Maintaining Relevance

relevance3

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?” ~ Satchel Paige

At a recent professional conference a keynote invited those present to publicly share what they feared. A colleague in her late 60’s responded “losing relevance.”

What would your response have been?

As a trailing-edge boomer, I cross paths with many people who are thinking about “retirement.” Note I said thinking about, not necessarily planning for it. What I find fascinating is that, more and more, those giving intentional thought to active lifestyle change are open to doing something besides playing board games or painting (not to disparage either). They seek increased engagement.

relevance4

I have yet to hear anyone at this life stage say they want to be bored. Or to become insignificant. Most people want to create and strengthen meaningful connections and to broaden their community. They have the energy and drive to explore and effect change; they’re just unsure what to do next.

relevance2

For those interested in doing something entirely new, the possibilities are boundless – often limited only by their own beliefs and stories. For those open to discovering and experiencing something unfamiliar, here are five popular gigs that “retirees” are stepping into and enjoying:

  • Tour Guide Operator – allows a coupling of personal travel interests with social interaction and exercise
  • Virtual Assistant – as the title implies, the work can be done virtually and you get to determine what assistance you provide
  • Uber Driver – an opportunity to meet new people, see new vistas, and you define your personal workload
  • Peace Corp Volunteer – seven percent of volunteers are aged 50+. A new adventure with a humanitarian focus where you can share accumulated wisdom and experience, often benefiting the less fortunate
  • Tutor – anyone, of any age. People love to learn. Sometimes they simply need another caring individual to help them navigate new subject matter.

relevance7

What you choose to do next could easily keep you pertinent. It need not be a complex undertaking. A willingness to play in some initial uncertainty might be the very stimulation you seek… maybe it could become vastly rewarding.

There are numerous ways in which to maintain one’s relevance. And not just as “retirement” approaches.  Here are three to consider:

  1. Stay curious. Welcome learning and acquire knowledge any way you can. Share your discoveries with others. In doing so, you show you are willing to try new things, even (gasp!) methods considered outside the box.
  2. Meet new people. Negative friends drain us. Positive friends propel us forward. Our possibilities can be limited by our current ‘network.’ Rejuvenating your network is an important part of staying relevant.
  3. Get your hearing checked. Seriously. Not being able to hear potentially puts you out of touch with people. As we age we tend to deny natural loss of hearing. Eventually younger people shut out the hearing challenged and move conversations elsewhere. One must hear to remain relevant.

A Different Way

recipe

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” ~ Albert Einstein

Have you ever caught yourself doing something the same way and then asked yourself: 1) Why am I so predictable? or 2) Why not try this differently?

There are many explanations for our conditioned behavior and/or actions, among them: We think, act and create in certain ways because that is likely how we were taught or told; Maybe it seems a more convenient or efficient manner in which to produce a desired outcome or; There exists the possibility that we’ve simply not given ourselves permission to explore or invoke an alternative.

Here is a personal example. I am a ‘night owl.’ I have been seemingly forever. I get much accomplished when other people are winding down their day or perhaps, even asleep. It’s my productive time.

Not long ago I gave pause and considered, could I be just as effective, more creative, maybe an even better problem solver were I to try being a morning lark? And guess what?

downloadTo those of you who can relate to this – one way or the other – you probably understand the challenge in pulling a 180 here and shifting your lifestyle to the early morning or late night hours. This could be brutal!

Yet not every one of us is this adventurous or willing to introduce subtle (or radical) change into our routine. You may be one of those people who enjoy being a creature of habit or living the status quo. And that’s fine.

However, if the prospect of different (and possibly pleasing or beneficial) results intrigue you, then why not step outside of your certain comfort zone?

2966896257_e0db33b285_m

Who says you have to plant a kiss squarely? Consider modifying that tried and true recipe. Be open to finding new ways to drive to a regular haven. Act on those crazy ideas you get when showering. Seek a destination that differs from where you always travel.

