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Posts Tagged ‘intentions’

It has been a short 20 weeks since we moved from our country home with a small acreage to a condo in downtown Cornwall, ON. We have traded the country silence, bird song and the evening peepers for traffic noise, buses and sirens. We have shifted from occupying 3200 sq. ft. + basement for 1600 sq. ft. We have given up the 45-minute drives to Cornwall to run errands, see friends and family for the convenience of being able to walk almost everywhere.

Yesterday I ran into a friend of mine on my way back from the bank. Chatted and caught up as I had not seen her since the move. She commented that she has been following our transition on Facebook and shared that she and others were surprised at the ease with which we adapted. I reflected on this on the rest of my way home and find myself this morning thinking about this easy transition; is it true?

Blank Canvas and More
Significant life decisions are never easy to make, the key is how you approach them. I am fortunate to have a life and love partner who is generally on the same page as I am when it comes to the major decisions. Three years ago, we began discussing the sale of our country home. This was a heart talk, there is no other way to describe it. Tigh Shee, as we had named the house and property, had been a an affair of the heart, a space and a place where we did everything with intention turning it into a sanctuary and retreat center. We engaged Mother Earth and all the sentient beings who cohabitated with us in this creation. As I write this, I feel at the very depth of my soul how meaningful and significant this journey was. I remember the many retreats, workshops and gatherings held in the space and the hundreds of people who found a safe place to re-discover themselves. These are happy/sad memories.

And like all phases of life there is a beginning and an end. We gradually phased out all the programs we offered there. Our love for gardening turned to obligation and work. It was time to move on. There was a new canvas to paint. With much forethought and planning we decided to sell the property. It took 2 ½ years to attract the perfect buyer. Yes, that seems like a long time and it gave us the time to downsize, sort, de-clutter, reminisce, remember and to know that the decision we were making was in our highest good.

An easy transition – YES! We were prepared and the Blank Canvas has been painted with bike rides and walking along the magnificent St. Lawrence River which lies two blocks from our door. Within the limitations of the current COVID guidelines, we have entertained friends and now have easy access to Jim’s 90+ year old parents, our three favourite restaurants are within walking distance, the library across the street, shopping a few blocks away. Convenience cannot be underrated after years of driving everywhere.

Strategies

  1. We all know that moving is high on the list of things that are most stressful in life. Might as well acknowledge it – there were a few very challenging days. The key was communicating with Jim and our friend Carol, who was living with us throughout the move, how we were feeling.
  2. No regrets: I cannot tell you how many friends have looked at me with great sympathy and asked me how I am doing after giving up the house. Two points here – their sympathy was pointed in the wrong direction as I had done my work. Tigh Shee had a special place in the hearts of many people and it was their sadness they were addressing, not mine. I endeavored to understand and listened but was very clear not to take on their feelings. Second, regret is not productive. It freezes you in the past and keeps you away from living the moments of today and planning for your tomorrows. Accepting that there is no going back and making peace with your decisions is essential.
  3. Live in the moment. Once the move was completed and we had for the most part settled in, we grabbed that Blank Canvas and began to plan what we wanted to paint. It had been many years since we had experienced a carefree summer with no obligations for house repairs, gardening and business. Wow – FREEDOM 70. We purchased e-bikes with the help of our nephew and hit the magnificent and bountiful bike trails that run along the St. Lawrence. I ramped up my walking and challenged my new knees, building my strength and endurance. Days were planned according to the weather and what showed up day by day. It has been lovely.
  4. Finally, there have been moments where I absolutely miss our former home, the gardens and most significantly the energy of the place. When this happens, I cry. There is no shame in a few tears, the moments pass quickly because, as I mentioned, I have no regrets, I am simply acknowledging how I feel and completing the grief process.

Next Steps
So now what. As the weather grows cooler, and the winter months inevitable, I am examining how I want to invest my time. COVID had pretty much pushed us into (I hate to say it) retirement. Or at least a version of it. All this really means is where do I want to invest my time and what brings me joy. Back to that blank canvas as I have not held a paint brush in my hand since February 28th. I am on the lookout for a studio and am in the process, as I write this, of confirming details on a space. It is my intent that this space be the seat of my creative juices, flow, discovery and who knows what.

