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How They Discovered Their Dream Careers
Lynette Lovelace closed her bistro to launch a beauty line that helps women find something to smile about.
Lynette Lovelace
Photo: Sharon Frink
In 1991 Lynette Lovelace opened a restaurant outside Chicago. A cozy bistro that also sold high-end clothing, Kafe Kokopelli was a local favorite. Then in 2001, the unthinkable happened: Lovelace's 2-year-old son, Logan, was diagnosed with a life-threatening liver abscess that required major surgery. Lovelace spent September 11 at his hospital bedside, watching the Twin Towers fall on television as the boy's fever climbed to 107. "I had no ability to process what the rest of the world was going through," she admits.

As Logan recovered, Lovelace juggled caring for him with the demands of her business, which she moved in 2005 to a larger space and rechristened Embrace, eventually hiring a staff of 50. But in 2008 came more terrible news: Her 12-year-old daughter, Kenna, had a brain tumor. Suddenly the family was back at the hospital—and in the most terrifying kind of limbo. But Lovelace tried to remain upbeat, whether by writing in her journal or wearing a soothing scent. "When my son was sick, our pediatrician told my husband and me that we could choose whether to give up or stay strong," Lovelace says. "I always remembered that."

The Christmas after Kenna's successful surgery, Lovelace felt overwhelmed with gratitude—and ready for a change. She decided that her next venture, in addition to allowing her more time at home, would promote the healing powers of a positive attitude. "There is positivity in all of us," she says. "Sometimes we just need a little something to bring it out." A self-professed product junkie, Lovelace began working with a local chemist on a line of fragrances that would spark pleasant memories and conjure far-flung fantasies, helping wearers take charge of their outlook. She used her savings to painstakingly source ingredients, partnering with a manufacturer to produce a perfume, body wash, scrub, lotion, and creams. In 2009 she bid a teary goodbye to Embrace's staff. Then she started cold-calling retailers like Henri Bendel—and was soon in New York showcasing her brand, Lifetherapy, at one of the store's popular trunk shows.

Now Lovelace's line is sold all over the country, but it has made the biggest difference at home, where she says she relishes weekends "lying around in my pajamas with my kids"—both now healthy. "A body wash won't change anyone's life," Lovelace says, "but it can boost your mood. I want to share what a little determination and positivity can do."
—Arianna Davis

From corporate world to art world
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From The Office to the Farm: One Woman Makes a Drastic Career Change
Kristin Kimball left her freelance career in Manhattan for 500 acres in northeastern New York State.
Kristen chasing pigs
Photos: Courtesy of Kristen Kimball
The other day, rummaging for something in the depths of my desk, I found an eight-year-old to-do list scribbled on the back of a receipt: "Reheel black shoes. Pick up dry cleaning. Call super re: sink. Meet P for drinks." For a minute, I sat there remembering what it was like to be a single woman in Manhattan. Now my to-do list starts with milking eight cows at dawn and ends with closing the laying hens in their coop at dusk. The dry-cleanables wore out a long time ago, and I wear heels so infrequently I've forgotten how to walk in them.

The change I made, from city person to farmer, was abrupt and unforeseen. I'd never once looked at my windowsill planter full of half-dead herbs and thought, "Wow, wish I could grow half an acre of those." I was teaching and writing for travel guidebooks and magazines, and I liked my city life and its freedoms. Then in 2002, just after I rounded 30, I went to Pennsylvania to interview a farmer for a story about the local food movement. Mark was tall and talkative, and his farm produced an array of exceptionally good produce. I thought he was an intriguing subject to write about. And—for some reason I'll never understand—he took one look at me, in my city clothes and inappropriate shoes, and decided I'd make him a good farm wife.

Against all odds, I think I have. I fell deeply for him, and for farming. I found I loved the satisfaction of physical work, and the enormous generosity of sun, soil, and water. I became addicted to the food. Within a few months I left the city, and we started a new farm together in northeastern New York. At the end of the first growing season, we got married in the loft of our shabby red barn. We've farmed here for seven years now, and have become parents to two little girls. We raise almost everything we need for a year-round diet, including 50 kinds of vegetables, herbs, grains, and fruits, plus pigs, chickens, and dairy and beef cattle. We use no pesticides or herbicides, and most of the work is done with draft horses instead of tractors. Our farm feeds 130 people, who come each week to pick up their share of our produce, flours, milk, meats, and eggs.

Farming asks a lot of a person, physically, emotionally, and intellectually. It keeps you close to the dirt and humble. I've gained many skills on the farm that I couldn't have imagined needing in the city, from plucking chickens to castrating calves. But the best lesson farming has taught me is the deep pleasure of commitment—to Mark, to our farm, to a small town.

Kristin Kimball's book The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love (Scribner) is out this month.

