Wellness Doctors

Wellness is one the largest pieces of our practice, particularly with people in the second half of life. Because of this, we think it is important to start a series on profiling medical doctors that have developed approaches to treating the diseases of our age. Most of these are rooted in increased inflammation in the body and are significantly, if not completely, caused by the Standard American Diet (SAD).

This diet contains chemicals and additives from processed foods, toxins from factory farming, and an oversupply of protein and sugar. Sounds appealing, right? Hopefully your answer to that is a resounding “no,” because these all result in the creation and storage of fat on the body. This analysis is not ours, it comes from the following schools of thought. All of these teachings are from medical doctors.

Dr. Mark Hyman has coined the term functional medicine and has founded and runs the Ultra Wellness Center in Lenox Mass .

Dr. Andrew Weil has founded the Integrative Medicine Center at the university of Arizona.

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn who has become well known because of his work with former President Bill Clinton, and the movie “Forks Over Knives” has promoted the reversal of heart disease with plant-based diets.

Dr. Daniel Amen has focused on reversing brain damage through diet, and has created the Amen Clinic.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman is an author and maintains a private practice in Flemington NJ.

Dr. Dean Ornish has developed a program for reversing heart disease that is now accepted by many insurance programs.

All of these programs have a number of common themes:

  • Limit sugar intake including alcohol and foods that are seen as sugar by the body
  • Eat adequate amounts of protein
  • Limit or eliminate processed foods
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Exercise
  • Get proper rest

As transition and wellness coaches, it is our role to help our client decide which variations work for them. We also look at the bigger picture of why we do not follow the direction of these doctors, which can be summed up in the words of Michael Pollan – Eat food, mostly plants, not a lot. What stops us from doing this?

The proof of that is left to each person to figure out. For our clients, we help them figure out what toxic thinking they have that causes them to sabatoge their efforts to reach a normal body weight.

On Thursday of each week, our blog entry will speak to wellness themes, starting with a discussion of each of the medical doctors approaches to wellness and why you might consider their approach for you.

If you are tired of your toxic thinking and walking in the world with excess weight not only on your gut, but also with the weight of the world on your shoulders, you can get started here with a complimentary health history to see what might work best for you.

Whatever you do, do something. The major cause of our increasing federal deficit is the cost of health care. You do not have to get sick prematurely and suffer the effects of reverseable or preventable diseases. As the computer learned in War Games, the only way to win is not to play the game. Stop.

Who cares for the caregiver?

“Til death do us part,” are the words often proclaimed by newlyweds as they prepare to enter the world of married life. No one wants to think about the reality of that statement, but it’s inevitable. At some point, we will be separated from our loved ones with one final breath. In spousal relationships, one of you will become a caregiver to the other, which will surely change your relationship dynamic.

It’s amazing how one word can change your life. Last October, the word “cancer” shook up the relationship my wife and I had enjoyed for years when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. From both mine and her perspectives, I battled the storm well at the time. After the surgery and radiation treatments was a different story; the rain crashed down on me.

It wasn’t as though I didn’t try; I hired a coach, felt in touch with my feelings, journaled and exercised daily, ate well, and took care of myself. You can’t keep life from happening, though. My other relationships suffered as I lost tolerance for drama and menial concerns. Compared with cancer, any minor discomfort struck me as petty self-indulgent behavior.

My toleration for those living in the future, or even in the past, went away. Cancer shows up with an HD reality.  It takes you by the throat and says, “Shut up and listen to me, mf’er.”

I took those thoughts and locked them within my mind. I did not project them onto my friends, family, and business associates because I was afraid of burdening them with my own fears. I listened to their normal concerns, but my mind was elsewhere, thinking about my potentially dying wife.

In spite of this, I had to remain positive and affirm that she was doing well.  I had to try to pretend that I cared about some issues that were important to others.  With my clients, because I am required to remain detached, it was easy to focus on their needs and be present to them.  Unfortunately, in many other conversations, I used that ability to feel untouched by others.

But I still heard them. I shut off my capacity for feeling, but I could not flip the switch on my sense of hearing. Two months ago, I got a major ear infection.  I struggled to understand the deeper meaning behind my left ear infection.  Is it the feminine side of me that I do not want to listen to, since caregiving is more feminine in nature? Is it my wife that I do not want to listen to?  Women in general?  Phone conversations since I used my left ear?

The answer, two months after the fact was a resounding, “yes, all of the above.” I found the answer to this question in baseball.  I do not want to sound like a line from “Field of Dreams,” but even in bad times, my father and I had baseball.  Yes, we had lots of bad times, but I will never forget my first baseball game in 1958 at Yankee Stadium.  The field for me was a cathedral, in the era of black and white TV, I’d never seen grass so green.  And players like Mickey Mantle and Al Kaline still seem larger than life to me.

