Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Healthy aging’

Humans are living longer. For those of you who are currently 65 years of age, there is a 50% chance that you will live to be 100. The numbers of centenarians are growing every year. The reality – with good health body, mind and spirit, you may become one of them.

What does this mean? Is it really appropriate to consider ‘retirement’ at least in the way our parents retired? As I was recently reminded, retirement is rooted in the French ‘retirer’ which means to withdraw, step away from. Do you see yourself withdrawing or stepping away simply because you find yourself in an age category which has been defined by society as retirement age? I hope not.

The Third Act is a way of offering you a new vocabulary. It is that time in your life post J.O.B. (Justifiable Occupation or Business) where you get to choose what you want to engage in. There is no need for you to put your feet up and whither into oblivion, although this is clearly an alternative choice.

An article in Psychology Today, April 2017, reported ‘that instead of heading en masse to retirement communities, 60-somethings are going back to school, starting new relationships, exploring their creativity, fighting for causes in which they believe, giving their time and money away, and yes, bucket listing”.

And while this is increasingly the trend, many individuals in their Third Act are still not clear on which path they should be taking. Research by Dr. Lawrence Samuel has found that, interestingly,  the financially secure are the most likely to be directionless.

Why? Too many options, too little self-knowledge, too little clarity regarding what is genuinely important. Yet with financial security, and the reality that you will most likely be healthy for many years, comes the opportunity to find the meaning and purpose that will engage you and allow you to continue to thrive. It is, as Ann Mortifee describes it, the Mysterious Journey

When a path opens up before us that leads we know not where, don’t be afraid to follow it. Our lives are meant to be mysterious journeys, unfolding one step at a time. Often, we follow a path worn smooth by the many and in doing so we lose our authenticity, our individuality, our own unique expression. Do not be afraid to lose your way. Out of chaos, clarity will eventually rise. Out of not knowing, something new and unknown will ultimately come. Do not order things too swiftly. Wait and the miracle will appear.”

The miracle will appear and you can guide the process by choosing to become clear and engaging in a transition process.

Transitions
In 1980 William Bridges first published his book Transitions – Making Sense of Life’s Changes. In his book, he described a transitions model which he defined in three stages: Endings, The Neutral Zone and New Beginnings.

Endings describes that time when you disengage in what you have known, whether this is a relationship, a job, a way of life or perhaps a habit in which you have been engaged. This is followed by dis-identification, a time when you recognize that this same relationship or job has in many ways defined who you are and the roles that you have played. You realize that this is no longer so. Your self-Identity had changed.

Disenchantment may follow, disappointment with the events that have forced these changes, even a sense of grief at having lost what you have known for so many years. Finally, you arrive at disorientation, the ‘now what’ and ‘where do I go from here?’

The Neutral Zone is a time to feel empty, to be lost in the woods, to explore and to discover. It is a place to struggle and flounder as well as a place and time to clarify and wonder. It is the gap between your former way of life and what awaits you. If you allow yourself to linger in this space, without self-judgment, the result can be rewarding and transformative.

You then approach New Beginnings, a realignment regarding what is important to you and what you want from life. Clarity is emerging leading you to understand the possibilities you have before you, what will engage you and what you want to dedicate time to. It is also time for action.

The New Transitions
I have always appreciated Bridges model. I have used it in my own life, used it as a coaching tool for individuals and teams, and trusted it. My only question, “Is it too simplistic?”

In recent research regarding the Third Act, I have uncovered the work of Dr. Edward Kelly who has taken the Bridges model and expanded it into what he considers to be the critical steps for transitioning into the Third Act. He has defined these stages as The Wake-Up Call, The Search, The Struggle, Breakthrough and Integration.

While the roots of these stages clearly lie within Bridges’ work, the added detail allows for a better understanding of the transition process, especially for the Third Act.

ME FIRST
If you haven’t already guessed. The most important aspect of transition is to dedicate time to it and to put yourself first. I define ME FIRST as an act of selfness, versus selfishness, a process whereby you dedicate time to take care of your business and issues first, allowing you to engage in life differently and become clear regarding your future. If this future happens to include an element of service to others,  then this time of reflective consideration will allow you to be more effective in how you approach this service to others.

THRIVING
I cannot think of a time in life when a focus on YOU could be any more important. The time you invest will lay the foundation upon which you will build your choices for the final act of your life.

