 11. And really, I learned so much from you just from watching you and your professionalism. Just your creativity. You’re an author, you are killing it on Instagram, tick tock. You anchor the news in the largest TV market in the world, New York City. You’ve told stories, you’ve won Emmys 13.
Tamsen: Am I right? Yeah, yeah. 13?
Debra: What lessons have you learned in your journalism career that can really apply to women in their 20s? Regardless of what career theirs is.
Tamsen: You know, it’s so funny, I always think about that. I always think like, wow, what if I was what was that like back then? And I think I was always so nervous about being you know, like, what’s next? What am I gonna do next? Where am I gonna go next? But I want to teach people or tell people or tell people to embrace that moment that they’re in right now. You know, and I always call it like living your Sunday today. Do it now. Like, do it. Now, this is where you have the freedom and the time. And I kind of wish I had enjoyed some of those experiences, right that I’d had back then. Because if I go back and look at them, I’m like, that was pretty amazing. Like, that was a really cool time. And I think every once a while, we get so caught up and trying to be successful and shutter shutter shutter of what we should be doing that oftentimes we do, and we do it at this age to write. But I just think that it really applies to back then. And every once a while, I look back and I go, Oh wish I should have grasped that just learned everything, taken everything out of it, and move forward with it.
Debra: I remember being so mean to myself in my 20s that I wasn’t skinny enough or pretty enough or successful enough. That whole thing is crazy. And you’re right. Someone told me once don’t should all over yourself. And I thought that was so good, because we do should be more successful. But really all you have is this moment, I think I would have appreciated things more.
Tamsen: Yeah, I agree with you. And I was you know, I have that inner critic thought even now, like, I wish I had learned to get rid of it back then and just listen to the voice that’s telling you the right thing. And it’s funny, my stepmom said to me one day, like, anything that comes out of your mouth is going back into your ear. So watch what you say about yourself or what you say about other people. And I was I thought, what does that mean? But it’s true. And I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten older too, and I’m trying to be really careful of what I let in, you know, and what comes out at the same time. But you’re right, I spent a long time that too. I should have had my hair should be different. My you know, this should be different that should be different. I think that you know, I came up at a time and news and you, I think you did to your you know, you’re younger than I am but came up at a time where they wanted very specific things to be in front of the camera, you know, so I didn’t have you know, long straight hair. I’m Lebanese I had like, you know, frizzy hair, like they said to me, “be more like the girl next door.” I g, “I don’t even know what that means.”
Debra: Like, where do you live?
Tamsen: Different girls, is that crazy? It’s somebody telling me to change my name. So I feel like, you know, if you are struggling with anything at that, at that time, and in the 20s, which is a very vulnerable time, you know, even though I think a lot of 20-year-old people in their 20s now seem a lot more mature than I felt like I was back then. But like, just be grateful of who you are. And just know you are unique, and you have something really unique to give to this world. And I wish I learned that earlier. I really do.
Debra: I know I’ve beaten myself up way too many times and I’m through with it. I’m still working on it.
Tamsen: If anybody says I have the answers, they absolutely are the ones that do not. Nobody has the answers but and I think that that’s another thing you learn, right? You learn that you’re constantly evolving and transitioning into this next iteration of who you’re going to be.
Debra: Many of my clients because I coach TV reporters, one thing we talk about is, oh my gosh, what about if I leave this career, will my life be over and you can have so many careers and sometimes you can have them all at the same time? Because I always think about you and all of the books that you’ve written. How many books have you written now?
Tamsen: I’ve written three and I’m working on my next one right now. Yeah, I love it.
Debra: I have the new single right over here. I do. I remember, I remember buying it because I was like, you really need to support your friends, and I didn’t even think about that before until I started writing something, I’m like, No, you have to buy all of your friends books, if your friend is writing a book, you buy it.
Tamsen: I have shelves, my friends’ books, I think you become an author, you’re like, wait a minute, you have a whole different, you know, I have a whole different respect for people that sit down and do that, because it can be, it can be a long process. And this one’s been, you know, this, this next one I’m doing is it’s been a, it’s been tough for me, because I started it before the pandemic and it you know, it’s, it’s found middle age and, and transition and figuring out what’s next, and being really honest with yourself about where you’ve come. And so it’s personal. And it’s got a lot of different people’s stories in it. So it’s been a tough one for me. So I do have such an appreciation when you finally you know, it gets published and you pick it up and you have something to read. So it’s nice.
