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It Ain't Over . . . Till It's Over: Reinventing Your Life--and Realizing Your Dreams--Anytime, at Any Age
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It Ain't Over . . . Till It's Over: Reinventing Your Life--and Realizing Your Dreams--Anytime, at Any Age

4.0 2
by Marlo Thomas

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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Right Words at the Right Time comes a one-of-a-kind collection of inspiring stories about ordinary women who have reinvented themselves in extraordinary ways.

“You can be anything you want to be.” “Reach for the moon.” “It’s never too late to make a


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Right Words at the Right Time comes a one-of-a-kind collection of inspiring stories about ordinary women who have reinvented themselves in extraordinary ways.

“You can be anything you want to be.” “Reach for the moon.” “It’s never too late to make a change.” We’ve heard it all. But anyone who has ever tried to make a big life change knows that it can be a bit more complicated—and scary—than that. How do you get up the nerve (and confidence) to actually take the leap? No one knows better than the women profiled in this powerful book by actress, activist, and bestselling author Marlo Thomas.

Using the same kinds of personal stories that made Thomas’s landmark collection The Right Words at the Right Time a blockbuster success, It Ain’t Over…Till It’s Over introduces us to more than fifty amazing women who are proving that it’s never too late to live out a dream—to get a PhD, travel the world, launch a business, indulge a creative impulse, make a family recipe famous, or fill a void in life with a challenging new experience. Meet a homemaker who fulfilled a childhood ambition by going to med school at age forty-three; a widow with three young kids who turned a jewelry-making hobby into a successful business on Etsy; a woman who lived out a childhood dream by taking a cross-country trip (on horseback, no less!); and a sister and mother who channeled their immense grief from losing a brother and son in 9/11 into creating a global foundation to care for the emotionally wounded.

Brimming with anecdotes that will inspire smiles, tears, and—most of all—hope, It Ain’t Over speaks to women of all ages with an empowering message: The best is yet to come.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
From her eponymous web series for women, Thomas—actress, activist and author (Free to Be…You and Me)—handpicks 60 of her site's followers and weaves their true stories into a chatty magazine-style compilation about the joy of self-fulfillment. No hurdle is too daunting for this group of women, who Thomas defines as a part of the "Reinvention Generation," not even age—many of the women profiled are in their 60s and 70s. Thomas opens with five women who launched their own businesses, charting their successes in brief. Beyond their financial achievements lie personal goals: one follower from Panama City shrinks to a size 10 from a 32, and another finally found time to attend college at 54. This motivational compilation includes a tonic for every challenge with the seemingly ageless, Thomas leading by example. As one of her followers points out, Thomas has "been all the way up and all the way to the very bottom" yet she continues to soldier on, illustrating that the key to success is taking action. Certainly the level of accomplishment displayed by her fans is a testimony to the author's personal charisma, which is on full display here and will no doubt invite an even larger following. Photos. (Apr.)
#1 New York Times bestselling author - Dr. Mehmet Oz
"The spirited stories in It Ain't Over prove that we are all defined by our resounding endurance. This amazing collection of women will inspire you, and Marlo will have you soaring at full speed once again."
#1 New York Times bestselling author of Lean In - Sheryl Sandberg
"It Ain't Over is filled with stories of bold and brave women who won’t give up and won’t be held back. They seize their moment, and now their stories inspire us to seize ours. This book will help any woman believe more in herself and reach for any dream."
Kirkus Reviews
Success stories from women who have taken their lives in new directions. Personal losses, empty nests, the deaths of loved ones, general dissatisfaction with the status quo—these are just a few of the reasons why the women featured by actor Thomas (Growing Up Laughing: My Story, 2011, etc.) chose to change their lives in their 40s, 50s and 60s. Many had successful careers that brought them a satisfying income but left them wondering, "what if this is all that there is to my life?" These women still had unfulfilled dreams and yearnings, but instead of choosing complacency, they pursued the emotionally and physically demanding route of something new, often succeeding beyond what they could have ever imagined. Most had no special knowledge of the new venture on which they were embarking, although work in corporate jobs did help with planning and networking. What they all shared was determination and a deep longing to explore ideas that they had always pushed to the back burner: A corporate job was exchanged for the ski slopes, a desire for healthy food for a child became a million-dollar business, and a knitting hobby became a gourmet yarn and coffee shop. Many ideas were born from the need for an item—e.g., a cellphone carryall, a day planner and a sippy-cup tether—or a desire to do something radically different, like wakeboarding, working as an actress or being a DJ. Other women wished to help others in need and had a strong desire to give back to the community at large. Straightforward and inspirational, the stories show the pluck and drive found in every woman and give older women the courage to believe in their dreams despite the odds. Mostly stimulating stories of women's achievements sure to generate new ideas; best read in doses.
Kelly Ripa
"Marlo Thomas has always been a personal inspiration to me, so it’s not surprising that she’s come forward with this fantastic new book to inspire other women as well. These are incredible stories, beautifully written, designed to encourage women who need the motivation to kickstart their lives and create a new chapter for themselves."
"Each story is a joy to read, but also an inspiration...Thomas has captured a marvelous way to jump-start dreams, at any age."

