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Posts Tagged ‘Healthy aging’

My coach Patty frequently reminded me that in life there are many choices and we get to choose what it is we want. She suggested that we chose in favor of ‘what lights us up’. While we no longer have our weekly calls, I find myself considering her advice more often than not, reminding myself that at this stage of life, my Third Act, I can finally give myself permission to choose for me. With obligation, responsibility, ‘shoulds’ and more fading into the background of my life, I finally can choose what lights me up.

The re-awakening of this idea came through a conversation with one of my coaching clients last week. Like many of us, her retirement has been dedicated to several causes. Being the loyal person she is, it has been challenging for her to say no or to step away from a group or cause once she has committed. And like many of us who are living our Third Act, she is slowly and progressively burning out because the work involved no longer lights her up. Fortunately for her, she is aware of this and is seeking coaching to understand how to extricate herself from the circumstances she has co-created and to begin making different choices for herself and what comes next?

As each of us moves forward at this time in life, perhaps any time in life, there are a few intentional questions that we might consider asking ourselves before jumping in…Does this choice light me up?

  • Does this choice bring me joy?
  • Does this choice pique my curiosity, engage me, inspire me to help me learn?
  • Does this choice serve to feed my soul, my purpose, my passion?
  • Does this choice contribute to the legacy I wish to leave for others?
  • Does this choice have meaning to me?

Have you asked yourself any of these questions? I have and I have also forgotten to. I still find myself saying yes to things that do not respect any of the above and most certainly do not light me up. The thing is, others know that you are capable, perhaps a go-getter and probably reliable, so they ask you to get involved. And out of some sense of obligation or loyalty to them, you say yes. The thing is, in doing so, you are being disloyal to yourself.

As stated earlier, life is about choice. It is my hope for me and for you that we begin making the choices that light us up because if not now, when? This is the opportunity of the Third Act.

All that said, you may be reading this and thinking, ” I haven’t a fu__ing clue what lights me up. Maybe, maybe not. If you have never explored the idea, how would you know. Maybe what lights you up lives under layers and layers of responsibility and obligation. It might be that you need to clear your plate of anything you are currently engaged in to create space for new possibilities. It’s challenging to see an entirely new landscape if you are living in the basement.

So start here:

  • List all of the activities that currently occupy your time.
  • Run them through the filter – the questions listed above. Do they fit any of the criteria?
  • Decide which of these activities you will drop (it doesn’t need to be all of them but at least some of them). This is called space management.
  • Before replacing any activity take a time out. Set an intention: “I am attracting opportunities that light me up, that bring me joy, that inspire and engage me”.
  • When something appears, especially if it is something totally unexpected, exercise your curiosity and explore it.
  • Check in with your heart frequently, your head not so much. If you find yourself excited or intrigued, you are in the right ball park.

It all sounds simple and it is. We are the filter that complicates things.

The key is making mindful decisions for your Third Act and how you want to play in the world. Look before you leap, reflect before you commit, be true to yourself and your desires. And, most importantly, have FUN!

Until next time,

Betty

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It is challenging not to notice the changes that aging creates, especially in our bodies. Having experienced the ravages of inflammatory arthritis over the last few years, and the physical limitations this has imposed, it would be and is easy to go down the road of ‘getting old sucks’.

Of course, the last few weeks have bee particularly challenging as I had my first Total Knee Replacement of January 5th. This is part of the reason I have been absent from blogging. For those of you who have experienced this surgery, you know that the first two weeks are brutal, there is no sugar coating required. Beyond the two-week mark, things get easier, or at least they did for me, and you are able to see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. I will be quite honest and admit that the journey has been tougher than even I imagined, especially knowing that I have the opportunity of doing it again with the other knee.

Okay, enough! What has the journey really been about? Moving forward, frankly. Giving myself the opportunity to have pain free knees that allow me to enjoy the walking that has always been so important to me and resuming a life style I want to live. Yes, getting old sucks and yes, there are things we can do about it.

