Posts

Home Again

Home sweet home. That was my initial thought as I arrived at the ocean last week. And I was to my Life 2.0 home, in a setting that combined my Life 1.0 environment. But Life 3.0, that age of the evening of life, is not like the age of growing up, or the age of responsibility for others; it is the age of the forest dweller.  For a discussion of the phases of Life please request our eBook.

It turns out, the stress of last year got the best of us; as we fought with loss and disease in our enchanted forest home, I had forgotten how magical of a place our Earth is. Is that not the purpose of vacation? I think it is.

I did not have my residual ear issues go away at the outer banks. I did not feel a deep connection to the surf. I was not inspired by the sun and the salty air. I was, however, living in the moment most of the time. But no more so than I can at home, if I choose to.

For the first time in our fifteen trips to the Outer Banks, we did not bring home a memento of our vacation. We did not buy a Christmas ornament. We did not bring back shells, or stones and I took very few pictures. Made no deep plans. For once, we simply relaxed. Walked on the beach, rode bikes and enjoyed some much-needed family time.

The ways in which we spent our time at Nags Head was not the only thing that had changed; for once, I did not “project perfection” on this place. The vast, multi-million dollar oceanfront beach mansions no longer called my name.  The traffic was of the same caliber as the Hampton’s. The seclusion and openness of the beach was replaced with the same noise and congestion that pushed me away from Long Island many years ago.

I was surprised by my own perspective. I was aware of figments from the past, but focused on staying “in the now,” which I unfortunately found to be filled with people on “the Great Escape” that Americans try to fit in to one or two weeks a year, ourselves included.

I realized that my wanderlust had diminished, which is the opposite of what most people my age feel. I attribute it to my extensive travel in Life 2.0. It made me cognizant of my utter fascination and absolute satisfaction of this enchanted environment in which I live.

I left my home thinking that the environment was toxic. I returned home knowing that it was my actually thinking that was toxic. Toxic Thinking.

The challenge for us in Life 3.0, is to remove this “toxic thinking”. We developed these thinking patterns through the fulfillment of responsibilities in our past, whether it was through compromises or reactions to others. To enjoy the evening of life, we have to stop dwelling on and trying to relive the past, and enjoy the now. For me, I’m happiest with what I do when I live in the moment.

While I was on vacation, one of the things that I stumbled on was a planing in retirement blog entry that seemed to be tailored for people in their twenties and thirties. It was written with the optimism and the naïveté of youth, projecting that they would want to continue their present careers into the distant future. They pointed to a quote from an eighty-year-old doctor who had the attitude of a young, hopeful man. His desire to continue to love and work was made apparent. It reminded me of our own desire to help people near his age live, love, and lead in the second half of life. We applaud both the blog writer and the doctor that she quotes.

That doctor was living an onCORE life; it is my hope that young people are on that same path. In fact some of my clients have engaged with me as their coach because they want to do just that in the first half of life, rather than wait until the second.  Perhaps they realize that the division between the first and second halves of life is not obvious until the day they die. Why wait until the second half? Why not just be onCORE from the start?

Many boomers stepped away from trying to live an onCORE life and started “playing possum” like the old Carly Simon song of that name. The song says something to the effect that you used to be so radical, and now you’re just playing possum and taking the easy way out.

At one point, I was radical, but I stepped away from that after Ronald Reagan was elected as president. My idealism survived Nixon, but after the country rejected Jimmy Carter, I took the blue pill and entered the matrix. I took the easy way out, which, it turns out was not being onCORE, and not really the easy way out. Most of my generation did the same. We became materialistic and valued expensive clothes rather than the person wearing them.

So, if you maintained your values as you when through Life 2.0, well done! If not, then do not fear; what I write will resonate with you. I hope that the people in life 2.0 today will choose wisely and be true to themselves. I hope they stay on course for their lives and not have to make major corrections.  They can certainly look to the formerly idealistic, dual-luxury-car-driving Boomers to see where the path of being dishonest to oneself can lead.

But that is not my experience. My experience is that in “playing possum,” I have created a heap of toxic thoughts that my mind is begging me to abandon.

Bloom where you are planted, as the old saying goes. I came to the realization this week that it is not where you are planted that makes the difference, but it is your attitude. In order to bloom, you must relinquish toxic thoughts. Despite my altered view of the shore this year, I was able to learn more about myself through the experience. It also made me appreciate my home: home sweet home.

 

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!