Debra: I can imagine the first one is probably a little tough. It’s a whole new venture.
Tamsen: Yeah, you know, my first one was co-authored with my now ex-husband. But I remember, I remember talking to somebody. I remember saying we were working on the dating space at that point. And I remember saying, what is the number one question? Like all these people keep asking the same question. And women were asking, like, why hasn’t he called? And I said, that should be a book. And then I went, Oh, my gosh, that should be a book like that. Women are asking that question. And that and that was where the first one started. And then the second one was kind of the same way because they wanted a sequel to it. But the new single came about because I had, which I didn’t think I wanted to write ever. But I’ve gone through a very new I think you were here during that time of puff really public divorce in New York. And it was embarrassing, written up about and it was (Debra: In the New York Post) in the New York Post. And it was one of those things that you know, that you didn’t want to bring attention to. But it was brought it was already it was there, it was already out there. And I thought, wow, this is the first time in my life. I’ve tried to be so perfect in this career and perfect in my life. Make sure everything was everything was perfect. And then this I just hit a big, you know, just smash into a mountain. And I thought, well, if I’m not honest about this at this point, then that’s just awful. I ask people all day long to share their stories with me and I’m not going to share mine my truth. And so that’s really what made me do that and be okay with that. And yeah, so it felt really good afterward, you know, because it really wasn’t a book like how to go out there and date again. It was really a book of like, how I found myself again, and how I felt like I could kind of love myself again. Because I had a lot of those, you know, inner voices in there saying like, “Oh my God, you fail, you failed your marriage.” This is terrible. It’s gonna ruin things. I was scared it was gonna ruin my career. And you know, little did I know that being honest with that made me a different person and gave me so much more confidence than I had before that going into it.
Debra: Do you remember a moment being like, I think I need to actually share this tough moment?
Tamsen: I, you know, it took a while after I got divorced to do that. I think I really think it was because of the fact that we had spent a long time like in that dating space. And our relationship didn’t work out. I mean, what better headlines or that like matchmaking couple get divorced, or whatever it was called. And, and I remember just wanting to hide, like, people would say, Oh, I saw that in the paper, I’m sorry. But just bringing it up at all just kept, you know, it’s just like that awful thing. Because you’re as a news person, you’re not trying to make the news. You know, that’s not what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to report the news or share someone else’s story? And I guess no, I remembered having a conversation about it with a couple of different people that were kind of going through the same thing. And I said, Well, here’s what I’m doing. You know, I spent like a lot of time by myself, I spent a lot of time just in mindfulness. I don’t even know if it was a word then but he does spend a lot of time like, you know, thinking and focusing and I was in yoga a ton. I went to therapy and I was pretty honest about that. Even early on because it was just one of those things where you just I don’t know you just didn’t say out loud then, right. And I remember thinking like Wow, all these things that I’m doing have nothing to do with getting it out there and dating again because that’s what everyone would ask like when you’re going out there and date again. And that was nothing that I had to do to heal out for divorce. What I had to do is silly things like clean out my apartment, get rid of my bed, get rid of my sheets, you know, get a new wardrobe learn to eat by myself again, stop eating standing up at the kitchen counter because I was single and didn’t think I deserved to sit down at a table. So I think that what I realized was there was some different advice that I had, you know then what a normal divorce book would be and that’s why I decided to share it so I started writing and then I just couldn’t stop.
Debra: So it seems like this book is not just for someone who’s out of a divorce it’s for someone who really wants to fall in love with themselves.
Tamsen: Yeah and I want to be like myself again first and then follow up with myself and I call that finding fixing and falling in love with yourself again. Be back in love with yourself because that’s what it was. I had lost myself completely. I was doing things that I didn’t enjoy anymore. I was Uh, you know, I was lonely with someone. And that’s the worst thing to be. And that was my dad’s advice. He said, you know, he’d rather be lonely, alone, and lonely with someone. And I didn’t understand it at the time until it happened. And then I said, Oh, gosh, he was right. Again, my dad’s advice. He’s always right.
Debra: They always are, they really are. And that’s the benefit of getting older is that you’ve been through enough stuff. And that’s kind of where I am with this podcast is I’ve learned so many lessons. I remember a similar thing that I went through is when I was demoted from my anchor position here in DC. And it was shameful to me. But really, we think other people are looking at us, but they’re kind of busy with their own lives. But I thought, Oh, this terrible, shameful thing that somebody doesn’t think that I’m worthy. Well, that’s not true. And people break up, and people get demoted, and people leave jobs. But I remember, I also went through therapy. And one bit of advice I got is when you are dealing with something shameful, you have to tell 25 people, and then it won’t have that hold on you. And I remember, so I’ll do whatever I have to do to get out of this funk.