Thriving in the Third Act is designed as a road-map for moving forward, away from the world you have known and into the world you now want. It is built upon the new transition model as proposed by Dr. Kelly as well as strategies designed to guide your reflections and explorations.

As a first step, I encourage you to consider the transition into the Third Act as an adventure, fueled by fun, driven by curiosity and directed by your desire and passion and as an opportunity to clear the decks, release old baggage, habits and way of living. All of this creates space for new possibilities and for engaging differently in your life.

Are you ready?

 

First thing we’d climb a tree and maybe then we’d talk
Or sit silently and listen to our thoughts
With illusions of someday casting a golden light
No dress rehearsal, this is our life.”

Gord Downie

Read Full Post »

I am back. After a hiatus from writing, accompanied by some exploration and reflection, I am exploring the possibility of pulling together a program/learning manual dedicated to Thriving in the Third Act. I always do better when I have a little structure.

In the upcoming weeks I thought I would use my blog to roll out the framework and hope that you, as my audience would offer some feedback to me. I have never written a book this way before, so bear with me. It is a new way of doing it for a new phase in life. So here is the first installment, the Forward:

Thriving in the Third Act

Forward

Tim Carroll, Artistic Director of the Shaw Theatre wrote this for the 2017 season:

“An actor friend of mine said once that all directors are either mechanics or gardeners. A mechanic solves problems so that the machine works; a gardener creates the conditions in which something can grow. Some of the most vital jobs at the Shaw require mechanics but to direct our plays, I want gardeners.”

As I read this, I could not help but reflect on how his words not only applies to plays, they applied to life. If you simply replaced the word play with the Third Act, would the same sentiment not also apply. You can be mechanical in your approach to the Third Act. You can address whatever issues you have identified with a mechanistic approach of ‘let’s fix it’, as if life were a machine that has simply broken down. In fact, this has been in my view, the way in which retirement planning has been approached, a plan which deals dominantly with finances and the practical aspects of the Third Act years.

Or, you can decide to be gardeners and create the conditions for your Third Act whereby you can thrive. And what does thriving mean: feeling curious and engaged, exploring how you might use your gifts, talents and experience differently, being of service both to yourself and others and more.

Carroll went on to say that gardening in theatre work means “a process in which rehearsals are playful and exploratory. It means we don’t try to nail down the ‘right’ version of a scene; we play inside it and allow it to reveal itself.

Isn’t that just perfect. The Third Act is not a new job, it is simply your life’s work and experience. There is no requirement to ‘nail’ it down. The experience is designed to be softer, easier, free-flowing allowing you to ’play inside it and reveal itself ’.

I think this is perhaps the most important aspect of the Third Act, a stage in life, and if you will your ‘two-thirds life crisis’, when you transition into a new phase. It need not be governed by goals as many of you have been forced to live by during your working careers. It is most likely best expressed through intentions, the knowledge of what you want with no need to understand exactly how you will obtain this. Goals nail down the results whereas intentions allow you to live into this new phase of life and let it be revealed.

That said, what you want may not be obvious. I know that has been the case for me. In fact, the ‘do not wants’ have been much more clear at times, most of them predicated on a fear of boredom, and becoming a ‘couch potato’.

Welcome to Thriving in the Third Act, a personal self-discovery journey for ME, as I learn to transition from my career as a coach/consultant into my Third Act and one which I invite you to share.

Read Full Post »

The spark for change is change.

From this morning’s message from the Universe, this short quote emerged. If you don’t subscribe to Messages from the Universe already, I highly recommend this – go to http://www.tut.com for your daily dose of wisdom and humor.

Change – there has been a great deal of that going around these days. Change and Transition. In my view transition is the human side of change, how we react and respond to the events around us that influence our lives. As we all know change is inevitable and there is that platitude, ‘change is the only constant‘. Curse change if you will and apparently you cannot escape it. Do you then embrace it or is that simply expecting too much?

I will admit that I am a person who seeks change. In my younger years I was plagued by boredom which resulted in me changing jobs at an alarming rate. I thought that a new venue would be more interesting even though the work with the inherent responsibilities were the same. Self-employment has been ideal for me as a result, as you get to create what you do, you can shift responsibilities around, search for new directions – you get the picture. And somewhere in there you need consistency and direction otherwise self-employment will spin out of control. Fortunately I have also been purposeful and yes, somewhat driven, which makes the changes upon me now the most challenging ones. This change is my transition into retirement.

