Challenges don’t last forever. There is an ending to them all. So don’t stay stuck in the emotions they might bring to you. Feelings come and go — be patient and know, “This too shall pass.”
Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Croc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50’s.
How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?
In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.
As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Pirie Jones Grossman.
Pirie Jones Grossman is a certified Life Coach, TedX Speaker, influencer, best selling author and co-founder and co-host of the podcast, “Own Your Throne”. She has shared the stage with speakers such as Deepak Chopra, Elisabeth Gilbert, Marianne Williamson, Kris Carr, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. She coaches women on focusing on self esteem, and helping women reignite the second chapter of their lives!
She’s a writer for Thrive Global and Huffington Post. She’s a former TV host for E! Entertainment Television, Fox Television, NBC, CBS and ABC. She was Co-Chair for the Special Olympics International World Winter Games in Idaho and spoke at the UN on behalf of Special Olympics. She is the founder of the “Love is Louder” Brain Health Summit with Suicide survivor, Kevin Hines, focusing on teenage depression and suicide. She gave a TedX talk about, “How To Heal A Community from Suicide.”
Pirie has her Masters in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica, California. She is a Sun Valley Wellness Institute Board member and lives in Sun Valley, Idaho with her two teenagers where she has a private Life Empowerment coaching practice.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was raised in South Texas by my loving father, alongside my younger brother and sister. I was also raised by a schizophrenic mother, who put a gun to the back of my head when I was five years old. She said she had to kill me because my father loved me more than her. After that life-altering incident, my father committed her to a mental institution for three years.
My entire home life, from elementary school throughout high school, was about keeping secrets. When my mother returned, my siblings and I endured physical and emotional abuse while watching her struggle with alcoholism and drug abuse. My father tried to pretend it wasn’t happening and soon became a prolific workaholic, traveling weekly for business trips and leaving the three of us with a nanny to fend off our mother. Over the years, he successfully removed himself from the daily rhythms of our lives, preferring to wear rose-colored glasses to displace the guilt he felt having had committed her. Unfortunately, he also put the burden of “taking care of Mom” on us.
But he was also my best friend. He brought joy, laughter, and play into our home. He was an excellent provider and very supportive of me and anything I chose to do. Because of that, I became part daddy’s girl, part protege. He was responsible for teaching me about business and entrepreneurship. When I was about six years old, he helped me create my first business when we ordered a holiday card sales kit from the back of a magazine, and I went door to door selling them. It was the beginning of my adventure in sales and meeting new people in my neighborhood. At that time, my mother’s absence held the possibility for a normal life, and my dad did his best to protect me from the memory of my near-dear experience. But the fear never left me, and I continued to see my mother as a person who threatened my very existence.
What is your life lesson quote? Can you share its relevance in your life?
“Your power to choose the direction of your life allows you to reinvent yourself, to change your future, and to powerfully influence the rest of creation.” — Stephen Covey
I’ve always loved the vision behind this quote.
How would your best friend describe you?
I asked her, and she said, “Beautiful, fearless, empathic, honest, intuitive, and a light that shines brightly reflecting love, hope, faith, and curiosity. Oh, and that I was a damn good mama!”
Tell us about your career before your second chapter.
After I graduated from Oral Roberts University and after my first divorce, I moved to Hollywood, California. I had met my college sweetheart when I was only 16. We went to ORU together and then became youth pastors. However, he really wanted to be an entertainer and be on stage. I always wanted to be an actress and live a life of glamourous fun. One issue: he wanted me as his wife to stay home and raise children. He didn’t care much about my dreams.
I went with my then-husband to Los Angeles for a two-week trip to pursue his dream. While he recorded his album, I had an opportunity to meet a casting director. She set me up on my first television commercial audition for Bud Light. After many callbacks, I booked it! Regrettably, my husband wasn’t supportive of my burgeoning new career. He returned to Dallas, Texas, and I moved to LA, and within the year, we were divorced. I was just 27.
Thankfully, my first commercial ran for three years, and after many hours of studying acting, I discovered I was a terrible actress. However, if I played myself, the girl next door type, and used my gift of gab, it helped me book many commercials, infomercials, and small TV parts. But my real success came when I became a host for E! Entertainment Television and Entertainment Tonight. I traveled the world interviewing actors, producers, and directors, visiting many movie sets, and had the time of my life doing it for nearly ten years.
I loved interviewing people and hearing their stories. I still enjoy it, which is why I created the Second Chapters interview series. Storytelling is so powerful because we learn from one another. We can inspire, teach and share our stories to help others grow and heal. That is still my primary calling andlife’s mission.
Your second chapter’s transition was remarkable. What was the trigger that made you decide you needed to make a change in your life?
