How to Boldly Reinvent Yourself in Your 5Os: Meet Awe-Inspiring Reinvention Rebel Jill Carlyle

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Reinventing yourself at any age can be a challenge. Set out to reinvent yourself later in life, in your 50s and beyond, and you may face a host of critics and naysayers trying to talk you out of it.

It could be that they have good intentions and perhaps want you to avoid mistakes they made. That’s understandable but it can still come across in a negative way.

Or maybe they don’t feel so great about their own life and project their beliefs onto you, like the notion that you’re silly, stupid or naive to want to reinvent yourself at midlife or beyond.

Either way, it’s possible to steer clear of these people and create a unique mindset to reinvent yourself that works for you.

Reinventing yourself is all about what YOU want and desire, not what other people want for you.

It can take a while to find our bold, clear voice about prioritizing our needs and creating a path to make our reinvention dreams happen but it’s SO possible!

Jill beautifully models what’s possible at midlife – that you can reinvent yourself in new and interesting ways – no matter what anyone else says.

Over 40? Doesn’t matter? Beyond 50? So what! In your 60s? So many possibilities. Leaning into your 70s? Good for you, go for it!

We can do, be and achieve anything. We just need to get started and keep at it with a never-give-up attitude.

Jill will tell you that the path to greater self-permission and self-empowerment wasn’t easy. She’s overcome huge obstacles and worked through multiple issues to get to where she is today.

Her story is about victory, overcoming the odds, and being true to oneself in the midst of her reinvention dreams.

It was an honor and privilege to interview Jill during Season 3 of the Reinvention Rebels podcast.


It’s getting to the starting line and not overwhelming yourself. There’s a lot of truth in that because we can have all these grand plans, we can overwhelm ourselves to a point where then we hit the wall of fear. If we take baby steps and we start at the first step, we move forward a few steps and then we go, “Okay, what’s the next one” and we get to the next one.

Jill: I learned so much about myself, I learned how to forgive myself, I learned how to forgive others, and I learned how to show myself grace, and thinking of the many iterations of the book and the hours I spent in front of the computer or with my journal writing, it just such was cathartic, but I just got to learn who I was and it was really a beautiful process all the way around, even though it was the most difficult thing I've ever done ever in my life.

[Reinvention Rebels theme]

Wendy: Welcome to Reinvention Rebels, stories of brave and unapologetic women, 50 to 90 years young, who have boldly reimagined life, on their own terms, to find new purpose and possibilities. I'm your host, Wendy Battles, ready for a dose of inspiration? Let's get to it.

Hey, everybody, welcome to another episode of the Reinvention Rebels Podcast. I'm your host, Wendy and I am so excited you are here with me today for what is going to be a fabulous, inspiring, empowering time together with my very special guest, Jill Carlyle. I'm going to introduce her in just a couple of minutes. But I do want to start by asking you, what are the ways that you are leaning into more joy? What are you doing that lights you up? When was the last time you did something that was so fun that you just couldn't get enough of it, that you laughed so hard you're almost crying, when you had one of those moments of pure sheer joy, delight just being in the moment? I ask you that because I think that when we are interested in reinventing ourselves, when we want to do something new or different when we're open to new possibilities, one of the things we can clue into is what brings us joy. What makes us happy, what makes us smile a mile wide just by doing that thing? That's often a little breadcrumb that can help you down that path as you begin to figure out what do I want. What do I want my life to look like? What would it feel if I was truly happy? What do I need right now? What am I willing to do about it?

As I mentioned before, I think the key thing is that we need to just get started in perfect action. We don't often know all the answers. Sometimes, we don't know many of the answers at all. But it's the willingness, the self-permission, the desire that can get us going and if we're thinking about that and joy, more joy, more happiness, more feeling good in our life, in our bodies with ourselves, those are things that can help us figure that out. So, let's think about how we can reinvent ourselves in ways that make us feel great. And speaking of feeling great, did you listen to the episode with Franzie Jean-Louis? She is so amazing. She is a choice spreader. She is all about lifting herself and other people up lighting the path to help other people shine. It just is a great episode. I loved it so much and I know you will, too. I just love her story. I love how she was an opera singer and reinvented herself in sometimes unexpected ways to end up where she is today. I think that's a clue also. We don't always have a clear path. Sometimes, it's a little circuitous to get to that destination where all things come together in just the right way. If you haven't had a chance to listen to that, please give it a listen. I know you're going to love it. With that, let's get started and let me introduce you to my guest today.

