At various junctures throughout Flashfree, I have run a series entitled ‘Reinventing Women.’ In it, I have highlighted the journeys or evolution, if you will, of women who are rediscovering their passion(s) in midlife, changing their focus from family and kids inward, exploring the next career path, or simply pausing for a moment to take stock. This past Summer, I became one of those women and if you check out Evolution Strategy Group or LizScherer.Co, you will see the ripening fruits of this labor.
2014 was a tumultuous year. Friends have come out of cancer remission, partners have severed ties, animals have passed suddenly, business contracts have been lost. By the end of May, I was reeling; by June, I was depressed and completely out of balance. Hence, I took the summer off, save for a few freelance writing gigs here and there to continue the flow of income.
I regularly preach how important it is to regain balance and take time for oneself. Truth be told, I rarely practice what I preach! And taking the summer may have been the biggest shock to my system that I’ve ever experienced. I’ve been working since I was about 12 or 13, first babysitting and then after school and summer jobs. When I graduated college and moved back in with my parents for a short while, I was given an ultimatum: find a job. It took me a year to land a professional job but I was hardly idle; I even paraded around in spandex selling health club memberships to Spa Lady. Can you imagine?! And so, when I decided to stop, take stock and figure out what would truly fuel my passion, I did.
I have learned that it is quite difficult to ‘not work’ when you’ve been working for 40-odd years. I have learned that my mind does not easily quiet. And I have finally learned that in order to grow, I have to give myself permission and more importantly, the space to do so.
So, I did.
And, it was not until the end of August, when my mind finally quieted and any semblance of a remaining business contract (and with it, cash flow) disappeared, that I was able to choose the next path.
What. A. Privilege.
I’ve been consulting since 1992, having spent the previous decade working in a field I abhorred. And that consulting has allowed me to accumulate a multifaceted skill set that framed my next step.
Those who know me best tell me that the next step isn’t really new; it’s simply an evolution of everything that I’ve done up until now. My business colleagues have told me that based on their experience working with me, this is a natural fit and that they can’t wait to see it come to fruition.
I’ve waited and worked and wanted this my entire life. I’ve put aside funds to make it happen. And now, I am taking a leap of faith and jumping off. I anticipate quite a few bumps along the way. But you know what? I’ve got this. It’s my time. It’s my evolution. And it’s my turn.
Reinvention? Heck, I’m just getting started with the reinvention.
Hope to see you along with way!
p.s. I am sad to share that Flashfree is not part of this reinvention. Next week is the last week that this blog will be active. More on that later. For now? Follow your passion, always.
Life never quite unfolds as we plan. And it seems that sometimes, if not often, the universe has a different idea than we do about timing. This is the story of Laura Ann Klein’s reinvention, a work in progress, if you will. But then again, we are consistently on a journey and our work is always in progress, right?!
When Laura Ann first answered the most recent open call for stories of reinvention, she did so with a response that has resonated ever since I first laid eyes on it: “calendars for change don’t always match the Universe’s.”
She is in the midst of yet a third reinvention in her life, this time, one that focuses on altering the course of her 31 year nursing career. While a few recent financial curve balls have caused her to delay her plans, she remains committed to her journey to return to leave her nursing career, return to school and establish a passive income stream. The impetus for these changes is surprising. She points to a a fractured vertebrae in her back, explaining that the injury should have left her wheelchair-bound or even dead, and that it was a wake up call to action for a woman who had been coasting in her comfort zone for far too long.
As a nurse, Laura Ann works telephonically with catastrophically ill patients. She says that all of them have one disease or another that will eventually lead to the end of their lives. “Many of them have invested huge amounts of time in jobs that suddenly feel meaningless to them,” and that experience of caring for such ll patients coupled with a consciousness altering injury amplified a truism: “life is fleeting and we must revel in it and do our heart’s desire and passion as we move toward our inevitable ends.” The result for Laura Ann has been a renewed ability to ask for help, seize the day and capture joy in everything, no matter what.
The path ahead is paved with uncertainty. As a divorced mother of two adults sons — one out of college and one still in — Laura Ann knows that the financial assistance that she can offer is limited. Despite her enthusiasm for change, a passive income is an option that requires a bump in the timing department. Mind you, this does not mean that Laura Ann has given up; she stresses that she remains committed to her reinvention. Her advice to others? “For the love of all that is sacred in your heart, pay off your debts, cash out and live your dreams. Find your bliss and the money will follow.” More importantly, don’t perpetuate a disservice by continuing to do the same thing day in and day out without a firm commitment. “Our time is so short on this earth and we’re not meant to suffer under the weight of a job that we hate or a career that we can no longer draw any passion for.”
