Barbara Wild updated my view. Sure, it’s hard when you’re alone, but it isn’t easy in a marriage either when you’re going against the grain. After a long career as a drama and music teacher, Barbara decided, at 50, with her daughters grown, to get a doctorate of musical arts, a long-deferred dream. When Barbara was accepted at Boston University, it meant moving from New York. Her husband, Michael Nelson, was supportive — he told me simply, "There are two people in a marriage" — but his client base was back home and he spent all of his time traveling on business. So, he returned to their old town. Barbara is now teaching in Connecticut, and they spend weekends together. It hasn’t been easy for them, but they’ve taught me that committed couples can forge a new kind of life together — and apart.
10. Reinvention isn’t a trend, it’s a revolution.
When I began reporting for my book, I knew there were a lot of women out there reimagining their lives, but I worried about finding enough good stories for the book. The reality was just the opposite: There were thousands of them. It seemed that just about everyone I knew was either reshaping her life or knew somebody who was. It’s a generational movement that echoes the great social revolutions of the 20th century. I believe we’re showing the way for future generations, by refusing to surrender to a gentler, quieter midlife. The ultimate lesson I learned is that there is no gene for reinvention. I used to think there was, and that I just didn’t have it. Now I understand that reinvention is an equal-opportunity occupation: Anybody can do it. Just see lessons one through 10!
Originally published in MORE magazine, December 2006/January 2007.