What happens when you do 180-degree pivot? Can it lead to something new and inspiring, something beyond your wildest dreams? It can and it did. For 52-year young reinvention rebel, Jill Carlyle. Jill has a compelling reinvention story. When she noticed something was missing, her career in music led her to get her GED at 43 despite the naysayers. From there, she enrolled in her local community college and a few months later attended her first college class. From community college, she was accepted into the University of Central Florida and in 2017, graduated magna cum laude with a BA in English literature. Then, she was accepted into grad school at the University of Miami and ultimately went on to finish her MA in English and creative nonfiction writing at Southern New Hampshire University in 2020. In 2022, she was back to grad school and is in the process of earning her MFA in creative fiction writing. Along the way, she also became an adjunct professor. Most importantly, she found her authentic voice in her writing. Writing that gets to the heart of who she is, writing so powerful that her book, Finding Fifty: A Memoir of Rising in Midlife quickly became a best seller. But that's not all. She is also lifting up the voices of others through her empowered press publishing company. She wants to bring other stories into the light as well.

Jill is a powerhouse with a bold voice and a passion for helping people uncover their true selves. Jill Carlyle, welcome to the Reinvention Rebels guest chair.

Jill: Thank you. Thank you so much, Wendy. I am so excited and just so honored to be here. Thank you for having me.

Wendy: It is my pleasure and I am so excited about our conversation. I do you want to tell the audience how we met? [laughs]

Jill: Good.

Wendy: Which was on Instagram. And I'm honestly not sure how I discovered you. I feel it might have been through Arlene Walker?

Jill: I don't know. You know what's funny is that something I shared something of yours last year on this day, last year on my Instagram, and then it posted on my Facebook, and it popped up in my memories today. I thought, “How funny is that?” We've been connected for a while. I actually think I found you before you found me. I found your podcast, and I loved your podcast. I found you on Instagram, started listening to your podcast, and just started following you. I think then you must have followed me back and then we just started to build a friendship.

Wendy: Yeah. I love it. I know that people complain about social media and they think about all the negative things. But I do think there are amazing good things about it. The ability to connect to likeminded souls, to find your tribe, to live in totally different states or countries and have a deep connection with someone, especially in this world where so many of us are so isolated.

Jill: Yeah.

Wendy: It just makes my heart so full and happy.

Jill: Yes.

Wendy: So, I'm really thrilled that we're here together today. I have so many questions to ask you about your extraordinary journey, how you've come into the person that you are. I thought I might start by talking a little bit about what to me is so amazing that you got your GED at 43 when it would have been easy to just keep going as you were. So, I want to start by asking you, what motivated you to reinvent yourself and get your degree at that age?

Jill: Well, my children were graduating from high school. I raised them as a single mother. I was a working musician and just never had the time to devote to my education. And so, I always knew that eventually one day I would get my GED and I had always hoped to go to college after that. It’s always been in the back of my mind really to answer that question, it was the idea that I could be more, that I could do more. The knowing that I could make a difference not just in my life, but in my children's lives and also in the lives of other women, women who had been through, or have been through, or were going through, or are going through similar trauma that grew up centered and surrounded in shame from a very dysfunctional upbringing, which is what I went through and ultimately dealt with a lot of trauma from my childhood. But my faith and the idea of hope that I never lost is what ultimately motivated me to keep moving forward in my life. I really felt like the second half of my life would be the time that I would shine.

Wendy: I think that's so interesting. You mentioned faith and hope, but I also heard you say at the beginning that you had this knowing.

Jill: Mm-hmm.

Wendy: I feel so often we feel uncertain or unsure, but sometimes we get to that space where you just have this feeling that's so strong that I know that this path is right for me or I know what I'm meant to be doing. How did that unfold for you that you got to this place of knowing this is what was next for you?

Jill: Well, I think what got me to that place was backing up about a year before the time that I really decided to go get my GED. My life to me was spinning out of control. I was 42, I hadn't yet met my now husband and I’d just been through relationship after relationship, failed relationships, failed familial relationships and I just felt lost. What I do is, I prayed and I just prayed and I gave it to my God. I just said, “Whatever it is that I'm supposed to do with my life, I'm trusting that You will lead me there.” At that moment, and I write about that in my book, that was a pivotal moment in my life that I will never forget” and that was the turning point. That was when I gave it up, I gave it all up and I just said, “I know that I can be more.” I just trusted that I could. Things shifted immediately. It was the strangest thing. But it was like when I gave it up and I finally said, “I know I can be more. I could do more. It might take me a while to get it done, but there's time and there's hope in that time.” And that hope and that time gave me the knowing to move forward, and the confidence, and the empowerment.

Wendy: I love that. The hope, the time, you've just had that sense that you could do it. I really love what you said about trust, trusting yourself. Because I think that sometimes women generally, but midlife women especially, because we've often have gone through a lot of transitions with our kids leaving or perhaps getting divorced, a spouse dies, it could be really anything. A job ending. Any of those things that I think take us off our access or the direction in which we're heading in some of the unexpected ways. I think to shatter sometimes our trust or trust in ourselves.

Jill: They do. I also think too that the social construct, especially from our generation, where we're coming out of that generation of that all American dream or where women are home, they take care of the kids, and then when the kids leave, it's like after 50, you're supposed to be buying your cemetery plots and life gets right, and you cut your hair short and let it go gray or whatever. That's the rule and that's a metaphor for that social construct of what society was telling maybe our mothers what they could be, what they are. I think that our generation is starting to come out of that and lead the trajectory for the next generation to say, “No, that's not what 50 is.” I knew when I looked back at my family, I said, “I don't want to be that because I know so much more, I can make my own choices, I can make my own decisions. I got my kids through school, and now, it's my time. And I'm here.” And world, “Hello, world, I'm here.”