Generation 13

No, this is not about the next series on the “House” genre…

In the book “Generations, The History of America’s future 1584 to 2069” published back in 1991, authors William Strauss and Neil Howe make a compelling case that the “Boomer” generation really only goes through 1960 and actually started in 1943. They contend that people born after that year comprise a different generation which extends from 1961 to 1981.  When I first heard of this, I was unsure that I agreed with them, probably according to conventional wisdom, because my spouse, born at the end of the baby boomer “traditional segment”, is in the same generation as myself. Accepting this new classification places me squarely in the “older generation.” Something my spouse has probably long suspected…  However, the more that I think about it, the more I tend to agree. This “thirteenth generation” to come around since the English speaking settlement of North America is markedly different from the boomers.

Boomers are idealists, while Generation 13 is reactive. I have intuitively known this since the early 70’s when first looking back at 1968 through the lens of Kent State and Watergate. For boomers, 1968 was a defining year.  Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, along with Robert Kennedy.  Riots took place in Chicago at the Democratic National Convention.  The year began with the Tet offensive, along with Apollo coming back from the orbit of the Moon, bringing color photographs of the Earth from Space. I remember thinking that we looked so small.  For many of us, this was the beginning of the end of our idealism. Granted, many such death blows would be dealt in the years to come, but perhaps none so powerful as this humbling reminder of our fragility and ultimate inconsequentiality.

Pop music went FM in 1968. In Pittsburgh Jim Quinn played bubble Gum music (who can forget Sugar, Sugar – no matter how hard we might try). The AM station KQV targeted an ever younger micro-bopper music set while over on the FM side acid rock was being played to boomers so that we could escape Nixon, the “Peace” candidate.  We realized that if Nixon was the best chance for a peace candidate, we are all hosed.  I remember driving back to CMU from St. Margaret’s Nursing School and reading the billboard “This time vote as if your whole world depended on it.” Seriously?

In retrospect, I have always known (but not always understood) that people born in 1961 and later were reacting to our outrageous behaviors, reacting against feminism, reacting against protesting the war (funny now that I joined that reaction when my lottery number came out as 301). As the new generation grew and matured, they reacted to our sexual excess; though this potentially was more of a reaction to the worldwide outbreak of the nightmare of Aids as they entered their twenties and thirties.

So if you are in generation 13 and still reacting, ponder this: How will you cope with the state of the world as you enter your fifties and plan for the future? How is that economy working out for you? Does the US and European Sovereign Debt figure bring you much comfort?  I’ve often thought the boomers put their head in the sand in the eighties…it’s time to retract our ostrich ways and allow the sun to shine on issues we’ve successfully ignored for decades now. Boomers born before the Berlin wall went up, before the Cuban Missile Crisis, before JFK was executed might be just barely able to hang on by their fingernails, retiring in a semblance of the way of the “greatest generation”, but I would not bet on it.

If you are in Generation 13 (as two of my children along with my spouse are) and are still dreaming of a traditional secure retirement, heed the words I often heard as a child and “forget about it!”  One of the best lines in television, from the HBO miniseries on the 101st Airborne division, “Accept the fact that you are already dead, then every day is a gift.” Deepak Chopra jokes that life is a sexually transmitted disease that is always fatal.  For those of us that are in Generation 13 (and I apparently married into that generation for better or worse) we need plan B.

The careers we selected in our youth either no longer fit or simply do not exist.  The dream of the “good life” in retirement is gone.  When (not if) the sovereign debt bubble bursts, there will be no more pensions, no more iced drinks on yachts, no more processions of white shorts and  pastel polo shirts in an endless sea of green golf courses. Forget Greece or Spain…is California too big to fail? But all of this doom and gloom is not to say that we cannot create a new concept of the “good life.” In fact, that is exactly what we must do. This choice, to redefine who we are, what we stand for, how we want to live, is our birthright.

Soon we will not be able to exist in the same way that we are living today. What exactly are we going to be dong to support ourselves? It does not matter who wins this year in the election…our nation is broke. If the government couldn’t simply invent paper that has supposed value, we would be declared instantly insolvent. We need to figure out how we want to live in the post industrial world, who we want to be living with, how we spiritually ground ourselves and how to become as healthy as possible…if we hope to survive.

Integral Relationships

In my last post I discussed the concept of OnCore or Integral relationships. In order to have on OnCore relationship, at least one partner must be aware and living an on core Life 3.0.  For both partners to be in that frame of mind is a bonus, but more often than not, people and relationships are at different levels of consciousness. And we are all at different levels each day and in each area of our lives.