Over the last 3 + weeks I have had ample opportunity for reflection, it seems to me that healing has been occurring at many different levels. While the physical limitations have left me somewhat housebound, I have been given the gift of reflection time. I have focused on what’s changing and shifting: work, where we live, what I really want, releasing and so much more. Too bad I needed surgery to create these conditions however it is important to note that with every change or even loss lies the possibility of opportunity.

I have also recognized how little compassion I offer myself. Actually, it was Jim who noticed as he watched me push through my exercises every day, endure the discomfort and become discouraged. “Why are you so hard on yourself”, he would ask. “You are progressing each day. Notice the improvements and have a little compassion for yourself.” Thank God, I have a cheerleader.

He was right. The moment I shifted gears and began to offer myself more love and compassion, the better I felt and the better my knee seemed. Now I am looking for the small signs of progress everyday like finally being able to put on my own sock, walk comfortably without a cane, get in and out of regular chairs, and more.

All this to say that we can agree that getting old sucks just as we can agree that when things change, we create new opportunities. What we focus on is the source of our energy and while it might be a tad more challenging to see the good in life with each passing year, our attitude is an essential ingredient in our long-term health. This time off has allowed me to dream, to explore possibilities, to consider options and most importantly to begin planning my retirement and what will engage my spirit. It really has been perfect after all!

Let’s all agree that staying positive is essential for each of us to thoroughly engage in and enjoy our Third Act.

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A friend and fellow coach recently visited her homeland following a few years of living in Canada. Upon returning, she and her husband felt drawn back to the area and are now contemplating this as a possible choice for their retirement. And while this is a few years off, she and I began to reflect on our shared journeys of ‘coming home’.

Jim and I recently decided that post Tigh Shee, our current home, we will live in Cornwall, the city where we both grew up. Now I did not plan on this as I was happy to move away and move on from Cornwall when I left at 19, not anticipating that I would ever chose to return. And here we are…coming home?

Likewise, both of us have been playing with ‘what’s next’? Neither of us are in the mood or have the desire to be pounding the pavement promoting our services. Both of us continue to work, or as we prefer to say ‘play’ as when work is what you love, it does not seem like work. And likewise, we have both been allowing the work to come to us with the intention of attracting what is in our ‘highest good’. So far this approach has been filling our schedule to the extent that we want..

Back to the idea of ‘coming home’, there is this theory that you cannot go home again. I believe that there are two sides to this saying.

First, you cannot go home if going home means returning to the ways things once were and expecting that life will be the same. This is not possible as you have changed, life has changed, others have changed, everything has changed.

On the other hand, there is another side of coming home, the side that encourages you to get back in touch with YOU as you once were, before all the layers of responsibility fell on your shoulders, before you went to work and lost yourself. It is a remembering process and the de-cluttering process we discuss in the Third Act. Back to your roots and what is truly important to you today and for the immediate future; free of the expectations of others, free of the rules you have had to play by to be successful, free to be YOU.

And it is a simpler you – beneath all the layers, the years of clutter, the should’s and more, there is an essential you who knows what is important and what is meaningful. I am not saying it is always easy to see who you once were, I am simply saying that ‘coming home’ is a process, one that requires attention, reflection, and a few probing questions.

Reclaiming yourself, as you once wanted to be and can be now, is the process of coming home and being fully engaged in your Third Act.

Conscious Aging

In an article by Kerry Temple-Wood, I was made aware of a new term: eldering. Okay I sometimes think that we actually try too hard to invent new language for an emerging situation. Eldering does not resonate with me however, the definition does: Conscious Aging.

The article begins with the call to Boom rather than Bust as we age, addressing the ageist society we currently live by cultivating an attitude that honors our value. This means it is our work to create new roadmaps for ourselves, and become new role models for society.

The author goes on to share:
We have the opportunity to open the doorway—to forge the path of aging consciously, successfully, and mindfully. As we pioneer a new aging process, we can honor our ripening by making life-enhancing choices to become both radiant and wise. …

As parents and community members, we try everything in our power to support our young people with healthy self-esteem, confidence, skills, and resilience. Why then, do we sell ourselves short past 50?

Why do we let ourselves be sold to, convinced that aging is negative, to be avoided and fought against?

Why is older, experienced, and hopefully wiser, not better?

