The chaos of reinvention

“Healing yourself, whether from heartbreak, illness, addiction, family struggles, or professional disappointment, is not for the faint of heart.  

It takes serious courage—Olympic courage—to do what it takes to transform pain into gold.”— Lissa Rankin, MD.


Like many of us at midlife, I have reinvented myself a few times over.

I’ve changed careers from PR executive to life coach, relationship status from married to single, and my mothering role from full-time caregiver to empty nester with a huge void in my heart to fill.

Nothing has been more painful, terrifying, exhilarating, and growth inspiring than choosing to move cross country 30 months ago to start over again. Initially, I took the risk of relocating to fulfill a promise I made to myself post cancer: Say yes to life, and live with no regret.

My body and soul needed a fresh start, and sunshine and outdoor living to continue staying healthy.

What began as an adventure of the heart–moving from Newburyport, Mass. to Scottsdale, Ariz.–became a Phoenix-rising-from-ashes experience, where I was humbled into a faith journey so deep and life-altering that it has become my third book in the works.

Dr. Lissa Rankin describes it best in the above quote when she describes this type of transformation as requiring “Olympic courage.”

I share this glimpse into my next book with you now because in my 20-plus years of coaching adults through transition, I have noticed how often others define themselves by the external change: the new home, new baby, new job, or new boyfriend. Yet, it is the inner transformation that happens as the result of the external event where growth and lives of increased vibrancy and fulfillment can occur.

The initiation into a new life

And often, that inner work entails a lot of chaos. Chaos is not a bad thing. When we let go of one way of being to become something greater or more expansive, we are honoring our soul’s prompting for growth.

In my continued training with Dr. Joe Dispenza, a leading neuroscientist whose methodologies helped train my mind to heal my body, he refers to this chaos as an initiation into a new life. He says:

“And, as things begin to break down and things don’t go your way or people betray you, things are stolen, or your bank account goes south, or whatever that is, you have to understand that it is a breaking down of the old, and you should never see it as a state of victimization because the moment you see it from a state of victimization, then you’re not 100 percent responsible for your life. And being an abundant person is taking 100 percent responsibility.”

Committing to living a life of joy, purpose and meaning, which is my goal, entails the angst of stepping out of the comfort zone of the familiar.

We are not meant to stay the same throughout our lives:

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.

If we fix on the old, we get stuck. When we hang onto any form, we are in danger of putrefaction.

Hell is life drying up.”

–Excerpt from A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living

Feeling wobbly, vulnerable and scared is part of the journey for it takes time for the new to integrate and become solid within ourselves.

Here are five tips to move through the process for creating anew:

  1. Retreat and find time for solitude is essential. Spend as much time in nature and meditating as possible. At least 20 minutes of quiet is necessary, to allow space in your mind and heart for a new level of consciousness to evolve.
  2. Find like-minded and courageous others in transition (or who have been through a similar one as yours) who treat you with compassion, care and respect versus judgment or condemnation. You will be creating a new tribe that reflects your emerging self.
  3. Feel your feelings, and accept some days may feel like a roller coaster of emotions. Know that it is perfectly normal to fluctuate from grieving the old life you are leaving behind to embracing the joy and exhilaration of a new beginning.
  4. All growth involves risk, and not knowing what is next. You cannot create anew from the familiar. The more time you can spend lingering in the unfamiliar, the more expansive your life can become. Know new possibilities will continue to present themselves. Get out of your head more often and listen carefully with your heart which options feel most aligned with your truest, most authentic version of your self.
  5. Make time for play! The inner work of transforming a life can be grueling. Take breaks, find diversions, and experiment with new ways of being (and be forgiving of yourself when you make mistakes!).


Like an artist with a new paintbrush, keep dabbling in new expressions of life.

To learn more, please email me at to be placed on the notification list for when my related book is published.

In continued courage and expansive joy,



My talented photographer friend, Margaret Armstrong, took this picture of Gerber daises in her backyard.  She then transformed the photo, using a reverse negative process, to portray the potential vibrancy of living that comes though the natural chaos of transition. 



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  • Beautiful and ever-evolving truth!

  • Dick Joseph says:

    As always, beautifully expressed and valuable. It is amazing what ordinary people do on a regular basis in silence to overcome obstacles. Some people are imprisoned by the events, while others become inspired to greatness. You took the path to greatness. You should be very proud of your journey.