Wendy: Yeah, you're here and you're doing such amazing things.

Jill: Thank you.

Wendy: I love that you leaned in, you listened, you built that self-trust, and you had that certainty which I think is so key to anything we do. It doesn't matter what it is whether it's big or small, right?

Jill: Right.

Wendy: It could be just getting back into exercise and believing that you can do it.

Jill: Yes.

Wendy: Or, it could be moving halfway around the world and believing you can do it. I don't think it matters what the thing is.

Jill: Right. It’s just the thing.

Wendy: It's the thing, right?

Jill: It’s the knowing. It's the knowing of the thing-

Wendy: It’s the knowing.

Jill: -at the end of the day really and the confidence. And sometimes we lose ourselves and we lose our confidence. For me, it was a little different because I was a single mom and I knew that once my kids were out of high school that part of my life was over. Not over, but I was moving into the second half of my life.

Wendy: Yeah.

Jill: I knew that at that time, then I was going to be able to devote that time to reinventing myself and resetting myself. And so, I couldn't wait. I was scared to death. I was scared to death because there was a part of me that knew I wanted to do it, but I almost didn't believe that I could do it. I had to prove to myself that I could. And so much of my life was centered in shame, the shame of not graduating from high school. That was the biggest shame that I lived with. Nobody really knew that I hadn't graduated from high school. My mom and dad had always said, “Don't embarrass yourself. Don't tell anyone. Don't ever tell anyone you didn't graduate from high school. No one will accept you. Everyone will call you a loser.” And so, when you've grown up around that that's what you believe about yourself. I went and I got my GED, I told no one I was doing it, I studied, and studied, and studied, and I passed it.

When I got the letter that said I passed it and I had to go back and take the math over again, I'm not very good at math. I'm a writer. But I went and took that over again and when I finally got it, it said, “You have earned your high school diploma.” I said to myself, “I got to the starting line. The possibilities are endless. What can I do with this?” Two weeks later, I went and I applied at the community college. I got in and I started seeing that I was not just an average student, I was excelling. That really created momentum. It just helped me find the courage to keep going and keep reaching, I thought I'd get my two-year degree and that would be it. But I got the two-year degree and then I was like, “Now, I'm going to go get the four-year degree. Now, I'm going to go get the Master's degree. Wait a minute, now, I'm going to go get another Master's degree.” And so, inside of 10 years, I've earned almost five degrees.

Wendy: So fabulous and it's very inspiring. What I like best about the story you just told me, one is that you're able to overcome this situation of shame. I think that we all have things in our lives when we get to a certain age, our 50s or beyond where sometimes that we still have those stories in our head about those things. But you, one, demonstrate they don't have to define us and we can change.

Jill: That's right.

Wendy: But what I also like is how you took that small step, which really is a big step to get your GED. That's a big step. But now, you took that accomplishment and then you build on it. You didn't just start and say, “I'm going to get five degrees. I'm going to overwhelm myself.” You just said, “Okay, I'm going to start here and then you got there,” and you said, “Now, I'm going to move on to the next thing.” I think that's very instructive for us to hear about the how that the how can be, “I'm going to start here and I'm just going to get started.”

Jill: Yes. That is key. It's getting to the starting line and not overwhelming yourself. There's a lot of truth in that because we can have all these grand plans, we can overwhelm ourselves to a point where then we hit the wall of fear. If we take baby steps and we start at the first step, we move forward a few steps and then we go, “Okay, what's the next one” and we get to the next one. I just never wanted to plateau. It was crazy because really, I truly thought, “I'm only going to get this two-year degree.” And now, 10 years later, I'm actually on my third master's degree. But it wasn't what I started out doing. I had to build trust within myself. And that's how I built the trust by taking small actionable steps that were doable, so that I didn't set myself up for failure. I set myself up for success. If I could give anybody just a little piece of advice, it would be take those actionable small steps and set yourself up for success. And then, instead of plateauing unless you get to the point where you're super satisfied. And then that plateau is fine, because you've reached the pinnacle. But if not just know that, then you take the next actionable step, whatever that is.

Wendy: That is so right on. That is such great wisdom because I think that we can overwhelm ourselves with this idea like, “I want to reinvent myself, I want to somehow create something new.” Sometimes, it gets bigger than we are. As you said, it could overwhelm us.

Jill: Right.

Wendy: I love baby steps. Just chunk it out, one step at a time, build on that. Because the only thing that's really stopping us is us. The only thing that's really pressuring us is us, right?

Jill: It’s right.

Wendy: I think we so easily get in our own way, no matter-- I do this all the time. I'm getting better. But I can sometimes, no one else is saying, “Well, Wendy, really?”

