Every week, the escalating amount of notes I get from people looking to change their lives is evidence that we’re most assuredly seeing a major (if not seismic) and historic shift.
Whether it was COVID that made us hit the pause button, or the political divide that is forcing us to examine our true allegiances and beliefs, more people are ready for change, than not. This, I think, is a good thing…for the most part. As long as it emanates from a continually self-examined life.
I’m a huge believer in life reinvention as many of you well know. Yet I can’t help but wonder if some of these so-called reinvention attempts are being fueled more out of anger, fear and impulse rather than the true and deeper search for a better, more authentic quality of life. So, for all of you who have asked for a bit of guidence, I can only say this:
What I’ve learned is that there is not one template to the art of reinvention. Each soul has to fulfill their own destiny.
While we are bound together by the intense human journey, our individual spiritual paths are completely unique.
The only place the soul and the species intersect is with our human fingerprints and specific DNA. Nevertheless, careful personal reinvention is the only way we can self-heal and self-accept unconditionally during the course of our brief time here.
In fact, as I write this, I’m reinventing again too. But I’ve had a lot of practice and would like to think that I finally have gotten the hang of it no matter how not easy it remains—or, more precisely, I’m better able to manage the side effects. Reinvention always comes at a price. No matter how patient, kind and empathetic, there will always be those who want us to be forever as we were. But “were”, of course, is never the path to spiritual growth. We cannot live lives making sure everyone around us remains in their comfort zone.
The more I’ve reinvented, the more methodical and transparent I’ve become. I’ve learned the gentler vocabulary required to say goodbye to those who can no longer hear me. Each time, I get a little bolder. Each time I get just a little bit closer to not needing a social rationale or public justification beyond my own personal faith. And with every new reinvention I get better at being of the world but not in it. So, it’s no longer about where I live, but why and how I live.
Let’s see now…I think I’ve been through at least 16 life-reboots. Those are the ones where you’re on the right path, but things just need a little bit of tweaking as one learns more. Sometimes it’s an ego adjustment, or a matter of taking off rose colored glasses or making a deeper commitment to the journey you’re already on so the answers earned are accurate.
I’ve also been through 8 major life reinventions too. Those are the big ones where everything changes completely. -- Almost like reincarnating within the same lifetime. However, my first attempts got me in hot water because I knee jerked.
Later my reinventions were amazing, but in the beginning, they were merely a wobbly distraction while I was earning my sea legs.
What I learned was that true life-changing should require a longer lead time—but not so long as to over think it and talk one’s self out of it.
Trust me, I’ve made life changes that seemed exhilaratingly fresh. Yet, not giving myself the time to really think things through, I ultimately ended up reliving the old life again, like the movie Groundhog’s Day.
Only the physical location and costume changed but the actor stayed the same. Especially with major relocations (which was always my “thing”). You go. Everything is new. You’re setting up new digs. Then you’re exploring the new surroundings and thinking everything has changed. Yet, within a year or so you suddenly start noticing that the supposed “new” script starts to sound a lot like the old one. Only the “audience” has changed because you took your old default narrative with you into a new life. Been there, done that too!
The whole point of reinvention is about the opportunity to actually change the narrative, set better boundaries and experience greater control over one’s own life choices.
In recent years, I’ve done a great deal of counseling to others looking to reinvent which has been a true joy for me, since I wish there had been someone with experience there when I first started my own journey. Sometimes its just about listening without any judgment, where a single objective observation and emphasis on the right word can make all the difference.
I have a very dear fellow artist friend who has been working in the movie industry in New Mexico for 20 years. Yet every three or four years, she kept picking up, lock stock and barrel, and moving away. It’s a cycle that has gone unbroken for a while.
Recently, having moved way again, she wanted to return to New Mexico…again. She asked me, “Why is it that I keep doing this? Why do I keep moving back?” Finally, I replied, “Honey, it’s not about why you keep moving back. It’s about why you keep leaving!” It was a question she’d never asked herself. As she lived in that “question” she began to realize that, as she put it, “I’m beginning to see that New Mexico is like a husband. It feeds me for a while and then, when it becomes predictable, I get restless and wonder, is that all there is?” This time, however, as she gets ready to move back, she’s on to herself now because she’s done the intense soul searching to make new choices out of clarity and logic vs impulse and habit.
The idea that “change” for “change” sake alone is better than complacency is fine when you’re younger and can easily afford these impulsive detours. In fact, while energy is still abundant, it should be encouraged and supported. Since we’re only here to discover, explore, grow and learn...often full immersion is the only way to do it.
But as one gets older and the time ahead is clearly far shorter than the time behind, the margin for experimentation diminishes greatly. Suddenly, physical energy isn’t what it once was. Suddenly mortality looms its ugly head as more people our age, are suddenly facing the grim prospects of growing old in America with any modicum of dignity. Don’t even get me started on that one!
