The Call To Thrive

Last week my performance coach helped me identify eight segments of my life I would like to improve. After drawing a circle and cutting it into eight pieces, she asked me to colour in each segment indicating the degree of satisfaction or success I felt with that aspect of my life.
My ratings tended to the low side, with five being the highest and two the lowest. As we looked at the final segmented pie, she asked how I felt. Truthfully, I felt a little beat up. Discouraged. All this striving for 55 plus years and I didn’t have higher ratings to show for my efforts? What’s up with that?
I shrugged and tried to reconcile my feelings about the underwhelming pie I’d just created. “I’m probably being a little hard on myself,” I offered half-hearted, hoping it would make me feel better. It didn’t.
I left feeling more than a little defeated by the low ratings, and not very enthused over all the hard work I foresaw in my future to get the ratings up higher.
I continued to stew that evening. Then, I had a brilliant thought.
What if I looked at it from a different angle? What if, instead of focusing on the small progress I identified in each segment, I looked at the room for potential I had left myself.
Suddenly, I saw the gift I had inadvertently given myself:
It isn’t about how far I’ve come; it’s about how much potential I believe I still have.
It’s not about the mountains that must be climbed, it’s that I believe I have it in me to achieve extraordinary heights.
In a way, I had paid myself the ultimate compliment. I wasn’t a loser, an under performer, an under achiever. I had, instead, left myself a huge space in which to create, believing I could double, triple and even quadruple my current results. Wow!
As I look at each segment, I now see the space where I can grow and expand. It speaks to me of the massive opportunities that await, the adventures yet to unfold.
I am calling it my “opportunity space.”
This is my unrealized potential calling me forward, not to strive or survive, but to thrive.
Here I am, a product of over a half century of life experiences with an uncertain number of years ahead…and I am actually excited about the adventure.
It’s a new frontier…a challenge… an opportunity to grasp the potential that awaits, and turn it into an extraordinary life.
The only cooperative component needed for this to unfold is me.

Confessions of A Mismanaged Life

Last week, in addition to officially adding another year to my lifespan, I set myself the task of pulling stuff out of drawers and off shelves that I hadn’t looked at in quite some time in an effort to declutter and organize my space… a fresh start, if you will, to the new year ahead.

I spend a lot of time journaling and writing down my thoughts, intentions and plans.  So there were reams and reams of notebooks, notes, lists, file cards and such going back about four years to the last time I did a major purge of my paperwork. On top of the written notes  were unread and half-read books, travel brochures and souvenir maps, instruction manuals from appliances, receipts, paid invoices, outdated magazines, etc.

Urging me on was the thought of what a mess it would be if I died and left someone else the job of wading through that mass of papers, books and odds and ends. Yikes.

While I sorted, I had opportunity to quickly scan some of the writing. There, in black and white, were written intentions from one, two, three and four years ago. What was disconcerting, was that the intentions mirrored almost exactly those I am writing in my current journal.

As I read these pages I realized how ineffective I have been in many areas of my life. I was intending to lose 15 pounds 3 years ago.  I was planning to become fluent in a second language 2 years ago. I was planning to start exercising, every 6 months. I was planning to travel more every year. I was planning to earn more money…every month! On and on the lists of repeat intentions went.

I briefly started on some of these goals, but I never reached the targets.  I’ve always thought of myself as being quite motivated, as someone who gets things done.  What I now realize is that while I’ve been busy, the “getting done” part somehow didn’t include the things I had the strongest intentions around. How could it be that the things I identified as goals and targets, somehow slipped away and disappeared beneath the everyday living and surviving part of my life?

Today, I am trying to reconcile what I learned about myself with who I believe myself to be. There’s a disconnect somewhere. In areas of my life where I desperately want to see some improvement and change, year upon year I fail to get the job done.

Is this ineffectiveness just something that I alone struggle with?  I’d be interested to hear if others have noticed the same thing about themselves and, especially, if you’ve found a way to change your behaviour and accomplish the intentions you set for yourself. Maybe this can start an inspiring discussion.  Love to hear what you have to offer.



What’s Your Retirement Plan?

65 is the age at which Canada deems you an “official” senior. It’s also the age for “retirement”.  Or is it?

More and more “seniors” are bucking the retirement trend and starting one of their own.  It’s called “I’ll retire when they throw the first shovel of dirt in my face.”  At least that’s what I’m hearing from a lot of people I talk to.

Improved health products and procedures and more recreational options are adding quality years to our lives. Many of us will never get to experience the dreaded nursing home that we watched our grandparents end their lives in. Instead we will likely function quite well in an independent setting such as our own home or a residence tailored to serve our needs (not the other way around).

Statistics Canada reports that most of us will live another 20 years past age 65.  Twenty years is quite a length of time to keep busy, not to mention have the financial wherewithal to do the things we want to do. And there will be more of us doing it. By 2026, the number of people between 65 – 74 will double from what it was in 2006.