Yesterday I was asked “What is consciousness?” The only answer I can provide is that it is what a Supreme Court justice once said about pornography “you know it when you see it.” One of the key traits of consciousness is living in the moment and bringing awareness to authentic facts as we know them. As Eckhart Tolle has taught me “I have form”,  “I am a male,” “I am breathing,” etc…

In the process of preparing my next tele-class series on relationships, one of the books that I am reading about identified 40 or so traits that “society” almost universally assigns to either the male or female gender roles. The book also has the reader complete their own personal survey in which I found that internally I personally identify with more feminine traits than traditionally male traits, examples include being talkative, superstitious, compassionate, and sometimes submissive. However externally I identified overwhelmingly more with the typical masculine traits such as being aggressive, assertive, and dominant. I wonder how common this is for men in general?

In my personal relationships, I have often shown these inferior (personally inferior, not collectively) traits in addition to my public persona. Carl Jung, one of the fathers of modern psychoanalysis, referred to these interior traits as the Anima or Animas, the internal masculine or feminine within us.   He also said that ” One cannot live in the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning; for what was great in importance in the morning will be of little importance in the evening and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie.” Jung believed that as we age, each person’s task in life is to integrate these inferior traits into the greater whole, in order to become fully integrated or complete, or as we call it now, Integral or OnCore.

As I shared in a recent post regarding the disposability of men, I believe a society (or the masculine mindset of that society) that continues to force one gender (itself) to live in a subset of gender roles is reinforcing that disposability factor. This mindset inhibits males from becoming balanced. I personally know of two retired males that could no longer stand living and so they stopped, rather dramatically.

The book that I’m reading is written for men who want to become Integral. It teaches that we should not show the emerging softer side of ourselves to our spouses because this would confuse them and possibly frustrate them. This is particularly true if their spouses are in their fifties and finally beginning to live a more independent life. It is suggested that these spouse don’t want to be burdened by a needy husband getting in touch with the interior inferior side of his persona. But this makes me question, if we cannot authentically be ourselves that inter-spousal intimate relationships – then where exactly can we explore and embrace this new understanding? I think perhaps it is not truly a question whether we should be authentic but rather the issue relates to in what manner we are authentic. Specifically, there are many ways of embracing the traits that have been here to fore interior, to explore them fully, openly and authentically, to share this journey with our spouses, without becoming (or making them become) psychotic. We are, after all, talking about living an Integral life not one of incapacitation.

Bruce Lipton, in his landmark best-selling book “Biology of Belief“, laid out exactly how we become socialized and programmed in the first five years of life. In my own case, as I shared a few blogs ago, my mother was dramatically impacted by the death of her great aunt. This stamp on her character, in turn, permeated how she raised me.  This created in me a need for balance in my “personal software” that was scripted unintentionally by my mother. The same is true for all of us, we are all shaped and molded by our parents beliefs and experiences. We become who we are through a process of learning (often subconsciously) how they see us.

Fortunately for me, in the back of the book, Bruce shares how we can reprogram ourselves. This process is actually how he became able to write the book in the first place. Several  years ago when speaking at a conference, Bruce was followed by Rob Williams. Around that time, Rob had invented a process called PSYCH-K(R).  PSYCH-K(R) allows us to put our brain into a whole brain state and simulate the brain state that was present when we were young and very easily programmed.  After the age of about five, brain changes in elasticity alters our learning patterns so that after that point and as we age, we are no longer so easily programed. To complicate matters, most of us don’t remember much of what we were told before the age of five. However the supercomputer inside the brain, our subconscious mind, remembers everything and it is our unconscious or subconscious programming that will often  determine how we how we make decisions or respond others.

Last year my spouse and I both attended the basic and advanced PSYCH-K workshops.  While there I experienced clarity and was able to discover and effect the necessary change in several areas of  my own “software”. I identified that my mother’s distrust of men was projected as a child onto me, creating in me the need to trust myself as a male. Another small change I needed to make was to cultivate acceptance of the fact that it is “okay” for me to enter into a profession which draws on the compassionate intuitive side of my persona. To be clear, I accepted my mother a long time ago and harbor no deep seeded resentment against her. I know that she did a good job however,  there were just some things that were provided “free with purchase.”

Two profoundly altering yet simple statements came out of this processes in a less than four hour session. By contrast, I have spent time with three therapists over the years at various times of my life. In those years of therapy, I gained knowledge but no interior change.  I now know this is because that subconscious super computer in the brain works many, many times faster than our conscious minds. This is why affirmations do not work.  Affirmations combined with years of mediation and discipline will, for some, eventual help shift our understanding. Yet in just four hours on a Sunday morning last January, I eliminated most of the issues that I’ve had my whole life. Since then, I’ve been able to get on with being an authentic integrated whole person.