If “youth is wasted on the young,” then why are we not taking the lessons and experiences we’ve learned, and putting them to better use for ourselves and our communities as we age?

Temple-Wood closes with a call to action which reminds us to check in with our own mindset in regard to aging. Have we assumed it will be all downhill from here or are we prepared to set our course for aging mindfully, consciously and with intention?

This is where I am setting my sights!

 

Until next time…

Betty

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In this conversation Transitioning into the Third Act, we have arrived at the final phase of the model INTEGRATION. It is the obvious consequence of waking up to your new circumstance and wondering what is next, searching the landscape for what the new possibilities are, releasing old habits that no longer serve you and de-cluttering your life, and breaking through to see a new vision for your life emerging.

INTEGRATION feels like a happy, contented place to land.

As I look at this from my perspective I am finding that INTEGRATION takes time to achieve and in some ways, I wonder if it really ever happens, or if it does, if it is only temporary. At the moment it is an elusive target.

Like any model of change and transition, the stages are rarely linear meaning that you circle around. You have this magical AHA moment where you realize that you have this blank canvas before you and you get to decide what masterpiece you paint. Cool! The search begins. But does the search ever end? If you and I are true to ourselves, we may want to exercise perpetual curiosity, keeping the search open. Just sayin’.

And then the struggle – the de-cluttering of one’s life. Okay, clearly this happens in layers. If I have learned anything over the last few weeks, it is that clearing one layer simply opens another layer, opens another layer and so on. The perfect metaphor for me has been our decision to place our house on the market, understanding that we are choosing to downsize and simplify. Seventeen years in one location, forty-four years of marriage, and what do you have – more stuff than you can imagine. An interesting note here is that I have always complemented myself on my ability to de-clutter. Guess what – I forgot to look in the corners. And isn’t this just like life!

And then there is Breakthrough when we begin to see the possibilities for what we want emerging. Layers of clarity dust away the blurred edges of a future vision. As the edges sharpen, it sometimes means going back to the Search for more information. Occasionally you can see you are standing in your own way so you need more de-cluttering and attitude adjustment. The process is circular.

This enhanced understanding of transitioning into the Third Act is helpful. Change and transition is a dynamic process, it is never-ending and if we are honest with ourselves, it is probably what keeps us alive and engaged.

So now what?

Integration is the time to create a plan of action. What is it you want? What has been highlighted for you through the other phases that you now wish to pursue. Unlike other times in your life, you may not need to identify specific goals however, you may wish to declare your intentions. For example:

“I am engaged and inspired; I am attracting opportunities that build from my strengths and interests. I am open to exploring new possibilities for learning and expressing my great gifts.”

In terms of goals, “In the next four weeks I will identify 1-2 possible opportunities for me to explore; I plan to sign up for a course in creative writing in January; and so on”. Goals have a concrete action or outcome.

And then there is work – the roadSIGNS Coach continues to be Open for Business and I have yet to grow weary of work. There are days where I say I will pull back and stop and then a roadSIGN appears which suggests ‘Not Yet’. It appears that an essential part of my Third Act will be to continue teaching, facilitating and coaching, building on everything I have learned over the last 20 years and expanding the work.

Interesting, in simply writing these few words, it feels valid and true. So it would seem that one of my intentions for moving forward is as follows,

I am Open for Business. I am facilitating and coaching. I am expanding my work into the Third Act of my life.

Now this feels like integration.

I would be interesting to hearing from my readers on what has become clear to you in this journey.

Until Next Time,

Betty

Addendum


This past week I offered my first workshop ‘Thriving in the Third Act’. This is part of my integration, the knowing that I would like to share this journey with others, provide a bit of a framework for living a healthy and engaging Third Act and to continue learning.

If anyone would like to join in on this journey, you need only to notify me. It is my plan to begin offering a Thriving in the Third Act Program in 2018. This may be after all the dust settles with our eminent move, however, it is an idea that lights me up. Who’s in?

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Compassion seems to be the theme running through my life and the lives of others these days. It could also be that I am noticing all the signs as I prepare for a retreat mid-October entitled ‘The Healing Power of Self-Compassion’.