Next: See photos from Kristen's first year on the farm
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O's 3-Step Make-it-Happen Plan to Get a Great Job
Forget the want ads. O is on a mission to help four deserving women land their dream jobs. With an all-star team of career coaches, fashion experts, hairstylists, and makeup artists, we get down to work.
From left: The multitasking mom, Tania Jaffe, 42. The fund-raiser, Valerie Cole-Davis, 58. The project manager, Norma Ferro, 50; and the recent graduate, Britnee Foreman, 25.


Norma Ferro, 50, Project Manager


Britnee Foreman, 25, Recent Graduate


Tania Jaffe, 42, Multitasking Mom


Valerie Cole-Davis, 58, Fund-Raiser

See the makeovers!

To reach Valerie, Tania, Britnee, or Norma about a possible job opportunity, please email
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Hello, This is Your Life Calling
She wasn't sure what she needed—until she found it 3,000 miles away from home.
Photo: Thinkstock
There must have been a particular moment when I knew I needed to change my life, but I don't know when it was. The desire for change is like a grain of sand in a shoe, imperceptible at first but grinding away until it becomes the only thing you notice.

It was not that my existence was miserable; as I entered what I assumed would be the middle years of my life, I had meaningful work and a good man who embellished my existence with such late-20th-century emblems of arrival as the loft in Chelsea, the orchestra seats, the signed Miró painting, the vacations on the isles of Nevis and Antigua.

It was a more than reasonable life, it was an enviable one. Yet I was distanced from it. It was his life; it never seemed like mine, a sense that gave rise to a pervasive disappointment I could not shake, though I tried. "What do I want?" I kept asking myself. I could not say for sure. I knew only that I sorely needed something I did not have.

My instinct was to dismiss the feeling. Like many women, I found it easy to recognize the needs and emotions of others and nearly impossible to recognize my own, even those that involved basics such as appetite. I was nearly 40 years old before I could say with certainty that I was hungry, and now, confronted with hunger in another, more amorphous form, I told myself that I was simply spoiled, chronically incapable of sustaining any sort of alliance. Still I became engulfed in that sorrowing feeling the Portuguese call saudades, which is nostalgia for something that never was.

Then work brought me to Los Angeles, where persimmons grow on thick, leafy trees, where streets are coated in pale blue blooms fallen from the jacaranda trees, where light is softer and brighter than light anywhere else.

I was there to report a piece on the Whitewater figure Susan McDougal, who was doing hard time in a Los Angeles jail where I visited her each afternoon. When it came time to leave, it pained me that I was free to go and she wasn't. At the same time, as I drove back to my hotel, heading west on the Santa Monica freeway, the sheer speed, boundless sky, and setting sun reflecting on puffs of pink and golden clouds filled me with appreciation for being free and overwhelmed me with gratitude and wonder.

What would I be like on my own? Would I be reading a book, cat in my lap, sipping tea? Or would that genteel scenario give way to staring into a 5x magnifying mirror, bemoaning the fine lines and wrinkles that were ostensible deal breakers in locating a new life, a new man. But then, I wasn't hungering for a man. I was hungering for communion with myself.

Yet I despised the idea of running away. How could I leave a man who had only been good to me? If I could have convinced myself I had to leave, I could have been exempt from responsibility. But saying I wanted to leave was another matter, a conscious, willful choice to place my own well-being and needs over those of someone else, an act brimming with the enlightened self-assertion praised in men and scorned in women.

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How to Grab a Second Chance at Happiness
An old dream, a new passion—going after it may take nerves of steel, but the reward is a pearl beyond price.
Oyster with pearl
Photo: Stephen Lewis
Here's the first truth about second chances: They rarely happen by chance. Oh, the first one, sure, is often concentrated pure luck, but first chances are notorious for fizzling out, derailing. At which point, everyone learns the second truth: Pure luck will only take you so far.

Recently, in talking to a number of people who've had remarkable second acts, I met a woman named Anne Martindell whose first chance, true to form, hadn't lasted a year. On the surface, what she got was an opportunity to go to college, but condensed down, it was really a shot at becoming who she was. It stretched out, one long dazzling promise, for two semesters at Smith, during which she became sharply aware of how you could be ravenous for something like European history, how the sight of a Picasso could hit you like you'd been socked, how ideas—ideas alone—could break you out of shyness.

Right after, she learned how it was possible for a chance to be exploded so fast you couldn't be sure you'd had it. Come June, her father yanked her out of school. This was 1932. The place was too "bluestocking," he complained—too intellectual, and if you want to ruin your possibilities for marriage, that's what you'll become. She'd felt fully alive. Now she felt devastated, "terribly upset and terribly bored and terribly angry"; a year later, she was married to "my father's dream man." He was basically sweet, she says measuredly, but they had nothing in common.

If this were a fable, and perhaps it qualifies, this would be the place to point out several additional truths: Foremost, that all first chances contain seeds for a second, not to mention a third, fourth, and fifth. Without water or soil, they can lie dormant forever. Those seeds are durable, though. They can bloom years later. Not long ago The New York Times carried a record of a second flowering after a 70-year delay, in a story headlined THE GRADUATE, AGE 87, LOOKS AHEAD.

