I found myself feeling the same vague feelings of discontent. Efforts to revitalize my interest by teaching new courses and taking on new quasi-administrative roles did not restore my spark for the work. I floundered for a couple of years. I plunged into soul-searching. I read books about finding life’s purpose. I read books about middle age. I talked to people about their work and their own life paths. I saw a therapist. I worked with a life coach. Mostly I remained curious. Writer Elizabeth Gilbert has said that “Curiosity is our friend that teaches us how to become ourselves. And it’s a very gentle friend, and a veryforgiving friend, and a very constant one.”
Brzezinski concludes that “It is simply not enough to know your core professional message. As women, we need to grow our value in all aspects of our lives to be nourished, energized, and successful—not simply in material ways but also in authentic joy and gratitude. To be a truly successful working woman—with or without kids, in or out of a committed relationship—you need to know your inner value.”
As 1984 drew to a close, Olive wrote in her diary, "1984 has ended and in spite of adversities. . . . [I]t was happy because I made it that way. I made up my mind to 'do my thing' as people say today and not try to change what I knew couldn't be changed. . . . Along with counting my blessings, I made big strides in a small business I had started a couple of years ago. This has been a great pleasure."
Ida Fisher Davidoff wrote, “There are two kinds of people and let’s say they’re driving along and they suddenly come to a boulder. One kind of person says, ‘just my luck! I’m in a hurry and now there’s this big rock in my way.’ The other kind of person says, ‘Oh, there’s a big rock here. Now, how shall I handle this? Is there room to get round it? Will I have to do something to move it, and if so have I got anything with me? Or shall I change my route instead?’ The second person puts their energy into solving the reality of what confronts them. The first person becomes overwhelmed, sees themselves as a victim, an object, and lapses into inertia and dependency.”
All the ink spilled on mid-life reinvention among the Baby Boomer generation could lead a body to believe that Baby Boomer women created mid-life reinvention. But that’s not true: my research showed me that mothers of boomer women were pioneering midlife reinvention well before the advent of the women’s liberation movement, those heady years when boomer women came of age.