Living Your Best Life at Any Age

Posts tagged ‘coping skills’

Are You Building Your Lemonade Stand?

“When life gives you lemons, you don’t make lemonade. You use the seeds to plant a whole orchard – an entire franchise! Or you could just stay on the Destiny Bus and drink lemonade someone else has made, from a can.”
― Anthon St. Maarten

Let me tell you about two people who felt life gave them some lemons.  One is making lemonade and the other built a lemonade stand!  Which will you be?

Lolly worked all her life at one job doing everything right.  She established a retirement account on her meager earnings and expected to retire at what has been called “normal retirement age”  She achieved the American dream.  Retirement and living the good life into the sunset.  Only it didn’t work out that way.  Medical bills and other unexpected expenses cut into her cash flow.  She is careful with her money and she gets social security.  Lolly is making the most of it.  She is making her lemonade on her front porch.  “It’s OK” she says.  She wishes she had more but what are you going to do when you are on a fixed income.  Good attitude but it’s too bad she isn’t building a lemonade stand.

Eddie is doing it differently.  Eddie is 55 and has worked as a software programer for most of his life.  At his age, he is a pioneer in the industry with a depth of knowledge few of us could expect to learn.  Problem is no one wants to hire him.  As he told me, “55 is ancient and over the hill in the software industry.  Over 30 and your out.  Eddie is facing reality.  He also did everything right — went to college, earned a degree in a highly sought after field, was a good employee and kept current in his field.  Still, reality really sucks.  What is Eddie doing with his lemons?  He is opening his own lemonade stand.

Eddie has way more knowledge than the rest of us when it comes to setting up websites.  He knows SEO, mobile apps and all the rest of the jargon.  This is a valuable commodity.  People pay for this and they usually don’t know where to find someone.  Now they do. They can find Eddie’s lemonade stand.  By doing what he knows better than most, he can build his own website and get a following.  He will have better security than the young whippersnappers getting the jobs because he isn’t going to get laid off or downsized.  His lemonade stand will sustain him.

What do I mean by a lemonade stand?  You’ve heard the adage  “give a man a fish and he eats today, teach him how to fish and he eats forever”?  This is a variation of that.  We’ve all heard about making lemonade when life hands you lemons.  Of course there is the variation that says find someone who was given vodka and have a party but that’s not the point here.

What I am talking about is being and ENTREPRENEUR!  Gasp!  Yes you.  I bet you did it when you were a kid.  Did you baby sit?  Have a newspaper route?  Sell something door to door?  You were an entrepreneur.  You might even have had a real lemonade stand.  I know I did.

I grew up in a time, and most of you did too, I’m guessing, when the goal was a “good paying job”.  You worked up “through the ranks”, and somewhere in your 60’s you were put out to pasture, ehr, retired.  You got a pension and maybe a plaque.  Did anyone actually get the proverbial gold watch?

Folks those days are gone.  The old line companies are phasing out pensions and the new ones never had them.  You are on your own buddy.  The financial planners have been telling us this for years, but most of the boomers didn’t listen and now they are out there picking lemons.

So what does your lemonade stand look like?  Mine?  I made a huge mid life career change and went to law school in my 50’s.  I pretty much believed the folks who told me no one would hire me at my age.  But surprise, surprise!  A well respected mid size firm in Orange County hired me.  Wow,  That felt good!  Too bad I hated it.  I won’t go into what a mind numbing experience it was but suffice to say the dress code almost did me in.  Or was it the mandatory meetings on how to increase our billing?  Not better work, just more billing.  It was definitely time to build my own lemonade stand.

So I “hung out my shingle” as it used to be called.  I had a lap top and a fax machine.  I was in business.  People actually paid me money for my legal skills.  After a while I knew I had to find a specific focus for my practice.  (We aren’t supposed to call it “specialize”)  People kept coming to me with their divorce issues.  Even though it was the furthest thing from my mind when I was a wide eyed new lawyer, I found that handling divorces was a pretty good lemonade stand for me.  Eighteen years and thousands of cases later, I am still practicing — although it has grown to slightly more than a fax machine and a laptop.

So here is my challenge to you.  Are you building your own lemonade stand?  Maybe you currently have a job.  You might even like it — or not.  Start building that lemonade stand because you never know when the lemons might arrive.

Right now — write down three things someone might pay you for.

This is a random list that might jog your creative juices.

