Seeing Yourself in the Future: Let’s Get Started

Last week on a catch-up call with my friend, Patricia, I was surprised, no I was floored, to hear:

“I’m in love and engaged to be married.”

Patricia never dreamed of being a 73-year-old bride. After the bitter end to a 42-year-old marriage, her life was about four children, a slew of grandkids, volunteering to teach science classes to 5th graders and oodles of travel.

She was happy with her life. And now she’s happier.

That’s the thing about the last third of life. It can unfold in wonderful ways – ways we never, ever dreamed.

The belief that the best things have already happened to us and dream time over is the general narrative of growing old. Many smart people, maybe even you, cling to past defining moments as peaks of happiness never to be replaced.

Got news for you.  The best of your defining moments could be in the last third of your life.

But the inability to imagine an amazing life ahead, fill your head with dreams and explore what could be diminishes the chances for a future of well-being and happiness.

Imagination Collapse

Today, launching into the last third of life is an extraordinary, never-before-chance to move beyond happy. More educated than any previous generation, armed with unprecedented health advantages and financial resources, and now destined to live longer than perhaps anticipated, many boomers are in the process of designing a new life.

The process of bringing a new life forward is riddled with decisions. Important decisions.

How will you live your life?

What will you do for fun?

How will you use your talents?

How can you generate extra income?

How will you become a fantastic grandparent if you want to live in Peru, but the grandchildren are in Wisconsin?

Dreaming up life fills a pipeline of possibilities to choose from. Less ideas to explore means narrowing chances for as much happiness as you can squeeze out of whatever time is left.

Fewer options to explore increase the odds that you’ll end up settling for less, tolerating boredom or accepting that life has already give them as much happiness as you have a right to expect.

Simple as that.

Did we forget how to dream? Maybe not.

But rusty skills on dreaming up life are more common than you think. Some of us are so out of practice, we’ve eroded our proficiency to the extreme lower end of the high imagination quotient.

Fortunately we can improve, and we should.

Out of a galaxy of your options created in your 60s,70s or 80s, one or two will shine bright. You might be surprised at how pumped up you’ll be! You’ll  jump out of bed each morning, just as creaky, but excited and joyful to embrace your future.

Imagine that.

So Not Woo-Woo

People who are intentional about living their best life are working on the skill of “dreaming up life.” Crystal balls, Tarot cards, gypsy input, and energy audits may help some. But as a practical, nuts-and-bolts coach I’d prefer you crack open the “what if’s” of your life on your own.

Larry, 64, is whip smart, capable, and financially secure. Losing out on a promotion last year to an individual half his age was a disappointment. He’s planning to retire in 3 years and is making an investment to explore life ahead in Third Act Coaching.

My clients receive a summary following each session that includes observations and ideas from my perspective.

Here’s an excerpt from Larry’s second session summary:

6. Dreaming Up Life – One key learning to absorb that we talked about is that the past is not predictive of the future. As you launch into a long life ahead professional aspirations (and partnership aspirations) that were not met are a part of you, but ahead is new. Risk taking as part of new life design involves as much letting go as taking things on.

I’d like to see you dream up life a bit. What you end up doing may not involve bongo lessons, walking around the world, or learning Mandarin but taking a survey of  “crazy Larry ideas” needs to be a part of your work. 

While I see you as self-aware, I’m not convinced you have dug deep enough here. Exploration for the last third of life is less pragmatism and more shall we say – ‘dreaming up life.’

Sitting in traffic after a long day of work, Larry texted me last week.

“Do you know how to become a beekeeper?”

Every moment unfolds toward the future, but what if you can’t imagine it?  Larry, like many of us who are facing a long, bright future, may simply need a nudge (which I will make sure he gets) to begin to aspire to day dreaming.

But before we jump-start our abilities to imagine ourselves in the future, let’s acknowledge that barriers – very real ones – need examined and perhaps, diffused.

Eight Barriers to Dreaming Up a Life for Yourself

There are many reasons that this life stage can put up roadblocks in our ability to dream big for ourselves.

Here are eight:

  1. Too Many Possibilities   “Well, I could do this, or that, or this-and-that.” Presumably since lots of options are the goal, this might sound swell. But nothing overwhelms moving forward more than a swirl of ideas that keep swirling. We feel more lost than ever in an avalanche of ideas. In this case, a structure for dreaming can funnel the best of the best ideas.
  2. Obligatory Care for Others   When direct responsibility for the welfare of others is part of the package, our ability to dream only for ourselves can seem selfish and insignificant. But taking time to explore our own hopes and dreams is still a must do. Many individuals discover ways to manifest their responsibilities within a vision for life of their own.
  3. Partnership Blues  Dreaming up your own life can be complex within a marriage or partnership you care about. Individuals often want different experiences, have different priorities or take on different attitudes as the timeline of life grows shorter. The good news is relationships can and do stretch. If finding a partner is a priority, be aware that this choice, dependent on something that may or may not happen, zaps time, energy and focus from creating a life on your own.
  4. Alignment to family  Your mother, sister, brother, daughter and son know exactly what you should do with your life. Many people tell me how they have disappointed others with their decisions of where to live and what to do. Still, just as many work out great compromises with those they love.
  5. Age  While exploring options for future work, an attractive, very together woman cocks her head, looks at me and says, “You do know I’m 73.” Well, no, I didn’t and who cares. Up to you to crash land any mindsets about age as a deterrent to dreaming.
  6. Money  Some of us are paralyzed thinking we can’t afford what we want to see and do in life. Others simply see a problem to solve. They house sit around the world, sew wine bags to sell, walk dogs, and get part-time jobs. Creativity is part of imaging a future.
  7. Past Failures  Okay, last word on this. This is a fresh start. Treat it like one.
  8. Fear  We don’t control all of life. Fears are real. We fear unknowns and the realities of sickness, dying, and losing people. Keep fear in perspective. Be more afraid of not living your best life, than trying to find the courage in making the attempt.

A Smarter You is 15 minutes Away

Can we start to imagine what life could be? Or is being logical, practical, obedient and uncomplicated making us unable to think or feel any other way?

This is a last chance at living life on your terms.

               If you want to go to the Moon (trips begin in 2020), study to become a physicist                   or a street juggler, start a mushroom farm, open a Marijuana dispensary, flip a                 house or be a contestant on Ninja Warrior (you must be at least 19 but there is                     no upper age limit), bring these ideas forward to investigate or bring a smile at                   your outlandishness.

If inspiration is needed or just for the heck of it, pick two of these questions, put yourself in a 15-minute trance and start your engines:

  1. If money were no object, how would you live your life?
  2. What would you do if you had one year to live?
  3. What are two things you are curious about?
  4. What would your twenty-year-old self advise you to do for the last twenty-five years of life?
  5. What have you always wanted to do that you have not done?
  6. Where in the world would you go if I gave you an airline ticket today?

