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simplify - decluttering

Simplify

How did we get all this stuff?

As we age, there seems to be less attachment to possessions, or the need for possessions.  In the first half of life, I was consumed by being a consumer.  I had to have the latest “stuff”.  Even when I turned fifty, the entry point the afternoon of life, and we moved into a smaller condo during a relocation, the deal I made with my wife is that I could buy any electronics items that I wanted.  And I did.  We had gadgets everywhere.

When we moved to Pittsburgh ten years ago, we bought a four bedroom home for the two of us mostly to hold all of the stuff that we had bought in. Our sizable condo that we were moving out of was filled with books, electronics, photography gear and the matting tables and printers to support my professional fine art photography experiment.  But then we added even more to fill the deck with outdoor furniture and build out my home office as I launched my coaching practice. I was attracted to the idea of seeing clients in my office on the lower level of the house, which I have done for the last two years.  So we had filled up our space with stuff.

Downsizing and the opportunity to declutter life

We are now downsizing.  And like many things in life it came when we hit a tipping point.  Last week in this series I wrote about the knee injury that brought my awareness to the present moment back into focus and the need for mindfulness.  That silence and reflection finally got me in touch with the absurd lifestyle that we are currently living.

So we have decided to downsize, and in order to do that we are in the process of decluttering the house as many people do prior to listing it.  But we are going further than that.

In my research on how to declutter, I found a common theme of advice.  Look at every item you own and ask yourself” is it some thing that I need?”,  If not,  “is it something that brings me pleasure?”. Be honest.   If the answer is yes to both – then – “where am I going to put it in my home”?

Horcruxes in the Muggle World

In the Harry Potter series, J.K Rowling invented the term Horcrux as an object that “he who must be not be named” placed a part of his soul in.  I the series Tom Riddle – aka – Voldermort had placed his soul in six objects and in two other persons and he would live on until all of the  objects were destroyed.

I have a similar take on the same concept.  We place our energy, our soul in objects that we buy and those objects either enhance our lives or detract from it.  If our soul is partially placed in another person as it is in most marriages – it can be a positive placement or it can be a negative one. In the case of objects, we become burdened by all of the objects that we have sacrificed our soul for over the years.  It is easy to look around and ask myself, “What was I thinking?”.  It turns out – I was not thinking.  Just consuming.

If you now look at these objects and ask yourself if it is making your life better, really better. Then keep it.  But if it is making it worse, get rid of it.  What part of your soul have you given up to buy it and will releasing it heal your soul? Can you be grateful for it and then pass it on to someone who might be able to use it?

As I sit in this office, I am looking across the room at two clocks, a fountain that does not work, a Papago Indian basket with coasters in it, a cute sign that says “It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark” three glass candle pyramids containing oil,  A Samsun flat screen TV (that already is not working well), sound bar, blue ray player, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, three candles and a “peace” plaque – and these are just the items out on the credenza across from my office – the office that will be downsized.

None of them are needed.  One of the clocks was given to me in Utah by an admin that I relied on.  The Peace plaque is a gift from my daughter, the Arc sign was bought  at an arts fair in North Carolina at the outer banks, the TV equipment is an asset owned by my company because I used it for clients and educational material.  In a simple world all of these objects could be given away.  For most people if they move they will keep them and cram them somewhere.

What do you need to do to simplify?

I think that the answer for how to deal with these objects is simple.  The clock form my admin – I can write Regina a note and thank her for her service to me twenty years ago and give the clock away.  The Peace plaque can be moved.  The TV and other electronics gear will probably fit in the office that we will share when we move as it is depreciated now anyway – or move to the office that my business will open next year.  The other stuff is of no real value and is not needed and holds no semimetal value.  We will keep the TV (if it can be fixed) because the TV in my wife’s working office is from the Clinton Administration and weighs three hundred pounds being one of the first HD TVs in 2000 – but it still works..

How do you simplify?

I do not think that we need to declutter as a political statement.  Or forced minimalism. I am a capitalist and I believe that people should be allowed to buy and consume whatever they want and I do not think we are going to save the planet by not being consumers.  We have bigger problems than “American style consumption” with the planet, and frankly I think we might be too far along the path to mass extinction for this planet in this isolated spot in one of many universes.  I am more concerned with our individual and collective spiritual journey’s of our timeless existence.