Product Details

Atria Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

It Ain’t Over . . . Till It’s Over

  • Jamie James, 54

    North Hampton, New Hampshire

    “Where are my keys?”

    If she’d said it once, she’d said it a thousand times—Jamie James could never find anything.

    And it was worst at the grocery store, always provoking sighs and grumbles from the people behind her in line. There she’d be, doing her purseexcavation routine, digging through receipts, reading glasses, and candy wrappers looking for the credit card she’d thrown into the leather abyss after her last purchase.

    “I was always moving too fast to stop and put things back in my wallet,” Jamie confesses.

    Jamie, mother of four and family law attorney, typically blew into the courtroom like a tornado, digging through her oversized bag for a ringing phone, never able to find it. “I felt like a bag lady,” she says. “I needed to simplify.”

    She envied her daughter Kaitlyn, who organized all of her essentials (college ID, credit card, and even a random $20 bill) by tucking them inside the protective silicone gel skin surrounding her cell phone so they were always handy.

    But clever or not, Kaitlyn’s system wasn’t foolproof. “Mom, you’re going to kill me!” she moaned one day after losing her credit card—yet again. The problem was that over time, the soft cell phone case would stretch, allowing her valuables to slip out and vanish.

    There has to be a better way, thought Jamie. How great would it be to have one compact, convenient place where I could stow all of my must-haves: cell phone, cash, AmEx, debit card, driver’s license, health insurance card, and keys?

    It was an idea that itched at the back of Jamie’s mind for months, something she might never even have acted on if not for a sudden tragedy: In November 2009, Jamie’s healthy, vibrant mom and dad fell ill with the H1N1 flu, were hospitalized, and died.

    “My life came to a stop,” Jamie says. “I went to my parents’ funerals within 17 days of each other. No child, no matter how old, should ever have to go through that.”

    Their deaths shook Jamie awake. “I realized that life can change on a dime. I said to my husband: We need to start new.” Two months later, they sold their house in Andover, Massachusetts, and settled into a home a mile from the ocean in North Hampton, New Hampshire, where Jamie, her husband, and their four children had memories of many happy summers spent sailing and going to the beach.

    The change was good for Jamie and her family; their home life felt comfortable and safe. What wasn’t so great was Jamie’s work life, as she had to commute back and forth to her office in Massachusetts—an hour each way—every day.

    The family law she had practiced for nearly 20 years, in which she dealt with divorces and child custody, was depressing. And now it felt even more so. “It’s almost like being an oncologist. I was dealing with the worst time of someone’s life every day. I’d go to bed questioning Is this what I want to do the rest of my life? Yes, it pays the mortgage and the tuition, but dealing with individuals who are so unhappy is emotionally draining.”

    That’s when Jamie began thinking again about designing a product that busy women like her could use to hold all of their “vitals.” “It was almost like, if I could figure this product out, then I could figure me out. I needed to do something that was happier.”

    Jamie knew she couldn’t outright quit her career, but she could start taking steps toward creating a business. A month after moving into their new home, she hosted a dinner party for four couples. She cornered her friends’ husbands and showed them a prototype of the product that she’d whipped together. It was the very definition of jerry-rigged: She’d cut some slits in the back of a gel skin phone cover that would serve as credit card slots, taped a piece of cardboard on as a makeshift cover, and added a string to form a wristlet. Not much to look at, but Jamie pointedly wanted to get the guys’ opinions.

    “I knew my girlfriends were more likely to be supportive and say, Yes, you should do it!” she says. “But the guys would be brutally honest.”

    At first, the husbands didn’t really “get” what Jamie was showing them, until she asked them a few questions: Does your wife ever have trouble finding the phone when you call her? Does she always have to root around in the depths of her bag to find her keys? Does she make you carry her phone and ID when you go out? Yes, yes, and yes.

    The men got interested and started brainstorming.

    “I always have to carry her lipstick, too!” one said. “Can you add a place for that?”

    “I know a website guy!”

    They were on a roll—until one husband posed a question that stumped the crowd:

    “How are you going to create a product that fits all of the different cell phones out there?” Ya got me, Jamie thought. But, undeterred, she went ahead and took her prototype to her tailor along with some fun fabric.

    “I was so nervous. I told him, ‘This is just between you and me. It’s our secret.’ ” But when she saw the finished product a few days later, her butterflies went away.

    “It was so exciting to hold in my hands what had once just been in my head!” she recalls.

    To test out her creation, Jamie began using it everywhere—at cash registers, at restaurant tables, at the ATM, in bathrooms, and at her desk. And—bingo!—it actually did what she wanted it to do: made her life simpler. But in doing so, it was getting filthy fast. Jamie realized she was going to have to manufacture it in leather. Problem solved.

