Why Disappointing Books are Still Helpful

I was intrigued by the promise of a newly released book on starting a new career at sixty.    

But I was disappointed.

I  assumed the book would illuminate the steps a person takes to start over.  I wanted to read about the many unexpected roadblocks and hairpin turns.  I read to discover how this writer re-created herself to become a new thing, in this case, an artist.  I read to confirm that with age comes perspective and a deep understanding of what is important and what is not.  In a word, it’s not over, you can do anything, no matter your age.

The unnamed book’s premise was that being an older person and starting something new would be problematic.  

She enrolled in an undergraduate art program populated by Millennials and Digital Natives who, contrary to expectations, do not give a damn about her age,  color or sex.  They did not care about her job or her past titles.  They care who you are right now – what is your essence, what are your dreams.   

Festive Old Fashion Typewriter

By page three of this book, I learned that being older does not make you special. You need to work harder than that.  

What is is like to start over?  I hoped this would be an in-depth discovery of how a professional made the switch from words to visuals. How she struggled and became a new thing, an artist.  How do you own art (or voice)  later in life?    That is what I was interested in learning, how did this change feel in your bones?

There was no insight like that at all. 

The writer is not average, which is a shame because, by definition, many more of us are average and want to learn about the triumph of practiced art over being always categorized in the middle of the pack.  I want confirmation that art can elevate and transform anyone, most of us.  I want the plurality of art, not a lengthy self-congratulation narrative describing the inherent uniqueness of the artist and why you, the reader, will never be as good as her, the writer and artist.  That was not why I was here with this book.

  What I want for clients and for readers is to discover not an easy way to reinvent, but a path, choked with weeds and expectations, but available to anyone.  And if you look hard enough and grab a guide, you can find the way.  

Because there is a way.

How can you get from retirement,  change, a layoff, to a life that contains creative projects, joy at the accomplishment, love for every day and every moment creating and expanding your passion project?  That’s what I want for me, that’s what I want for my readers.

So if I know so much, how do you negotiate a new creative path?

  • Re-connect with what you’ve always wanted to do 
  • Discover  old artistic impulses and act  on them  
  • What you don’t need is another academic degree. 
  • What you don’t need is outside validation   
  • What you don’t need is sales
  • Take local classes, take seminars, join workshops, join meetups – focus on improving your work for you, not for sale, not for a juried show, but for you.   
  • Buy cheap paints and start painting   
  • Dig up a half-used school journal and write for ten minutes a day. 
  • Experiment with what art pulls you into a zone you haven’t experienced since you were five years old.

Do that.  

You don’t need my permission, you don’t need another college degree, you don’t even need another book.

If you want to get into a new creative zone, check out my class – available only during September –  https://story-university.teachable.com/

Challenging Cliches

One of the favorite coaching cliches is asking – what would you do if you could not fail?  Over the summer I decided to test the cliche.  I finished my book, True Blue Lies and in honor of Burning Man, sent it to a publisher the last week in August figuring that sending it to a publisher was the moral equivalent of creating a small bonfire in Black Rock.  I also took a class in poetry and submitted my work to 16 publications (current acceptance rate – 0). I then created an on-line class based on my live journaling class— Change Your Story.  I signed up with Teachable, paid the monthly fees and created a whole (I thought pretty aggressive) campaign to promote it.  

What’s in the poetry?  A lot.

What’s in the book?  True Blue Lies is about a fifty-something heroine, Victoria Gardner who, for years served as her family’s on-call caregiver. When Vic’s colorful, and some would say, regrettable past, catches up with her with the murder of her best friend and former lover – she must fly to Venice where she is immediately entangled in far more than any family member thought she could ever cope with. 

At her advanced age is it still possible to experience love?  Can she throw herself into a new adventure without throwing out her back? 

cubist Old Fashion Typewriter

What’s in the new Teachable Class?

  An introductory video, Video lectures with slides, and complimentary text copy that is not just a transcript of the video because that wouldn’t be as interesting!

The course includes classes like: 

Transformative Typing – what is better if you want to quickly change your story and your life?

How to start – I realized that in all the descriptions and big ideas that I needed to include a simple guide to actually starting a journal!

Life Map – tired of writing?  Map out where you’ve been, and where you want to go next.

Talk to the Dead – really, another enormously popular section of the class – journaling can help you resolve issues with friends and relatives who have already left you. 

Passion Projects –  What do you love to do?  If you don’t have an answer, this lecture and assignments will help you unearth your passion.  Why? Because when you are deep into a project you love, your life will inestimably improve.

What would you do if you could not fail?  I think the only way to find out, is to make the leap.  But before you do, write out all the possibilities in your journal, make the leap on paper.

Take the class and learn how!

Enrollment is open during September only.  Sign up today while you’re still thinking about it!

Australian Haiku Collection


Haiku by Michael - The Rocks

Views - harbor-bridge-opera house
Expensive restaurant/ uneatable chicken  
Where is Pizza Hut?


Haiku by Thomas – Blue Mountains

The koala eats
Then sleeps 20 hours/day to digest
Well yes says the teen


Haiku by Julie Bramkamp – Bondi Beach - Christmas Day

I am so sandy
And I am so very cold
Help me up


Haiku by Andrew – Tour Bus

I am still and smooth
Unemotional response to crisis
I have no wrinkles

Inspiration:  The whole damn country

Bondi Beach warning Sign

Why Australia?  Well of course, why not? 

My grandmother died on Christmas Day the year before.  My mother who would deny having any feelings or panic or pretty much anything did declare that she couldn’t stand the thought of Christmas at home, where she was when her mother died.  What to do?

A family friend who for years made home wine with my husband, had enrolled in the enology department at University of Adelaide.  We decided to bring along the boys – seniors in high school, and spend two weeks over Christmas break ostensibly visiting our friend, but really to escape the holidays and drink more Shiraz than was good for us.  

The trip was a rousing success.  Australia is a wonderful country, populated with wonderful people who I believe speak English but their slang is so inventive and so prevalent, it was difficult to tell.  And there are a plethora of wonderfully unusual animals most of which are deadly. For teenage boys, fantastic.

  • We learned a lot about box jellyfish.
  • We learned a lot about flies.
  • We loved spending Christmas Day on Bondi Beach.
  • We loved every minute.

Thank you, Australia

Free Mini-Course –  Game Your Obligations –  Finally, Finish that Project