AHEAD OF THE CURVE AT MIDLIFE http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com Intelligence for the cultural creative midlifer about what matters most at the second half of life Tue, 27 Jan 2009 21:55:15 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.6.5 en Financial Action Plan 2009 http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/2009/01/27/financial-action-plan-2009/ http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/2009/01/27/financial-action-plan-2009/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2009 21:55:15 +0000 admin http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/?p=1109 Job layoffs, plunging retirement accounts, home foreclosures… the ripples of the recession are affecting many of us, which is why money expert Suzie Orman says there is no better time to take control of your financial life. This is the year to pick up the pieces and deal with what happened last year in the economy.

If you have questions about debt, savings, real estate or retirement, Suzie has put the answers in a new book she was giving away, Suzie Orman’s 2009 Action Plan: Keeping Your Money Safe and Sound. It gives you a foundation to deal with what happened in your own financial universe last year, and sets you up to plan for the future, because, she says, we’re not quite out of the woods yet. Chock full of very practical information and resources, the 227 page workbook is written in her usual no-nonsense nuts and bolts style and also covers credit, planning for college, spending and protecting your family and yourself.   Contact us at info@aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com for your free copy.

Good Clean Organic Love http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/2009/01/25/good-clean-organic-love/ http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/2009/01/25/good-clean-organic-love/#comments Sun, 25 Jan 2009 21:30:48 +0000 admin http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/?p=1200 For your Valentine pleasure, here’s a hard to find green and yummy treasure – organic personal lubricants and pleasure butters made from the finest base and aromatic essential oils that nourish, soften and heal skin. Good Clean Love sells only the finest all natural and organic green products for health and sexual enhancement. Most personal lubricants are made with petrochemicals and preserved with methyl and propyl parabens, and some women - and men - actually experience burning and irritation from them, and they can even further dry the skin. It feels good to be able to truly relax with these luxurious feeling lubricants made with only natural ingredients, and delightful, sensuous aromas.

Headquartered in Eugene, Oregon, GCL’s founder Wendy Steiger freely shares on her site that her products saved her marriage by eliminating the pain that occurred with intimacy. All of their products were developed to help create healthy and natural ingredient based products that make love accessible in relationships. They also sell a collection of intimate toys, romantic gifts, and sexual enhancement accessories, as well as sexual health resources.

Part of Wendy’s mission is to increase the awareness and experience of love in the world. The family business offers all natural love products that increase your ability to enjoy the passionate side of life, as well as educational resources that provide insights to help you experience relationships in new and loving ways.

Good Clean Love is an approved Coop America Green Company and strives to reduce it’s impact while providing the highest quality ingredients and recyclable packaging materials available. It’s also a signer of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and works to educate women, physicians and retail stores about the importance of clean and healthy ingredients in intimacy products, providing samples to schools, doctor’s offices and cancer treatment centers.

Mainstreaming Alternatives http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/2009/01/22/alternative-medicine-is-mainstream/ http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/2009/01/22/alternative-medicine-is-mainstream/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2009 21:55:57 +0000 admin http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/?p=1125 In what may be the best news on the health care scene in years, President Obama has suggested that if we want affordable health care, we need to address the causes of health and illness by providing incentives to live healthfully - rather than reimbursing only for drugs and surgery. He believes that chronic diseases can be delayed in onset, if not prevented entirely. Of the over 16% of GNP spent on health care last year, 75% was spent to treat chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and HIV/AIDS.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal about the upcoming Summit on Integrative Medicine and the Health of the Public, sponsored in part by the National Academy of Sciences, authors Dean Ornish, Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra and Rustum Roy suggest that this is a watershed moment for complementary and alternative therapies, which include meditation, yoga, acupuncture and herbal medicine. Indeed, a study published by the NAS suggests that using integrative medicine approaches may change gene expression in hundreds of genes in only a few months. CAM therapies are not only scientifically documented as medically effective, they’re also cost effective. The NAS study suggests that genes associated with cancer, heart disease and inflammation can be downregulated or “turned off” using integrative medicine approaches, while protective genes may be upregulated or “turned on.” The Lancet Oncology reported an increase in telomerase, the enzyme that lengthens telomeres the ends of our chromosomes and controls how long we live. Even drugs haven’t been shown to do this. The authors suggest that the body can heal itself more quickly than we realize when we address lifestyle factors at the root of chronic disease.

