Be Dangerous Again: A Renaissance for You in Post50 Freedom

Within us, beneath the noise is the source and core of everything.
Within us, beneath the noise is the source and core of everything.

Welcome back to Part 3/5 on crafting a remarkable Post50 Life. We explored Geography of Place last time and today, it’s all about getting our time back. We move on to Freedom, the second of the Four Elements of Post50 Lifestyle.

Retirement isn’t being retired. It’s already retired. You know that by now, right?

The old idea of “retirement”—a word that means withdrawal, describing a time when people gave up productive employment and shrank their activities—was a short-lived historical abnormality lasting approximately 70 years.

In 1935 a kind of pragmatic judgment using the favorable actuarial age of 65 became the basis on which this age was used for retirement under Social Security.

It’s over.

Poised to live longer in better health than ever before individuals are extending their working lives, often with new careers, phased retirement, entrepreneurial ventures, and volunteer service.

‘Un’ is a prefix freely used in English to form verbs expressing a reversal of some action or state. Unleash this negative force and we have wonderful words such as undressed, unbeloved, unforgettable and undone.

Today, we’ve uncorked the word ‘unretirement’ to explain this seismic change now in its early stages. (The word,’unretirement,’ first used in 1966, is now thriving.)

The ‘unretirement’ you’ll choose is not life as you know it.

You can look forward to a newfound sense of freedom- a freedom that’s been missing from your getting-educated-child-raising-finding-time-for-sex-career-consuming life.

Many smart people squander and misuse this parcel of time – often decades of it. Some people volunteer it away.

Will you be one of them? Continue reading

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Craft the Post50 Life You Want: Where You Live Could Be The Most Important Decison of Your Life

People who live inland are not as happy as people who live near water, according to research in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. You may or may not agree.
People who live inland are not as happy as people who live near water, according to research in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. You may or may not agree.

Welcome back to Part 2/5 on crafting a remarkable Post50 Life. The second of this series is about the Geography of Place, the first of the Four Elements of Post50 Lifestyle.Post50 Lifestyle Design ElementsPost50 Lifestyle Design Elements

 “You can take me anywhere you want to take me. But get me out of Atlanta.”

I can’t recall a time my amenable husband, Herb, dug in so much. But he was adamant that after his retirement – an end to a 34-year career as a Delta pilot based in Atlanta – we would live in a different place.

Turns out our move to the Gulf Coast still contributes a ‘wow’ to our Post50 lifestyle. But finding our geography of place wasn’t easy and Herb’s lead time of ten years was a boon since the scouting and winnowing of places took a whopping 71/2.

Was Atlanta a bad place for us? Definitely not.

But are we truly happier where we live now than if we had stayed? Unquestionably, yes.

Choosing a spouse and choosing a career are important life decisions—but even more predictive of our all-round personal happiness is our choice of living location, argues Richard Florida, author of Who’s My City: How the Creative Economy is Making Were You Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life.

At this turning point in life, a growing number of us have the opportunity to choose a place that truly fits our needs.

‘Geography of Place’ -the place you choose to live as you begin your third act of life – is a high-stakes decision and most of us are not prepared to make the right choice.

Where in the world do we begin to pick a place good for a possible second career that affords us a fulfilling and vibrant life?

Ask most people how they got to the place they live now, they’ll say they just ended up there.

How did you end up where you are anyway?

Intersection of Geography and Happiness

In his captivating best-seller Stumbling on Happiness, Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert writes that “most of us make at least three important decisions in our lives: where to live, what to do and with whom to do it.”

But Gilbert’s book mostly focuses on the “what” and the “who.”

That happiness researchers like Gilbert mainly ignored the “where” inspired Richard Florida’s partnering with Gallup to conduct a major US study that shows the overwhelming importance of place to happiness. (There is also a related European version conducted by Robert Manchin of Gallup Europe.)

The research confirms that “Place” forms the third leg in the triangle of wellbeing, alongside of personal relationships and our work. Continue reading

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Midlife Plan: Start Over with Four Elements of Post50 Lifestyle

Gate sign in Lakes District of England.
Gate sign in Lakes District of England.

After two decades of childhood and three of decades of adulthood you’d think we’d have it all figured out. We’ve adjusted, re-adjusted, modified, adapted and tweaked ourselves from infancy to adolescence through young adulthood past the age of innocence only to smack right into midlife.

Managing life transitions? We got it down.

Unfortunately that kind of confidence and bravado can get you into trouble.

Ahead lies a transition never before awarded a generation or attempted. With a bonus of thirty plus years of living after the age of 65, we are privileged to create a new life cycle.

But crafting a new stage of life is not as easy as slipping into one that’s been around.

What is for certain is that advancing toward us in midlife is one of those delicious ‘defining moments’ – one we can choose to use or not to use.

Ted talker, Meg Joy, a clinical psychologist, insists for her twenty-something audience that 80% of life’s defining moments happen before 35. This is ridiculous.