Jill: Oh, yeah, right.

Wendy: No one is saying that except me sometimes.

Jill: Right. We're the ones that do that to ourselves. I mean I've had to learn because I get overzealous. I get really excited.

Wendy: Me too.

Jill: I'm going to do this and I'm going to do that.

Wendy: Oh, yeah.

Jill: And I'm like, “Jill, step back.” I think sometimes, I even get that way with social media. Because social media can be that way, too. We can get oversaturated, and see this, and look what this person's doing and look what that person's doing. I think for me that's been a really good example of still taking a step back, taking a deep breath, and just doing me, doing me.

Wendy: That really is the essence of it is doing what is natural for us where we shine. Because we can all look at it. It’s just not who we are, whether we're midlife woman or not. We can all look around on social media, in our workplaces, in our families, and get very stuck on. I know for any of us in any day that could be us, of course, right?

Jill: Mm-hmm.

Wendy: Get really stuck on, “I'm not enough, or I'm not this, or I see this person who's doing amazing things and I wish I was doing that, too, or how come I'm not enough instead of leaning into, there is something that we all shine at.”

Jill: All of us, every single person. I think that that's one of the things with my message and my story that I want to encourage other women to do is that let's figure out where you shine because we all have that shiny surface. It just takes some varnish sometimes.

Wendy: Yeah, it does.

Jill: Yeah.

Wendy: And you polish somethings, sometimes you have to polish really hard, right?

Jill: Absolutely.

Wendy: You’ve really work at it. It's not always like, “I'm just going to quickly go over it.”

Jill: Exactly.

Wendy: It's revealed, but I think so much of what we're talking about is doing often this deep personal development work. The willingness to be open to ourselves to really lean into our emotions and tune into what's going on where I know that I can get busy and just run around and do less of that. But I have to really be intentional. I love this path that you've taken. I love how you've done that. That's such a great example of it. I am curious thinking about your whole reinvention journey and all the different things that you've gone through over the last 10 years. What has been most surprising for you about what you've done and accomplished?

Jill: I think somebody asked me the same question one time. They asked me, “What's been most surprising? That’s kind of what you're asking. “What's been most surprising about this whole process?” For me, what's been most surprising, especially writing my book. I started writing my book broken. I didn't think I was broken. I thought, “I was pretty okay.” I started writing my book broken and I finished whole. Throughout the process of writing Finding Fifty I feel I went from a one-dimensional person to three dimensions. I reintroduced me to myself and I realized that I could do anything that I put my mind to. Because as I've traveled through my educational journey, know it's been one thing then the next, then the next, then the next, which has been great. But I never really was able to stop and reflect on it and say, “Wow, look what I just accomplished.” When I finished my book, and I published my book, and it was up on Amazon, I sat back and I just said, “I could do anything I put my mind to, anything. Look at what I've accomplished.” That's really what I think has shocked and surprised me the most is that I've done the things that I've put my mind to.

Wendy: Yeah. It's powerful. Our mind is really powerful, too.

Jill: It is.

Wendy: It really has such influence over what we think we can do, what we can achieve. As exemplified by, “Wow, I did this,” because one of the things I like that you said is that you paused. I think that so often we're going, going, going, doing, doing, doing, we're not spending so much time being, or reflecting, or getting quiet and appreciating ourselves. You did a lot. This is a big deal how you have, truly, as you said, transformed your life in such powerful ways and to actually soak that in, just soak it up too, pause and reflect and enjoy the moment and not just be moving on to the next thing.

Jill: Mm-hmm.

Wendy: Because you're clearly a very capable person, but I appreciate how mindful you are about this and like leaning into this. Because I think that's part of the joy of life. It's not just doing all this stuff.

Jill: It is. I've learned how to enjoy and appreciate life a lot more through this process. Getting the degrees have been wonderful, but writing the book, writing my story, telling my story was the pinnacle. It took me four years to write the book because it was very tough. It was a very, very difficult book to write because memoir is always tough, especially when you're writing about trauma, you have to go back and sit in those spaces and it's uncomfortable. You have to write about dialogue and you have to think about other people when you're writing. Because your story isn't just you, other people help make up that story. I just learned so much. I learned so much about myself, I learned how to forgive myself, I learned how to forgive others, and I learned how to show myself grace, and thinking of the many iterations of the book.

The hours I spent in front of the computer or with my journal writing, it was cathartic, but I just got to learn who I was and it was really a beautiful process all the way around, even though it was the most difficult thing I've ever done ever in my life. It wasn't just writing it I should say. It was the act of writing it. The sitting in those spaces, the revisiting, the coming face to face with my past, a past that a lot of times I'm not proud of. But knowing that I can take-- I always say, “You know what? The failures of my past have become the foundation for my future.”