What are we supposed to be learning right now, right here?  How are we, as “conscious components of the universe” expanding our awareness? The baby boomers era of conspicuous consumption is ending just as the Millennials who supposedly shunned it are beginning to embrace it in their own unique ways.

The survival of the planet is a much bigger question. As boomers in the afternoon and early evening of life, we need to declutter so we can experience life in such a way that we are expanding our consciousness and awareness and not escaping from being in contact with the people around us.  I think that is what Thoreau meant when he penned, “simplify, simplify, simplify”.  Perhaps then we can give some of our wisdom back to the planet an help others grow and solve our many problems.

What do you do first?

So what do you need to do?  The best advice I encountered is to take all of the objects from a room and put them out so they are visible and go through them.  What can we give away? What can we sell? What do we want to keep and where are we going to put it?

Then deal with it – right here, right now. Photograph the objects you are going to sell and list them on Craig’s list, eBay or somewhere else you like.  Put the items for donation together list them out for tax purposes and take them to your favorite charity.  Put the things you are keeping away with a new found respect and gratitude for the items that made the cut. Some items that are moving to another room might need to be moved temporarily to that room until you do this  for every room in the house.

We will start the process this week for the room in our house that is going away – our utility room.  Over the next eight weeks until we list the house in January, we will do the same until we have the first pass of the entire house done.  As we pack for the move into the new home, I am sure that we will encounter additional opportunities.

Of course if you are not moving yet, you can still enter the new year clutter free in your existing home and it will refocus your whole approach to the holidays form what am I going to get to what can I give away and free myself of the responsibility of ownership.

What about you, what do you have to simplify?  I plan on coming back to this theme as we live through this “simplify” process and experience the gratitude and holiday seasons that we are entering.  Hopefully we can simplify that as well.

 

Simplify – Mavericks, iOS7 and the iPhone 5s

I have not been blogging for the last couple of months, and I feel freed from it.   My coaching practice is focused on busy executives that either need to get out of their current gig and start their own venture – or look at their current gig and change their “stinking thinking” about it.  I came to realize that most of these people at not searching the Internet for advice on where to go to find that.  Very freeing – that thought. No need to write to them.  They are not there.

I have also become every busy with my own practice, and find that I find people, the old fashioned way – by meeting them.

But, on the way back from a client site on Saturday morning, I dropped my iPhone 4s which was still running iOS6.  I do not use a case, because I like the ease of using clean glass for my interaction with the phone and the cases have always hindered that. The two year old phone has been dropped so many times, I was actually surpassed when it cracked – but still worked.  It did reboot.  But I figured that eventually I would be affected again by a hanging chad or chard.

So, I had to upgrade.  Off to the ATT store and back with two new iPhones – my spouse came into 2013 with me and we retired the three year old iPhone 4 as well.  Net net, both phones were fully operational from backups in less than two hours.  Only because I had to do them sequentially.  I was, frankly amazed by the improvement. I still miss, Steve Jobs, one more thing showmanship, but I gotta admit, I am becoming a fan of the results of refining the already superior products that are in play.

I figured, since I had upgraded the phones faster then I thought I would, why not get the new MacBook Pro and try out Mavericks.  Yes I could have upgraded one of our existing machines, but I wanted to try something – a pure Mac environment – no Windows – no Microsoft Office and its constant stream of problems and slow update processes and slow performance – no Chrome and its memory hogging – no Parallels.  Just iWork, the OS and native Mac apps.

Mavericks blows me away.  The changes are small – tabbed finder windows – a form factor and resolution that forced me into full screen mode, which easily allows me to move from clean app to clean app. 16 GB of memory and a solid state drive and blazing speed. I have not used iWork extensively yet, but I use a word processor to type text into a document.  I use a spreadsheet to create simple models and I use presentation software to create simple presentations that I project from my iPad.  And for those people stuck in Windows trying to figure out how to use Windows 8 – they can open anything I share with them.