Tamsen: So good. Such great advice. Because I because you’re right, like they’re in especially this industry of people that are coming up in this industry. Like there’s going to be the bumps, you’re gonna hit the bumps, not everyone’s gonna like you, not everyone’s gonna like your voice, your face, your hair, your how you report how you write what you do, how you told the story, how you didn’t tell the story. And so I think that, that, that those are the lessons that they should be teaching in school, about, you know, how to own who you are, own your power, you know, unlock whatever that is inside of you that you need to get to that next place. Because I think it’s actually harder now than it was when I came up, because there wasn’t social media to compare to, I had nothing to compare, except myself, and maybe the people that were around me, but I didn’t have like, a trillion people I didn’t know that I was comparing myself to right. So I think it can be a little bit harder. So you really have to, like, you know, plant your feet in the ground and know who you are and what you want. And have your I was just talking about this with somebody, like have your people around you that make you strong. I mean, I think that’s what’s important. Instead of you know, taking a poll from every single person there is and people that are not important to you about what you should be doing next, or how you should be feeling.
Debra: You even said earlier about how you were trying to be perfect. Sometimes we think if we’re perfect, we’re going to isolate ourselves from criticism. But guess what some jerks gonna have somebody say, which has always happened in this I gotta tell you.
Tamsen: I just did. I’ve been talking a lot about midlife and menopause, menopause. Did you ever think that I would be talking about that? I mean, never would. Nobody really.
Debra: Nobody really talks about it. I really want to talk about it.
Tamsen: Talking about it, talking about it, because I’m in it. I’m pumped. You know, I’ve got it. I’m dealing with all of it. But somebody I had, like, I was very nervous about doing it at first. And so I did it over on Tik Tok because I’m like, I don’t know anybody on Tik Tok. So, I’m gonna do it over there. And just test out and see how that goes. Because I really wanted to talk about it. But I was scared to do it on the perfect Instagram. So I couldn’t believe it, like the response that I got. And then I brought it over to Instagram. And then, of course, I started getting the comments of like, there’s nothing more unattractive than a woman talking about menopause on this platform. Thank you. And I was like, I was so upset. I had 100 nice comments. I had one mean comment, and I fixated on it. I thought, I said, my husband tried to take the video down, should I? I sound like a little girl again. Because what are you doing? He’s like, give a message. Like you can’t change your message. Because one person doesn’t like it. And I went, Oh, you’re right. But, you know, it made me very, very fearful. And so you know, talking about those kinds of things and taking those chances and not being perfect, you know, perfectly imperfect.
Debra: This is part of the patriarchal society that we can’t talk about women’s issues. Oh, I’m so sorry. It makes other people uncomfortable. But we get periods and we get menopause if we are blessed enough and lucky enough to have to live that long.
Tamsen: If we live that long, you know, my mom died at 51 years old. She had been you know, she died of breast cancer. And I, I don’t know if she ever went through menopause. She went through surgical menopause, obviously, but I didn’t know that at the time. So I thought she was going through breast cancer and chemotherapy and radiation. I had no idea what she was going through. So I feel in so many ways, blessed to now coming up on 51 and a half to I mean, I now live my mom like this has been a very pivotal year for me. And I think that that’s a year that made me feel a lot bolder. And so I said like, “Oh, I’m unlocking my bold,” like I’ve got this bold side that’s there and it’s been there for a long time and you know, every once awhile we put it away and I think it’s important to take it back out and this has been my year to do that for sure.
Debra: You know, I’m gonna share with you one of my posts starts here, stop playing small couple of things that I have right here that I just write to myself as it comes up. But you’re right, unlocking your bold. And I want to talk to you more about menopause. And what should women in their 20s know that they don’t know? Because nobody talks about this?