13831677903_28dc7fffc1_m

Three simple suggestions, for your consideration, if you desire different results:

  1. Follow your heart for a change, even if your mind thinks otherwise.
  2. View something boring or monotonous as an opportunity to mix things up.
  3. Be comfortable dispelling or dismissing boundaries. Invite your inner rebel to act, respond, or be different. Shed your old thinking and welcome a new, distinctive mind-set.

Why not?

Adieu

3274224582_e00b5d4dbe_m

“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

I thought about titling this post Bigger Fish to Fry but realized the idiom inferred more important matters to address. And in some respects this is true. But I didn’t want readers (you) to think yourselves unimportant in my eyes because you genuinely matter to me.

However, it is time to bid you farewell; to move on. Not long ago I shared a post in which I asked if any of you had been (or perhaps, are) On a Verge. Its premise was simply to honor your intuition when you know there are other opportunities calling. To those possibilities, I have listened and am aware of ‘what’s next’ and why.

Watercolor by Abby Diamond

Watercolor by Abby Diamond

For me, it’s always been about following my heart… helping, healing and sharing. To continue contributing in these and other ways, I am choosing to pair my ‘next set of priorities’ with abundant time, renewed energy and unbridled inspiration.

Many of you know, sustaining a blog and actively interacting with many writers can be time-consuming. And the experience has been thoroughly enjoyable! I’ve acknowledged this once before, but it bears repeating… I have gotten more out of what’s been shared in your posts and comments than with my written offerings.

9250949334_c153ac92d0_m

I’m excited about this next life chapter. I’ve been looking forward to continuing to realign with what really matters to me. And I suspect some of you are leaning in, whispering, what is it you’re going to be doing, Eric? 🙂 Well, I hope this doesn’t disappoint but there’s little noble on the radar screen. There are some nearer-term and some longer-term activities that will receive due attention. Once they’re completed, time will avail to do more — yet to be determined, good things.

8319833127_954facd484_m

For those interested, here is what’s on the forward leaning plate:

  • I will be committing a hefty chunk of time to rehearsing for and competing in the (my now, fourth) Toastmasters International Speech Contest. While still untitled, my speech this year is about compassion creating connections.
  • I will finally, finish and publish my first book which will reflect much of what I have shared in this blog.
  • I will be creating more time to be in and with nature. Solitude rejuvenates and is immensely healing for our mind, body and spirit.
  • I am going to learn to speak/read Italian. This ought not surprise many given my professed fondness for nearly all things Italian.
  • I am going to travel. A lot. 🙂 I keep encouraging my Mom to do whatever she wants while she is of sound mind and body. An advocate for ‘walking our talk,’ I will practice what I encourage others to consider doing.
  • I intend to find a cause or organization that will welcome my time and services – in a volunteer capacity. I have mentored and been in service to others for decades, just not at the level I can now. It’s time for me to augment my contributions.
  • And perhaps most important, I will be spending much more time creating and rekindling connections with people. Live, in-person, connections which for me, are the most authentic and fulfilling.

I may someday return to this amazing WordPress Community; time and passion will tell. Know that I will cherish this mutual adventure and you… many of you more than you will know. I am privileged to have shared our connections.

With appreciation, respect and love,

Eric

10628384_10204461894443071_8998007267656859673_n

A Trophic Cascade

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” ~ John Muir

Trophic cascades are powerful indirect interactions that can control entire ecosystems. This 270-second video beautifully describes and illuminates the favorable affect of a recent trophic cascade. I’m sharing the video because, in my mind, it parallels our responsibilities and human role in a chain or cycle.

In July I added this post which highlighted how we, individually and collectively, can create ripple effects with our intentional actions. While the above video addresses fascinating wilderness recovery efforts, from a human perspective I was drawn to the aspects of and potential in:

  • giving life to others
  • changing behaviors
  • regenerating significance
  • how, even in small numbers, we can effect change

3113259723_ccaa717ed1_mJust as wolves initiated this trophic cascade, there exist opportunities to teach ourselves about our positive and vital role in human interactions. This, I believe, we call humanitarianism.

