In August of 2017, I hired someone to redo my website because it was long overdue and in need of a fresh, new look. I signed a contract with a designer. I spent hours filling out an extensive questionnaire. And I began mapping out how I wanted things to change.
Then my cat died unexpectedly and life went to hell in a handbasket.
Fast forward three years (but not too fast because losing someone you love is the hardest thing you’ll ever go through and grief takes way more time than you ever expect), and I’m almost ready to launch a very different site than I would have in 2017.
I’m grateful for how grief changes us in fundamental, deeply soulful ways. I’m not grateful for the loss, though. I honestly do wish everyone and everything we love would stay with us forever and ever. But because I’m an adult, I know better. The truth is we show up for life and all its glory and sadness, and if we use what happens to us to become even more of who we really are, we’re better equipped to handle the ups and downs of the journey.
Back to the new website.
Late last year, when I returned to the project of redesigning my site, I was no longer the same person. I needed a new designer. I needed to do a different kind of soul searching. And I needed time and space to think about how my home on the web would reflect the woman I am now.
Feeling overwhelmed by what felt like an enormous project, my husband Michael came to the rescue. “Don’t think of this as work,” he suggested, “think of it as a fun, midlife project where you get to express what matters most to you at this time in your life.”
That got my attention. These days, the two words that guide my choices are simplicity and beauty. The idea of using these words to direct my creative process gave me the energy I needed for the task at hand.
As someone who loves making order out of chaos (give me a messy closet and a couple of hours and I’m in heaven), I decided to first focus on simplicity and I approached this project as a writer. As I carefully reviewed the old site, I did so with an editor’s eye. What areas were important still? What needed to be removed? How could I say what I wanted to say in as few words/images as possible?
I took my time and each step of the way, I imagined that I was clearing out an online office building that hosted a full and successful career. I blessed and released what needed to go. I kept what still held my interest. And I added the new areas of my life that have replaced the old.
I thought I was redesigning a website, but the project turned out to be so much more than that. It was symbolic of the way in which we redesign our lives as we get older. While it’s an exciting adventure to enter a new stage of life, it invites so much nostalgia and grief, too.
As I removed the support group section of the website, I reminisced about the early days of using autoresponders to connect Life Makeover Group members to each other all over the world.
When I let go of our online store, I recalled the moment I was standing in line at an American Airlines ticket counter in Chicago, with my publicist, Debbie Stier, and found out that Take Time for Your Life had made the New York Times bestseller list.
As I reduced the prominent media section to a small footer at the bottom of the site, I smiled at the memory of feeling both terrified and excited as I stepped on stage for my very first Oprah appearance.
So much life.
So much to be grateful for.
So much to honor and release.
You might be re-feathering an empty nest, embarking on a brand-new career, or striking out on your own after the end of a marriage.
It’s an exciting time. And terrifying. But such an opportunity all the way around, if we choose to see it that way.
We can’t grow if we don’t let go and growing is the only game in town.
The new site should be ready by next week’s newsletter. Stay tuned!