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(1) Article from the St. Paul Pioneer Press, by Kay Harvey, Staff Writer (1/5/2000)
(2) Article from the Amarillo Globe-News, by Shanna Foust-Pepples,
Feature Writer (5/7/2000)
(3) Five of our articles in three senior websites
(1) Article from the St. Paul Pioneer Press,
by Kay Harvey, Staff Writer (1/5/2000)
The Road to Self-Discovery
Would you like to reinvent yourself but don't know where to begin?
Now, there's a workbook to help you figure out what you really want in the rest of your life and how to make it happen.
How to Create Your Own Super Second Life: What Are You Going to Do With Your Extra 30 Years? is designed to give readers tools to identify their dreams and figure out how to turn them into reality.
Author Gordon Burgett, a California freelance writer, derives the book's subtitle from statistics. Average life expectancy, which was 48 years at the turn of the last century, now is 78.
"Knowing that is itself valuable, but I go a step further and say why not plan for those 30 years and make them work?" says the 61-year-old author.
In Burgett's perception, people at midlife now tend to latch onto one
of three views of where to go from here:
Answering this question is designed to jump-start the planning process: “If you had all the money, time and energy you needed and were free from outside constraints, what would you do in your extra 30 years?"
The book then walks readers through such steps as compiling a dream list, putting dreams to a commitment test and sorting them by priority and time frame. Couples are urged to figure out what dreams they do and don't have in common and how to proceed from there. Twenty eight work sheets and forms provide a detailed structure for the process. The last two steps are factoring in financial resources and creating an action plan.
The book also lists 200 activities (they include classes, new careers, volunteer work and creative pursuits) to consider when planning a second life.
''You're going to live the extra years, anyway," Burgett says. "Why
not fill them with joy, fun and purpose?" Alas, he maintains, it won't
just happen on its own.
“Who Am I Now?”
Can the second half of your life be as compelling as the first? Can it be even better?
The response from growing numbers of folks age 40-something and older is, "Why not?"
Perhaps first touted by author Betty Friedan in The Fountain of Age, the idea of recharging at midlife has appeal in a graying America. Such books as Twin Citian Richard Leider's Repacking Your Bags and Barbara Sher's It's Only Too Late If You Don't Start Now have helped to topple a stereotype or midlife decline in favor of a new chance to bloom. Leading the pack are aging marathon runners, mountain climbers and aspiring Ph.Ds.
While those pursuits may seem ultra-ambitious, re-evaluating oneself is catching on. Everybody's talking about it at the Sweatshop, a St. Paul fitness club that attracts midlife women, says Gail Winegar, the club's owner.
“It's not, 'How flat is your stomach?'” she says. “It's 'How can I stay healthy and well?’ ‘How do I move gracefully into the next decade?’ And ‘Who am I now?'”
Here's a look at three Twin Cities women who are consciously crafting
the next stages of their lives:
Caroline Hall Otis, 48
“I’m the kaboom-kaboom lady. I like to make people laugh till they fall off their bikes. I'm on earth to move, inspire and connect other people.”
As a fitness instructor and weight trainer, Otis helps people move in ways that fine-tune their bodies. As a professional life coach, she helps clients move their lives in directions they want to go.
That's the new Otis. Rather than facing a roomful of exercisers, her former self stared at a home computer. She did free-lance writing for magazines and ghost-wrote 13 books, mostly for psychologists. It was the perfect job for a mother of two young sons, she thought.
"When the school buses came home, I'd turn off the computer. I drove for field trips. I loved being that hands-on in their childhood.”
Then her boys grew up, and she decided she'd like to grow, too. She pushed herself to take risks, some that were scary because of the possibility of failure. She studied personal coaching, completed a master's degree in human development at St. Mary's University and signed up for singing lessons.
“l’d always loved to sing, but because I knew I'd never be a great singer, I hadn't done anything with it. When I turned 40, I thought, ‘Who cares?’ I wanted to sit on an organ and sing torch songs. Since I don't have the voice for it, I joined the Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir. It's the greatest.”
Another goal was to break a sweat each day, but she found herself putting that off, too. So she took a job as fitness instructor at the Sweatshop, where she also teaches Pilates, a popular muscle-strengthening technique.
“I decided the way to get to exercise would be to teach the class. Then,
I'd have to show up.”
