Don’t fear reinventing yourself at any age

It takes a deadline to get me going. As a result, I always finish my column late Sunday night just before the Monday morning deadline.
Two Sundays ago, I was writing about life changes when a real “life change” happened to me. It was a very small change, but it seemed pretty big at the time!
I was sitting at my desk writing when suddenly my chair tilted like the Titanic. I screamed and hung on for dear life.
The bolt that holds the wheels on the chair had broken, and suddenly I was sitting at a 45-degree angle.
That’s the way life changes sometimes come. Something happens. You lose a job, have a health crisis, are forced to move, face retirement … or break your chair.
Most of us don’t like change. Would it be fair to say that most of us actually “fear” change?
We prefer the old comfortable chair—even when it’s broken!
But change is our one constant. All life changes–small or big–require the same skills, and many life changes require you to reinvent yourself.
Which brings me to the book “Becoming a Life Change Artist—7 Creative Skills to Reinvent Yourself at Any Stage of Life” by Fred Mandell and Kathleen Jordan.
The authors say that “life transition is a creative process.” Rather than resisting or fearing change, we can learn to see change as a brand new canvas to paint on.
If you aren’t satisfied with the life you are living, it’s up to you to paint the life you want.
Mandell and Jordan empower their readers to become life change artists with seven skills based on the life patterns of great artists: Preparing, Seeing, Using context, Embracing uncertainty, Taking risks, and Staying disciplined.
Famed 16th-century artist Leonardo da Vinci would sit in a quiet place, close his eyes, and allow images to rise to the surface of his awareness. Later, da Vinci would write or draw his insights.
To start your creative journey, get outside the familiar and make space for silence. Soak in a bathtub, take a walk, listen to music, or garden. Allow time to listen to your subconscious.
Next, open your eyes to new ways of seeing.
“The essence of seeing is gaining fresh perspectives and staying alive to new possibilities,” write Mandell and Jordan.
“Do not make assumptions before the full picture emerges,” they stress. “Pay attention to what is missing or not obvious about a situation.”
Learn to embrace uncertainty and take risks. These are never easy skills, especially for those of us who are this side of 60. Over the years, we’ve learned what makes us feel secure and we’re not anxious to let go of familiar patterns.
But being a life change artist requires us to embrace uncertainty.
“Actively seek opportunities in fluid situations and adapt approaches in mid-stream,” the authors suggest. Learn to “find treasure in the garbage heap of uncertainty.”
The chapter on risk taking starts with this quote by artist Georgia O’Keefe: “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life–and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”
Whatever your age, it may be time to reinvent yourself. And don’t be afraid. Remember that change often brings new opportunities and new friends.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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