Second Bloom: 10 Steps to Reinvent, Rejuvenate and Realize a New Life
by Anne Marie Smith & Michelle Gamble-Risley

Kaabrah Publishing, 2009. ISBN 978-0-981-83220-3.
Reviewed by Doris Anne Roop-Benner
Posted on 01/01/2009

Nonfiction: Life Lessons

At some point in our lives, many of us yearn for something different or feel that something is missing. What we're doing no longer has the meaning it once did. The authors of Second Bloom call this The Big Blank. This is exactly where I am right now—empty nest, growing old, bored with the norm. There's no pizzazz in my life. Reading this book was just what I needed to remind me to stop whining about my humdrum existence and do something about it. Maya Angelou said, "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain."

How do so many of us get to the point where we only look at ourselves one-dimensionally? Why do we define ourselves by what we do? One answer is that society puts definitions on our titles and assigns status to them. Another involves the status quo—it feels safe. If we change and grow it takes us out of our comfort zone.

Anne Marie and Michelle tell us we can just decide to make our dreams come true. And we don't have to let anybody break our spirits...not our husbands, not our bosses, not our children, not ourselves. Remember, you can't hear your inner voice until you quiet the voices of others. The book includes dozens of stories of ordinary women who rediscovered their passions, and is loaded with exercises and a planning template.

The authors have laid out a transition plan: define the issue, plan how to resolve it, define your values, be clear about your vision, choose your allies, list the challenges, assess your strengths and weaknesses, form your strategies, brainstorm the actions, then name it and claim it. Each chapter tells you how to accomplish these steps. It sounds like a big undertaking, but I think it would be worth the effort and it all seems feasible.

The chance to reinvent our lives and make a conscious decision to live differently doesn't give us an instant "get out of jail free card." It does, however, give us an opportunity to be different and explore a new path. We can own our lives because we have the power and that actually liberates us from having to find the answer to the helpless question, "Why did this happen to me?" We are the puppet masters in our own play.

Anne Marie and Michelle want us to use Second Bloom as a tool to help us get what we want. They firmly believe we must first ask ourselves what it is and then have a plan to make it happen. And once we get started, we'll probably be surprised to learn what we can accomplish.

I've already started my transition plan: I've defined the issue. I see that my biggest hurdle is to believe that I can overcome the hurdles! I think my number one obstacle is going to be me. So I'm on to step two: planning how to resolve the issue. I want this to be my vision for the years ahead, because, after all, it is all about me.

Michelle Gamble-Risley is a professional writer, and a marketing and public relations expert with over twenty years of experience. She owns the full-service marketing agency MGR Consulting. She has written screenplays and a movie for Showtime. Anne Marie Smith is a writer, business consultant and entrepreneur. She is also co-author of the business book 60-Minute Strategic Plan: 2 Stages, 12 Steps, 300 Words: Planning and Problem-Solving for the Real World.

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