In her work as a professional life coach, she has integrated creativity, intuition and her knowledge of psychology. She maintains that it's never too late to envision the big dream and pursue it.
“So why not try to do what you want?”
Patricia Faunce, 62
"l’m a bright, perceptive, compassionate, fit and healthy person who wants to live life fully. I’ve consciously invented myself throughout my life."
Newly retired from her career as a University of Minnesota professor, Pat Faunce is excited about the gift of free time. She has plans for her immediate future, but she's leaving room for spontaneity, too.
“I haven't been able to express myself in some ways because of being tied down to a job that required a lot of time,” says the women's studies and psychology professor. "Now, I want to leave myself open to some new experiences. To be able to just pick up and go.”
Always intent on physical activity, travel and learning, she is plotting leisure activities that encompass all three. In March, she plans a trip to Senegal, West Africa, where she'll learn about the culture by interacting with villagers. She's booked a hiking excursion in New Mexico in May. And she's seriously tempted to accept a surprise invitation.
“My friend said, ‘I'm going to New Zealand. These are the dates. Why don't you join me?’ So now, I'm looking at that to see if I can trot off to New Zealand. I couldn't have done that before.”
She has prepped for her new role as retiree by consciously creating an identity that went beyond university professor,” she says.
“What I did was claim personal power. I defined for myself who I am and who I wanted to be.” Once a marathon runner, she continues to rise before dawn for a 6-mile run with friends. She is deliberate about nurturing friendships. She is also adept at snowshoeing, cross country skiing and in-line skating.
“I make sure I'm doing some thing every day to feel physically alive.
Many people assume loss of vitality is a given. But I feel more vital and
alive now than I did in my 30s.”
Sage Cowles, 74
“l’m more me than I've ever been before. I’m being as clear as I can be about no, I don't want to do that, this is what I want more of. I’ve got more of a sense of who I am.”
Sage Cowles has reinvented herself more than once. The process started in her 50s, she says, when she began taking risks.
“Then I turned 65, and all these new things began opening up. That has
certainly given me vitality.”
A professional dancer in her youth, Cowles revived her on-stage talents in her 60s. She took on a new specialty when she became a certified fitness instructor and personal trainer. Other pursuits have evolved in exciting ways because of a knack for positively adapting to changes that come with aging.
“As a dancer, I learned not to focus on what I couldn't do but to think of what I can do. That opens another door.”
The door that led back to her dancing shoes opened after she auditioned for a Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company production. Both she and her husband, publishing mogul John Cowles, were chosen to perform as guest artists in 'The Promised Land," which opened at Northrop Auditorium in the early 1990s. When a variation of that performance went on tour across the country and in Europe, the talented couple went along.
“It was very demanding for me—the terror and the exhilaration,” she recalls. “It was a big, big high point in my life.”
When running, another favorite activity, began to hurt, she promptly traded it for race walking. A couple of years later, she achieved national-championship times in 5K and 10K competitions in her age group.
A sore hip because of dwindling cartilage has forced her to readjust her exercise program again. Now, she takes long walks for her soul as well as her body.
“I’ve had to change my expectations about what I can do. That's OK. It frees me up."
A goal now is to create more unscheduled time. She revels in watching the seasons change and notices the wonders of nature. That has spurred a hobby she and her husband share of glueing found objects—pebbles, stones, sticks and other natural elements.
“It may not be up to the name ‘art’' yet. But we have fun doing it.”
She revels in her relationships with her children and grandchildren. And she has discovered the quality of lingering.
“I’m surprised and very happy this is such a wonderful time of life.”
Captions with separate photos of the three women quoted:
Patricia Faunce: “My friend said, ‘I'm going to New Zealand. These are the dates. Why don't you join me?' So now, I'm looking at that to see if I can trot off to New Zealand. I couldn't have done that before.”
Caroline Hall Otis: “l’d always loved to sing, but because I knew I’d never be a great singer, I hadn't done anything with it. When I turned 40, 1 thought, ‘Who cares?” I wanted to sit on an organ and sing torch songs. Since I don't have the voice for it, I joined the Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir. It's the greatest.”
Sage Cowles: “As a dancer, I learned not to focus on what I couldn't
do but to think of what I can do. That opens another door."
