Monday, February 20, 2012

Is It Time To Reinvent Yourself?

It's never too late to have the life you want.
(Available HERE. Or enter my giveaway. Details below.)

I've been waiting to tell you about this forever. Last year, I was invited by Barbara Machen and Jennifer Pate, creators and hosts of the acclaimed web series "Jen and Barb, Mom Life" to contribute a story of personal reinvention to their book, and I'm extremely honored and grateful to be a part of it.

It was just released a few weeks ago and as a special treat for A Bloomsbury Life readers, Barb and Jen are giving me three signed copies of their book for a giveaway. To enter, just leave a comment on this post and next Monday I'll announce three winners via a random number generator. (Please only enter once.)

If you love being a wife, partner and/or mom but sometimes wonder what happened to your life, this book is for you. If you dream of embracing change but don't know where to start, this book is for you. If you want to relinquish your fear, resuscitate your passion and reawaken your sense of purpose, this book is for you.

Why do I think this book is so important?

Because four years ago, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

I had left a career in advertising to be a full-time mom, and six years in, I had a son in first grade, a husband who worked long hours at a job he loved, and a nagging feeling that despite my all-consuming love for my family, there was still something missing.

I wanted to be busy.
I wanted to be creative again.
I wanted to jump out of bed in the morning and be inspired to do....(what exactly??)

