Posts Tagged ‘taking chances’

We recreate ourselves constantly whether we realize it or not. It happens naturally as we live our lives. Outwardly we go from daughter, to wife, to mother. We graduate, we work, we earn money, we raise a family and, in the process of living, we raise ourselves. These are the facets of our life that the world sees. We’re “on script” so to speak.

But there are times when the script doesn’t match the internal voice of our character. That is the time we start rewriting our scripts, adjusting our personal narratives and changing ourselves.

Sometimes we make small and incremental changes in dialogue, like learning to say “no” when all our lives we’ve been saying “yes.” Sometimes we change our costumes, like getting into shape and upgrading our looks so we suit our new roles. And sometimes we make fundamental changes, like changing careers, going back to school or leaving the safety and security of life as we know it for the unknown – performing without a net.

Change, and the act of re-creation or reinvention, are never easy. When we’re going through it we often question our motives, our sanity and our judgment –and rightly so. It’s important to make sure that change is warranted because change for the sake of change is counterproductive. It’s like changing four quarters for a dollar – you’re no further ahead than when you started.

Naysayers, family and friends among them, who are stuck in their own personal ruts, will warn you off change and call your decisions into question. Don’t second-guess yourself! Don’t let “analysis paralysis” rule your life either!

Six years ago I recreated my life. As an international color marketer I was busy adding color to everyone else’s life but my own so I rewrote my script, changing my character from a long-time married suburban wife, to a single woman living in cosmopolitan Montreal.

I didn’t do it overnight. In fact, I thought about it for 13 years before making a change that I knew was unavoidable. Once made, I never looked back. Everything changed: my outlook, my attitude and my approach to life. I rewrote my inner dialogue from negative to positive, gave myself a new setting, and added an interesting cast of characters to my love life.

For the first time in years I knew what it felt like to be fully alive. I took my life off autopilot and started flying solo, free to feel the full range of emotions I had been avoiding for years: love, lust, longing, happiness, sadness and, finally, contentment.

Recently I completed my memoir Any Color but Beige: Living Life in Color. When I read it, I am amazed at the number of recreations there are in my life. I didn’t realize it as it was happening; it’s only now in retrospect that I can see the metamorphosis, the gradual pushing of boundaries from the safety of a beige chrysalis to a world awash in color. And this is only just the beginning because the one thing I realized when I finished the book was that as long as I’m alive, I’m never really done.

F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “There are no second acts in American life.” He was wrong, not only are there second acts; there are encores and lots of them. So take a bow and get ready for the next performance.

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/coloroftime

Take A Bow

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Seize the Moment

On a recent business trip to Sydney, sandwiched somewhere in between client dinners and early morning calls to my office back in Canada, I managed to catch up with my dear friend Lara. Artsy and cool in her trademark black, Lara is an amazingly talented make up artist with a wicked sense of humor. Her line of work often puts her in the company of some of Sydney’s best looking and most talented men – many of whom also happen to be gay.

To supplement the film and commercial work that often comes her way, she also does weddings.  What she does is nothing short of magical as she transforms people, at least on the outside, with the stroke a blush brush.  In her line of work, she has given more than her fair share of pep talks, reality checks and advice to nervous brides and even the occasional bewildered groom.  So when Lara says most of the great guys she knows are either gay or married, she knows from whence she speaks.

Over a couple of glasses of Yarra Valley Chardonnay we updated each other on our respective close encounters of the sexual kind.  The trouble is Lara lamented; it’s been so long that I don’t think I even know how to meet a man let alone just have sex with him.  She went on to describe those “moments” we’ve all had where we pass a stranger on the street, meet in an elevator, or exchange a glance across a crowded room and we connect. And just as quickly as it happens, the connection is broken and the moment is gone.

Given her outgoing nature and her ability to talk to anyone, I wondered why she didn’t say anything. She, like many of us over 40, said she felt that it was up to the guy to make the first move.  Yes but if you’re waiting for a guy to make the first move, you have to offer a little encouragement, right?

I thought about my own situation and concluded that the key to either creating or prolonging those moments is to look “approachable”   In fact; the last man who approached me did so because I smiled at him when we made eye contact.  However, as I explained to Lara, unbeknownst to him I wasn’t exactly smiling at him, I happened to be smiling to myself at that particular moment when our eyes met.  He’s the one who took it as a signal to proceed.

I wondered if it was that easy why didn’t I do it more often?  Why do I leave so much to chance?  What about deliberately taking chances? Why not smile and mean it. Why not be the one to seize the moment?

What’s stopping us I asked Lara?  Two things Lara said, lack of a good opening line and fear of rejection.  You have to back up that smile up with something.  She was right of course as my mind went over a mental list of “what ifs…” all because I was either too tongue tied or too proud.

Neither of those two issues is insurmountable.  The first requires a bit of preparation and practice and the second is just an attitude adjustment.  What we need is a list of opening lines that prolong the moment and lead the conversation forward Lara said.   I would come up with a list and we both agreed that we would take a chance and try it out.

“What’s the worst that could happen?” I asked.

“Nothing,” she replied.

“So how bad is that?”

In the end we’d be no worse off. And if we had any qualms about what the guy thought, we quickly laid those aside because after all who cares what a stranger thinks?  It’s what we think that counts.  And at that moment we were thinking that this could be fun.

Coming soon…Lara’s lines

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/DNY59

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