So I am going to blog going forward on one thing – a love from my past of technology and my reclamation of my photography avocation in a simplified way.  I am culling down all of my unused camera gear, and I am getting rid of extra apps on my devices that I do not need and excess computing power that sits idle. And I am going to do so whenever I feel moved to do so – blog that it is.

For the few readers that were riveted by my postings over the summer on wellness, I looked at what I was writing and realized that I was working on my own issues and not aware of it – which is why I stopped writing when I realized what I was doing and fixed the underlying inflammation issue.  I sought out three caregivers and they all told me the same thing – I was angry.  This has lead me to get rid of the things that make me angry – both in my attitude and in my life.  Ultimately that is leading to getting rid of excess stuff and relationships and ventures that do not work for me – sort of following my own branding.

There is a line from French Kiss spoken by Meg Ryans character Kate – “Happy – smile. Sad – frown. Use the corresponding face for the corresponding emotion.” Words to live by. The new MacBook Pro, Mavericks, iOS7 and the iPhone 5s, a simplified environment – Happy Face. It is not a vineyard in the south of France, but it is not South Bronx in the seventies.

I am also not paying someone to edit my posts.  So if you find a typo – enjoy the experience. What is the point of this post?  That we need to be authentic, We need to simplify and we need to say yes when we mean yes and no when we mean no.  I think that Meg was actually paraphrasing that line, which I believe is attributed to Jesus.  In fact the next part of it – anything else comes from the evil one – in my theology that means the crazy voice inside of my head my ego.

New Rules are Needed for Work-Life Balance

We are scales.

Not the digitalized platform in which many of us fear. I mean the traditional, two-sided scale. It’s common sense; when one side is more heavily weighted, the device is thrown off balance. We work the same way.

Work-Life Balance is the key driver. From what I have learned from the last few months, new rules define second stage solutions for retirement years.

In my last entry, I focused on the need for balance and meditation – to be centered. While I work with people at the early stages of the second half of life, I have the advantage of being far enough down the road to know where the physical changes hit that show up screaming at you, “BE SMART!”

When I was in my late forties, things changed. My eyesight got to the point where I could not fake it, and I had to wear glasses. I felt old for the first time. Joint pain started at different times, and I just felt worse than I used to. I gave in and got the glasses, and I started working out with less gusto and more care.

Then in my early sixties things dramatically changed again. I fell on uneven ground carrying a camera and tripod in icy conditions. I fell again on black ice with a camera and landed flat on my back. My days often involved an extra unwanted dosage of pain. My skin did not have the depth and translucency of the past. Because of that, I got more radical with my diet, as I have talked about, and my health took a turn for the better.

Then, my wife’s illness, other family issues, increased efforts at launching my own venture, and falling back into the ways of the first half of life for business rules all hit at the same time.

These restrictions could not dominate my life if I wanted to live a long, healthy, happy life. It was time to turn a new leaf and allow myself to take on some new rules.

So, what exactly are these new rules?

  • The need for balance
  • More time for recovery
  • Sleep
  • Be true to your own agenda

Balance is always important, and our health depends on it. But as we get older, I have found that our bodies punish us faster if we break this rule. I was told in my youth that you had to be enjoying yourself fifty-percent of the time while you worked or you were in the wrong job. I am following the rule to find enjoyment in the entirety of my ventures, or find another way of doing them or different ones to do.

I got into this lifestyle so that we could eat well and have a comfortable home environment, and that I could be creative. For the last month, l was working fourteen-hour days and not taking the time for meal prep or other nurturing activities. This double whammy of not balancing my activities between masculine activities and feminine activities and eating food of questionable quality was a disaster for me.

Older bodies take more time to recover. Allow for it. Take an afternoon nap if you need it. While I do not do this, I find that I feel much better if I give myself an afternoon mediation session before starting dinner prep. And doing the prep rather than eating out or ordering in puts better food in our bodies.

Sleep sounds simple. It is more than the time for it, it is the prep for it. Being active late at night makes it difficult for me to sleep. This means that evening classes and teleseminars that I schedule have to allow for time into the next morning to recover. My spouse is younger than I am and gets up early. That means I might have to stay in bed when she gets up, on occasion, in order to get the rest that I need. We all have different needs. We are responsible for determining what they are and holding to them.