I had absolutely no clue.

~~~~ FLASHBACK ~~~~

My Act One career didn't pan out. Advertising was my dream job when I was in my twenties, but there was a reason they called it a young person's business. It was a high-powered pressure cooker of competition and rivalry and not working on weekends was a rarity. By the time I hit twenty-seven, I was the youngest vice president in the agency, but I was approaching burnout.

My Act Two stint couldn't have been more opposite in terms of stature. My friends Max Mutchnick and David Kohan, the creators of "Will and Grace," offered me a job as a writer's assistant on the show and I eagerly accepted. I didn't care that it would pay a tenth of my former salary or that my job would basically be to transcribe every single joke every single writer blurted out at the table all day. (And that my nickname would be "Veal" because I was confined to a desk in the back of the room and rarely moved my legs.) I saw it as an opportunity to audit a master class in comedy writing with some of Hollywood's biggest talents -- and how many people got the chance to do that?

Working on "Will and Grace" turned out to be one of the best jobs I ever had for the most enlightening of reasons:

1. It was the toughest job I had ever had. In addition to writing down every word of potential dialogue ten different writers interjected over one another (visualize my ears rotating like satellite dishes), I had to organize and edit all of the daily script changes by the end of each day so that the production team could hand-deliver updated drafts to cast and crew overnight. (My years in advertising suddenly felt like summer vacation.)

2. I learned that no matter how smart or funny you are, inspiration takes perspiration. Transforming an idea from a two sentence pitch into a tight, well-crafted 45 page script was a test of mental endurance. And the writers cut themselves no slack. They were revisionists of the highest order -- constantly tweaking jokes, simplifying scenes and strengthening plot points to make the script tighter and funnier. To make life even more complicated, every week the writers were working on two scripts simultaneously: rewriting the one that would tape in front of a live audience on Tuesday night and writing the one that would be shot the following week.

3. No matter what kind of obstacles the writers were hit with, they kept on moving forward. Sometimes a great script would get to the actors' read-through and fall flat for no discernible reason. Jokes wouldn't work, the pacing would feel off, and no one would understand why. In a crisis like this, the writers' would regroup in the bungalow and immediately start coming up with new ideas. There was no time for anyone to fall on their sword for a line they loved. Time was ticking. They had to move on. The buck stopped with them.

4. The most freeing thing of all was realizing that leaving the corporate world wasn't the end of the world. I had gone from being a big cheese in NYC to being the absolute lowest (and nearly oldest) person in the writers' room. Etiquette required that I get myself a cup of coffee last, stand in line at the lunch buffet last and pretty much not speak unless spoken to. Yes, it was an adjustment. Yes, I got my pride bruised a couple of times. But once I let go of my overly high opinion of myself and concentrated on doing the best job I could, I felt incredibly liberated, because what better lesson in life is there than learning to leave your ego at the door?
(Embracing egolessness on the set of Will and Grace, 2001)


Back to four years ago. I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I did know one thing. The whole blogging world fascinated me.

There was Heather Clawson of Habitually Chic.
Ronda Carman of All the Best.
Courtney from Style Court.
Patricia from PVE Design.
And the brilliant An Aesthete's Lament.

What if I started a blog of my own?
One in which I combined my passions and my own particular way of looking at the world?

What would happen if I tried?
(And would I regret it if I didn't?)

Hard work didn't scare me.
Long hours didn't scare me.
The fact that I'd be unpaid did scare me, but I had to start somewhere.

Could this be my Act Three?

I think you know the answer, but the rest of the story's in the book.


(Editor's Note: I am unable to comment on your lovely, wise posts because it would mess up the giveaway, but know that I am inspired by all of your comments and consider myself lucky to "virtually know" you all!)


helen tilston said...

Hello Lisa

Congratulations on being included in Jen and Barb, Mom Life. Liza you have lived and worked in so many fields. How fabulous and what a book of experience you have.

I am thrilled you decided to blog and as your follower for almost three years, I enjoy every single post and miss you when life takes you in other directions.
The books sounds fascinating

My best,
Helen xx

Cathi said...

The book does sound fascinating and so important to us as women, as we tend to put our wants and needs last. The truth is we need to make ourselves a priority in our own lives and our loved ones will enjoy the fruits of our happiness and fulfillment!

Anbolyn said...

I could really use some inspiration for reinvention right now. I've been a librarian for 8 years and am ready for something different.
I think your blog is wonderful and always find it a treat to see a new post in my google reader!

Jenny Woolf said...

Well done at being included!

Kim said...

I could use a bit of inspiration--this sounds like just the ticket. Bravo to you, Lisa, for being asked to participate.

Lara said...

Wow! This is just whopping me upside the head. I need to figure out what I'm going to be when I "grow up" so badly. It's so nice to hear that other women have had a circuitous route to being who they are.

ellen said...

Seems like my little world is telling me something...lots of signs that I just can't ignore. Would love to read this inspiring book to push me over the reinvention! Love your blog - always a highlight when I see you've posted something new!

jennifer said...

I'm long overdue for some reinvention. This may just be my kick in the pants!

So glad this blog has been one of your many plot points, it never fails to inspire me.

AlwaysMe said...

You are an inspiration - I would love to read the rest of your story. Your blog has been an inspiration for the last few years. I am grateful for it daily.

Unknown said...

This sounds so encouraging! Thank you, Lisa!

24 Corners said...

Lisa...I believe there is an Act Four hiding in there somewhere and it wears the title of 'Embroidery Artist Extraordinaire'...please don't forget that brilliant side of your life story, which already up to this point, has been enormously engaging and adventurous!