  • Give speeches
  • Bake cakes
  • knit scarves
  • travel the world and pick up interesting jewelry or gift items
  • Write a book
  • Teach people how to use Facebook
  • Teach English to non native speakers
  • Start your own community newspaper and sell advertising
  • Design your own clothing line and sell it via kickstarter
  • Sell other people’s stuff on eBay
  • Ghost write blogs for other people
  • Organize garages

Ok, this wasn’t a totally random list I made up.  Each of those represents someone I know who is making money at their own lemonade stand doing just that thing.  Good money?  Some are, some are not.  Depends on the effort and creativity they put into their lemonade stand.  Not only are they making money, they feel good about being creative and useful.  No out to pasture for them

And Lolly, the person whose story I opened with?  We are still working on it.  At least her eyes lit up when I gave her the suggestion. Stay tuned.  I am sure there will be something fun to report about Lolly’s Lemonade Stand.

Make your list today.  Get creative.  I’m anxious to hear about your lemonade stand.

 

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LET’S TALK SPIRITUALITY

Chapel (2)

 

Living your best life includes having a spiritual basis.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all religious on you.  My friends come in many variations of spirituality including traditional Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, NewThought, and even atheist.  The kind of spirituality I am talking about can include any of these or something different.  It is something beyond the physical, intellectual or body.  I often refer to this with complete respect as “woo woo stuff”.

According to Psychology Today:

“Spirituality means something different to everyone. For some, it’s about participating in organized religion: going to church, synagogue, a mosque, etc. For others, it’s more personal: Some people get in touch with their spiritual side through private prayer, yoga, meditation, quiet reflection, or even long walks.”

Wikipedia differentiates modern spirituality to the more traditional. There is a long discussion which explains the many forms of spirituality including Hinduism, Buddhism, Mohammadism, other isms and the “Abrahamic” religions, if you care to delve further:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirituality#Modern_spirituality_2

Use whatever definition you want, mystical, holiness, devoutness or otherworldly.   My point here is that some type of spirituality helps us move toward our best life. I will use spirituality in this context but substitute your own belief system.

Living a healthy life involves mind, body and spirit.   I advocate for developing your mind whether it is something routine like Sudoko, taking a class or reading Wikipedia articles. Body includes exercise, eating and generally taking care of the physical being. You take care of your Spirit in a number of ways, which can include the sensual such as fine food and wine, music, enjoying nature and, of course, exploring the spiritual.

You probably already have a routine for exercise and health.  Hopefully you have a routine for intellectual pursuits.  I suggest a spiritual routine is just as important.

A routine that works well for me is “morning pages”, An idea I got from Julia Cameron’s book The Artists Way.  You can incorporate morning pages into your spiritual practice.  Meditate, pray or contemplate and then write in longhand for at least three pages.  Write to yourself, your deity or your favorite tree.  But write every morning.  Before you do anything else.  I promise you will find your life goes better.

Here is a link to Julia Cameron’s explanation of morning pages:  http://paperartstudio.tripod.com/artistsway/id3.html

I would love to hear what is your routine.  Do you sing or chant?  Talk to the flowers in your yard? Pray?  Read something spiritual?

What form of spirituality can you explore today?

 

 

Today I Saw My Future

This is day two of writing challenge
 

I saw myself at what I hope is a distant future

 

I didn’t know it at the time, but today I saw my future and I found some inspiration and some despair.  I was at my grandson’s baseball game which was called because of rain.  As we were leaving a definitely older woman was descending the metal bleachers.  I have become a poor judge of age because some people my age look really old and even some younger folks look older.  But, she was older and using a cane.  She looked down at the bleacher steps with trepidation.  Hey,  I know what it looks like to descend steps with bad knees.  I felt for her.

There she was, all alone with no one to help her.  She must have been there for a grandson and there must be a son or daughter nearby but at that moment she was alone at the top of slippery wet metal bleachers.  I could tell she wanted to be independent but at the same time I wanted to offer assistance. Not in a condescending way but in some way that would help her down but preserve her dignity.

I offered my hand but that wasn’t enough.  I asked her to hold my arm.  Finally I was able to just pick her up and bring her to the bottom step where she could get her footing.  I gave myself a mental pat on the back that all that weight training allowed me to lift her.  I think the fact that another “senior” was helping made it OK.  No loss of dignity.  One senior helping another.  She mentioned that age was bringing infirmity and my reply was my standard quip:  “It beats the alternative”

At that point we made eye contact in mutual recognition.   We even hugged each other   Yes,  it beats the alternative.