This leads to the last item. Be true to your own agenda. The first half of life is combined into two parts: preparing for adulthood and getting our offspring to adulthood. Second Stage Solutions are about OUR needs. This is not narcissistic or selfish thinking. If at this point in our lives we do not meet our needs, we are going to become diseased and put more burden on others. Our hospitals and care facilities are filled with people with all of the diseases of our times. Why not do what makes us happy, and eat good food so we do not get sick? To me, this does not sound like such a bad plan.

I am not telling you to be selfish; I am saying to give back in a way that is onCORE with who you are. So for me, being a caregiver to my spouse while she is still in the workforce is part of who I am. Practicing photography, editing, and using my own work is part of who I am. Understanding new technology trends and applying them is part of who I am. Coaching others is part of who I am. Writing is part of who I am. Teaching is part of who I am. Learning is part of who I am.

So my second stage solutions for me is to balance these in such a way that I feel natural and comfortable. Tomorrow is September 1, in my mind the start if a new school year. Time for new rules. Time to balance the scale.

Time Management – Calendars for your ventures

Whether it’s for a business or our personal lives, we can hardly get through a day without checking our calendars. Time is money and time management is critical. We buy calendars with beautiful pictures representing each month, or we keep ourselves virtual with the use of calendar applications on our phones and computers. Calendars are so vital that Mac products are automatically equipped with this calendar app. The fact is, absolutely no one can run a business without a good calendar management system. As of late, we have been frustrated with synchronization between iOS and our Mac and Windows computers. Last week, we talked briefly about the use of back office, cloud-based tools, and how to set-up email and a quick website in the weeks before that.  We will return to the back office tools after we evaluate PayPals solutions entirely.  This week we are talking about calendars, and because there is a wealth of information on the Internet, we are not reinventing the wheel. Rather, we are pointing to a site that we found through a great resource for people launching an onCOREventure – Open Forum from American Express.

In fact, this resource is so cool that over the last twenty-four hours using very little effort, we moved our primary calendar to Google Calendar, and found an online sign-up mechanism for both clients and potential clients to sign up for sessions through our website that we have begun testing. We expect this tool to eliminate the use of coaches console for our practice and allow clients to manage their own calendars with our practice.  Note: In fact by the end of the next day we had the feature live on our website, fully integrated into our production calendar system.

Since we use iOS devices and not Android, we like the idea of apps that live on the device.  That being said, even tough the Apple-supplied apps for Calendar and Contacts are subpar, we were pleased to see that there are a variety of calendar apps available for iOS, and I had one up and running in five minutes. We use CalenMob and opted for the paid version for increased functionality. Since I already migrated my iCal information to Google, I did not grant the app access. Frankly, with this app and with Google calendar, there is fortunately no reason for me to use Apple’s calendar.

On a roll, we experimented with another app – Contacts Sync.  One of Apple’s dirty little secrets is that contacts disappear, are doubled, tripled and in once case multiplied by ten.  Phone numbers go away.  It was so easy to get my calendar into Google, I figured why not get my contacts into Google, and this little tool had them synchronized in five minutes.  Now the cool thing is that Google seems to be pretty good at not actually losing information on my contacts – and with this tool, I can always overwrite the Apple contacts with Google’s. I was also easily able to delete the duplicates in my Apple contacts using the tool, something that I can never seem to remember how to do on my Mac.

The more we use Google’s cloud services, the more we like them.  and with apps on iOS and things like open-source tools on cross platform PC’s Linux and Mac environments, life seems to be getting easier and more affordable for new ventures to get their technology in place.

 

To Market

It is in our psyches – going to market in the morning to bring home the freshest whole foods. In fact, here in Pittsburgh, the largest food retailer has special stores with “Market” in its name, and in the South East, another grocer chain has opened stores with both “Fresh” and “Market” in its name.  But the real fresh markets are the farmers’ markets where local farmers – real farmers with names like Greg, or Alice – come to sell their fresh goods that were in the ground yesterday or in the case of the fresh free-range eggs, in the bodies of their mother this week.  They came to market in pickup trucks from less than 100 miles away, and there is no middle man or woman.  The fresh foods still have the energy that they were created with, and since most of these farmers are organic and/or practice sustainable practices, the soil has not been depleted by a mono-culture and chemicals.