Finally, I simply want to embrace love and joy. As I step into the 8th decade of my life, a world filled with both wonder and turmoil, I am determined to live in a meaningful way and to continue to attract what is in my highest good. With that intention stated, I know there will be a few surprises along the way.

2020 has been life changing for all of us. Each of us is experiencing our own unique journey. I encourage all of us to release the past, especially what no longer serves us, to attract highest good and to consider the Blank Canvas. What is the life you want to paint?

Until Next Time…

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For some reason I awoke this morning in a searching frame of mind. What kept emerging through this search was GRACE. I have always considered GRACE as one of the four pillars of my work and life. I define it as ‘ Being is a state of Grace with the world and within your relationships; allowing yourself to surrender and be in the flow.’

As I continued my rumination my mind tracked back, remembering a chapter in the ME FIRST Playbook in regard to the GRACE Diet. Themes repeat themselves in my life and I saw this as a SIGN to resurrect and review some of the tools and exercises I have created in the past. Memory is an interesting thing for me as I often lose sight of what I have written and taught over the years, not in a way that invalidates it, simply that my mind marches on.

Given the body of work I have accumulated, moving on at this point may mean returning to what I have known and practiced and resurrect the principles, ideas and teaching which have been the backbone of my work. Since I have been called back to GRACE, I have decided to use this as my starting point.

The GRACE Diet was created to address the junk food diet many of us feed ourselves on a daily basis. I am not referring to the food you put into your body in the context of what you consume, rather the diet you are feeding your spirit. Are your words to self spiritually uplifting or depleting? And if you have developed the art of putting yourself down, how can you begin re-programming that inner conversation. This is where the GRACE diet comes in, an acronym standing for Gratitude, Respect, Acknowledgment, Courage and Enthusiasm.

Gratitude: gratitude practices are bountiful these days, whether you keep a gratitude journal, have a daily practice of sharing gratitude with friends, or at the end of day as a before bed ritual. It is easy to assume that such a simple practice is fluffy or unsubstantial yet research has shown that those who practice gratitude regularly are more positive in their view of themselves and of life. Knowing this, why not give it a try. I can personally testify that I have had a daily gratitude practice for over twenty years and it is an activity that fuels my positivity every day.

Here is your opportunity– try the 21 day gratitude challenge, recording 3-5 gratitudes every day for 21 days in a gratitude journal and see what happens. Gratitude helps you notice what is right with your life.

Respect: I am referring to self-respect. In fact you can not elicit respect from others if you do not respect yourself. This is a simple truth. Time to check your inner dialogue and listen to the stories you are weaving about yourself. Remember that a large portion of your story was never yours; it was given to you by others – a parent, a teacher, a friend, some external source. What they saw or believed is not yours to own. Respect implies that you begin to see the truth of who you are and re-direct the inner-critic to becoming your inner-coach. Most importantly begin simply with I am enough.

Your opportunity: listen in to your inner dialogue, record the five most common things you tell yourself and, if they are not uplifting, re-write them. Now say them to yourself repeatedly. You are now in the process of ‘neural re-programming’, creating a new inner pathway.

Acknowledgment: acknowledgment marries gratitude and respect, in fact I often refer to self-acknowledgment as the highest form of gratitude. This takes respect a step deeper but encouraging you to see the gifts and strengths you possess, the impact you have in the world, the important roles you play in the lives of others. This is no small thing even though you may not feel important. I refer to it as the highest form of gratitude as self- acknowledgment means thanking your higher power for the gifts you possess, whether this refers to your abilities within your career, as a parent of family member, for your creativity or expertise. It goes like this, ‘I acknowledge my love for writing and relaying messages of hope and selfness to others.’

Your opportunity: as part of the 21 day gratitude journal, add on 2-3 self-acknowledgment statements. You might be surprised at what you learn about yourself. BTW a great source for self-acknowledgment can be harvested from the feedback you receive from others.

