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Posts Tagged ‘roadsigns’

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

Then, BOOM! The unexpected/expected happens.

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

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

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

BOOM!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to your Third Act!

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I have just returned from a two week vacation on the beaches of North Carolina. The intention was to break completely with the day to day obligations of running a business and have a complete rest. That said, I imagined that I would stay connected, follow my e-mails, keep up to date – not really keeping with the intention you might note!

The Universe has a way of providing what it is you need, so do be careful what you ask for. On the way to our vacation spot I began noticing the SIGNS! First was:

it can wait

Located in the I-81 in New York State, this sign took me by surprise. I could not believe that rest stops had been converted into ‘text stops’ to accommodate those drivers who cannot seem to travel a few short hours without texting. This raised the question, “what are my connection needs?

Arriving at our destination, I noted hat the name of the resort was Barrier Island. Another SIGN?

barrier island

Barrier – suggesting ‘boundaries’ perhaps. Hummm, some food for thought. Perhaps I was being directed in a way that would force me to live up to my intention after all. The next indication: no wi-fi in the condo unit. If I wanted to connect I had to walk to the closest Starbucks, conveniently located about 15 minutes away or the office. While there was access it had to be planned. This was a good thing.

The Importance of Stepping Away
We have become so connected with our electronic devices, Facebook, e-mail, texting or what ever our choice, that it has become an unconscious habit. Without the presence of wi-fi, plus no blackberry or phone as we had not purchased a US plan, we blissfully found ourselves in a vacation vacuum, a space to be filled not by the day to day but simply by ‘being’. I rediscovered books, devouring at least 4 great novels and Cheryl Stayed’s book Wild, walking the Pacific Rim Trail. I spent more time resting, reflecting, meditating, walking the beach, the types of things I rarely give myself permission to enjoy when engaged in a full throttle life.

Returning home, I appreciated the importance of the break – I can breathe again. Yes re-entry has been challenging. As if to keep us dis-connected, our Internet was down when we arrived back in the office today. It is back – a temporary situation, yet a gentle reminder of the benefits of taking time for oneself and for one’s significant relationship. Stepping away also gave Jim and I time to talk without the distraction of technology, to have real conversation outside of work and to re-connect in ways that are vital for couples.

The last SIGN, sighted a few days before leaving our North Carolina Retreat:

good for you

Stepping away gives you both the time, opportunity and a place for you to be good to you. It is an essential ME FIRST act. It offers you perspective on your life, an ability to look at things from the outside in. So here is my parting advice: on your next vacation, disconnect your devices! You might just find yourself again or at least those parts of you that get lost in the busyness of life’s demands.

Until next time,

 

Betty

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dorothy's Garden

Dorothy’s Garden

Final Word

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

Until Next Time,

Betty

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In the months since we began facilitating coaching circles, one of the unanticipated outcomes of the circles has been the building of community. I’m not sure why, but it had not occurred to me just how alone people have been feeling. Certainly I have noticed it myself. I just assumed that because I choose to live rurally now, that being alone was my new way of life.

With the start of each coaching circle, we ask participants to share with us their intentions for what they want to gain from the experience. Inevitably several of the participants mention that they are looking for community. Specifically they want to connect to like-minded individuals who, like themselves, are choosing to step on the path of self-discovery and shape their life differently.

As facilitators we have learned that the coaching circle is a transformative experience, partly due to the coaching and largely due to the sharing of experience of the individual participants. Participants relate to the feelings, thoughts and experiences of others. Suddenly they realize that they are not alone in those sometimes dark places and that their struggles to live their life differently are shared by others.

In a recent blog posting from colleague Lianne Bridges, www.shiftvillage.com, Lianne shared her experience of attending the Wisdom 2.0 Conference in San Francisco, “To be in the presence of conscious individuals is awe-inspiring….What was so amazing about this conference were the sixteen-hundred people from all walks of life and four corners of the world who shared one main perspective – the strong desire to use their expertise and gifts to better the world.

Lianne also refers to community as one’s tribe. By her definition, tribe does not necessarily refer only to people who are bound to you by familial, geographic, political, cultural or even racial ties, but also includes people who share your closely held beliefs or world views.

Finding our tribe, our community, may be one of the healthiest and most essential gifts we can give ourselves. People do feel alone. The isolation people are experiencing is a secondary effect of our technological prowess. We have grown attached to the I-phones, Blackberries and other gadgets that give us the illusion of being connected. It is however superficial – words with no depth, no real meaning, no eye to eye contact.