Wendy: I know. Social media, it gets such a bad rap. You might be thinking, “I am so done with it or I don't want to spend a lot of time on it.” But what if that was a place you could find community? What if you could find likeminded people interested in reinvention, in connection, in empowering each other and hoping to shine of light as we all figure out this reinvention thing? I want to invite you to join me on social media, where I share all kinds of inspiration. Come follow me on Instagram, @reinventionrebels, on Twitter, @rebelsreinvent and on Facebook, Reinvention Rebels. Let's get inspired together.

That’s such a great approach to thinking about our lives instead of here's everything that's wrong with my life, here's an opportunity for me to enrich my life, to grow from these experiences, to see them as a catalyst.

Jill: Yes.

Wendy: To step into who I want to be. I'm so excited read the book. I haven't had a chance to read it yet. I've heard you talk about it, I've read some of your excerpts when you were sharing them on social media, and I've heard you talk about it on another podcast and it's so powerful, Jill.

Jill: Thank you.

Wendy: Being so open and vulnerable, I think it gives other people permission to do that.

Jill: Absolutely.

Wendy: It helps us see. And that's really powerful. So, I'm so excited.

Jill: Absolutely yes. Yeah, Arlene Walker, I love Arlene. She's so fabulous.

Wendy: Too.

Jill: And she gave me probably one of the biggest compliments I've ever been given and I think I cried when I read it. She was talking about her two favorite books of the year of 2022 so far, and she said, “Will Smith and Jill Carlyle.” I was just like, “Arlene, I can’t believe you said that.”

Wendy: My God.

Jill: I was so blown away, so blown away. I just couldn't believe because she's such an amazing woman. [laughs]

Wendy: Yeah, she is. She really is -- For those who don't know, Arlene, Arlene Walker is a really amazing woman. She lives in California. I interviewed her in Season 2 of the Reinvention Rebels Podcasts. I'll even put that in the show notes. You can find it. It was such a great interview, but she wrote her first book at 62.

Jill: Yes.

Wendy: Became a published author for the first time and really speaks to how, again, just like you, anything is possible. When we decide, when we declare that I can do this, when we believe and trust, there's nothing we can't do.

Jill: Nothing. That's right. Nothing. Again, going back to the tribe, the tribe that we've been building on social media has been so great.

Wendy: Yeah, it’s just amazing. It just makes me so happy to think about like, “Oh, my gosh, I have all these friends,” the people that I truly would call my friends. If I lived near you, I’d be like, “Girl, let's get together.”

Jill: Exactly.

Wendy: Right?

Jill: Exactly.

Wendy: Oh, man, not just a friend on social media, but I would be like, “Yes, Jill.”

Jill: I know. We would be hanging out. I told my husband, I said, “I need to have an IG retreat with some of these girlfriends of mine.” [laughs]

Wendy: I'm telling you--

Wendy: Wouldn’t that be a great idea?

Wendy: It is a great idea and I am all in and I think it would be just fabulous.

Jill: It would be.

Wendy: There're just so many possibilities there.

Jill: Mm-hmm.

Wendy: As you think about the lessons and everything that you've done, and these powerful lessons that have come up, and so much of it to me is, the trust, the getting quiet, the listening. As you reflect on your journey, not only what's been most surprising, but what would you say has brought you the most joy?

Jill: I would say finding inner peace. I know I probably said that earlier. But I don't think I can say it enough because of the tumultuous life that I had. When I was younger and even in my early adulthood, finding my inner peace through this reinventing journey has really brought me the most joy, number one. Number two, the other thing that's brought me joy and it's probably equal to number one are the people who are reading my book and my story, and their lives are now changing, and they're encouraged. They're making moves to reinvent themselves. I've had several women, surprisingly, men as well reach out to me and say, “I did this, this and this after I read your book.”

I have a friend. He's turning 50 and he went through a really rough time in his life and had to totally reset. He just got his personal training certification, and he's starting a new career, and he sent me a DM, and he said, “Your book was the reason I went and did that. Because I knew if you did it, I could do it, too.” And so, I think it's those stories that blow me away. I'm in tears every time I read something like that. It blows me away.

Wendy: It’s so powerful.

Jill: It is powerful. People are powerful, humanity is powerful.

Wendy: Yeah.

Jill: When we lean into each other, and we share our stories, and we inspire, one story will inspire another story will inspire another story because it's really about paying it forward, or moving it forward, or however inspiring it forward. However, you want to say it.

Wendy: Inspiring it forward, I love that. You joy spreader you.

Jill: [laughs]

Wendy: It's amazing because I think that sometimes we sell ourselves short, especially women and feel maybe we can't make a difference. Yet any of us can make a difference in a multitude of ways and it can be the littlest things. Because we never know when we share our story or we share the story of someone else's. I'm sharing the stories of all of you amazing Reinvention Rebels. We never know how that will touch someone. To your point, about how we sometimes play it small like, “Oh, it's no big deal. Whatever.” But it is a big deal. It is a big deal when we have a transformation and then we tell the world about a transformation. We lean in authentically to share that story in a way that people connect to it. Because that's what happened, right?

Jill: Right.

