Growing up in England I was a quiet introspective child, much of my time spent on the lookout, dodging an abusive father. At age 11, my mother, brother, sister, and I, ran away to Canada in a quest to reinvent our lives and leave the violent past behind.
We are all born into different circumstances, sometimes within our control, sometimes not. As immigrants, with little financial resources, my family experienced homelessness while in our new country and had to scrabble to make do. To survive we had to forget the past and invent new lives and move forward with optimism. Over time, we each drifted apart leading adult lives in diverse parts of the world.
After a stint as an actor singer and professional ice skater, my sister Jean moved to Hollywood and signed on to Universal Studios, she eventually settled on the coast of British Columbia where she recently died from heart complications. At age fifteen my brother Terry chose to move back to England, where within a year, he found his life partner and became a successful father and grandfather living a contented life in Cornwall UK. After many fits and starts I carved out a life as a dancer model actress in Canada, married a traveling entertainer, and eventually moved with stars in my eyes to Las Vegas the entertainment capital of the world. It wasn’t until the birth of my first child, born with Down syndrome, did I find the need once again to reinvent myself.
We often ask ourselves; “what is it that I can do differently to be better and live better?” it is a question most people ask themselves. For some like me, at first it was to overcome the stigma of poverty and survive. But my dreams grew, and like my big sis, I chose a life of glitz and glamor in Canadian television.
Fate interrupted when I became a parent to Christopher, a beloved child with multiple challenges. In my mid 30’s I walked away from a successful life as an entertainer and reinvented myself once again to become a disability causes disrupter on my way to raising close to a billion dollars for American charities. I often look back at that unaware little English girl with wonder, doomed to be pathetic, and am truly thankful that I had to learn to be tough, scrappy, and indominable.
Today I meet and speak to young parents of children with special needs, and with the benefit of hindsight, I am heartened to see past the sadness and witness the transformation and that special gleam in their eyes. They will, by the capriciousness of the lottery of life, like butterfly’s, transform; without really knowing it’s happening, into fierce warriors.
Most people don’t need to have a life altering calamity happen to change the future, they simply must take stock and change for the better and live up to their full potential.
Lucky people, with the right pedigree, most on track for a college degree, rarely reinvent themselves. They’re often entitled and think they should be given everything they want in the world because they were born right. But a high IQ doesn’t determine if you’ll reinvent yourself or become successful. Self-discipline is what decides your fate. People who are book smart in school are oftentimes not as widely successful as those that are street smart. I had to get a degree in street smarts to survive. Enormous success usually comes from a place of desperation and enormous passion to succeed.
It is said that necessity is the mother of invention and having lived four re-invented lives, I find the next chapter the hardest to reinvent. Today, I am a respected nonprofit consultant, successful beyond my wildest imaginations. I authored two popular memoirs and am working on a third. I am a mother, a grandmother, a wife, a zipliner and world traveler! in quiet times, I ask myself, how much energy and interest do I have in pursing another life chapter? what will the next iteration of me be?
In the end, the biggest regret in life isn’t failure, it is looking back and wondering, what if I had taken a different path, how would my life have been different? but I wouldn’t change one moment of my life and look forward to the possibility of the next reinvention of me. Hmmmmm I wonder what comes next……..
To be continued.