If you are practicing social distancing, life needn’t be boring. Scottie Andrew at CNN has lots of ideas….and I’m adding a few of my own. By now you’ve heard the basics of the new normal:
- Avoid going to places where 25 or more people may gather
- Go places where you can maintain at least six feet of distance from other people
- Keep in mind your personal risk: If you’re 60 years old and up or have a compromised immune system, you should stay home as much as possible
So, what can you do? Try this:
Make art. This is one of my favorite activities. I like to put on music and pull out watercolors or pastels. Or, perhaps, you prefer pottery.
Read a lot. Even though some libraries are closed, download e-books and audiobooks. Discuss the books via webinar or Skype with your friends or your book club. My book club is using Zoom.
Listen to music. Make music. Go on-line or pull out those old CDs and records.
Take a virtual museum tour. Use your smartphone for an online tour of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the Guggenheim Museum or visit Google Arts & Culture for a virtual walk-throughs for dozens of international museums.
Be in nature. Hike. Get out of the house and keep 6 feet of distance from other people.
Start birdwatching or identifying plants. Find out what birds and plants reside near you. Download bird and plant maps and identification cards. I just spotted the Douglas Iris you see above.
Do yoga at home. Keep your immune system strong.
Make that recipe. This is a great time to make chicken stock or your favorite soup.
Find new recipes. Read your cookbooks or look up all those recipes you’ve downloaded on your computer and never prepared.
Video chat. Why not use Facetime or Skype?
Meditate. I like Headspace.com. There are lots of wonderful meditation apps. And, in times like this, meditation is helpful.
Bring out the board games and huge puzzles. Get competitive or treat yourself to quiet time with a challenging puzzle.
Get handy. If something needs fixing around the house, get to work.
And watch my free upcoming webinar. On April 15, I’ll be discussing how to reinvent yourself after 50 at an online event hosted by FairyGodBoss.com. To register for this free event, click here:https://fairygodboss.com/events/HyOVnubVL/how-to-reinvent-yourself-after/?utm_source=partner&utm_medium=multiple&utm_campaign=lynnryder
Which Ones? I need your help.
When it comes to social media, I’m a neophyte…and so are many of my friends. I’ve put my toe in the water by building a website and writing a monthly blog. (The blog is two years old this month.)
Yes, I do have three Facebook sites – one is personal and two are for my workshops. I used Twitter until I was hacked and found myself with a million followers who didn’t speak English. I haven’t tried Instagram or Pinterest yet. Should I? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Which social media services do you use?
A Favorable Website Connection
Thanks to my website, I’ve made an exciting connection with the County of Arlington, Virginia. This county, which has four Park and Rec centers for people over 55, brings in a speaker annually for all members. This year I’m honored to present the Reinvent Yourself after Fifty workshop to this audience. I’ll be providing a workbook and follow-up materials in addition to giving a 3-hour interactive presentation.
I Can Bring “Reinvent Yourself after Fifty” to You
I’m delighted to be returning to the D.C. area. Travel is a passion of mine, and I’d love to visit you – wherever you are. Please let me know if you and your friends would like a presentation for your group.
Connecting from Home
On the other hand, I’m also happy to present the program from inside my home….and in April I’ll do just that. www.FairyGodBoss.com has invited me to speak on a live webinar on April 15 at 10 AM Pacific Time. To register go to: https://fairygodboss.com/ (You will need to sign-up with Fairy God Boss to attend. It’s free.) Even though my primary audience is over 50, FairyGodBoss informed me that men and women of all ages are making career transitions and will benefit from learning how to reinvent themselves.
Help with Life Transitions at All Ages
I’m aware that most of the reinvention steps are applicable to many life transitions – changing careers, getting married, becoming a parent, reentering the workforce, divorce, loss of a loved one, loss of good health, retiring from a career etc. We start by assessing our current situation, revisiting our values, getting clues to our passions by looking at people we admire, remembering the times we were happiest in each decade of our lives, learning how to get unstuck, creating a vision and plan for the future, adjusting our attitude, and living a healthy life. Sounds simple, but there are layers and layers to sort through. It’s well worth the effort since the result is a balanced and fulfilling future. And that’s what I wish for you.
If you’re lonely, write your memoir.
Writing about yourself in a journal or in a memoir writing class will soften feelings of isolation by putting the focus on you, according to AARP Magazine.
Befriending yourself and appreciating your feelings and accomplishments is an affirmation of your life. That’s important. Once we see how much we matter, we see the rest of life more clearly. We start to pay attention to the sensory details around us – color, touch, taste, smell, sounds – which results in a joyful feeling.