Laura Ann reminds herself daily that ‘it’s all unfolding in the divine time.’ The Universe works in mysterious ways and for Laura Ann, it has provided her with “big medicine” pointing her in the direction of the next path. Jumping off a platform into the water, bottom down, a move that left her injured with eyes wide open, might have been one of the best things that has ever happened to her. She says that it’s critical to do whatever it takes to leave your comfort zone.
Close your eyes. Jump, unfold into the divine.
About Laura Ann…
When her ‘nest’ emptied a few years ago, Laura Ann thought that she’d sell her home in the suburbs and move to an 800 square foot apartment in the middle of a big city downtown. But, a yellow house appeared in her horizon and she landed instead on the outskirts of a ‘big little town.” Everything changed, sweeter than ever. Check her out at http://yellowhousedays.com and https://www.facebook.com/Yellowhousedays.
I’ve got a little secret to share with you: I am in the midst of a career change or at least, a significant shift in what I’ve been doing and what I will be doing. That’s all that I am able to say right now but as I move through my journey of reinventing women, I started to recall that about a year and a half ago I ran an ongoing feature about women who were doing exactly what I am doing right now — reinventing themselves. And so, I thought that while I am in the midst of my own shift, I would put out another open call for your stories. One of the most important things that we can do is share our stories with one another and support each other through the different phases of life, love and career. Inspiration can come from the strangest places sometimes.
Consider this an open call!
I want to hear about the career or life changes you’ve made or are in the process of making — the ‘why,’ ‘what,’ and ‘how’ as well as any other nugget of wisdom that you might impart to others considering a similar reawakening.
If you are a woman, age 44 or older and want to share the story of your transition (or transitions), drop me an email at email@example.com. Tell me a little about you, your age and a snippet of the wisdom or learnings that you’d like to impart to other readers. I am hoping to find at least 10 more women willing to share their stories, their triumphs, their failures and their lessons.
If you’re at a loss, check out the varied stories of three women, collected a few years back. They are likely to inspire and help shake a few tail feathers too!
Reinventing Women. It’s an ongoing movement and it’s all about you!Read More
What do you do when you put out an open call for life stories and an angel answers? That’s Beth Collins, co-creator of Elizabeth’s House, a resource center for women who want to rethink, renew, and reinvent their lives. Truly, I could not have found a more ideal person for a series about reinvention.
Who is Beth Collins? Beth is a personal and creative coach and her story of reinvention is focused on beginnings. To Beth, reinvention starts “from where you are to all that you know. It’s saying yes to something more and then creating the space in your life to find out what that more looks like.”
She explains that her calling to create on behalf of other women came during a time in her life when she had reluctantly left a dream job in college administration to become a working and then full-time, stay-at-home mom. However, answering her ultimate calling has been anything but easy; in fact, her ever-shifting path has been wrought with roadblocks and detours. When she left the corporate world for a world of play dates, room mothering, volunteer committees and booster clubs, she still had an urge to serve women in transition, an itch to scratch that would take more than six years to realize as she followed and supported her husband through multiple relocations. At the age of 46, just as she was finally hitting her stride and passion, she was sidelined again: “I got hit by a truck, literally.”
Through a ‘jaws of life’ rescue and time in the neuro-ICU, Beth faced yet another tough decision: rest or keep going?
In the mid 1980s, Austrian Monk Bhanke Dhammika wrote the Dhammavadaka, a poem designed to present inspiring aspects of a Buddhist’s life. One line in particular resonates:
None can live without toil and a craft that provides your needs is a blessing indeed. But if you toil without rest, fatigue and weariness will overtake you and you will be denied the joy that comes from labour’s end.
Like Dhammika, Beth realized the value in rest and so, she resigned from yet another job that she had grown to love to allow her body proper time to heal. Not surprisingly, in this quiet she heard yet another calling and in 2006, began a mentoring and coaching business for women who were ready to reinvent their lives. “I had clients in five states and was curious when I realized that these women were all asking for the same things,” Beth explains. “They longed for a community that would support their journey of change. Inspired by their requests, I began envisioning what a place like that would look like and in 2007, opened the doors to Elizabeth’s House, a gathering place for women who want to reinvent their lives.”
Elizabeth’s House embodies a lifetime of dreams combined with a unique passion to help women. Beth’s personal story? It’s one of “pure belief in a dream, letting go of the outcome and saying yes to what showed up.” And while she says that some would characterize that attitude as courageous while others may call it crazy, the women who’ve landed at the door of Elizabeth’s House call it a gift. “Together we rally when a woman quits the job she hates to create something new and when returns to that job after realizing that it wasn’t the job she hates. We rally around trying new things, getting it wrong, marriage, divorce, cancer and even suicide. It’s been life -changing for the women who find us and for me.”