If you are interested in or inclined to introduce a ‘humanitarian cascade’ you can consider these three practices:

  1. Acknowledge and reward constructive behavior. The key to behavioral change is understanding how motivation works in different environments. Observe how people are using their surroundings and resources to benefit others and to promote growth. Help them to see and appreciate the longer-term affects of their contributions.
  2. Lend your voice. Often the powerless, the homeless, the neglected in our world need someone to speak up for them, lest they become overwhelmed by their environments. You need not take the cause on by yourself, but join others in signing petitions, speaking up in a public forum, writing letters, and otherwise making a need heard.
  3. Be kind. Always. Scientific evidence has proven that kindness changes the brain, impacts the heart and immune system, and may even be an antidote to depression. We’re genetically wired to be kind. When we’re kind our bodies are healthiest. Love and kindness can make a damaged heart regenerate faster and when coupled with compassion, can alter the neural structures of our brains.

12923000094_21dc1743d0_m

On A Verge

6046440678_d0b67a6518_m“We fear our intuitions because we fear the transformational power within our revelations.” ~ Carolyn Myss

It is documented that dogs have the ability to accurately sense five things: earthquakes, storms, illness, seizures and labor in pregnant women. Having read this I wonder whether dogs know they have these perceiving qualities?

Have you ever sensed you were/are on the verge of something big; something radically different or new? How did that sense make you feel? Invigorated, excited, hesitant, perhaps fearful? I pose these questions as I know I am on the verge of significant life changes. I sense this because I trust my intuition – that inner voice that just knows. This isn’t precognition, clairvoyance, psychic ability or impulse. It’s simply knowing that even in uncertainty, there is vision associated with a new direction and imminent change.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Some people live for these moments. Others dread them. And there may be an indifferent lot as well. I’m one of the former. When my intuition strongly signals something, I know it’s right and the underlying choices often become strangely easy. It feels healthy; it feels good; it doesn’t feel like I’m forcing anything, there’s not a lot of conflict.

Of all the reasons for people to consider using their gut instincts to make big decisions, this may be the best: It frequently leads to choices and outcomes that are fulfilling; decisions that can improve the quality and trajectory of one’s life.

66002629_4a01d15bcc_m

If/when you feel you are on the verge of something life changing or perhaps less significant, here are three considerations that may help:

  1. Honor your intuition. Honoring your true self takes great courage. It may not be easy in the short-term to act on what you sense, but what price do you pay by not listening to it? Trust that nothing is revealed to you intuitively if it is not in your highest interest, even if that means making tough choices in your life. However intuition serves you, it is always in service of your well-being.
  2. Value time alone. As you travel the path of intuition, and leave behind aspects of yourself and life that no longer fit, you will need time to be with yourself to help stay grounded in your transition and transformation. Time alone will help to integrate new learning and provide guidance along your way. It will also support you to become comfortable without dependencies on other’s approval.
  3. Take in only what is nourishing. We frequently ignore our inner voice that is continuously providing guidance. We fear what it has to say. Listening to it might strengthen the courage for confrontation or challenge, or leave us with a sense of guilt for not doing so. It’s your voice! You have the ability to listen objectively and absorb what it’s saying compassionately.

5749192621_1a61946f21_m

Jumping Off the Bandwagon

“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ~ Albert Einstein

WARNING: This post is not about Robin Williams.

I may lose readers after having read this post and that’s fine. This blog has never been about the numbers game. It’s about stirring your soul… and encouraging you to look into yourself… to realize your potential… and to focus on what really matters — how you choose to use your gifts, live, and contribute to humanity.

Earlier today I scrolled through the WordPress Reader and recent posts on other social media sites. I knew I’d see them but was astounded at how many people jumped on the Robin Williams bandwagon. Then I intentionally paused to process what I’d seen and read.

I have nothing against Robin Williams. He was a creative and talented man. He brought laughter and thought into many people’s lives, in and out of character. He battled his own demons. And I began to wonder, why does it often require a celebrity, fame, or someone with name recognition, to call our attention to social issues, serious needs, and opportunities? Why do people frequently hold up and pay tribute to talented individuals, people with marquee names, upon their passing?