Last week at the beach, the Pirates were on TV each day playing the Nationals. Growing up in a fifties New York home with a grandmother who rooted for ‘dem Bums, a father who was a Giants fan, and other grandparents who rooted for the Yankees, coming home to watch 42 had special significance. Watching the Pirates take four of five this week from the Cardinals was not only exciting, but also a lesson. The timeless nature of the game, the rules, the strategy, the elegance, the pureness, and the maleness allowed me to realize that even in the second half of life, sometimes men just need to be men, or childlike boys. It is hardball after all, not softball.

For men, especially those thrust into the role of caregiver, and made to feel vulnerable about the prospect of losing a wife, it is time to get over the disposable conditioning of our youth that tells us to ignore our own needs and fix it for everyone else.  We are conditioned to think of women and children first, to jump on a hand grenade for our buddies.  We are taught to make sacrifices for others. We can’t forget about ourselves, though. Besides, how can we make others happy, if we aren’t happy ourselves?  We need to make sure that we take time for the activities that bring smiles to our faces.

I am not sure what forms those will take for me, but I fully intend to enjoy this year’s baseball playoffs and this year’s football season.  Who knows, I might spend my fall days wandering the woods, photographing the kaleidoscope of leaves that fall in my path. And I intend to do as I have already begin doing; scheduling time for me to work ON my business and not just IN it, and to read novels that bring me joy.

Caregivers have to care for themselves as well as others.  And if we do not, we are going to get sick ourselves.  Deepak Chopra teaches that life is a sexually transmitted disease that is always fatal.  There is no escaping that.  We need to remain true to our own nature and find the beauty in each and every day.  It is not how or when we die; it is how we live.  Part of the wisdom that came out of Star Trek was that you need to have a little bit of fun every day.

If I had taken a day a week or a few hours a day, and took care of myself while I was taking care of my wife, I would have been better off.  Or instead of rushing to “save her” after she was done with treatment and immersing myself in growing my practice, I should have created “me” time. I’m convinced that if I had, I would not have gotten sick. The one voice I was not listening to was my own mind, screaming, “Hey! Don’t forget about me!”  Ultimately, we must be a caregiver to ourselves, too, if we want to be a caregiver to our loved ones.

 

Remedial

It’s 1 AM. You’re lying in bed, unable to sleep. Your body is still, yet your mind is racing with the stress from an overhanging problem in your life. You try to swat away those pestering thoughts like a flea, but you just can’t seem to put your mind at ease

In the weeks leading up to vacation, I had begun to lock and load on three or four topics as they came up. Instead of releasing thoughts that came into my head, I would hold onto one or two and constantly think about them until I was confused and frustrated. To someone that values awareness and has been on a personal spiritual journey, this was surprising: I wasn’t even aware that I was doing it.

What is meant by practicing awareness? It is different for everyone based on his or her personal journey. For me, I need to watch how I respond to those who push my buttons. This is one of the things that I spend a lot of time on with my clients. In this way, it is becoming aware of destructive patterns in our lives and releasing the negative responses that we have. This is not reacting, but rather taking a moment to identify our feelings and mute the antagonistic echoes of our past.

For example, if you are a big Penn State fan and a coworker hates Penn State, you might be triggered into smarmy behavior by that coworker making a comment about pedophiles in sports. A well-dressed, attractive woman might be provoked by a comment about her looks from a man gawking at her and staring at her breasts. Thus, it is not necessarily what is said, but how and by whom it is said that could be the stimulant

These triggers often take us into earlier forms of consciousness that cause us to act like victims or lash out at our verbal attackers. But there are other self-destructive behavior patterns.

They say old habits die hard. Frustrating myself by trying to solve the unsolvable is one of my tendencies. These so-called problems are what has driven the psychotherapy industry for years, and made Oprah and Dr. Phil millionaires.  Why am I so remedial in my approach to life?  Why do I keep making the same mistakes?  Is it because I fixate on the same thoughts?

Sometimes we need to just let go and free ourselves from the prison of negative thoughts. We all have issues that we revisit time and again as we live our lives. For example, the notion that a “man” cannot be an artist was bestowed upon me as far back as I can remember. As a boy that wanted to channel his artistic side, this left me with gender angst and fear of chasing that dream. Coupled with that toxic thought pattern was, “You are just like your mother; you never finish anything.” At the time, this complete discouragement sank my artistic ambition like the Titanic.