Courage: courage is the backbone of GRACE. The ME FIRST journey is not for the faint of heart, it is for the brave. It is easy to go through life accepting everything, never addressing your inner dialogue and riding the wave of self-deprecation. It may not be healthy yet many people will not addressing it on. Trust me; it takes courage to face yourself, go inward, re-shape the inner landscape, face the self-critic and tell him/her they are out of date, and design a new conversation. And those who choose not to join you on the journey will share their skepticism and endeavor to pull you back. Courage, listening to your heart – it desperately wants to heal, which wants to guide you forward into a more positive and beneficial relationship with yourself.

Your opportunity: create a daily practice where you pause, reflect and ask your heart, not your head, what it wants. Simply listen in.

Enthusiasm: begin to identify moments of joy in your life; pay attention to what lifts you up; limit your access to negative news (lord knows there is plenty of that these days), and play with people who generally have an optimistic attitude. In other words, feed your enthusiasm for life. Allow yourself to dream and consider the future. Share those dreams with others and encourage them to share theirs. Create a vision board that lights you up and which, when you look at it, inspires you.

Your opportunity: back to the 21 day gratitude journal, add 1-2 things which are fueling your joy and enthusiasm each day. One of mine: I am enthusiastic about the new opportunities opening to me at this time in my life. (BTW I have no idea what they are, I simply trust they exist!).

Let me close with a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh: “ If you are capable of living deeply one moment of your life, you can learn to,live the same way in all other moments of your life.”

The GRACE diet is a recipe for emotional and spiritual health that can sustain you and lead you to a more meaningful life.

Blessings and Until Next Time,

 

Betty

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Living in the Mystery

On December 30th, the brink of the arrival of a new year and a new decade, I read the following quote by Brian Andreas, author and cartoonist:

“I don’t know how long I can do this,” he said. “

I think the Universe has different plans for me and
we sat there in silence and I thought to myself
this is the thing we all come to and this is the thing we all fight
and If I am lucky enough to lose (the fight),
our lives become beautiful with mystery again
and I sat silent because that is not something that can be said.”

Beautiful with mystery.

These words resonated with me. And as for the entire quote, I do believe the Universe has plans for me which I am not yet aware of, and yes, I have in my own way need fighting the fight for, like anyone else, change and uncertainty can be a bit scary. The quote goes to the heart of everything I have been exploring over the last couple of years from thriving in the third act to sitting on the threshold.

I do love when words wake me up. As I began to contemplate what living a life beautiful with mystery looks like, I felt that light within me being re-ignited. Mystery suggests curiosity, wonder, imagination and more. And yes, it is undefined, has no boundaries or framework. It suggests allowing life to unfold, engaging patience and trust, embracing new ideas and notions.

OMG, that is scary. That means being in flow. That means no New Years Resolutions, lofty goals, and all the should and must do’s. It means living in the moment, being intentional and clear with your wants and desires, understanding what brings you joy and lights you up, paying attention to the roadSIGNS and when opportunities present themselves, taking action.

Yes, I do live my life this way and yes, I have done so for a long time. And I am not an expert, I remain a student. I want a life filled with mystery.


Entitled Inner Space, this feels like Living in the Mystery!

Staying Upbeat

Sometimes when I am writing about life and living, I wonder if I am being naïve. I am well aware that we in Canada and other civilized nations have the great privilege of working on ourselves and determining the choices by which we want to live. Meanwhile, around the world, millions of people struggle to simply put one foot in front of the other every day. You can feel guilty or you can express gratitude and do your personal work, understanding that your work matters to the world. This is an important reminder.

Likewise, the news. As I write this blog, 2020 began with catastrophic wildfires in Australia, a pending war in Iran because of the stupidity and will of one man…I could continue. As an empath, the situation in Australia had led me to feel great sadness at the loss of millions of animals and maybe the termination of certain species. These events challenge my optimistic spirit even as I endeavor to embrace the mystery.