Single caption with a photo of all three of the women quoted:
Physical activity and emotional growth have paved the way for Twin Cities
women who defied stereotypes of age and reinvented who they are. From left,
Patricia Faunce, University of Minnesota psychology and women’s studies
professor; Caroline Hall Otis, Sweatshot instructor; and Sage Cowles, dancer
and former Sweatshop instructor.
(2) Article from the Amarillo Globe-News, by Shanna Foust-Pepples, Feature Writer (5/7/2000)
Many 40-year-olds seeking fulfillment with job changes
Dale Buckner, almost 40, looked at his life and decided he couldn't stand one more day of working in a job that was mutating into a retail nightmare.
He didn't agonize over what to do. He quit, landed a dream job, a happier marriage and a better relationship with his kids.
"The emotional price you pay doing something that you hate is almost unbearable," Buckner said.
And Buckner's not alone. A growing number of people in their 40s are deciding to jump ship on a disappointing career and do something they've always wanted to do.
"Most of the people I know (thinking about a change) have a dissatisfaction with what they're doing. I see doctors, lawyers. The grind of 20 years finally catches up to them and catches them in their 40s."
Around the turn of the century, life expectancy hovered around 48; now people can plan on at least 30 more birthdays. Today, the fourth decade of life is a time when many people make big changes.
"About 45, you look around and get that first dissatisfaction of who you are and what you're doing. You realize the old tricks don't work anymore," said Gordon Burgett, author of What Are You Going To Do With Your Extra 30 Years? (How to Create Your Own Super Second Life.)
After Buckner looked at several job options, he decided to dust the cobwebs off his master of business administration degree and reinvent himself as a financial planner. Another decision was to try interning at an insurance business to make sure finance was a good fit for him. His choices worked well, and in 1990, he and a group of partners founded Asset Planning Group.
“I was shocked and pleased at how much I enjoyed it (financial planning). And this is something I can do for the rest of my life," Buckner said. "I never have to retire, I can just cut back. I just want to do what I want to do—doesn't everybody?"
To find and live your passions, you're going to have to do a little planning, Burgett said in a telephone interview. When he speaks at seminars, Burgett invites audiences to create a "dream list" that points them toward the core of their personalities.
"Ask yourself: 'If I had all the money and the time in the world, what would I do?' Make that list. These are the things you really care about and want to do," Burgett said.
Don't limit yourself, he advises. Think of 100 different things, a mix of minor and major goals, then divide them into time pegs of five years. After that, prioritize the choices by what matters most.
“When several things jump out at you and you can say, 'I'll do whatever it takes to make that happen,' that's the key dream, pursue that first," he said.
Marilyn Wilson, weary of the banking industry and uneasy with staying at home, decided to draw up her own list.
"I thought, 'What can I do well? What do I know a little bit about?' I made a list of what I wanted to do, what my skills and abilities were and what my limitations were," she said. "I knew I wanted my own business, so then I narrowed it to what kind of business."
Eventually, Wilson noticed an ad for a personnel business franchise. After research and a lot of thinking, she decided to open her own branch of Interim Personnel in 1988.
"It fits me like a glove. I've stayed with it since then, and I'm one of those people who don't stay with one job. I get bored. Coming in every day doesn't feel like going to work," she said.
Wilson said she finds meaning in her work now. "I started it not so much to make a living. I wanted to help people, and that's still what brings me joy."
If you're contemplating a career change, Buckner and Burgett have this advice for you:
* Take an inventory of your financial, emotional and physical well-being. You'll need money, a clear head and a strong stomach to weather a transformation.
* Get rid of as many debts as possible. "I've seen so many people quit, start something new and go bankrupt," Buckner said. "Try to work and get a salary to build up money."
* Make sure your retirement savings stay on track.
* Try to look at both the positives and the negatives of a job change.
And, if you can't afford to make a switch, try to think ahead to better times, Burgett said.
"Some people don't have the luxury of changing. They need that income,
but they can mentally change," he said. "If you focus on the things you
want to do when you do have free time, it makes life bearable. Have some
joy and excitement. You know where you're going, and you have something
to look forward to."
(3) Five of our articles appeared, in late 2000, in three senior websites:
* PrimeSeason.com (2 articles)
* BoomerCafe.com (2 articles)
The quickest way to see all quickly is to use google.com
and search super+second+life.