the reinvention game

by Sharon Santoni

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ll know how much I love a tale of reinvention.  I believe that reinvention is one of the great luxuries of today’s world, and is particularly real and accessible to women who have already had a successful career and are looking for a change, or to those like myself who enjoyed a big chunk of life as a full time mom, before setting out to discover the next era in their lives.

I don’t think that our mother’s generation had these opportunities, or indeed the expectation, of a ‘next step’.   Up till fairly recently, the likelihood of anyone starting a career from scratch at the age of 50+ were more remote.   Internet has changed that of course, but its also our expectations that have evolved.   With improved health and agility, and an acceptance of women staying active at any age, it’s a very different game today.

Over the past couple of weeks, as I’ve had the fun and the pleasure of hosting guests from all around the world on my brocante and luxury tours, we chatted a lot and  reinvention has often come in to conversations.

Some ladies had turned their lives around after a divorce, or having lost their partner, and wanting a fresh start.    At a period in their lives when it was important not to feel isolated, they bravely went looking for a new direction and have thrown themselves into successful careers.

Others felt that it was their age that was dictating a new direction.  “I no longer looked right in that role”, or “I was looking for something I felt more comfortable with, and that allowed me to manage my hours differently”

I was asked to define the recipe for successful reinvention.   At first I said it wasn’t possible to write a list that would work for evryone, because each persons tale is so personal.  But actually the more I thought about my own reinvention, and the stories of women around me who have given a new shape to their lives, the more I found some common features that could indeed be put into a check list.

This is what I came up with, but I’d love to hear your ideas too,  I’m sure you could improve on it.

First of all some questions to ask yourself:

what makes me happy?  What do I enjoy the most?

why am I looking to reinvent myself?  what is my motivation?

am I brave enough to walk through any door that opens in front of me?

do I need to earn a living, or can I take finances out of the equation?

Pointers to follow ….

This is the moment to follow your heart  If you’re going to embark on a big new adventure, then you want to have some fun along the way.  The starting point could be an existing hobby or pastime.  It could be a cause that you feel passionate about,  a local activity, or thanks to internet, it could be worldwide!

When I first started this blog over seven years ago, I had no idea if anyone would read me, and certainly never even dreamt of the doors that would open to me along the way.  I am fortunate to have the encouragement of my family, and to be of a nature that loves to move forward and discover new ground.   I think that ‘daring to say yes’, is a big part of any reinvention.

So now it’s up to you.  Would you like to share below your own tale of reinvention, or your plans to change direction.   Everyone’s story is different, and I’d love to hear yours.

48 comments

Loreen October 10, 2017 - 6:15 pm

My husband became ill with cancer three years ago and recovered❤️ I decided at that moment and once he was out of the woods to do the things that I have always wanted to do! I gave myself permission! Took my daughter to Paris! Was able to retire from my corporate job and now sell French Antiques! Every day seems like a dream that I am living! And I am so grateful!

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Myriam October 10, 2017 - 9:04 pm

You are my girl !

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Taste of France October 10, 2017 - 10:02 pm

Give yourself permission. Those are the magic words.
My first reinvention was at age 25. I went from being the “good girl” to being the “adventurer.” Which are not necessarily at odds–one can be adventurous and good. Many reinventions have followed. What I learned: Naysayers usually have selfish reasons for wanting you to fail. So succeed.

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Jen Hanna October 11, 2017 - 3:39 am

Well I dream .. of just this, which you have made a reality. Well done you!

I LOVE my garden, all things garden, garden tools, pots etc etc And my home.

But my daughters have been to Paris (one is there first time ever, ‘as we speak’!) so now it is just me. As I realise I have an “empty nest”. It is now time for me to venture.

But just exactly what … I am not sure.

Thank you so much for sharing ~ you have inspired me to actually start writing things down… ‘what makes me happy?”
Bless you!

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Sharon Santoni October 11, 2017 - 7:01 pm

Jen, it is surprising how difficult it is to answer that simple question! have fun !

x

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Pam Hansen October 10, 2017 - 6:35 pm

Like many others, I had to decide how I would live after my husband died. While I chose to continue to live in the corporate world, my other, inside life is filled with creating spaces that fill me up when I am home. Reinvention is not, I learned, a single event – it is a lifestyle.

