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I am in awe and dutifully inspired when I read stories like that of Hazel McCallion, the 98-year-old former mayor of Mississauga, Ontario who recently celebrated her birthday by climbing a newly installed rock-climbing wall. While I may not be up for the climbing adventure, I am certainly relating to her youthful approach to aging, staying active and inquisitive.

That said, as I approach my 69 the birthday this year, I have some folks looking at me, some as a role model as I choose to stay invested in and engaged in my work, and others, who cast a critical eye upon me and asking me why I don’t slow down.

You know what – I have slowed down. I chose my work projects carefully and discern whether or not they will light me up and whether or not they will have an impact. I no longer market our services and allow the “Universe” to market for me. I continue to attract amazing work as a result. I love it. It is part of me. It makes me ‘TICK’. So….I am weary of the questions and implied criticism.

Here’s why…and this is something we might all pay attention to!

Educational research continues to explore the true nature of intelligence. We have come a long way from the ‘IQ’ days and the importance of testing scores in measuring intelligence and knowledge. Two things come into the picture – the new “CQ” and Mindset.

CQ – Curiosity Quotient
An article written by Caroline Stokes in September 2017, suggests the following: “Curiosity Quotient is the new Emotional Intelligence. It doesn’t mean that we don’t need EI in everyday work and play, but we’re beginning to uncover the genuine need for leaders, talent – everyone – to be curious to solve today’s problems.”

Studies assessing CQ in the workplace suggest that curious people have a greater capacity to adapt, to re-invent themselves, and to drive the individual to success. When I look at this through my own lens, at age 68, the challenges I face differ from those much younger, yet I still have challenges, especially in regard to adapting and re-inventing myself as I shift to post career and my Third Act.

Curious people are typically passionate about learning. Yep, that works for me.

Why does this matter? It leads us to taking on new challenges and to continuous growth. Who said retirement was anything but another growth opportunity?

Curious people also solve problems. And isn’t that an inspiring thought. With your collective wisdom from both life and work experience as a foundation, imagine what might be possible if we all decided to stay in the game, stay curious and contribute.

Finally, I love this quote from the article: “(People with high CQ) ask questions. They ask difficult, uncomfortable and inquisitive questions. They are constantly seeking to know more. Curiosity drives them … forward. They become more effective in every area and make better decisions than those who go into situations believing they know it all already. Curious people are nimble and open. They are sponges soaking up as much as they possibly can at all times. Being curious allows you to constantly reinvent yourself, and discover what is possible, as well as the shift out of ruts and difficult positions.”

Mindset
Akin to your CQ in Mindset. From Carol Dweck’s research, mindset is defined as ‘the view you adopt for yourself’ and how you then chose to live your life. “It can determine the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.

Interestingly, the highest IQ scorers often have what is called a ‘fixed mindset’. They know how to study and memorize, they know how to have success on tests, they like to look smart, and they like to stick to their established routine as this is what creates their success. They have one consuming goal – proving themselves in life and their careers. That said, since they have that established success repertoire, they do not like to examine alternatives. They have a low CQ.

Then there is the ‘growth mindset’, which is based on “the beliefs that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts…everyone can change and grow through application and experience.” These learners have a high CQ. They are less concerned about their success through traditional learning and testing, and curious about what life will offer them. And how many folks have you heard about, Einstein and others, who created beyond anyone’s imagination or expectations, who were brilliant and who failed out of school or were poor ‘academic performers’.

In terms of mindset, I was a classic fixed mindset kinda gal when I was young. I tested well, knew how to memorize, and remembered little once the information was dumped into an exam. I had few strategies for remembering, digesting, understanding, that is, really learning. Needless to say, with my chosen field of physiotherapy, I found the first two years of study exceedingly difficult, as everything needed to be integrated and truly learned for me to have success. I came very close to failing my second year as a result.

Fast forward, somewhere along the way the gears shifted. Thankfully. I began to ask questions, think differently and explore more. I can share that this approach was not always appreciated by my colleagues as they saw no need to move or to consider options. I often felt isolated because I simply could not stand still.

So What?
I admit that my idea of healthy aging includes staying engaged and relevant. It may not be yours. However, if you choose to join me, Curiosity and a Growth Mindset need to be our companions.

As I journey deeper into my Third Act, exploring possibility remains my constant companion. What are my choices for facilitating this?