Being OnCore, integrated and Integral are actually very easy. We simply have to want to do it. We have to want to grow. Wisdom is easily acknowledged and accepted if we have the courage to face ourselves, to understand our demons and to move past them.  Clearly until now, for our society this has been the road less traveled. On a cold wintry day last January, that wasn’t dark and stormy but sunny and clear, I made the choice to take the load road less traveled, and it has made all the difference. You can do this too.

You can attend a PSYCH-K retreat or you can hire a coach who is trained in the techniques.  I also discovered that PSYCH-K and Breakthrough Laser coaching (an iPEC coaching technique) are “kissin’ cousins”. As a coach, I have integrated these tools into a cohesive practice designed to help you identify and get past the subconscious obstacles holding you back so that you can get on with living the life you born to live…at last.

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.

 

Life 3.0 from an Integral Perspective

As readers of this blog have probably noticed, I have been struggling with an exact definition for “Life 3.0.” I know that it occurs after a “shift” and that it typically occurs during the second half of life.

When I first enrolled in the IPEC coach training program, after paying my tuition but before attending the initial session, I stumbled upon Integral Coaching Canada’s coach training program. I subsequently spent several weeks soul searching about whether I should instead under-take that program. I spent a significant, but as it turns out insufficient, amount of time reviewing Ken Wilbur’s Integral Life Practices and A Theory of Everything. Ultimately I decided that my goal was to follow a path ever forward, and so I could certainly participate in this program upon completion of my current commitment, if I still felt inclined.

While actively working through the Energy Leadership path of iPEC and Bruce Schenider, and after I was trained in basic and advanced PSYCH-K (R) defined by Rob Williams and based on Spiral Dynamics (as is Ken’s work), I attempted to co-learn Integral Theory. Fortunately, I remembered a lesson my ninth grade teacher related about a child in a Swiss family that was not learning to speak at the expected age.  It turns out that all four Swiss languages were being used in the family home and the child was not learning any of them. The child psychologist suggested they pick one language to focus on first in order to master each language sequentially with less distraction, minimizing over-load and maximizing building upon previous knowledge.  This is the concept I subsequently applied to Energy Leadership.

Now that I have completed the intense iPEC learning series, I find myself once again attracted to Integral theory and practice, particularly as it applies to Integral Relationships.  Our use of “OnCore” language and theory in our practice is to relay in our own terms what we believe it means to live an Integral Life.

Integral theory writers extensively use vocabulary which can be very confusing to outsiders. In the past, when picking up an advanced book on one of the finer points of integral theory, for example how it is applied to relationships, I would quickly become frustrated and often exclaim “why can’t you just speak English!?!.” This time however, when I went back to Ken’s 2000 book A Theory of Everything, consistent with the laws of the universe (ask and ye shall receive), I found a very clear definition of what Life 3.0 really is.  It is, quite simply, an Integral Life.

For many years I, like the majority of boomers, have proudly identified with the cultural creatives in America. Yet, if there are so many of these creative around, why is America not on a better course? Ken shares that “As the cultural creatives move into the second half of life, this is exactly the time that a further transformation of consciousness……into a mature second-tier awareness can most easily occur.”  Admittedly, when I first read this book ten years ago, I had no idea what he was talking about and promptly stopped reading.

Had I continued reading, I might have understood more and sooner.  Ken Wilbur believes there are four factors important for this transformation to an Integral Life to take place.  These factors include fulfillment, dissonance, insight and opening.  My recent musings on Life 3.0 awakening describe, in my own words, these four stages and my long struggle to transcend them.  Would that I could have “gotten them” from one page of a book.  But as is often the case, at least for those of us that must kinesthetically learn by doing for ourselves, it’s just not that simple.

To summarize Ken’s very clear description; when fulfillment occurs, we have then “had enough” of our Life 2.0 existence. At that point, we move into dissonance where our current situation simply no longer works for us. In the words of a teenager, it is a time when “life sucks.” When this happens we become open to growth and work at gaining insight. Ken points out that we begin to organize our feelings and thoughts during this time through “introspections, conversations with friends, by therapy, by meditation or, more often than not, in ways that absolutely nobody understands, by simply living.” He goes on to say “Finally, if all of those forces fall into place, then an opening to the next wave of consciousness, deeper, higher, wider, more encompassing, becomes more possible.”  Here at OnCore Ventures, we call this time “Life 3.0” which translates to living an integral “On Core” life.

I recently discovered this again over the last few weeks as I began to go to market with my offerings.  In creating language that defines what I do, I had fallen back to earlier levels of awareness and my “boomeritis” (Ken’s term) kicked in.  Life 3.0 is a personal transformation.  In trying to describe this concept I landed on the explanation that is currently on the main page of this site which states: “We’d like to see a large network of OnCore Ventures stretch from neighborhood to neighborhood, city to city across this nation and our world. And we are actively working to create as many OnCore Ventures as we can.”

