Walking in the hills of Tiburon, CA

Yes, it’s Fall….and I fell.  I slipped at the gas station and fell face down in a puddle of oil as I stepped out of my car.  It was a messy site. 

Even though I escaped with only an ugly deep cut and sore muscles, I felt fragile. It’s interesting how one day you feel invincible and the next you recognize how vulnerable you are – in more ways than one. 

After the fall I had trouble sleeping plus digestion problems.  It was like placing that last block on top of a pile of blocks and toppling the whole tower.  In California, on top of the virus and the election, we have fires, smoke, wind, economic fears, plus more.  Sometimes it’s too much.  You know what I mean.

So, I needed to regain balance.  I looked at my to do list and started paring it down.  There’s not enough time to work, do physical therapy exercises, practice the guitar, paint, garden, hike, bicycle, read, do housework and be social. 

I let go of few things.  It’s funny though.  As my calendar opened up, it got filled with new activities, including recording video for the Master Gardeners YouTube website.

Surprise!  Learning to shoot and edit video took my mind off my problems.  I felt a sense of accomplishment.  For me, the way out of sadness was learning something new.  Try it.  Let me know what happens.

During these unsettling times, it’s easy to get knocked “off-center.”

Last month, I asked you to reflect and take stock of your life.  This month, I want to help you get back in balance by looking at where you spend your time now and where you want to spend it in the future.

There are many life-balance wheels, such as the one above created by Brendan Baker of Australia.  Most include these components:

  • work (paid or volunteer)
  • family and relationships
  • leisure and physical activities
  • personal pursuits – creativity and education
  • spiritual pursuits
  • healthy habits – preparing healthy meals and keeping fit
  • physical environment and home maintenance
  • rest

Do you agree that it is important to have these elements in your life?

What would you add to the list or delete?

Look at the list above and check the areas of life that are most important to you.

  • Place a number from 1-10 next to each item to indicate how satisfied you are with that area of life (10=very satisfied, 1=dissatisfied).
  • How would you like to balance these areas?  How would you like to allocate your time?  Put a percentage next to each area.

You can regain some of the balance your life has lost.  Draw a circle and divide up the pie slices.  One slice for each activity in your life.  Slices for activities that take more time will be proportionally larger.  Sleep may take up a quarter of the pie.

Divide up the pie to show how your time is spent now.

Now draw a new circle with pie slices that reflect an ideal life balance.  What activities have you added to the pie?  What could you give up or reduce to attain this balance?

Sometimes it’s helpful to work with a coach on this activity and on the steps to take next. Let me know if I can be of assistance.

Be bold. If you’re going to make an error, make a doozy, and don’t be afraid to hit the ball.  Billie Jean King

Life has its ups and downs.  Keep on swinging.  Hank Aaron

The Old Ways Won’t Cut It

Friends, family and coaching clients tell me they will not be returning to business as usual when life becomes “more normal.”  I’m hearing that the virus has brought about a change in their values, and the old ways won’t cut it.

Take Stock

If you want to reinvent yourself and find out what’s next, start by looking at where you are today.  Allow yourself time to reflect on the following questions:

  • When do you feel most “at home”?  Most like yourself? Most alive?
  • Who are you with when you feel most like yourself? (Perhaps you are alone in nature.)
  • Where are you?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What do you no longer enjoy?
  • What do you want to learn?

What’s the Nagging Question?

When I was laid off from my corporate job, I thought about what I most wanted to learn and explore.  I wanted to spend time in my neglected garden, but I didn’t know how to proceed.  I took classes to become a Master Gardener.  I met 30 classmates, many of whom became good friends.  We are the same age and share similar passions.  Later, I began to remember the jazz music my father played when I was young.  Those memories helped open another world of music and dancing.

What’s Next?

In future blogs, we’ll create a vision for the future and explore ways to get there.

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.

Getting Started

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!

Paint Pouring

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.

Experimenting

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/

  • Creativity
  • Observation
  • Self-expression
  • Focus
  • Discipline
  • Perseverance
  • Collaboration
  • Risk-taking

Stress Reduction

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.

UPDATE

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.

Don’t go so far that what you remember about your hike is how ridiculously hard it was.

Matthew Vandzura, Grand Canyon National Park Chief Ranger
Time Magazine, March 18, 2019

Photo of the Franz Josef Glacier by Lynn Ryder

I read this quote the week I returned from nearly three weeks of hiking on the South Island of New Zealand.  It was the most difficult terrain I’ve encountered, including the scree we hiked up when climbing volcanoes in Ecuador in 2014.  New Zealand has very steep rocks and roots covered with moss, making them unusually slippery.  In the past, my hiking group would hike 2.5 miles per hour; on these South Island hikes we could barely complete one mile in an hour.  When it rained on our way down the Roberts Point Overlook trail, below the Franz Josef Glacier, I was scared I would break my neck or some other part of my body.  Which brings me to the question: When is it time to stop?  What are my limits?