The scar of abandonment never faded after my mom died when I was eleven. I developed a fear of desertion that formed the perfect storm as last year ended and this year began. I regressed to past ways of life and tossed away everything I had learned.

In this last year, my wife was undergoing treatment for breast cancer and activating that distress within me. I took on the role of caregiver in our family. I was launching a coaching practice, which is not art, but a largely feminized industry. As a result, I found myself triggered by these old thinking patterns. Once that happens, it can be hard to turn back.

So what do you do? Meditate. Ask the questions and live the answers. The answers come to us though moments of synchronicity, not out of our own heads. Others bring them to us. We do not have to find our own answers; they will find us. But we have to be open to allowing that to happen.

This is particularly important for people in giving professions. People in these roles are expected to have the answers. We don’t have answers; we know what questions to ask others to enable them to seek their own solutions. But we do not have to be asking ourselves questions all of the time. It is okay to just be, and to dream. For me, however, I must be careful to not dream the impossible dream. Because for me, anything that I see as impossible, becomes a challenge to be solved by my egoic mind.

While all things are possible, some dreams have a higher return than others and take less effort. We transform the world one person at a time. I have to remember that that means that I transform myself one thought at a time. I can choose to let thoughts go. With fifty thousand a day, why hold on to one fifty thousand times. The next thought could be an idea that cures cancer.

Vacation – Road Trip

The ocean does not just make up the majority our planet; it makes up part of my soul as well. It is a magical transformation: the salty air nourishes my body and frees my breathing, allowing me to center almost immediately.

It seems like recently the environment of where we are living and the toxins stored there take my breath away. Literally. I hope to determine on this shore vacation if the toxins are my own manifestations, or that of the physical environment. Or perhaps they are my own projections of unresolved issues from my past in Life 2.0.

Timing can be a curious thing. In May of this year, I inhaled a significant amount of pollen and dust from the environment around my home. This occurred as my wife completed her treatments for breast cancer. Did this trigger a subconscious desire to get sick, just so I could be taken care of?

I also find it curious to know that to myself and others, I am not an “inflammation patient.” Despite suffering from inflammation since infancy thanks to dairy and genetically altered modern wheat festering within my body, as well as environmental toxins in Pittsburgh and other inland cities, I do not consider myself to have a disease, although this condition kills millions prematurely.

However, my wife and others that have grown cancers are forever labeled as “cancer patients.” We can always characterize ourselves by these trials and tribulations. Ultimately, inflammation responses in the body produce a disease that we can allow to define us, but I refuse to do that. At the end of the dark tunnel of disease, there is a light, which can actually teach us a thing or two.

When I was six I had pneumonia, and through the “miracle” of antibiotics, I was healed. At eight, I had my tonsils removed, and through the “miracle” of surgery, I was healed. At twenty-eight, I had a ruptured appendix, and through the “miracles” of surgery and antibiotics, I was healed.

Over the years that I lived in Pittsburgh, and then on airplanes, and then again in Pittsburgh, through the “miracle” of antibiotics three to twelve times a year for forty years, I was healed. I also had the pleasure of tossing down steroids a number of times in order to reduce inflammation. What is the common element in all of these diseases? Inflammation.

As part of my continuing journey, I removed wheat and dairy from my diet in 2012, and my health, specifically my inflammation levels in my body, drastically improved. That sinus-infection-free year-and-a-half of my life was well worth the sacrifice.  And suddenly I had no need for “miracles”. Or so I thought.

So, on June second of this year, I found myself with an ear infection. Three antibiotics later and one dose of steroids later and I was almost symptom free. Key word: almost. The symptoms eventually returned. Proving to be a stubborn condition, the inflammation would not budge.

Refusing to let this uphill battle seize my life, I sought help from a naturally gifted healer: my chiropractor, who is able to tune into her patients at an energetic level. Taking it a step further, I also visited an acupuncture practitioner. With their help, my body began to heal itself and drain the fluids caused by my body’s natural inflammation response.

Hopefully, this week at the shore will put an end to this disease once and for all.

In Life 3.0, we do not have the ability to ignore our bodies any longer. In my case, I was born and raised on Long Island, and my body is used to the salty air and humidity of that environment. Unfortunately, I was also given dairy at birth and I am allergic to caisson – the protein in dairy.

We have a choice when we reach this stage of life. We can be defined by the labels of the disease, like cancer, or like the outcomes of chronic inflammation – including conditions like adult onset diabetes, cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and a plethora of other ailments, or we can change the way we eat and live to be on core with our own bio-individuality.

This blog entry is the first in a series of entries that will deal with how I use the food that I eat and my primary foods of career, spirituality, relationships and exercise in Life 3.0. Each Saturday, I will post a personal entry about my Life 3.0 experience.