Wendy: People have that response to your story because it's compelling, and you're real, and you're a truth teller about your own life. I think that it inspires other people to say, “Oh, if Jill can do, that my story is different, but I can take that same concept of being true to myself, getting real with myself and I can change in a way that will give me more inner peace.”

Jill: Exactly. There is power in numbers. When we stand in solidarity with one another that's when work gets done. Not only work internally, but externally as well. That's when work gets done. That's when change is made. When we, like you said, lean into each other and we stand together.

Wendy: Really, such a powerful thing. I think because we live in a divided world now even within our families sometimes-

Jill: Oh, yes.

Wendy: -in so many different ways that I think people are seeking. I think there're a lot of people that are seeking this deeper connection.

Jill: Absolutely. That's what I have found. Really people are searching it out. They're craving it. We're coming out of isolation. We're literally taking our masks off. We're able to see each other's faces and expressions again, and we don't feel so alone. But for the last two and a half years, even longer, we've felt pretty lonely, pretty excluded.

Wendy: Yeah. I think for many of us is trying to figure out like, “What is my life even mean now?”

Jill: Right.

Wendy: It's different.

Jill: It’s very different.

Wendy: We're back into a different world that doesn't feel the same and it does feel uncertain. I think that when we can find our tribe, when we can find community in whatever way that shows up, whether its physically, or its online, or in our families, or friend families, I think that we can create family, the sense of connection and family with people that aren't even our family.

Jill: Right. Because we can choose our friends, right? [laughs]

Wendy: Yeah, exactly, exactly. I just think that there're endless possibilities and I love that.

Jill: Absolutely.

Wendy: I love that. Well, the thing is, I think women spend a lot of time apologizing. I think it's something that we grew up doing. It becomes almost second nature. And not to say every woman is always apologizing for something. Not like that. But I think sometimes even subtle ways I might stop and notice that I've done that or notice that other people are doing that.

Jill: Oh, yeah.

Wendy: I think it's a habit we fall into often unconsciously, but we're apologizing for no good reason. Completely unnecessarily. I think that it can translate for us in midlife into-- Women sometimes apologizing for having dreams, or wanting to make their dreams a priority, or not feeling confident as you did. When you said, “I just have a knowing, I know this is right for me, you had that certainty and that trust?” What advice do you have for women who are thinking about their dreams and want to become more unapologetic in pursuing them in whatever way that manifests? What advice would you share with someone who might be a little bit in that apologetic camp, but sees something different and wants to move into this better place.

Jill: Empowered place.

Wendy and Jill: Yes.

Jill: Well, I was not always this way. I spent most of my life apologizing for everything over and over again. It was really a hard thing for me to overcome. I had to mindset. Mindset was the biggest thing for me. Because our mind, like we talked a little bit earlier, our mind controls us. Our mind is such a powerful thing. What I did was, I had to cut ties with toxicity. I had to cut ties with toxic people whether they were my family or whether they were some old friends that were bringing old habits into my life. It's not an easy thing to do, but I had to do it because I had to get to a place where I could just do the dang thing. You know what I mean?

Wendy: I do.

Jill: And so, I had to sit back. Here's what I do. I journal, I spend time by myself in the morning in my little home gym or just create a space of your own. If it's in a chair, if it's sitting at the kitchen table, if it's in your closet, wherever it is, take a journal, take some affirmations. You can google them on your computer, you can buy affirmation cards, and write down the things you're grateful for. Write down the things that you dream about and write down how you think you might go about doing it. Spending time with myself in the early morning hours, even sometimes at night before I went to bed, just literally sitting inside of myself, which honestly, “Wendy, it sounds so great.” It's a hard thing to do. I really had to make myself do it. I would love to be able to say, “This is so easy to do,” but there's a lot of work behind it and you have to be willing to put in the work. My advice would be, put in the work for yourself, step away as you can from the toxic people and noises in your life, and shift your mindset. As hard as it is to put yourself first, you've got to come to a point where you put yourself first.

Wendy: You said it so perfectly that you have to put yourself first that you have to decide I am a priority.

Jill: I am a priority. The journaling really helped me, Wendy, because it was a place where I could go and I could sit, and I could actually say, “I had a bad day today. I'm feeling really bad about this, this, and this. But here's how I'm going to fix that tomorrow.” For me, it was acknowledging my feelings, not covering them up, putting them on the page, taking them to the page, acknowledging them, and then shifting my mindset, and trying to find a way that I could make things better the next day. Again, it's not easy, but it's worth the work.

Wendy: That's such a great way you put that because it is work. It is work to work on ourselves. It's scary sometimes to work on ourselves.

Jill: Yes.

Wendy: Uncover the things that maybe we don't like about ourselves or about our life in some way as you have spent all this time doing. The realization, for example, that this person isn't good for me in my life and I need to detach from them. That's hard. That is hard stuff. This is not like, “Oh, okay, checking off a list.”

Jill: It's tough.

Wendy: Yeah.