Age brings many things including experience wisdom and perspective. Add the ability to dream big to inspire your great future.

Dream on.

Me in a park in Quito, Ecuador dreaming of what it would be like to live there. Six months later, I rented an apartment for 3 months. I’ve now done that twice. Sweet!


This post is Part 2 of How to Create the Life You Want with Possibilities and Intentions.

Part 1: Scrap the Search for  Life Purpose: Your Fulfilling Life is Found in Possibilities

I invite you to make a comment and join me on Facebook. Special thanks to all of you who continue to forward posts. I appreciate that!

All Photos by B. Pagano


Posted in Craft a Post50 Lifestyle, Living Your Best 3rd Third of Life, Productive Longevity, Productivity, Reconstuct Retirement, Self-Management | 4 Comments

Scrap the Search for Life Purpose: Your Fulfilling Life is Found in Possibilities (Part I of IV)

“Look,” I said pointing to half-inch sliver of grey hair down the part in the middle of my head.

He looked. “I won’t do it,” said my hairdresser. “It’s a bad idea.”

For several years the stripe of my natural hair color that showed up every 4 weeks had me wondering. What if I stopped coloring it? I floated the idea of going to my natural hair color – commonly called ‘going grey ‘- and heard definite opinions. “I’m not for it,” said my husband. “Don’t do it!” friends shrieked then proceeded to tell about a woman who let her grey grow out and OMG, “Have you seen her. She aged ten years.”

Encouragement came from my daughter, Elizabeth, who called to say, “Mom let’s do it together and we’ll blog about it.” Why would a forty-something want to go grey? After Elizabeth and several of her friends in their late forties did a financial analysis on hair color maintenance, they determined that “we could pay down a chunk of what it costs to send one of our kids to private school for a year… and think of the time we’d save!”

Off they went to ‘grey consultants’ to help with the transition who warned, “You need to know you will look older.” Undeterred, several are on their way to grey.

Financial considerations didn’t figure into my situation. I don’t have a line item for private school, I like getting my hair done and wasn’t looking for the psychological boost others express. Many women who embrace their natural hair color say they feel empowered. “I feel more me.” I never felt I was hiding behind some chemical veil. I already am more me.

Still, grey has the sting of old. I didn’t like that part.

This hair color option began with curiosity. Speculations about living with a different color head of hair whirled:

 It could be pretty. It might not be pretty. It could look awful. I might like it. I might not. The texture could change to wiry – ick. What will I look like? You can always change it back.

At my September appointment I take off my hat and say, “This is it. No more root color.” Lawrence stomps around in his hippie sandals for ten minutes; finally, he asks his assistant for a concoction of primarily bleach.

My confidence wavers. I tilt my head down, pull my hair flat against the part and look again in the mirror at the slender line of grey.

In the glint of the mirror my future seems to shimmer. With as much bravado as I can  muster I say, “I swear I see possibilities.”

Lawrence replies, “I see none.” Continue reading

Posted in Living Your Best 3rd Third of Life, Productive Longevity, Self-Management | 1 Comment

The Grace of An Ordinary Life

The rooster three doors down crows every morning before dawn here in Mexico. I don’t need an alarm because the internal clock of Mr. Cock-a-Doodle-Doo relays the message to anticipate sunrise – the beginning of a new day.

Studies show it is the highest-ranking rooster that greets the dawn first. The others wait patiently before they join in.

Waiting patiently for something “new” to appear in life is an option. But moving toward newness – to choose a path out of your ordinary, do something different, make a first-time attempt – is an effort steeped in grace.

To feel the newness of life after fifty or sixty years of living is extraordinary.

‘Senior Wonders’ and the Rest of Us

When a Guggenheim Fellowship is awarded to a 79-year-old to pursue his writing, I am giddy with glee. Congratulations!

And while I might not understand her motivation, the 80-year-old grandma hanging from a 100-foot pole gets my admiration too. Stories of individuals in the last third of life who experience new achievements and try out new stuff are more common than ever.

“Senior Wonders: People Who Achieved Their Dreams After Age 60” introduces twenty-five individuals who achieved extraordinary success, for the first time, after the age of sixty. Next Avenue says these individuals exemplify “triumphant aging.”

But one Amazon reviewer wrote, “I was disappointed in this book. I thought it would be about plain ordinary people.”

I’m ordinary people. Maybe you are too.

Thinking you are ordinary is not a character flaw. It simply means in your life, as in mine, there are no paparazzi. My ordinariness includes a mortgage, a portfolio that isn’t doing much, a ten-year-old car, and days when I miss my firm jaw line.

I struggle at times putting my needs first (crucial in the last third of your life as you might not have another chance.) I want things I can’t afford but most of all I just want to be happy and do good work. This is ordinary stuff.

What that Amazon reviewer was missing is the connection between her – the ordinary person – and the idea of “triumphant aging.”

Can the last third of an ordinary life exemplify triumph? Or do we have to become a successful over-sixty entrepreneur or hang from a pole?

If triumphant aging is not about being on some late-in-life achievement list, what can it be? Let’s take a look.

The Wonder Within

Grace is often associated with spirituality. Perhaps that’s one reason most of us don’t attach this word – grace – to the ordinary lives we live.

Author Cheryl Richardson calls grace, “a beautiful, benevolent kind of energy.”

This idea that grace is a kind of force within us – an available energy each of can use with discretion – means we have a lever to pull. One that can push us toward meaningful, exciting possibilities.

Using the movement of energy to make life new again is a triumph of living well in the last third of your life.  Grace can mean “to adorn.” Even the most commonplace things can be jazzed. Julie now has blue hair (as in baby blue), Dee Dee throws her own first birthday party (very proud and happy with that event); Matthew (65) books his first ever online date; Rick smiles and breaks his budget to buy a piece of art he loves; Joyce (ever pragmatic) suddenly signs a year-long lease on an apartment in a foreign country.

With extra years in our lifetimes, we can adorn our ordinary lives. We can bring more first-time experiences, try out alternatives, do something differently and choose brand-spanking new ways to live life. This opportunity to explore who you are and arrive at a way of living that is nearer to your own personal values and desires is one of the great gifts of longevity.

Triumphant aging is making life feel new again. Triumphant aging is letting the past go and finding a fresh new start. Triumphant aging is to wake up excited about the day before you. Triumphant aging is taking a chance late in life.

Each of us has is the ability to infuse life with grace – this kind, benevolent energy.

This is the grace of an ordinary life.

 A Bigger Room for Choices

When advice by gurus for living the last part of our lives is condensed, it sounds like this:

Find a purpose.

Be sure to locate your passion.

Throw a switch and reinvent yourself.

(You know, of course, I think this advice is high-minded, boring and not relevant for those of us actually blazing trails in adult development.)