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Thanks, Dick: The “path to greatness” entails choosing to live as a creator versus victim of life…and taking the time to DO THE INNER WORK…there are no shortcuts! Blessed for all your support and encouragement on this journey…with deep gratitude, Gail

  • Shani Fox says:

    Beautifully said, Gail, and very timely for me. Thank you.

  • Cindy says:

    Beautifully articulated. I am always amazed at the beauty of your words. And thanks for that Joseph Campbell quote – he is one of my heroes.

  • I love this post……thanks for sharing these amazing words Gail. I agree that when we truly listen to the innermost guidance provided through deep reflection and stillness, our next path for soul evolution emerges. It certainly may NOT be what we “planned.” My experience is that through this emergence process, agony is abundant, making sheer discipline and trust in self paramount to staying alive as we follow the path revealed to us.

    I’ll be forever grateful that we chose to sit next to each other in AZ amidst this great journey into the unknown……divine serendipity my dear friend! Keep making a difference.

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Lisa: I’m equally grateful to have met such a courageous, inspiring and wise woman through this pioneering journey of using, sharing and teaching the latest in neuroscience. BTW: you’re a gifted writer yourself!! Big hugs, Gail

  • Pat Wetzel says:


    Beautifully said. Evolving takes risk and effort and is worth every bit. We’re not the sum of the external accoutrements that surround us; we’re the sum of our experiences and how we choose to process them.

    When things fall apart, it is always an interesting opportunity to evolve, learn, and rearrange our lives to reflect our growth. Always be grateful for the life lessons in your path!

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Pat: I love your line: “We’re not the sum of the external accouterments that surround us; we’re the sum of our experiences and how we CHOOSE to use them.” CHOOSING wisely often requires an inner journey to best discern our gifts to bring forth. At midlife, it seems paramount to take a few “pitstops” to reevaluate and “rearrange” as you say. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. Gratefully, Gail

  • Lisa Langaker says:

    Thanks Gail for being so transparent and the encouragement you give from being willing to share your story is incredible. Love you!!!

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Lisa: I am so grateful our paths crossed when I relocated to Arizona. Your kindness has impacted me deeply. With love and gratitude, Gail

  • Tommy Ogren says:

    Great post, Gail…so much useful, sage advice here. I myself am forever reinventing myself. I never want to be complacent….I love myself, and like myself, too, but there is always room for improvement.
    And yes, all growth involves risk and not knowing what’s next….but, life is short, let’s go for the gusto!

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Tom: I love your attitude about continually creating anew. You model a life of vibrancy. Thanks for sharing. Blessings, Gail

  • Mary Ann latter says:

    Getting out of my comfort zone spoke to me. I have gotten too comfortable in my ways and it doesn’t bring me what I desire. I realize now that it’s because I just decided to take the easier path…to not be evolved but that’s not joyful or how I wish to spend the rest of my years (like you I was married for almost 30 years and I chose to be single). I’m happy about my choices so far but I need to step away from this comfort zone I find myself in. Loved your post. I don’t think that a big move is right for me but I will be more open to my vibrations I am getting from the universe and listen to my gut!

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Mary Ann: Thanks for sharing your journey. I was only married 14 years so had plenty of years after to regroup as a single woman before risking a cross-country move. And the funny thing is, I had a picture of Sedona on my vision board for the two years before I ended up moving to Arizona (and Sedona ended up being the first place I visited before choosing to relocate)! Sometimes, our intuition is so much stronger than we know. My soul was definitely guiding me to a new life, and it was “divine intervention” that led me to shake up my life so significantly. There was a type of “surrender” involved and I knew a bigger and different plan for my life was emerging (and still is). Keep listening to your GUT and your HEART…the wisest choices frequently are not the most logical ones! Trust in gentle whispers of guidance, serendipitous events, and stay open to the NEW. Keep me posted on your journey as you take steps out of your comfort zone! With admiration for your newfound openness, Gail

  • Thanks for sharing your courageous story of how you reinvented yourself and the valuable lessons it taught you.

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      You are welcome, Dr. Orloff. As a fellow empath, I imagine you can relate to all the intuitive nudges I followed! And thank you for all your work on behalf of us sensitive souls who are bringing our gifts to the work in new and powerful ways! Blessings, Gail

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