It’s not surprising that women helping women lies at the core of Beth’s story of reinvention. She says that unquestionably, “What I’ve learned, what I know beyond any doubt,” is that self-help books, online support and endless “coaching” programs are not enough for women who long to reinvent. They are going to need other women who are willing to tell the truth about their lives. They need to know that they are not alone in their desire for change.”
Say yes and let go of the outcome(s). You may take a beating to get your wings but eventually, like Beth’s they’ll grow into something beautiful.
I first met Aliza Sherman a few years ago at BlogHer. She walked into the hotel room that I was sharing with my sister in law, wearing a pink boa and exuding a joie de vivre air that was infectious. And that image has been indelibly sketched into my brain to this day. So, I was thrilled when Aliza wrote in response to my open call for Reinventing Women with a desire to share her story of evolution and consistent change. Just like a chameleon, it appears that deliberate transformation, however challenging at times, has allowed her to thrive.
Data have shown that when faced with significant adversity, many individuals are able to harness their experiences into ‘stress-related growth,’ thereby achieving positive and constructive change in their selves and in their lives. Aliza explains that drastic changes in her life began to unfold in the 90s, when she was held up at gunpoint and kidnapped. While she managed to escape her captors, she says that it was a turning point for her, and altered how she looked at her career. Although only in her 20s at the time, she had already lived two professional lives, first in the music business working with Metallica and Def Leppard, and then with a small non-profit working on domestic abuse. “I think that I was lucky in my unluckiness of being held up,” she says.”I lived to realize how short life really is and how I needed to pursue my own dreams.” And pursue them, she did, founding Cybergrrl, Inc — the first full-service internet company owned by a woman — and then Webgrrls International, a consortium known as the first global women’s new media networking organization.
For Aliza, reinvention refers to constantly rethinking what she’s doing — how she’s living, how she’s behaving, how she makes decisions and how she presents herself. “For many years, I’ve said I admire Madonna for the way she reinvents herself. Every few years she pushes creative envelopes, becomes a new ‘persona,’ and controls her destiny. I love that.” Similarly, every few years, Aliza has pursued new lines of business and changes what she focuses on with her work. “While I don’t fundamentally change as a person, the incremental shifts of getting older make me want to do bolder brush strokes to redefine how I spend my time and energy and put myself out there in the world.”
Putting oneself out in the world has taken on a new meaning for Aliza. While she regrets never hitchhiking across Europe right after school, she did head out into the world in the figurative sense, forging a new and important digital path for women. That path took her out of NYC and West, first to Wyoming, where she worked for the State in a public relations capacity, started an internet marketing company, and then stopped consulting and became a television producer with Wyoming Public Television and Public Radio. Not one to rest on her laurels and clearly, changing colours yet again, Aliza explains that she met her future husband, moved to Alaska and transformed her business into a social media marketing consultancy and then an agency in a matter of only three years.
The positive aspects of Aliza’s chameleon nature have a darker counterpart. She explains that because most of her constant changes occurred while single and living on her own, the impact on others was not immediately apparent to her. “Once I got married, suddenly my reinventing felt stymied and having a baby with several years of severe complications after, I was in a fog and a very bad place.” This challenge is one that continues to haunt Aliza; she says that knowing that her husband and daughter are affected by her choices makes it more difficult to find the the proper balance between doing what’s right and best for them and what’s best for her. I’m ‘still trying to work out that dance,” she says.
Still, a life without change would be a regretful life. Never believing in the ‘shoulda woulda coulda,’ Aliza’s story forces one to focus. Her advice to other women in similar predicaments, with a wanderlust and a joie de vivre, facing significant adversity? “Trust your instincts. Realize life is short and you can’t keep saying you will get to something later because later may not be an option. The worst that can happen is you fail. And then? You pick yourself up and start over.” To Aliza, failure is fuel and she says that it should be regarded as fodder for one’s next success. “Don’t let the naysayers stop you. Surround yourself with cheerleaders. Don’t live a life of regrets.”
Aliza’s mother of reinvention has clearly been to consistently paint with a broader brush stroke. Now 47, she appears to only be warming up for what’s next on the horizon.
(If you are just catching up with the Reinventing Women Series, I want to hear your story of midlife (or like Aliza, constant) change. Just like Hessie Jones and Karen-Rogers Robinson and my friend Aliza, I am sure that your personal pearls of wisdom can help thousands of other women. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org)Read More