They also go on say that joy, pleasure and freedom are sustainable, while deprivation and austerity are not. “When you eat a healthier diet, quit smoking, exercise, meditate and have more love in your life, then your brain receives more blood and oxygen, so you think more clearly, have more energy, need less sleep. Your brain may grow so many new neurons that it could get measurably bigger in only a few months. Your face gets more blood flow, so your skin glows more and wrinkles less. Your heart gets more blood flow, so you have more stamina and can even begin to reverse heart disease. Your sexual organs receive more blood flow, so you may become more potent - similar to the way that circulation-increasing drugs like Viagra work. For many people, these are choices worth making - not just to live longer, but also to live better.

Your Money or Your Life? http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/2009/01/19/your-money-or-your-life/ http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/2009/01/19/your-money-or-your-life/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2009 18:27:02 +0000 admin http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/?p=1188 Speaking of finding meaning and purpose, MetLife’s Mature Market Institute just released the results of an interesting study this week on the priorities of those of us at midlife and beyond. Called Discovering What Matters: Balancing Money, Medicine and Meaning, the study explored how people prioritize their time and their goals in planning for and achieving their versions of the Good Life. In a previously unquantified finding, the study revealed that the Good Life for midlifers and our elders isn’t about financial freedom, good health, or even free time - but to experience a sense of meaning and purpose that can be provided through spending time with family, friends and other social relationships.

The study also found that even though this priority is clear, it’s often overlooked as people discuss their plans for the future. The results were so compelling that MetLife put together a free workbook, Discovering What Matters, together with Richard Leider that offers interesting frameworks that help you plan and focus your priorities. Richard Leider is founder of the Inventure Group, and author of the best selling Repacking Your Bags: Lighten Your Load for the Rest of Your Life. The travel metaphor describes life as a journey, with our experiences as the ‘baggage’ we carry as we go along. You can download the workbook on the MetLife site and use its tools to discover where you are on your journey and where you want to go next.

While you’re there, check out their website. They offer a range of resources and research on aging and retirement as well as financial planning tools.

Find Your Purpose, Change Your Life http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/2009/01/17/finding-your-purpose-change-your-life/ http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/2009/01/17/finding-your-purpose-change-your-life/#comments Sat, 17 Jan 2009 08:15:00 +0000 admin http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/?p=888 Many of us, as we age, come to feel that life has an inherent purpose and that we’re here to fulfill it. It can take the form of a deep spiritual longing, a certainty and a need to fulfill this purpose to give our lives meaning. But there’s a fly in the ointment - many of us don’t know what our purpose is, or how to find it! It’s not uncommon for this quest to reach a crescendo in midlife. Why it’s so difficult is a question worth asking. And what’s the way through?

In Find Your Purpose, Change Your Life: Getting to the Heart of Your Life’s Mission, Carol Adrienne suggests that you harness the twin powers of intuition and synchronicity to get in touch with what’s calling you. She offers helpful exercises, but first reviews ways that these natural gifts become buried amidst the business of growing up.

Family, peers, and culture dictate the norms of proper behavior, and it takes most people time to shed their conditioning to recognize what they personally believe. Jungian psychologist James Hillman, in The Soul’s Code, In Search of Character and Calling, uses the metaphor of the acorn and the oak. Each of us has an inborn life purpose, but it takes time to see what it is, just as it takes time for the acorn to turn into an oak tree.

People also get stuck in survival patterns that have outworn their usefulness. Defense and control mechanisms interfere with creative and open responses to opportunities. Replaying an endless tape loop doesn’t allow for new insights. You miss the synchronicities, the meaningful coincidences that lead you to the unexpected. Being present in each moment fine tunes your intuition, and to be awake to what’s calling you.

So how do you discover your life purpose? Purpose presents itself to us in many and subtle ways, but we have to be able to tune in to notice. You’ve heard Eckhart Tolle speak, or read The Power of Now. This is where it counts. Start to pay attention, in the moment, today. Notice what is catching your attention.

