What Do I Do Now? The Secrets of a Midlife Reboot
The Real Brass Ring takes The Secret on a high-speed road test in a tale of midlife transformation in the real, flesh-and-blood world of contemporary Chicago. It is the story of a "midlife reboot," a raw, unfiltered journey of enlightenment that illustrates a woman's daunting personal reinvention and the rewards of fearlessly pursuing a life's true calling.
After a jolting encounter with internationally known psychic and author Sonia Choquette, Dianne Bischoff James is forced to face the truth about her life. Sonia's words cut like a knife:
Dianne, you are a talented writer, healer, teacher and performer. But sadly your life is heading down the wrong path. Your brass ring is coming by and you need to grab it before it's too late. You have modeled yourself after your parents' desires. You are completely stuck in the make-believe role of being a 'good girl.' You live with depression because nothing about your life is your own. … Fix your ways or soon it will be too late.
Dianne had achieved an impressive education, an accomplished entrepreneurial career, a busy family life and social status; yet somehow, she had completely missed "the real brass ring." Although she had had a perfectly "traditional" background, her marriage was a sham, career uninspiring, health failing and self-esteem and spirituality non-existent. At 38, it was as if she had awakened to a nightmare: she had been living a profound lie.
Finding herself completely off-track, Dianne openly bares her soul and utilizes the metaphysical principles of The Secret to set out to change every aspect of her existence. She insists that she is worthy of an authentic romantic relationship and initiates the break-up of her marriage, with three children in tow; and dives into midlife "cougar" dating, including a close call with a charming but dangerously abusive alcoholic. By experimenting with the Law of Attraction, she also launches the acting career she had always dreamed of as a child and surprises even herself with success in an extremely competitive arena. Gradually, yet boldly, Dianne also faces other critical issues, including physical afflictions, a terrifying financial recession and the death of a loved one - removing each daunting roadblock one by one and manifesting a newly-created self.
"I'd approached every change as a free fall, diving through the air and grabbing at brass rings along the way," Dianne writes. "I'd made more mistakes than I could even count, but I also absorbed the painful, yet innately valuable teachings … Now, I had what I wanted all along, emotional peace, love, a uniquely sculpted family unit, an outlet for my creativity and a new life in hand … This was the picture Sonia painted for me on my 38th birthday - it just took me over a decade to erect the living model from the shadows."
By chronicling her own personal reinvention with grit, humor, incisiveness and compassion in The Real Brass Ring, Dianne provides the inspiration and passion others need to reclaim their authentic self.
|Product dimensions:||7.20(w) x 11.10(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Dianne Bischoff James graduated magna cum laude from Northwestern University with an MS in Integrated Marketing Communications and has a BA in Psychology from Marquette University. In 1995, she launched Core Marketing Solutions, a branding consultancy located in Chicago and received both Platinum and Gold MarCom Awards in honor of corporate branding excellence. Despite her business success, Dianne felt great personal unrest. At 40, she embarked on a journey to find her heart and reignite a childhood passion for the dramatic arts. In 2003 she kicked off an acting career and over the course of eight years, became a SAG-AFTRA union actor with numerous film, television, commercial and industrial credits. In keeping with her entrepreneurial spirit, Dianne also established Live Your Everything in 2012, a company that offers products, services and resources to support the path of life reinvention and personal transformation. Dianne resides in the Chicago area with her three children and her fiancé. She enjoys adventure sports, hiking, boating, yoga, art festivals and dance. The Real Brass Ring: Change Your Life Course Now is her first book. Visit her online at www.liveyoureverything.com.
Read an Excerpt
The Real Brass Ring
Change Your Life Course Now!
By DIANNE BISCHOFF JAMES
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2013 Dianne Bischoff James
All rights reserved.
Outed by a Psychic
Sonia stood up, leaned forward, and whispered a final note of caution to me: "Change your course now, Dianne. Fix your ways, or soon it will be too late."
