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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Advice Is Cheap!

"Advice about life is now so cheap and abundant, it floods us from email greetings, tea bags, coffee cups, and the sides of city buses..." Richard Leider, Something to Live For
(...and blogs like this one, too! :-))

I wish I could just take someone's advice from the side of a bus or a tea bag and be successful in this time of life. My life challenges these days come from not knowing where to turn to get support to be different than I was in the first half of life.

When I was younger and on a career path I knew what I had to do to "succeed" and I gathered resources and advisers to help me. But, you see, I had a blueprint of things I needed to be, do, or have to be successful. I also had people in front of me who had walked a similar career path who I could observe, lean on and learn from.

It isn't the same for this time of life. There is no checklist, map or blueprint for how I can be successful in my life after age 60. Each of us is making it up as we go! There is no other person who I can look to who understand exactly what I need to do to be successful. This one I have to own and create.

So where do we turn for support, nurturing and unconditional love in the second half of life. I many cases it is not our family of origin as they have a comfortable vision of us as we have been in the first half as provider, nurturer, cook, teacher, healer or just Mom. They are reluctant to let that go. Even our old affiliations (church, community, schools, etc) don't always bring the type of unconditional support essential to being true to your self in the second half.

So I guess we must look to new and different and maybe nontraditional places. For me this has included joining an "Elders Council" group where 6-10 people come together once a month and share and discuss the whole aging process. Physical and mental health, spirituality, finding meaning, passion, volunteering etc. are often the topics of discussion. I also have joined two organizations which bring together the younger generation and "olders" in community service projects. I learn something from each and also feel like I can be my true self in these situations. Which helps.

However, I have discovered that the most important thing for me at this time of life is to listen to others. In the first half of life I got paid for solving problems and having the answers for the organization or family. Frankly I didn't have time to really listen deeply. Now I listen more and answer less. The wisdom from the "20 somethings" to "80 somethings" is all around us. There is amazing wisdom there that I can apply to my own life. Like the meaning of modern relationships and family and community. What is important to them is not so different from what I value. It just comes packaged differently.

If you want to create this time of life differently than your earlier life, then do something different! As the saying goes "If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten!". Get inspired and engage your community in new ways that reflect your values and passions. And in my opinion the world can use all the intentional agers it can get!

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