Linda In The News - More Magazine

50 Ways to Reinvent Your Life

by Connie Collins, More Magazine, February 2001

A new career, a new husband, an entirely new path...these women prove that it is never too late for challenge or change.

  1. Started skydiving
    "At forty-three, I discovered skydiving. It didn't take much time before I wanted to stay 'up there' longer, so six years later, I got my pilot's license." --Judy Dixon, business owner, 55

  2. Became an Oxford scholar
    "A year and a half ago, I learned a new swimming stroke, and it made me realize that running my own design firm didn't leave me enough time to grow. An avid reader, I decided to study English literature at Oxford. I closed my office and will spend the next three years reading the best books in the world." --Lucy Sisman, writer, 44

  3. Sought out simplicity
    "After living in seven cities and holding nine corporate titles by the time I turned forty-one, I realized I was following my head, not my heart. A year of examining my goals helped me understand that I didn't want the corporate life. Now, I help others to simplify their lives and still have time for cello lessons, yoga and golf." --Linda Manassee Buell, life coach, 46

  4. Moved to the country
    "The house where I'd spent childhood summers needed extensive repairs, so I donated it to a charity that carted it away. Then I arranged for a new modular home to be delivered. A few months later, I set up house. I love my new digs." --Barbara Johnston Adams, writer/teacher, 57

  5. Started a nurses' training program
    "Before I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis seven years ago, I was athletic. Today, I can't walk. Rather than wallowing in bitterness, I worked with the MS Society to establish a training program for nurses who work with MS patients." --Janet Pearce, special projects producer, 55

  6. Opened a wildlife rescue center
    "Three years ago, I quit my job as a secretary to start an animal rescue center. I'd been rehabilitating wild animals part-time, and I asked myself which meant more: a paycheck or the rewards of service." --Virginia Frati, volunteer, 44

  7. Became a foster grandparent
    "I have five grandchildren of my own, but tutoring first graders who really need my help has changed my life." --Barbara Gaston, volunteer, 60

  8. Learned to treat myself
    "I was totally devoted to family and work. Then five years ago, I left my marriage, launched a business and purchased a house. I started buying gifts for me -- including diamond earrings. There'd never been money for diamonds, only for diapers." --Connie LaMotta, communications specialist, 49

  9. Found new faith
    "I'd been raised Episcopalian, but joined the Catholic church in college. I earned a master's in theology, then became a nun. Eight years later, I left the order. My father's priest suggested I become an Episcopal priest. In the process, I met my Jewish husband at a Unitarian church dance. It's been an interesting spiritual journey. --Reverend Beth Long, rector, 48

  10. Adopted a child
    "I was fifty, single and not thinking about motherhood. But a friend who'd just adopted a baby from China caused me to reexamine my life. So I began the adoption process, flew to China and brought home my daughter, who's now five." --Lys Marigold, writer, 55

  11. Got handy
    "As a single parent, I enrolled in a home maintenance class to save money on repairs. A few women from the class and I formed a group, volunteering several hours a week to help each other. We've painted, torn down walls and fixed leaky roofs." --Juanita Simmons, health specialist, 50

  12. Found my voice
    "As a professor of educational psychology, I always told my students to pursue careers true to their spirits. When I realized I wasn't being true to mine, I took up voice lessons, then eventually got a Ph.D. in performance education." --Marguerite Marianna, performance arts consultant, 51

  13. Returned to my first career
    "After raising my daughter and writing a book, I went back to work as an attorney. It was what I needed -- not just for my financial independence, but also for my self-confidence." --Leslie Conason, attorney, 53

  14. Got wrapped up
    "I'd dreamed of creating my own line of pareos from the day I saw one in the South Pacific twenty years ago. But I was busy with my daughter and my interior design company. A few years ago, I decided it was time to live out my dream. I enrolled in business and advertising classes, then started Wraptures. Now we're selling Henri Bendel!" --Denise Stelman, entrepreneur, 48

  15. Produced a CD
    "Cushing's disease forced me to stop singing professionally. But my friends continued to brag about my voice and people began to ask me to sing at their dinner parties. To thank them, I recorded a CD of love songs. People played it all over town. I felt reborn" --Tommi Thomas, singer, 59

  16. Fired up the kiln
    "After putting my husband in a nursing home, I reopened my pottery studio. I hadn't made anything in ten years, since we'd converted my work space into his bedroom. I used to teach at a local college; now I hold two classes a week in my studio. I've even started to sell my work." --Marie Wynn Kuhl, ceramist, 80