What about mankind’s masses who struggle and are similarly burdened but are not wealthy, famous and/or “successful?”

In the above video, Clark Little tells how he has chosen to pursue his passion. He didn’t do what everyone else was doing. He blazed his own trail. And he’s loving every minute of life. He’s focused on and using his personal gifts to fulfill his potential. He’s not a lemming; expending energy on simply doing what many others are doing.

Sure there are lessons to be learned from Robin Williams’s choice to end his life. He has, as have others before him, rekindled and created awareness about mental health and addiction. They are real problems and warrant attention. But does jumping on the viral bandwagon to share a few kind words about him change anything?

So you may be saying, what’s your point Eric? Well, it’s pretty simple. Each of us, however illuminated our names are in lights, has unlimited potential. We possess personal gifts and skills. We have enormous, untapped capacity to live our purpose.

The questions then: Are you? Are you acting in your own unique way to effect change? Change that you desire and value? Are your actions genuinely aligned with what really matters? If they are/you are not, what are you waiting for? Are you your own leader? Are you creating moments that are meaningful, even if there is no fame, fortune or popularity involved?

When young, ducklings follow the brace because it’s instinctive. Humans, too. But what makes our species special is that we don’t have to paddle or flock in formation. We can soar in any direction we want. And create amazing outcomes, singularly.

Live Your Epic Life

                          Byron Davis“Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren’t any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn’t be here in the first place. And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life’s challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person.”

~ R. Buckminster Fuller

A former American record holder (swimming), an Ironman Triathlete, a career coach and founder of the epic life project, Byron Davis has a gift for helping people get unstuck and to transform their passions into lives and careers they love. Byron is the author of “RePurposed: The Art of Winning Through Letting Your Obstacles Lead the Way.”

He is also a friend and was my guest on last week’s Awakening to Awareness radio show. A sought-after conference speaker, Byron is entertaining to watch and easy to understand. He helps audiences reverse limiting beliefs on the spot and teaches them to use the simple power of personal narratives to quickly establish new habits and activate their God-gifted potential.

In an amazing one-hour conversation Byron shared thoughts on how fear holds people back; his interesting concept on time; why accountability is important for each of us and; how both relationships and systems are essential for moving forward. He also talked about the role storytelling plays in becoming more self-aware and for fulfilling one’s desires and ambitions, as well as why we find some lessons/teachings difficult to receive.

If you’re interested in listening and learning more, here’s a link to the show podcast. Byron is a high energy guy, who has studied human behavior and potential for years. He can be contacted through his web site or here.

What Gets Under Your Skin?

There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world: Those who are afraid to try themselves, and those who are afraid that you will succeed.” ~ Roy Goforth

Rarely, at least with this blog, do I drift into the personal opinion sphere. It’s simply not the focus for this communication vehicle. Yet, as with many (most?) of us, every now and then something rocks us so significantly that we need to release… to engage ourselves and invite others to do so too.

Sometimes it helps to let things go because we cannot influence a desired outcome. Other times, the itch under our skin (and that may be putting it mildly) warrants more than just scratching. If a cause or opportunity is our number one priority, we’d easily invest more of our valuable time and energy into securing a meaningful solution.

But in some ‘lesser’ cases, calls to action are timely and desperately needed.

Yesterday’s post reminded and encouraged me that we can effect positive change. We can initiate or conjoin a ripple. A ripple of hope! So let us consider taking action, in whatever form you are capable and comfortable… to end the strife, the hate, loss of precious life, and the overt acts against humanity in the Middle East.

I believe most of us subscribe to and embrace the concepts of respect, compassion, and dignity. Do not think or believe that you, individually, cannot effect change. Even small change. It’s too easy to be passive or think negatively. Be a ripple!

One Small Touch

“Each time someone stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, they send forth a tiny ripple of hope.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy

Some, perhaps many, of us have learned: We did not have to do something amazing to initiate growth. A small action can go a long way. It doesn’t take a boulder to create a ripple effect in the water. A finger is enough. As everything is interconnected in life, we only need be brave enough to take the first, maybe very small step. Before we know it, we may realize that we are a ripple effect.