It started when I met and married my third husband, Steve, in Los Angeles. He was a very successful movie producer (think Pretty Woman and Dirty Dancing), and I was a successful TV personality on E! and other networks. (I also had a marketing company called, High Heels and Loafers, where we found and created beauty products to sell on QVC and infomercials.)
We fell in love at first sight! It was a whirlwind romance. We were seen as one of theindustry’s power couples.
Now I want to interject a little-known fact before we go any further. I never wanted kids. Ever! I could never imagine myself as a mother. I never knew one that I could emulate. I was comfortable and satisfied being a career girl and didn’t experience an ounce of FOMO. My life was exciting, fulfilling, and bursting with travel and zero responsibility to and for anyone else.
But weeks into our relationship, I learned that Steve had a four-year-old daughter who lived with him part-time. Now, what? No one I ever dated had kids!
Steve adored his daughter and wanted us to meet. But, to put it bluntly, I was scared and had no idea how to do “kids.” So, Steve arranged our meeting, and I remember nervously asking him, “What do I do?” He smiled and said, “Don’t worry, she’ll show you.” The minute she and I set eyes on each other; we fell in love. She grabbed my hand, took me to her bedroom, and showed me all her favorite toys and books. I then laid down next to her, and I read her story after story until we both fell asleep.
The three of us had a love affair, so as one would expect, the conversation soon flowed to our having kids together.
We tried naturally, and nothing happened. Then we entered the IVF world and endured many procedures to the point that I was in and out of hospitals. Again, nothing happened. Our next step was to employ surrogates, and again neither of them could get pregnant from the embryos we created between us.
However, I kept at it, determined, we could make a child, yet all I was accomplishing was getting sicker and sicker. Finally, Steve wanted me to stop. I tried talking him into adoption, but he laughed at the thought of raising “someone else’s genes,” as he put it. The more I tried, the more he pulled back from me. Our love affair vanished… quickly, and our marriage began to disintegrate.
After my last hospital stint and multiple blood transfusions, I was so weak that Steve declared he was done. He then said he would travel with his daughter to Sun Valley, Idaho, where we had a second home to think about what to do. I couldn’t travel and remain in our Bel Air home by myself, filled with shame that I couldn’t give us a child.
When he returned from Idaho, he walked into our home and immediately asked for a divorce. I begged him to give us a chance to heal. I even told him I would give up my dream of having a child… just to not leave me. But, he said no, and announced that he no longer loved me and thought I should call my parents and head to Houston as soon as possible. My head swirled as my heart broke. I couldn’t believe this was my life.
Within moments of his turning his back on me, I fell on the sofa and just cried. All of the fertility drugs coursed throughout my body like a heatwave. I was on several medications and drugged up to the hilt. But not enough to dull the piercing pain in my heart.
How could I start my life over at 39 years old? I had retired to be a full-time wife, which he had asked me to do. And because I knew he didn’t love me; I felt my life didn’t matter. My world crumbled around me, and I had to stop this excruciating pain. But, how?
I looked at the table in front of the sofa, and I received the answer. If I swallow all the pills in every bottle, I could just go to sleep. Then the pain would be gone, and so would I. That was my best answer. So, I did just that. I slowly swallowed over two hundred pills and laid down, said a prayer… “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And if I die before I awake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”
I woke up vomiting while my husband held me in our bed. After that, I don’t remember much more other than lights and yelling. Then, I was taken to the hospital for a drug overdose and a suicide attempt.
A few days later, I woke up. I didn’t remember why I was there until a lovely social worker kindly asked me if I remembered that I tried to end my life. I was shocked! How could that be? Where was my husband?
Within a week, I returned to Texas to stay with my parents. There, I began to receive help for the layers of abuse I had endured from others and the recent tragedy I had imposed upon myself.
I remembered how much I was willing to give away to someone else!How could I have done that? I felt so much shame and guilt. But a light bulb went on, and I thought how lucky I was to survive… once again. And that my life was worth something. And that God had a better plan for me, and it wasn’t my time to leave the planet. I had more things to do.
How did you reinvent yourself in your second chapter?
I decided to move to Sun Valley, Idaho, to start my healing process and find the healthy woman I knew was within me but, I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t care that I was thrice-divorced because I had survived!
I also realized I needed to find out who I really was and stop hiding behind my past. I was loved and adored by being the fun, perky girl on television, and I had many friends who admired me because I had a successful husband and lived in a big house in Bel Air. But I had no idea who I was without a husband, a job, or my tribe of girlfriends.
And I sure as hell didn’t love myself or think that I was worthy of being lovable. I felt like a fraud. So, I had to start over.
