When Life Calls

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“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

When Death Calls was the title of her last Saturday presentation. An expert in the field of planning for death and subsequent life celebrations, she shared some statistics that gave me pause – one of which is that slightly more than 70 percent of Americans do no planning specific to their own or other family members demise. Most leave the matter unaddressed simply assuming others will take care of things. And that can be an unfair burden.

Thinking later about her message, I acknowledged this as a serious topic, one truly worth talking about and planning for.

Then my mind pivoted.

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Are you prepared for when life calls? Not necessarily for death (though it warrants attention) but for how you find meaning and significance in your remaining years?

Many people simply go through the motions, allowing life to determine outcomes rather than each of us having a measurable say in what’s next. Yes, there is tremendous satisfaction, often fulfillment, in going with flow – just as there can be in letting go and lessening the need or desire to control. However, I’m talking about how you can proactively determine the extent to which you want to be engaged with your life; what is important to you.

Without doubt, planning for and making life decisions can be made more helpful when one has a sense of and comfort with their financial plans and security. They’re definitely interwoven.

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Yet when and as life calls, I invite you to ask yourself…

  • How often do I deliberately pause to consider what really matters to me? Deliberately?
  • What is it that can make me a better person?
  • How clear am I on who I want to be in “x” years?
  • What causes are worthy of my active involvement?
  • What have I missed?
  • What stirs my soul?
  • How can I give back?

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Embracing this as a process and creating time to intentionally plan, what unfolds could be renewed clarity about what to do When Life Calls (as well as when death calls).

For your consideration, three thoughts as you explore this theme:

  1. Create space. Don’t cram your life with too many things to do. Give yourself room and permission to enjoy each experience. Give yourself space to find your joy.
  2. Spend time with loved ones. If you want to know how to live an even more meaningful life, spend more time with the people you love. Quality relationships truly matter.
  3. Think “aloha.” This Hawaiian term does not simply mean hello or goodbye but in the truest sense stands for “the process of passing a blessing from one person to another.”

Credit: Light at the end of the tunnel / iStock by Getty Images photo ID 35839548

Go Grandma Moses!

“Musicians don’t retire, they stop when there’s no more music in them.” ~ Louis Armstrong

In a recent post (The Third Age), I referenced five distinct stages that people experience before and during retirement. I shared that I’d further elaborate on the fourth stage, Reorientation, in a subsequent post. Welcome to the continuation.

The previously referenced study uncovered four distinct experiences within the Reorientation (covering two to 15 years after retirement) stage of the journey:

Empowered Reinventors (19%): This is a time of adventure, new challenges and fulfillment.

Carefree Contents (19%): This group is a time of adjusting to a less frantic lifestyle without the stress of work and other responsibilities. Eight out of 10 said they weren’t working at all.

Uncertain Searchers (22%): This segment is one of mixed feelings – they’re still trying to figure out what to do with this time of their lives, and may not be on track financially for retirement.

Worried Strugglers (40%): This cohort has the most difficulty due to a lack of planning and preparation. Most have not given much thought to what they want to do with their retirement years.

Among pre-retirees and retirees with retirement experience, one of the main discoveries was that both groups found that retirement is liberation from the daily grind, which gives them more control over their lives.

Enter this legend…

When Anna Mary Robertson Moses died in 1961 at age 101, then-president Kennedy released a statement praising her paintings for inspiring a nation. This amazing lady was better known as Grandma Moses, a woman who didn’t begin to paint until the age of 76, when her hands became too crippled by arthritis to hold an embroidery needle. She found herself unable to sit around and do nothing, even after a long life spent working on farms.

Grandma Moses never had any formal art training – indeed, she’d had very little formal education – but she painted every day, turning out more than 1,000 paintings in 25 years. When an art collector passing through her town saw the paintings selling for a few dollars in a drug store, he bought them all and arranged for them to be shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Even with her newfound fame, her topics remained the same: nostalgic scenes of farm life, such as the first snow or a maple sugaring. By the time of her death, she had paintings in museums as far away as Vienna and Paris.

Take what you will from the above, perhaps the obvious: 1) It’s a good idea to begin planning for retirement (or whatever you choose to call your later years lifestyle) well before you get to that stage and; 2) Who says you need to quietly drift off to the sidelines once you enter the third chapter in your life? If Grandma Moses discovered a new, enjoyable niche, you certainly can (or will).

The Notion of Optimism (Part II)

“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

~ Abraham Lincoln

To a recent post on Optimism, here, for your consideration, are a few suggestions to guide you through uncertainty and to nurture optimism:

  • Do something you love. There is always something that makes you laugh, smile and feel instantly happy. It could be a book, movie, person, place or even the endorphins released after an intense workout. Focusing on what you love helps keep your optimism alive. The more time you spend doing things that produce positive emotions, the more optimistic you’ll be. Pretty simple, eh?
  • Explore new places. Leaving your comfort zone forces you to feel, learn and have new experiences. Visiting a nearby city or local park are destinations that don’t require a lot of time or money. By changing your routine you create opportunities for your mind to explore new sights and sounds. See and think fresh scenes.
  • Express gratitude. How frequently do we hear this? Yet, how often do we create time to be thankful? Write a list of things, people, beliefs, accomplishments for which you are grateful. Acknowledge all that is going right! Volunteer. Doing things for others brings a pleasing sense of fulfillment.

  • Focus on what you can control. And accept that fact that there are instances and circumstances in which you yield no control. For example, there’s nothing you can do about the financial markets. However, you can control your personal finances. This includes limiting spending and increasing your savings. Decide and admit what’s really essential. (Hint: it’s okay to let go.)
  • Know the signs that stress is affecting you. I learned this one the hard way. There can be significant health consequences to ignoring the symptoms of stress. Pay close attention to changes in your physical, emotional and mental states, and see a health care professional if you’re experiencing any telltale signs.
  • Limit your exposure to negative news. This point cannot be de-emphasized. Don’t bury your head in the sand yet don’t subject yourself to negative media 24/7. Unless you choose to. Consider changing your reading and/or viewing habits. Watching a comedy or listening to music instead can have surprisingly soothing and positive effects.
  • Look for the positive. When you’re in a less than fortunate situation, make an effort to be optimistic. Yes, it does take some work. Try to be mindful and make a conscious choice to act the way you’d like to feel. Sustaining a positive outlook will help you realize that change – for the better – does happen.

It’s a fact that intentional action(s) can banish (or measurably mitigate) negative emotions. So dream about your success. Don’t hesitate to try something new, even in challenging times. Find what’s best in life, for you, and live it accordingly.