Your life purpose is always working on your behalf, Adrienne says. You were born with it. You can’t help but express it because it’s how you see the world, and it’s what interests you. The books you’re drawn to read, whatever absorbs and interests you so much that you lose track of time. It’s a mistake to try to make your life purpose a job title. Life purpose is much larger than that. Take action on your hunches and persistent thoughts, and recognition and aha’s will naturally emerge.

Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/2009/01/13/reversing-diabetes-in-30-days/ http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/2009/01/13/reversing-diabetes-in-30-days/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2009 11:42:47 +0000 admin http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/?p=1071 The consequences of not being mindful of what we eat as we age has just been upped a notch, as a new study on memory decline due to mild glucose imbalance indicates. For most of us, exercise is still our best bet for maintaining that balance.
This headline reminded me a remarkable documentary I saw a few months ago that poses the question: What if diabetes can be cured? Medicine today maintains there is no cure for diabetes. The documentary suggests that people with the disease can eliminate the need for the medications, test strips, blood monitors and the like completely by changing what they eat.

This snippet from the Simply Raw: Reverse Diabetes in 30 Days, follow six people with Type I and II diabetes going through a medically-supervised raw food diet regimen for 30 days. By the end of the first week, most of the group is off insulin. By the end of the month, each of the five who complete the program are medication free.

Dr. Gabriel Cousens, the physician who directed the program, says healing diabetes is quite easy. A “live food diet” - no meat, no dairy, no breads or cooked grains, no sugar, no caffeine, and nothing cooked over 118 degrees - works best for healing diabetes because cooking food diminishes 50% of protein content and a 70-80% loss of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients

The video deals frankly with the tough “emotional detox” - everyone has to deal with cravings, feeling irritable, emotional and restless. Dr. Cousens suggests this is a normal part of the healing process and it needs to happen. You can feel the depth of loss of the familiar, the comfortable, the known in each participant. It is an inspiring film. It’s easy to fall in love with these brave people and cheer for their determination.

Gabriel Cousens rreceived his MD from Columbia Medical School, is a member of the American Board of Holistic Medicine, and a Diplomat in Ayurveda. He is a leading authority on live-food nutrition, a psychiatrist, and medical researcher, lecturer, and author of six books, including, There is a Cure for Diabetes, Spiritual Nutrition, Depression-Free for Life, and Conscious Eating. Cousens is the founder and director of the Tree of Life Foundation and the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center, which offers regular 21 day Lifestyle Transformation and Reversing Diabetes programs. The Center’s website lists an impressive array of testimonials, including from futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard, actor Woody Harrelson, leadership author Ayman Sawaf, and former assistant secretary general to the UN, Robert Muller.

Our Stars, Our Selves http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/2009/01/11/our-stars-our-selves/ http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/2009/01/11/our-stars-our-selves/#comments Sun, 11 Jan 2009 21:43:00 +0000 admin http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/?p=988 Okay, that last entry felt a lot like hard work, so with all due respect to the men reading this post, I feel the need for a little eye candy. Seriously, listen up! We all desperately need images of what a thoughtful, satisfied, successful – and meaningful - midlife can look like, and under that elegant and poised exterior lies an interesting midlifer who’s ‘doing the work’.

I don’t remember where I read this interview with Brad Pitt about his new movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, about an octogenarian who ages backward into infancy, but I noted it because of comments he makes about his own aging. Among them was that this movie was a fitting assignment for a man at life’s midway point, as he had some personal reckoning to do with the temporality of things.

Pitt, who just turned 45, says that “once you hit 40, you start reexamining the math of it all,” So far though, the pluses and minuses are adding up just fine. He’s says that he’d trade wisdom for youth any day.

He seems to have become comfortable with who he is, both on set and off, and to have found balance in his life. A colleague comments that he thinks it may have to do with his family. “It’s like he wants to cut to the chase … work it … and then be done with it and go home and live to act another day.” Pitt agrees that as he has matured professionally he doesn’t have to grope as much for the character, and that age and experience has helped him fine-tune “what I’m after, what I think speaks in the piece. And {then} I want to hurry and get home to my kids.