  • Travel – learning about new places and cultures
  • Reading – non-fiction, research
  • Researching and digging deep
  • Broadening my repertoire
  • Taking risks and trying new things
  • Volunteering – sharing your expertise and being open to what others can teach you.
  • Exploring what else Iu wish to contribute and identifying ways to offer it.
  • Book clubs/discussion groups
  • And more….

Most importantly, curiosity keeps us healthy. It keeps our mind engaged. And this we know is an antidote to a healthy brain.

Back to Hazel – apparently, she recently turned down an opportunity to work with Doug Ford as she was simply to busy with all of her other responsibilities. As her geriatrician shared, “she is a poster child for seniors”.

Here’s to Hazel and here’s to us!

Stay curious everyone……

 

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This is a dangerous thing, or at least that what my husband believes. It seems that whenever I tell him “I’ve been thinking” it implicates him as well. This is not always true and as you can imagine, some of my plans cannot be executed solo.

It has been awhile since I have written. Recovery from my knee surgery has occupied the lion’s share of the last few weeks, as well as planning a staycation when are plans to travel to Portugal were circumvented by a medical incident. I shared this in a Facebook posting as follows:

Making Lemonade:

Four weeks ago today I landed in the ER with “atrial fibrillation” (rapid, irregular heartbeat). Unexpected, surprising as this was a first and very scared. As the cause was unknown and is yet to be determined (although I have my suspicions) we were advised to cancel our trip to Portugal scheduled for Feb. 25th. The disappointment was huge, tears were shed. We had both been looking forward to escaping winter and shedding the cabin fever that had accumulated.

After a couple of days of living in this space, we both decided that this lemon needed to be turned into lemonade. I signed up at NAV Fit and began swimming twice per week. Jim played hockey locally. We began walking short distances. We checked out events in Ottawa and Montreal and scheduled plays and other events. We went for a spa day. In other words, we set about enjoying our “staycation”.

Today marks our return date from Portugal, where it has been raining most of the time we were supposed to be there, and I am celebrating what has been an amazing four weeks’ vacation. Attitude is everything; that has been my most enduring lesson. I have lingered in bed a little longer in the mornings, meditating and being grateful for the day, I have read more books, I feel regenerated. And isn’t that the goal of any vacation.

When faced again with lemons, and I am sure there will be opportunities, I plan to feel what needs to be felt, move on and make some lemonade.

Turning around this unexpected situation required some planning, an attitude adjustment and a wee bit of thinking. There is much more to share however; here are a couple highlights.

Forgiveness
My staycation allowed me ample time for reflection and reading. One of the books I chose was Forgiveness by Mark Sakamoto. After listening to Mark interviewed on CBC radio, I was completely attracted to the book and to exploring a topic which has long been important to me.

The book is a memoir dedicated to his grandparents Hugh MacLean and Mitsue Sakamoto, both of whom experienced incredible hardship during WW2, Hugh as a prisoner of war in a Japanese Camp and Mitsue as a Japanese Canadian expelled from her BC home to labor in Southern Alberta.

Can you imagine the first time these people met around a kitchen table when their respective children decided to wed? The book describes Mark’s grandparents’ journeys, and how these journeys formed him and led him to understand forgiveness.

I learned long ago that to forgive was to give yourself a gift, for those that you refuse to forgive have no idea that they have wronged you. Not forgiving others causes you pain, not the unforgiven. To forgive is to release oneself from the pain and the burden. I also learned that forgiving never implies agreement or condoning the actions of another. These two learnings have helped me time and time again.

“Forgiveness is moving on. It is a daily act that looks forward. Forgiveness smiles.”
Mark Sakamoto

 

Self-Confidence, Self-Esteem and Self-Worth
I have long-held the opinion that self-esteem and self-confidence are different. I believed that as despite thinking very little of myself for much of my life, this did not stop me from having the confidence to try things.

In her book Wire Your Brain for Confidence, Louise Jewell describes self-esteem as one’s global evaluation of self and one’s self-worth. By contrast, self-confidence is defined as the belief you can do things well or succeed, feeling the capacity to cope with things. You can have one without the other. Finally, she also describes self-efficacy which is essentially the courage to act.