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Linda Kerekes October 10, 2017 - 7:07 pm

About four years ago I realized I had settled. I was invisible for about tweny years. I had let my body go and felt fat, frumpy and unhappy. I found a naturapath that helped me start my journey of remaking myself. I initially lost 60 pounds with their help and went on bio-identical hormones. I lost all my aches and pains and feel like I am sixteen. I am still losing weight and treated myself to some work on my face so the outside matches the inside. I am 68 and now look about twenty years younger. I have gained back my love of life and am starting many new projects thanks to my new found energy. I am reconnecting with old friends and have a very busy schedule. If I only have about twent five more years on the earth I want them to be the best years of my life!

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Sue October 10, 2017 - 7:39 pm

I am with you! Congratulations on your achievements.

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tracy October 10, 2017 - 9:15 pm

Atta, girl!!

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Jennifer from Circa19xx.com October 10, 2017 - 7:11 pm

I love this topic! Thank you for introducing it. I struggle with how to do this, though. Does anyone have tips for making a major change when you are tied financially to your job? I am my sole source of support, and at least 10 years from retirement. I know women in my situation are doing amazing things. How do you make the break from a good paying job in order to take a giant leap if faith?

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Stacy October 10, 2017 - 8:07 pm

Start with a hobby or interest you would like to explore and then make it your mission to spend any free time you have actively engaged in your pursuit of that activity.Design a plan in your mind of how you would like your lifestyle to be and get as close as possible to that dream without giving up your career. Get to know other people who have the same interests and through friendships with them you will gain ideas, insight, and inspiration. Make time for yourself and take other people on your journey but don’t let other people impede you from following your dream. Each baby step you take will move you closer to what you want. I was a corporate executive who wanted to be a chef. I did not want to work in a restaurant but I wanted to create and learn and share my passion. I took classes and visited wineries and restaurants when I traveled. I shopped gourmet stores and watched cooking shows. I offer my services freely wherever I can and when I volunteered to teach an adult education course at a local college it became a popular course and I was offered a paying gig as a result. You see, if you have the passion and the vision it can take you far.I am still soaring too with plans for writing a column and a book on my favorite subject. It is all exciting and I am having more fulfillment at this stage of my life than ever before. It is possible and you can go as far as you can dream. Best of luck!

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Jennifer from Circa19xx.com October 11, 2017 - 12:41 am

Thanks so much for your inspiring response! I’ve been working on my own blog and some other associated projects in every spare moment for several months. When I wrote the above comment, I was on break in an 8-hour meeting at work, feeling very tired and bored, dreaming of a different life while exploring Sharon’s beautiful blog. I’ll keep at it! It helps a lot to hear from women who have done it! So glad you are living your dream.

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Ellen Forbus October 11, 2017 - 2:04 am

I too am 10 years away from retirement and looking to get out of the corporate world. I keep exploring opportunities, weeding through various items. I also have continued to educate myself, taking various certifications and classes. With grown children, I have been lost since my divorce, and most recently I lost my beloved canine companion. So after a few months, I decided to take some cooking classes. What fun! I know I’ll end up in the food service industry in some way, because that is where I grew up and where I feel comfortable. Just keep turning over those rocks! I tell myself that until I do find IT, I’m ok with working to really LIVE.

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Sara October 22, 2017 - 2:11 am

I love this and I also agree with the comment about staying away from the naysayers. Connecting with people like all the ladies who have commented here is a source of inspiration, thank you all. Regards sara

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tracy October 10, 2017 - 9:21 pm

Definitely don’t give up your day job. Play on your off-time to seek out what makes you happy and fulfilled. A number of my old classmates found a need via their current jobs that wasn’t being met. Needs that interested them and fit better with their lifestyle. Go!

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Anneli October 10, 2017 - 7:12 pm

Such an Inspiring post, Sharon and as always, the most beautiful photographs .
Congratulations on your beautiful new book , it lifts my spirits every time I open it.
I love your blog , and also the fictional stories you have written,
I hope that one day you will be able to publish your short stories, and maybe write a novel .
You have a real talent, not just with words, but photography and philosophy as well.
Things are very tumultuous for me at the moment, and I wanted you to know that looking at your beautiful photographs and reading your inspirational post has helped me to focus on all the beauty which surrounds me , despite my sadness.
Anneli

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Emm October 10, 2017 - 7:14 pm

Good questions, and among those I’ve been pondering of late.
A while back, perhaps when you first mentioned this idea, you posted a life list of changes, goals. It was so good I saved the link, but recently found that it was gone, that it just went back to your blog’s first page. Could you be prevailed upon to share it again?