But after further processing, this is not so much where we want to go. By focusing on the ego of creation and the effects of transformation, we are not being precise about our intention.  To clarify, we intend to see more and more people in Life 3.0 ventures of any kind, expanding their consciousness of themselves and the world around them, each and every day.  We operate upon the principles of Deepak Chopra and Ghandi who agree that “We transform the world by transforming ourselves,” and we must all “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

We are still playing with the “marketing messages” that must be crafted to describe what it is that “we do”, and perhaps what we do in concept is as confusing to others as Integral theory has been to me up until now.  But, let me be very clear or, as I like to say, put my order in to the universe; I intend for others that want to live an integral, on core life in the second half of life to wake up and do so, and it is our mission to help you do exactly that. We see ourselves as fishers of men. We have walked, and in many ways are still walking, this path that you have now stumbled upon. We are here to shine a light in the darkness ahead so that each step for you is just a little bit easier.

Did we make a difference?

I have been researching the third stage of life, what I call Life 3.0 for some time now. A trend which I am finding consistent is that the “reporting” on what “boomers” are doing with their lives is centered around “senior stuff.” This gives the impression that we are solely focused on creating systems, products, and programs to take care of frail, brittle, or fat and incapacitated dithering idiots as they play out an endless loop of remembering the past and float uselessly through their remaining days on Earth.  Things like elder care shopping and enrichment services which will benefit our even older “greatest generation” outliers still hanging around and will serve to sustain us if our children (assuming we had any) don’t step up to the plate to care for us in our late years.

Do we really think that the generation that invented the VCR, cell phones, the personal computer, video games, the iPOD, the iPAD, the SUV, etc. is ready, willing, or able to go to go gently into that good night? Do we have no choice now but to become all caregiving – all the time?

I have written about the Shift, sharing that most of us spent Life 2.0 doing what we must do for our children, and that it is a natural and necessary thing to Shift.  But what if we had always lived a life OnCore? Some of us, like Bob Dylan who just awarded the Medal of Freedom, have never strayed far from the path we set together in our youth. He, and a handful of others, have served as a constant reminder, a voice in our heads whispering the truth while we move sedated through the Matrix. Perhaps we have not truly lived in the full expression of these inner values but many at least have remained true to ourselves in the way in which we approached or attempted to shape our reality. Do we then fully Shift? As I’m now learning – maybe not.

To explain this concept further – I am a product guy. My first major product was the creation of an IT organization and the resulting infrastructure of a retailer. My second stint was a series of software products, my third was the creation of an Internet Based product, my fourth was my photography. Now I am creating a product around coaching and the services needed to support Encore Entrepreneurs in creating their own ventures.

Have I really shifted? Absolutely yes in how I access my core values and apply my innate strengths.  But maybe not so much in what I do with them.  Frankly, I have always been operating in my sweet spot. If not, I would never have been as successful as I was.  So what about boomers that have, like me, been very successful in Life 2.0? What are they going to do now when they are focused on giving back to society?

For example let’s take a software engineer who created video games for a living in Life 2.0. What will she do when she thinks about helping people live a better life?  How will she remain relevant to her world today?  Remember the late sixties? Everything had to be “relevant.”  Life has always been, and forever will be, about relevance. So what is relevant to our engineer today as she ages?  I don’t know, but she certainly does and what she creates when combines her gift of software engineering with her passion and purpose, will be amazing and gratifying to both her and to society. Something tells me it will be outside the limited scope of those currently reporting on the state of the elder union.

Why will this happen?  Because our engineer is retaining her relevancy. She is keeping active. She is remaining connected to her environment. She has changed her diet and has taken up meditation. She does not trust that the establishment would take care of her – she  never believed the “older” generation.  Growing up in the fifties and early sixties, she was told to hide under her school desk in the event of a nuclear attack. As if that would seriously help the situation! She, like most of us, never believed that that generation would be leaving the word in any kind of stability. Hell, she never thought she would be alive at thirty, figuring the planet would be in a nuclear winter by that time. Suddenly finding herself in her thirties, surprised to be still alive, she started a family and entered the matrix in order to provide for them. Now, the children are grown and time is ripe for leaving the matrix. It’s time to stop cooking meals for the kids and start crafting tools for a new reality.

It’s my role to help our engineer, and others like her, define that new product or venture, take it to market and help solve the real problems we are finding in our world. Like Jim Kirk says at the end of Start Trek Generations “Did we do itDid we make a difference?”  We are a generation not interested in being in the Nexus. Hell no we won’t go….into retirement!