Some will be reflections extracted from my gratitude journal that I started in December of last year as my wife began her cancer treatments and we changed our lives. For the most part, the entries will be current accounts of what’s happening now.

For now, I leave you with a question: When are you? I tell my clients to ask themselves three questions in order to center themselves for meditation. Who am I? What do I want? What is my purpose? The implicit answer to when am I, when we are centered, and when we meditate, is now.

With the stress of disease, I found that I am often not in the now, but in the drama of the past. Or wishing for a future. In truth, we only have the now. And for those of you with an illness, or living with someone with an illness: you are not your disease. You are beautiful. As another Fred in Pittsburgh always said, “I love you just the way you are.” Be now here and not nowhere.

The Turn

Six months ago today, I posted my last blog entry prior to this one and this one is different from most of my previous posts. This one is personal. I have not been in contact with you recently.

The reason for that is that my wife, Melinda, was diagnosed with Breast Cancer last October.  As a result, we made major changes in our lives. The biggest two involve what we eat and how we live.  Part of that resulted in me putting my practice expansion on hold for most of the last six months.

How we live is probably the key to the rest of this blog entry, so lets start with that.  I had just finished a coaching training program and was in the process of signing up clients who were looking, as I was looking, at second half of life ventures that would fuel their needs well into their eighties. The thinking was that if you are doing the right thing, you can do it for a lot longer than just sixty-five.  With the prospect of life to one hundred this made perfect sense.

And then my wife, someone who was in “perfect health” was given news that caused us to question whether there would be a second half of life.  So we started to live in the moment.  Our moments.  Not our children’s moments, or our referral network’s moments, or our community’s moments but ours.  We watched and did things that made us laugh.  Melinda changed positions at work, we recommitted ourselves to exercise and we started a joint daily gratitude practice.

From a nutritional perspective, we started eating only whole foods. Organic if possible. We thought we were following Michael Pollan’s recommendation of “eating food, mostly plants and not a lot” before, but now we have become zealots.  I enrolled in a second coaching training program, this one from IIN – the Institute of Integrative Nutrition – so I could fully understand the effects of diet and lifestyle on how we look and feel.

I am sharing this with you now, because as a result of these actions, Melinda and I have changed the focus of our jointly held business – onCOREventures. While I still work with executives and professionals who want to design a life into their eighties or longer that is onCORE with who they are, I am now helping them be much more focused on their lives to make sure they are healthy so that they can enjoy their venture for as long as they want.  With obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer affecting more and more people as they enter the second half of life, this is the “ante” for the game in what I have often called Life 3.0.  As they say in games of chance you have to pay to play.

Recently, I received my accreditation as a professional coach from the International Coaching Federation (ICF), and now that I am substantially through the nutrition components of the IIN coursework, I have been certified to see clients in the health and wellness space as a health coach from IIN.  I was already qualified as a coach, but now have more tools with which to assist my clients.

So, in addition to workings with clients looking ultimately at their Life 3.0 ventures and adventures, I work with people in an awesome, six-month program to bring more energy, fewer cravings and a reduction in their waistline to their lives in a fun and sustainable way. We like to refer to this approach as post modern nutrition – we help clients ease great tasting, new food into their lives in order to crowd out old, junky food that was causing poor health.

I say we, because after a successful combination of radical homemaking and great allopathic care, Melinda is cancer free and she just completely finished IIN and is accredited by the AADP – American Association of Drugless Practitioners. While she is still working in a great career as a Business Analyst, Melinda is seeing a select client base to help them become healthy and balance the needs of career and family. We believe that someone walking the talk is a good fit for many people that have to juggle multiple priorities in life – and frankly – who doesn’t?

Well in Golf, the turn comes after the first nine holes.  Yesterday I completed the first half of the IIN program – and it is also the completion of the turning on the pivot point that I discussed in my entry six months ago and the beginning of our new integrated direction.

Pivot

When creating onCOREventures, we decided to follow the teachings of Eric Reis describes in “The Lean Start-up”.  Our understanding of that teaching is to build the minimum viable product, test it in the market, and based on that test, decide to either pivot or preserver.

We work with people in the second half of life to define their on core venture. We thought this meant helping those people to build a business. After all, there are 12 million so-called encore entrepreneurs out there according to a Met Life study from last fall. In working with our target market however, we have found that the second half of life it is really all about wellness.  People over fifty are succumbing to cancer, heart disease, and diabetes in record numbers.  While life expectancy is increasing and focusing on the potential of living to 100 is something to consider, we firmly believe in the importance of the quality of the lives we live, regardless of how long that life might last.