Jill: I won't go into the whole story because we probably don't have time, but I had to make that decision with a couple people and I had to make it with my sister - a sister that I was estranged from for many years and then reunited. The reuniting with my sister was toxic. I even write about it in my book. It's like, “We are sisters by blood, by DNA but we cannot have a relationship. It's not good for her and it's not good for me.” It's hard stuff to come to that point. There's a lot of guilt that you sit with there but at the end of the day, you have to do what's right for you because if you don't do what's right for you then everything else that fingers out from that becomes toxic as well.

Wendy: Yeah, exactly, exactly.

Jill: That's just real talk. I'm not trying to sugarcoat this. It's hard, but sometimes we have to make those decisions.

Wendy: Yeah. I think that when we do, we can feel empowered.

Jill: Absolutely.

Wendy: When it comes to-- we're talking about empowerment, self-empowerment and how we can step into who we're meant to be, whatever that is and I think that those things even though, they're very hard it can help us on that path.

Jill: Yes.

Wendy: I also think that what you said about the mornings like, this is what I do, too. It's interesting because my most recent guest, Franzie, who is amazing and is a mental fitness coach I love. We all need to develop that mental part. We do a physical fitness all the time like, “Okay, I'm going to work out. What about our brain health and our mental-- How can we work on our mental fitness?” I'd love what you said. It was that same idea. Morning time is my time.

Jill: Yes.

Wendy: I get up really early like 4:45, which is incredibly early. [crosstalk] to work on the podcast, but also, I start off, the first thing I do though, I get quiet, I meditate, I really just tune into me. That is the most powerful thing I can do to start my day.

Jill: Mm-hmm.

Wendy: Just a priority, though. But that’s like-- [crosstalk]

Jill: It sets the tone.

Wendy: It sets the tone. It sets the tone. That mindset you talk about having that forward looking mindset. Obviously, some days aren't perfect, some days aren't great, some days where you're like, “Oh, well, that didn't go well as you mentioned.” But that's okay. We can have a reset.

Jill: Yes.

Wendy: It’s just life.

Jill: That's right.

Wendy: Right? I'm just so excited about this and I do want to ask you as we're starting to wrap up, was there anything else that you would like to share about the women and the men that are listening about finding our bold voice and reinventing ourselves?

Jill: Well, I don't know what more I really could say about that except for, we are all very special in our own way and is cliche as that might sound. As hard as it is to really believe that about ourself because that we're told not to believe those things about ourselves, because then it becomes a little self, whatever. But I think that women finding, I think it's really important. My focus is on women. I feel very blessed that I've had a couple men come to me and say, “Listen, it's changed my life.” But my focus really is on women and women finding their voice because I think that our voices have been so oppressed for so long.

I just want to encourage women and the men that are listening that need this, too. But women, find your strength within yourself and don't give up. Again, get to the starting line because from there the possibilities are endless. Find your tribe even if it's only one person. One person is a tribe. One person to one person makes two. And surround yourself with people that lift you up and empower you. Because I find that as much as we can go and try to write in the morning, and shift our mindset, and find things that work, when we can lean in with somebody else and find that camaraderie, and find that strength, and that intersection with that other person, I think that that is also very helpful in empowering ourselves. It just gives us some additional courage to feel good about who we are. Find your tribe, get rid of the toxicity, and just believe in yourself.

Wendy: Amen, sister. Yes, yes. Find our tribe, get rid of the toxicity, and believe in yourself. Yes. Those are such wise words. I always think that each of us has our own unique story, so that will look different for each of us. But it doesn't matter who we are, where we are in our life. We can all do those things in our own way.

Jill: Yes, they're actionable steps.

Wendy: Yeah. Exactly.

Jill: I think when we think about that in terms of taking actionable steps it becomes more realistic. It becomes attainable. When we start thinking so far ahead, that things become overwhelming. I think where we're at right now in the times that we're living in, life is so overwhelming as it is. When it comes to our health, our mental health, we've got to take small steps, actionable steps that are actually attainable because those attainable actionable steps, they empower, they empower you, they empower us.

Wendy: Yeah, they really do and it makes such a huge difference.

Jill: It does.

Wendy: I know that people who are listening are thinking, “Where can I find out about Jill's book? How can I become part of Jill’s tribe in social media? Where can I find this amazing woman?” So, where can people find you, Jill Carlyle?

Jill: Well, you can find me on my website at You can purchase my books directly on my website or you can find my books on Amazon under Finding Fifty. Just search that Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Target book shop. It's available online, everywhere, basically. Instagram is @jillcarlylewrites and Facebook, Jill Carlyle.

Wendy: I love it, I love it. This is all in the show notes. If you're driving, and you can't just pull over, and write these things down, not to worry, but you can go back to the show notes and we've got links so you can easily find Jill, and soak up more of her beauty, brilliance, wisdom, heart.

Jill: [crosstalk] Wendy.