So today, we just want to say thank you to these farmers who were at the old Firehouse in the Strip District in Pittsburgh this morning.  And as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.  Yesterday, as I was finishing the coursework for IIN, I had the pleasure of listening to one of the instructors speak to Whole Foods.  Perhaps it is because I spend so much time at the local Whole Foods in Wexford, that I tend to not think about what a “whole food” is. It is easy to confuse nutrition bars or food-based supplements with whole foods. A whole food is something where you eat the whole food – so the whole grain of rice, or the whole sugar cane, or the whole pig.  So an egg is a whole food , celery is whole food, peppers are whole foods – a chicken breast is a part of a whole food – no bone, or organ meat etc.  As they used to say – parts is parts. And a can of spray “cheese”……..

The beauty of this market is the energy of it, and the local farmers are there selling their own goods.  The Amish farmer with his chickens and eggs, the Mott family farm where the owners are there to answer you questions about the difference between sustain agriculture and organic – and exactly what they sprayed on their peaches and when.  As I was putting the food away this morning, I could not help but feel the energy coming off it it and marvel in the clean, crisp feel of the produce. I started my working career as a produce clerk for a supermarket, and I can tell you, I never saw food THAT fresh coming into the store, let alone leaving it. As far as what they do to meat in the back room…we just won’t go there.

Why is it important to know your farmer?  There are a number of reasons – first, you know what you are getting – is it really grass-fed and what does that mean?  You might be shocked that your farmer might explain as mine did today that the cost of grass-fed beef is higher because the cost of corn is higher – even though the cattle is not eating corn.  He explained that the cost of hay is higher because there is more demand to grow corn – think about that as you put ethanol in to your SUV to drive to the market and complain about the cost of grass-fed beef.  Or he might tell you that you need to come earlier to get eggs – it kind of reinforces that there are only so many eggs his chickens can produce.

We ran into one of our clients there today and we were thrilled that we were able to share her joy in her purchases as she was leaving to go home. If you want to learn more about eating whole foods, we are having a session on Thursday October 3, at the Zock Family Chiropractic Facility in Cranberry Township at 6:30 PM. Our session will deal with the reasons behind your sugar cravings when your diet is lacking whole foods. We hope to see you there, or at one of the many local farmer’s markets in Pittsburgh and its countryside.

 

 

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.

Show me the money

I have found myself using another line from Jerry McGuire lately: “Help me help you; so why not show me the money this Tuesday morning?”

Tuesday is our day to look at infrastructure to support the launch efforts of your venture. We started speaking to the web environments for mail and a public face, and now we want to get focused on something that most people do not want to talk about – accounting.

The sooner that you put in the tracking system for expenses and income, the sooner you will look at your venture as a business and not a hobby. We have used Quicken for the last eighteen years to track our personal expenses, but for some reason resisted setting up Quickbooks for the business, putting it off for tomorrow.

Eventually, though, it became time to pay the piper, and the inevitable happened. We started becoming successful enough that manual and Excel tracking of the business became too cumbersome. Over the last three days, I have spent twelve hours a day entering history and balancing accounts for our small business in Quickbooks after taking a class in it last month. Not fun, but very doable.

Many second career ventures are self funded to start, and start as part-time gigs, so it is easy to bypass setting up the formal business plan and accounting systems. We follow the lean start up mentality of establishing the minimum viable product and testing and refining direction, which means that these are guidelines and not formal documents that have been used to get financing from the SBA or a bank.

But eventually, it is time to act. I do not regret following the approach that we have followed so far. However, we are far enough into our launch to be certain that this is a long term business, and to determine exactly what systems and processes we need to manage that business. The tweak that I would follow is to look at the online systems that are available to help you establish affordable systems for accounting and contact management even in the guideline phase of development.

Last week, in an American Express newsletter, we found the mention of a Paypal offering that allows new businesses to use cloud services for the items that every small business needs: invoice management and collection and forecasting, accounting, contact management and newsletter creation and distribution.