When I’m most in touch with the good in me, I feel happy looking at the sky, plants and trees, and the rest of nature. This joy opens me up to appreciating others.
Plus, if you share your writing with family, friends and others, they will benefit from the lessons you’ve learned and the tales you tell. I’m grateful that my father wrote a memoir before he died. There are wonderful family stories that he never told me…or that I had forgotten.
This winter I’m offering two opportunities to write about yourself. The first is a new 6-week memoir writing workshop at Sausalito Books by the Bay in Sausalito, CA. The second is Reinvent Yourself After 50 at Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA
“Writing your Story: A Memoir Class” – 6 Tuesdays from 9 – 10:30 beginning January 28, $180. To register call (415) 887-9967 or visit this website for more information:
You’ll have a chance to do some journal writing in “Reinvent Yourself After 50”, Sunday Feb. 2, 1-5 pm at Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA. $110. Call 415-927-0960 or sign up:
I hope to see you in one of these classes. If you live outside of Northern California, we can arrange to come to your town. Email: email@example.com
Have a happy, healthy, loving, abundant New Year!
I’m reading memoirs this holiday. Starting with one by my father.
I read it years ago, but it means so much more as I age. As I prepare for my “Writing your Story” class in January at Sausalito Books by the Bay, I’m also gobbling up memoirs by famous authors. And, to my surprise, I have several friends who have written compelling memoirs…I’m honored that they let me read them.
When I enthuse about my upcoming class, people ask me to share the top tips I’d give memoir writers. I usually offer some tried and true techniques that I’ve learned from these authors: Natalie Goldberg, Anne LaMott, Mary Karr, and Vivian Gornick. And I share what I’ve learned from writing my own book, “Road to Fulfillment.”
Here are some suggestions:
- Write about what gives you a sense of wonder or about what you dread: it’s more interesting. This could be hiking (e.g., Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild”), spiritual fulfillment (Anne LaMott’s books), making peace with your body (Demi Moore’s “Inside Out”), facing cancer (Natalie Golderg’s “Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home”), overcoming the tyranny of family (Tara Westover’s “Educated”), or the joy of family (Michele Obama’s “Becoming”).
- Revise/Revise/Revise – but do this after you get your first thoughts on paper, not while you’re writing your first draft
- Turn your past into an experience for the reader. Bring it to life with sensual details – smell, taste, touch, vision and sound.
- Don’t label people. Show what happened. What was said? How was it said?
- Start with anecdotes. They lead to the big story.
- You can start at the end, to show what’s at stake.
- Ask: What would I write if I wasn’t afraid. Then write it.
- If possible, show your manuscript to people you’re writing about. Your memory is subjective. Include what others have to say about the past. Tell the reader where your memory is fuzzy or where others see it differently.
- Be brutally honest if you want the reader to resonate with your story. Remember, bad things happen to good people, or there’s no story. Show the good and the difficult stuff.
- Have a movement toward wisdom. This is a key ingredient of all successful memoirs.
I hope you’ll join me January 28 for Writing your Story: A Memoir Class. To enroll, call: 415-887-9967 or stop by 100 Bay Street, Sausalito, CA.
Wishing you and yours a joyful holiday and a happy, healthy New Year.
After returning a week ago from the visiting the visual splendor of Japan in the Fall, I’m now immersing myself in autobiographies and books about memoir in preparation for presenting a new class called Write your Story: A Memoir Class.
Thinking about memory while sharing stories with long-time friends over the Thanksgiving holiday, I remembered Mary Karr’s observation in her book “The Art of Memory”:
Many a loved one has engaged in hyperbole or stretched the bounds of evidence or dug in her heels to prove a point that’s wrong.
Memory is Highly Subjective
It’s interesting that siblings and friends have such different memories of long-ago events. I often think my sister and I grew up in different families with very different parents. It makes me realize how subjective we are when thinking about the past. In my sister’s memory, our parents were very sweet and well meaning, but they unfairly gave a lot to me (the sister) and my brother and so little to her. In my world, our parents were preoccupied with their work and overly generous to my brother and less so to the daughters.
My sister and I each have our stories to tell. Her tale is of being “left out” by my parents, which made her feel needy and underappreciated, while my tale is of being “left out” by my siblings, which made me highly independent. If fully expanded, both stories could be compelling reading since I have no doubt that others would see themselves in our memoirs.