So what have I been noticing?

First is Ed, a 65 + fellow who was participating in a program called Choices and where I was a guest facilitator. My topic was the importance of goals and intentions. While the class was diverse, participants of different age groups as well as reasons for being there, it was clear that Ed was struggling with his Third Act choices.

Although my interaction with him was as part of the group, what I saw was an amazing fellow who did not believe in himself, his worth or what he had to offer the world. At the end of the morning he expressed his desire to simply find his voice and identify opportunities for feeling some level of confidence in speaking.

What was really holding him back was his self-critic, literally roaring in his ear. As I have learned, this voice generally shouts: “You are not worth it” and/or “Who do you think you are”. And that is very damaging, especially when it isolates you and makes you feel like you are the only person who has this voice.

Next is Eileen who I met just last evening. A former nurse and nurse educator, you can see that this is a woman with great knowledge and a desire to share. Because she is also a survivor of coronary disease, she also has firsthand knowledge of  heart care for women. In other words, she is impressive.

In a conversation with her during a New Beginnings Workshop, she expressed her sense of being under-engaged, feeling a lack of purpose. The critical part of her was telling her that this was the time in her life for her to take care of her and that this was the most important focus. After all she had dedicated her life to caring for others. During our conversation I pointed out to her that this is not an either-or discussion. This is a trap I believe many of us fall into, that to focus on ‘ME FIRST” is a unilateral event however, by my definition ME FIRST is predicated on selfness – taking care of self so as to leverage one’s ability to care for others.

As our conversation continued, I suggested to Eileen that perhaps it was a ‘both-and’ conversation, that she could focus on self-care as well as continuing to offer her gifts to others. In doing so I encouraged her to dip into the past, her experiences and wisdom, harvest the gems and notice her passion, and attract opportunities for engaging these. As the discussion continued, I could see her simply ‘light-up’.

 

We Are Our Own Worst Enemy
For both Ed and Eileen, it was evident their self-critics were having a field day. This is the absence of self-compassion. The stories they were telling themselves, the criticism they were levying upon their shoulders, were undermining their enjoyment of life. They would never have dreamed of criticizing others in this way and this is what happens. You are much harder on yourself than you would ever be on others.

This needs to stop. All of us need to step into a role of being our own best friend and ally, that person who sits in our corner and lifts us up and stops putting us down. Trust me, self-criticism will never lead to happiness, only self-compassion can do that.

 

The Three Steps to Self-Compassion

Based on the research of psychologists Kristen Neff and Brene Brown, there are three essential components in cultivating self-compassion:

  1. Self-Kindness vs Self-Judgment
    Self-kindness is simply easing up, being gentler and kinder in your comments to yourself. You can start by considering what you might say to someone else in a similar circumstance. What words of caring or encouragement would you offer a child, a spouse, a friend or a colleague facing a specific situation. Now offer those words to yourself. You are just as deserving, just as important, just as gifted. There is absolutely no need for you to put yourself down.
    Secondly, when facing a situation where you are tempted to come down hard on yourself, think before you leap. Ask yourself what you really need at that moment. Do you really need more criticism making the situation worse, or do you need some loving kindness. Consider the difference this might make for you in moving forward.
  2. Common Humanity vs Isolation
    As someone who has great mastery in self-criticism, I can tell you that for many years I thought I was the only one who thought this way, who could be genuinely mean to myself. You see, this is something we just don’t talk about. Sometimes I wonder if we should have a party and all come as our respective self-critics!
    When I began to discuss this with other about 20 years ago, I discovered very quickly that I was not alone, that most of us had a ‘Negative Nellie’ sitting on our shoulder who was willing to jump in at any point and reek emotional havoc.
    The second aspect of self-compassion is to recognize that you are not alone, that being imperfect is part of the human experience. We all have an inner-critic – it is best to simply accept him/her, shake hands with that devil and move on. It is helpful to share his/her words and messages with others. You may be surprised at other people’s stories about themselves.
    Also recognize that making mistakes, which is the self-critic’s fuel, is normal. And, not only is it normal, it is important for mistakes are where we learn and grow.
  3. Mindfulness vs Over-Identification
    So how do you start. My experience has been that much of the critical noise in my head is like elevator music. It is playing constantly and I am not mindfully aware of it. The first step in taming the critic is to become aware of what you are actually telling yourself, to pay attention to the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that are showing up.
    Then you can exercise compassion and come back to kindness and ask yourself, “what would I rather think or feel? What other behaviors would be better for me?”