We have also lost many of the social structures that once connected us – the church communities, the service clubs, the back yard BBQ’s. Is it that life has simply become too busy?

Whatever the reason, the loss of these social systems has left people searching for ways to connect.

Developing community, or finding your tribe as Lianne has suggested, has become important. It is part of feeling whole and consciously connected to a shared meaning and an opportunity to learn more about you through the eyes of others.

So where do you start; how do you find your tribe?

  • It begins with reaching out to others whom you sense have a similar desire or who may want to rally around a shared cause.
  • It begins with your desire to understand yourself and to share the experience of personal discovery with others.
  • It begins by being clear about who you actually want to ‘BE’ with and taking the time to describe who would be perfect for you at this time in your life.
  • It begins by being open-hearted, generous and kind – first with yourself, then with others.  You can only attract these kinds of companions when you give it to self-first.
  • It begins by stepping out of your comfort zone and reaching out to others, or perhaps signing up for a program which you believe will attract others you want to be with.
  • It begins by trusting your  heart more than your head, listening to your intuition when you encounter  others and your deep sense of knowing they are a perfect companion.

friends

There is an opportunity to begin to notice the opportunities that may already exist in your community. Who around you shares common values, desires and perhaps stories. Take the first step – put out a call to your friends, colleagues and acquaintances and start a conversation. Create a gathering around a book, a question, a theme.

You may find your tribe!

Until next time…

Betty

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I was inspired this morning after listening to an interview with a favorite author of mine, Simon Sinek, who wrote the book ‘Start with WHY’. In the interview he began by saying that when you do something that you love, it’s called passion. When you work at something you don’t love however, it’s called stress.

This for me defines the difference between your WORK versus your J.O.B. Your work is connected to your ‘WHY’, your sense of purpose or mission, or what you want to stand for in this lifetime. It is rooted in your early years, something that you are deeply connected with and something that you felt would make a difference in the world.

As I think back, my earliest memories are linked to playing in my back yard, lining up my dolls and teaching them what I then knew to be the important lessons of life. Even at the early age of ten I knew that I wanted to influence the world in a way that allowed others to believe in themselves and to see the beauty and power of who they are.

Isn’t it interesting that you can know that so young and somewhere along the way lose track of it. Why does that happen? You learn more, life becomes more complicated and you lose sight of that simple truth, your all important work. Then you find a J.O.B. – a Justifiable Occupation or Business, which pays you a good salary but, (and here is the rub) does not light you up. It is simply a job. It is not connected with your passion and you lose sight of who you really are.

Can Your J.O.B. be your WORK?
Yes. Skeptically you may look at what you are currently doing and think that there can never be a connection between what you are currently doing and your passion. Frankly you don’t really know, at least not until you take the time to search back to your roots and consider what is really important to you. In our roadSIGNS work we call this your Personal Guidance System which is formed by your core values, the guiding principle by which you choose to live, and your ‘WHY’, what you really stand for and who, as a result, you choose to be.

Only in remembering your ‘WHY’ can you understand whether or not this is connected to your J.O.B. Those workplaces which truly value their employees will understand that any time an employee can connect their ‘WHY’ to the ‘WHY’ of the organization, passion and performance are unleashed.

WHY, How and what
In his book Sinek describes the Golden Circle. Like a bull’s eye with WHY in the center, the next circle is your how and the third circle your what. You will notice that most of you focus on what you do and how you do it, both in your work and other aspects of your life. Ask yourself if this is where you currently play? What would change or be different if you took the time to re-connect with your ‘WHY’, your sense of true purpose.

Living Authentically
Living authentically requires consciousness and courage. First it requires that you actually slow yourself down and step off the treadmill which has become your life. Secondly you must ask yourself what is really important to you, what contribution are you here to make to the world around you. Everyone wants to make a difference and reflecting on this allows you to claim your unique desire to change or shift the world in some way.

Next is courage. It is one thing to become aware of what lights you up, your ‘WHY’, and it is another to live it. There are plenty of naysayers out there who will put you down once you stand up and start living your ‘WHY’. I refer to them as crabs. Crab fishermen know that you never have to put a lid on a crab bucket because as soon as one crab tries to escape, the others pull him back in. It takes courage to live from your ‘WHY’ and ignore the crabs.

Crabs and Other Creatures

Take the time to step back and discover your work by remembering your ‘WHY’. This has the capacity to release your passion and we sure could use more of that in the world!

Until next time…

Betty Healey

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