Two days ago I listened to an interview with Margaret Wheatley, a well know leadership guru and community builder. She spoke to the despair she feels with the state of today’s world. Despair, a word not generally in my vocabulary and yet, exactly what I have been experiencing. As Meg continued, she described her new relationship with despair. Although she felt despair was something she always avoided, she now believes that it is perfect experience it, be in it, move through it. Avoiding it only buries the feelings.

Considering this, I realize that staying upbeat means acknowledging the feelings you have, experiencing then to the extent they need to be experienced, crying if you need to or finding another way to release. Feeling emotional pain, moving through it, and then returning to the mystery is a key step of remaining resilient in a challenging world.

Wheatley went on to share her current work (BTW she is now 76), a program for developing ‘Warriors for the Human Spirit’. To quote her,

We need leaders who recognize the harm being done
to people and planet through the dominant practices that
control, ignore, abuse, and oppress the human spirit.
We need leaders who put service over self,
stand steadfast in crises and failures, and
who display unshakable faith that
people can be generous, creative, and kind.

Margaret Wheatley

I may need to investigate this further, being a warrior for the Human Spirit. It feels like the path I have been on or could be– a roadSIGN?

 

Unraveling

In a previous blog I wrote about sitting on the threshold, which is equivalent to living in the mystery. I also shared my thoughts on responsibility and how taking, being and living responsibility has been a hallmark for this life’s journey. This was my work of 2019, or so I thought. After noticing the old habits of assuming responsibility for others and for who knows what else, I now realize that responsibility is an enormous, thick knitted sweater I have been wearing since my earliest memory. I am now unraveling it, stitch by stitch, row by row. I am making progress and every now and then I run into a knot which takes effort to undo so that I can continue unraveling. Evidently this work continues in 2020.

 

I have shared my insights regarding responsibility with a number of folks now and have been met with tears, AHA’s, OMG’s, and more. It seems I am not alone. And so, in approaching a new year, a new decade, an upcoming transition, I encourage you to practice, embrace, be open to the following:

 

  • Begin living in the mystery. Ask yourself what you want at this time in your life, what brings you joy, what lights you up? And play there for a while.
  • Be intentional, pay attention for the roadSIGNS, and when opportunities appear, explore them.
  • If you are sad, if you feel despair, allow it, understand it, move though it. Always remember that for all the bad/detrimental events occurring in the world, there of hundreds of uplifting events occurring. Direct your attention to these as well and look at your life through the eyes of gratitude.
  • Assess what you are assuming responsibility for. Before jumping in to rescue anyone or takeover a situation, ask yourself, “Is this my responsibility? Is this mine to own? If I take responsibility am I helping or hindering others in their learning and living?

 

Final Thoughts:

Last evening I watched An Astronaut’s Guide to Optimism 2020, with Chris Hadfield. I encourage you to take a look, as it creates perspective and balance in what is happening in our world.

 

Until next time…..

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Following my last blog regarding ‘curiosity and mindset’, I had the opportunity to facilitate  ‘Vision Book’ Workshop for a few friends. I admit, I am a bit of a Vision Board junkie and I enjoy the creativity and intuition that underlines this activity. It is also an apt way to explore, reflect and yes, cultivate one’s curiosity.

I also enjoy reviewing the boards months later and recognizing those aspects of the vision that have manifested. That said, vision boards get discarded, eventually. I gave at least ten to the fire pit last summer as we were de-cluttering the office.

I began to wonder what it would be like to create a Vision Book – would it be any less amazing? Would it be easier or more challenging to organize? What would be different? It did occur to me that it would be much easier to keep, and to follow my journey as it evolved. I had in fact played with this idea several years ago, and still had the book – only a few pages used. And so, I present to you the experiment.

Page One

Questions! Nothing cultivates curiosity like questions and more questions. You don’t need to find the answers, at least immediately. As Rilke wrote: “Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. ” I love this quote as well as the idea that we will grow into the answer, which as Rilke suggested, at a time when we are ready.

Questions are like intentions. While you may not have the answer at the moment and you are opening up the space for the answer to arrive. Paying attention to what the responses might be, and when an answer does appear, having the curiosity and the will to explore, are the next vital steps. That said, “what defines me?” seems like the eternal question, one that changes with the seasons, which shifts with life experience, learning and experience, and one to travel with everyday. Hence, this is Page One!