In other words, you begin learning to re-program the critic. You make compassionate choices which lift you up, which celebrate who you are, and which acknowledge your gifts.

This may seem like a lot of work, and it is, and it is important work.

A little compassion goes a long way and can help you have the most amazing Third Act journey. It no longer serves you to put yourself down, and it no longer serves anyone else either. It is time for you to live up to all the potential stored inside of you. This will be fueled by every ounce of compassion you can give yourself.

Take a look at this short video as well:

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We have been experiencing a remarkable fall-summer with daily temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius. It feels like the summer we did not have in July and August and while others complain about the heat and humidity I find myself savoring the experience.

Early this morning I stepped outside into the warmth of another day, breathed in the air, sighed and blessed the day. I proceeded to walk the labyrinth, newly weeded and pampered before the upcoming labyrinth walk this weekend. As I stepped, attempting to be mindful with the placement of my feet, I considered those in other locations and lands who are less fortunate than me . I prayed for them and I appreciated the abundance surrounding me.

I have often wondered why was I born in the time and in this place, in this country and among these people. And while there have been a few trying times, life for the most part has been really good to me. Do you ever ask yourself these questions?

I have learned that a vital part of the Third Act is to conduct a life review. This is more of a process than a specific exercise. Life review encourages you to go back over the various phases of your life and to highlight the times in your life when you felt accomplished, engaged, curious and fulfilled. While this may be associated with achievements, I would suggest that achievements are more ego based where accomplishment and engagement are more heart based.

In other words, what were those times in your life when you felt ‘lit up’?

Taking the time to look at these events is an important part of forming your Third Act Plan. This is the time in your life when you have fewer obligations and more freedom to choose. (Yes you might be supporting aging parents as we are, or children who still live at home for whatever reason and, I suggest, you still get to choose.)

Life Review is designed to be an uplifting exercise. You can take it in the other direction if you wish and focus on your regrets. I suggest that this may not be useful as this does not serve you in moving forward.

Two Approaches
1) Draw a Life Map

Drawing your Life Map is a simple process whereby your record your life within specific time frames, example ages 0 through 10, 10 through 20, and so on and from your recollection indicate what happened during those years. Using the guidelines above, keeping your focus on accomplishments, what engaged you, what made you curious and so on, will help you focus on what important. Record things that were both small and great as you do not know where the true gems live.

For example: when I was quite young, I loved to play with dolls. I would line them up in a home-made tent and this became my classroom. I would teach them. This memory became very important to me when I felt disconnected from my career choice as a physiotherapist. I knew I was a teacher and this was one of the things that truly lit me up. It still does. Two days ago, I had the opportunity to teach a morning workshop at Tri-County Literacy. So much fun!

2) Write your Stories
A second strategy is to take three of the accomplishments you noted during your Life Review and write about them. Describe the event, what happened, how you felt. Returning to the feeling of the event is critical as this is where inspiration is born. Notice how you re-connect with these feelings as you re-experience the event.

Ask yourself:

  • is there anything left undone about this experience or time in my life?
  • what does this experience mean in the context of what I want to experience in my Third Act?
  • What new dreams/possibilities does this event conjure up?
  • What did I start that feels incomplete?
  • Where did I sparkle? Where would I like to shine again?

Finally, once you have drawn your Life Map and recorded your stories, share them. Speaking about them is as powerful as recording them and adds new energy and understanding in the telling. It is part of your history and as such, might be best shared with close friends or family.

Remember, you are mining for information, information that will infuse your decisions about what’s next and for an inspired Third Act.

Until next time
Betty

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Today is September 21st, the first day of autumn, a time of year when the leaves turn to gold, scarlet and umber, when the geese fly in V-formation to their destinations in the south, when summer officially ends. Change. And with that change, and the endings that the final days of summer brings, comes the opportunity for many new beginnings.