My own training is through iPEC and I am very happy with the core energy coaching training that I have received.  I have now decided to enroll in the Institute of Integrative Nutrition program as an added educational component. Though much of the IIN techniques overlap my existing skills, I believe in the principals and goals of the organization. Joshua Rosenthal, IIN founder, teaches the concept of “Primary Foods,” comprised of Career, Relationships, Spirituality and Exercise. We have already embraced these as core components in our methods of Discovery and Launch of onCOREventures regardless of individual focus or goal.  We have always talked about ventures as a way to describe whatever it is that we do in the second half of life, but somehow I always felt that most of these would be some sort of “business” launch.

It turns out now, having walked that walk, not so much.

I am not the same person that I was in the first half of life…and I thank God for that.  I am no longer driven by the same motivators. Family and Spirituality are not “options” for me now. They are present and relevant every day, as my body reminds me how fragile life can be. So too, concepts of wellness, food, and exercise are suddenly infinitely more important.  Career, while still somewhat interesting, has become a distant fourth place. In this, I suspect that I am not alone.  My current clients seem to be telling me the same thing, we are still the people were in some ways, yet with new priorities, we do things differently now.

There seems to be an almost childlike appreciation for the possibility of doing things differently.  More clients seem to start out saying “I never am able to…..” and then stop to correct themselves, finishing with “I have not been able to ….yet.” As a coach, to see this transition on a global scale is nothing short of fascinating.

So, our focus is still on helping our clients to launch the life that they were born to live, but that is probably not going to involve the steps to “go to market” with a business. We see ourselves helping clients to understand and change the way that they show up, how are they are living in relationships, what are they eating, how are they exercising, how they are centering ourselves, and finally how are they are approaching their “career”.  In the second half of life, that career might be watching grandchildren so that adult children’s lives are better, or creating a writers group for other old new writers, or helping to bring farm products to the table of local homes, or teaching people to cook foods that do not come out of the freezer or boxes or cans. These are the new non-traditional, yet so very traditional from a larger perspective, ways of being for older generations that have the wisdom, the patience, and the interest to spend their time giving back to and helping others as their way of contributing to society and caring for themselves.

What does that mean to what we offer to our clients? Nothing really.  I had coffee the other day with a colleague in the Pittsburgh Coaches Association, David Goldman, who is a leadership coach. He described coaching as like the Olympic sport curling, coaches prepare the path for our clients to follow.  David helped me to realize that he and I are in two different but related spaces. He helps businesses that are started, some of my clients might create business that he can then help.  I met him thinking that we were friendly competitors, each in the same supportive professional association, yet left realizing that we were also referral partners in two different spaces.

I help people figure out their path for the second half of life. In a way, this is what I have always done uniquely well, helping to define the undefined. In the first half of my life, I did this through the creation of technology, then in the creation of photography, and now I do this through helping my clients to create the life they were born to live. AT LAST!

Getting Well

What does getting well have to do with launching an on core venture?  Everything.

In the second half of life, the behavior patterns we established in the first half start shouting at us. This takes form in issues such as Diabetes, Cancer, Heart Disease, Obesity, Depression, Boredom, Fatigue, and so on.

We believe that the first step in defining your second half of life vision involves getting into the best physical and mental shape possible.  This allows for the energy and clear focus needed in order to determine how you can – as they say in the Army- be all you can be, or as we say – become oncore. If you are beginning to suffer from the effects of the above list, you must learn to get well, not just rely on dealing with it through coping patterns, but get truly well.

Our approach to helping clients figure out what they need to do begins with an assessment tool. This tool allows us to point out examples of what one of our clients calls “Stinkin’ Thinkin’.”  From there, we use a combination of techniques that allow you to come up with your own path to wellness.  We also have a partner network of people we trust that can help you in areas where you might be stuck.

Coaching is not therapy. We do not care where you got your Stinkin’ Thinkin’ patterns. We care about getting you past it so that success becomes attainable. As I listened yesterday to young parents at the children’s museum in Pittsburgh, their advice to their kids to be careful and not to wander away or talk to strangers is not designed to make them afraid of networking in twenty years, or even to go to parties.  It is designed to stop their children from getting hit by a car or keep them away from shady looking characters that might be out to hurt them. This is common sense 101, yet many people have twisted the well intentioned lessons of childhood into the limiting barriers of adulthood So, if you are still blaming Mommy for your thinking patterns, please see a therapist. If however, you are ready to move past your limiting patterns and beliefs; then coaching holds up a mirror to help you understand these thought patterns, teaches you how to improve them and raise your energy levels.