* * *
I'll always remember February 6, 2000, because it was my thirty-eighth birthday and the day I gave myself an expensive gift, a reading with world-renowned psychic Sonia Choquette.
I arrived at Sonia's home office both nervous and excited, expecting to hear words of great promise and praise for my life filled with marvelous accomplishments. After all, I had what everyone wanted: a profitable marketing business, a house in the high-rent district, a longterm marriage, two small children, a cat, a dog, and a fish. I was a supercharged helicopter parent and a business professional with well-groomed skills in marketing and advertising. Surely, this intuitive woman would paint a picture of my future as rosy and bright.
I took a seat in the waiting room and stared at colorful oversized posters that lined the walls featuring Sonia's literary work: metaphysical books woven around the topic of trusting your vibes. I nervously wrung my hands and chatted with her assistant, Ryan. We spoke about her international publicity tour and certification training course. It was all quite impressive.
When the clock struck ten, the enthusiastic young man hopped up and led me into the inner sanctum, a cozy private office filled from floor to ceiling with whimsical paintings, eclectic gadgets, and a slew of New Age books. Sonia entered, tall, thin, and fresh-faced, without a trace of makeup, as if she had just woken up. She greeted me with an impish, childlike grin.
I sat down at a small circular table and watched with curiosity as she pulled out a deck of tarot cards decorated with vibrant Gothic imagery. She pushed them in my direction and instructed me to shuffle the deck so I could become more "grounded," as she put it. Then she grabbed an old, tattered astrology book and dropped her face down low, carefully studying the planetary data surrounding my date of birth.
Suddenly, she jerked up and shook her tight russet curls back and forth. The silence was broken. Sonia spoke in a robotic fashion, as if the information was being downloaded. "Dianne, you are a talented writer, healer, teacher, and performer. But regrettably, your life is heading down the wrong path." She paused and cast her brown eyes upon my face. "Your brass ring is coming by and you need to grab it before it's too late. You've modeled yourself after your parents' desires. You're completely stuck in the make-believe role of being a 'good girl' and you live with depression because nothing about your life is your own."
My fingers dug deep into the plush armrest. A surging pulse throbbed through my veins. She continued aggressively, "You are standing directly in your own way and not following your purpose. You are like an unlit Christmas tree; none of your bulbs are firing. You're here on this planet to help people become more aware of their own abilities and find their given course."
She marched on with a tidal wave of personal critiques: "You're overly burdened by the role of being a parent, and yet you smother your children. Instead of finding support, you've mastered the art of not needing anything from anyone. You really don't have any true friends, people whom you can consider peers. But the most disconcerting part is, you came here to find your heart, this being one of the most difficult of all Earthly lessons. Unfortunately, your marriage is fraternal and this, my dear, is not a true heart connection." I sank even lower into the chair and felt a constriction in my chest as if I were being suffocated.
Her psychic barrage continued. She commanded, "Go back to the stage. You will make a nice name for yourself in acting and theater. Write a little bit every day, because the world will benefit from your stories. Build a strong foundation for a successful public life. Go to the Hoffman Institute to release the stubborn childhood patterns that have led you astray. I'll give you a list of books at the end of our session. Read them and expand your understanding of the world. Also, schedule a session with my husband. He's a massage therapist and can help you manage the body issues you're currently developing."
Sonia stood up, leaned forward, and whispered a final note of caution to me. "Change your course now, Dianne. Fix your ways, or soon it will be too late."
As she turned to run out the doorway, I squeaked out a single burning question, "What happens if I don't find my heart?"
Sonia spun around and quipped, "Then you have to come back and do it all over again!" In a flash, she was gone.