Have you had a happening or two since your mid-thirties that got you where you are now? Any big damn event helped shape you in your 40s or 50s? (Marriage? A baby? Divorce? Love? Heartbreak? Lottery? Career setback? Dad died?)

No one decade defines us.

With high expectations and time not on our side, we should aim to make this upcoming demarcation – from mid-life to late adulthood- one of unparalleled significance.

Other defining moments of your life slipped up on you to catch you unaware or unprepared. Still, you made it through with time enough to savor or recover.

This one’s different.

You will either use this one to create the life you want to live until it’s over – literally game over.

Or you’ll ignore it. And, likely wish you hadn’t. Continue reading

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How to Design a Post50 Life That Matters : New, Inventive Approach Solves Problem

Judi Dench on Retire

It seems Judi Dench bristles at the thought of slowing down.

Obviously Dench tells herself something about the future that’s very different from the  conventional narrative of classic retirement.

Dame Judi Dench, renown Oscar-winning film and stage actor.
Dame Judi Dench, renown Oscar-winning film and stage actor.

Hurrah for her, as well as a growing number of individuals who are not going to be defined by an outdated message of “slow down, your work is done and do get out of the way for the young.”

Classic retirement, lacking a factual basis and appropriateness, is in extreme flux and individuals no longer see this as a solid truth to define behavior.

According to USA Today, the latest buzzwords for Baby Boomers are “reinvent,” “reimagine,” “encore” – anything that suggests a second chance or a new chapter.

Continue reading

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Set the Stage for Your Endless Career: The First Four Steps

California Chrome
California Chrome

Art Sherman talks with his hands as if holding the reins, a distinctive trait left over from his first career as a jockey.

Riding for over 21 years he rode his share of winners, but rarely the big horses in the big races. He’d occasionally supplement his income playing “race-horse rummy,” a card game that was popular in the jockey’s room between races, for 25 cents a point.

Fifty-five years later Art Sherman was in the winner’s circle, as the trainer for California Chrome at this year’s Kentucky Derby, hallowed ground for equine greatness.

California Chrome won by 1 ¾ lengths fostering hysteria for The Preakness Stakes, the second race for the Triple Crown. On another gorgeous Saturday afternoon last weekend, Sherman’s horse won again in a magnificent race.

Kentuckians, far removed in time and space like me, watch the Derby the first Saturday in May without exception. Sure we choke up as we sing ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ because at that moment memories flood our hearts, but when a horse like this comes along we can turn giddy.

California Chrome now has a shot at Triple Crown greatness, but you have no soul if you don’t root for Art Sherman too. His story is an advanced class on finding what you love to do and day-after-day-after-day turning it into an endless career.

This unassuming man is the oldest trainer to have won the Derby. “I never made it with the big, big horses…but I’m thankful for my career,” Art said. Continue reading

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Will Life’s Disappointments Diminish the Promise of Your Potential in the Second Half of Life?

2014-03-09 18.25.22Life will break you.

Catastrophe and misfortune meet you along the way and the results are sorrow, despair, grief, pain and misery.

No one escapes. No one.

This isn’t about the disappointment you might experience when your sports team loses or Cosco has run out of your favorite gummy fish.

This is about bitter disappointment.

The kind of heartbreak that must have been experienced last month when hundreds of climbers found out they weren’t going to be able to test their skills to reach the top of Mt. Everest.

The tragic loss of 16 Sherpas in an avalanche on April 18th was the worst single event in Everest history. The climbing community mourned the deaths then were caught in the tangled web on the sidelines between Sherpas and their government.

When the mountain ‘functionally’ closed, not only had lives been lost but dreams shattered. Continue reading

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Simple Step to Inspiration on Life’s Journey: What is Your Temporary Name?

 Be Safe and Well. Peace, Love, Courage. -Traditional farewell among the Arabs for those leaving on a pilgrimage.
Be Safe and Well. Peace, Love, Courage.
-Traditional farewell among the Arabs for those leaving on a pilgrimage.

While the word pilgrimage may sound mysterious, it is not. Whatever our longing, path or destination, we are all journeying and have been throughout our lives.

All men and women are travelers though often we might be confused wanderers. I think you know what I mean – on the path, off the path, screw the path.

Maybe you don’t think of yourself as a pilgrim but many scholars do. They declare that life is a pilgrimage and the human soul is a pilgrim.

I believe in pilgrimage as a powerful metaphor for any passage with the purpose of finding something that matters deeply to the traveler. The pilgrimage can be an inward journey as transformative and sacred as the revered walk thousands undertake each year on Camino de Santiago.

Two Saturdays ago I went to  Charleston to spend a day with the wise philosopher and poet, David Whyte to explore Solace: The Art of Asking the Beautiful Question.

I wanted to be inspired, learn new things and broaden my perspectives.

His seventh volume of poetry, Pilgrim, is hailed as some of his best work. Whyte defines a pilgrim as someone, like you and me, passing through our lives relatively quickly but dependent on friendship, hospitality and help from friends and strangers alike.

