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There are moments in your life where, in an instant, everything changes. And more often than not, it is something that you are expecting and perhaps wanting to avoid dealing with. An undercurrent of hints and signs present themselves to you and still, you keep trucking along, head turned away from the obvious, believing that if you hold your focus elsewhere, the obvious will not happen.

Then, BOOM! The unexpected/expected happens.

Part of the Third Act for many of us is having parents approaching the Forth Act (if such a term has been coined). I am the proud ‘outlaw’ of two aging parents-in law named Dorothy and Ron, ages 87 and 86 respectively. While physically healthy, both of them are experiencing levels of memory loss, judgment lapses and dementia. Dorothy has been most affected by this, leaving Ron as the primary care-giver. More recently it has been evident that Ron’s health has also been changing and, while all of us have been observing this, it has been easier to believe that things would just keep ticking along.

As I write this, Ron has been hospitalized following a weekend meltdown called pneumonia, which in the elderly is often missed, presenting as confusion, paranoia, memory loss and decompensation. This is where we found ourselves. Everything has changed as we as a family face the reality that they may no longer be able to live independently.

I am fully aware that this is yet another rite of passage for Third Acters and perhaps a perfect example of how we also approach our own aging and Third Act planning. You know that one day you will retire, in some way, and it is easy to avoid looking at it or planning for it. And then one day, your employer tells you it is time to pack up your desk, to ‘retire’ and you are shocked and completely unprepared. How is it possible you could not see this coming?

BOOM!

One day you are working, and the next day you are not. And in your avoidance, you are completely unprepared for the inevitable. What do you do now?

Chances are, the hints and signs were in your consciousness even though you were looking the other way. In our current dilemma, I had already called in the local psycho-geriatric team for Dorothy and we were waiting for Ron’s assessment to be scheduled. This at least was the first step in connecting us to community services. In other words, we have a place to start.

You do as well and the first step is to simply relax, breathe, and recognize the opportunity that stretches before you. It is fair to say that you will miss your J.O.B. You will miss the routine, the work itself, the social connections and more. All of this can re-created in a new way and first, give yourself an opportunity to recognize that stepping away from your J.O.B. is a significant loss. It is part of how you have defined yourself for many years and it is not only appropriate but important to grieve this loss.

This is the first important step of your Third Act. Experiencing and expressing the loss you may feel, allows you to release it and create space for what’s next in your life.

Do yourself a favor and book some time with a massage therapist, an energy worker (Reiki, Integrated Energy, or networking chiropractic), or any practitioner that can support you in moving forward. Consider meditation, yoga, physical work outs of any description. Avoid signing up for every volunteer opportunity offered to you because others know you now have loads of free time. Trust me, this is not a solution.

Learn to ‘BE’ for a while, giving yourself that important opportunity to know yourself and assess what is important to you today and in the future.

Welcome to your Third Act!

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2013 in review

Excited to receive my year end report for The roadSIGNS Coach Blog and to appreciate the number of readers who visited the site. A few details are listed below. Here’s a toast to 2014, attracting more visitors and sharing the road!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,800 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 47 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Recently I have found myself attracted to the stories of older women. Whether it is my own age that drives me there or simply that older women are interesting, I have yet to decide. What I do know for sure is that all of us are going to age and we have a say in how this aging will happen. And so I write this to share some of what I am observing, to explore my own journey of getting older and to share a little of the wisdom I am picking up along the way.

Choose Your Role Models Carefully
I enjoy older women. I like their humanity and I love their stories. There is a deeper sense of wisdom beneath those wrinkles and grey hair. And yes, like you, I have noticed that not all older women (and men) are people I would choose to hang-out with. And so it is that in our own journey of growing older, I suggest we choose role models who inspire us. Maya Angelou comes to mind for me. Now is her late eighties, this is a woman who continues to teach and share her stories with a self-deprecating way that is humorous and wise.

I also watched a brief film on YouTube the other day, Fabulous Fashionistas, about six older women, average age 80. In sharing their lives several things became obvious. First, each of these women had a sense of purpose, whether that was continuing to work, having a passion, or promoting a cause. As I watch my family members and some of my friends age, I realize that growing old happens quickly when there is nothing to keep you engaged, a reason to throw your feet on the cold floor each morning.

Secondly, each of these women had a sense of style, even flare. They embraced a “the hell with it” attitude that spoke of caring little for what others think or do, and simply showing up the way you are and want to be. I love that. Break all the rules, the way you are supposed to act like because someone in society said that older women should not wear miniskirts or jeans, have long hair or drink beer in public.