Wendy: All those things. I can't tell you—Well, I can tell you and I am. [laughs] What a joy and pleasure it is to have this conversation to talk about your journey, to share the things that you've gone through to reinvent yourself, and now to see what you have done and accomplished is so fabulous and truly inspiring. I'm like, “It’s one of those things like if Jill can do it, I can do it, too. I can do my own version of what Jill did on my terms.”

Jill: [chuckles]

Wendy: I think that that's what this is about. So, I am just so deeply grateful to you for sharing all of this with us and helping us get inspired.

Jill: Well, thank you. It really means a lot. I've been listening to your podcast for a while. And so, when you asked me to be a guest, I jumped. I didn't have to think twice. It's just been a great honor to talk to you and to be here. So, thank you, Wendy. Thank you so, so much. I really appreciate it.

Wendy: Well, my pleasure. And I know Jill that one day, we're going to meet in person. [laughs]

Jill: Go girl, yes ma'am. You know it.

Wendy: I cannot wait for the day when I can give-

Jill: I know.

Wendy: -Jill Carlyle, a big hug, and hang out, and talk about life.

Jill: Exactly, exactly.

Wendy: I look forward to that. So, thank you. Thank you, wonderful friend.

Jill: Thank you.


Wendy: Wow, I love Jill. She is amazing. I am grateful and honored that I get to be in conversation with the most extraordinary women, 50 and above that are doing awesome things to reinvent themselves. As they reinvent themselves, they are leading us. They are inspiring us. They are showing what's possible. Your story may not be Jill's story. You have your own story. But you can see that if Jill can reinvent herself in many ways she has done, you can have your own version of your reinvention, whatever your story is or whatever you want to create. If you are loving this podcast, pop over to Sign up for my news and notes. I have regular inspiration I share. I'd love to have you join our community and let's get inspired together. Until next time, keep shining your amazing light in the world. The world needs you and all that you have to offer.

[Transcript provided by SpeechDocs Podcast Transcription]

Here are a few questions about reinventing yourself that I’d like you to consider:

  • What if you could reinvent yourself and change the trajectory of your life?
  • What if you listened to your inner wisdom as a guide to pursue your biggest midlife dreams as you reinvent yourself?
  • What if you kicked naysayers to the curb, ignoring their self-limiting beliefs about what you can achieve?
  • What if you believed in yourself like never before and used your obstacles as motivation?

That’s just what 52-year young Reinvention Rebel Jill Carlyle has done! She’s reinvented herself on her terms.

This fierce Rebel has gone for it when others told her not to. She’s reinvented herself in bold, brave and empowering ways in her 40s and 50s despite the naysayers telling her it wasn’t possible.

She’s grown into her authentic self, finding her voice and sharing her story with the world.

She not only got her GED at 43 but has gone on to earn multiple degrees and become an adjunct professor.

And now she’s added bestselling author to her list too, having published her memoir, Finding Fifty.

Jill beautifully models what’s possible at midlife – that you can reinvent yourself in new and interesting ways – no matter what anyone else says.

Over 40? Doesn’t matter? Beyond 50? So what! In your 60s? So many possibilities. Leaning into your 70s? Good for you, go for it!

We can do, be and achieve anything. We just need to get started and keep at it with a never-give-up attitude.

Jill will tell you that the path to greater self-permission and self-empowerment wasn’t easy. She’s overcome huge obstacles and worked through multiple issues to get to where she is today.

Her story is about victory, overcoming the odds, and being true to oneself in the midst of her reinvention dreams.

It was an honor and privilege to interview Jill during Season 3 of the Reinvention Rebels podcast.

Picture of Jill Carlyle standing in front of a railing. There is water and tall buildings behind her. Jill is a Reinvention Rebels who has reinvented herself in her 40s and 50s.

It was crazy because really, I truly thought, “I’m only going to get this two-year degree.” And now, 10 years later, I’m actually on my third master’s degree. But it wasn’t what I started out doing. I had to build trust within myself. And that’s how I built the trust by taking small actionable steps that were doable, so that I didn’t set myself up for failure. I set myself up for success. If I could give anybody just a little piece of advice, it would be take those actionable small steps and set yourself up for success.

I love what Jill shares about:

✅ How faith and hope motivated her to keep moving forward and get her GED at 43
✅ Why we have to stay focused on our own journey, not someone else’s
✅ How she built her “knowing” muscle to live life with more certainty
✅ Why finding inner peace has brought her the most joy
✅ How writing her book helped her transform her life
✅ Why starting small and taking baby steps is so important
✅ How we can all inspire ourselves forward
✅ Why she rejects society’s limited notions of women as we age

There is so much joy and inspiration in a midlife woman rising. Jill’s reinvention story is testimony to what’s possible for any of us when we choose to move forward with certainty and wisdom.

What’s your reinvention story? What would be possible if you were willing to step into your own greatness?

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Wendy Battles

Wendy Battles

Hi, I’m Wendy Battles. I’m a curious soul who loves to talk to people and understand their experiences. I believe that reinvention is a natural part of life, something that many of us have done numerous times.

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