What is important now is what you do with the thought processes that no longer serve who you are today or who you wish to become. Stop stuffing food or alcohol into your body, stop leaching energy into other various control dramas, all because you feel badly from fear and other energy drains.

There are many ways to get well.  Eat real food – not stuff in boxes and cans, exercise appropriately, meditate, practice yoga, get a physical from your doctor, use well sourced nutritional supplements to help alleviate diet deficiencies,  get your spine into proper alignment with chiropractic care, have massages to release toxins from your muscles, drink adequate amounts of water, get enough sleep and create work life balance. The list goes on and can sometimes be daunting; remember that we are here to help you navigate a true path to wellness.

For the next few weeks, we will feature a practitioner in each of these areas as an example of where to go to get information on any of these specific components of getting well.  And if you suddenly realize looking at the list that you have no idea of how to do any of those things, please reach out to us for a free session to get started.

Massage and Meditation

Yesterday was July 4th. It was a little over one year ago that I had my first massage at a spa. Now, I am no expert on the subject, having lived over sixty years before even experiencing my first treatment, but I can tell you that the experience transformed me. In terms of healing and wellness, the power of touch is nothing short of absolutely amazing. My spa experience last year was the warm up to a Chopra Center “Journey into Healing” retreat at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville N.C. The back to back experiences of the massage and teachings left me altered and renewed at a DNA level. It started my own journey from being “worried well” into true wellness. I have since come to believe that one simply cannot successfully launch a third stage of life venture unless our core body is healthy and well.

Recently I’ve been reading “With Purpose – Going from Success to Significance in Work and Life” by Ken Dychtwald and Daniel J. Kadlec, in which the authors coin the term “middlescence”.  They write that until the early part of the last century there was no term for the period of adolescence, noting that G. Stanley Hall invented the concept. This is correct, yet they failed to acknowledge that Mr. Hall went on to write, in 1923 “Senescence in the second half of Life” which describes exactly what Dychtwald and Kadlec are referring to as this new phase of “middlescence”.  In fact Mr. Hall wrote the senescence book as his middlescence (or Life 3.0 as we call it) effort. So the three authors agree and, in the case of both Dr Dychtwald and Mr. Hall, dedicated their lives to understanding this late life phenomenon of needing purpose in the evening of life in order to feel truly fulfilled.

I do not profess to be inventing anything at this phase of my life. For me, that time is now past. While I share a patent for a technology product in my history, I am, quintessentially, the guy who figures out what new “stuff” is good for. So, true to form, I now ask what do we do with the knowledge we have gained.  Likewise, coaches will often ask clients a variation on the theme of “what would your life be like if it was true for you that the last thirty years of your life would be driven by your passion, gifts and purpose in a unique way that you now have the time, ego, and understanding to access?

Before he died in 1924, G. Stanley Hall, who lived in a Newtonian mechanical world, said “The man of the future may, and even must, do things impossible in the past and acquire new motor variations not given by heredity.”  In the areas of health and wellness, more than half of what we have learned has been discovered in the last five years. That knowledge is still growing and in a few years no doubt more than half of what we know then will have been discovered after I wrote this blog. A good example of such learning is the recent idea that fully half of what we used to chalk up to “hereditary characteristics” is in fact social programming of our subconscious by our parents in the first few years of life and that  it can be re-programmed. In consequence, I believe the biggest “motor variation” we must strive for is a way of accomplishing this re-programing of the subconscious mind to be more in tune and aligned with our core values and selves.

To effect this mental shift, we “lay” practitioners do not necessarily need to invent anything new, we instead must practice the gift of discernment. What is the knowledge level and currency of your “official” practitioner? Is he or she a life-long learner? Many physicians were trained in a Newtonian model to believe that the body is a mechanical structure.  As we know now, such is not the case. Our bodies can be much more accurately perceived as holographic quantum beings, enjoying virtually unlimited potential and the capacity to constantly recreating itself. What we must now accept is that our minds and bodies are inextricably linked. Our wellness, in the mind, body and soul, is dependent upon our core physical body being in harmony with its surroundings. In essence, our body is linked to our way of thinking and being. Put simply, our thoughts become reality. We have seen this in many areas of our modern world, from studies that seek to unravel the power of prayer, in movements touting the limitless capability of positive thinking, and in our fascination with the concepts of empowered, motivated leadership in the business world.

Over the coming weeks and months we will explore how to move from being worried well to wellness. For today, I am going to pass on the two concepts that I took away from the Grove Park Inn. Massage and Meditation.