  17. Had breast reduction surgery
    "I dropped from a 38DD to a 36C, then lost thirty pounds." --Dianne Infantolino, cosmetics consultant, 55

  18. Ran for public office
    "As a teacher and college administrator, I'd served on local school and library boards, and the next logical step was to run for state office -- when I was fifty-six. I've been in the Vermont Legislature for ten years now; four in the House and six in the Senate. --Nancy Chard, senator, 67

  19. Became a dog groomer
    "At forty-two, assisting stockbrokers was no longer fun. When I told a career adviser how much I enjoyed taking my dog to be groomed, she told me to try it. I did, and I love the freedom of making my own schedule." --Dori James, dog groomer, 45

  20. Got a lift
    "At fifty-eight, I had a face-lift. Then I started dating a forty-four-year-old guy I met at a party." --Anne Ingolia, real estate agent, 60

  21. Had liposuction
    "After my fortieth birthday, I had my stomach lipoed. It inspired me to start exercising; I dropped two dress sizes." --Klee Zaricki, business owner, 45

  22. Went blonde
    "It was my hairdresser's idea. And you know what? Blondes do have more fun!" --Sandra Feldman, president, American Federation of Teachers, 60

  23. Got my doctorate at 90
    "Last May, I got my Ed.D. in education. I was born in Russia, came to America after World War I and went to work after grade school. I married and raised a family. I got my high school equivalency diploma at sixty-five, then went on to earn a bachelor's in fine art and two masters. Now through painting, I help elderly people discover that they still are creative. I have macular degeneration, but half of the old masters couldn't see well!" --Elizabeth Eichelbaum, art therapist, 90

  24. Became an Emergency Medical Technician
    --Clay Dilworth, architectural designer, 57

  25. Sobered up
    "I was never your fall-down, sloppy drunk, but I joined Alcoholics Anonymous at fifty-three because my evening cocktail hour had become the only thing I looked forward to. My youngest child was graduating from college; I had no self-esteem and no relationship with my husband. Through AA, I got sober, learned to love myself and divorced my husband. I found my soul." --Mary, nurse, 63

  26. Got the pointe
    "I'd wanted to study ballet since I was young, so when a notice for adult classes was posted at my daughter's dance school, I registered. At first I felt like a complete klutz. Now when I finish class, I feel like a million bucks. It's the ultimate stress reliever." --Debbie Costello, medical transcriber, 41

  27. Quit Smoking
    --Stacy Ludlow, Horse Farm Owner, 45

  28. Hit the ice -- again
    "Three years ago, while working in retail, I started to teach ice skating. I'd skated competitively as a kid, but stopped when it became too demanding. A few months later, the director quit; I asked for the job. Now I produce ice shows and coordinate competitions." --Donna Smith, rink director, 41

  29. Became a racecar driver
    "Cancer forced me to have a hysterectomy, and I realized I hadn't done everything I wanted to do. So I beefed up a '75 Oldsmobile Cutlass and started doing 'bump to pass' events at a nearby speedway. Playing hardball with the guys is a good laugh, and I often win!" --Yvonne Lifsey, sales associate, 51

  30. Jazzed things up
    "Years ago, after some family problems, I took a jazz course. Though I was a musician, I'd never studied jazz and found my classmates to be friendly and open. To celebrate their kindness, I threw a jazz party in my backyard. Now, every summer, musicians come to play and enjoy each other." --Lysbet Rogers, pianist, 61

  31. Started praying
    "When my husband and I separated three years ago, I was devastated. I began praying, and it helped. I began to hold prayer groups in my home, which led to my entering a seminary. This summer, I will be ordained an interfaith minister." --Susyn Reeve, consultant, 51

  32. Dreamed of a business
    "An artist with absolutely no fashion experience, I designed a line of clothing made of fabric kids can draw on. I call it 'Scribbles by Jill.' The whole concept came to me in dreams." --Jill Barber, sculptor, 58

  33. Went into therapy
    "At forty-two, I was writing unsuccessful screenplays, wondering what to do with my life. I'd always helped friends with problems, and when my therapist suggested I become one, too, I decided to get a degree. I've gone into private practice and am very happy." --Julie Hall, psychotherapist, 58

  34. Became a chef
    "Five years ago, I retired and took culinary classes. My classmates were all younger, and I think my gray hair helped get me my first chef's job; they probably thought I'd been cooking for thirty years." --Marilyn Baratto, pastry chef, 60