Congratulations on your inclusion in the book, and thank you for choosing to share your talents with us through your wonderful blog...I and so many, are very glad you did!
xo J~

Michelle said...

It seems to me, as a woman, that we are (more often than men)defined by the roles we play: mother, daughter, caretaker, wife. Consequently, it is easy to lose oneself in day-to-day life. The life of a women - both from a social and biological standpoint - is constantly evolving. Therefore the ablitly to reinvent oneself is, I think, crucial. This book sounds like it would be a great inspiration. Sometimes it seems, a man is a man for life, but a woman must reinvent herself for the whole of her life.

meenal bishnoi said...

Hello Lisa!
Congratulations!! This is just the post I needed to read today...It's amazing how you articulate so eloquently what so many of us feel..I am so looking forward to reading your piece in the book..your writing( in your blog) has forever inspired me...keep up the good work...xx meenal

Jane the Booklady said...

Hello Lisa, Your blog today gave me a shake up. I have so enjoyed writing my blog last year but it is nothing compared to the success you have created with yours. I think I may need this book to get me inspired, so I just don't jog along... Jane x

ConnieJ said...

I'm the mother of five children and now that they are all raised and i'm 52 I'm going to try and start a career. I'm scarred and this book sounds perfect for me. I hope it's true that you're never to old to get the life you want. Thanks for telling us about the book!


kim at northerncalstyle. said...

Love it! Great post and so inspiring. A mom friend was just saying the other day that we are all on our second or third selves, and wondered where she was going next. It's especially true for Mothers. We have all stopped, changed gears and that has helped us better realize who we really want to be.

Blogs have been the most wonderful medium to share something you have a passion for with so many.

Love your blog.


seagreen reader said...

I'd love to read this book, please enter me in the draw.

ane pixestos said...

Although I suppose I reinvented myself, living now in a country most people know nothing about because I felt drawn here, it can seem at times that the finish line is further than I anticipated, hence the importance of encouraging words. (I can't say enough about the importance of good words.) I am grateful to Barb and Jen for a chance to win this book!

carol : @perennial said...

I would love to read this book and love the insight into your story. Thanks you.

Sharron said...

Love your blog and your writing style. I'd read this book to learn more about your career life alone! Very interesting!

Emily said...

Your story is so fascinating, but then again so are you. I'm so glad you made it to Act III and I would love to read more. Congratulations on being asked to contribute to this book.

Patricia Perry said...

Lisa -

Thank you for sharing your story. It is an inspiration to those of us in the midst of reinvention.

I only recently discovered your blog and find it to be a lovely oasis of style and beauty in my otherwise hectic and cluttered day.

Janell @ House of Fifty said...

Congratulations on your contribution to the book and I'd love to read it, love this stuff! I really do believe we can create the life we want with the right attitude and a lot of effort! :) Janell

pve design said...

Just as they tell us as we are about to take off, "You must administer the oxygen to yourself before others" and that is the truth. We Mothers all need a book or our personal attendant by out sides to remind us to fill our needs....
Congrats to you and I would love a copy of the book.

I was secretly wishing that I inspired you too....just as you fill my life with oxygen in the form of words and wit.

Steph said...

Thanks for the inspiration Lisa. Life is change, and I think you have a fantastic book in you based on your talk for your next act. I am having a second baby in the next two weeks, so the book you contributed to sounds phenomenal - and very pertinent!

JustJoan said...

You are an inspiration!
Thanks for the chance to win a book...I will go buy it if necessary. :)

AG said...

Although not a mother, per se, but a care giver to a nephew and formerly of sick family members, this post certainly caught my eye and gave me a little nudge to "get on with it already..." What that is? No clue, yet.

Kelly said...

I'm very much in the same boat. My youngest is now in 1st grade and my days are a little...drifting. So I really hope to be chosen! Thanks (and congrats on your contribution)! said...

New to Bloomsbury life..and loving it...Glad for your Act three....I am on Act Three as well. Trial lawyer in NYC, stay at Home mom in LA. Now stay at home mom with a shop on Etsy - My Soulful husband calls me an e-commerce entrepreneur....I say I am crafty....but what with it all? Love to read the book!

Jennifer Vincent said...

Congratulations on being included in their book! I'm actually looking forward to YOUR book - which I'm sure is coming!

Karen Orr said...

After reading your account of life as a sitcom writer's assistant, I'm almost too exhausted to comment.

Nevertheless, I'm overdue for a little inspiration and reinvention.

I look forward to reading the book, however it comes to me.

Ree Childs / Realtor / Shop owner said...

As another said "just the post I need to read" today. I was once very popular in my work and now feel down and out about staying home more. But, I WAS so tired of being busy all the time. Still working some but not the same social scene as before and feeling a little left out. I must admit though, I'm really enjoying life and "smelling the roses" now - as well as the wonderful scent of the ocean here in Florida......Thanks for fun reading, Lisa....

Jacqueline said...

I am a Mother in need of 'reinvention' !! This book might be the catalyst I need to jump-start me.

Hippy Chick said...

The book sounds amazing. I have always thought that it is not just about reinvention but rather about repotting oneself to meet the new environment so we can thrive. Trimming ourselves and editing is so needed in our daily lives. I love your Blog because I not only get inspired,like an artist your point of view lets me see my world in a richer deeper color lens. Bravo! Cheers! Kate

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

You are one enchanting woman!
I know you'll succeed in whatever you try.

Anonymous said...

