Saturday, March 14, 2009

I've been re-inventing myself my whole life

I came across an adage often voiced by Bonnie Price of, which rings so true to me "... we don't retire, we re-invent ourselves". I am 78 years old and have been re-inventing myself my whole life. I have never faded into the woodwork! I have approached each phase of my life proactively and made sure it was the best phase yet. I have learned how to leverage my past and present experiences and passions to design a present that is fulfilling.

I've had so many different careers that I would have lost count, if it weren't for the fact that each one was, and still is intrinsically enmeshed with all the others. I never understood why anyone would say that time spent taking classes that didn't have the name of your chosen profession written on them, or traveling, or experiencing life didn't prepare them for the future or was a waste of time. Everything you do prepares you for the future. It depends on how you look at it and what you do with it, whether or not it turns out to be a waste of time.

I have had very few, if any, life experiences that I didn't learn something from, even the negative ones. I've had three divorces, breast cancer, and lost a husband to suicide. I survived an abusive relationship, the loss of a relationship with a child, and the financial loss of just about everything. I truly believe that all of these experiences contributed to making me the strong, independent woman I am today. Although I can take life pretty seriously at times, I was born with an optimistic outlook, sense of humor, and the ability to rise above some of the darkest moments. The trick is to come out with something I can use to continue my life's journey, from one situation to another; from one career to another; from one encounter to another.

I inherited a very strong work ethic, in fact, you might say I'm a workaholic. I love to work! I remember my very first paying job, in Detroit. I was 16 years old and it was for a department store. I worked in the credit department, on a machine, posting payments. It only seems boring to me now, but ,at the time, I loved it. I went on to work for the phone company, for a small vacuum company, General Motors, The Bank of Detroit, and on and on. I picked up all kinds of skills, many of which centered around writing and music. My father was a musician. I started singing with his band in high school and continued singing throughout my life. That was my night job

I went to college and studied art, psychology, anthropology, English, languages, and music. I got divorced and married again, several times. I modeled, I taught modeling and voice over communications. I got several degrees and taught music, English, and English as a second language in the Chicago Public schools. I picked up a Master's degree in Special Education and moonlighted as a hostess in a night club where Frank Sinatra used to hang out, and taught English to Spanish speaking people in night school at one of the local colleges. I took a sabbatical and went back to the University to get a PhD in education, during which time I taught University grad students while I went each morning for radiation for 8 weeks to rid my body of cancer cells.

I managed to fit in Traveling to Europe (several times), Africa, Mexico, and the Galapagos Islands. I've lived in Detroit, Tampa, Dallas, California, Chicago and Kentucky. And everything I've done, everything that has happened to me, has contributed to who I am today. You may be surprized to find out that I am now an Innkeeper. I own my own bed and breakfast. I've learned a lot about people since I started this business and even more about myself. I became an employer, for the first time ( which was more difficult than I anticipated) and I've learned how to run and market my own business. I have, again, re-invented myself, utilizing the planning, organizing, social and worldly skills I picked up along the way.


  1. This article is a testament to what I believe it truly means to live life, to value life and to take full advantage of our short time here. Life is about experiencing, growing and evolving. It's about struggle, painful disappointments, hardships and loss; it's about joy, humor, love and compassion. When I read this post all that comes to mind is: "An unexamined life is not worth living." Kudos Nancy, this world is richer with you in it sharing your story, your accomplishments, your pain and your love of life.

  2. Thank you so much for the beautiful comment. I can't tell how much it is appreciated.

  3. Very inspirational!

  4. Very insprirational!