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Pamela October 10, 2017 - 7:41 pm

Such a great post. I feel like I m in the middle of this and not quite sure how to get started.

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Kathy Kelada October 10, 2017 - 7:51 pm

I am a life coach and first time author at 65. I believe that it’s not so much about reinventing ourselves as “refining” ourselves. We start out with a passion and over the course of a life, our own needs get pushed aside by life and its demands. As we mature, we need to “refine” our purpose, our passion, our goals and begin to live in ourselves, as we are and have always been. I believe the key to embracing our truth is to follow the YES wherever that leads us and let go of all the NO’s. They only lead to compromise, adjustment, and delays.
I wholeheartedly support the idea that “we are enough,” just as we are. We just have to “own” ourselves!”
Thanks for putting this topic out there, it’s an important one!

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Donna October 11, 2017 - 4:39 pm

Refine our purpose & own ourselves …wise words! Thank you.

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Kelly (Memee) October 10, 2017 - 7:55 pm

One addendum to your excellent reinvention list is to view it as an ever-changing continuum. For example, after forty years of my beloved teaching career both in the United States and in Southeast Asia, I retired when my grandson was born to help care for him allowing my daughter to continue her medical career. Knowing his teen years are approaching and my caregiver role will diminish, I now build my artistic interests in knitting and crocheting thinking my next stage may involve those skills. I believe it is always important to look forward and prepare for the next stage of reinvention.

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Judy Stout October 10, 2017 - 8:29 pm

I had a home and garden boutique selling mostly European inspired products, many from France. When my landlord would not renew my lease (they wanted to expand their cafe into my space), I was devastated. That was two years ago. After a mourning period I redesigned my front garden and had a greenhouse built in my backyard. I follow many blogs (your’s included) and my daughter really encouraged me to start my own. Since I’m really not a techie I wasn’t too keen on the idea plus the idea of putting my thoughts out there in never never land was terrifying. I have overcome some of these fears and started my blog this summer. Now that I am finding my rhythm I do a post once a week. It has been good for me to source out new material and hopefully find interesting storylines that my followers will enjoy. Thank you for your inspiration over the years.

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V Valencia October 10, 2017 - 8:45 pm

I retired as a project manager for a utility company at the end of 2012. I began taking Interior Design (ID) classes at the local community college. It felt great! I had always dabbled in creative projects, but this opened up a world of possibilities. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, the community college eliminated the ID program. I found another program further distance from my home. But, I just didn’t get the same inspiration from the new program. I am now at a standstill. I get inspiration from blogs like yours and Pinterest; I feel there is a path out there for me…not sure how to find it.

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Lenore October 10, 2017 - 11:05 pm

Many colleges and universities are offering classes online…you never have to leave home! Check out schools in your state, perhaps there is one that will work for you.

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Elizabeth Beckley October 10, 2017 - 8:54 pm

Reinvention can come at any age, I was 43 when work offered me a package to leave due to restructuring. I grabbed it with both hands, sold the house, packed up our belongings and put them into storage in the UK. Along with my husband and two dogs we drove to the south of Spain and currently live in the countryside just outside Salobrena. Its now nearly a year later, we have an online business and have just bought the house of our dreams in France (a 15th century forge). I spent 26 years working for various parts of Law Enforcement and haven’t regretted a single day since I left.
If you get the opportunity take it, you live one life, why waste it?!
Thank you for an inspiring blog and website!

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Lenore October 10, 2017 - 11:09 pm

I would love to do what you have done. Sounds so exciting. Are you moving to France? What is your online business?
Do you speak Spanish and or French?
I would love to live in France but do not know the language.