I only had a few acquaintances in Sun Valley, and most of those relationships were friends of Steve and me. Some felt they had to pick a side, and they did. Guess who got left behind? But it didn’t matter because I only wanted to heal. I had carried my childhood wounds across state lines for the second time. It was time to deal with my shame, guilt and address what’s known as the Mother Wound.
I decided to read spiritual books, listen to people’s stories of how they healed, and begin the deep inner work of healing, which resulted in many dark nights of the soul. I connected with nature by taking long hikes and learning how to ski. I discovered how to be alone and like it. I attended church again because I had forgotten my faith in God. I was careful who I became friends with because I wanted people who weren’t toxic because I was releasing so much toxicity within me.
Each day, I got stronger and stronger. I stopped performing for people to be liked or loved. I was just myself, and it was enough. I found spiritual teachers who taught me excellent tools and techniques. I remembered what was important in life again.
Then after some time, I met a wonderful man filled with light and an infectious child-like wonder for the world. We fell in love and had two beautiful children together — naturally! It became apparent there was no reason for me to continue carrying the limiting belief that I was incapable of bearing children — I could finally release the inescapable feeling of hopelessness when it came to motherhood.
I gave birth to my son at 44 years old and my daughter at 46.
As time passed, so did my ex-husband. But before he died, we had an opportunity to forgive one another. I’d never been so grateful.
How are things going with this new initiative? (How are things now? What are you focusing on?)
Everything is wonderful! I’ve lived in Sun Valley for 25 years now. My children are grown, and I learned that I’m a great mother! Remember when I said earlier that I didn’t think I’d be a good one? But, I realized that I would know how to love myself and the children I might have if I healed my Mother Wound. When that happened, and I embraced my worth and didn’t have to be anything but authentic, I could be lovable and able to love others unconditionally.
My two children are the recipients of my healing. I call them my miracle children, and I love taking care of them. I finally recognized what unconditional loving looks and feels like because of them. They’ve given me that gift, and I have learned to give it right back.
I also desperately needed to learn forgiveness. I held onto horrible feelings towards my mother and knew that I needed to forgive her if I wanted to forgive myself. So, I went back to school in my 50s to learn how to do that. I enrolled at the University of Santa Monica and received a Master’s in Spiritual Psychology. During my two-year program, I learned how to forgive her and gained knowledge in my necessary journey of self-forgiveness.
I acquired many tools and techniques from USM that helped me heal. I now teach others how to heal using the techniques that helped me.As a life empowerment coach, author, speaker, and teacher, my life’s work is guiding women to empower their lives and start making their dreams come true. My mantra is, “It’s never too late to start something new.”My specialty is helping women create the second chapter in their lives and clear their limiting beliefs, obstacles, and childhood wounds. It is rewarding to work and witness the healing.
Is there someone you are grateful to who helped you along the way?
Drs. Ron and Mary Hulnick, the founders of USM were instrumental in my healing, and approach, knowledge, and acceptance to and for self-forgiveness. In addition, my classmates were lifelines to a curriculum that we all equally enjoyed, but came with the pain of our respective journeys. I cherish those bonds. I spent one week a month in Los Angeles in school, and each time I returned home to Sun Valley, I felt renewed by the Hulnick’s teachings, and my classmates’ willingness to move forward and through their deepest fears.
I was also renewed by my group of girlfriends’ unconditional acceptance of my decision to go to school. I was and am grateful to those women who inspired me then, and continue to inspire me daily with their insight, laughter, and literally, joie de vivre.
My kids. I remember sitting them down before I started school and asking them what they thought. I reminded them that I’d be out of town for a week every month for two years; that I might miss some of their ski races or school events. They acknowledged the schedule, and completely agreed that Mom going to school was different than “the other moms,” but they were excited to see one of my dreams realized. I will always remember that day and their confidence in me.
Have you ever struggled with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief?
Yes, I did! I had countless limiting beliefs! I think my biggest one was that I wasn’t lovable. And that one came early on for me. My mother’s sickness made her do and say things that always confirmed to me that she didn’t want me. She tried to get rid of me because she felt I was taking my dad’s love away from her. She wanted attention and love because she didn’t receive it from her parents. It was a vicious and cruel cycle, and those wounds hurt deeply. That’s why if we don’t heal our younger selves, we can’t be healed as adults.
When I was old enough to know about my mother’s mental illness, then I felt guilty. How could she help herself? She’s sick. I needed to be the one to take the higher road because I didn’t have any kind of mental illness. Do you see the dangerous cycle there too? It was the perfect limiting belief that I didn’t deserve to be treated well by my mother because she was sick. So, I became the perfect caretaker for my parents, with my needs coming in last. I was repeatedly told I was the lucky one. My reaction and its behavior told me I didn’t deserve to ask for anything more.