I am happy to tell you that more and more individuals are bypassing the suggested “find your purpose” path and constructing lives enjoying “firsts” and feeling “new.” They are giddy with delight.

This time in our lives is not a walk down easy street. Not by far. When and why to leave careers, where to live, how to refine our engagement, how to finagle finances and keep commitments to partners and loved ones – are all factors in any life, ordinary or not.

Accessing “movement and energy” – the grace within each of us – means we can refresh our spirits, ourselves and life itself.

Individuals over sixty who “feel new” aren’t as rare as you might think. In actions large and small, people facing the last third of life break routines and habits.

They have knee replacements and heart transplants in Mexico and tell their kids they’re spending this Christmas in Portugal. The non-joiners become joiners. They cut the amount of energy devoted to friendships that aren’t reciprocal and use their energy to go on the hunt for new friends. Couples married over thirty years try therapy for the very first time. Other couples carve out very-married-but-living-apart lifestyles (this would be me.)

Whatever happened in the past is carried forward. They are not new individuals. But they are approaching life differently – in fresh ways.

Life Shakedown

Who am I and how shall I live?

Over the course of a long life this two-part question will become impossible to ignore conclude Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, authors of The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in the Age of Longevity.

At the center of building a productive 100-year life are plans and experiments. You need to experiment to find what works for you – to understand what you enjoy and value and to be insightful about what resonates with you.

Curiosity is the driving force of newness. Rummaging around inside the minds of bright-eyed Third Lifers, I notice there’s less fear. Not ‘no fear,’ but more space and room for choices that previously were shut down quickly.

In the 3rd Third of life, we now can contain a larger repertoire of behaviors. We can realize that experimentation is not just for the young; it is crucial at all ages. It is experiments that guide us to where we want to be next and reveal how we can navigate the transitions ahead.

Indeed it is this sense of experimentation and exploration that is part of the thread that runs through life. Now, more than ever, our hearts demand a lot more attention. Give that attention some action and our hearts become bigger. Big hearts produce more courage.

But making ordinary lives new again? Feeling new even as our biological age delivers a record number of years we have lived?

It’s a wow, but can you do it?

What small steps can we take to pull our horizons closer to lead us to moments of newness? Can we create different ways to do things and take a chance? Can we cultivate enough curiosity to lead to new identities?

“Estoy Nueva” – I Am New

This post isn’t about being new in town. It’s about how ordinary people like you and me are becoming wise and deliberate in finding newness. And what happens when you do that.

But it did start with my being new in town.

In a shared taxi after my first Newcomer’s Meeting in San Miguel de Allende, a woman from Kansas converses with the driver in darn good Spanish. I commend her. My Spanish darts in and out of my brain with rapidity so I’m impressed.

“You need to speak some Spanish because the locals will appreciate it,” this woman says matter-of-factly. Then she kicks into teacher mode during the 10-minute ride.

“The most important words are ‘por favor’ – please. Learn that one and say it a lot. Say it now.”

I do. “Good,” she continues. “After that, ‘muchas gracias,’ (thank you) and  ‘lo siento’ (I’m sorry.)”

I repeat those too.

She tells me always to use the right greeting for the time of day and to smile when I say it.

Buenas Dias, Buenas Tartes and Buenas Noches

Okay she’s a little bossy but I don’t mind.

“For you the best thing is to try, try, try.” After a moment she adds, “And say this too. ‘Estoy nueva.’”

Then she made me say it until I got it exactly right. Estoy nueva.

“That’s it! You got it!” she said, “Tell them you are new. Say it over and over. Say, I am new.”

I say ‘estoy nueva’ all the next day and realize that yes I am new in town and because of this I make mistakes and discoveries every day. And so each day is new and this is precisely why my life feels new.

It’s a marvelous feeling.

When’s the last time your life felt new?


Actually you don’t have to bother finding your ‘new.’ You can live out your life with no changes at all. You can (and many do) even start to narrow life so choices are fewer and fewer. This is their comfort.

Life wants us all here. The grace of an ordinary life is the energy each of us carries within and how we use it.

If you want a new day, a new start or the feeling of “new,” you can find or discover it.

The cock crows for all of us.


Thank you for taking your time to read and support my work. I invite you to make a comment and join me on Facebook. Special thanks to all of you who continue to forward posts. I appreciate that!

All Photos by B. Pagano

Posted in Craft a Post50 Lifestyle, Living Your Best 3rd Third of Life | 6 Comments

“One Year to Live” – My Class in San Miguel de Allende


Two months ago when the waters of Santa Rosa Sound were choppy and the day so grey I could barely see the boat house at the end of the dock I was taken back in time and place.

Today reminds me of a time when my daughter, Elizabeth, and I were making our way southward on a 42-foot sailboat in mid-December.

Trapped by weather in Frazer’s Hog Cay, a small anchorage in the Berry Islands in the Bahamas, our early rise and assessment of the radio weather broadcast brings a realization that we aren’t going anywhere again this day – Day 3.

Simple pleasures of sitting outside in the cockpit or a walk on the near small island were not possible. With slanted, hard-driving rain we can’t even see that island. The dinghy tied at the stern fills with water and bobs furiously. Ugh.

So, what to do? Grab another cup of coffee at 7:15AM and decide how to live your best life in 42-feet of space below decks.

The engine drones to keep the faulty battery system powered. The fresh water supply diminishes as does our fuel. And our food? Well we have a lot of good olives I sneaked on board so we’ll be fine.

No television; no means of calling friends and family. With the hatches closed, the air is stale.

Let’s be miserable. This seems a good choice.

“What will make you happy today?”

I singsong the question to Elizabeth in her bunk face down in a pillow overwhelmed with disappointment. She doesn’t answer. I try a couple more times.

Then I ask myself, “What will make me happy today?”


I can lay in my bunk and finish my book and then start another. Clean the stove. Clean the head. Listen to music (with an eye on the power.) Think how wonderfully stress free it is not to be in high preparation mode for Christmas. (Turns out we missed everything about that holiday including the stress.) Fold my clothes which are in major disarray tumbling out of the shelves. Re-arrange the olives.

What will I do to be happy today?

Our fate unfolds. We would arise early, dissect weather reports and be stuck for three more days.

We learn to ask and answer that question, “What will make me happy today?” with as much enthusiasm and positivity as we could muster.

Elizabeth knew I would sing the question over and over until she answered so she might as well get her head out from under that pillow.

Soon we would scrap our boat’s bottom on the rocks as we navigated the narrow, shallow passage only good at high tide and be on our way to Nassau. On our way!

This was an experiment in living each day – making choices given what you’ve got – and I haven’t forgotten how hard we struggled to make each day count. (Elizabeth made a pie one day. Miracle!)