Nothing more needed to be said.

 

ARE YOUR FRIENDS ALL THE SAME AGE?

When we were little kids we all used to like to play with kids our own age.  An older child playing with younger kids was considered weird.  Many folks carry this into adulthood.  I suggest that you learn to play with people of different age groups.

I frequently have “girlfriends’ potlucks”.  It amuses m

e to see that we range in age from late 20’s to, well, a lot older.  (I am generally the oldest person in the room)   I learn the latest social trends, technology and even language from my young friends.  My younger friends recognize the older sages knowledge and learn from it.  We don’t have to read history books — we were there.  We can give a perspective you don’t get from books.

I get diet and exercise tips.  Hopefully my young friends get a better perspective in looking at a long range view of love and romance.  The sages get to tell about the classic movies, the first time we saw the Beatles and  I get to improve my playlist of current songs.  Oh, and the young uns get advice about (gasp) menopause.

The adage “the more things change, the more th

ey stay the same” sure seems to apply.  We find we are not so different.  We lose our fear of aging when we see examples of what lies ahead that are good and wise.

I love my various groups.  I stay current on technology through my younger friends and then I pass on what I learned to my older friends.  I think we enrich each other’s lives.

Other societies seemed to have more interaction among the generations.  It would serve us well to learn from them.

Do you have friends of varying ages?

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What’s your experience?

YOU CAN MAKE A LOT OF DIFFERENCE IN OTHER’S LIVES

“Your Story can change someone else’s”  1896950_745177378833409_1062714364_n

You, Yes you! can make a LOT of difference in someone’s lives merely by practicing the LOT principle.  Listen, Observe, Tell 
 

Does the name George Bailey ring a bell?  He was the main character in the perennial classic Christmas movie “It’s a wonderful Life”.  (Extra points if you get the bell reference.)   When the movie begins, George is standing on a bridge, ready to jump off.  He feels his life is meaningless – that he doesn’t matter.  An angel appears and as George reviews his life he finds that he did make a difference after all.  In the end all is well, it’s a wonderful life – and his angel gets his wings.

But, I’m no George Bailey, you say.  I’m not sure I make a difference.  I sometimes wonder this myself.  Who am I to inspire others?

I haven’t started a multi-million dollar company; I’ve never played pro sports.  I have not overcome major adversity –no near death experience, no major debilitating disease and I pretty much have most of my faculties.  On the other hand, I have lived to what could be called a ripe old age and experienced success and failure.  I have parented, started a business, married, divorced and even obtained a professional degree.  Yup, I have stories to share — stories that might impact others.  I have a quote on my office wall:  “Your story can change someone else’s” I truly believe that.  The stories we share can make a difference.  To quote our current hero, Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson:  “Why not you?”

Let me give you an example of how someone changed my life:

High school.  The dark ages.  Girls were taught typing, shorthand and homemaking skills.  In ninth grade we were to make a four year plan of the classes we would take to complete high school graduation requirements.  When the teacher, Mrs. McLaughlin saw my plan she remarked that I had not scheduled any classes I would need for college.  College?  I’m not going to college.  People in my family do not go to college. Nope, we are not college people.  Not remotely on the radar.  To this day her reply stuck with me:  “I hate to see a bright student not prepare for college”.

Bright student?  Me?  No one in my then 15 years ever told me I was bright.  Me?  Wow.  What a revelation!  I was impressed. I took Mrs. McLaughlin’s advice and took Algebra, geometry and even two years of classic Latin.  Yup,  Veni, Vidi, Vici.  I came, I saw, I conquered.

Furthermore, I did go to college. When I became a student teacher, Mrs. McLaughlin was my master teacher.  I had the privilege to tell her how she changed my life.  And you know what?  She didn’t even remember me or the conversation!  It was just something she did because that is who she is. She was just doing what was natural to her.   That’s just who she was.

That’s how easy it can be to completely change someone’s life.  And often we don’t even know we are doing so.  Not only did I go to college, ultimately I completed law school.    I know that in my professional capacity I have and continue to impact lives.  But what about the little day to day things we do.

You can do a LOT.

That’s my acronym for Listen Observe Talk.