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Elizabeth Beckley October 11, 2017 - 1:36 pm

Hi Lenore

Yes we should be in France my Christmas (fingers crossed) Our online business is called Hypnosis Ninja, we specialise in hypnosis downloads, my husband is an NLP specialist. We are both currently learning French and we have enough Spanish to get by on a day to day basis.
Start by downloading Duolingo, its free and easy to use.
Good Luck! x

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Deborah Lindsay October 10, 2017 - 9:57 pm

Dear Sharon,
Thank you for this post. Your story of reinvention and saying yes to the unknown resonates so much for me right now.
Deborah

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Lenore October 10, 2017 - 11:14 pm

I am in the process of reinvention. My time is my own now and I am free to do what I want. I have always wanted to own a business and write a book. Now I have the time and freedom to just go for it!!!
I am starting by writing down my interests. I am brainstorming with family members who know be best. It is exciting! I can hardly wait. I have an idea that I think I can launch this Spring.

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Irene G Peterson October 11, 2017 - 12:09 am

Interesting that you should bring the matter of “reinventing” oneself up – Allow me to tell you just where I am at. At 80 years old with arthritic knees that actually do not cause me pain but do restrict my quality of life by not being able to do the things I have always enjoyed. Sitting at home and going to the pool for exercise, doing word search puzzles and reading lots just doesn’t seem to be enough for me and I am becoming restless. So I have turned to accepting more of the 21st century by learning a smart phone which I find challenging. Also, I have found painting objects open
up creative juices I have kept buried. With the sale of my home, I look forward to a smaller home to use my newly found skill of
decorating. Thanks for the chance to vent.

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Karen Mary October 11, 2017 - 2:34 pm

Good for you for continuing to grow! I’m in my 60s and so much enjoy reading about women just ahead of me in life’s journey. We need role models, and you’re providing that!

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Stacey Snacks October 11, 2017 - 12:31 am

I turned both of my hobbies into businesses (as you know)…..my love of food turned into a catering business and then a food blog……now a recipe writer for restaurants and products…….and my love for collecting turned into selling antiques and getting my certification as an appraiser…….

Now it is time to reinvent again……still mulling over where I am going, but I love all the possibilities!

Great post my friend.

xo

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Laura Dene Mchugh October 11, 2017 - 12:40 am

I’m 58 and feel I am continually reevaluating and reinventing. I was “blessed” that I had breast cancer now 20 years ago. It was a gift in that it reminded me not to put off until tomorrow what might make me happy. I have a great job, but if it isn’t going well, I move on to the next one without any feelings of remorse or guilt. I travel and make art. I am divorced, so fairly foot-loose, but wouldn’t mind being coupled again, with the right partner. Each day brings more information about how that would look to be right. Life is good. I am grateful and blessed. Reinventing every day.

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Kate Dickerson October 11, 2017 - 9:07 am

Lovely thoughts. And what a gorgeous Fall arrangement! I forget how fresh and colorful an Autumn arrangement can be – a garden reinventing itself!

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Victoria Savu October 11, 2017 - 2:30 pm

Love it when you blog about reinvention. After retiring I was searching for a new direction. Lucky for me I had many hobbies. But what was holding me back in really enjoying my new life was that I was trying to make one of the hobbies profitable. When I decided that wasn’t important I started enjoy all that I created and enjoying who I have become. I am approaching 70, unbelievable, and love creating something from cast off furniture so it can be useful again, knitting, quilting, designing and decorating our house and last year my husband built me a greenhouse and a small bakery. I have never been happier. Love my life. Thank you Sharon again for your blog.

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Annette October 13, 2017 - 2:17 am

I, too, stopped enjoying the art I created when I tried to monetize it.
We’re retiring to our house in France within the next couple months and one of my goals is to pursue my art and hobbies without any expectation of a monetary return.
There is a time when enough will just have to be enough!

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Karen Mary October 11, 2017 - 2:41 pm

Thanks for tackling this wonderful topic! I’m in my 60s and am in the process of tweaking my days and life around the reality of having to continue to work (for financial reasons) for many years to come. Rather than wait until I retire to do the things that have been sitting on the back burner, I’m determined to make them part of my life now. So I’m teaching myself to play the piano, bake stellar pies, start a blog, and get back into yoga (it’s been 40 years, egads!) Scheduling it all around work and a big, growing family is a challenge, but it’s so very fulfilling. Thanks for the encouragement and inspiration from your readers!

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Lorie Fangio October 11, 2017 - 6:09 pm

As always Sharon, you are an inspiration to me!

