Monday, September 5, 2011

Reinventing Yourself

As the season changes to fall,the warm summer weather fades,children and teens are back at school,and its time to freshen up our lives a little.Just like the year has seasons,so do our lives.

Over the last week,I read a new book about the last third of Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis' life,went she began a career in publishing at age 46,as her children were late teens,and she was not as needed by them."Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis",by Greg Lawrence(Thomas Dunne Books,2011)is a warm and interesting portrait that examines the question of how Onassis reinvented herself after the passing of her second husband.For many years,Jackie was overshadowed by the powerful men in her life,and her role as wife and as mother.In her mid-40's,she really didn't have a clear purpose,and was ready to keep her mind busy with a new one.

JKO didn't need the money she would earn as a book editor.She only earned a few hundred dollars a week to start,and she had plenty of money in her trusts from both previous marriages.The author suggests that Jackie had always loved reading,and found authors interesting,and their work important.

Even Freud knew that we need two elements in our lives:love and work.Just one is not enough,and may put unnecessary srain and pressure on your work or personal life.The two elements balance each other in creating a more deeply contented person.Caroline Kennedy,in a recent interview done in advance of the September,2011,release of her new book,states that her mother often expressed wanting both meaningful work and love for both she and her brother,John.

Creating a meaningful life means reconsidering the mix of people,purposes,and use of time periodically.Different developmental stages for us as individuals,and as families,offer us opportunities to consider:

1)Am I contributing in the way I want to others?

2)Is there a new challenge or skill I would like to master?

3)Are there unlived experiences I want to pursue now,while I am healthy?

4)Does the way I am spending my time still make sense now?

5)Am I bored?

In Lawrence's book,the writer follows Jackie's battle with cancer,her early death,and how it impacted her friends in the publishing industry,and those outside of it.Scott Myers is noted for remarking when he was told of Jackie's terminal cancer,"This was a true tragedy,because I got a strong sense that this woman,at this point,had life figured out.She had surrounded herself with this constellation of cultured,wonderful people,she had many interests she cared deeply about,she was constantly immersed in new and stimulating ideas.She had strong family ties,her personal life was solid,and that she had places that she loved..."

So both the year, and our lives, have seasons.Adapting,reinventing,and updating are key skills that make individuals successful in creating a meaningful life.Making our passages is a critically important life skill.

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