More: You share reinvention stories on your website, Marlothomas.com. Why was it important to you to write a book on the topic?
Marlo Thomas: What I have found is that a lot of women are stuck. The economy has cost them their jobs or their houses, or their kids have gone off to college and they have to start a new life. At 42 or 43 years old, they could live another 40 years. What are they going to do with it? Sometimes the best way to learn is through example. That’s why I started the website. It quickly became apparent that we had hit a nerve. People wrote in to say, “That reminded me so much of me. Thank you for sharing this story.” Or, “It reminded me so much of my mother. I gave it to her to read because it would really help her to dream again.” Our stories were making such a difference and I wanted to reach another whole group of people.
More: Was there ever a time when you felt stuck?
MT: As an actress, you can get stuck wondering, 'Where should I work next?' I have found theater a great place to work. They're not making a lot of movies and TV shows for women in their 60s and 70s, but there are a lot of plays written for women of a certain age. There's always a way not to be defined by whatever society is saying about you. I think you have to be a detective to make your life anew so that you're not at the mercy of somebody else's definition of what you can be. I created "Free to Be … You and Me" for children, but there's always a place you can be free to be you and do what it is you can do that other people can't.
More: What were some of the hardest obstacles to overcome?
MT: One woman lost her brother on 9/11. With her mother, she formed a foundation to help other people who had been through traumas. Another woman found out that her husband had been serially unfaithful. She couldn’t breathe when she found out. She had to learn to trust her own instincts again. So it wasn’t just that he was unfaithful. It was that she no longer trusted what she saw, what she thought was real. When we have a wound in our hearts, that’s the hardest obstacle.
More: Many of the women in the book started small businesses. What advice can you offer aspiring entrepreneurs?
MT: The women in my book were all very resourceful in finding people around them to help them. They were relentless about finding the path in to what they wanted to do. Not all of them were given a yes right away. Some of them had to put their own money into it, or find ways to make money to put money into it. Finding the resources within themselves and within their communities was the key to making it happen.
More: Have you ever reinvented your own life?
MT: I reinvent myself all the time. I’m an actress, and I work in TV, and I write books. At my core, I’m a communicator. In all of my roles, I tell stories. It’s all coming from the same need to communicate. I just reinvent new ways to do that.
More: What’s next for you?
MT: I have a new play called Clever Little Lies. We tried it out in New Jersey last year and it was quite a big hit, so now we are looking for a theater to do it in New York. That’s my next big adventure.
Click here to order It Ain’t Over...Till it’s Over, on sale April 8.
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