Pay Attention

On the Overlook hike, I slipped on slick rock early on, so I knew I was pushing my limits. Two of my friends turned back, and I could easily have joined them.  On the other hand, I felt intertwined with my group of 22 experienced hikers.  There was some peer pressure and the thrill of doing something harder than I’d done before.  I was focused on my goal; I wanted to see the glacier from the overlook….and it was something to see.  But I can’t help thinking that if I had been smart, I would have listened to my body.  I would have realized that my legs were tired, and I was relying a great deal on using my hiking poles and my hands to scramble up Robert’s Mountain.  Plus, I am no spring chicken. 

The Goal or the Journey

This reminds me of the dilemma of process versus outcomes.  My friends who turned back, told me what a lovely time they had listening to bird songs, taking photos, and examining the ferns, moss and berries.  While I was huffing and puffing, they enjoyed taking in the sights, sounds and smells of this unique area.  I’m reminded that often I’m so focused on my goals and outcomes, that I miss the special qualities of the journey. 

There’s More Living to Do

I haven’t decided if I was right or wrong to endure some scrapes and some fright to get to the gorgeous glacier overlook.  I know I learned many lessons from pushing myself that day.  In the future, I will take time to pause, tune out what others are saying and check in with my body to determine if it’s time to turn around.  In the past, I wanted to prove how strong and capable I was, so I refused to be the person who wouldn’t complete a hike.  Now it’s time to look rationally at what makes sense at this time in my life, knowing that any injuries won’t heal as quickly as when I was young.  There’s still an enormous amount I can accomplish.  I want to remain healthy and strong enough to keep hiking and seeing the many great sights I haven’t seen yet.

Find your next step at the next Reinvent Yourself after Fifty class on May 4 at Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA. Visit the workshops page on this website at:
https://reinventyourselfafterfifty.com/reinvent-yourself-after-50-workshops/

Photo of the author taking a break while hiking on the South Island of New Zealand.

Flexibility and New Perspectives

Some important themes have been appearing in my coaching work lately.  One is flexibility and the other is changing your perspective.

We Need to Be Flexible

After I taught a workshop at a local library, I met with several people who are struggling with the high cost of renting in Marin County, CA.   One person has decided that if staying in the county means that he needs to do Senior Homesharing – sharing household help in exchange for reduced rent, he’ll do it.  A friend who has lived alone for 20 years is looking for a roommate.

However, another person told me a litany of things that “must” stay the same “or else.” This person is angry, depressed, and unwilling to change.

Most of us don’t like change.  I know I don’t.  However, I’m continually reminded of these lessons: Stay Flexible and Keep an Open Mind.  We don’t know what is supposed to happen.  Sometimes a change that looks bad, turns out to be good; the change often leads to something positive that we couldn’t predict. 

I recently saw the fabulous Broadway musical, “Come From Away.”  On 9/11, 2001, 7,000 airplane passengers were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland, Canada.  They were stranded there for two weeks, and, at first, they felt angry and lost.  But then the locals took them into their homes, fed them, entertained them, and showed them other remarkable generous qualities that humans are capable of.  Some of the passengers, who were strangers at first, got married to each other afterwards, and most struck up life-long friendships with the folks from Gander.   Yes, it looked like a disaster, but such beauty came from the experience. 

Change your Perspective

I was hiking yesterday with a man who had a motorcycle accident two years ago.  He lost vision in one eye and has compromised the use of one arm.  I asked him what he learned.  He said the accident reinforced what he always thought:  “Nothing bad has ever happened to me.”

My girlfriend, who was part of the conversation, added, “There are no mistakes.” She said, “When I say what seems like the wrong thing, I no longer get angry with myself.  I wonder if what I said might, ultimately, be helpful for the person who heard it.”  Wow!  These are interesting and refreshing perspectives.

Speaking of perspectives, last week I taught a class on Positive Thinking and referenced the work of Martin Seligman, the author of “Learned Optimism.”  Seligman’s research proved that three attributes make the difference in how optimistic we are.  He studied how people view the Permanence of a situation, their view of Pervasiveness, and if they take the situation Personally.  It turns out that you will be more successful and happier if you view a situation as:

  1. temporary (not permanent)
  2. limited in scope (the situation is not going to impact everything, it’s not pervasive), and
  3. if you believe the situation is due to outside factors and is not your fault (not personal)

As some of us face hard times – debt, high rent, underemployment, health setbacks – it’s helpful to think about staying flexible and looking at life in new, more optimistic ways.  It’s wise to see the situation as temporary, limited in scope, and not your fault.