So it will be interesting to see how many of us really retire, and how many just keep doing what we’ve always done. It’s interesting to note how many are quitting the job that wasn’t satisfying and starting the business that fuels the inner passion they’ve kept hidden all these years.  The number of senior entrepreneurs is at an all time high.

One way or another, whether it is a retirement fund, actual earnings from a job, or dividends from owning a business, we will need sufficient money to fund our active lifestyle.

Included in your financial planning should be an awareness of the rising cost of health care and a contingency should illness or injury sideline us toward the end.

Some of us who continue to work past age 65 may do it in order to fill a void in the workplace due to not enough workers under 65.  Currently there are 31 people over 65 for every 100 working age persons in BC.  In 15 years that is expected to almost double to 58 seniors for every 100 working age persons under 65.

But is that necessarily a bad thing? Many would say no. For those who want to stay in the workforce after 65, there will be less pressure to retire. We’ll be part of what the economy needs to keep going. We’ll be contributing to society in a meaningful way. Because you are still earning, there will be the opportunity to increase your spending or have more disposable income to spend when you choose.  As a spender, you will definitely be shaping the product trends of the future as industries scramble to provide you with what you want. With such massive buying power exerted by the huge baby boomer generation, we will definitely see industry and politicians lobbying for our dollars.

The cross-selling of insurance products such as long-term care insurance (LTCI) along with retirement investment products will show up more and more in the sales portfolio of financial planners. If you can’t benefit from one, you will from the other, or both.  A financial adviser can help you structure a plan that protects you on all fronts.

Current stats indicate that from among healthy couples age 65, there’s a likelihood one of them will live to age 92 and a 25% chance that one will survive to age 97. Since about half the over 85 population requires help with activities such as eating, bathing, cleaning, shopping or going to the bathroom, the chances of you or someone you love needing the finances to fund this help is pretty high.

Long-term care insurance is an option to consider while you still are earning and in good health. Most traditional health insurance policies don’t include LTCI among the benefits, so checking to see what you have purchased for insurance and how this will play or pay out should you be in a situation where you require long term care, is an important factor to consider. A good financial adviser helps clients envision what their retirement will look like, considering all eventualities, and help you secure the income you need in order to meet your retirement goals. They will be able to tell you if you can afford to retire or not.  Some may not be able to, at least not at age 65.  Knowing your options might help you make better decisions today in preparation for your retirement if you, indeed, want to retire.

The number one concern of older Canadians is their personal finances. Many have either not saved for their retirement, or they don’t know if they have saved enough to live the lifestyle they envision for themselves. In either case, getting the opinion of a good financial adviser, and putting a strategy in place sooner rather than later can help alleviate some of this anxiety. Often it is the ‘not knowing’ that causes the most stress. Burying your head in the sand and hoping for the best isn’t a strategy.  Even putting a budget in place can be enough to feel like you’re back in control of your future. It may be a small step, but it’s a step in the right direction. Understanding where your money is going and how tightening up some areas can start putting together a little nest egg, is important.

And if you’re one of those who is going to keep working until that shovelful of dirt hits you in the face, it’s still good to have a Plan B.


How I Failed as a Volunteer

BABY GIRLI recently adopted the sweetest little kitten in the world from the SPCA. My friends call her my “foster fail”.  Here’s the story…

This summer I decided to volunteer my home as a foster place for litters of kittens.  The foster program at the SPCA offers a variety of options… from caring for animals in recovery from injury or surgery to providing relief to the shelter when they are overwhelmed with animals. Kitten season hit hard in August and I was called upon to board a group of 4 kitties that had arrived along with about 25 others from the Okanagan. That group reached foster age within about 3 weeks and another trio came home with me.

Among these was a little female who was paralyzed with fear. Her brothers sauntered all over the place, but she would huddle in the furthest corner. Attempts to draw her out had some success – when she got interested in chasing a toy, she would often forget her timidity and get quite brave. She gradually grew accustomed to me, allowing frequent cuddles. But her fear returned whenever another person came near. So when the time came to return the trio to the shelter for adoption, I proposed she stay behind to get a little more nurturing and gain more confidence.

When I returned home from dropping her siblings off, she was crying at the door and couldn’t scramble fast enough into my arms. That pretty much was it for me. Although I avoided making a decision for a couple more weeks, Baby Girl was a keeper.  Or as my friends prefer to say, a “foster fail”. That’s the danger of volunteering I suppose. Sometimes you lose your heart. But the great thing is, there’s always someone that finds it and gives it back to you. In this case, it was a little cat.

This month in INSPIRED Senior Living we profile a number of non-profit organizations and philanthropic people who are making a difference in the world around them. Twice a year we pay tribute to the wonderful work that is done by charities. Like my volunteering with the SPCA, not all charity involves donations of money. Giving your time is often just as valuable. Organizations like the SPCA are often run off their feet with the work they undertake. They need people to step up to lend a hand.  If you have never considered offering your time as a volunteer, I encourage you to consider it.