A ripple effect is a situation where, like the ever-expanding ripples across the water when an object is dropped into it, an effect from the initial state can be followed outward incrementally. Applied to our lives, everything we do and think affects people in our lives and their reactions in turn affect others. The choices you make have far reaching consequences. Not surprisingly then, each of us carries within us the capacity to change the world in small ways for better or worse.

Examples of ripple effect can be found in economics, social interactions, charitable activities, financial markets, political influence, compassionate action and so on. The concept helps to explain how individual and grassroots efforts can yield significant change.

Case in point: A Harvard University study was conducted on a large, real world social network. It used modern statistical methods to analyze data from the Framingham Heart Study. It found that if a friend of a person became happy, the person’s chance of becoming happy increased by about 15%. If a friend of a friend became happy it increased by about 10% and a friend of a friend of a friend by almost 6%. This event occurred even if the person had never met many of the people involved.

If we can synchronize our intentions and actions toward common goals, our independent waves will continue to add to each other as they travel out through energetic fields. The result will be much greater than we can manifest independently.

Here are three ways in which you can initiate ripple effect:

  1. I’m not promoting this; it’s simply an example: For just US$4 you can provide a child with clean water. Consider joining the Ripple Effect movement and invest US$4 every month to save and improve lives. You’ll contribute to a wave of positive change and watch as the waves get bigger and bigger, bringing clean water, better health, and new opportunities to countless in great need.
  2. Move forward so that you are in your best place possible including relationships, health, career, and spirituality. To effectively help others, you often have to have gone through difficult experiences in order to relate to others. But you also have to know how to grow from those experiences and to use them to benefit yourself and others. If you succeed and “walk your walk,” others can and will be more open to your insight and ways.
  3. Your influence and ability to effect change will grow as your ripples flow outward. Consider smiling at someone you don’t know, acting instead of just thinking, initiating a thoughtful gesture, or alleviating a stranger’s pain. Do good things. Small things. Humbly. For others.

How Easy is Change?

“It’s almost like an Etch-A-Sketch. You kind of shake it up and we start all over again.” ~ Eric Fehrnstrom

Such a cool childhood toy. An unsung predecessor to the iPad. Reflecting on the Etch-A-Sketch, I found it an apt metaphor for transformation, for change, for rebirthing (in a non-psychotherapy context).

With an Etch-A-Sketch you simply created a drawing by turning the two knobs simultaneously. What you created on the screen could be emblematic of anything: your potential, your beliefs, your attitude or your best stick-figure persona. As you created, you evaluated your results. (Okay, maybe as a child you weren’t evaluating but you get the point). 🙂 And if you didn’t like the results, you just turned the screen upside down, gave it a shake, and started anew.

Looking at our lives, we want:

  • To feel
  • To learn
  • To grow
  • To stretch
  • To shift
  • To move through
  • To overcome
  • To embrace and trust our ability to transform, your self, your family, your community, perhaps, the world.

And you can. Often, it’s as easy as reviewing what you have created in your life. If you aren’t jazzed with what you’re facing, turn it upside down, shake things up a little, and move forward. Clean and fresh.

So how can you effect change, easily? Here are three starters for your consideration:

  1. Be honest with yourself. Most people around you won’t be honest with you. Human nature steers us away from conflict and hurting others feelings so it’s important to be able to identify your abilities and limitations and understand how others perceive you. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses can help you adapt.
  2. Focus on what you can do. People fail because they immediately attach their attention to the negative. They do (though some of you may find this surprising)! Change your thinking and work the part of your plan you can. Do everything you can.
  3. Share yourself. Too often, we miss the value of sharing our feelings. We don’t want to be vulnerable so we hold back. In doing so, we deprive others of our experience, our learning and our humanity. When you share from your own experiences, you increase your empathy, you’re more approachable and you increase your relatability to others.

The moon changes effortlessly. Any reason you can’t too?