Starting Over, Again and Again

“The world is your oyster! You’re just getting started.”

The speaker was the police chief of Ferndale, Michigan. The time was June, 1966, and the event was my high school graduation. The chief’s task was a formidable one – enlightening us about life’s opportunities on a muggy, sticky day in early summer.

I wondered, “What does an oyster have to do with me?” I also wondered when he’d stop talking, because I wanted to bolt with my friends to the beach.

At 18, I was invulnerable, immortal, and full of myself. The future? That was something my parents worried about.

But the oyster thing kept surfacing. I heard it at college graduation. And again at my first teaching job, when I got married, when I gave birth to my first child, and when I started my corporate work.

Then, I hit my mid-50’s. All talk about oysters stopped. Life’s opportunities got less metaphorical and more serious. Now, I was told I would have a “fresh start” with my marriage when the children left home.

Instead, I got a divorce. All of a sudden, I was starting over against my will – and it didn’t begin with a trip to the beach with my friends. To survive, I had a major life lesson to learn: I had to adjust my mindset to see starting over as a golden opportunity.

In the eight years since then, I’ve had more  “starting over” than I ever dreamed possible: six relocations (moving to a new home) and five new business starts.  I couldn’t have done them if I hadn’t constantly reminded myself that every one of them meant new possibilities.

It came down to a simple verb change. Instead of “I have to start over,” I told myself  “I get to start over.” Some days, starting again felt like a delightful walk in the park. Other days, the “golden opportunity” eluded me and I was brutally depressed and lonesome.

There was one constant that got me through, however: How I thought about the new starts made all the difference. My mind believed me when I said I was happy. It also set all systems to miserable, when I said I was lonely. Your brain believes everything you tell it.

The famous psychologist, Sol Gordon, once said, “There’s nothing as energizing as starting something new.”

From where I sit, after a half-century-plus of living, there are still oysters to be eaten. Now, however, I prefer them on the half shell with lemon and Tabasco.

And starting over? Oh yes, I’m a pro at it, as are you. We’re lucky, you and I. We’re not getting older. We’re getting started. And every day is a fresh one.



Craving compliments? Own it!

I complimented a magnificently adorned woman in her mid 60’s, yesterday – at the corner of Market and 2nd in San Francisco. It was exactly what we talked about in our “I Want My Neck Back … Reclaiming Your Body” sessions. As I approached the corner, she stood there in the most beautiful royal blue and black (trimmed) light coat. She was “owning it” so aristocratically – shoulders back, head up … just waiting for the light to change to walk across Market. Perfect picture? Nope. It all worked except for the frown on her brow. At first I thought to myself, “There’s an angry woman.” (Remember, we lead with our face). Then I stopped myself. Wait a minute! No drama and no stories! She needs a compliment. I said, “I love that coat.” She looked at me and a huge grin spread across her face. “Thank you,” she said. That’s all she said! (Had she secretly attended one of our sessions?) I continued, “Did you get it around here? It’s lovely!” She answered with glee, “No, I made it. I make all my clothes. I learned to sew when I was three.” “You sewed at three?” I asked. She replied, “We were really poor and my mother was a seamstress – no time for anything else with nine kids. By the way, you look amazing, too.” I simply said, “thank you,” smiling to myself as the light changed and we crossed the street. I’ll never see her again, but it was a bonding moment for both of us. The kind of moment that only we women can do. In less than one minute, we both left feeling wonder-full, with a brisker stride. My resolve is even firmer, now. We need to support each other, no matter what. If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, join us for a complimentary event (I Want My Neck Back – Reclaiming Our Bodies) as we laugh, learn and share our woes and wonder-fullness around these ever changing bodies of ours. Sags and settling? Enough is enough! Join us and learn the secrets to “anti aging.”  Hint: It’s not about needles or knives, salves or supplements, food or fitness …