A Good Memoir
Speaking of independence, I just finished Demi Moore’s book, “Inside Out: A Memoir.” Here she is one of the top-earning actresses of our time, but her story had me in tears. Her themes are about becoming independent to escape her reckless alcoholic mother; how her self-reliance impacted her marriages: and what it took to overcome eating and other addictions to finally make peace with her body. She speaks with brutal honesty that connects her to the reader. Instead of feeling like a voyeur into her star-studded lush life, I felt I could identify with her. That’s a good memoir.
A New Memoir Class
Finally, I invite you and your friends to my memoir class at Sausalito Books by the Bay. We’ll meet on Tuesdays from 9 – 10:30 beginning January 28. To register call (415) 887-9967 or sign up at https://www.sausalitobooksbythebay.com/2020-events The cost is $180. You can give this class as a gift to a friend or loved one.
Here in Marin County I’m overwhelmed by the beauty of the changing foliage and waterways. But, it’s also a confusing time. Suddenly there’s so much to do – Fleet Week, the Symphony, bonfires at the beach, classes to teach – and, yet, as the days grow colder and shorter, I want to quietly hibernate and create something new.
Time to Reflect and Read
This feels like a perfect season to reflect on the past months and the past years. I’ve been inspired by some of the fabulous memoirs of recent months. “Educated” by Tara Westover is a must read, even if you feel she’s exaggerated aspects of her life. Michelle Obama’s “Becoming,” is also uplifting and insightful. If you like audio books, I recommend Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime: Stories form a South African.” You’ll love hearing him speak African languages and dialects. This is the story of his journey from apartheid South Africa to hosting “The Daily Show.” For a fun read, don’t miss “Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows” by Balli Kaur Jaswal.
So, what’s next? I plan to teach a memoir class at a local bookstore. It’s called, “Writing your Story.” I know everyone has a story to tell, and I can’t wait to hear the stories. In the class, we’ll discuss our favorite memoirs and apply the authors’ best practices to our own writing. Writing our stories will help us understand ourselves better and, hopefully, enlighten others.
If you live in California, I recommend reading The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California by Mark Arax.
But be ready to be disheartened as we are reminded that many people still think like the Gold Rush miners. Their focus was on profit, with no regard for the future, especially when it came to equitably managing the limited resource of water.
The Gold Rush
In Gold Rush times, the successful miners relied on industrial-scale hydraulics to tear away mountainsides; the result was some precious metal, along with vast destruction of downstream farms.
The Central Valley
Today, with uncertain rainfall, the farmers and ranchers in the Central Valley drill deeper and deeper for water resulting in subsidence that constitutes “the most dramatic alteration of the earth’s surface in human history,” according to Arax. The ground is sinking dramatically. Farmers in the Central Valley who lack the resources to compete for the underground water are living in “a dust bowl” where crops won’t grow; their homes are full of dust.
Obi Kaufmann has an Answer
With this in mind, I went to hear Obi Kaufmann, the author of the new book The State of Water: Understanding California’s Most Precious Resource.
I was ready to be depressed. Instead Obi Kaufman provided some next steps, including ways to change our thinking. He said that as we prepare for a post-carbon economy, we need to be grounded and connected. He told us, “Go outside. Take off your shoes. Feel the grass in your toes. Drink water. Breathe deep. Eat well. Do this every day.” He wants us to end our “existential alienation from nature.”
This was music to my ears. My passions are hiking and painting outside. I like taking children on nature walks arranged by Wildcare. I also teach children about gardening and natural habitats in programs developed by the Marin Master Gardeners. And I love to tell others about programs and resources that protect our environment.
All is Not Lost
I hope Obi Kaufmann https://coyoteandthunder.com/ is right – that getting grounded and connected will help us all. I know it will make me feel better. When I feel better, I do see that all is not lost.
A few weeks ago, I woke up with a sharp pain down my right leg. The pain, which disappeared in a few days, was sciatica. My girlfriend, who has also suffered from sciatica, has been traveling a lot lately. She’s concerned that she’ll have more aches and pains as she ages, and that it could limit her ability to do the hiking and biking activities she now enjoys on her trips.
I took my friend’s thoughts to heart and decided that now is the time to travel to some of the remaining countries on my bucket list. I’ve already seen quite a bit of Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Mexico. I’ve visited China, Indonesia, Turkey, Botswana, Zambia, Ecuador and Peru. The two big adventures still on my list are Japan and Argentina. So, now I need to make plans to visit these countries.
I bought the Lonely Planet travel books for Japan and Argentina. My experience is that once I buy a travel book, the dream starts to take shape and eventually manifests as a trip. My second step is to talk to friends and friends of friends about their experiences in the country I plan to visit. Then I begin a Google search to get ideas about tours and pricing.