Feeling that our lives “must” or “should” look a certain way, only leads to depression.  It’s more helpful to simply say, I “prefer” this to happen….and “I’m flexible.” 

Finally, when life feels hard, try to stay open to hearing what others are telling you.  If you say, “But, but,” to others’ recommendations, you will find yourself alone.  What sounds crazy at first, might be the seed of something worth looking into.  It’s easy to say, and harder to do – we need to trust and “live into” the answers.  The answers are coming.

Recently a reporter from a new website for Boomers – www.considerable.com – interviewed me about coaching people over 50 and finding life balance.  He wondered what’s different at this age.  I told him that almost everything changes.  This graphic covers much of it.

You may feel lonely if you are no longer working; you may be an empty-nester; loved ones may have passed on; you may be less healthy; you may have unstructured time; you may want to have a new sense of purpose and meaning… and so on.  When this happens, it’s valuable to work with a coach to look at ways to re-balance your life.

My coaching clients look at which areas of life are most important now and consider how to allocate their time in the future to achieve the right balance.  An easy way to do this is to draw a circle or pie and slice up the pie to show how your time is spent now.  Then draw a second pie and slice it up to show the way you want to spend your time in the future.  Look at these elements in your life and decide which you want to expand or change:

  • work (paid or volunteer)
  • family and relationships
  • leisure and physical activities
  • personal pursuits – creativity and education
  • spiritual pursuits
  • integrate healthy habits into all of this

Ask yourself: How satisfied am I with each of these elements?  How can I increase my satisfaction?

I have tools that can help with this process.  Just send an email (lynn.ryder@gmail.com) or give me a call (415-328-6514) to arrange a coaching session.  Or attend a “Reinvent Yourself after 50” workshop – click the link for information on the next one.

If you have a high school reunion coming up, GO.  If it’s your 50th reunion, don’t hesitate.  The 50th reunion is probably the last reunion.  It’s sad to say, but some of your classmates won’t be alive…or won’t be able to travel in another 10 years.

I just returned from my 50th reunion at Abington High School in a suburb of Philadelphia.  When the reunion was announced, I was the first to RSVP.  I live 3000 miles from many of my high school friends, and this was a chance to see everyone at once.  With Facebook, it’s been great to catch up with so many of my classmates, but it’s not the same as face-to-face.  When seeing friends in person, the good memories come flooding back.  And, at this stage of life, the bad memories of feeling excluded (by people in some cliques) have long faded away.

The reunion was an opportunity to remember my childhood on the East Coast. I decided to make the event into an adventure by plane, train and subway.  I wanted to see the 911 museum in New York and take an in-depth look at Washington D.C.  I’m glad I did.  Even two weeks was not enough time to see the many monuments, gardens, museums and cultural events on my bucket list.

After the “high” I felt in New York city with it’s great energy, I was not let down in Philadelphia.  My high school pals have matured into relaxed, interesting, fun-loving older adults.  We picked up where we left off so many years ago.  Everyone was welcoming.

We’re at a great age.  Yes, it’s true that there was a wide variation in how well we aged.  I recognized almost everyone I used to “hang with.”  They looked energetic and fabulous.  The surprise was that some classmates are using canes and walkers.

It’s truly eye-opening to see that even as early as the sixties, if you don’t have good genes and don’t live a healthy lifestyle, your decline will already be apparent.  It’s another reminder to stay active and engage with life.  And to reinvent yourself.

 

Some years ago, shortly after my father and brother passed away, I hit a low point and saw a therapist at Kaiser Permanente.  He recommended a YouTube video of Albert Ellis, an influential American Psychologist who died in 2007. Ellis is best known for developing Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT).  When I applied REBT to my situation, I felt much better.  Now, when I have negative thoughts, I use REBT  – because it works.

I’ve found Ellis’ approach to be highly effective for coaching clients. Men and women quickly see how their thoughts have blocked them from success. For example, one client had a problem with his foot. He blamed himself and said that perhaps he deserved to suffer. When he examined his belief, he saw that it was irrational. He “de-catastrophized” the situation, found the energy to look for new options by talking to people who could help, and tried a therapy that eventually healed his foot.

Here’s the approach:

Albert Ellis’ ABCDEs of Adversity

 A – Adversity happens

 B – What is your belief or thought about it?  Is the belief logical? Rational?  What would be a more helpful belief?

 C – Consequences – What did you feel or do?

 D – Dispute the feeling. De-catastrophize it:  What is the evidence? It’s not a big deal in the scheme of things  Look at alternatives   Look for greater meaning – nation, God, family, a cause, volunteering, charity

 E – Energy – feel energized. Take action

How can you apply this is in your life?  If you are working on an issue, let’s meet for a private coaching session. It’s time to move forward.