I put on my coat and gloves and walked unsteadily onto the snowy sidewalk in a state of post-traumatic shock. I yanked open the icy car door and sat down inside, fumbling, trying to shove the keys into the ignition of my now frozen vehicle. I shuddered uncontrollably, spouting tears that soaked my red leather gloves. I sat there, alone, crying and shivering on my blustery birthday for what seemed like hours, shaken to the core. Sonia had peered into the desolate, shadowy corners of my soul. She had seen my unspoken terrors and detailed every aspect of my faulty life.
This soft-spoken woman had put me through a penetrating "Life Review." She inventoried my secrets and exposed all the lies. Then, she neatly piled them up like freshly folded laundry and swung her bat. On the outside, my resume looked perfect, with a busy household, entrepreneurial career, and long-term marriage, but at the subterranean level, it was a grand personal charade. My entire adult existence was a sham.
After such a personal attack, I couldn't help but self-righteously blame the messenger. "I hate her! Who does she think she is? How could she say those things to me?" I screamed loudly, hitting my fists on the steering wheel as my heavy breath steamed up the windows. My brain was racing: I'm thirty-eight years old. How can I be going down the wrong road? Did I really miss the brass ring? Why didn't I see it coming? Oh God, I'm a total failure!
I swallowed hard, thrusting my heaving emotions back down inside where they belonged. I used a finger to wipe underneath my swollen eyes in an attempt to repair the smudged makeup. I had a client meeting in the city in less than an hour. I sniffed back the weepiness and reassured myself, "I'll tell my clients I have allergies." Forcing analytical thoughts back into my brain, I drove onto the snow-covered street. After all, I was a dedicated business professional.
When I wasn't building my business, I cared for the kids, serving the family from sunup to sundown. I was fat and depressed, and my husband acted a lot more like a girlfriend than a soul mate. This was my reality.
* * *
I'd followed my parents' instructions for structuring a winning life. As a child I listened intently to their career selection guidelines: "Be a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or accountant so that you can have some fundamental skills on which you can rely!" Well, I guess my two siblings had also been listening to these sage directions, because guess what? My older brother had become a state's attorney, my younger brother had become an emergency room physician, and as the family rebel, I had become a business marketing professional.
Congratulations! We all hated our careers. My elder brother jumped ship and quit law after ten years to join an international auction house for antiques and collectibles. My younger brother maintained a grueling medical career, but after working the ER graveyard shift for so many years, he could barely function during daylight hours. And I was bored to death, talking all day to engineers about jumper cables, gadgets, and deep-water drilling equipment.
When I wasn't building my business, I cared for the kids, serving the family from sunup to sundown. I was fat and depressed, and my husband acted a lot more like a girlfriend than a soul mate. This was my reality.
The worst part was, I felt nothing on the inside but immeasurable sorrow. I'd followed my parents' formula of a high-end career, suburban life, private schools, and weekends spent toting kids to volleyball and ballet. But this part is true: Busy doesn't buy you happiness; it just buys you exhaustion. It took a skinny psychic with pixie-like curls to catch me redhanded in a gigantic, handcrafted farce.
Most days, I woke up in a fog of lethargy and fatigue. I dragged myself out of bed, trudging up an endless mountain of "to dos." Day in and day out, I had invisible dogs nipping at my heels barking, Do more! Move faster! Work harder! Make more money! Spend more time with the kids! And stop eating so much! All the while, my gut churned with wrenching, repressed anguish.
As Sonia had revealed, over the past two decades I had done my best to manage an ominous gray cloud of depression that perpetually hovered over my head. Throughout my twenties, I felt tired, weary, even despondent, but I drank coffee and ate candy to counteract the problem. I used sugar and caffeine to accelerate my sticky, slow blood cells so I wouldn't feel down-in-the-dumps. I worked to harness the heavy fog of indolence and hopelessness. I kept my body in motion so I wouldn't touch base with what was really going on.
As I got older, my depression grew in depth and breadth. By the time I was married and delivered my first child, the "blues barometer" hit an all-time low. I couldn't control the raw, pervasive sensation of misery. I cried spontaneously, even at work. Acknowledging something was seriously wrong with me, I sought medical attention. Rather than review my health history or even give me a physical exam, the doctor handed me a yearlong prescription for Prozac.
