Posts

Evolution

How are your evolving?

Evolution not revolution

I am a member of a generation that wanted to rebel against the establishment and then we became the establishment.  The Beatles got it and sang about us being a group that did not want to really rebel, when they sang “Revolution” in the watershed year of 1968.  For those of you too young to remember 1968, it started with the Tet offensive, which was followed by Lyndon Johnson’s decision not to run for president, the assassination of Martin Luther King in April, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy in June, the riots in Chicago during the Democratic national convention, in November Richard Nixon was elected President of the US as the “Peace” candidate, and the year ended with three US astronauts orbiting the moon, reading from the Gospel of John on Christmas.

As a generation, we declared that we (males) were like Peter Pan and would never grow up and would never sell out to the establishment.   As the draft ended and we had families, we realized that we had sold out.  Now, as we “retire” from the establishment jobs and roles that we enjoyed, we have an opportunity for reflection.  As they enter this phase of life, I suspect many boomers wake up and realize that whether they planned for it or not, they are for all intents and purposes retired from the establishment.  For me it has been in the fall of my sixty-sixth year.

I was reading a blog last week from Harvard business review.  It was a post from an executive coach talking about his work with executives who are planning for a new retirement.  This is the area of practice that I created my coaching practice around when I was a young whipper snapper of sixty-two.  Then, I looked at it as a business.  Today it is a “retirement” business which is more like a practice.  I have to run it as a business, but it is not conducted by the same rules.  There are different driving forces at play.

Frankly, looking at the lyrics to the aforementioned song – I now find I finally have “the plan” and it is all about evolution.  To evolve you must give some stuff up and you must add other stuff in.  The challenge is to determine what you want to add in and what you want to take out – how are you evolving?

What are you evolving from?

Life Coaching in Pittsburgh helping others find their path to evolutionary masculine behaviorFor me, “The plan” is all about giving back.  Helping people figure out their stuff.  It defies positioning from a marketing perspective.  And it defies being run as a business.  I think some examples of the things that I have decided not to do are in order.

I am not much longer going to continue with casual business networking, despite it providing me most of my clients for the last four years.  I am no longer engaged in it the way that others are.  I have evolved to the point where I can see that I have a core group of referral partners that I know, like, and trust.  They remain a core part of my support mechanism.

I am no longer actively seeking clients who are young people wanting to grow long-term, sustainable businesses.  I love the ones that I am still working with and I might work with a few more, but it is not going to be my core focus.  To be true to myself, I need to focus on the evolving needs of today’s boomers as they hit “retirement”.  The 65 of our youth is now more like 85.  When we were born at the middle of the last century, conventional wisdom was that at about 65 people were close to death.  Today that is much more like 85.

I am not going to see clients in my home office, especially since I am selling it to move to a more maintenance-free home.  I will see them in a shared office facility, in coffee shops, their offices, restaurants, or, during the summer, in parks or along walking trails.  Steve Jobs used to have walking meetings.  I will also use Skype and FaceTime.

I am also changing my focus.  I want to work with men in their fifties and sixties who want to design a life in which they are not controlled by an ever enlarging prostate gland, fearing ED, and living in the past, but are rather active, flexible, centered, content and wise.  And I want to work with women in that age group who want a new relationship with their male friends devoid of the opposites of the first half of life and focused on their commonalities with a less gender-biased reality which defines the second half of life.  A retirement-era life in which our differences are replaced by a new harmony and coherence.  And you know what – both men and women are going to have to change their approach to one another and get over the pain from the first half of life in order to co-create a better way of living in the afternoon of their days.

What are you evolving to?

We have such potential in the afternoon of life.  If we can find purpose and meaning, it is likely many of us can and will live Evolving to our true nature involves embracing the core energies inside each of us.active lives until we are at least 85.  But the things that mattered in earlier days are gone.  Men, particularly, need to find a new way.  A new meaning.  A new authenticity.  We are not as strong, we can no longer make love four times a night, throw a fastball, dunk a basketball, hike into the woods with massive amounts of camera gear on our backs and hundreds of other things.  In saying this in no way am I saying that women do not have a similar challenge, but I see too many men sitting on lawn chairs at North Park in the summer and complaining about having nothing to do as they slip into a meaningless life.  They need to find a new way of “manning up”.

As men, we have things we never imagined we would have earlier times.  We have wisdom, even if looking for “masculine wisdom” produces an error in SEO tools since it is not searched for. We have experience.  We have patience.  We have humility.  We need to create a world in which masculine wisdom is not a contradiction in terms – we need to be evolving to that.

My practice focus is for men and women who are wisdom weavers.  People that want to weave together an integrated wisdom based on masculine and feminine energies.