Over the last few months I have been musing about this eventuality. The decision to release my ‘work’ responsibilities has not come lightly or easily. And, by the way I am not there yet although well on my way. As a self-employed coach, consultant, facilitator and teacher, my work has taken on many forms through the years from corporate consulting to individual coaching, from running and facilitating retreats and workshops to public speaking. I have never been bored in any of these roles because of the diversity and the variety which this approach has offered me. And trust me, I still love all of it.

So why retire or as I prefer to think of it re-tire. I have been living with a number of questions recently, the most important of which is “what is left for me to do or be in my Third Act?” I am ready for change and for new frontiers to explore. This awareness has led to my understanding that if my plate is still filled by all the activities that I have consistently been involved in, there is no room for anything new. Change sparks change. Emptying the plate creates space for something else.

When I first landed on the literature regarding the Third Act, my interested piqued by both the language and the possibility of what’s next for me, I decided that understanding this would be part of my continuing journey. The thing was, I was premature in thinking that my timing was right to dive in. After a few weeks of playing with the material and planning, I put it aside. I was acutely aware that I was not ready to pursue this. There were a few transitional steps to complete before jumping into a new arena.

In his book Transitions, William Bridges describes the first step as ENDINGS. Sounds easy! Yet endings implies letting go and I have found this to be a challenging process. First you need to make a decision to let something go. Then you need to actually do it and then you need to be in the impact of that decision which, from my experience, has been both grief and relief. First I decided that we would take on no new clients. That wasn’t so bad as we have, and continue to have, corporate clients who keep us well occupied. This was followed by decisions to stop offering weekend retreats, stop our monthly Healthy Living Cafe, and finally to stop writing my monthly newsletter. I also gave up my license to marry people and stepped down from my role as chairperson of the local arts council. These decisions took place over a two-year period, allowing me to deal with one ‘loss’ after the other. A wise decision and one I recommend for anyone, as an all or nothing approach can have a devastating effect.

Interestingly, I have led my own transition. I have made my choices when I intuitively knew it was time. There will be more decisions to make down the pike. In all, the changes have been emotional yes, and relatively easy because of the pace.

What of the person who retires from a  ‘conventional job’ where one day you are working full throttle and the next day you are not. This is a more significant shift, one which many folks are not prepared for. This is where Third Act planning can help and hence where my interest lies.

And now that I have emptied my plate from a significant amount of responsibility, the space is there for me to explore. I am now entering my CREATIVE ZONE, the second phase of Bridges’ transition model. It is not a time to fill the plate with new doings, it is a time to consider options, be curious and explore. It is a time for life review and capturing the things that ‘light me up’. It is a time to acknowledge my gifts, talents and strengths and wonder as to how these might be engaged in some new way. It feels freeing and exciting and a little scary.

Care to join me?

Until next time…..

Betty

 

 

Read Full Post »

crossing-over

Crossing Over

Between two worlds you
linger, waiting for freedom.
Choice is everything.

I feel compelled to write about the conversations and work we did with my mother-in-law Dorothy during her recent illness, choices that were designed to offer her freedom.

In a world that has sometimes become sterile, devoid of the important intimate conversations of living and dying, it is easy to let things slide. We believe we cannot speak of what’s next or talk opening about death. It has however, been my learning that these are not only important conversations, they are life-giving.

Certainly, as a family none of us wanted to see Dorothy leave us; she is loved and certainly a formidable matriarch and presence in our lives. Yet as she was fading, we also spoke openly about the possibility of her leaving and that all we wanted was to support her choice, to allow her the freedom to leave or stay.

During her sickest days, each of us spoke gently with her, reassuring her that we would support whatever decision she made. I personally spent time with her massaging her back and legs, offering comfort, and holding the intention for ‘highest good’. I understood that highest good for her may not seem so for me.

The other choice we offered mom was ‘energy work’, something called IET or Integrated Energy Therapy. This technique is designed to communicate at the spiritual level and when you are as ill as Dorothy was, the spiritual gate is wide open. Our therapist, Genevieve, is gifted, gentle, mindful and truly tuned in. Working with this technique offered mom the additional energy she required to pursue freedom in whatever form she chose.