Finally on this page comes “I am that unexplainable impulse!” Yeah, I hope so! not that I want to surprise you as much as I want to surprise myself, with spontaneous, perhaps even erratic impulsive choices. That could be FUN!

Page Two

This is my ‘Mindfulness’ page, reminding me of the importance of stillness, quieting my mind, being in the moment. I know only well enough, that there is no space for answers in an overly busy life. An even in semi-retirement I can find lots of ways to be busy. Busy however, does not mean engaged or inspired; it is simply doing.

I love the pose, although my knees no longer bend that way, but it is beautiful and evokes breath, peace, and serenity. With that is the statement ‘the only thing standing between me and fun is….awakening.” This over and amazing photo of storm and light; and isn’t this a great representation of what awakening is like. You can read the other words captured on the page. Two that strike me now in review are: ‘uncork extraordinary’ and ‘add whimsy to your morning’. Seeing these messages I can see an underlying trend –> Lighten Up!

Page Three

Let your passion define your journey. Interestingly I read this morning that happiness is rooted in pleasure (passion) and purpose. This is a fitting definition for me as I understand the importance of purpose, passion and pleasure in defining our lives. This is the root of my exploration at the moment. Capturing what is important to me at this phase of life, and how s my purpose/passion has grown, changed , evolved. An important question to hold and fed by wake-up calls, wisdom, stepping up and out and embracing the plot twists.

Page Four

Who is my tribe? What and who inspires me? What am I willing to stand-up for? What is my contribution to building a better world? What do I rejoice in?

People in circle, dancing and celebrating. This picture reminds me of the power of the circle and how I enjoy facilitating and helping others find their answers to the same questions I am asking myself. And yes, this is a response to my purpose and passion.

Final Word

These are the first four pages of my vision book. I may share the others; there are ten in total. More importantly, I hope this inspires you to give yourself the gift of an afternoon and with a few good magazines (O Magazine is the best), a pair of scissors, a glue stick and a blank book or canvas, that you take the time to explore.

Begin by setting a simple intention such as, “I am open to new possibilities for expressing myself, living my life, engaging in my Third Act, …..”

Choose a few magazines and begin going through them. Allow yourself to respond to images and words, tearing out whatever appeals to you. After thirty minutes or so, stop yourself; this may be a challenge!

Review the images and cut or tear them down to size. you may begin to see themes emerge. Lay all the words and images out on a large surface and see what emerges as you compile them. The begin to paste. Let your intuition guide you. There are no rules! AND, have FUN!

Once completed take time to review, then step away. In the following days, take another look. What do you see? What shows up that you did not see before? If you are really brave, share with a friend and allow them to share what they see or to ask you questions? This adds another layer.

Until next time…..

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With the predictions for a very cold and snowy winter looming, my body began to yearn for warmth and simplicity. The answer: a ten-day getaway to a warmer climate.

After our last ‘all-inclusive holiday’ three years ago, I declared that the appeal of such holidays had waned and that in the future, beach vacations were no logger desirable. WRONG! Winter weather can influence your decision-making I have learned. And opinions can change when influenced by certain circumstances. Celebrating the first anniversary of my first knee replacement Jim and I left for Cuba. Flying there with the intention of simplicity, we held our ground engaging only in ample beach walking coupled with book reading and occasional sun bathing (with SPF 60).

As an avid reader this was a great opportunity – no distractions. I chose three non-fiction books to get me started: No Reservations by Alice Steinbach, On the Brink of Everything by Parker Palmer, and Becoming by Michelle Obama. With my nature, that of a soul always searching for meaning, each book touched me in a specific way. Sharing….

No Reservations
Author Alice Steinbach shares a year-long journey, a travel sabbatical, through her experiences in Paris, London and Oxford and finally Venice and other parts of Italy. Stepping away from her busy life as a journalist with the Baltimore Sun, Alice identifies the challenges of engaging in a quieter life when one is accustomed to the demands and busyness of a journalist’s typical routine. Early in the book she asks, “Are we measuring time or living it?’

