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May 09, 2009

It's never too late to be what you might have been.

"It's never too late to be what you might have been"  This is one of my favorite quotes, the mantra that has me regularly reevaluating my life to make sure I'm still on the right track.

So far, so good, I think.

The quote is attributed to George Eliot, a woman author who wrote under a male pen name so that her work would be taken seriously, and generally lived her life the way she pleased, including shacking up with a married guy for a couple of decades in the wild and crazy 1800s.  (Her shack-ee, George Henry Lewes, was unable to obtain a divorce, but he and his wife had an open marriage.  Obviously.)

It's never too late to be what you might have been is also the title of a new book from a woman named BJ Gallagher (you might know her as the author of the international bestseller A Peacock in the Land of Penguins.)

Unknown-1  It's never too late is a sort of guidebook for figuring out how to engineer the life you've always wanted, an instruction manual to become the ultimate you.

I met BJ Gallagher (kinda) in the way that a lot of authors meet -- via email, and then via phone.  She was in the beginning stages of working on the book, and wanted to interview me about my bizarre publishing stories.

So we chatted, we bonded, and like most interviews once they're over with, I promptly forgot about it.  Then, lo and behold, a few months later, there's a book.  With a chicken on the cover.  Well, a chicken leg, at least.

 I was originally planning to post an excerpt of the book, but on further reflection, I decided not to.

The reason is this:  When I think about where I am now, my goals and dreams, I sometimes feel like my career and/or my life are not exactly moving at the lightspeed trajectory I had planned...it's easy to feel disappointed or discouraged.   But when I read the essay about me in the book,   I remembered where I was 7 years ago, and how far I've come.

The "holy crap, did I really do all that?" moment also comes to me every time I write a new book proposal.  Why?  Because the first thing I do is open up my last book proposal and start updating the bio and media info.  And every time, I'm struck by how much farther along the path I am than the last time I was writing a book proposal.

I went from being a stay-at-home mom who missed the buzz of my advertising gig to being the author of 3 books, one a bestseller, one optioned for a movie, plus a syndicated column and a weekly spot on a very cool TV show.  Perhaps the most fabulous thing of all is that I went from being an avid reader and lover of books who'd never met a real live author, to a person who PERSONALLY KNOWS like, 300 real-life authors, some of whom are my closest friends.  I once hung out with Amy Tan for forty-five minutes at a very artsy cocktail party.  AMY TAN!

(And in a very strange coincidence in a sort of freak publishing accident a year later, several copies of my novel Fifteen Minutes of Shame were printed with my book as the first hundred or so pages, and Amy Tan's Joy Luck Club as the second half. We called it Fifteen Minutes of the Joy Luck Club, but I digress.)

So, instead reading my little story, I think you should let yourself be inspired by your own story  

If it helps, dig out an old resume (or, if you happen to be an author, your very first book proposal) and compare it to a recent one.  Look at you now!  Did you really do all that? 

What have you survived in the last five years?  What do you know now that you didn't before?  How have you mattered in someone's life?  How much closer are you to being the you you always wanted to be?

Even if you're pretty damned far away, it's still not too late. 

The good news is, it's never too late.


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I'm going to make sure my sister in law reads this blog because it's so true.....Thank you, Lisa.

New Year's Day of the year I would turn 35, I woke up and said, okay, enough screwing around. It's now or never. I decided to try and get this stupid parody I'd written about Barbie, an exercise in maintaining my mental health, published after it had been rejected by 40 mainstream publishers. The next day, I called a small, lesbian, feminist press in Vermont that did humor. They were interested.

That book led to national exposure, a bit in USA Today and an appearance on CBS This Morning. It also interested the sales force at Dutton who suggested Dutton buy the book. They didn't, but I did meet an editor who would later become Dutton's publisher and he asked what else I had. What else I had was Bubbles....

So, sometimes it's just taking a step, ANY step, even a step with a small lesbian feminist press, that makes the difference.

And the great thing about writing is no one cares how old you are as long as you have the voice.

Wow. Okay, five years ago, I didn't even know what a blog was - let alone write them.

Five years ago, I was not the shortest one in the house.

Gotta run - just because they're taller doesn't mean they can drive.

Boy, Lisa, is your timing *perfect* for this one! Just the shot in the arm (or boot in the ass) I have been needing. Already ordered BJ's book.

Priceless. Absolutely priceless!

A friend gave me a bookmark a few years ago with that quote on it. It's been my mantra ever since.

I still haven't gotten off my a** and tried. I'm scared. But I will.