But what if instead of one day to decide how to live, I had to consider a longer time.

A year perhaps …and then not be on my way.


One Year to Live

Before I came to San Miguel de Allende three weeks ago to stay for a while, I sign up for a book discussion group led by Val Ward, teacher of Sociology and Psychology in England.

From 11-1pm for four Wednesdays at St. Paul’s Church on Calzada Del Cardo anyone interested was invited to gather to discuss Stephen Levine’s book, A Year to Live published in 1997. The author shares his insights in a year-long experiment living each day as if it were your last.

I figured, I’m new in town. Why not give this a try? I’ll leave if I don’t like it.

Last Wednesday I walk into a room of fifty people – more men than women. I wasn’t the youngest one or the oldest. Emma Jean, 90, is the oldest. She’s decided to look at her life one year at a time.

We laugh when she quips, “I have a short bucket list and most days I can’t remember it so it’s good that I live in the moment.”

From places including Latvia, Panama, NYC, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Florida and Colorado, some people had been in San Miguel de Allende for as much as 24 years. I was the newbie at one week. Some stay for 6-month increments; others are here “forever.” Some work while others make art or do what they choose.

Why did they come to a class on ‘One Year to Live?’

  • I want to live an “informed life.”
  • I would like to make my mind “shut up” telling me what to do and let me be in charge.
  • I would like to learn something.
  • I would like to start a new life.

The guy with a scraggly pony tail is here because he doesn’t want to leave a mess behind. A woman in her early 60s says she has  lived a life of busyness and frustration. She wants to change everything about it.


What if You Had One Year Left?

The author, Stephen Levine, has accompanied the dying to the threshold over the last twenty years. In their last year, he says, many people feel as if they have a second chance at growth and healing. This renewal often occurs because they have been given a terminal diagnosis but can also occur because their natural wisdom inspires them to open more profoundly to life.

No one in our discussion group shared a terminal illness diagnosis. All appeared to be inspired by the concept of considering how to live life better.

In the book, the author presents his findings about how individuals feel and what they would do if facing death:

  • Many feel overwhelmed by a sense of failure with a closet full of regrets.
  • Some express remorse about neglecting spiritual growth.
  • Many felt they had little authentic joy.
  • Some would change their work situation or quit.
  • Most would study some long-admired skill even without the promise of making money.
  • Many acknowledged a love of nature that they allowed to go dormant.

Levine states that most all those individuals he has worked with or interviewed would adopt a gentler pace of life, change their surroundings and be less preoccupied with social ambitions. “They would move to the country; another country; the city; build new homes; tear down old ones.”

Sitting in the St. Paul pews in this discussion group were individuals who had not been selfish with their lives. Many spent much of their time and energy and often resources making other people happy or doing what they were supposed to do.

Some express pain and anger at themselves for a lifetime of diminishing their own needs.


Now What Would They Do?

This morning one year to live or less is a reality for many. By the end of the week, many more.

In my group, individuals participate freely, take notes, smile, listen intently and do their homework.

“I have just given you the sad news that you have only one year to live,” said Val at the end of Session 1. The homework was to spend time to really think hard about what you would do if you had only one year.

Here are some of their answers:

  1. Pack bags and travel. (Popular idea. Two would get on a cruise ship immediately.)
  2. Write letter to friends and family telling them what they had meant to them.
  3. Get resources together to fund a grand-daughter’s college education.
  4. Have a big, big party. (More than one of these!)
  5. Go back to England to see the trees.
  6. In the African tradition, spend 24 hours mourning.
  7. Get my wills ready to roll. (This gentleman paid double to ensure he would be cremated in whatever country he died. If the country prohibited cremation, he was to be taken to the nearest country that would allow it. He wanted to double check it all.)


 What Would I Do?

It is Saturday afternoon 3 days after class. I sit outside in a lush green outdoor space far away from family and friends. The sun shines, butterflies flit, the beautiful fountain gurgles and the firecrackers explode (typical Mexican afternoon sound.)

I have chosen this as a geography of place to stir my soul, invite newness to my days, finish writing a book and learn more about me as well as others.

I haven’t thought about having only one year to live ever. My current excellent health masks this idea.

But here goes:

  • First, I would be mad. Why did I only get one lifetime? Where did this lifetime go? I’m not ready yet.
  • Second, I would gather two grandchildren closer. I would do some 4-year-old things and 5-year-old things.
  • Third, I would ask for twelve days with my daughter to go on some outlandish adventure that stretched our physical capabilities. Something new that presented great challenge. We have rafted Chile’s Futaleufu River, one of the premier whitewater rivers in the world and hiked ‘The W’ in Patagonia. Perhaps she’d bicycle with me across Iowa.
  • Fourth, I will bring my husband to a lovely home I rented here in San Miguel for a while, not to make him love it here. But to help him understand why I do.

It doesn’t matter if I don’t get to do all these things. My life would not be more deeply lived if I did them. But to imagine having only a year is to create depth – to find a kind of self-expression – that we should not waste our time.

The irony of the question –what if I only had one year to live? – is that I very well may.

Possibly, if I just do more of what I did on the boat in the Berry Islands I will continue to create my one lifetime as I want it.

What can I do today to make me happy?


What Would You Do?

Dear readers. Did you think I would end this post without asking?

You can make it a slow thought to ponder. You can shout from the rooftops that it’s a hypothetical question. You can use the question to create urgency and awareness.  You can be joyful that the moment is yours to contemplate.

You have one year left to live. How will you live it?


I invite you to make a comment and join me on Facebook. Special thanks to all of you who continue to forward posts. I appreciate that!

All Photos by B. Pagano











Posted in Living Your Best 3rd Third of Life, Productive Longevity, Productivity, Self-Management | 2 Comments

Still Living in the Moment? Wishing on a Star Can Bring You Much More Joy and Happiness.

Last month I pulled off a surprise celebration for my husband’s 80th birthday. My remarks to a crowd of over 80 well-wishers (actually it was more like a TEDtalk and I had a great time giving it) were a retrospective of his life’s accomplishments and a tribute to the values he lives.

Afterwards, the crowd was definitely in-the-moment. The time together made us all happy.

The past and the present worked together to make this occasion a success. Nothing was missing. Nothing more was needed.

At the threshold of the last third of life we often view our lives in this combination – the past and the present.

We know there is a future to unfold. But we feel we have time to deal with that. We’ll figure out how to be thrilled with the last part of life soon.

But not now. Now we need to perform our Downward Dogs, take another trip to Newfoundland, lean in to a still demanding career, take a nap, get the kid through college, digitize 1800 photos or volunteer to teach math to an eighth grader who appears to care less.

Ahead, however, is a transition that involves role change, redefinition and activity shifts. It’s a biggie. Maybe the hardest you ever experienced.

Thumbing through your college year book marveling at how far you’ve come isn’t going to light the way.