I was sure she wrote that question for me. I ‘measure life’.  Of this I am clear. I struggle with being in the moment, with having a day without a plan, with facing a new year with no intentions, goals or resolutions. When I go for a walk, I time it or measure how far I have walked. And even as I write this, I know that I am unlearning these habits. But it is an unlearning, a shift. It does not happen simply by snapping my fingers. As I traveled with Alice on her year of adventure and observed her ‘softening’ if you will, I could and can see myself easing into a different approach and life style.

I also loved this: M = EA (Mishap + Excellent Adventure)
Mishaps happen, and we allow ourselves to become dismayed, upset, angry, or disappointed. OR we can re-program and know that a mishap is an opportunity for an excellent adventure.

Okay, some serious re-programming is underway.

On the Brink of Everything
With the sub-title Grace, Gravity and Getting Old, this book spoke to my ongoing search for healthy aging and living the Third Act full-out. By one of my favorite authors Parker Palmer, this book offers a series of insightful essays and poems. The author, approaching his 80th birthday may have a few years on me and with that added wisdom, a slightly different perspective on living the later years.

In introducing the contents, Palmer had me hooked, inviting the reader to enjoy being old as this is a time in life when we can stand on the brink. It is that time when you can take in the full panorama of your life and understand the past, present and future with new eyes and with unfolding wisdom. His invitation is simple – there is very little left to fear, nothing left to lose so simply go for it!

One of the poems he shared truly touched me.

Harrowing
The plow has savaged this sweet field
Misshapen clods of earth kicked up
Rocks and twisted roots exposed to view
Last year’s growth demolished by the blade.

I have plowed my life this way
turned over a whole history
Looking for roots of what went wrong
Until my face is ravaged, furrowed and scarred.

Enough. The job is done.
Whatever’s been uprooted, let it be
Seedbed for the growing that’s to come,
I plowed to unearth last year’s reasons –

The farmer plows to plant a greening season.

I know that not everyone loves metaphor or poetry as I do (especially metaphor). The idea of plowing my life, uprooting the history of rights and wrongs, has been a habit of mine. The poem reminded me of the philosophy I now embrace which is, ‘Everything is perfect’ and ‘Everything happens for a reason’. I have learned that embracing this philosophy is a breath of fresh air for me. It allows me to forgive and forget the sting of certain events; it helps me appraise the lessons learned when I have fallen hard or screwed up; it has helped me understand the building blocks that life lessons are, making me, allowing me, to be the person I am. Finally, it has helped me understand that perfection is a journey, not a destination, a becoming….

And finally form Palmer’s book, this question: What do I want to let go of and What do I want to give myself to? Isn’t this the perfect question for moving forward?

Becoming
And finally, on this week’s hit list, Becoming by Michelle Obama.

I admit, I was skeptical, lots of hoopla and….more.

Okay, I loved it. I would say to any reader the following: it is a ‘full meal’ book, something hardy and which takes time to digest, uplifting and at times disturbing, well written and relatable, a look at what it is like to grow up in a completely different culture than is familiar to me while still identifying similarities.

And I appreciate the message ‘becoming’, which flows throughout the book, understanding that again, life is a becoming, a journey, not a destination, not about’growing up’. It continues….

There were no big AHA’s or profound messages in this book, just a great read and an engaging story; a read that left my curious about what is next for Obama and what is next for her country.

Final Thoughts
As books are prone to do, they have a lasting effect either through sharing or through ideas that are spawned by the words of others.

Coming into 2019 I keep wondering what it would be like to live life from a platform of JOY. I am far from having the answer, yet this questions was informed by some of my reading. I realized that JOY cannot stand alone and that it is a state that we reach in stages.

What emanated from my musings was something I am referring to as the Joy Equation which is as follows:

Joy = Peace + Gratitude + Love.

I hope to share more with you in future blogs. For now I continue to hold the Joy Equations in my heart as I wonder what joy means to others.

Wishing you all a JOY filled and fueled new year.

Until next time,

 

Betty

 

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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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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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