One reason why I started this blog was because I wanted to connect with women like myself: women who had managed to reach middle age without quite figuring out just who they wanted to be when they grew up. So maybe I was skipping a few steps when I signed up for the Never Too Late: Reinvention Workshop with Bestselling Author Claire Cook since the title of the workshop implies a previous invention of yourself. I’m kidding, of course, there have been multiple previous versions of me, just as for you. I smile now, remembering when I was I a freelance web designer/stay at home mom, getting at 5:00 a.m. in the summer to work, hitting the pool at noon with the kids and crashing at 4:00 p.m. to watch an episode of Trading Spaces while we all had “quiet time” before getting up to fix dinner for everybody.
But even that iteration of me was a long time ago. My kids don’t need me so much these days, Trading Spaces isn’t on TV any more, and my current job doesn’t allow 4:00 p.m. naps. I’m already a different person from who I was then and it’s time to figure out just where I want to be for the next phase of my life. This blog is definitely part of it: it’s a way to reconnect with the writing I used to love so much and, as I mentioned, a way to connect with women who are also searching for what’s next in their lives.
That’s who I expected to see when I walked into the surprisingly large and surprisingly full classroom last January – maybe 30 or so middle-aged women like myself wanting to talk about what’s next for them. Instead I found maybe 100 women (I am terrible at estimating crowds) from mid-twenties to late sixties who were there for a variety of reasons: they had taken their first step out into the world and were now pondering their next step, they were maybe ten years into a career and weren’t sure if they wanted to put any more time into it, and yes, there were definitely several women like me who were looking to see what they wanted to do now that they had time to be more than just a mom.
As Claire put it, no matter who we were and why we were there, everyone there could be loosely classified into one of two groups: those who knew what they wanted to do and those who just knew they wanted to do something. She tailored her talk to both groups and even though I went in with a clear goal (starting this blog), I found value in everything.
Claire’s own story was certainly inspirational. She began writing her first novel in her mid 40s while her daughter was at early morning swim practice. She got that novel published (quite a feat) and went on to write the bestseller Must Love Dogs. At 50, she saw that book turned a movie and tells the story of how that happened and her involvement in the movie in her book Never Too Late: Your Roadmap to Reinvention (without getting lost along the way) which was included with the seminar.
The book and the seminar were good companions as the book reinforced several of the points Claire made during her talk. Here are a few that resonated with me:
- When you first start out, keep your plans to yourself. People can’t give you appropriate feedback if you haven’t even fully articulated your idea to yourself yet. Spend some time with your idea alone before you start showing it to the world. I so believe this! For myself at least. I only announced my blog last week, although I started it in January and have been writing in it faithfully since then. I needed to spend some time with it alone before I took it out into the world. That’s true for this blog and true for most things I do. That’s the mark on an introvert, I suppose.
- Have a schedule and hold yourself accountable to it. Claire writes two pages a day. I have been holding to a Monday, Wednesday, Friday posting schedule (although I ironically missed this Monday because I did not follow through with the hold yourself accountable part.)
- Keep notebooks everywhere to hold your ideas. Claire keeps little notebooks everywhere and writes ideas in the nearest one available when inspiration strikes. Then when she needs inspiration, she gathers them all together and reads through them all looking for ideas. I like this idea a lot, but I use a little more high-tech version. I have the Evernote app on my phone, iPad and computer so that when I have a thought I can quickly jot it in the appropriate note.
- Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Claire covers a full chapter in her book on why we might start and then choke, which, full disclosure, is at least partly why I missed Monday’s post. Is it fear of success? Fear of failure? New shiny object? Need to know the full path? Think everything must be perfect? Yeah, it doesn’t matter, just keep going.
I wrote down something Claire said in the seminar and she says it in her book as well:
“Give me two people, one who is super-talented and who is just tenacious and just keeps going and I’ll put my money on the second one.”
I’m not covering everything we talked about, but I’ll end with one point Claire made that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: Karma is a boomerang. At it’s simplest level, of course, that can simply mean how you treat people can come back to you. And I believe that.
But it can be so much more than that as well. I was reminded of something a friend of mine and I used to talk about in the pre-law of attraction days. We called it “The Karma of Putting it Out There” and we used that phrase to describe the phenomenon of wanting something, like more business and taking action to achieve it, like attending a networking event, and then getting more business because someone called you from out of the blue.
In our minds, attending the networking event did, in fact, bring the new business due to the principle of “The Karma of Putting it Out There”. We were half-kidding, but not so much that we stopped attending our networking events, much like you’re totally sure it’s not really your lucky underwear that’s bringing you the home run streak, but who wants to take that chance? It seems to me that karma can come from faith, the faith that keeps you going even you can’t see what’s coming.
At any rate, if you’re a woman in the Atlanta area thinking about making some changes in your life, I highly recommend NEVER TOO LATE: Reinvention Workshop with Bestselling Author Claire Cook. I see registration is open through Evening at Emory for the seminar on August 22 and the cost is super reasonable at $45.00. If you’re not in the Atlanta area, definitely grab a copy of her book Never Too Late: Your Roadmap to Reinvention. And here’s to Karma.