Neither is living in the moment. What will light the way?

The clarity and fever pitch energy needed to live out your best life begins upon a star.

So grab your cork mat and zoom toward the night sky. From this panorama gaze at life and the possibilities before you.

Wish your possible futures. Hold it for as long as you can.

Ho Hum for Mindfulness

When it comes to higher levels of well-being and a better ability to navigate the future, the past and the present may not be nearly as important as putting your brain in a future-state.

I say this at the risk of insulting many readers participating in the soaring popularity of Mindfulness. Mindfulness is the awareness that arises when one pays purposeful attention to the present moment. It can be achieved through meditation or simply by observing your surroundings without judgment.

What does Mindfulness get you? What doesn’t it get you?

Among its theorized benefits are self-control, objectivity, affect tolerance, enhanced flexibility, equanimity, improved concentration and mental clarity, emotional intelligence and the ability to relate to others and one’s self with kindness, acceptance and compassion.

From politicians to CEOs to engineers, Mindfulness is big business. Corporations are investing and building cultures on mindfulness at Nike, Target, Genentech, Google, Facebook, eBay, Twitter, General Mills, Ford Motor Company, Kaiser Permanente, Aetna, Cargill, Plantronics, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Hearst Publications, to name just a few.

In addition to courses, Google has also built a labyrinth for walking meditation. Evan Williams, one of Twitter’s founders, has built a new venture, the Obvious Corporation, a start-up incubator and investment vehicle based on mindfulness. Congressman Tim Ryan from Ohio tries hard to inspire the political arena toward mindfulness. Good Luck Tim!

If you are a fan of being-in-the-moment, I’m with you. But not all the way, all the time.

Because purposely spending time in the future reigns absolute as the better way to begin your 3rd third of life.

Think Prospectively

I’ve done my share of leader-led dream-binging in various settings where the woo factor was high. I mostly hate the dream-it-do-it thing so my mind wanders to my store list or when I’ll find time to get my oil changed. When it came time to share, I’d make something up.

What did it matter what I wished for? The belief in the laws of attraction have always been lost on me.

How does thinking about the future shape your present and future behavior?

According to Martin Seligman, a leading authority in the field of Positive Psychology, we have been underestimating the impact of the future. Humans are, by nature, “prospective,” he says. “It is anticipating and evaluating future possibilities for the guidance of thought and action that is the cornerstone of human success.”

Prospective psychology refers broadly to the mental representation and evaluation of possible futures. This ability shapes emotion which in turn shapes motivation.

Let’s try to make this real for us lay people. Using prospection we generate positive ideas that lead to anticipation that triggers emotions that will guide us toward the future.

Got it? Hang in and you will. I promise!

What makes prospective theory revolutionary is not the idea that human behavior is guided by emotions, but the idea that human behavior is guided by “anticipated emotions.”

Catching, crystalizing your simpler clearer vision of life…that you must always keep working to grasp. -Georgia O’Keeffe

‘What’s Next?’ The Brain Loves This. 

Looking into the future consciously and unconsciously is a central function of our brain. For the past century most psychologist and neuroscientists assumed the brain liked to peruse the past or ruminate the present.

Turns out our mind is mainly drawn to the future, not driven by the past.

Research on our orientation toward the future is fascinating:

  • In Chicago researchers pinged nearly 500 adults during the day to record their immediate thoughts and moods. But they actually thought about the future three times more often than the past. And the few thoughts about a past event involved consideration of its future implication.
  • When making plans, they reported higher levels of happiness and lower levels of stress than at other times.
  • Although they sometimes feared what might go wrong, on average there were twice as many thoughts of what they hoped would happen
  • In addition, a research study done at the University of London by A.K. McLeod, and Conway in 2005 concluded that subjects with expectations of future positive experiences were more likely to measure higher on a scale of subjective well-being.

In last month’s New York Times article, “We Aren’t Built to Live in the Moment,” Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology, affirms that prospection– our contemplation of the future – is what makes us wise.

“When we consider our prospects,” he states, “We thrive.”

Shall we conclude then that staying in the moment is being oversold? That the past can guide you but the future can guide you better? M-m-m-m-m.

Still bearing fruit in old age, still remaining fresh and green. -Psalms 92:14

Future Time Perspective

One approach to leaving mid-life is to think of the future as loss and diminishment. That’s pretty understandable from my point of view.


On a recent visit, Liam, my grandson eyed a charcoal portrait of me in my early thirties. He looks back and forth from me to the picture with five-year-old eyes.

Is that you?


When did you change faces?

Okay, it’s a fact. I don’t look like once did. Chances are you don’t look you’re your high school graduation picture either.

(And we certainly won’t get into the fact that the charcoal is of me in the nude.)


At the threshold of leaving midlife, “loss and diminishment” blaze a true trail not only of our physical being, but of our emotional lives. Adult development requires us to adjust to the ‘empty nest,’ re-enter the workforce, get kicked out of the workforce, become caretakers for parents, and experience the death of partners and friends.

When those experiences happen as the amount of time left to live recedes, individuals can shift away from a focus on future-oriented goals according to developmental psychologists, Carol Magai and Beth Halpern.

In case you don’t already know but I bet you do, the growing-older experience brings time with limits and horizons that include our deaths; it can all get a little complex. Living in the moment is a known place – a safe place – to rest our weary souls.

But staying in the present could be at the expense of generating an enthusiastic embrace of the paramount goals of productivity and enthusiasm in later life.

Yep, There’s Endorphins Involved

Prospection offers a different approach. At the core of prospection is the act of anticipating.

Remember anticipation? Most people anticipate happy experiences.

Just thinking about the future and positive things gets us all – well super excited and happy. Prospection sends endorphins to our brain and motivates us. Perhaps you are hard pressed to think of any grown-up anticipation possibilities.

I know two little people who don’t know any better than to think future-happy thoughts.


In a recent week-long visit, my two grandchildren, Liam and Lucy, received presents each day. (Yes, I’m indulgent.)

When you bring a colorfully wrapped package into the room (ostensibly to share), no matter what these children are doing they stop as if on the invisible dime. They race across the room, come as close as they can to their GG (me) who holds the pretty box and look up with big bright dancing eyes!

Excitement exudes from their pores; they jump up and down; they squeal with delight.

What’s in there? Is it for me?

 We’re over-the-moon happy even though we don’t know what’s in the box.


Are Liam and Lucy delighted with their presents? Does the joy last?

Sometimes it actually does, but not all the time. (They still love the Magna-Tiles; glitter play dough was a bomb.)

But to witness those moments of high desire – just the thought of what could be – and the emotion that ensues is a wow and made me ask myself when was last time I felt like that?

When’s the last time you felt that? Close to that? Somewhat close to that?