I believe that the combination of the family support we offered Dorothy, the honesty and the energy work, gave her a conduit in which to fully understand the choices available to her. She was embraced by love and respect. There was no drama, just a family united. And I believe this has made the difference in her recovery as she is alive again, in a way she was not even before she became sick.

Living is dying and dying is living. It serves no one to steer away from this reality and in fact allows us to be more whole as human beings. Dorothy chose life, for now, and in this choice I am observing a new zest for life.

My lesson in all of this is that we simply need to offer one another the freedom of choice, to know that living or dying is a personal choice that we get to make for ourselves. Giving permission to others to make this choice , to unselfishly let them go if we must, is the greatest gift we can offer another.

FREEDOM!

Read Full Post »

I swear my mother-in-law Dorothy is like a cat; it is evident that she has nine lives. My only concern is that by my count she has lived at least seven of them. Two week’s ago she was clearly on a downhill trajectory, unable to recover from a severe gastrointestinal flu and complaining a terrible stomach pain. Multiple ER visits were leading us nowhere (more on that later). any attempt to receive additional care services were in vain. we were in that no man’s land where families often arrive. Even with three health care professionals in the family, we were at a loss as to how to support her.

I reached out to her former surgeon and a friend of mine who immediately referred her to Palliative Care and the physician who leads the community program. The first thing she did was totally clean up the medication Dorothy was consuming daily. It seemed radical, but several on the meds have known GI side effects. That was six days ago. This morning on the physician’s follow-up visit, Dorothy was a new woman. She is eating again and enjoying her food. Her mobility is improving. Her mood is light. She is BACK!

Polypharmacy, yes this is a diagnosis, is common in the elderly. Drugs get added and rarely removed. I am finding that drugs are not being reviewed on a regular basis by family physicians, which is by the way, part of their role. Family physicians are the gate keepers for their older patients. They need to be informed as to the side effects of medications and they need to monitor the possible drug interactions.

Secondly frequent ER visits by an elderly patient should be a red flag for those attending to her care. Several of my physician colleagues were dismayed to hear that no one connected the dots for Dorothy and no one referred her for follow-up care post hospital stay. I assume that those who discharged her thought she lived in a nursing home which is not the case.

Finally, we have a home care system which, at least from my experience to date, is not working. They have been contacted three times in the last two weeks, by myself, the residence where Dorothy lives, and the palliative care physician. to date they have not made a visit.

Let me be clear – I am over the moon grateful for her recovery! Fortunately she has more resilience than most women her age and an amazing network of family support. Without this she would no longer be here.

And I have learned that having a health care advocate is essential. My message to those of you reading this is to stand up for and speak out for the care of your elderly parents. Without my interventions and the help of my colleague, Dorothy would not have been referred to Palliative Care.

I now understand that we as a family needed to be more clear on insisting that she relieve a referral to home care follow-up before being discharged. My advice to you – don’t assume anything.

Finally be a bad ass – a squeaky wheel if you have to. I plan to follow-up with home care today to find out what is going on.

As we all age in our Third Act, we will need to advocate for ourselves as well. While we need to be reasonable in our requests, we need to speak up when we are not being heard, to stand for our own well-being, and to expect the health care we pay for in our taxes. I personally am not a big health care user at the same time I am currently awaiting an appointment to the Joint Assessment Clinic. It took my family physician five weeks to make the referral after we discussed it. Is this reasonable – I don’t honestly know. Is she busy – yes. The thing is, stay with your requests.

Okay, this is my RANT for today. The Canadian health care system is amazing as we all know. We need only yo look to our southern neighbors to realize that we are fortunate. And the system has its flaws which we can all work on to correct. Let’s work together on this, be grateful, show appreciation for our health care workers and advocate for ourselves and others.

Read Full Post »

We have all fallen prey to the ageist beliefs that pervade society and show up in everyday conversations. Likewise, as you approach retirement and your Third Act, you will be wondering what is in store for me. Speaking for myself, I truly dislike the word “retire” as it had always felt like the equivalent of disengaged, coach potato, slowing down, ‘disappearing’ from life. My preference would be to re-tire, put on new treads, or re-fire, examine the possibilities and ignite my inner fire.