To do this, my “retirement project” is to launch a new website and web community using  an integrated technology from Rainmaker.  It will include educational materials, podcasts, media, imagery, writings and forums dedicated to helping people weave wisdom together in an integrated, integral fashion.  It will also offer various life coaches an opportunity to participate in at least six areas:

  • Careers
  • Relationships
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Mindfulness
  • Community and support

What about you?

Want to help change the world and chart your evolutionary path?  Please plan on sharing your story with us by participating in a new series beginning in January on reclaiming your authentic self in the second half of life.  We will be discussing this series during a live webinar on December 2 at 7 – 8 PM EST.  To register for this free event please click on join us below.shutterstock_114969346

Image Credits – Shutterstock

Pink cancer ribbon

Cancer

Cancer – a word you do not want to hear from your doctor

When my wife was diagnosed with cancer twenty months ago, we immediately began to research both conventional allopathic treatment and alternative options, along with how to prevent recurrence. For her breast cancer, it was clear that conventional treatment was the best path forward and so we followed it.

But we also realized that it was essential to change the stress factors in our lives if we wished to attain – and maintain – true health. And so we did this with intensity and great success – for a time. But, as often happens, life interfered. Family drama reared its inescapable head. While I put my business on the back burner for three months, I also returned to my original focus for the business. Cancer gets your attention; however treatments and test results that show an over ninety percent chance that the cancer will not recur, work to lull you back into the matrix.

Cancer and stress

Cancer makes other people treat you differently; which can increase stress (stress, incidentally, can lead to more Cancer!). Many people were supportive, many more were afraid for themselves and shunned us in fear of having to face their own inevitable mortality. A few people even processed the cancer as a weakness and allowed (subconsciously – I hope) their darker natures to take over, directing negative thoughts and energy toward us.

It is clear from my research, which, as a certified holistic health coach has been extensive, that cancer is dramatically affected by both food and mood. It was easy when cancer was the blaring voice inside of our home, to follow the advice from our mutual health coaching training. Be happy. Live in the now. Eat organic, seasonal, local food, a plant based diet, drink lots of water, exercise and get good sleep. Surround ourselves with happy supportive people. But as we heal – so also do we become over-confident, forgetful of the lessons Cancer so recently taught us. In that recognition of our human tendency to gloss over issues of the past is the realization that true health is an ever present, evolving force in our lives. One to be constantly considered, attended to, and managed. True health will not survive our typical autopilot mentality. We must instead actively cultivate it.

Cancer and the persuasion to care for yourself

Cancer gives you permission to be selfish. It forces you to live in the present and be radically mindful of even seemingly small choices. But cancer in the more distant rear view mirror, coupled with societal pressure to un-selfish, takes us back into the dysfunctional matrix in which western civilization has been spinning for so long.

In the second half of life, we are going to die. Cancer is a real possibility, as are heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s (to name but a few). All are increased by stress, an acidic diet and inflammation. Stress is caused by not living in harmony with our core values. Inflammation is mostly caused by the food we eat. To be truly well – we must address and manage both of these primary aspects of disease generation. There are other causes of disease; toxins, viruses, and bacteria, but our immune system is designed to fight them when we are not being stressed out; when we are truly well.

In our personal journey towards wellness, we have  found that living in harmony with our core values is a primary need for us both, as we are our family unit. We have also found that laughter, community, and good food that works for our bodies is of vital importance to our ability to sustain true health.

How about you? What is your path to true health? If you wonder what your core values are, and what you need to do to live in harmony with them, get started with a free assessment. Do it today, and in the words of a small boy in Star Trek, Insurrection. “Remember Data, you need to have a little bit of fun every day.”

Health and Wellness through Integrative Wellness

Two weeks ago, we began our focus on health and wellness with a listing of the various theories that we use as informational resources for our clients in our health and wellness offerings.  In my practice, I focus on a client’s inner thought process that often destroys their approach to becoming healthy, and how they can create a state of work-life balance.  My practice is not life coaching, nor is it wellness coaching in its purest sense, but more of transition coaching in which I work with a client on a vision of what path they want to take in their life, and then how to take the steps towards that route. Many Americans (60% of the population, in fact) want to follow a slimmer path – as in, they want to lose some extra weight.