As a matter of fact, I got trapped in that mindset too, when my own once-strapping adventurer artist father, became our ward this year. He’d made zero preparation for this time in his life, so it was us kids who had to scramble and my sister who had to fight through the mountains of government red tape just to to get him into a good assisted living facility.
As I was getting ready to reinvent again, this wake up call was so sobering that I almost postponed it altogether. But, after a bit of soul searching, I remembered that I had already dealt with “fear of mortality” and had already taken months to unpacked the social construct of “death.”
Oh, you bet I’m going to try to figure out the difference between a benefit and an annuity and the difference between Medicaid and Medicare. But I’m not going to do it right now while I’m in transition trying to find a better home and lifestyle for my soul to think and my heart to open just a little wider.
Continual reinvention has taught me that faith really does replaces fear, that humanness is real but temporary, and that the soul is eternal.
So, I’m using those tools to continue moving forward, as we all must. If we don’t, we end up regretting the things we didn’t learn (vs didn’t do) far more than the things we did. It’s the “what ifs?” that come back to haunt us when it’s too late to do anything about it.
Based on my own experience and observation, I don’t think we really learn only by “doing”.
I know so many people who have physically accomplished a great deal and have been busy, busy, busy…but emotionally, in the end, got nowhere. They may have left a legacy in this transitory world, but never invested it anything beyond it. Only in transition did they realize that the only thing they could take with them is a fuller understanding of what love actually is.
When we’re done here, legacy and reputation have no currency. The only thing that matters is our experience with love. Period.
As we boomers contemplate life reinvention in the last act of our mortal lives, we have to re-think our physical limitations and find new ways to use our creativity and voices to inspire love in others, so that their transitions are joyful rather than regretful. If we can do that, then we have lived great lives.
And finally, life reinvention becomes a must at any age. We must take stock when we realize that we’ve learned more about ourselves and have enough answers to know for sure, that the life we’re currently living doesn’t sync up with that new information.
The good news here, is that having real answers can more easily inform and give focus to how we need to live now, in a better way, more unique to us.
As my next reinvention (number 9) is now underway, I have learned so many new things in the past four years that I didn’t know before. Or more accurately, I got confirmation about things I suspected about myself, but wasn’t sure…which is what experiencing humanness is all about.
In the practical physical world, I learned that for me, living simply with a lower footprint is my way of life and most certainly does have its virtues, but there’s more to it than just that. It’s far more layered (and a lot more than my 7 layers of design).
Even in small square feet, I still need visual aesthetics and ceremonial touch points too. Even if that only means fresh fragrant pots of herbs on the windowsill with the morning sun streaming through their leaves. I need a few choice artifacts that give me pleasure and remind me of man’s creativity. I need that harmonious interplay of interesting textures and rich tranquil colors around me that honors the place I keep my heart.
I need the warmth of glowing, yet focused, accent light that doesn’t scream “utility.” And this time around, I just don’t want “pretty” finished rooms to simply sit in. I want a fuller live/work integration that promotes my creativity 24/7—harkening back to my New York loft days as a mixed media artist, painter and sculptor. I miss the energy that “works in progress” give an environment.
My spaces have to work harder for me now, where I can work and explore whenever the mood strikes. All of which costs nothing if one’s clever—something I’ve more than proven to be true on a national level. LOL (More blogs to come on the topic where design and spiritual awareness meet).
Creativity is still absolutely more essential to me (and the human species) than anything because it’s through the abstract miracle of personal creativity where we can see God, even if no one but us sees my final creation.
For me personally, that was hard learned. We artists and showbiz folk were trained to dazzle with our talents as commodities and if they didn’t find an audience, we were failures. Luckily, I changed that when I went to television. But in my own privately ingrained artist mentality I stopped creating for myself because I didn’t really see the point of it. So stupid!
Recently, I watched my amazing sister search for something creative to do. Nothing taxing. Just something to calm herself where she could see results quickly. She chose weaving potholders. She loved it and was great at it and yet, was embarrassed about it to the point of belittling it. In the course of the first three months, she has had requests for one from every member of her family, including me. The switch of creativity was reignited. Now, she’s begun her own blog called The Laura Chronicles. Something I’ve been urging her to do for years since she’s a gifted writer. As soon as she let’s me, I’ll send you all a link. But the point is, we must make room for creativity in any form. It's the gateway to the soul.
Through many trial and error reinventions, I’ve also learned things like the difference between the luxury of solitude and danger of isolation. I’ve learned that the world beyond my front door is increasingly a place I don’t particularly connect with and that it’s up to me to create an environment that promotes the concept of harmony and love, until the meanness blows over.
It’s never too late to find and live your truth even if it feels like you’re the only one listening.
If the people around you can’t hear you, then who the hell cares? No matter what, you are never alone, because the universe is always listening and the God within you hears every word without judgment, and only through the lens of love.
So, turn on your tiny light, with the pretty little shade and let those in the tribe you’re searching for know that you’re here!