Space is created in your life for other activities, interests and pursuits. Having divested yourself of activities and responsibilities that no longer serve you or hold your interest, you can begin exploring what it is you truly want to invest your time in. It is a time to cultivate your curiosity as to what the new possibilities might be for your Third Act; to develop your sense of what the possibilities are for you.


Getting Started
What do you want?

As a coach, I have come to understand that this is the question most people cannot answer. So let me propose a strategy for you in approaching this question.

When asked, ‘do you know what you don’t want?’, most people are clear that they do. This is a time in your life to re-focus, to ‘flip’ your ‘do not wants’ into ‘do wants’. Why is this important? Simply said, clarity. Any new journey is much more effective if you know what it is you want to experience. By the way, this does not mean you need to have goals per se, it simply means you will benefit from being intentional. Here is how it works:

  1. Name what you ‘do not want’
    I do not want to be bored. I do not want to be a couch potato.
  2. Flip-It
    I want to be fully engaged. I want to feel like I am contributing/making a difference.
  3. Create an intention – bring what you want in to an active state.
    I am fully engaged in my life and living my Third Act.
    I am curious and open to new ideas and opportunities.
    I am attracting opportunities that align with my values and what is important to me.

Intentions provide you with a framework for your Third Act.

You will notice that they differ from goals as they have no specific or concrete outcomes attached to them. They are designed to be expansive, to clarify what you want and to allow for options to show themselves to you.

I always liken intentions to placing an order in a restaurant. In this case you are placing an order for your life and putting it out there. I do suggest writing them down and sharing them with others. Every step you take to shine a light on your intentions, magnifies the energy behind them and by the way, once stated and shared, be prepared to be surprised.

Vision Boards
Once you have your few intentions in the hopper, and I recommend creating a vision board. Not only is this fun and creative, it brings further clarity and energizes your intentions.

To get started you simply need the following:

  1. a few good magazines, especially ones you enjoy reading.
  2. scissors, glue stick and a large piece of bristle board

With one of your intentions in mind, such as I am fully engaged in my Third Act, begin flipping through your magazines. Any time you see a quote or an image which speaks to you or attracts you, tear it out. Continue for 15-20 minutes. Follow your intuition and do not question why this or that.

Next trim the images and quotes and begin pasting them to the bristle board in whatever fashion you prefer. There is no need to group them although you can, simply cover the space with the images and quotes that inspired you. Once completed, step back and consider what you have chosen for your board.

I highly recommend doing this activity with someone else or a group and then sharing your vision boards. Ask others what they see. Encourage them to ask you questions about your choices. Listen for additional insights that you might gain through this discussion. Then place your Vision board in a place where you can see it for the upcoming days and weeks.

Watch for the SIGNS
Breakthrough happens when you realize that your intentions really are shaping your life. This cannot happen though if you are not paying attention. Sage advice is that once your set an INTENTION, pay ATTENTION.

This implies watching for the SIGNS –  a hint, a suggestion, a shift, an answer that responds to the intention you set. These may be subtle and they may be like a hammer on your great toe. Whatever it is, it requires a more mindful approach to your life and recognizing that the energy you have unleashed through the power of your intentions is actually beginning to shift your life in a new direction.

Breakthrough
In this fourth phase of transitioning to the Third Act, you are invited to explore, to stretch, to question, to reflect, and as previously stated, to be curious. I encourage you to trust the process, to relax and be in it. Set your intentions, pay attention and when the SIGNS appear, be open to the realm of possibility.

 

We have agency. We are the subjects of our own lives. But very often, many, if not most of us, when we hit puberty, we start worrying about fitting in and being popular. And we become the subjects and objects of other people’s lives. 

But now, in our third acts, it may be possible for us to circle back to where we started, and know it for the first time. And if we can do that, it will not just be for ourselves. … 

If we can go back and redefine ourselves and become whole, this will create a cultural shift in the world, and it will give an example to younger generations so that they can reconceive their own lifespan.

Jane Fonda

Until next time….

Betty

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