The list of diet approaches being recommended by the doctors in our first entry are all variations on a theme.  Both Melinda and I have worked through programs at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and have studied these theories as well as a number of others in our training.  We start the discussion with the views of Dr. Andrew Weil, who is a founder of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. The crux of Dr. Weil’s opinion, which is being adopted by over 25% of the medical schools in the US includes:

  • Restore the focus of medicine on health and healing
  • Insist that human beings are more than just physical bodies – they are also spiritual, emotional, beings
  • Insist on the importance of lifestyle practices – how to eat, how to handle stress, how to manage relationships, how to sleep, how to balance career and so on
  • Insist on the importances of the practitioner and patient relationship – allows the patient to tell their story

According to Dr. Weil, the key element of a health-promoting lifestyle – stop eating refined, processed and manufactured food.  His premise includes that the diseases of aging, which include cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s) and cancers are not our natural fat but the outcome of the standard American diet.  His working premise is that all of these diseases are caused by a combination of factors, but all are based on chronic low levels of inflammation.  Inflammation is, of course, the corner stone of the bodies healing response – we’ve all seen redness and swelling as we bruise our bodies.  Dr. Weil asserts that we need to control this so that it ends when it has fulfilled its purpose.

So are these diseases a requirement for aging?  No – you prevent this by eating healthy foods and meeting your core needs for relationships, spiritually, physical exercise, and your career.  His teaching from a dietary perspective is to avoid processed foods, especially foods that are high in carbohydrates even if they, and perhaps especially if they claim to be whole grain or healthy.  The standard processes that food manufacturers use pulverize the grains such that they have no real whole grains left in them. The resultant product has a higher glycemic index than white bread and is seen by the body as sugar. Nutrition labels can be deceiving; fat is not necessarily the culprit of obesity; excess carbs are the silent criminal.

His anti-inflammatory diet is written in his books and on his website. It is based on a colorful diet of various fruits and vegetables, less animal products (especially meat), more fish, olive oil, green tea, red wine, tumeric, ginger, and dark chocolate made with at least 70% cocoa. Most people prefer to eat delicious, healthy food rather than simply throw back pills, and fortunately, Dr. Weil agrees that nutritional supplements should strictly be supplements and not substitutes for nutrient-dense food. However, fish oil, a multi-vitamin supplement, Vitamin D (especially north of Atlanta six months out of the year) should be taken with a fat containing meal.  On a side note, adequate levels of Vitamin D are critical in fighting off colds and flu in the winter especially. If you are bothered by these, there is a book discussing this available from Amazon and other retailers.

Keeping physically active in the second half of life is key, according to Dr. Weil and his study of centenarians who maintained physical activity, social support, and intellectual liveliness. You can see why I have chosen to start with this author’s works because it is our premise that being onCORE to your values, eating the right foods, and achieving whole life balance is essential to living a long life.  From a physical activity perspective, things like walking, gardening, hunting, fishing, nature photography, biking outdoors and other daily activity is important as we age.  It is not time to play basketball and run marathons – but a time to do things that are of a lower impact, such as swimming and walking.  He also asserts that it is important for older people to be loved and embraced by younger people and to have a respected place in society.

Stress kills – it increases cortisol levels in the brain that kills cells in the hippocampus, which processes memories in the brain – so Dr. Weil promotes breathing techniques that are effective at reducing stress – these are found on Youtube if you are interested in them.

What I have gotten from this body of work and in reading Dr. Weil’s work is that I need to be balanced in my life; I need to be active, and I need to be spiritually grounded to manage stress.  Dr. Weil believes that breathing exercises are great for reducing stress – groovy, right? No, I think that idea is about as stupid as the term “groovy.” Moving forward to the eighties, I think that meditation is actually “totally tubular.”  Onward to the twenty-first century, I’d say it’s “awesome.”  The key is managing stress, and for me, that means meditation.  Earlier this week, after three days of too much Quickbooks and not enough stretching – I needed to meditate for about thirty minutes to relieve the pain and tension in my body that I only became aware of at eleven in the evening when I woke up with numb hands and sore legs because my lower back was out.  I woke up my wife and asked her to get me a heating pad for my neck and some herbal tea and then consciously relaxed my pain points through mediation and relaxation until I was able to get to sleep.  The alternative would have been a trip to the ER and hours of tests or prodding followed by, “It’s only stress, bozo, go home.”  As I was writing this entry and listening to Dr W; they only go to the doctor as a last resort. On the other hand, in America, we go immediately and expect some pill to fix us.

Combining what I have taken away from Dr. Weil with what I am getting from Bruce Lipton, the quantum biologist, I have come away with my own theory for my approach to my health in the second half of life. Last week, I spoke of the environment in our bodies. according to Lipton, as producing things like excess fat – for me, excess stress means excess thinking about the past or worrying about the future – which means fat. And it also leads to the potential for disruption of the health of my brain, according to Weil.

This certainly explains the last couple of months for me, as personal stress has lead to a small weight gain, and I feel like I am often more foggy than I have been. What has been missing is intense exercise and regular meditation. I have not been focused on living an HD version of life. I have not been fully engaged; I’ve only gone through the motions at times. I have allowed a personal source of stress to decrease my passion, because in the past, others have been hurt by my actions.