  35. Lost 130 pounds
    "At 257 pounds, it was now or never!" -- Marlene Zukerbrot, weight-loss consultant, 52

  36. Made a difference in a young person's life
    "I've been fortunate in my career and, in middle age, felt a spiritual obligation to give back. My teenage nephew became challenging for his parents, so I left my office job and invited him to live with me. A single woman, I'm not sure I know what to do as a parent, but I think I know what not to do. It's been an enriching experience that gives me a sense of purpose." --Audrey Edwards, writer/real estate broker, 53

  37. Debunked a stereotype
    "Most magazines do stories only about 'Sex at 20, 30 and 40.' So I wrote a novel about a passionate couple in their sixties. Julie and Romeo was published; Barbra Streisand optioned the film rights." --Jeanne Ray, nurse/writer, 63

  38. Landed a great deal
    "After twenty years as a senior manager, my job was eliminated. I knew it was coming and I asked for early retirement. Now I'm traveling and pursuing opportunities in arts and crafts." --Marianne Harn, entrepreneur, 62

  39. Made a name for myself
    "For years, I'd worked as a spokesperson for my family's sofa bed business. Then six years ago, I ran for U.S. Senator. I lost, but the Governor of New York appointed me Commissioner of Parks." --Bernadette Castro, Commissioner for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, 56

  40. Bought a desk
    "When I had my first child two years ago, I began thinking about trading in my office job as an editor to work from home as a freelance writer. I hadn't made a final decision, but I bought a professional desk, which forced me to revamp my study. When I put in a second phone line, I knew I'd created a true home office." --Anne Glusker, writer, 42

  41. Built my courage to new heights
    "I registered for an Outward Bound trip, hoping to cure my fear of heights. Rappeling down a mountain gave me new self-confidence. Now, I take risks for things I feel strongly about." --Jo Westervelt, homemaker, 52

  42. Got braces and had my teeth bleached
    "Now when I smile, I really smile!" --Virginia Knott, publisher, 50

  43. Made my hobby a job
    "Last year, when my company was sold and my bond broker job terminated, I decided to make a career of doing what I loved --designing greeting cards. I sold my condo, moved to the country and now get to use the creative side I didn't have time to explore during my last career." -- Wendy Kalif, greeting card designer, 41

  44. Changed my focus
    "Having a premature baby at forty-one sent me on a mission. Monitored extensively for infant jaundice, my daughter still has scars from where blood was drawn. At my pediatrician's suggestion, I directed my company -- which makes optical instruments for the printing and beauty industries -- to work with scientists in developing a noninvasive test. Nine years later, the FDA cleared the TLc. BiliTest. My firm is now also registered as a medical company." --Darby MacFarlane, chairman and CEO, 56

  45. Bought a Harley
    "I'd ridden double on my boyfriend's bike, but it never struck me that I could drive one until I met a woman who did. I love the illusion of freedom and knowing I'm a woman who can take care of herself." --Cheri Powers, legal assistant, 43

  46. Trusted my instincts
    "At forty, I began assisting a producer. I approached him with a project; he told me it wouldn't sell. When it sold, he said I couldn't produce it. The network insisted that I do it. Without my boss, I went on to produce The Two Mrs. Grenvilles." --Sue Pollack, producer, 63

  47. Became a full-time mom
    "Two years ago, we adopted a baby girl, and I quit my job. Friends have retired, but I don't think that will ever happen for me. I don't have the luxury of getting old -- but that's a good thing!" --Linda Stern, at-home mom, 53

  48. Started writing
    "I quit practicing law at fifty, moved and joined a writer's group. It was going to disband for the summer except for those writing novels, so I decided to do one, too. It was published, and now I'm teaching memoir writing." --Susan Pashman, writer/educator, 57

  49. Joined the Peace Corps
    "When I was forty-one, my family sold the newspaper we had run for fifty years. I wanted adventure -- and to make a difference -- so I joined the Peace Corps. After a stint in the Solomon Islands, I returned home but couldn't find a job that satisfied me. I rejoined the Peace Corps in Albania at fifty-two." --Jane Marlow Willis, writer, 58

  50. Told my story
    "I wrote a book about how I took fate into my own hands to change for the better. It was the culmination of my life's work." --Donna McCue, intuitive consultant, 52

Copyright 2001, Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.
Used with the permission of MORE.

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