Yesterday I was catching up on my research into Spiritually and Health and found a DVD on how couples and families can massage one another (our monthly spa trips are simply not enough). I have already shared links on how to get started in meditation but I realize there are skeptics out there. For those of you that are interested, and those of you that are skeptical, don’t take just my opinion. Here is a link to the website for transcendentalist meditation which links other sites proving the benefits you will experience by incorporating meditation in your life.

Mickey Mantle commented shortly before he died at the age of 63 that if he knew he would have lived this long he would have taken better care of himself.  For many people approaching this age, we have new knowledge that can be applied to our way of living in order to bring about healing and rejuvenation.  Many of these techniques and dietary changes take a long time to implement.  I have been working at diet and exercise regularly for the last 23 years since I healed myself from a serious illness using techniques that I learned from an early mind body physician – Dr. Bernie Siegel. This experience has led me to an ever increasing understanding of the mind body connection. The progress of the first several decades of daily exercise and an evolving way of eating expanded exponentially, making a quantum leap, when I began regular meditation and became aware of the healing power of touch.

Earlier this week, I took my ‘young in mind’ – but – ‘old in body’ mother-in-law to a doctor apt. When she was told that she would have to endure yet another procedure, she looked at me and asked if my wife (her daughter) would be available to go with her because the touch of my wife’s strong, bony fingers on her wrinkled and aged hand brings her comfort and energy. This exchange left me thinking that we must not reserve that touch and energy only for times of stress or wait until we are too old in body to try to start truly living the lives we were born to lead. If we are going to live till 90 we must decide what this life will look like. Will we be dependent on oxygen machines or wheelchairs, or will we be living active vital lives.  Deepak Chopra jokes that life is a sexually transmitted disease that is always fatal, and someone once told me that there are no guarantees on a birth certificate. It is far too easy to underestimate the power we hold inside ourselves and the ability we have to share it, comforting and healing each other and ourselves.

Gratitude

The saying goes that all things come in three’s. Whether these occurrences are good or bad is a matter of perspective but we seem to notice the pattern more often in “bad-times.” A few days ago I learned that a former colleague’s wife suddenly died at work last week. Next I heard that another former colleague was seriously ill and might not make it through her difficult battle with a rare form of cancer. Finally a classmate of my wife’ had a stroke.  All of these people were in their prime, and with my focus on how to live well till 100, I am feeling grateful that, in large part due to my spouse, I am still around to be pontificating on these matters.  I am also feeling pain and loss for all of the family members and friends affected by these unexpected and tragic events. Finding gratitude in these times can be difficult.

I am especially grateful for my spouse’s constant study of food.  She has been researching diets and exercise for as long I have known her.  Recently I ran into someone who knew me from before my current marriage who claimed they barely recognized me because I was in so much better shape.  My adult children laugh, to themselves until one finally ratted the group of four of them out to me, about the lifestyle “change of the day” every time they visit, which is rather frequent.

Nutrition and diet are an evolutionary study as we re-learn the lessons that our great grandparents knew.  We used to say “Grandparents”, but my grandmother discovered Entenmann’s pastries, Nabisco raisin cookies and Bryers ice cream (and knew what to do with them). Throughout our personal journey, we have moved from the Zone, to South Beach (the diet, unfortunately) to high carbs, to mostly vegetarian to wheat free and so on… There were more stops I am sure, but our minds tend to block out trauma.

Recently, my ever inquisitive spouse has taken her study to a new level. In the interest in making my life better she shares some of the more interesting items with me. I have already talked about wheat belly in an earlier blog and I’m thinking I might have started this renewed interest of hers. A couple weeks ago, as I was struggling with not being able to digest the increased amounts of animal protein (the four legged variety), she comes out with “You are what you eat. You eat cows and you look like cows, move like cows.  People who eat chickens tend to run around like chickens and peck at things, people that eat swordfish are sleek and graceful, etc.”  I am not sure of the validity of this view, but I know that another work colleague of mine once told me that humans cannot digest beef, it sorts of just sits there for a few days and festers until it can be disposed of. Nice image right? Now I wonder why I got constipated when I reintroduced beef into my diet.  For some reason I cannot get Meg Ryan in French Kiss saying “fester, fester, fester…rot, rot, rot…” out of my mind.

Today, my spouse comes out with this pearl of wisdom “Chew your food.”  Now I remember that statement from my grandmother (at least the food that did not come out of a box) so the advice resonated with me. Frankly neither my spouse nor I are good at following this rule – yet.  Apparently, when you chew your food, enzymes are released in your mouth that starts the digestion process. This action also tells your brain “hey I am eating now so you can forget that hunger thing.”  Consequently, we fill up faster and are able to more easily avoid overeating. I remember hearing all of this information from my ninth grade biology teacher, so this is not exactly new news, but perhaps something worthy of periodically reminding ourselves about.