Some trips require a tour guide. That was true for my travels in Turkey, China and the Galapagos Islands. For some trips it’s helpful to have a local travel agency make hotel and transportation arrangements. For other trips, I find I can make my own arrangements online and with the help of Air BnB.
I love the flexibility and sense of adventure that comes from traveling solo (I find that when traveling on my own I tend to meet more locals). But solo travel can get lonely, and there’s so much to learn from others. Fortunately, in my hiking club there are plenty of travel-lovers. One of my hiking buddies agreed that it would be great to travel to Japan together.
Traveling to Japan
After talking to friends about their experiences and looking at confusing Tokyo subway maps, I was open to getting help from a travel agency. Due to my Google research I had a realistic daily budget and a list of must-see sights. The travel agent will make the travel arrangements, including our city orientation in Tokyo with a local expert. Phew! I’m so glad to have all that handled, even if it costs a bit more.
Now comes the fun. I’ll read all that I can about the cities I’m visiting and Japanese history and culture. I’ll try to learn some basic Japanese phrases with the help of my iPhone and DVDs. I’ll continue to talk to friends about their experiences. In a matter of weeks, I’ll be on my way. My dream will become a reality. Then I can begin new research on Argentina.
I surprised myself today by submitting an application to a local art show for closet artists. Since leaving my corporate job in 2014, I’ve had time to take watercolor classes and a pastel class. It’s so much fun!
Then, my girlfriend invited me to do paint pouring (also called fluid art) on her deck. The finished painting kind of looks like images from a 1960’s light show. You don’t know what to expect as the paint flows onto the canvas. You do have control over the colors and some control over how the paint flows as you tip the canvas at various angles while trying to get the canvas fully covered with paint.
I love experimenting. I’m learning tricks that I can apply in a different media. Best of all, at this stage in my life, I don’t have any judgment about how it comes out. If I like the result, I can put it on my refrigerator; if not, it goes in a pile in the garage.
Benefits of Art
Meanwhile, the benefits are tremendous. Here are some listed at the Creatubbles.com site - https://stateoftheart.creatubbles.com/2017/02/08/10-important-skills-learn-art-education/
I want to add stress-reduction to this list. When I’m focused on my art, all my cares disappear. Try it. Get started by taking a class. Let me know how your art is coming along. I hope you enjoy some of my art work on this site.
I've been selected for the art show starting in mid-September through October 2019 at the Tiburon, CA town hall. If you're in the neighborhood, come take a look.
Years ago, I wrote a book called, Road to Fulfillment, about men and women who made meaningful mid-life changes. After the age of 50 they fulfilled their dreams.
I was reminded of the book when I read a June 9, 2019 article in The Washington Post called, “Changing Channels: Millions of women wait years to fulfill their dreams – or to figure out what their dreams are.”
It’s Your Time
The article states that after 50, many women do what they once considered selfish – they achieve ambitions that make them feel productive and satisfied, professional milestones that are difficult to pursue while taking care of a family and paying their bills. Please note that I believe many men feel the same about this time of life. In fact, both men and women ask me to help them answer the questions: “What’s next? What has meaning now?
This makes sense. After 50 we take stock of our lives and want to make the most of the remaining years. After 50 we know our strengths and want to use them in a way that makes a significant difference.
In the article, Patricia Forehand, a retired educator turned comedian says, “After I retired, I took the teacher mask off and really cut loose…. I feel like I can be myself again.”
It Takes Time to become Good
The singer Bettye LaVette, hit it big after the age of 60. She says, “It’s much better to find success later in life. It takes a very long time to become good. Iris Gomez, a lawyer turned novelist agrees. “My work has gotten richer as I’ve matured.” She adds, “People say you can have it all as a woman, just not at the same time. There’s truth to that.” Another woman, Suzanne Wilson, became a doctor 25 years after being accepted to medical school. And she believes that her experiences raising a family will make her a better doctor than she would have been earlier.
Life’s Travails Make Us Better
In my book, Road to Fulfillment, a male writer turned therapist, describes the pain and suffering he needed to endure in order to become the wise therapist he is today. A realtor turned minister feels the same.
Others in the book describe how their values changed over time. I often hear people over 50 say that now that their children are grown, fulfillment comes from living simply and making social contributions through work with non-profits and volunteering. Others said you shouldn’t wait until the time when you have enough money. Start where you are today. Begin to live your dream now. Reading their stories in Road to Fulfillment will inspire you.
What’s next for you?