Thirdly, they were active. Despite knee and hip replacements, daily exercise was a must. Dance, running, yoga, whatever it took to keep the muscles and bone moving; use it or lose it.

Yes, I loved these women.

sparkle

You Know Best
Whether you are 23, 45, 69 or 83, today is the day to decide what aging looks like for you. My suggestion – don’t settle. By that, I mean disregard the expectations of others and decide on what is perfect for you. Set your intentions around what you truly want rather than what you think you ‘should’ be doing.

We are entering an era where more and more of us will be growing old together. At 63, I may be closer than some of you. Perhaps that’s why I find myself looking for those role models at the moment and making some decisions about aging with grace.

I am learning that age is largely about attitude. I have watched friends and family assume that they were no longer valuable and choose to step away. It saddens me to see them, disengaged and growing older with each moment. I have also observed the opposite, those women who continue to ‘kick ass’ regardless (I won’t name them here but you know who you are). They are artists, gardeners, writes, dancers, and most importantly, they are alive. Aging for them seems to be at a stand still.

And so I say to all of you, women of all ages, and men if you choose to join in, it is time for us to celebrate:

  • to be enlivened by life and never put down
  • to live with purpose and never give up
  • to be inspired and inspire others
  • to dress for YOU and disobey the rules
  • to play with your inner child and never grow up
  • to choose your path, what’s perfect for you, and turn a deaf ear to ‘they said’
  • to work and play as you choose rather than being the norm
  • to re-fire rather than re-tire when the time comes.

Final Thoughts
As one of the women in Fabulous Fashionistas noted, ageism is pervasive in society; the focus on youth and all that goes with it lingers. Reality tells us that older women are quickly becoming the majority. I say, let’s not be the silent majority!

If you want this attitude to change, be part of the change. If you don’t know how, find some role models to inform you. If you have retired, re-fire, identify a new project or cause, re-ignite your passion. Most importantly live large, be bold, and be YOU!

Betty Healey

Betty Healey is an award-winning author, coach and inspiring speaker. You can book Betty for a workshop or speaking engagement at www.roadSIGNS.ca or contact her at betty@roadSIGNS.ca.

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MORE THAN WORDS

I am delighted to have Aileen Gibb as a guest blogger today on the roadSIGNS Coach. I first met Aileen in 1998 at the Higher Ground Community Retreat. As a master coach, Aileen has touched many lives around the globe including mine. I was privileged to be a reviewer for her new book Voices. Enjoy Aileen’s blog, More than Words.

I’m always inspired when Betty finds an unusual road sign to convey a message for her readers. I was similarly struck by an experience beyond words recently when I checked in to the 14th century Manor House Hotel in the historic village of Castle Coombe, England. A charming young man valiantly pulled my heavy suitcase along what looked like a street of cottages from bygone times. Yes, this row of cottages had been converted into luxurious hotel rooms with amenities a far cry from those their original inhabitants would have known. Mixed emotions flitted through me as we passed by this charming row of cottages to a lone cottage on its own at the end of the lane. Was I being stuck in the outhouse? Of course not – my cottage turned out to be a little house on its own, separated from the very centre of the charming town itself only by five-foot thick walls of hand-hewn sandstone. My chaperone bent down, hobbit fashion, to open the door to my cottage and welcome me in. Imagine my joy at finding I had my own little house for the next five days. A real log fire, which I just had to light one afternoon; a comfortable bed with a choice of six different kinds of pillows, from which I would gaze up into the old oak rafters; and a traditional-looking, yet thoroughly modern bathroom with rain-shower, claw-foot bath and endless hot water.  This was turning into an experience beyond expectations and beyond what words can really convey. A picture might help:

IMG for roadSIGNS

IMG for roadSIGNS2

Sometimes we need more than words to capture the real situation. We need to experience it. And sometimes words convey so much more than the initial, or superficial experience we encounter. Take the thoughtfully provided toiletries in this already memorable hotel room. I was struck by the clever spin on words that some creative product designer had come up with – words that took me to an experience beyond using them for my daily ablutions. An ordinary soap bar labelled “SOAP BOX – JUMP ON” – well that’s an invitation it doesn’t take me long to respond to. A cleansing lotion titled “TAKE THE DAY OFF” extends an invitation to remove the murk and grime of a busy city workday and replace it with a sense of relaxation or even playing hooky. And a kit of manicure essentials promises to “MEND A HAND”. These plays on words create visceral and emotional responses to everyday items.  And they make me think about the words and language we use in everyday life and leadership.