    But other complications kept nagging at her, especially that one husband’s question about the product accommodating different-sized phones. Jamie arrived at the answer one day during her hour-long commute. Velcro! she thought. That’s it! Velcro! That’s what we’ll use to stick any phone to it.

    She loved the idea so much that, within days, she applied to obtain a patent for the design. Unlike other cell phone cases already on the market that opened up like a little book, Jamie’s cover flipped up and over, like a steno notebook, essentially turning the wallet part inside out, so a user could talk directly into the cell phone without obstruction. Jamie also added a wristlet strap that unhooked so you could attach your keys.

    “Everything you needed was in the palm of your hand,” she says.

    Now all Jamie needed was a manufacturer—and she found one at a horse show, where a vendor was selling beautiful leather goods. They started talking and two months later, Jamie visited the company. “That’s when the lawyer in me came out,” she says. “I asked the president to sign a nondisclosure agreement so he couldn’t steal my idea.”

    “I was thrilled at his reaction. He took one look at my product, hit his head, and said, ‘I can’t believe nobody else has thought of this!’ ” Over the next few months, Jamie picked out her favorite Italian leather and fine-tuned the design, and in January of 2011, production began.

    But what to call it? “My friends and family encouraged me to name it after myself, but then someone said to me, ‘Someday you’ll create another invention and what are you going to call that? You want Jamie James to be the name of your company, not your product.’ ” On a long drive home from a ski trip, Jamie, her husband, and her daughter Kaitlyn (via speaker phone) spitballed names and came up with the winner: the Cellfolio.

    When the first 600 Cellfolios were delivered, Jamie was ecstatic. She was also overwhelmed by what lay ahead. “That’s when the real work came. I had this product that I had borrowed thousands of dollars against our retirement accounts to make, and now I had to figure out how to get it out there.”

    Kaitlyn helped her map out a strategy. She suggested that they immediately set up a website—nothing fancy, just a landing site that would provide information and facilitate orders—and then got to work spreading the word.

    “I know all my friends will want one,” Kaitlyn told her mom, “so let’s get the product into their hands. And they’ll get them into their moms’ hands. And their moms will get them into their friends’ hands.”

    That’s how their grassroots campaign began. Next, they passed out batches of the Jamie James Cellfolios to college kids across the country, offering to give them a cut if they sold any. She also gave them away to real estate agents, lawyers, and doctors.

    “During that first month,” Jamie recalls, “someone from Colorado ordered 15 of them off the website; I called and asked, ‘How did you hear about us?’ She said, ‘I was at a medical conference in Florida and one of the doctors showed me his, so I decided to buy one for everyone in my office.’ I was elated.”

    Then, Jamie doubled down on social media, setting up a Facebook page, Tweeting, and blogging. “I had to learn a whole new language,” she says. She also signed on to be a vendor at gift shows in seven states.

    “It was a huge step out of my normal box, but it was also uplifting. For the first time, I had a smile on my face while I was working.”

    Soon, the Cellfolio began dominating her thoughts, no matter where she was. “Whenever I walked into my law office, before asking my assistant if any clients had called, I’d ask, ‘Where did the orders come in from today?’ ” And when she’d spot women using the Cellfolio at restaurants or in line at the coffee shop, she’d get an instant lift. “You see somebody holding a product that you made and you realize that you actually did something to change their day-to-day life.”

    Today, Jamie, who hasn’t used a purse in three years, has sold so many Jamie James Cellfolios that she has been able to repay the retirement funds she’d tapped to get her invention off the ground. “The goal now is to get to a financial place where I can get out of law completely and just do this thing I love,” she says.

    In February 2013, after the Cellfolio was mentioned in a Los Angeles magazine, it was chosen to be included in the gift bag for the Academy Awards—and Jamie got to fly out for the ceremony. She also streamlined her inventory by creating a Velcro-free design made solely for iPhones. “When I did the market research, I found out that 70 percent of people in the U.S. carry an iPhone.”

    For all her success, Jamie has just one regret: that her parents didn’t get to see the fulfillment their daughter found with her “fifth baby.”

    “It’s almost been like a rebirth,” she says. “I was lucky that I was only 50 when all of this came into being. I still had time in my life to be something else. I know they would have been really proud of me.”

  • Meet the Author

    Marlo Thomas graduated from the University of Southern California with a teaching degree. She is the author of five bestselling books, Free to Be ...You and Me, Free to Be...a Family, The Right Words at the Right Time, Thanks and Giving: All Year Long, and The Right Words at the Right Time Volume 2: Your Turn! Ms. Thomas has won four Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe, a Grammy, the Peabody Award, and has been inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame for her work in television, including her starring role in the landmark series That Girl, which she also conceived and produced. She is the National Outreach Director for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Ms. Thomas lives in New York with her husband, Phil Donahue.

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    It Ain't Over... Till It's Over: Reinventing Your Life--and Realizing Your Dreams--Any Time, at Any Age 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Brilliant, inspiring! Trying to give  a five star but won't go above 4??
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago