Lisa A. Kramer

Author, Speaker, Theater Artist, Creativity Facilitator

The Serendipity of Reinvention

I am in the process of redesigning my life, and I am so excited.

For a long time now, I have been struggling with the status quo, and feeling trapped by a career that I sort of fell into--because of expectations from my degrees, life choices, etc.  I was losing a sense of passion and purpose, feeling underpaid, underappreciated, and like everything had become a battle that had no meaning. While I was working hard, it no longer feels fulfilling.

So I knew it was time for a change.

Still, it has taken a long time for me to really leap. I have not completely quit my day job (because the reality is that I cannot afford to do that) but I have shifted my focus toward creating a life that is filled with purpose, joy, possibility, and creative projects. As my focus shifts, it has taken the pressure off of me surrounding my teaching commitments. I still pour myself into the classes and am committed to the students, but I don't spend every minute fretting and planning them. I even approached grading differently this year, so that 1) I don't feel as stressed and 2) my classes focus on the process and the learning rather than the product. It has been a good change for me.

But something else has happened that is even more exciting. As I have opened myself to seeing things in new ways, to moving forward with new purpose, and to defining life on my own terms-- serendipity has begun to send me gifts.

Serendipity. Truly just a word for a happy chance or fluke. But I like to think of it as a little bit of the creative energy--the life force--that connects us all. If we open ourselves to possibilities, than the universe begins to send people, ideas, and opportunities our way. Of course, we then to make choices--to follow, to take chances, to embrace the gifts or turn them away. This is not about destiny, but about possibility.

So what gifts has serendipity given to me lately, and how have they helped me along this path?

Finding My Tribe

After many years of not quite finding my people locally--those women (and men) who are part of my "tribe", my home, my support system--we have finally been discovering each other.

One of them, Rachel Wiese, is a talented actress and creative artist whom I met because we both teach at the same place. As we got to know each other, we realized that we have similar dreams, goals, and understandings when it comes to career, motherhood, and life in general. We have now formed a new partnership and started a new company called Heart Forward which will help us achieve these dreams, while also contributing on many levels (artistically, socially, etc.) to our communities. We have been "treating our business as a business" with new and exciting developments happening almost daily. We will soon be ready to formally announce our first production, as well as lots of other exciting adventures. To learn more, visit our new website, or follow us on social media.

Many other members of this tribe have contributed to this with ideas, moral support, connections, suggestions, etc. Sarah, my wonderful daughter and biggest fan has made herself the unofficial publicity person for the company, and also supports it by babysitting Rachel's daughter during meetings and giving me pep talks when I doubt.

Rediscovering Words

By allowing myself to think about Heart Forward as something truly possible, it seemed to help lift the other creative block I have been having. I am finding stories again. Ideas for characters and stories crop up out of nowhere--when I read about a student of mine, when I see people sitting in a coffee shop, when I hear a line of a song, when I watch a coyote saunter past my window as I sit working in my office in the middle of the day. This is all serendipitous fodder for the imagination. So I found myself writing again.

Just after I started writing again, an author friend of mine reached out to me to see if I might be interested in joining her for a book event when she launches her next book. We hadn't been in touch for a long time, except for the occasional like on a post on social media (especially her gorgeous paintings on leaves), so this question came out of the blue in some ways. I'm the first to admit that I have been a slacker about promoting my own work lately. I felt like, if I was not producing anything new and my own work is competing against a deluge of work coming out on a daily basis, how could it make any difference? I am very proud of my books, but in my struggles with finding meaning in my life I couldn't put the energy into promotion that it needed. But, with new found purpose, I said, "why not?" We're meeting for lunch today to discuss and finalize plans.

So now I am writing again, and planning book promotions, what could the universe bring me next? Well, I have another friend (also part of the tribe) who has been trying to get her academic book written for a while now. I say trying because the demands of her tenured position and unrealistic expectations from administration have made finding time to write a challenge. I have been helping her by editing chapters as she completes them--but not just copy edits. I'm asking her tough questions. I'm coaching her to stay focused and make the book richer.  At the same time, a student of mine mentioned to me recently how she had just finished a novel and would love to get feedback on it. "Hmmmm," I thought to myself. I am always editing student work, or giving feedback to author friends. Why can't that be part of my  redesign? Could I possibly help people and make a little money doing it? Sure, I can. So now I have added to the list of things that I can do as a Book Coach who wants to work with a small group of writers one-on-one (for reasonable rates) to help them bring their books to life. (Reach out if you want more information).

The List Goes On

Each day, as I work a little bit on any of these many projects, some new possibility pops into my head.  A puppetry and clowning workshop has led to Rachel and myself dreaming of having our own space for Heart Forward one day. A distance learning course in Social Therapeutics is connecting me with people around the world who desire to learn, grow, and create change--who knows where that will lead? A meeting as we looked for a space for our first performance for Heart Forward has led to the possibility of presenting on a panel about women and leadership.  Each step leads to another step.

Perhaps this is not serendipity, but merely the opening up of possibilities. Whatever it might be, I am excited to move forward on this journey, and I hope you will join me along the way. I look forward to making more connections, meeting new people, and exploring new creative possibilities and collaborations.

How has serendipity played a role in your life? Have you ever reinvented yourself?

I'd love to hear from you!