In many organizations, I find myself listening to clients who seem to have a language of their own: three letter acronyms, buzz words and jargon terms which have long-ceased to have   meaning for the increasingly dulled ears on which they fall. Fighting to be heard amidst cryptic text messages, email pings, or even re-runs of last evening’s TV reality show.

Where, I ask, are the quality conversations? The meaningful questions which inspire deep contemplation of possibilities and solutions? The focused listening – not for what has gone before, rather for what is really needed and waiting to emerge? My colleague and mentor, Ian Wallace of the Dream Organisation in Scotland, makes the distinction between communication (usually the one-sided transmission of information and data) and conversation (which literally means to turn something around together).

Every team or organization I have worked in for the past twenty years has, at some point said “we need better communication around here”. I’m convinced that what we really need is “better conversation”.

And better conversation invites better awareness as to the impact of the words we choose the questions we ask, the listening we demonstrate, the voice we use – all wrapped up in the experience of being fully engaged with another person. My coaching clients will often say they can’t get the type of conversation they have with me, anywhere else in their organization. This saddens me. And it inspires me to equip those same leaders to in-turn lead conversations that make a difference.  When those leaders pay attention to their words and invite people into conversations that meet their individual needs, then I believe we’ll see a shift.  A shift from dominating the conversation, as the Lord of the Manor might have done in the 14th century, to listening truly for the real voices and for more than what simple words convey.

Aileen-Gibb-03

About Aileen Gibb:

Aileen Gibb is an inspirational coach, facilitator and leader whose work has taken her around the globe. She has worked with leaders and teams in Kazakhstan, Venezuela, the Middle East, France, Angola and in many companies in the UK and North America, to uncover new possibilities and transform results. Where she has travelled she has been amazed at the power of coaching-style conversations and the choices people make to become more successful in their work and to live more fulfilling lives. Aileen is from the small village of Fyvie, in North East Scotland and has lived for the past twelve years amidst the rocky mountain in Canmore, Alberta, Canada with her husband, Jake and their two boxer dogs. Aileen thanks you for your interest in VOICES, please let her know how it inspires you. http://www.aileengibbvoices.com

https://www.facebook.com/aileengibbVOICES

About Voices:

VOICES is a series of connected coaching stories which reflect many of the real-life choices people might consider making to live the life they truly wish for. All the stories are fiction and her hope is that one of the stories – or one of the questions in one of the stories – might resonate with your life story and invite you to make a choice. The coaching stories are interwoven with the musings of a future-guide who travels to and from a parallel time, considering what the key messages are for inspiring a better future society.

VOICES is available for purchase now and although Aileen has some upfront costs to recoup, as soon as it starts to generate profit, funds from the book sales will be going to support people going through cancer to access complementary therapies such as acupuncture, which are proven to mitigate the extreme fatigue and other side-effects of cancer treatments. http://www.aileengibbvoices.com

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Peace

Over the years I have found myself reflecting on my higher purpose in life. While I have found many ways to express this, it always comes back to one theme – world peace. As I write this, part of me thinks how ridiculous, you sound like one of the contestants from Miss Congeniality, that wonderful movie with Sandra Bullock where all contestants ended their personal presentations with “And I want world peace”. It smacks of sugar and honey. Then there is the other part of me, my personal and devoted self-critic who says to me, “Who do you think YOU are to have such a lofty purpose? Really!” And there you have.

Undeterred I forge forward and, despite my personal naysayer, it keeps coming up. I refuse to feel too small to contribute to such a large vision. As I result this is what I have learned:

  • I have come to understand that world peace begins with me and my capacity to make peace with myself
  • I have learned that when I make peace with me, I am far less judgmental of others
  • I have learned that when I set an intention of peace, within me and around me, life is a heck of a lot easier
  • I have learned that infusing peace into our property, Tigh Shee (Celtic for House of Peace), that people actually experience it while they are here and carry a little of it away with them.

Peace is an Attitude

Peace is an attitude as well as an action. It is easy to look at the many troubled places on our planet today, and the world leaders who are tasked with ‘solving’ the crises, and not see our part in it. Our media focuses on the action of peace as the antidote for war. As a result, it is easy to see the seeking of peace as someone else’s issue because we happen to live in a country where peace is our way and where war typically does not touch our shores.

But what if we have the capacity to influence peace everywhere? What if individually and collectively we have this power?

I am suggesting you do, and it begins inside you, in your relationship with yourself. You may be thinking that I am crazy (some do!) but before you leap to this conclusion, stop for a moment and consider what I am saying. Check in with your relationship with yourself for a moment. What is the content of your self-talk? Does your inner critic reign? And what vitriol is she feeding you? How many ways does she make you less than perfect; does she put you down, criticize you, or fill your head with all the ‘shoulds’ she can conjure up? If this is the dominant conversation you are having with YOU, then you are at war with yourself.

In contrast, you also have a self-coach, who appreciates you, who understands and supports the difference you make to your community every day, who sees you through the lens of your strengths. She is there to lift you up. She is your voice of peace.

You have the power of choice, deciding which of the two sides of you will speak louder and occupy your emotional/spiritual space. You have the choice to fuel yourself with negative or positive self-talk. Here is what you must realize: if peace is important to you, and it is to most of us, you cannot be a voice for peace in the world unless you are a voice of peace for yourself. You cannot create a peaceful life for yourself in your outer world unless the inner world of self-talk is a match.

peace2

Final Word

I do pray these days for the troubled areas of the world and the leaders who sit in the hot seat of decision-making. And with these prayers/intentions, I take the time to look inward and check in on myself, making sure that peace lives within me. There are great days, good days and crappy days – I am human!

Being aware is the first step. Shifting your relationship with yourself is the second. Choosing to consciously communicate in peaceful ways with yourself and others is the third. Radiating peace is the result.

This past Saturday, September 21st, was World Peace Day as declared by the United Nations. Here at Tigh Shee we celebrated this with our fall equinox labyrinth walk. With almost 40 people in attendance, we began our walk by greeting one another in the following way, “Peace be with Me, peace be with You.’

Peace BE with ME. Peace BE with YOU!

 

Upcoming Events

ME FIRST; If I Should Wake Before I Die: Two-Day Retreat October 19-20th/2013.

Living From Your Strengths: a One-Day Coaching Circle November  23rd/2013

 

For information on both events go to: http://www.roadsigns.ca/upcoming-retreats-events/

 

Until next time,

 

Betty

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I have made a commitment to myself this summer to set aside one day (or more) every week to pursue creative endeavors. In my late teens and throughout my twenties I studied art, pen and pencil, charcoal, and oils. I took classes with artists who were protégés of Arthur Lismer, on of Canada’ Group of Seven. I even sold a few pieces and had several paintings leave for places unknown when my colleagues from Australia, South Africa and England purchased my work.

And then one day we moved to Alberta and for some reason the paint box was put away, tucked into a safe place in the basement. I did have other creative outlets such as rug design and rug hooking and other similar crafts, but my hands never touched a paint brush.

When we returned to the east, I dove into work and teaching part-time, then back to school for another degree. At one point during this time, I attended a show of Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings and while the brushes still remained untouched a little fire was lit. I found myself saying, “Someday I will get back to my painting”. Of course the’ some days’ became weeks, months and years.

Fast forward to 2013: I received an e-mail from OBO Studio run by Tracy Lynn Chisholm and Emily McLeod advertising a workshop called ‘Paint Your Horizon’. An interesting title, I thought – a great metaphor for life. (I am always looking for such metaphors). I sent Tracy an e-mail simply saying this looks like fun, congratulations. She responded by saying,  “Thanks for your inquiry, I have you registered in the program”. This was the first ‘happy accident’.

Although it had not been my intention to register, I did not say anything to Tracy. I knew it was time to make friends with the brushes again. I loved the workshop, the technique and felt at home with the brush in my hand. It is like riding a bike!

I immediately signed up for another workshop entitled ‘Georgia O’Keefe’. Now this one absolutely had my name on it! While this time the medium was pastels, I once again felt at home. I also noticed that even if my state of mind was not feeling aligned with my creative juices, it didn’t matter. Once I start I am lost in the process, my head clears, I am engaged, I relax and breathe and for a change, I am totally in the moment. The experience offers me everything I teach to others – another happy accident?

The next SIGN occurred on my birthday. Each year I order my Life Path report from my colleague Shaina Noll. Based on numerology the report identifies the key themes for your life in any given year. One of the themes identified for me this year is ‘Multifaceted Creativity’. Nothing like bringing the point home and evidently, the time is now, where upon I signed up for my third workshop, Flower Play.

Flower Play introduced me to the idea of ‘happy accidents’. Designed to be free zzfrom and abstract, the process of painting a masterpiece occurred through a series of steps where you literally add paint to a canvas in layers, and allow the painting to emerge. No photos to copy, no specific design to emulate, no rules to follow. I felt an unsettling in my belly. It
was one thing to pick up a brush; it was another to trust my imagination. In the previous workshops I had used an image to guide my work. OMG!

As my painting grew, many happy accidents happened: an accidental splattering of fuchsia paint all over the canvas, watered down paint dripping down the canvas when I stood it upright, and a few smudges here and there.

The happiest accident however was when I grew frustrated with my tools and tried to correct something with my finger. The feeling of paint on my finger tip was sensual, the effect amazing, and from that moment forward my finger tip became my brush. It was so cool and so much fun. And as for that initial trepidation, I felt like the lion had been let out of the cage as my fingers attacked the canvas with shades of indigo, purple, violet, yellow and several shades of green. The result may not be a masterpiece but it makes me joyful!

Dorothy's Garden

Dorothy’s Garden

Final Word

I suspect life is full of happy accidents. Likewise I am convinced that many of us may be ignoring them or pushing them away. Life might be very different if you picked up the paint brush again, opened your heart to happy accidents and began painting the canvas of your life in a way that frees you. Is it time to let your lion out of the cage?

Until Next Time,

Betty

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Last week I had the privilege of attending a networking event for entrepreneurs. I chose this event at it was billed as The Gratitude Circle. There have been many ‘gratitude roadSIGNS’ in my life of late from simple conversations, to radio programs, to articles, all extolling the importance of gratitude in our lives. In contrast to this however, I continue to find that many people are not aware of the idea of a ‘gratitude practice’ or the important role gratitude can play in your life.

Being Consciously Aware
Bringing gratitude into your life is really a ‘mindfulness practice’, specifically taking the time to become consciously aware of what your day has offered you and to express gratitude for the many apparently insignificant things that have shown up. For example: a colorful morning sky, an inspiring song on the radio on your way to work, a heartfelt interaction with another person, meeting a client’s needs and receiving great feedback on a job well done, a shared moment after work with a few friends, a great dinner with your family, seeing the first hummingbird of the season, or simply having great health and feeling amazing.

Notice how actively unconscious most of us are. Consider this; you get in the car every morning to drive to work. You arrive and as you pull into your parking spot you suddenly realize, wow, I am already here. I didn’t even notice the drive in – I was on autopilot. The radio was blaring yet I didn’t hear anything anyone said as they were all talking at the same time. I didn’t notice anything along the way – did I miss something? OMG, I really am living in auto-pilot! The day continues, and because much of your life is routine, it slips by, the details of the day unnoticed.

Gratitude Lifts YOU Up!
Gratitude gives you an opportunity to look at your life through the lens of positivity. In her book entitled Positivity, Barbara Fredrickson states that the old story is that anything that feels good is merely a distraction – trivial, inconsequential and expendable. The new story however, backed by science, is that these same good feelings are the active ingredients needed to allow us to flourish, that is feel good about ourselves and our lives. This begins by learning to cherish those special moments in your life, bringing your focus to what you are grateful for.

By cherishing those special moments in your life, you begin to feel better about yourself. This allows you to be more resilient. Research has demonstrated that feeling positive about your life, which is the end product of gratitude, has far-reaching benefits including building a stronger immune system, a cardio-vascular system which is less reactive to stress, and increased optimism. Finally, if you feel better about YOU today, there is a good chance that you will feel better about YOU tomorrow.

I have nothing to be Grateful for!
I do hear this, often!  A former coaching client of mine shared that she had nothing in her life to be grateful for, no one loved her and she was all alone. I asked her to take a closer look at her life, her relationship with her son, and her relationship with her colleagues. When she did this, she realized that she had a great deal of love in her life and when she expressed gratitude for this, more love appeared. At the point that I had begun speaking with her, she was engaged in a contentious divorce and child-custody battle with her former husband. As she shifted her focus to love and being grateful, her relationship with him changed and he dropped the suit.

Gratitude shifts your awareness and changes your energy. When your energy changes, so does the energy around you.

Gratitude

Final Word
Gratitude is a powerful energy, bringing you into a conscious relationship with what is right with your life. I encourage you, just as I do my clients, to begin some type of Gratitude Practice as part of your life. This can be a Gratitude Journal where you record your daily gratitudes or, my favorite one, sharing what you are grateful for with your family as you sit down for dinner.

Whatever your choice, know that gratitude will change your life – it has been proven scientifically!

Until next time…

Betty Healey

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