Finally, I had a drug that would raise my waning serotonin. Surely this mood-altering chemical would make me feel cheery and give me back a smile. While taking the popular antidepressant, I functioned with Stepfordlike efficiency, completing work and child-care duties in a fast, orderly fashion. Prozac was like emotional Botox. I had no feelings whatsoever, but after dealing with depression for so long it was a miraculous relief.
I'd been on Prozac for nearly ten months when we experienced a death in the family. My mother and I attended my cousin's wake, the saddest event I'd ever witnessed. I sat in the pew like a glass toad, eyes wide open, looking objectively to the right and left at a church filled with sobbing mourners. When it was time to pay my respects, I walked over to my cousin and stared at her pale, waxen face in the open casket. I felt absolutely nothing: no grief, no sorrow, not even a twinge of compassion. While driving home from the funeral that evening I acknowledged the truth: I'd become a Lidocaine shell of a human being, numbed to the point of emptiness. By medicating myself, I'd traded depression for an emotional void. The very next day, I stopped popping the magic "happy pill," cold turkey. I knew I had to experience my authentic self once again, even if I felt bad.
A week after my appointment with Sonia, the shock from the verbal slaying had subsided, but the gravity of her words lay heavy on my heart: "Change your course now!" The warning festered and grew in the pit of my stomach. Sonia was right. Every area of my life was wrong: mind, body, work, parenting, marriage, and friends. I needed a complete life overhaul. I was sitting between two worlds: the stale, boring, tedious world modeled for me in childhood and the creative, vibrant, exhilarating world of my dreams.
The notion of transformational change, however, was chock-full of profound implications. How do I lose weight, break into the acting business, fix my marriage, find real friends, and start a career as a teacher and healer? I had to face the facts: I was a drained, weary marketer who wrote technical brochures about product testing, insurance, and medical devices. What the bleep do I do now?
Overwhelmed by the magnitude of my impending personal renovation, I decided to do the only easy thing on the list. I picked up the phone and called Sonia's husband, Patrick, for a massage therapy appointment.
Patrick was a tall, slender man with penetrating azure eyes; everything about him was soothing, from his soft baritone voice to his strong, kneading touch. A session with him was the ideal remedy for my pervasive stress. With my head propped in the massage cradle, Patrick dug underneath my shoulder blades and I uncontrollably spewed forth the details of my psychic stabbing. After all, he was married to this chick, so he must have been accustomed to post-session rants.
Patrick listened intently until my tale came to an end. Then, he posed a profound question: "Tell me, Dianne, what did you come here to do this lifetime?"
I searched for an analytical response. I paused, sputtering and spurting as my sinuses filled with gravity congestion. I had no answer. I spoke softly toward the floor, "I'm not sure."
I felt so ashamed. I should've had a well-developed postulate to deliver. Patrick wanted to hear my personal mission: a description of what I came here to do. After all, isn't that the most important of all universal questions? I wanted to spin a clever narrative to make him believe I was a sharp, intelligent woman on a deliberate and clear expedition. But instead, I impetuously spit out an early memory. It was a vision from when I was ten years old and somehow it seemed relevant.
"I remember when I was little, sitting in my room on a fluffy pink beanbag chair, too lazy to move, when an image appeared to me. I saw a woman, a public speaker walking energetically up a set of silver stairs that led to an enthusiastic audience. She opened her arms and greeted a welcoming crowd. The lights hit her shoulder-length hair as she sauntered toward center stage and took a grand bow. I squinted hard, trying to focus on her face. Slowly it came into view and I screamed. The woman was a much older version of me, as old as my mother. I still think about that daydream because it seemed so real. Perhaps my mission is somehow tied to it."
Patrick continued to probe. "What was the vision supposed to show you?"