Pitt has also found renewed purpose in giving back to a community in need, and with a very holistic and sustainable vision. To underscore the depth of his commitment, he recently moved his family of six kids to New Orleans, to better facilitate his Make It Right Foundation’s ambitious project to provide the city’s flood-ravaged Lower 9th Ward with dozens, if not hundreds, of affordable new housing units. Pitt sponsored an architecture competition organized by Global Green with the goal of generating ideas about how to rebuild sustainably. After reviewing the hurdles of rebuilding in a devastated area, they decided that a large-scale redevelopment project incorporating innovative design with green affordable housing was possible.

And he’s aware and preparing for the next chapter. Lately, he says he has been acquiring “more friends who are older than myself than younger” - even though, “I wouldn’t say our culture leans toward respecting the wisdom of age and those who’ve been around a lot. It’s Beavis and Butt-head: ‘You’re old!’ ”

He also suggests that what matters more than one’s age, is maintaining a creative spirit that lasts a lifetime. He seems to have found the sweet spot.

Midlife Classic: Awakening at Midlife http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/2009/01/09/midlife-transition-classic-awakening-at-midlife/ http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/2009/01/09/midlife-transition-classic-awakening-at-midlife/#comments Fri, 09 Jan 2009 20:50:33 +0000 admin http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/?p=984 In her classic book, Awakening at Midlife, Jungian analyst Kathleen Brehony tells the story of a successful attorney, who at 39, relates that he’s not actively unhappy, he just feels empty, that something is missing. Soon after, he experiences a heart pounding anxiety attack, and can’t understand what happened to his successful and ordered life. Brehony undertakes to unravel this story through a Jungian lens, asking, and answering: What is a midlife crisis? Why does it occur? And especially, why do the symptoms often appear in the “prime” of life, at a time when we have finally achieved so many of the things we’ve worked so hard for?

A protege of Freud, Swiss psychologist Carl Jung’s thinking diverged towards a belief in a spiritual unfolding in human development. He saw midlife as a natural and necessary passage to becoming a whole human being. He described it as the emergence of our shadow, or our ‘unlived selves’, that are built into the structure of the personality and the Self. Generally occurring between 35 and 50, and often experienced as a crisis, Jung cast the upheaval of midlife in a new light, suggesting that it need not be a crisis, as it offers a unique opportunity for growth. Indeed, if we understand its spiritual purpose and navigate it accordingly, then unparalleled psychological and spiritual transformation and fulfillment is possible.

For Jung, individuation is the heart and meaning of midlife transition, a process of letting go of who we are in order to become who we are supposed to be. It’s essentially an identity crisis of the ego. The carefully crafted public masks, or persona, we’ve spent a lifetime assembling, begin to crumble and are laid bare as our ‘shadow’ – beliefs, preferences, behaviors, and so on repressed through social conditioning – seek release and authentic expression. The poet Robert Bly who wrote The Little Book of the Human Shadow, notes that we spend half our lives putting parts of ourselves into the shadow and the other half trying to take them out again. Combine these unexpected ‘eruptions’ of unconscious parts of ourselves, with changing roles as children leave home, career pressures, the fact that our self-perception as well others’ perceptions of us change as we age, and a deeper awareness of mortality and death, and its no surprise that lives carefully built on hollow or false foundations begin to collapse and dramatically upset our balance of relationships, work and all areas of our lives!

When Awakening at Midlife was published just over a decade ago, it was the first to deconstruct Jung’s ideas about adult development as a time of spiritual growth and transformation. It’s still a valuable guide, as midlife still catches most of us by surprise, and is often misdiagnosed and misjudged. Therapists who fail to recognize its complexity may focus on random symptoms, treating midlife depression with Prozac for example, without understanding it as a necessary part of the journey to individual growth.

Instead, this book offers a holistic viewpoint of midlife as a search for wholeness, meaning and renewed purpose, with concrete suggestions to navigate the unfamiliar terrain, including exercises for self-reflection, building and drawing on support systems, and using creative expression, like drawing and journaling, to give heretofore unexpressed parts of yourself a voice.