Someone for whom the nature of the destination changes step by step as it approaches, and someone who is subject to the vagaries of wind and weather along the way.

The nature of our journey, no matter our age, will not change when it comes to unexpected challenges and events, or joyful transitions. Continue reading

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Want a Pretty Great Life? Start With the End in Mind.


        Here is the test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished; if you're alive it isn't.   - Richard Bach -
Here is the test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished; if you’re alive it isn’t. – Richard Bach -

How well people fare as they age is not just genetics or good luck. It is affected by education, energy, social networking and planning.

What’s your plan?

One of the great motivators for starting a new career in my sixties and getting my act together was the powerful understanding of my mortality.

Yes, I understood that growing old today is embarking on a new frontier and living longer is possible, but what did that mean for me personally?

Discovering my estimated life expectancy (96.18) stacked favorably against the average for women in the US today (82.2) was sheer infatuation. Rather than a mere 22 years, I had the possibility of 36 more years.

I thought of myself at 30 trying to imagine life stretched ahead until I turned 66. It was impossible then to grasp all that life could hold for me just as it is now.

But as a new horizon of ‘what could be’ began to appear in front of me, I got excited. I still am.

Not everyone is so positive about living long.

In the advent of advancing years, some are defiant about how many more they want to take on. Oh, but I don’t want to live until I’m ninety-something. Maybe you’re saying this.

What if we could not only add years but spend them being physically fit, mentally sharp, and functionally independent and financially secure. Do you want those years then?

I do.

This post is not about old age. This is about a long life.

I understand it can be uncomfortable thinking about surrendering your lifelines. Most of us ignore thoughts about the timing of our demise or act as if we have an infinite number of days.

But I promise you’ll be a lot smarter and motivated to design a fantastic third act if you’ll create a space in your mind for a conversation regarding your earthly finish line.

Ready? Good.

Now, let’s consider your last breath. Continue reading

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Me-And-Only-Me: Learning My Way Around Loneliness

2014-02-03 19.43.36 (2)I have lived and worked in Latin America during the first three months of the past three years. These experiences are at the core of my third-act design for living the life I want and so far I’ve immersed myself in Granada, Nicaragua, Quito and Cuenca in Ecuador.

I go alone because there is no one else to go with.

Each journey begins with excitement but the outer limits of something else I feel moves through the daily routines of getting ready. I am choosing to be alone and it doesn’t take a remarkable social experiment to figure out that I’ll be lonely.

While it doesn’t deter my choice to leave, I do give a lot of thought to it.

Living alone is not traveling a safe path. Deep loneliness is more dangerous than obesity. When a person feels lonely his or her skin literally becomes colder which could explain why I wore fleece when the couple from Vermont were in t-shirts.

My lonely will not be social isolation but still, in a strange country with no friends and only silly Spanish to make do, I know to expect a visit from Mr. Lonesome.

Before you let your heart shrink thinking you will read a painful narrative of soul-crushing emptiness, let me assure you that time will not stand suffocating still during my journey. There is joy and wonder in these ancient cities and I find it.

But I will also find a haunting social stigma of singleness. I will miss physical touch, chit chat, the moment where someone takes the map from my hands and points to where I am, and making a cup of tea to give every morning as a gift of love. I will miss the recognition and respect my husband, the tea drinker, bestows on me.

I will not feel unloved but I will feel uncared for and sometimes misplaced.

How to be alone is one of life’s most important skills and ending up at the tender intersection of life and loneliness can make you strong, reduce you to tears or kill you. Continue reading

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Travel Unnecessary for Fulfilled Life Post50

2014-03-04 16.20.55For many the first activity of a post-retirement life is to pack up and leave home for a far flung experience. For individuals who plan to continue to work Post50 taking a gap year is growing in popularity.

Seems we all want to be on the move. Travel is a top priority for 59% of retirees according to a 2013 study.

With late-in-life freedom, there’s a romantic notion to the idea of leaving home. We hear a siren song from Tahiti, the RV points westward, Italy beckons, New Zealand’s Milford Track craves our boots or ghosts of past lives plea for a visit to grandpa’s cabin deep in the Nantahala Forest with ten long lost cousins nearby.

Must we go? We must.

Compelled to enter a Post50 life with travel at the forefront, we pocket the AmEx, grab a neck pillow, Ziplock our snacks and set off  on a journey.

What I want to know is ‘why?’

What is to be accomplished or gained? Are we off to capture lost adventures of youth? Will you be happier after you see inside the Louvre? Will finding your center happen after 4 days walking on the Inca Trail?

As for that 40% who don’t have travel as a top priority, do they risk ending up on the low end on the totem pole of life satisfaction?

For the record, it is not documented that travel is necessary for a happy, well-lived life. Continue reading

Posted in Reconstuct Retirement, Self-Management | 1 Comment