The limiting belief that I wasn’t lovable unless someone else said so is the underlying reason why I was married and divorced four times. I believed that the more successful the husband, the more lovable I would feel. Because if he loved me, then I must be lovable. That’s why I needed to learn how to value and feel confident with who I was and who I could become. It’s simple — we all deserve love if for nothing other than being born.
Every one of us has the Divine within. We reflect love back to one another, but we must have it within us first before reflecting on others.
Do you have a support system that keeps you strong?
Oh, my yes! First of all, God is my guiding grace. I learned about God when I started going to church with neighbors who helped my dad take care of me when my mother was institutionalized. I was a believer immediately. It would be harder not to believe in God or have faith than to believe there wasn’t a higher energy or spiritual being in my young eyes. I learned how to pray when my face was in the dirt with my mother’s hand holding a gun to my head. My life has been saved many times from illness and events when I should have been dead. I don’t understand everything in the spiritual world; however, I believe because of my experiences.
My support system is bolstered by my exceptional girl tribe, who keep me laughing, connected and loving. They also tell me the truth! And, although I don’t always like their feedback, I know they love and want the best for me.
My kids also provide support in the form of pure love, which I can’t deny fills me by just being in their presence.
I’m also fortunate to have a fantastic life partner who loves and supports me no matter what the day brings. He’s patient and listens lovingly — what a gift.
Lastly, my spiritual teachers consistently provide the wisdom and knowledge to keep me on my path. They remind me of my calling in life. And I know they’re available to me at a moment’s notice. They help me when I need to untangle a problem or re-examine what I need to focus on to live the life I want.
What are five things you wish someone had told you before you started leading your business, and why?
Challenges don’t last forever. There is an ending to them all. So don’t stay stuck in the emotions they might bring to you. Feelings come and go — be patient and know, “This too shall pass.”
You have all the answers you want within you. So don’t look to the outside for your biggest questions. Although you get to ask for advice or feedback from others, trust yourself. Ask that still and small voice within you for the answers. Then give yourself silence and space and time to listen and hear the answer.
You are good enough! You can do anything you want. So don’t put yourself up for vote… ever! You have the talent and ability to make your dreams come true. You’re just as capable of making your dreams come true as anyone else.
You are entirely responsible for what you create in your life. I know this is a tough one to believe. But it’s true. You’re not in control of the things that happen to you necessarily, but that’s never the issue; it’s how you handle the issue. You are the co-creator with the energy you choose to use to create. Your thoughts, words, actions are all based on your decisions. No one can control you except you. You give yourself the power to create the life you want. So, what is it going to be? Victim or empowerment? Your choice!
You can change how you respond to your past. You can heal it — and you can choose to forgive or not. It’s never too late to forgive yourself or someone else. I lived most of my life believing I wasn’t worthy of love because of my mother’s actions. But as she got older and as I did, we became different people. I chose to forgive her for me. I wanted to change that narrative, and I did. You can, too, no matter what happened to you.
You are a person of significant influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the best outcome to the greatest number of people, what would that be?
I would inspire a movement of women waking up and knowing and believing their power. They don’t have to play in a man’s world. It’s a woman’s universe! We live with the power of femininity. The Divine is nurturing, loving, intuitive, peaceful, and strong. Those qualities are wanted and needed globally. I would teach women that we are not in competition with each other. Think how strong we could be if we united?
We want to heal the world and create a beautiful environment where our children can grow and develop even more beauty, prosperity, and longevity. We can live in peace and be in integrity together no matter our race, gender, or religion. Love and compassion are the common denominators between us, and they are born from the Divine Feminine.
Dreams come true. If you could invite anyone in the world to dinner, who would that be?
First, my goal is to have dinner with everyone in this book! However; since I can’t have dinner with Maya Angelou (although I have had lunch, and we became friends after that first meal in her home), I’d happily dinewithour first National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman. I am astounded by this awakened, upcoming leader whose presence and confidence arethe definition of optimism, unity, and strength. I’d love to speak with her about where she thinks our nation is headed. I’d like to share what I’ve learned in my 64 years with her, and ask what I could be doing right now that would help her generation. I would love to have the opportunity to guide her through any personal obstacles she might be encountering so she can be a leader without any limiting beliefs. She is the epitome of our rising generation.
I am consistently in awe of New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern. As the youngest female prime minister in the world, she is an example to women and girls globally that the future is female. Her devotion to improving women’s rights and her passion for climate change is exceptional and will redefine modern leadership. Her open-mindedness and honesty blend perfectly with her empathy and respect for all of New Zealand’s communities and those beyond its borders. I am a big fan!
Where can we follow your work?
On all social media channels: piriejonesgrossmanIG/FB
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!