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
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.
Optimists Live Longer
Why You Should Look on the Bright Side
Even in times like these, remember to look at the bright side of life. Research at Harvard’s School of Public Health shows that optimists’ odds of living to 85 or longer are more than 50 percent greater than pessimists. Optimists tend to bounce back from difficulties more readily. Perhaps it’s because optimistic people are better able to regulate their emotions. And they have healthier habits – they are more likely to exercise, eat well, and less likely to smoke.
Live Longer with Healthy Habits
In my county, Marin County, California, living to 85 is the norm, and all of us want a future where we live to that age or longer. I’m pleased that my neighbors are applying healthy habits and helping to “flatten the curve” during the Covid-19 pandemic by sheltering in place and practicing social distancing. One way I know my county is doing a good job is by looking at published GPS tracking data. Other than going to the grocery story, my neighbors are staying home, and thus, less likely to contract the virus or spread it.
Keep Your Spirits High
To stay healthy and optimistic, we’ve found ways to keep our spirits high. We connect every evening at 8 PM for The Howl. Up and down the hills, from all directions, I hear my neighbors making coyote-like howls, which keep us connected in dark times.
Connection is what it’s all about now. We meet online for Zoom chats; we send each other photos and our latest drawings; we call friends we haven’t spoken with in years; and we exchange jokes and cartoons on Facebook and Instagram. Have you seen this one?
My Self-Isolation Quarantine Diary
- Day 1 – I Can Do This!! Got enough food and wine to last a month!
- Day 2 – Opening my 8th bottle of Wine. I fear wine supplies might not last!
- Day 3 – Strawberries: Some have 210 seeds, some have 235 seeds. Who Knew??
- Day 4 – 8:00pm. Removed my Day Pajamas and put on my Night Pajamas.
- Day 5 – Today, I tried to make Hand Sanitizer. It came out as Jello Shots!!
- Day 6 – I get to take the Garbage out. I’m So excited, I can’t decide what to wear.
- Day 7 – Laughing way too much at my own jokes!!
- Day 8 – Went to a new restaurant called “The Kitchen”. You have to gather all the ingredients and make your own meal. I have No clue how this place is still in business.
- Day 9 – I put liquor bottles in every room. Tonight, I’m getting all dressed up and going Bar hopping.
- Day 10 – Struck up a conversation with a Spider today. Seems nice. He’s a Web Designer.
- Day 11 – Isolation is hard. I swear my fridge just said, “What the hell do you want now?”
- Day 12 – I realized why dogs get so excited about something moving outside, going for walks or car rides. I think I just barked at a squirrel.
- Day 13 – If you keep a glass of wine in each hand, you can’t accidentally touch your face.
- Day 14 – Watched the birds fight over a worm. The Cardinals lead the Blue Jays 3–1.
- Day 15 – Anybody else feel like they’ve cooked dinner about 395 times this month? IS THIS YOU, yet?
Artificial Intelligence May Save Us
On a more serious – but still optimistic – note, some of us are attending online conferences where we discuss the future. Attending Stanford University’s April 1st conference on Artificial Intelligence gave me some hope.
- Some politicians see progress being made on global health security coordination and tracking
- We’re learning how changes in public policy and greater transparency could help us better respond to future biological threats and diseases
- Using AI we’re making better predictions and can better track how the virus spreads
- Biomedical informatics is making it easier to use existing data, including GPS cell phone data, for surveillance
- Medical doctors are sharing global best practices
- Researchers are discovering ways to treat patients at home using cameras and smart sensors
- AI is being used to identify vaccine candidates
- Finally, we’re waking up to the need for a healthy planet, because if we continue with climate change and deforestation, animals will continue to get sick, and they will make us sick again
Let’s be optimistic about the future. Stay well and safe.
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.
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?
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?
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:
The holidays bring up such mixed emotions – there’s joy and hope…and there’s stress and sadness.
When I taught a class on managing holiday stress, participants gave me a long list of stressors that include worries about budget and creating a “perfect” holiday, and feeling sad when remembering loved ones who won’t be here this year.
Find Balance and Watch your Budget
Class members had plenty of ideas for reducing holiday stress. They want to set realistic expectations, create a better balance between personal time and social time, and spend more time with supportive people. Some people talked about reducing financial worries by changing some of their family traditions; instead of buying gifts for everyone in the family, they will have a white elephant exchange or arrange for secret Santa gifts, so that each person only buys one gift.
Stress Reduction Tips
During the holidays, more than at other times, it’s important to manage your stress. This is the time for deep breathing exercises (breathe in for 3 counts, hold for 2, breathe out for 3 counts). Progressive muscle relaxation is super helpful. Sit in a chair with your eyes closed. Tense your right fist; let go. Tense your whole right arm; let go. Do the same on the left side. Then scrunch up your face and hold it tight; let go. Tense your shoulders and your chest; let go. Tense your stomach muscles; let go. Tense your thighs and calves; let go. Tense your toes; let go.
As members of my class completed the exercise and opened their eyes, the energy in the room became light and peaceful.
Help Yourself to Help Others
So, first take care of yourself during the holidays. Then help others. If you take time to volunteer or collect toys to donate, you’ll feel the joy of giving. Plus, when we change the focus from materialism, we reap the benefits of feeling the spirit of the holiday season.
Remember: You have the right to enjoy the holidays and even buy a gift for yourself. You are also entitled to feel all your emotions – from happy to sad. You don’t need to attend every party and eat all the food offered to you. You can design the holiday you want to enjoy. Make some new traditions. What can you do differently this year?
Lately friends have been asking me about my philosophy. They want to know if I have a dogma, or if I’m guided by a self-help guru. The answer is I’m a pragmatist. Over the years, through trial and error, I’ve found a path that works for me. It includes having a balanced life, getting unstuck, pursuing fun leisure activities, keeping healthy, fulfilling my life purpose, sticking to my personal guiding principles, and achieving goals.
In my workshops and coaching, I share this “path” with others. And that feels great. So, as Thanksgiving approaches, I want to talk about how grateful I am to have this opportunity to teach and be a coach. It truly is fulfilling to help people who are feeling uncertain about what next steps to take, and then see them leave at peace, knowing how they want life to look and what they need to do to achieve it.
This work, plus so much more, makes me feel that my life is balanced and full. I am thankful for good health which allows me to enjoy hiking, skiing, cycling, sailing, dance, and yoga. I’m thankful for the amazing friends I’ve made while pursuing these activities. I’m grateful that as a Marin Master Gardener, I can volunteer for the Dig It, Grow It, Eat It program that teaches children about gardening and nutritious foods. I’m thankful that I’m able to travel; this year I went to the East Coast and Canada, while next year I’ll visit New Zealand. And I’m grateful for my small family.
I want to wish you a fulfilling Thanksgiving Holiday. If you have time, write down some of the things you are grateful for. Did you know that a 2012 study found that grateful people have fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people? Spend 10 minutes jotting down a few grateful thoughts before bed, and you may sleep better.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.