I had the opportunity to talk to one of my childhood icons, actress, producer, social activist, and fundraiser Marlo Thomas this past week regarding her new book “It Aint Over Til Its Over – Reinventing Your Life and Realizing Your Dreams at Any Age” via a Q&A conference call for about 15 bloggers. “It Aint Over” is the story of 60 women who went for their dreams after 40; whether starting a new career, pursuing their passion or moving forward in life after difficult circumstances.
From early on her career, Marlo was telling us in her entertaining way “it was good to go for your passion in life”. I remember her days as Ann Marie in “That Girl” struggling with various temp jobs to support herself while she pursued her acting career – all while juggling her relationships with family and friends. I still laugh remembering the Thanksgiving episode where she was literally between 2 dinners – cooking both for her family’s and her boyfriends and yes she burned them both. Amidst her struggles, she always seemed to have a smile, time for the family and well a taste for adventure if not some ketchup soup at the auto-mat when she couldn’t afford lunch – though she sure had a nice apartment for a struggling single gal in NYC ! I still can see her smiling and flying her kite in Central Park. My message from this show featuring a single working girl was it was ok to go for your dreams, especially with the support of your family and friends and hey, while you are at it enjoy life. She has continued her empowering spirit throughout her career.
On the call, we were introduced to the Marlo and it was as if she were chatting with her sorority sisters or long-lost friends. She just exudes kindness and positivity. Through her work fundraising an estimated $850 million a year for St Judes Children’s Hospital, her website MarloThomas.com, her work on Huffington Post and social media, she discovered the women’s stories for her book. She knew she had to share, not just to inspire, but to confirm hey, it’s not too late to pursue your dreams or change your situation to attain your hearts desire. How humbling for me to be able to tell her “You have been empowering women since That Girl and with “It Aint Over” you are still going strong and confirming its never too late.” THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THAT, it is so needed today.
Marlo briefly went over her thoughts on pursuing your dreams and some commonalities in the stories in her book which proved successful strategies. We were then given the opportunity to ask questions which really drove home what this book is about beyond the amazing stories.
The first morsel of wisdom is a plaque hanging in Marlo’s room:
When pursuing your goals, you will find those who say “you can’t do it”, “you are too old”, “you are not what we want”, “why would you consider this at YOUR age” and looking at statistics, yeah they can scare ya. But this fear will not get you ANYWHERE – so ignore those roadblocks. If you follow Marlo on her blog, this post “Amazing is Ageless” sums it up PERFECTLY and um, no thanks for my upcoming 50th on the skydiving, but hey I am taking on a full marathon! We will all overcome obstacles, but we need to be able to move on and keep moving towards our dreams.
Her book “It Aint Over” has a common theme of 60 women who were stuck in some way….bad jobs, laid off and forced to make a change, having a dream unable to fulfill, ugly divorce, the list goes on. While each story is different the book is a road map for each of us. There is something in each story we can take away to apply to our my dreams. Marlo said she has been inspired by those who have had the courage to say “Its My Turn”, ” I need to be happy”, “I must have” and “how can I achieve what I truly want”.
Finding one’s passion can be daunting for those stuck in the “is that all there is” mode of life or “how did I end up here” frame of mind. Find something you love to do or are passionate about it because that passion can take you far. Dream big, but work small. Sure we all want to make the pinnacle, but the most likely way to succeed is to start smaller to move up to the big. Marlo used the example of running a marathon as an example. It’s a lofty goal and most could not succeed without any preparation – so she pointed out start smaller, train to do a 5k. Build up from that. Got a product you are trying to market, market locally or open an Etsy shop before you go call on QVC or some huge source of distribution. While it’s not impossible, its unlikely you will hit a home run on your first effort. Use the small steps to learn and grow.
Need to learn something or a new skill set for your dream? Then find the time to do something EVERYDAY. Whether it’s a class to learn something you will need to succeed: networking with others, making calls, learning – if you try to work on this daily for 6 months, you will notice you are making some headway. And of course if you don’t have time, you will need to find the time to make your daily task happen even if it means getting up one hour earlier a day.
Her practical advice and experience juggling her acting, fundraising, social media, writing and being available for the family was to make a priority list. Yes, even Marlo has to find time to make sure she can have dinner with Phil and the family.
I asked Marlo how to handle those friends and family who might be less than supportive when reaching for your dreams. Truly I have an amazing support group, but when I left my corporate job to be a stay at home mom – I have to admit, I had people who might have thought I was crazy – I had a job I was good at and enjoyed. I chose to leave to pursuing my dream of being a mom full-time, as that was my heart’s desire. Support from your friends and family is important for success. I am blessed that my husband has always been fully supportive of me and what I am trying to achieve – that can be rare. And lets face it, it can be hard to voice “hey, I know this is a partnership, but I NEED this”! It is very necessary to communicate with those impacted in any way, the importance of going for your dream. It was for me, but thank goodness I did as I have always gotten support and encouragement which goes a long way.
Surround yourself with those who will support you and develop a community. We are in this age where it’s very easy to find groups online with common interests. And to those in your life who might not be so supportive, forget about them as you move forward. Our culture is focused on youth, so going for something after 40 can seem silly to many…don’t let that impact your train of thought. I am all about trying to focus on positive, and lately if I see negative, I am letting it go.
Focus and eye on the prize is important. Things might come up to try to sidetrack you, be prepared to try something new or go another direction. One story from the book that stuck out was that of Natasha Coleman a 400+ pound woman who decided she was not living the life she wanted to and decided she needed to lose weight. Talk about overcoming obstacles, Natasha went to the gym and she broke the treadmill on her first visit. Can you imagine that? And yet she kept on going and you can see her story on Katie Couric’s show June 2nd.
As a Disney fan I am often quoting Walt Disney’s “If you can dream it, you can do it”. I think Marlo’s empowering quote of “You Have Every Right To Your Dreams” takes that a step farther. We can voice our dreams in our life to others and are given messages of “that will never happen”, “no one really loves their work”, but hey Marlo reminded us…”Its OK to love your work” along with “do not let anyone tell you who you are or what you need”. And while this book is full of stories of women 40 plus, I think these are lessons for all ages. For me truly hit home as I realize our time here is finite and might as well try to “have fun finding our happy pace” which has become my mantra as I approach 50.
If you would like a copy of Marlo’s Book I have a giveaway going on which ends May 15th at 11:59am. Go enter if you want to think about how to pursue your dreams and passion.
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Prepared to be inspired when you follow Marlo on Twitter @MarloThomas , Facebook at MarloThomas and www.marlothomas.com.
How do you go about pursuing your passion? What is one thing you would describe as “I must……”?
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