A Hopeful Journey

 REINVENTION AND HOPEFUL WOMEN   

alt="Woman hiker on top of mountain with her arms raised showing her happiness at her achievement"Do you know women who always overcome obstacles, survive crisis and thrive? Have you wondered how they were able to keep facing forward and work to make good things happen in their lives?  Do hopeful and optimistic women lead happier lives with more opportunities to be creative, productive and loving?

My answer is “Yes”.

You can learn the habits of optimism and have the courage to change your life. Attitude can be trained and controlled. You can learn hope.  You can become an optimistic person. Learning hope

HOW DO I KNOW? 

I believe in reinvention because I’ve done it. More than once. I left home at seventeen and never went back. I’ve changed careers, started companies, been a wife and divorcee, a mother and step-mother to teenagers, survived a natural disaster, health crisis, deaths of those close to me and so much more. And now, like so many other women in their 50’s and 60’s, I’m reinventing myself once again, hoping to contribute and make a positive difference by sharing practical, can-do advice.alt="Woman hiker on a mountain reaching for another hiker's helpful hand"

I’ve learned that if you are an adult, there are always different choices you can make if you want to reinvent your life.  Luck certainly plays a role but what’s more important is your vision, passion and commitment to bring dreams into reality.  You can make choices in all sizes from small daily changes that are not overwhelming (read more) to entire life shifts.

From committing to healthy eating to looking for new love, or learning a new skill so you can broaden your financial options, or finding your voice through creative expression and art, or….dedicating yourself to helping other people and changing the world for the better……there is so much a woman can do to improve and enrich her life when it’s time for a change.

It takes courage and determination.

You have to move ahead even when you’re scared to change directions.  Reach out for help and be inspired by the people who believe that you can do it.

Hope will carry you on.>

BE INSPIRED BY OTHER HOPEFUL WOMEN

alt="Group of 6 Women of diverse ages and ethnicity, smiling and standing close together"

The strength of other women inspired me when I was down, lost and scared.  Stories from other women who overcame similar challenges were immensely helpful to me.

Some women I knew personally. I was especially influenced by what my grandmother and great-grandmother had to do in order for me to have a better life. Then I’d resolve to stay strong and work hard, just like they did.  Even in the darkest hour, I remembered to be grateful to be alive and have the opportunity for new experiences.

There are powerful, inspirational stories of hopeful women’s strength and problem-solving creativity all around you.  You can surround yourself with uplifting, positive examples just by looking around and noticing who keeps moving forward towards their goals.

Here are my stories which I hope encourage you to believe that you, too, can overcome your challenges and move forward to reinvent your life, whether you need a gentle readjustment or a full make-over.  I hope my stories of change, challenge and reinvention will help you.

If you would like to share your own story of reinvention, click here.

SHARING MY PERSONAL STORIES OF REINVENTION

alt="1950's Scared girl sitting on a bed, clutching a blanket"Migration:  As a child, I was moved five times by the time I was twelve before finally crossing the US to be thrown into an all-girl’s school.  As a chubby teenager with a strong accent and hairy eyebrows that grew together, I survived teenage girl torment from my classmates before moving again.  I overcame the pain of cruelty by finding the value within myself that I could protect.  I studied hard and dreamed of a better life.  Yes, I lost the accent and plucked the eyebrows!

The 1960’s called and I answered:  In 1969, I was 21 and passionate about music and living in San Francisco. It was everything you’ve read about adventures in 1960’s:alt="Dancers from the 1960's with long hair, beads, raising their hands" protests, sex, drugs, rock and roll, wild times.  I loved it.  When I was invited to be an original staffer on Rolling Stone Magazine in Europe, I moved to England at the height of  The Beatles and Swinging London.  It was an amazing time with amazing people! There was a serious side, too: we believed we could actually change the world through music.

When I went home for a quick visit and fell in love with a California man, my life was hastily rearranged so  I could marry him.  I moved again and left music journalism to make my living as an artist.

His drinking and divorce:  My first marriage ended sadly with a judge’s restraining order for my husband to stay away from me.  He had become a heavy drinker and loved hand guns.  I was terrified.  We lived in California – a community property state – so I still had to give him 50% of the small art  business I had sweated to built while we were married.  Everything I had was sold to pay for his share.  At the age of thirty-one, I had lost my marriage and my livelihood to my husband’s alcoholism. 

alt="Confused woman in business suit holding arrows going in different directions"

Back to school, alone: I picked myself up from the dust of our destroyed dreams.  I committed to believing that I could have a happy marriage and family in the future and could  learn new skills to reinvent my career. One foot in front of the other.  Asking for help and advice.  Long hours. Back to school. And…..it paid off.

Families and fertility: Six years later, I had started another business and had married a man with three teenagers. As if being a step-mother weren’t challenging enough, I was desperate to have a baby but we had difficult fertility issues to overcome. Years of doctors, surgeries and treatments followed and I joined the ranks of hopeful but fearful women in their late thirties trying to get pregnant.
alt="Very pregnant woman in a bright pink dress"

Now, more than twenty years later, the joys of two pregnancies and healthy babies still dazzles me.  After finally becoming a mother, balancing a career and children (Ha!! What balance?!) was an exhausting struggle but it was worth every difficult hour. While I was trying to raise a family and run a business I learned to ask for help whenever I could.  I needed it!

alt="Hopeful woman flying as Superwoman, in business suit"

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Mom, the entrepreneur: 

As an entrepreneur, you must stay alert for opportunities to make things better and step forward quickly whenever one appears. When there is nothing, you can’t wait passively but have to go out cold and make things happen. Hope will give you the strength to take action!

alt="Rosie the Riveter with a baby on her arm"

By believing that I could run a business of my own, I built a profitable company based on my inventions and product designs. And these were the days before venture capitalists….everything was done on the skinniest shoestring, starting on my kitchen table. When my business took off in the giftware and home accessories market, I went from zero to selling millions of dollars by having faith in my quality of my work and refusing to quit.