Tamsen: You know, that’s such a good question. And it’s in, it’s why I’ve been out there trying to make sure that as a huge focus, I’m working on a documentary about it right now, for those women in their 20s and 30s. You know, some people will go into it early. And that’s just, that’s, that’s what happens depending on you know, what’s going on in their lives and what’s going on physically. But what you know, what I wish I knew is that around the time that I was, you know, I got my mammogram early at 34 years old, but I wish that I had been paying attention and known the symptoms. So the only thing I knew about menopause is like, “ha ha, women get hot.” And that was all I knew, like, “Haha, hot flashes.” And that was it. And the truth is, is there’s like 80 Plus symptoms of menopause. And so the things that you don’t realize, you know, this is a time in your life that you average ages 51 to 52. But I, I went early, and I was Peri-menopausal for a long time. And I was moody, cranky, you know, feeling depressed all the time, cried for no reason, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t stay asleep, couldn’t wake up. The hot flashes started, I had ridiculous bleeding on and off for years where I had to go through different surgeries for that because I had polyps and all sorts of problems. But nobody ever said during that time, like you might be Peri-menopausal. This happened all through my 40s They said you might be stressed from your divorce. Or maybe you’re depressed go on antidepressants, or I don’t know, you know, try to eat better you drink enough water, you know all these things and getting enough sleep. And it wasn’t until, and this happened right at the studio, is that I I was having a hard time reading the prompter and seeing the words and I would look at the words. And I’d be like, I don’t know what that word is that we’re reading “whatever” and I would go. And I would skip the word Debra, can you imagine, like just skipping the word, because I didn’t know what it was. And then one night, I just got so anxious about it and the hot flash and my heart was beating out of control and one of the gut, I said out loud, “hey, if I fall over or someone catch me, I’m not feeling great.” And somebody had the foresight to go, you should probably get off the set and go, you know, and I wound up on the floor of the bathroom. And that was when I started the journey of what in the world is really going on here. And so I did blood tests and I did this that I found a midlife practitioner who said to me like oh, you’re your parent, you’re a postmenopausal now like you’ve gone through menopause. Because there’s 12 months that you’re supposed to go without a period, I didn’t really notice it because I was having bleeding from other issues. So I had no idea that that was going on. So anyway, that’s why I became so vocal about it. So I don’t know if having your evening news anchor, talking about menopause. Makes a lot of sense. But I report every other story. So that’s what I’m doing now.
Debra: I think women’s issues are important. And this is not just a women’s issue.
Tamsen: This is an issue for human beings and impacts – men are affected by this like they don’t know what’s going on. You know, my husband didn’t know what was going on. My family didn’t know what was going on. And a lot of the women I actually interviewed a neurologist today. And she said, you know, this is a time in your life for women are going through. And Dina’s taking care of parents, have the high point of their career. And then they’re going through menopause in their mind and the brain fog is real like that’s a real thing. When your estrogen just drops off, it doesn’t just kind of go down a little bit, it drops off a cliff. And when that happens, it’s very, very difficult to understand what’s going on or even articulate it sometimes. So yeah, I agree. It’s something to talk about. But I hope that young women know those symptoms way ahead of time. So when they start having them, they say “hey, wait a minute, maybe I’m not menopausal, but Peri-menopausal,” because that can happen for a number of years leading up to that. And then that way they know what they’re dealing with. They don’t feel lost and confused. Like, you know, a lot of us have been.
Debra: Knowledge is power. I want to ask you about something I call the cage of age. You know, like you said, I don’t know if you want your evening news anchor to be talking about menopause. And so there are these things that we’re not supposed to talk about or not supposed to share. Or we’re always supposed to look like, we’re always supposed to look like we’re 25 Even though we’re not. And so I know that this is magnified in the TV news industry. Sure. And anyone that is on Instagram, I mean, I will admit that I do filter some of my pictures. I’m gonna put it out there. I’m not proud of that. I wish that I could be like, hey, here I am. And I would like some good lighting. Right and the thing is, we do know about good lighting and contour and lashes and the whole thing. We’re fairly skilled at this. How do you think we can help our younger sisters with this?
Tamsen: Look, I look at it like this. For myself anyway, I look at this as my job, I look at this, as you know, when I tried to beat, I try to look the best that I can look for where I am right now, I’m never going to look like I did when I was 25, I’m never going to look like a 25-year old that might be sitting next to me, I’m never going to know, you know, some of the things that somebody younger than me. And I’ve learned just kind of embrace that. But if I were 25 year old coming up, I would be saying this is my job. And then this is who I am. And I think that that’s what’s really important is to make sure that you can separate those two things. Because you go back to saying like, you know, you were demoted from being an anchor, and I say you transition into another role not that you were demoted, you transitioned into another place in your life to where you are right now doing this, you might not have been doing this if you were still anchoring? No, I don’t think so either. So, so I think that, you know, make sure that one is your chair, right? Anchor chair or accounting chair or whatever, you know, influence your chair. And the other thing is who you are. Because when you lose sight of that, that’s when you have that problem. And you see people fall apart because they identify so much with that. And they don’t realize, you know, in time things change. And I think to be able to deal with those kinds of transitions is what’s so critical. And that’s, that’s what I’m writing this next book about because those transitions are very, very scary to go through. And I’ve seen some people do an incredible job, and other people really struggle with it. And so this kind of bridges as those together.