To stay open to dreams and possibilities is one of the most important skills for living your 3rd third.

But Prospective Psychology suggests that it’s more than just staying open to dreams and possibilities. This is about creating an emotional climate of positive, joyful, curious, exciting feelings as you stand at the threshold of the last part of your lifetime.


Forecasting Your Life

My friend, Susan, faced dying of ovarian cancer by participating in treatments and experiments around the globe. Susan would never talk about her imminent death even with her family. The subject was off limits.

But she would talk about the team of experts she had tracked down that offered a different procedure with possibilities for extending her life.

Nothing worked.

Finally, she changed her approach. Within days of landing in Atlanta after her last failed treatment in Germany, she sold her house in one upscale neighborhood and bought another in a more upscale neighborhood. It was a grand, big house but not decorated in her style.

From then on her designer skipped along side the gurney at Emory Hospital flipping Susan fabric samples and paint chips as she was wheeled into the operating room for this or that. The conversation was animated and focused on the task of decoration.

Later coming out of the anesthesia, Susan would see the selected fabric samples and paint colors spread out on before her on the white hospital sheet. The decorator showed up and they started in again making final selections.

This happened over and over for each room of the house. Many friends, me included, thought it was a little odd and unusual to spend time in the future tense with so little present time remaining.

I found the courage to ask. “Susan, why are you doing this?”

She looked at me as clear eyed as the day I first met her making a keynote presentation to C-suite leaders. Her response reflected conviction and it was obvious she was well-thought through.

“Barbara, this house is my future and decorating it makes me happy.” Then she softly added, “And it gives me hope.”

Susan moved into that house and lived three months.

Though her chances of ever living there were slim, she chose to see it as a possibility. From that perspective, she flourished.

Seeing yourself in a future possibility can move the spirit, gather emotional well-being and create hope. I learned from Susan that the dream never is as important as the anticipation of the dream.

The emotions of anticipation are powerful, not powerful enough to cure a disease perhaps, but powerful.

The idea of prospection may never become a best practice or assume the popularity of “living in the moment.” But in my work the vast majority of individuals facing the last third of life give their future short shrift … and are sorry about it later.

Most feel they are doing okay figuring out life after retirement. But they are not doing as well as they would like.

If they had it all to do over again, they would have thought less about what they would do and more about what life could be.


The Wishbone

One of the highlights at Thanksgiving in my family was the breaking of the turkey wishbone. My mother hid the wishbone in the gravy and dumplings. Whoever got the wishbone selected his or her partner in this wishing tradition.

Everyone, adults and children, – this large gathering of kinfolk  – wanted that wishbone.

Each person pulls on the wishbone while making a wish. The one who gets the larger piece will get his or her wish.

At the conclusion of the meal, the competitive and often body twisting event began. Shouts of encouragement! Coaching from the sidelines! It’s hard to imagine all the fuss over a small turkey bone.

But it was about wishing – an opportunity to express a desire or hope for something to happen.

“If you come at four in the afternoon, I’ll begin to be happy by three.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

We need tools for the transition ahead. Forecasting your future could be one of the most effective tools yet for making your best effort toward living your best last third of life.

I believe there is more joy and happiness to be found in the future than anywhere else.

My fervent wish is that you believe this too.









Posted in Living Your Best 3rd Third of Life | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Not This Life . . . That Life

Nothing is forever, it was true. - from Miss Jane, A Novel by Brad Watson
Nothing is forever, it was true. – from Miss Jane, A Novel by Brad Watson

I have not posted in a while. I couldn’t.

I lost my endeavor.  I didn’t feel like it.

Besieged is how I have felt. Priorities I carefully chose suddenly began to compete for my energy. The necessities of participating in life (and moments of trying to figure it out what was happening) made even the creative possibilities I set in motion impossible.

I was deprived of clarity.

It happens all of us. Life is like that.

So I began days not with a to-do list but no list at all.

The space that allowed was not my undoing but my deep privilege. It’s been 7 months.

iphone 2016 232

Ambushed by Desire

What hit me was an intense longing.

I wasn’t unhappy. In fact, life was good. Continue reading

Posted in Living Your Best 3rd Third of Life, Productive Longevity, Self-Management | 19 Comments

Let’s Have Dinner and Talk About Death (and Life)

Cowboys in the streets of Deloris Hildalgo, Mexico, on way to a wedding around the corner.
Cowboys in the streets of Deloris Hildalgo, Mexico, on way to a wedding around the corner.

There’s nothing I like better than good conversation at my dining table. Good conversation is rich, and rewarding. Good conversation means you learn something that makes your life better.

But while the grilled swordfish is the best ever, what’s said or not said around the dinner table can’t be predicted.

It’s a rarity. But once is a while, I pray for any talk to be exchanged.

We have relatives who eat an entire meal – a really good one cooked lovingly by me – in silence. They never look up from their plates even as my husband and I struggle to ignite the smallest of small talk.

Herb and I lock eyeballs from the ends of the table to signal, “Your turn.” Sometimes my husband declines his turn which prompts me to glare and mouth, “Don’t you dare.”

We survive. It’s exhausting.

With different people around the table, talk happens easily. Everyone participates.

But honestly chatter about your Budapest vacation ten years ago or your son’s newest job doesn’t make me a better person or help me navigate my life.

Am I the only one keen on deep, insightful conversation? 

Not on your sweet purpose driven life, dear readers.

Gatherings over dinner to talk about death are part of an international movement called “Death Over Dinner.” The goal is to talk about important end-or life questions before it’s too late.

Since the Death Over Dinner project was founded two years ago, more than 70,000 people in over 20 countries have gathered to dine and discuss their views on a “good” death, and the issues that will matter to them in their senior years.

Death Over Dinner was originally designed in the U.S. by Michael Hebb and Angel Grant to encourage people to have conversations about end of life and End of Life Care at the kitchen table rather than in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), when it’s too late.

DOD is an interactive website that encourages conversation to start with family and friends while breaking bread with a range of tools, reading and support materials, as well as tips to get the conversation started.

Am I enthused to host an interactive dinner on the difficult conversation about death?

Not really.

But I am inspired that people are transforming important issues into conversation of deep engagement and insight because we just don’t do a lot of that at dinner parties.

When was the last time you learned something that made your life better?

When was the last time someone’s experience inspired you to make a change?

When’s the last time an individual’s way of thinking caused you to think differently? IMG_4895

 The Funeral Plan You Don’t Have and I Do

Interesting don’t you think? Being invited to a dinner party with a theme to engage us in topics we’d like to avoid or don’t often talk about openly.

Picture guests moving green beans around on their plate while an individual shares she has full instructions for her funeral tucked away in an electronic folder appropriately titled, “When I’m Gone.” 

That would be my folder.

Wouldn’t you like to hear why I might choose Roy Orbison’s In Dreams to be sung at my funeral over The Old Rugged Cross?