I'm SOOOO glad you did. And ya know, as my Aunt Jerry and Uncle Mary will attest, lesbians know funny.

Thanks for that great story.




Get moving :-)


Whenever I feel fear around doing something, I always think to myself -"what's scarier, trying this thing I might fail, or living my whole life knowing I wanted something and was too terrified to go after it?"

For me, regret is a lot more terrifying than failure.

Go for it.



Interesting timing, Lisa. A friend just sent this in an e-mail, "You got the goods, woman, get that promo out."
I retired from teaching three years ago, and have time to do more storytelling. The hard part is marketing oneself. I have a web site, thanks to a friend with skills, and one CD. I plan to make a second CD this summer, for a younger audience, but I need to market! (and of course, that's not the fun part -- but it's the part that makes the fun part possible ;-)
Thanks for the boost. Time to put on my IOCHFTS t-shirt and go to Elaine's book signing!!

btw, when Mr. Typepad refuses to post date, I've found I can copy my text, reload the page, and paste it back in. It almost always works . . .

Give Elaine a big hug for us!

Five years ago I was still trying to live up to other people's and my own expectations. I felt guilty and shame about having health problems that made it hard to do what everyone else could do.

Now I do what I can, enjoy the heck out of it. Take all the naps I need (where possible). Sleep in on weekends. yes I know it is 9:30 PST on a Saturday and I am awake!! Now if someone asks me to do something that I know will require more of me than I have, I just say no thank you.

About 5 years about I broke up with a man I was dating. While I loved him, I no longer ooooh baby loved him and I knew to keep dating him would be hypocritical. Three weeks after I broke up with him, he called and asked if we could be friends now. And we still are best friends (without benefits). We have traveled together, been each other's 'date's' to various functions but the relief of no longer dating, lovely.

While I have fewer friends than 5 years ago because of letting myself take care of myself. I have better friends. More quality time. And best of all, more time to rest and read. No regrets.

Gaylin, what you experienced is one of the few noticeably good results of aging. We know ourselves better, we know what and how much we are capable of, and we know and protect our limits. This is all welcome knowledge.

Hi all,

Seems like Mr. Typepad is cranky again, at least one person had trouble posting comments today. We've sent Margie over to his house with a couple of bottles of Mad Dog 20/20, so hopefully it will all work out soon.

In the meantime, here is a comment from BJ Gallagher:


I loved Lisa's story so much, I put it in the very first chapter of the book. It's not often I meet a woman who's figured out how to have it all! Lisa's amazing ... all the people in the book are amazing!

William James wrote that "we teach best what we need to learn the most." That's why I wrote this book .... I had a lot of learn about "It's Never Too Late to be What You Might Have Been."

OK, gotta run now. Time for my skydiving class.

BJ Gallagher

BJ --
Skydiving?? So cool!

Thanks for the great comments and the inspiring book.


Good for you. I'm a firm believer that the best things happen when we're true to ourselves.

Storyteller Mary,






Elaine was wonderful! Funny, looked good -- surrounded by friends & former P.E. teacher and three from TLC -- Rita, Pam, and me. . .
Now to start reading!

5 years ago? Well, 5 years ago both my parents died, each unexpectedly, seperately, 5 mos apart. We were sent into a tailspin. But we survived.

5 years ago I was a banker. I quit that 3 years ago, went back to grad school to become a librarian.

5 years ago I never dreamed I'd be where I am today. I wish it hadn't taken tragedy to get me here. I tell everyone to take a good look around, and if they don't like it, change it.

It's never too late. Now I'm an advocate helping other people who have suffered loss like our family has. I spoke at a press conference in Washington DC this past Monday. Who'd have every thought I could do that five years ago.

I love the quote. I'm going to print it up and hang it on a wall.

Thanks for the great post!

If I rewind a decade, I realize I was still trying to conceive children, a few weeks shy of finding out that the final IVF treatement finally finally "took" and the baby "took" . . . HALLELUJA! Now, I'm the mother of three. (and yes, published 4 books too). Thanks, Lisa! Cheers me right up!

Harley -- how wonderful! I'd say "you win," but it's not a contest, and we can all win -- especially with the lessons of this day!
Hugs to/from all!

I do agree with you Lisa. Indeed it can never be too late to become what you might have been or you always wanted to be. I also believe in it. :D

Even now... way out here in the future of December 2009 (...when I'm just now reading your post of May 2009)... your words are telling me just what I need to hear, just when I need to hear it. There IS still time for me to be what I might have been all along. Perseverance and persistence can make the difference. Thank you for being there... for me and for all of us... when I really needed to hear it this most.

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