Debra: It’s going to be very helpful for so many people, because a lot of people will stay where they are because of the unknown, the fear of the unknown. Sure I do that that is something for other people, not me. And we say these things. And I know, to be honest, I was pretty happy. After a while after I got through the shame when I got out of that last job because it was a job that I had outgrown. And if you’re not growing, you’re dying a little bit.
Tamsen: Well, yeah, you’ve got to you feel that in your soul. Like if you’re on autopilot, it’s done. If you’re in a place where there’s not a challenge anymore, and I look I don’t question whether or not the next step is scary. I’m very aware of it. I’m 51 years old, I thought I was only going to be on the air. You know, somebody told me when I was in my early 30s. Like just No, you know, you’re not gonna be in here on the air past your mid-40s. And I went, wha?I didn’t even, I didn’t even think about age. I was trying to get older. So I looked more mature, I was trying to be a grown-up. And so. So I consider every day. You know, I feel very blessed to be where I am and what I’m doing. But I’m also very aware of who I am versus who I am in my job. And I think that it took me a really long time to acknowledge it. And to figure it out.
Debra: It is very hard when you are your job, or your job is you and that has happened to me in the past for sure. I have had a lot of therapy and a lot of growth in the last five big five. I love it. Want to ask you some more fun questions. Remember, we were talking about? Oh, well, you know, we can’t be 25 Let me tell you, I really do not wish to be 25 anymore, because I had some hairdos back then really bad clothes. So I always like to ask people about their 20s Is there a particular job hairdo outfit that you remember that you just wish that we could erase from your memory?
Tamsen: How many different, how many choices, how many answers do I get? In my first job WOAY TV, I have a picture somewhere. I put my hair back like this with a bow. A white lace bow. And in so when I’m anchoring you see like the two sides of the bow here on either side. So that was the first thing and one of those clips. The second thing was they said you need to cut your hair so you look older. So I took all that hair off. And I cut it like super, super, super short. But I have naturally curly hair because this of course is not real. I mean, it’s my hair, but it’s not like this is not what my real hair is like. And so it got super, super, super short. And then I just have like a little, little bit here, but it was like I don’t even know what to=he do. I don’t even know what the hairdo was it was, just like, I don’t know, it was just confused. And so that went to that stage for a while my dad said I didn’t even recognize you want it off the plane like from West Virginia. Let’s see those are bad ones. I think I came to New York with that hairstyle too. But I just made it a little more poofy on the top. (Wow) Those were pretty bad. Yeah, I think that’s, that’s, I own that.
Debra: I’m so happy to talk to you. Can you leave us with one more little quick tip about unlocking your bold because you’re writing right now you’ve got a podcast you’ve got an in you’re on IG you’re on tick tock all that unlocking your bold, but I wish that I was a little bolder in my 20s What kind of advice can you give us for People in their 20s?
Tamsen: Oh my gosh. I mean, this is the time to not be afraid, you know, this is a time to say yes. And this is a time to take those chances, like I think anytime is but I think especially in your 20s, I think, you know, you jump, you jump and see what and see what happens, because I think this is an exciting time. And there’s such a world of opportunity out there that, you know, maybe wasn’t around and we were there. And I think this is a time that you know, you could do anything, and you don’t have to just pigeonhole yourself into one space. And I think that’s really important.
Debra: I could talk to you all day, I miss you. I really missed you. It is so important. Another thing for you people in your 20s Let me tell you is important to have a great squad of women who lift you up and also keep you up in your games, right? Because I look at all the things you’re doing. I’m like, I can do that too. But if I don’t anyone around me was doing the things that you’re doing then I’m kind of down here while you are doing it because I’m watching. Appreciate you and make sure you hit subscribe if you haven’t already. Tell a friend to leave a review. It helps more than you know. You could also watch this interview on YouTube. Follow us on Instagram Tik Tok at Debra Alfarone for more. I wish I knew in my 20s and drop your email to be the first to know about new episodes and guess what? I’ll send you my free GTFO Confidence Guide just drop your email at pages dot Debra alfarone.com Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next time.
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