Hearing these voices is a good first step. After that, of course, the question is, what choices will we make? From my point of view, the good news is that midlife requires only three things of us: integrity, trust, and courage. If I were to venture a bite-sized prescription of how to navigate the passage smoothly, perhaps even joyfully, it might be summed up as: Act in alignment with your insights.

Choosing Life http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/2009/01/08/choosing-life/ http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/2009/01/08/choosing-life/#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2009 11:46:12 +0000 admin http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/?p=1024 Maybe it’s because I’m feeling great this morning after a new workout regimen I started at the gym yesterday, but this piece in today’s New York Times, Disease Invades a Body, and Endorphins Kick In, is so uplifting I have to share it. It describes people with serious illnesses - diabetes, brain cancer, advanced coronary disease - just throwing in the towel - to run 5 and 10K marathons and entering Ironman competitions! As one woman who had never exercised in her life, and had undergone the series of treatments for breast cancer said, “Something had changed. I was desperate to feel my body again. I needed to know it was still there.” It’s a “fascinating if somewhat incongruous equation,” says the reporter, “people fighting sickness or disease who are, at the same time, in the best shape of their lives.”

Curiously, no mention was made of whether, or how, their actions may have impacted the course of their illness, although the man diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in 2002 is still alive today. But perhaps what matters most is that their diagnosis didn’t make them forget that they are still alive, and in spite of everything, they’ve chosen to feel, to focus on what’s good and healthy and vital, and to be courageous enough to savor the life they have.

Enjoying Weight Loss! http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/2009/01/07/enjoying-weight-loss/ http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/2009/01/07/enjoying-weight-loss/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2009 08:53:54 +0000 admin http://www.aheadofthecurveatmidlife.com/?p=967 Like anyone with ‘weight issues’ you likely look askance at weight loss ‘programs’ that offer the world. And rightly so. Everyone knows that successful, i.e. healthy and sustainable, weight loss depends on the balance between calories taken in and those expended. So most diet programs just fiddle with this equation. They change one or another variable - the quality or amount of food, the type and frequency of exercise – or with body or blood typing guides for good measure. What they fail to take into account is that managing your weight is more about lifestyle than physiology. You have to take action, daily, many times a day, into perpetuity. At this point, you fall rapidly into the category of behavioral management.

Hypnosis is one technique that directly works to re-enforce behavior. What I didn’t realize, and learned from Dr. Mark Hyman, is that hypnosis for weight loss is approved for clinical use by both the British Medical Association and the American Medical Associations. Used on a regular basis, it can help you learn positive eating behaviors and create healthy long-term patterns of food intake.

Let me backtrack. Mark Hyman, M.D. is a functional medicine physician whose prevention-centered approach is on the frontier of scientific medicine. Functional medicine is grounded in research in biochemical individuality, and treats the underlying cause of chronic disease by looking for disturbances in how what we take in is processed by the body, to include hormonal and inflammatory imbalances, and digestive and detoxification mechanisms. Among many other things, Mark Hyman is Chief Editor of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, was Director of Medicine at Canyon Ranch, and a prolific author, including of the New York Times bestseller, Ultrametabolism. When I learned that he recommends this hypnosis program as part of a weight loss program, I thought I’d look into it.

The 8 session CD set Enjoying Weight Loss– now there’s a concept! – offers a variety of trances that offer positive suggestions on a range of issues, from making better food choices and avoiding temptation, to getting out and exercising, and dealing with stress and anxiety. Because hypnosis helps to create new thought patterns as well as access subconscious blocks, self-destructive behavior that appears to be out of your control slowly becomes a thing of the past. The program involves relaxing with the CDs through a headset twice a day for 20 minutes. Each session builds on the one before, so you will notice more and more positive change the deeper you go.

The soothing voice belongs to Dr. Roberta Temes, creator of the program, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hypnosis, and editor of Medical Hypnosis, the first medical textbook on hypnosis. She’s also on the faculty of SUNY Health Science Center.

There’s not much more I can tell you that you won’t find by going directly to the link. Give it a try, I hope it works for you, I’d love to hear from you about it (either way!). At worst, consider it as a way to relax and regularly shift your thoughts away from the stress of dieting every day!