I AM reinventing it ACT IV. From photographer to location manager to photographer and shall we say an "older Mom" of a 1st grader, senior and college student I need inspiration since my husband just left me for his college girlfriend.
(No this is not a Jerry Springer moment but unfortunately true life in the suburbs!)
A photo-blog was in the works but now well...something a little more lucrative is necessary. I'd love to read the book to add to my Village of support.
(Love your blog btw!)

Miss Bibliophile said...

As someone who feels herself to be on the brink of a transition...but isn't yet sure to what...I loved reading this post! The book sounds fascinating.

Patricia Wellman said...

Hello Lisa
So glad to hear about your being included and can't wait to read your contribution.
Seems that many of us want to reinvent these days and the blog world is helping us talk about this to each other. Can only be a good thing.

Am Starting a blog called Fearless Edith and I never miss looking at your blog. So soulful.
Best wishes Pat

debbie bailey said...

I can't wait to read your story. This sounds like a book I need right now. I've been floundering around for several years now not knowing in which direction to go. Maybe I'll be inspired!

Joanna said...

I'm looking forward to reading your contribution to the book. You always inspire me.

jean said...

Hi Lisa
I have definitely asking myself the same questions lately. What's next for me? In six months my youngest will be in kindergarten and I will be turning 40! I need some Devine inspiration!

I love your blog and really look forward to your posts. Your style and writing is an inspiration. As a fellow Angeleno and full-blooded Italian American I find your perspective charming!


lsellers said...

Ah yes, motherhood often becomes a necessity for reinvention. I'm working on mine as well...

Lily said...

Just as we look for inspiration to books and great women authors and artists of the past- Woolf, Sackville West, Sitwell, Lessing, etc, we can also find our muses in contemporary women bloggers sharing their stories and life lessons. Universal themes translated into intimate moments, beautifully illustrated with wit and honesty and images. Thank you for all of that Lisa!

somepinkflowers said...

the best part--->

we never
Really Know
how many
will B
in our Life Play...

{{ pick me,
pick me }}

eileen said...

I need inspiration! Pick me. Best, Eileen G

melanielynn said...

*Sigh* I love that someone wrote a book about exactly what has been nagging at my inner thoughts for years. Deciphering my deepest desires for a passionate, inspiring way to make a living, while balancing my treasured role as a mother, and wife sounds like a dream. I will read this book, one way or another. Thank you for sharing your story.
In gratitude,

Caryl said...

Reinvention is good for the soul! It's an evolutionary
path to our true selves and our life's purpose. Reinvention is important as oxygen. I hope
the book helps support millions of women
and I hope I win. No, I'll buy it because of
want to support the writers!! Congratualtions
to you, Lisa, for being included in the book
and for your blog and your continual reinvention.

Freeda Bee said...

Thank you for the opportunity to win this book. It may be just what is needed to finally make the leap to do what I love. Your blog is a gift in so many ways!

Angeli said...

I need an intervention for reinvention! Cant wait to read the book.

Lisa, you continuously intrigue me with your thoughts, lessons and most of all creativity.


Kate Davidson said...

Inspiration, please!

Unknown said...

Well, that is pretty much exactly where I am right now, having quit a diplomatic career to finally actually live with my husband...interests all over the place, but no real idea what to start in on. Thanks for your work on inspiring the rest of us!

Betze said...

Lisa - I would love to reinvent myself - you are so inspiring. I am currently in the middle of thinking - do I need to reinvent my life? Is what I am doing what I want to do for the next 20 or 30 years? It's nice to know you had the same thoughts. I truly enjoy reading what you write and find inspiration in what you share about your life - every time I visit here. Love the coziness.

Vava (aka Virginia) said...

OH, how I'd love a tad bit of inspiration...and with YOUR writing included: yes please!

Miriana said...

Hi Lisa, I'm glad you decided to start "Act 3", because I am inspired by your writing and outlook on life and I admire your courage! Being at a crossroads in my life at the moment and constantly asking myself "what shall I do with my life", I'd love to read this book!

wild thyme flowers said...

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Not my quote but it inspires me everyday.

tricia s. said...

Fabulous - so glad you shared about the book and I will be over the moon if the random number generator picks me :)

deerlilly said...

Hello: Reinvention is healthy and wonderful. Something I, too, do. Traveling life's trajectory is exciting and, because we are bringing experience from our previous lives, I believe, makes us all better at who we become next. Congratulations for managing to do so in a way that so many of us can enjoy.

Susan B. said...

Congratulations on being included! I am ready for reinvention and I have to idea into what. Or where for that matter. I will definitely be looking for this book! All the best, Susan

Lisa Swartz said...

Oh, goodness, can't wait to read your contribution to the book! I find inspiration in your blog, and think the book sounds wonderful!

FrugalFamilyTree said...

Congrats! It sounds like a fabulous book, and something that I need to read at this point in my life.

Anonymous said...

I read this last week and I felt the need to come and read it again. My mother is 59 years and recently lost her job. I cannot explain enough to her how she has the opportunity to re-invent her life though she may feel that she's in a different stage in her life.

I can share this with her and share the inspiration.

Congratulations Lisa and thank you for sharing!

ModernFarmette said...

Hi Lisa, I have been following your blog for the past couple of years, ever since a creative friend sent me a link to an interview feat. you in W magazine. Coming from an adbiz + tv production background myself and then moving to the Irish countryside with a side of mommyhood (son 6 now in school), I am dying to get my hands on this book! I started blogging 2 years ago, has brought some lovely opps but still trying to navigate my new path. Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your story and this book! Imen x

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