There’s nothing like the taste of success to inspire your ability to work even harder towards your goals!

Innovation meant survival: If my products didn’t sell, I kept trying something new until there were a string of best-sellers and my company had a reputation for innovation. There’s a saying that “90% of genius is just showing up” and that’s also true for creating a steady stream of new products.  Some will hit and some will miss.  What’s important is the will to keep trying something new.

Along the way there were plenty of failures and flops.  At times I was embarrassed or discouraged by making mistakes that seemed stupid in retrospect.But I kept going by forgiving myself and having faith that missteps were inevitable and just part of the journey. Instead of feeling defeated I became more determined to get things right.

Creating excitement about the future kept me going.

Becoming the only breadwinner.  A mom supporting her family single-handed: While we were both working full-time, my husband and I were taking care of a large, blended family of five children with plenty of challenges. He had his own career, unrelated to my company. When he suddenly lost his job and couldn’t find another, times were hard but I was able to support our family thanks to the skills and confidence I had learned running my own business.

alt="Stressed working mom holding a small child, talking on phone"

My husband went years without income, a major struggle for him and for our marriage. Today, 40% of American wives earn more than their husbands and many of them live with tension in their families. Millions of single mothers struggle to support themselves and their families. My experience was very similar.  It is hard, hard, hard work.  No kidding. Some days are just bleak and discouraging, but they will pass.  I promise.

You must find a few minutes to nurture your hope somewhere in your day: In bed at night, I repeated encouraging words to myself, over and over until I fell asleep.  In the shower in the morning, I envisioned successful outcomes for the tasks I had each day. It took discipline to remember to do this, every day, but it worked. I kept my spirits up while working my brains out.  You can remind yourself about your resilience and resourcefulness and trust that you will keep moving forward.  You will find a way to thrive if you believe in your heart that you can do this.  I did it and you can do it, too!

alt="Burning house in flames with silhouette of fireman"

Then The House Burned Down!  Earthquakes aren’t the only natural disaster in California. We have wildfires. When our home burned in a wildfire, we lost everything.

My youngest children were three and five years old and one had a serious health issue that put special demands on how we lived.  The local community rose up to generously support us and thank goodness for their help because we only had the clothing on our backs.  I remember being in 24 hour store in the middle of the night, looking for basics like toothbrushes and bursting into tears. We resettled in a nearby town and over time rebuilt our lives.

Despite the shock and horror of being caught in a wild fire, we all survived and knew how lucky we were because some of our neighbors died.  When I think of that period of time now, what I remember is the love and caring that surrounded us.  It was like being in an inspiring human symphony.

Did I need those encouraging personal words?  You bet I did!  Some of you might pray.  I’m not religious, but I do believe that that’s a good solution, too.

alt="Two hands: one grabbing a pile of cash, the other holding wrist"Adventures in manufacturing:  To run a small business, you have to enjoy the ups and downs. Or, at least be able to handle the ride without going crazy.

Thanks to always being willing to try something new, my business had grown dramatically. I rode the wave of sending manufacturing to China in the early 2000’s which was fascinating but not without risks. Originally, we had factories in the US but, like so many other companies, we expanded off-shore and relied 100% on importing our products. With my team, we established a close relationship with our Chinese supplier and built a factory dedicated to my product designs.

But problems 9,000 miles away are harder to solve than those under your own roof. In 2008, we were hit with crisis: an unexpected break in our Chinese supply chain that was out of our control. Overnight, all production stopped.

alt="The final piece of a puzzle being put into place"

Back in the US, we had done everything possible to generate excitement for new products and get purchase orders which were piled high, waiting for shipping.  Suddenly, they could not be filled. At the height of my design career, the phone lines were lit up with angry customers canceling their orders.

And, who could blame them?

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In the middle of this, my mother dropped dead from a stroke.

<<< alt="Roses at funeral"

Her sudden death scared me into another change and a new direction: By 2009, we had fixed our supply chain and business was good again but I was stressed and tired. I was sixty-two years old, the veteran of guiding a business through more than thirty years of  the US economy, trends and fashions and adventures in manufacturing.

My mother’s death frightened me into realizing how short life is and how many other things I still hoped to do.

Like many of you, I dreamed of the freedom to travel. I dreamed of having enough time to spend with family and friends. I also dreamed of becoming a writer, creating books for women who hope to reinvent and improve their lives.

So…..time for another creative reinvention!  If you believe you can reinvent yourself and you’re willing to really try, it can happen.  Here’s my latest story:  in my sixties, my first book has just published.  It’s never too late to start something new. Take a look!

Books by The Hopeful Woman.

alt="Cover of the book Online Dating for Women Over 40: The Hopeful Woman's 10 Step Guide to Enjoyment and Success"