In what may be a stroke of benevolent synchronicity, the emergent field of positive psychology could not have come at a more opportune moment for midlifers. Though its roots lie in the 50s, in humanistic psychology’s emphasis on healthy adult development rather than mental illness, it was given new life by Martin Seligman, who coined the term just a decade ago. Positive psychology focuses on what makes life fulfilling, and on the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. And, as a crux of midlife challenge is coming face to face with unanticipated feelings of limitation, failure, and sometimes consequent despondency, these are just the questions we find ourselves asking … ourselves.

Or we would be well-advised to, as Fortune 500 business consultant and coach Julie Jansen suggests in her book, I Don’t Know What I Want, But I know It’s Not This: A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding Gratifying Work. While midlife can be a time of confronting limitations, it can also be a time for new beginnings. The outcome may depend on how you manage the transition. Read more

As midlifers, asking your grandmother for wisdom is something you may no longer be able to do. But sometimes there’s just no substitute for the unsentimental, kind, but straight talk you want to hear. And although most questions put to Elders at the Elder Wisdom Circle on this free site most often come from younger folk, they happily to respond to anyone in need. On the other hand, if you are 60 or older and would like an opportunity to mentor, you may add your voice and your wisdom to the growing collective of over 600 cyber-grandmothers, with a collective life experience of 45,000 years.

The Circle has responded to over 100,000 letters to date, and has published a book, The Elder Wisdom Circle Guide for a Meaningful Life, complied by some 60 Elders and nine Elder groups across the US, more than fulfilling its dual mission of offering personalized elder know-how via email to anyone who requests it, and to elevate the perceived value and worth of the senior community. Read more

It is an uplifting and sea-changing sign of the times: Today’s New York Times headline – and among the ten most frequently emailed - is a must-share. Starting Over, With a Second Career Goal of Changing Society, describes an experimental - and experiential - leadership program initiated by Harvard University this week designed for midlifers. It’s goal is to help those of us evaluating our choices at the second half of life to take our skills and experience, and to focus them on what matters most to us. In this case, to become effective social entrepreneurs and impact social problems like poverty, health, education and the environment. Read more

Here’s a little holiday virtual stocking stuffer for you. Heaven knows it’s been a tough few months, and if you aren’t already, weaving mini self-care practices into your daily routine might just be the best investment that you could make right now. The Desktop Spa is one of my essential health care secrets. I regularly use one of their 3-8 minute guided programs for instant pick-me-ups, to help me relax so I can to drift off to sleep, or to heal the churn in my gut from some metaphorical punch during the day. The guided audio and video programs are among the best out there, by leading pioneers in the holistic health field, using techniques ranging from guided imagery to acupressure, breathing exercises, qi gong and yoga. At your fingertips. Read more

It’s a time honored tradition, traveling to seek health. Pilgrims to Lourdes journeyed for a miracle. The well-heeled traveled to Battle Creek for rest and rejuvenation. Cancer patients seek unconventional cures in Mexico. Businessmen travel to the Mayo Clinic for regular check ups. And modern women go spa-ing to regain their ground, or for a ‘time out- with friends or daughters.

Joy of Health Vacations is a modern twist on an old practice, yet its roots go back to ancient Rome. Literally. This fertile region nestled amidst the vast rolling hills between the majestic Alps and the vast Carpathian mountains in Central Europe, served as the easternmost front of the Roman Empire, and - not coincidentally – it lies atop one of the most abundant reservoirs of mineral rich healing hot springs in the world. For the Roman soldier, it was a fountain of rejuvenation. They came here to heal their wounds, and to rest and strengthen their weary bodies for the next battle. Read more

The tagline of this press release is What if Tens of Millions Devoted 10-Year Encore Careers to Solving Society’s Most Pressing Social Problems? , and announces that five people over 60 who have successfully taken on a social challenge will be awarded a $100,000 Purpose Prize. The summit is sponsored by Civic Ventures, an organization founded by Marc Freedman, that is pioneering a social movement aimed at promoting the experience of baby boomers – he calls those over 60 members of the “experience generation” - as a vital workforce for solving serious social problems. Marc Freedman is an extraordinary social entrepreneur, and author of Encore: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life, a book that challenges midlifers to build a better world through a second career. He describes the midlife imperative as a shift from doing well to doing good, Read more

Here’s a new and surprising trend, and also a significant sign of the times. It’s estimated by The Alzheimer’s Association and the National Alliance for Caregiving that up to 40% of family care providers now are men, up from 19% in 1996. That’s about 17 million men caring for an elderly parent or family member. They face the same challenges, doubts and commitment as women, and then some. Something as mundane as bathing their mother can be confronting, as is reluctance to discuss their role at work for fear of appearing less than 100% work focussed. But underlying the challenge is the same timeless calling, as expressed by one caregiver: “… it’s a great opportunity here. Here’s the woman who nurtured me. She now is the child. You worry if you’re up for the challenge. If I don’t make this challenge, what kind of human being am I?”

To me life is movement, vitality itself. I like to play tennis and dance, but walking, strength training and yoga have always been my staples. Yoga keeps me loose and calm, and a good workout leaves makes me feel strong. But walking has always been purely for pleasure. That is, until not long ago, when I discovered walking poles. What caught my attention is the workout they give the upper body. I was skeptical, but the multi-tasker in me awakened, so I borrowed a set from a friend and gave them a try. To my great surprise, my first 30 minute walk worked my upper arms and shoulders to fatigue, I was standing straighter, and felt great, like after any good workout. I was an instant convert.
Being one of those people who like to pile virtue on even the simplest pleasures if I can manage it, I got curious and did some more research. Tom Rutlin is the original inventor walking poles, which he calls Exerstriders Exerstrider Fitness Poles…work smarter, not harder! Read more

“A job should not just put bread on the table but also a smile on your face.” That’s the philosophy of Brian Kurth, founder of an innovative company, Vocation Vacations , that offers brief, pay-for-mentoring opportunities. A light bulb went off for Brian during a vacation he designed for himself as a break from his corporate job. Now he’s an expert in dream job and life style exploration, featured on NBC’s Today, Oprah magazine and the WSJ.
What a great opportunity to reality check your fantasies. Want to run a cozy B&B? One mentor comments on his daily laundry and kitchen detail: “This is how I spend my time. Is this what you want to be doing?” Clients can gift their child or spouse with their dream job. One’s husband said his stint as a vitner was the best gift he’d ever received.

Vocation Vacations offers over 100 opportunities, from learning the ropes of owning a coffee shop, to sports announcer, landscape designer, actor, florist, alpaca trainer, private detective and wine maker, to name a few. In addition to mentoring vacations, packages for career changers includes Read more

News from The Body Shop

November 14, 2008 | 1 Comment

Many of us remember the Body Shop. It brought natural cosmetics to the mass market, was a pioneer in refusing to sell products tested on animals, and advocated for Trade Not Aid, long before it became a buzzword. I loved to walk into my local shop just to smell the delicious scents. But truly it was Body Shop founder, British-born Anita Roddick, whom I admired the most. Sadly - a bit behind the curve on this one - I learned only recently that she passed away last September.
Dame Anita Roddick was knighted by the queen for her social justice work, and was among the two dozen founders of Business for Social Responsibility, along with Ben and Jerry, in 1976, that set out to revolutionize how business in America operates. They walked their talk, introducing family leave, fair wage and health equality practices in their own businesses. It’s hard to imagine what radical notions these were at the time. There’s still a ways to go, but the idea of corporate responsibility - profits with principles - is embedded in business ethics. And they were surely forerunners Read more