I responded with the first notion that popped into my mushy, massaged head. "I think I'm here to help others get what they want out of life. Wait a minute. Maybe I do have a mission after all!"
As soon as the massage appointment was finished, I quickly dressed, tamed my Medusa-like hair, and trotted to the car. I sat outside Sonia's home on yet another freezing morning, but this time my eyes were dry. I grabbed a piece of paper from the glove compartment and wrote down the significant nuggets from our weighty discussion. Whether I liked it or not, this dynamic couple had set me sailing on a journey that would alter my life forever. With one hand on the wheel and the other holding tightly on to the notepaper, I drove off to pitch my marketing services to a new client.
That night, I sat at my computer and crafted a mission by which I could strategically live. I edited the verbiage until a cohesive statement beamed forth:
Dianne's Personal Mission: I came here to help others find and achieve their greatest good by finding and achieving my own.
I read it over and over. The words sounded lofty and inspiring, but what does an analytically minded business professional do with such esoteric mumbo jumbo? Who was I kidding? I didn't help people find their greatest good. I was just a working mom with a plate full of kids, clients, and millions of chores.
At the midpoint of my life, I had a clear understanding of what was wrong, but no idea how to fix it. How do I start on a journey of course correction? It would've been helpful to have had a guidebook or organizational plan, but much to my chagrin, I had nothing. So I did the next best thing ... I ordered Sonia's recommended reading materials.
I discovered my first New Age book at the tender age of twelve, devouring Shirley MacLaine's Dancing in the Light.
Along the path of my spiritual search, I felt a longing more and more to understand why I had lived before and what I could learn in the present incarnation in relation to those past lives. For me, it was as Einstein said: "Knowledge is really nothing but experience." I wanted the experience. Since each of us is what we are consciously aware of, I wanted to become aware of more. I was intensely curious as to what raising my consciousness might reveal to my higher unlimited self.
—Shirley MacLaine, Dancing in the Light
I became obsessed with MacLaine's enlightened manuscript, innately curious about what my higher unlimited self could learn in this present incarnation. Despite the fact that I was born into a family with an active Catholic lineage, attended parochial schools, received all the sacraments, and had an uncle who served as archbishop of Kansas City, Catholicism was not for me. As a youngster, I became hooked on metaphysics and intent on understanding what we're supposed to achieve while here on Earth.
Excerpted from The Real Brass Ring by DIANNE BISCHOFF JAMES. Copyright © 2013 Dianne Bischoff James. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
SECTION I Midway on Life's Journey and on the Wrong Path
Chapter 1: Outed by a Psychic
Chapter 2: Stinking Thinking
Chapter 3: Course Correction
SECTION II Body and Soul Reboot
Chapter 4: "All the World's a Stage ..."
Chapter 5: Battle of the Bulge
SECTION III Manifestation Made Easy
Chapter 6: The American Dream
Chapter 7: Telepathic Paging
Chapter 8: Old Haunts
Chapter 9: Bridging the Power
SECTION IV Modern Family, Secret Separation
Chapter 10: Chasm of the Heart
Chapter 11: Cougar Living
Chapter 12: Recession: The Great Equalizer
SECTION V Passionate Pursuits
Chapter 13: Life Lessons from the Departed (and Returned)
Chapter 14: Adventures in Online Dating
Chapter 15: Passion and Addiction
Chapter 16: Finding My Guru
Chapter 17: Mr. Goodbar
SECTION VI Authenticity
Chapter 18: Truth Will Set You Free
Chapter 19: The Reveal
Chapter 20: Deconstruction Central
Chapter 21: What You Resist Persists
Chapter 22: You Can Run, but You Can't Hide
Epilogue: The Bounty
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Ms. Bischoff is generous with her wisdom. In sharing her story she inspires the reader to explore their own story.
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found the book very inspirational. Although my journey is different than the author's, the book encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and find ways for a more fulfilling life. A great read for book clubs.