I am grateful for this journey, and the wisdom and curiosity of my spouse.  I would not be here now if it were not for the lifestyle changes that her lifelong study has inspired.  She has never badgered me, just simply given me information.  Ladies (and gents) you do not have to beat your spouse over the head with “you know that you cannot digest that steak you are eating ….ever” and “you can only use the protein from the first four ounces of that 20 ounce porterhouse that you are eating at Mortens.”  A little information consistently repeated seems to get through…even to me.

I am now, once again, off land based animal protein, except for dairy and eggs, and have lost my desire for a lot of the other “stuff” that was once so tempting.  I can look at the Prius sedans in our church parking lot and say “Well, I don’t eat meat so my carbon footprint is lower than yours and I am not sitting on an electromagnetic field while I am driving my car.” My spouse is not just a nutrition expert – more to come on EMF and binding agents used in food – in later posts.

I think that anytime modern science and nineteenth-century transcendentalists agree – the concept must make sense.  Henry David Thoreau said that being vegetarian is “just more efficient”, and Michael Pollan says “Eat food, mostly plants, not a lot”.  I am the Thoreau expert in the family, my spouse is the Pollan expert, and on this topic at least – we can agree.  It is nice to come at something from different perspectives and arrive at the same answer.

So today I am grateful for my spouse and her lifelong affair with learning about health and nutrition and my own lifelong learning.  Namaste.

The R Word – Relationships

No not retirement…relationships.

It does not matter who I coach and for what, eventually and usually sooner rather than later, it is all about relationships.  For me it has always been about relationships, especially my spousal relationship.

My first marriage lasted twenty years and, as I approach that timeframe with my second marriage, it occurs to me that for people approaching retirement years danger looms on the horizon.  Over 50% of marriages end in divorce.  When my current wife and I got married the minister pointed out to us in his sermon that we had a 65% chance of divorce.

There are more studies than I can easily reference that point to the reality that people in relationships are healthier than people that are not in relationships.  Yet, more and more people live alone. Why?

People of all ages now seem to crave independency, unwilling to be enmeshed in relationships where they may lose their sense of self.  Compounding this factor for those in Life 3.0, more women seem to be less interested in marriage while more men seem to want it.

We are conditioned in early life to adhere to certain gender roles that have worked for the species. Men are attracted visually to pretty women while women gravitate towards men that show promise of being good providers.  The social changes in the last fifty years have turned the status quo upside down as more and more women embark upon successful careers while many men are trending towards “burn out” and are no longer able to financially “outperform” women.

Six years ago I retired from a six figure salary senior executive career to pursue my dream of photography, and also to take care of our home.  I made that decision consciously and intuitively. It was the right time to do it.  At the same time my executive wife restarted her career in a high stress position that would leave her little time for traditional homemaking.

Over the next five years, my spouse became highly independent, while I fit myself into the role of caregiver. This was a complete role reversal, and for a time it worked well for us.  However, after a while, I realized that I, like the majority of female caregivers, simply needed more. My spouse and I now find ourselves negotiating on who is going to do which “wife” chores. I had thought that we were unusual, and perhaps we are in that we have cooperatively and consciously acted.  But in researching the topic of “boomer” relationships for my practice, I see that there are macro trends at play affecting us all.

We have what is being called by some an Integral Relationship. I am calling it an OnCore Relationship.  The hallmarks of this type of relationship are that both parties are awake. Morpheus has extracted both partners from the Matrix.  The women are working towards ascendency while the men are getting in touch with their rootedness. By understanding their own path and respecting themselves above all others, each participant in an Integral Relationship is able to give the same amount of respect to their partner. Consequently, there is no subordination, no struggling with a loss of self. Together they help each other maintain alignment, provide encouragement, raise each other’s energy, and generally enable greater success. Together the sum is greater than the parts, parts which incidentally are equal but not the same.

We, my spouse and I, are in the minority of the “lucky ones.” We are awake, aware, and able to work together towards a common goal. Many of our clients at OnCore Ventures are not in this category. They struggle with balancing their new and deeper understandings of themselves with the mindset of their spouse, who is often at a different level of awareness.

The only way out of this conundrum is, as I said earlier in the week, to “be the change you wish to see in the world”. Working to transcend your own state of being will spill over at some point to your relationships creating contagious energy that your spouse (and others you interact with) will perceive and respond to. This may be just the impetus they need to set themselves on their own path towards Life 3.0. We must consciously work to create transpersonal relationships, and in doing so helping society to evolve to a new reality.