It occurs to me that these days it is self-efficacy that I need the most. Yes, I have spent a life time in action, I have always had goals to be reached, I have always been willing to dive in and see what happens. This seems to have changed recently however, as I step away from the business that has kept me occupied for over 20 years. Frankly, I feel a bit lost. And while I know that the sense of being lost is very much part of the transition process, that neutral zone of discovery, I have to say it doesn’t feel that comfortable.

In looking further into self-efficacy and saving myself from falling into a self-judgmental hole, Jewell goes on to recommend several ways of retaining one’s sense of self-efficacy including setting goals, perseverance (which I also consider to be GRIT), and expecting positive outcomes. Of all of these perseverance rings most true for me, bringing me back to GRIT which is defined as Passion + Perseverance.

What I have been thinking is that it is time for me, perhaps all of us, to define our passion for this phase of our life, that thing that lights us up or which we want to influence in some way and then set about defining how this can happen. All of this requires esteem and belief in oneself, the confidence and courage to try what might be new things. It all feels a bit like starting over.

 

This is some of what I have been thinking about, finding my way through what some days feels like a maze and other days feel like a vast open field. Either way I have a couple of solid intentions for the journey forward:

  • A happy healthy body, resilient and strong
  • Work/projects/activities which both inspire and engage me and which contribute in someway to the betterment of our world.

Sounds simple….Maybe not….Jumping in anyway!

Until next time

Betty

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The Search Begins

Now that you are aware that life can have more meaning and purpose than you might have envisioned AND you are clear about what you want from your experience of the Third Act, it is time to start exploring what the possibilities might be.

So where do you start?

In her book GRIT: The Power of Purpose and Passion, Angela Duckworth suggests asking yourself the following questions as clues in this process of discovery:

  1. What do I like to think about?
  2. Where does my mind wander?
  3. What do I really care about?
  4. What matters most to me?
  5. How do I enjoy spending my time?
  6. What do I find unbearable?

The key is to keep asking yourself questions and take time to note the answers. While you may not have been a person who journaled in the past, now might be the time to put pen in hand and capture some of your musings.

Continue to dig away; share some of your thoughts with others, seek out a personal coach to share the journey with, or create a group of Third Actors who would like to support one another in this exploration.

Life Review
Self-knowledge is also a great starting point. This is the purpose of a life review, a time to reflect on the knowledge and wisdom you have accrued. Consider what in that knowledge stands out for you now as being important or worthy of learning more.

Additional questions/activities to consider:

  1. What parts of my accumulated experience are transferable to new activities/interests?
  2. What are my natural gifts/strengths?
    Consider taking one of the following assessments to determine your strengths: Via Strengths, Strengths Finder, Lumina Spark.
  3. What have been the most significant events/accomplishments during my life? Which of these lit me up and gave me joy? What was it that made the event so significant?
  4. What was it that as a child, pre-occupied me for hours, that I did not have a chance to pursue? Is now the time?

Digging Deep
All of these questions require a deeper dig than you might be accustomed to. As a generation, baby boomers have not been the most reflective types. Essentially, you began your career and simply showed up at work every day. Along the way you may have had a quarter or midlife crisis or two, where you may have stopped and wondered about the greater meaning of life. You may be better off now if that did happen as you have already experienced the process of questioning and introspection.

You may also have told yourself, or been told by others, to ‘get a grip’, this search for self is self-indulgent. In which case, you most likely abandoned the process and returned to doing what you had always done.

Regardless of your past experience, now is the time to look within. I love what Neale Donald Walsch says about this, “if you do not look within, you go without”. It is a worthwhile investment in yourself as you have all those days, months and years stretching before you that can be filled with meaningful activity, purpose and passion. This is a golden opportunity you do not want to miss.

And by the way, living with purpose and passion does not imply being out there in the world doing for others or engaged in activities. The importance of this journey is to understand what is truly meaningful for you, which might be writing, reading, painting or any solo endeavor that inspires you. There are no “should’s, have to’s or must do’s” at this time of your life. You are now free to choose what you want to do or be. You are free.

Freedom is the fragile neck of a daffodil after the longest of winters.
It’s the sound of your voice, without anyone drowning you out.
It’s having the grace to say yes, and more important, the right to say no.
At the heart of freedom, hope beats: a pulse of possibility.
Jodi Picoult, Small Great Things

What else?
Books, workshops, coaching – all of these are additional options for you to explore.

Remember , you have time, there is no deadline on self-discovery. It is a process and an opportunity to exercise your curiosity and to simply wonder, what if…

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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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