I know seniors sometimes shy away from taking on responsibility for a pet because they worry a pet might outlive them, or that they may become unable to care for the pet at some point.  Or they may travel several months of the year, and would have to leave their pets in someone else’s care. Here is where being a foster ‘parent’ can really fit – the undertaking is limited in time and the benefit you are giving an animal by offering a secure sanctuary during a difficult time in their life is indescribable.

The SPCA, and most other charities, have a variety of ways you can be involved, short term or long. Please consider what you can do.  If you can’t provide financial assistance, consider giving your time. There might not be a little cat in it for you, but you’ll be making a difference for someone.

Want A Make-Over?

INSPIRED Senior Living magazine is offering a FREE make-over to one lucky reader!

Our beauty consultant will turn your drab to fab with a new hairstyle and make-up. You’ll then be treated to a photo shoot with our professional photographer. Your before-and-after photos will appear in a future issue of INSPIRED Senior LivingContest closes Nov 15/15.

To enter, email your photo and story to before November 15th.

Let us help you get INSPIRED!

Winner must be able to make their way to Victoria for two sessions of 4-5 hours each. The possible dates for transformation and photography will be either November 23, Nov 30 or Dec 7, 2015.

The first session will involve hair cutting and coloring. The second session will involve hair styling, makeup (daytime and nighttime), and photographing the results. We require a participant who is willing to give the stylist a canvas upon which to create a masterpiece.nick arrojo You will be asked about your lifestyle and interests, so that the stylist can take those into consideration, but the stylist needs your complete cooperation from start to finish in order to create an outcome worthy of publishing.

The hair and make-up stylist is Hana Akai of Akai Hair Design in Victoria. Hana is the only Canadian-based Ambassador Salon of Nick Arrojo. You might recall Nick from his TV appearances as the hair stylist for 5 seasons on What Not To Wear. Hana has received training from Nick over the past 5 years and has completed advanced training from Arrojo Studios in New York, American Crew, L’Oreal and Michael O’Rourke.

Hana has been styling the hair of INSPIRED Senior Living publisher Barbara Risto for the past 2 years.

“Please Don’t Hate Me… I’m A Senior”

(I detest the title, but I have to admit it got my attention.)

Globe and Mail writer Margaret Wente was shocked when she turned 65.  But as time passed she started to attune to her new status and began to see the benefits.  Her recent article takes a humorous look at being a senior, the drawbacks and the benefits.  Oh, the benefits!

“I choked the first few times we asked for seniors’ tickets, but now I’d be outraged if we couldn’t get them.”

She destroys some of the false notions we have about seniors, pointing out that they are jamming the local gyms, traveling to the ends of the earth in search of adventure, and are the most powerful group of voters in the country. Politicians, beware!

Most are vibrant professionals with little or no debt. Canadian senior citizens are among the most affluent people in the world, claims Margaret.   Continue reading

Ignoring the 50+ Consumer Will Cost Businesses Dearly

It couldn’t be more clearly said than in an article published by Bloomberg in 2013.  Data from 2011-2013 shows a growing market that consumes over 50% of the products and services, yet marketers spends only 15% on reaching this gigantic consumer group. Take the auto industry, for example. In 2011, the peak age of vehicle buyers shifted upward to 55-64 from 35-44, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.  That means the peak buyers in 2015/2016 are 60-70. Every industry shows a dramatic shift in their buyer profiles…mature consumers are a force to be reckoned with. Seriously.

Here’s a link to the article:

Hollywood Calling


We had a fun thing happen this summer… a call from Hollywood, or more precisely, the producers of the television show Grace and Frankie – a Netflix show starring movie icons Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlinson.  They requested permission to use some of our Senior Living magazines on the set of next seasons’ shows.

I haven’t seen the show myself, but several friends say it is a lot of fun to watch.

The show features two women in the third chapter of their lives who discover their husbands are in love with each other and plan to get married.  The women find their lives turned upside down and, to their dismay, permanently intertwined.

So, when next season airs, I hope you’ll be scanning the set backdrop for a sighting of our magazine. If you see one, perhaps you’ll let us know?

For the Love of Motorcycles and Autumn

Motorcycle stop at Esquimalt Lagoon
Motorcycle stop at Esquimalt Lagoon

It’s the end of September and, once again, almost time to think about mothballing my motorbike for the next six months.

I’m a motorbiker – but not the die-hard, drive-in-any-kind-of-weather variety.

As a biker, you don’t get to choose the weather, so if you’re away from home or shelter, the only thing you can do is… ride. So, yes, I’ve ridden in the rain, even hail, and in below freezing temperatures.   Continue reading

What Would You Give Your Life For?

Each time I’ve heard this question posed, a vision of some heroic action precipitated by a disaster or great difficulty, is what comes to mind. Like a mother willing to give her life to protect her child from danger.

Or I think about a person whose passion for something is so profound, they devote their entire existence to performing a certain deed or function that elevates them to the level of sainthood. Like Mother Teresa.

When I was posed this question most recently, the presenter said something that hit closer to home. They challenged me to live my life as if every moment was like currency and to select a goal of sufficient significance that my life would be worth the expenditure.   Continue reading