"I think women can have it all," Martindell told the reporter who'd caught up with her after her graduation from Smith, which was attended by her four children and nine grandchildren. "We live so long, you can have the family and then the career.

"I didn't do anything real until I was 50," she added, a bit of an understatement perhaps, given that after an impromptu teaching job at her children's school gave her the courage to test the unknown, she blazed a remarkable career path. Political volunteer work led to convention delegate led to New Jersey state senator. "At budget time I had a hard time," she says: "I'd missed third grade and beginning math (Mother was sick that year and didn't enroll us)." Ultimately, Martindell became director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. At 65, she was appointed ambassador to New Zealand.

It was there, then twice divorced, that she met the love of her life when she rode her bike to a gallery opening and fell in love with the painter. He wanted to marry her, but she refused. That wasn't necessary nowadays, she said ("he was cross"), but the affair continued over two continents for almost 20 years, till his death. What initially attracted him: her appreciation of art.

Next: Understanding the importance of your calling
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How to Be a Star at Work: 7 Rules for a Really Big Career
From a lowly sales assistant to head of a magazine empire (okay, our magazine empire), Cathie Black has boldly gone where no woman has gone before. Here, in a preview of her forthcoming book, Basic Black, she shares her unorthodox (dare we say daredevil) strategies for getting ahead.
Photo: Thinkstock
Thousands of years ago, a handful of fortune-tellers roamed ancient China, traveling to the palaces of Mandarins and predicting the future. When they were right, they were showered with riches and praised at lavish banquets. When they were wrong, they were boiled alive.

Taking a risk is scary when you focus on what can go wrong and exciting when you consider the benefits if all goes well. The trick is to think about risk in the right way and use it to your advantage. Most people see taking risks as opening themselves up to unnecessary, even dangerous, chance. But the truth is, avoiding risk won't keep you safe, nor will it guarantee a smooth ride.

In fact, the opposite is often true. It's like the monkey parable: A monkey sees a nut in a hole and reaches in to grab it. Once he's closed his fist around it, he can't get his hand back out of the narrow opening. He can't free himself unless he lets go of the nut, but because he's afraid to lose it, he won't let go.

Trying to avoid risk is like clinging to that nut. You may think you're playing it safe by holding on to what you have, but in reality you're just hindering your own progress.

Rule 1: Take Risks That Are Calculated, Not Crazy

So how can you make risk work for you? The first rule: Take risks that are calculated, not crazy. There's a big difference between rafting in white water with a helmet and an experienced guide and jumping on an inner tube to soar over a waterfall on a whim. When you're considering taking a risk, ask yourself: How can you maximize your chances of success while minimizing the potential downside?

About a year into my first job, as a sales assistant at Holiday magazine, my boss quit. As soon as I heard she was leaving, I wanted her job. I made an appointment with Holiday's publisher, a top executive who'd been in the magazine business about as long as I'd been alive. "I want to talk to you about Phyllis's job," I told him. And although I had a grand total of one year of experience in advertising sales, something about my demeanor, and my aggressive pursuit of the job, must have convinced him I was ready. "Okay," he said after a short interview. "We'll give you a chance. We'll also bump up your salary $3,000 to reflect your new position."

Success! I was thrilled to be moving up—yet there was already a sticking point. I knew how much money Phyllis had been making, and it was considerably more than they were offering me. I could have just thanked the publisher and taken his offer, but I decided to risk asking for more.

"I know what Phyllis was earning," I said. "And I think I ought to be paid the same salary, as I'll be doing the same work with the same responsibilities."

The publisher's face turned the color of a beet. How dare an inexperienced 24-year-old ask for a bigger salary just minutes after getting her first-ever promotion? Didn't I know that moving into a higher position didn't guarantee I'd make the same salary as the person leaving?

Well, no, I didn't. But even if I had known, I probably would have asked for the raise anyway. The upside was obvious: making more money. The downside was...what? That the publisher would think less of me, or even rescind the job offer? Perhaps there was a chance of that, but it was unlikely. Besides, if I didn't take the risk and ask for a higher salary, there was zero chance I'd get it. As ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky once said, "You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take."

In the end, I didn't get as much money as I asked for, but the publisher did increase my salary above what he'd initially offered. Nothing lost, something gained—it was the ideal outcome for taking a risk.

Which brings us to the second rule for making risk work for you. When assessing the downside of any risk, remember: The worst-case scenario is rarely as bad as you think.

In 1975, after nearly a decade in New York City, I decided to pursue new adventures out West. The draw: a San Francisco–based magazine being published by film director Francis Ford Coppola. It was certainly risky at that point in my career to leave New York, the epicenter of the magazine and advertising businesses, for the West Coast. It was risky to leave Ms. magazine, where I had been the advertising manager for three years and was starting to make a name for myself. And it was risky to leave my friends and colleagues for something unknown, thousands of miles away. But not only was I ready for a change, I fully expected the magazine to take off, and my new life in San Francisco to continue the same upward career trajectory I'd experienced in New York.

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