I am in a fortunate position though. I re-tired from health care when I was only 47 and began a new career, forming my own business and engaging in corporate coaching and consulting. Here I am almost 20 years later, still engaged, and changing gears. I get to re-invent myself and I have the experience to do it. This is not so for everyone. Despite this I still hold the same fears about what’s next, will I still be vital and active, will my brain and my body hold up, will what I do and who I be matter, and more.

To that end, I began to explore and examine some of the myths concerning me in terms of the Third Act. Here are a few excerpted from my search.

Your Destiny is Out of Your Control According to the American Journal of Psychiatry, Your Third Act offers you more control over your destiny than you might believe. As you enter the Third Act, your choices actually increase rather than diminish. If you have chosen to retire, even more so. Your choices include how you spend your time, how you engage your personal strengths and accrued wisdom, how you choose to live your life on a daily basis. Remembering that you have control, it is then your choice to take certain steps to define the Third Act you wish to have.

You will Lose Your Tribe and Be Lonely There is no doubt that when you leave the J.O.B. (Justifiable Occupation or Business) and opt for retirement, that a significant loss is your tribe – your work colleagues. The interesting thing is that your social intelligence, your ability to meet and get along with others, grows as you get older. Dr. Margaret Gatz of USC reports that “you get better at sizing people up, at understanding how relationships work and at not getting into an argument”. In other words, you get to choose who you hang with and you no longer have to get along with everyone simply because you work with them. Yeah! Remember, socializing is in important choices in terms of supporting a healthy brain. You are wired to connect.

You will Stop Learning and Growing You can’t teach an old dog new tricks! NO! Studies on neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to change its structure as the result of major trauma or brain injury, has helped science to understand that the brain is constantly changing and responding to experience. From a Positive Psychology point of view, you can employ self-directed neuroplasticity, using this to nurture new habits, manage your inner self-talk, develop self-compassion, and so on. Meditation and mindfulness, dedicating quiet time to allow your brain to shift and re-wire is supported by studies done with Buddhist monks and other meditators. It is an exciting new frontier which those of us in the Third Act can employ. Your brain has limitless capacity to learn and re-wire.

Your Physical Abilities will Decline Not true. Just as with the previous decades you get to choose. The adage, use it or lose it applies just as it always has. Muscle strength and tone can be maintained and even grown, depending on the activities in which you engage. And yes, there are all those warnings about ‘arthritis’ setting in and osteoporosis, and while these are risk factors, many Third Acters will never develop these issues. Invest in your body and it will invest in you.

You won’t BE Happy Research doesn’t support this, in fact, studies suggest that once you get beyond the 40’s it is uphill. Most Third Acters report feeling more contentment and opportunity because of their new found freedom. The Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization found that people are “at their happiest at retirement age.” Will this continue? That depends on the decisions you make regarding your Third Act.

You’ll Be Stuck with Bad Habits

Changing habits at any age is a matter of personal choice. The reality of aging is that you have more time to dedicate to your health, should this be a habit you wish to cultivate. From a Positive Psychology Perspective, developing new habits is a matter of understanding your motivation or the reward that you seek, identifying specific cues that you can associate habit formation with, and then supporting the habit you wish to develop. Be forewarned, old habits don’t die, they are replaced with new and better ones.

You’ll Stop having Sex

Here’s the good news for Third Acters, if you have had a healthy sex life before the Third Act, there is no reason for this to abruptly end. In fact, recent studies of those well over 60 suggest that we want to experience and enjoy sex. A national survey of 75-85 year olds reported the ¾ of male and ½ of female respondents reported that they were sexually active. Okay, as women, we have some work to do!

You’ll Feel Old When I was a physiotherapist working in Long Term Care, and during the completion of my Certificate in Gerontology, I conducted a survey with 40 of my most senior residents. I was curious how old they felt, not what they saw in the mirror, but what they felt inside. I was surprised to learn that most of them told me they ‘felt’ about 35. My data is supported by a 2009 PEW Research Study which found that “the older people are, the younger they feel”. The researchers observed that the gap between chronological age and “age felt” grew wider as people grew older. It supports our commonly held belief that you are as old as you feel!

Take time to examine your beliefs in regard to aging and retirement. Ask yourself if these are perfect for you. If they aren’t re-write them. Always remember, you get to choose!

Reference: 10 Misconceptions About Aging, Huffington Post

Read Full Post »