The services are free for thirty days and cost ninety dollars a month after that. It is possible to buy packages and run them on your PC that do the same thing, at a higher cost. Also, there are other cloud-based services that do these things together. However, if you are using or considering using Paypal for payment processing, these might make sense.

So while I do not regret the approach that we used, if these tools were available when we started this venture early last year, I would have considered it. In fact, even though we are down the path we have chosen, I am going to review this toolkit even if it just for my clients information going forward.

We will report on it after our review, but for now, you might want to check it out yourself.

 

Fresh Start

At one point, living past the age of fifty was quite the feat. Fortunately, we’ve come a long way since then thanks to brainpower and technology. Otherwise, I might not be here, writing this blog.

Now, longevity is en vogue. While living to 120 seems a long ways away, it is not an unfathomable goal. That being said, your fiftieth birthday might not just mean more candles on your cake; it may mean that it is the perfect time for a fresh start, and to start living sustainably. You may start to question whether sixty-six or seventy and one-half have any meaning other than as the current federal mileposts for social security and required minimum distributions?

When I was twenty, I did not think the world would last till the time I turned thirty. I was sure we were going to blow up the planet. This may sound morbid, but it is a timeless notion. People that are coming of age today have this same angst for reasons such as resolving depletion and overpopulation, rather than a nuclear winter.

The beautiful thing about age is that it brings wisdom and perspective. Perhaps it comes from the drop in Testosterone levels. At twenty, I thought about sex at least once a minute. Women were a distraction. Now sex is no longer top of mind, and it is possible to have tension-free discussions with anyone.

Many men in the second half of life are caught in behavior patterns from the first half. They act like dirty old men, or they try to hold on to a macho demeanor. Whether it is authentic or not is beyond me.

I no longer have the strengths of my youth, nor the desire to prove my dominance. I am aware of my own vulnerability. I care much less about what others think of me. For many, this can make a pleasing vision of the future cloud with difficulty.

My vision is no longer what it was. What looked like a sharp photo now looks like an impressionists view of the world, but I always preferred Monet to Ansel Adams anyway. And when I was younger, I needed to escape from reality more, and under-the-influence life took on a Picasso-like look anyway, and sometimes it looked more like the work of Jackson Pollack.

Today I am more content with my everyday view that is softer and more pleasing to my eyes. This doesn’t mean I have selective vision; I still see the rantings of the mostly conservative people that are my age.

One sign in a yard says, “I want the America of my Youth!” We’ve all heard it: a member of the older generation slamming a fist on the table, exclaiming the perfection of the past, and the spiraling downturn of our society today. What’s a different way of looking at that? We have more today than fifty years ago in so many areas. When I hear that, I go back to segregation, the objectification of women, homophobia, “children should be seen and not heard”; “why are you crying, I’ll give you something to cry about?” “Stop laughing, or I’ll wipe that smile off of your face”.

They see Norman Rockwell, I see Arthur Miller. As Carley Simon crooned back in the good old days, these are the good old days.

Another sign says, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Do they even know what a republic is? The founding fathers took a bold step, from the systems of government of the time. But in the eighteenth century, it was a republic instead of a democracy because they wanted to duplicate the power base of the landowners in Britain – in America – and keep the riches to themselves. There was no direct vote of the President, or of Senators. The indirect vote was restricted to a select few. They did not want the rabble to have any control.

Looking backward in the second half of life is pointless unless it is to process what we have learned and figure out how we can best contribute to the future. Putting signs up like the ones I have mentioned is not beneficial to society. I don’t like to make assumptions, but I would be willing to bet these people are constant complainers. They see that young people today do not respect them. And why should they? Looking backwards and aching for the past kills any potential for joy today. Look at what you have now. Figure out what you can do with it and stop fantasizing about a reality that never existed. Play with your grandchildren, or start a business, or take up a new career, or volunteer, or plant a garden, be a mentor to a child of a single parent, learn to dance, learn to cook and invite your neighbors who are still working crazy hours to dinner and create intimacy with your life partner. Does that sound so bad? I don’t think so.

Have a little bit of fun everyday.

Wellness Doctors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All of these programs have a number of common themes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.