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Roxanne October 11, 2017 - 7:06 pm

Wow, I need to comment, first time for everything. I am smack in the middle of
“I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up”. I’m 54, at the same job for 12 years, just want a change. Traveled to England, first European jaunt. I think I want more travel. Even trying therapy for the first time.Is this all thee is?

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Janice Rivenburg October 12, 2017 - 2:57 pm

I found your website, FB page and blog several months ago, and I am so thrilled! Thank you and all of your readers from the bottom of my heart! I finally found a place where I feel I fit in and am comfortable!
I consider myself a living work-in-progress! In 1991 I started my own business, in what was a heavily male-dominated field, software engineering contract labor services. My husband died in 1988 and I needed to direct all the energy I used to help him, while working full-time, into something productive where I could make a good living and be my own boss. I knew the industry well and had many contacts. I was being treated unfairly by the company I worked for. I knew I had to get out of there, so I began saving money, making big updates and repairs to my house, and when my daughter graduated from college I took the big leap of faith. I was terrified, but remembered that a lot of thought and effort went into my planning, and that I could take a whole year to try it and not be financially devastated if it didn’t work out. I’m so glad that I did take the leap! Now that I’m retired, I allow myself to “be” and “live in the present”. I had an interest in energy healing and have taken many courses and have many certifications. I’m either going to add a “healing/teaching” four season room to my house or redo and dedicate a room. I want to teach people what I’ve learned so that they can help themselves. I’ve had some serious medical issues since 2001, when I almost died, and am so grateful for each and every day! I don’t feel that I have to prove myself to anyone and am true to myself. Thank you again creating such a beautiful space in which we can all “be” ourselves and share! Namaste…

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Lynn October 12, 2017 - 9:58 pm

I gave up my very stressful corporate job and went back to college (the happiest two years of my life.) And now have a rather fun customer relations job (not at all related to my degree). It’s a fraction of the money, but so worth it.

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Claudia Strasser October 13, 2017 - 12:18 am

Such a wonderful topic and one that I’ve been mulling over myself lately. I love the idea of refining as opposed to reinventing. Thank you for such an inspiring post and with the magnificent arrangements scattered between your thoughts. Sigh, I’m just getting to discover your site, your life, your home and wisdom. What a beautiful place it is here…

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Jane October 14, 2017 - 1:18 pm

I love this and am inspired to continue to look for my own parachute into my next adventure. My husband is in the midst of reinventing his career, leaping from the wine industry to home inspection. I am hopeful I will be able to create something that will be fun but will have the flexibility so that I can also be able to have time for community outreach again. I need more beauty and creativity! Your blog is so helpful and lovely! Thank you

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Marilyn October 15, 2017 - 5:30 pm

An interesting topic. I’m 70 and recently widowed. Whilst it is too soon to do anything other than find my feet and sort out my head I am going to start writing things down so eventually I can think about reinvention. But first I have simple tasks to confront like filling the car with fuel! Yes, my late husband did everything.

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Marilyn October 15, 2017 - 11:00 pm

When I was approaching 40 I reviewed my life and realized I still wanted a career in the world of apparel. I went back to school and got a degree in design and works for 25 years as an apparel patternmaker and technical designer. When I was nearing retirement I took myself to the beach and reviewed what I wanted to do next. I made a list of all the things I loved. In that list was tea. Now I have had a small tea related business for 13 years and written a couple books, plus immersed myself into the world of tea. Though tea is still a big part of my world at almost 75 years old I am reviewing what yet I want to do. It seems to circle around writing and photography. We have so much more flexibility than our mothers and grandmothers and I am thankful for that.

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DJ Baggerly October 19, 2017 - 1:20 am

After retiring from a very stressful, long hours career I settled in to doing almost nothing. It gave me a chance to sit back, decompress from my job, and decide my next step. I am now an author of children’s books and learning how to draw. One day at a time, each day a new blessing!

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Mary November 12, 2017 - 5:39 pm

It’s so helpful to hear other women’s struggles with their reinvention processes. I am 69 and lost my husband twelve years ago, then remarried three years ago and that ended in divorce. I used to be an artist and seemed to loose that part of me through all of the loss. I am in the process of finding myself again. We can be amazing women if we persevere and have faith.

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Ewa Złotowska November 13, 2018 - 11:05 am

Sharon, would not it be fascinating to ask interlocutors – where are you today? was your rebirth already? what is your reinvention?

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