Recently I read a blog about women who re-invented themselves and ultimately achieved success where they hadn’t even imagined. J. K. Rowling was working as a waitress, broke, a single Mom, and nearly hopeless then Harry Potter was picked up by a publisher and the rest is history. Another successful second act is Ina Garten who, with an MBA and a job at the White House as a nuclear budget analyst, decided to “opt out” and purchase a small gourmet food store in Westhampton Beach.
She knew she was incompetent: “I didn’t know how to hire people. I didn’t know how to slice smoked salmon. I didn’t know how to choose Brie.” But, she learned, and even though there were days she thought, “I must be crazy”, she stuck it out and her hard work paid off. Her Barefoot Contessa shop was successful. She re-invented herself again after writing her first cookbook that became a New York Times best seller. She continued to write and is a successful cookbook author… always reinventing. My kind of gal!
Literary works tell of countless women who start their lives in one direction then switch gears, shift lanes, reengineer, change-up, and reinvent themselves into something else. Maybe it isn’t surprising since many of us – in literary life and in life literally – step in and out of the working world to raise children, or care for elderly parents, or manage the household while someone else earns the income. We often are ready and willing to tackle something new.
My favorite literary example of a woman who re-invents herself is Elphaba. If you haven’t met her yet, read “Wicked”. I loved her from the moment we met as I turned every page commuting on the long train ride.
She is so different – she has green skin. She is so brave – she takes on the wizard. She is so brilliant – she defies gravity!
Something has changed within me Something is not the same I’m through with playing by the rules Of someone else’s game Too late for second-guessing Too late to go back to sleep It’s time to trust my instincts Close my eyes and leap! (from the musical Wicked)
Elphaba, and brave, strong people like her inspire us to believe that anything is possible if you are willing to have faith and take the first step. Change is not easy, there are pitfalls, obstacles, and some really lonely moments when you find yourself wondering: “Am I crazy for doing this?” But be bold and brave … and embrace the new. That’s what makes life rich and exciting and worthwhile too.
Two years ago I wouldn’t have believed I’d be working in Chicago again in a business I knew nothing about. PR. I had to look up what public relations even meant and, over the last 15 months, I’ve had to Google countless terms: SOW, RFP, SWOT.
Even though my role started out as office management and “getting the train back on the tracks” I’ve also had the opportunity to work on client projects, pitches and new business bid responses. My hands shook and voice trembled the first time I called a TV news desk to tell them about an upcoming event. My stomach tightened and lurched as a huge RFP bid deadline loomed. My mouth still goes dry when I hear the words, “Karen, there’s something wrong with the video-conference equipment.” I know nothing about electronics but I’m still responsible for keeping it all on track. Even so, I go to work every day very happy. I’ve met amazing people and am learning new things every single day and sometimes, especially when the video-conference equipment actually works, I feel like I am defying gravity.
Oh, and we have a crockpot at work and I get to make stuff in it. How fun is that???? Check out the Stuffed French Toast I made one day. Last week I made Office Chili and someone said it felt like “a culinary hug on a cold wintery day”.
Close your eyes and leap. If you don’t try something new, how will you ever know what it feels like to really fly?
Office Chili – makes a crockpot full and fed about 20 co-workers3 pounds lean ground beef 2 sweet onions, chopped 2 stalks celery, chopped 2 carrots, chopped 1 bell pepper chopped 1 large can crushed tomatoes 1 can tomato sauce 3 cups beef broth (I used chicken broth and it was just as good) 2 cans black beans, drained 1 can cannellini beans, drained 3 tablespoons chili powder 2 tablespoons ground cumin 1 tablespoon garlic powder
In a stockpot, brown the ground beef with the onions, celery, carrots and bell pepper breaking up the ground beef with a spoon or potato masher. Transfer beef to a crockpot and add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, beans and seasonings. Cook on high for 3 hours.