But others have been helped by the same actions, and how others receive my energy is not mine to control or predict. I can only be authentic and speak with my authentic voice and the truth. I cannot allow fear of how others might perceive me to stop me from being me.

So, is food the reason for obesity? Technically. However, Weil and Lipton agree that the environment in our bodies is a big part of the reason that we store fat, even when we do not have to. Toxic thinking leads to stress which leads to fat. So becoming well means eating the right foods, mostly plant based and not processed, and balancing our primary needs for exercise, spirituality, relationships and career.

One piece of advice directly from Dr. Weil: surround yourself with the people that you want to be like.

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.

 

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!

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.

Father’s Day

I used to hate Father’s day.  As a feminist male, I bought into the “fact” that every Sunday was Father’s Day. Certainly my family of origin and my first wife’s family of origin celebrated this event every week.  I never really understood exactly what Father’s day was supposed to be about.

What was a Father’s day celebration anyway?  This way of thinking was akin to my thinking small mind, my “I am my story” mind or, more appropriately, my “I am my sad story mind.  This small mind, “woe is me” thinking was triggered by feelings of guilt common to all men since the industrial revolution took us out of partnership on the farm with our wives. This step made us absentee parents, toiling first in factories, then offices and shops, to support families we were never with because we were always working.

At the health club the other day, I heard a typical Father’s day type story. You know the kind, just an empty, meaningless small story with details like how many problems someone had while fixing a gutter.  First this went wrong, then that went wrong, and finally something else went wrong.  As I listened, I applied this concept to my own way of fathering; first I missed the soccer game because I had to work, then I got drunk, then I burned the hamburgers. In short, simply one problem after another.

So, I was very happy to read about what fathers are doing today. It is a whole new world these days for young men raising families. Fathers are becoming stay at home dads, they are home schooling, they are assuming the role of caregiver, and yet, they are still men (read more about it here.)  I believe it was our “boomer” generation that laid much of the groundwork for these activities that are now becoming more common.

Later that day, I spoke at length with both of my son’s, enjoying conversations which were meaningful and deep. My sons actually cared about what I was talking about, and when, because I was in a bad mood, I tried to go to my “small story”, they kept probing and asking me empowering questions. They helped me to get back in touch with my “big story”, all the while encouraging and believing in me.

My current “small story” is about how hard it is to launch a new business.  How much work it is, how much I hate marketing, how much time referral marketing takes.  The unknowns….. Yet both wanted to hear the bigger story.  They helped me move into thinking about how much fun I am having coaching my clients, how meaningful it is to me, how it helps others.  They forced me to shift my perspective by not accepting my desire to “play small.” Both listened and helped me understand why it is so hard for men to open up to other men about needing help to figure out what they want to do.  They both reminded me that men will share anything with one other trusted male, in a one on one setting, but they will not open up when there are witnesses.

After the shift, men are drawn to their families and many times become afraid their families are beginning to find them irrelevant. They might also think they have dishonored their families either by something they did or failed to do.  Having functional and loving relationships with all of my adult children and their life partners is one of the pleasures of my “big story”, because it is something that I now take very seriously, every day, not just on a few choice “Hallmark” holidays scattered throughout the year.

When I was the age my sons are now, I would have conversations with my father of a very different kind. They were entirely superficial.  The ability to now having meaningful, honest and open conversations with my sons on Father’s day (or any day), facilitated by our mutual knowledge, appreciation and interest for who each of us are and what we are doing in our lives, makes all the difference in the world.  We do not live in an enmeshed relationship; they do not call me every day, or even every week, but we talk often enough and honestly enough that we have a sense for who we, each of us, are as men.  Of course, I talk to my two daughters and they are both delightful, but fathers and daughters are a different dynamic than fathers and sons.  My father and I did not ever get along, and likewise, he did not get along with his father before him. This is a lonely and detrimental pattern that I have successfully broken.

So, I am grateful this year for the growth in our family that allows us to enjoy honest and open conversations between generations of men. That my sons live in the same town in Ohio and are close as adults, even though they spent very little time together as children because of their age difference,  is a joy to behold.

Even more of a joy is the fact that they are both actively searching for what it means to live an on-core life now. Many of us do not come to this path before we enter our fifties, and often in reaction to major life changes. I realized talking to them that being a parent to adult children is not about intruding in their lives, it is about continuing to live our own lives, and sometimes seeing ourselves through the mirror of their perspective. It’s about setting an example as we age and become “wiser”. We must live that wisdom and not burden them by trying to impose it unduly upon them.  As Gandhi said, we become the change we wish to see in the world.  We must now trust that our children are smart enough to figure out how to apply these lessons for themselves when they are ready.

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.