Listen

Listening is not a passive thing and it involves paying attention to facial expression, body language.  What is this person really saying?  Feeling? Often after I have met with a client they tell me how much better they feel.  How helpful I was.  And all I did was LISTEN.  Truly listening is the greatest gift we can give another person.

 Observe

What did your barista look like this morning?  Did you even notice her?  Later at work, a coworker sighed deeply.  Did you ask what was wrong? Did you make eye contact?  It is amazing how people respond to eye contact.  Culturally we are taught to do so but do we really? We look to the side of the eye, or the bridge of the nose.  Truly make eye contact.

 Talk

Have you ever noticed how someone reacts when you comment on their appearance, or the service they are providing, or their smile?  Is there something they are obviously proud of on their desk or wall?  Comment!

Remember: “Your story can change someone else’s”    Sometimes just the reminder that we all share the human condition can give someone hope and courage.   Not  “I can top that one” but a heartfelt, “I understand.  I went through this also and here’s what I did.”  Or, perhaps, “I can’t even imagine how this must feel for you.  How would you like me to help?”   Talk, tell your story.

The following quote came across my Facebook page the other day:

“ONE KIND WORD CAN CHANGE SOMEONE’S ENTIRE DAY.”

 Think about it.  One kind word can change someone’s entire day.

Here is my challenge to you.

Set out each day to make a difference in someone’s life.  Do so by Listening,Observing,  Talking.

The next time you are among other people,  practice truly connecting with someone.  Listen, Observe, Talk.    After the first, do one more and one more.

I will give you a money back guarantee that by the end of the day your life will be different.

Yes, You can make a LOT of difference and impact lives.

I challenge you.

CAN WE STILL CHANGE THE WORLD?

IMG_0083“When the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars, then peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars.

  This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius , Age of Aquarius”

  If you identified with these lyrics this message is for you.  If you don’t recognize them, ask your mom or dad.  This song, from the musical Hair made popular by the 5th Dimension in the late 60’s  was the anthem of our generation.  We were the new age.  The boomers.  The new generation that was going to change the world.  With us, there would be peace love and understanding.
 

 What happened?

Life happened.  Some remained on communes and followed an alternative lifestyle but most of us went into the workforce, had families, careers, established our own businesses.  Now here we are at that point that previous generations stopped.  Stopped striving, stopped trying, and some would say, stopped living. But not us, we are the new age.   We are the boomers who changed the world by our mere numbers.  Every decade we changed things from the Sputnik era of education to the economic force of the current economy and our impact on social security and Medicare.  just by our sheer numbers we affected all areas of society.

 Now what? (more…)

SOME DAYS ARE LIKE THAT — EVEN IN AUSTRALIA

One of my favorite children’s books is Alexander and the Horrible Terrible Very Bad Day.  Maybe you have read it?  It begins with Alexander declaring “I woke up this morning with gum in my hair and I knew it was going to be a horrible terrible very bad day”  He then went through his litany of mishaps of the day, each time announcing:  “I think I’ll move to Australia.  The book ends with the wisdom:  “Some days are like that — even in Australia.”

Over the years “Some days are like that — even in Australia” has become shorthand in my family for acceptance that not all days are light filled and wonderful.  I much prefer that to the soggy “It is what it is” of the current vernacular.

What’s wrong with acknowledging that you have had a crappy day or even a string of crappy days?  No one wants to hang around a constant complainer or negative person.  On the other hand, don’t you get slightly annoyed at people who see only bright sunshine?  Admitting that things aren’t always wonderful makes you more real.  Authentic, as my favorite writing teacher would say.

So what brings me to today’s rant?  Well, I didn’t wake up with gum in my hair but I did wake up with a red scar on my head from a face plant I did two weeks ago and the physical residuals of suffering a trauma.  Business has been challenging and my bank account is not where I would like it to be.  But the major bummer is my planned weekend get away to one of my favorite place in the whole world — Laguna Beach, California.  What can be wrong with an all expense paid weekend in paradise?  For weeks the weather has been hovering at 79 sunny degrees.   The forecast for Friday?  Raining and 57 degrees!   Saturday and Sunday are clear and 65.  Oh the horrors.  A whole weekend in an ocean-front five star hotel room and it isn’t hot and sunny?

There.  I got it out of my system.  I ranted and admitted that not every day is a winner.  Feels better.  Feels authentic.

Don’t be afraid to share the down side of your life.  Some days are like that — even in Australia.

The ups and downs keep life interesting.  Here I am in the middle of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon

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