Or how I made the list of who gets what and why I keep changing it? (Bet the kids will text me on this.)

Part of me is kidding here. Not about the funeral plan folder. I really do have this.

But no Death Over Dinner will happen at my house.

Instead you might find yourself at my table encouraged to participate in topics slightly less uncomfortable.

amsterdam 329From the Arc of Life

With each passing day in midlife the past grows longer, our futures shorter. We’re all essentially just as interested in learning the meaning of life as say, the latest spoils of the upcoming November election. (Say this is true. Please.)

We could make our lives better if we talked about it. We can learn, discuss and engage with one another.

So what could we talk about?

What are you hoping from life ahead?

What part of your life has been neglected?

What saddens you about being the age you are?

What regrets have a chance to be fixed?

What has almost broken you in your lifetime so far and what did you learn?

What do you believe about your life ahead?

What’s a turning point or future challenge?

How have your children disappointed you and what are you doing about it?

What advice would you give your younger self?

What’s your take on aging?

Many of us have our rich and rewarding conversations with one other person. I love when I take away a nugget to clarify and navigate my own life better.

That’s happened to you. I know it has. I hope it has.

But a group conversation has a much different component and impact.

Imagine hearing from the journeys of six or seven people

who lay down their story lines

to allow you to soak in their experiences and wisdom?

What an incredible evening. I’ll bring dessert.

A candy-colored clown they call the sandman tiptoes to my room every night. Just to sprinkle star dust and to whisper, "Go to sleep, everything is alright." -In Dreams, written and sung by Roy Orbison
A candy-colored clown they call the sandman
tiptoes to my room every night.
Just to sprinkle star dust and to whisper, “Go to sleep, everything is alright.”
-In Dreams, written and sung by Roy Orbison
Posted in Self-Management | Tagged | 1 Comment

Just Selfish Enough: Fighting for the Life You Want

IMG_1565Liam, my four-year-old grandson, is curious about the planets, overturns rocks to pick up any bugs that don’t move fast and chooses to release his highly prized lightening bug from the jar – “because he is lonely.”

Each afternoon on the playground when his name is called for pick up, Liam runs to his two best friends, Isaiah and Anna Noelle, to give each one a hug goodbye.

The child is curious, affectionate, loving and kind.

Liam is also selfish. Supremely so.

He is intent and purposefully fights like hell to get what he wants, when he wants it and how he wants it.

How glorious to watch an individual strive to arrange the world to meet his expectations and revel in happiness when it all goes his way!

After a five-day visit last week what’s obvious is that my drive and skills to live the life I want pale in comparison to Liam’s passion. This is a big surprise because I don’t shy away from identifying and acting on my needs and wants. (You can look forward to details on this.)

Liam will lose his lust and urges for putting himself first in the next few years. Teachers, parents, the system, culture – all will tell him bad things about selfishness. The stigma of putting himself front and center in his life will inhibit his zest for fighting for what he wants.

That’s happened to millions of people who now tell me they look forward to life after retirement so they can “do what they want when they want” or “finally live the life they want.”

Well what do you know? A last ditch effort to get a life we want. Like bookends on a life, selfishness emerges.

But after all the years living without putting ourselves first, perhaps we can use Liam for inspiration and even skill building.

Ready to learn from someone who just hopped out of toddlerhood?

Here we go. Continue reading

Posted in Self-Management | Comments Off on Just Selfish Enough: Fighting for the Life You Want

How to Render the Desires of Your Grown-Up Heart into Life Ahead

Every time I start a picture...I feel the same fear, the same self-doubts...and I have only one source on which I can draw, because it comes from within me. --Federico Fellini
Every time I start a picture…I feel the same fear, the same self-doubts…and I have only one source on which I can draw, because it comes from within me. –Federico Fellini

In the blue distance your life will unfurl.

I wish people spent more time contemplating that blue distance and less time on Facebook.

There is so much more to life unseen by the eye. Brazen of me to say as Instagram revels in double-digit growth. Selfies are now one of the most popular activities in our culture. Don’t tell me you haven’t done this.

Obviously social media has proven we are obsessed with ourselves.

Good news for those of us with a long future to map out. As well as a look at our lives as it unfolds, perhaps we can start a conversation to discover dormant aspirations, wants, longings and requests for a life ahead.

To unlock an idea or two on how to make our lives more of what we want, I advocate you listen don’t look.

Where to start our listening?

Well, your book club probably has ideas about how you could live your life better. Your daughter, husband, partner, ex-husband, your mother, therapist, and even your BFF may enlighten you.

There’s more.

If you could eavesdrop last week in the kitchen of that couple cleaning up in their kitchen after you left the dinner party, their conversation might explain your better life to you.

These are all voices worthy of consideration – modest and minor perhaps – but, you get the point. Contributions on how your life could be better abound.

Being busy and all, let’s cut to the chase. There’s one person who knows us best.

You got it! And you talk to yourself about your life all the time.

But mostly that’s a voice from your head which is good, just not reliable enough for all the important decisions for all of life’s twists and turns.

Another voice that can guide you to even smarter options for your future life waits quietly to help you. This voice knows you just as well as your head voice, but in different ways.

It’s a small voice deep inside your gut that waits for years between invites.

Nevertheless, it’s always 288

Getting Tough

If you expect me to jump right in with soupy quotes about how you should start journaling to unlock your deep heart desires or how listening to your heart will power up your authentic self, I anticipate disappointment because this isn’t going to happen. Check out Oprah for the soul approach.

First let’s get real and start with firm footing.

When it comes to creating a better life or making a transition, your rational mind and all that you’ve learned are invaluable.

Life lessons help us know how to create a better future path; improved decision making doesn’t hurt.

By middle age, you’ve weathered some serious setbacks. You’ve lost at love, not been chosen more than a couple of times, and experienced career frustrations, drawbacks and defeats.

Friend and sibling dis-enchantments stack right alongside children who were pains in the ass, proved to be disappointing and may still be on the payroll and/or live at home. Serious illness, parents gone.

When it felt like the end of the world, you kept going.

You survived. You are strong.

I started feeling strong in mid-life. I still feel it.

I lost a lot of my fragility when I was 25 in a Master’s Program intent on building my psychological core (lots of Esalen stuff). At 30 (divorce) came financial and parental responsibility (single-working mom -7.5 years), at 41 came entrepreneurial challenges (a career pivot), and in my mid-fifties I set sail with my daughter for a 6-month not-knowing-much-but-doing-it-anyway stint. At 60 I drew strength to carve out a new life using a work a little, play a little model.

So many people feel that strength is in their youth. That’s not really spot-on.

It takes time to get a notion of your strength.  You don’t really know what you have inside until you are faced with drawing upon it.  I’ve learned this is the great inspiration of life.

But even as I’m strong, at times I’m lost and I don’t know why.

On days when my future is unclear, I can get hesitant or doubtful. I can even be skeptical about putting forth the effort to be in charge of my life. (I’m turning it over to God. Whatever. I’ll figure this out later. Just let it happen.)

It may seem puzzling to feel strong alongside feelings with names like – uncertain, ambiguous, tentative and lost. All it really means is you need more information.

Input perhaps from … yes,that small voice inside … the voice of your heart to tell you first-hand ways to find your way.

Why is it that the voice from your heart is so important?

Because your heart is never lost.

For the past thirty-three years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" and whenever the answer has been "no" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. --Steve Jobs
For the past thirty-three years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” and whenever the answer has been “no” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. –Steve Jobs

The Heart Knows Your Reality

While being strong is about surviving, being strong is also about being as honest as possible about yourself with yourself.

Why listen to your heart now when you haven’t done so well doing it before?

Why listen to your heart when you doubt you can do what it asks of you?

Why listen as your health falters or future finances are gloomy?

Why listen now when you already listened a decade ago and made decisions about your life then?

Because listening to your heart creates awareness of your current reality and gives you perspective of your impending life.

The heart knows that things that matter in the time ahead will be different than what mattered in the past. Fore sure, we’ll take life lessons with us into the future. But life lesson are from the past and the past is another country.

You’re headed out of that country.

The heart is easy to talk to. You don’t have to fill the heart in on your past, prepare lists or even ask too many questions.

In mid-life the heart already knows your reality – that you are staring down the dwindling of time, busy as hell, don’t have all the time in the world and are not in the mood for reflective bullshit.

You need important truths. The heart will tell you those because the heart knows you are strong.

Best of all, the heart wants you to get your life right.


Listen to My Heart? Oh Please. So Woo.

When my heart talks to me, it says crazy things.

Some days my heart tells me I need pack up and move to San Miguel de Allende.  Immediately, my head chimes in with a litany of responsibilities, roles and commitments that would make this very, very difficult. (I kept editing out that second ‘very’ but each time my head made me put it back.)

Some days my heart tells me to lock myself in a room and finish writing the damn book. My head wants to know who will water my flower pots, make morning tea for my husband, bike with Marny, laugh with friends, travel with Dee Dee, play chase with my grandson, sit on the beach and read, or watch my grown child grow – all priorities that compete with every second of my life.

The contest between heart and head is a battleground.

Some people listen to their heart and don’t do a damn thing differently. Other people listen to their hearts and change their lives.

While the simple act of listening is important and powerful, there is no sense asking anything of your heart if you will not accept what the heart will say.

Will you immediately dismiss an idea, become overwhelmed, slip into doubt or succumb to defeat?

In other words, will you allow your head to interrupt the message and sabotage the process? Smart people do this all the time.

We must be clear on this: why listen at all?

To listen to your heart is to build strength through the honest conversation about yourself with yourself.

I’ve said this already but this is truly important. What you gain from being honest with yourself is just as great as any changes, if any, you make.

You will be stronger just because you listened.

IMG_3286 Mental Fitness Before Listening to One’s Heart

If you think you can pull up a chair and start talking to your heart, you are right. You can. But you’ll end up doing most of the talking since your heart voice can’t cut you off in the middle of a sentence or talk over you.

Ask your heart voice a question and you won’t get a lecture. You’ll get something more like a soundless tweet. You’ll have to listen hard.

The best conditions for listening to the voices in your heart are met when you seek and accept the gift and responsibility you are given – to live your one life as best you can.

Meet each of these 9 criteria before you ask anything of your heart.

  1. Believe You Are Responsible – Give yourself permission to life the life you want.

  2. Enhance the Perception of Control – You won’t control everything in your future. But you can control more than you think.

  3. Believe What You Do Matters – It matters to live in the present. It also matters to create the future.

  4.  See Positive Challenge– Try, try, try…then generously give yourself to failure if that’s how it works out.

  5. Enhance the Goal Value – Savor and Imagine your life at the end of an achievement…before you plan it.

  6. Devalue Competing Goals – Re prioritize everything all the time. Make your future in the top 3.

  7. Be Conscientious on One Thing – Forget lists. Be selective and accountable for one important thing.

  8. Fight Difficulties – There is no age when life stays on easy street for a long time. Fight.

  9. Regulate Your Emotions – Keep negative emotions – self-doubt, guilt, regret- at bay. Stuff them in an invisible suitcase. Do not pick that suit case up.IMG_4835

Last Call

The ‘rider’s up’ call given at the Kentucky Derby signals the horses to head to the track for the final race. Everyone anticipating the race listens for that call.

In late mid-life, there’s a ‘listen up’ call that alerts the transition to take you to your future.

Anticipate it. Prepare for it. Don’t miss it.



If this content leads to a bit of fresh thinking, new perspective or resonates with you, please “Like” this post. Thank you in advance.

I invite you to make a comment, join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. Special thanks to all of you who continue to forward posts. I appreciate that!

All Photos by B. Pagano.

Posted in Craft a Post50 Lifestyle, Self-Management | 1 Comment

Why It Matters to Know When You Leave Midlife Behind

iphone 2016 349“Let’s pretend for a moment that I am 73.”

That’s what I said to the audience an hour into my presentation, The New New Rules of Retirement. They knew immediately this was make-believe because I don’t look 73.

At least I don’t think I look 73. Anyway I am not 73…yet.

“If I am 73, am I old?”

The crowd is reluctant to answer. They murmur. Finally a brave soul shouts, “Yes, you are old.”

The audience grumbles at his truth. The age label isn’t playing well. Frankly, some look sorry for me when they are not looking at the floor.

The room turns quiet. Finally and firmly, one late-fifties executive states, “Naw, she’s not old.”

“Then, what am I? Am I middle aged?” I asked.

An audience member raises her hand. She needs clarification.

“Are you asking if you are middle aged at 73?”


Clearly, I am messing with them but for a very good reason.

iphone 2016 317Life’s Morning, Afternoon and Night

In your late 50s, 60s and 70s, life requires a new identity – one that combines elements of the past with today’s realities. Self-concepts are perplexing enough without bamboozling age labels to confuse us.

And we are confused. What is old? What is middle aged? Am I old? And what about you there approaching the backside of 50? How long before you’re old?

The developmental stages we once relied on to gauge our passages through life are no longer reliable.

–Adolescence – Adulthood – Old

This defunct model is much too contained for life as we know it and utterly useless in forming a new identity.

Still somewhere in your life is the middle and within the middle, a mid-point. There is beauty in symmetry but when the midpoint is passed, the proportion of your time on earth lessens.

Life forever more is asymmetrical.

We’re so busy we hardly notice. Continue reading

Posted in Self-Management | 1 Comment