coaching

"Our Thoughts on Aging" Interview Project: August 2015 Update

The last time I shared an update about this interview project was in December 2013! That’s 20 months ago! Wowsa. Apologies to all of you who have followed along on this journey. Since then so much has changed in my life, changes that have not only moved this interview project forward but pretty much catapulted it way beyond what I could have imagined. But I am speeding ahead so I’ll slow down and share what happened since that December 2013 when I made the decision to conclude the interview project at 30 interviews. Up until that point, I shared these interviews publicly on this blog and then I moved them into a secret space where only I could access them.

I then went on to explore what to do next, what would be most meaningful: for me, for the interviewees, for the world. After brainstorming a myriad of possibilities, I decided to move forward with a book — a beautiful, evocative, moving page-turner on aging and dying and death. You know, the sexy stuff.

In the first half of 2014 my dad experienced a series of health events and crises that took his health into a state of decline. He was hospitalized in late June 2014 and passed away on July 20, 2014. My dad’s death was personally transformative, wisdom-building of the life experience kind. I earned new grey-hairs honestly through these years of care-giving, grieving and transitioning through family loss and changes that rippled out.

Looking back, I realize that it was as though a part of me had stalled on this project, as if an inner part of me knew, knew, that I needed to experience the death of my dad so that I could write and create this from a place of lived understanding.

Interestingly, I had contacted my writing coach, Chris Kay Fraser at Firefly Creative Writing, in the Spring while I was in the midst of it all. Similarly to when my clients decide to hire me, I decided to hire her for accountability, structure, support, to find my way into new insights and realizations, and for what she excels at, inspiration. So now I am writing up my own story and threading it among these others for what I hope will be evocative and compelling reading.

For a variety of what-I-think-are interesting reasons that are will be elaborated in the book, from the original 30 interviews there will now be approximately 17 interviewees in the final version. After reconnecting with each of them for clarity and updates, I am now in the process of transcribing them and shaping them into a story format. I found that reading an interview is one experience and that reading someone’s story is decidedly more fluid and intimate.

As I mentioned earlier, there are a few special treats that will be created out of this project. A couple of the interview questions asked about the positive things about aging and the total count from the interviewees came to over 70! I’m working with a talented graphic designer to create a text image for posters, cards, etc. And each interviewee will receive a gift package for volunteering their time and sharing their personal thoughts — theirs has been a most valuable and meaningful contribution.

Create a gift box - for yourself!

Whether going through a challenging transition or feeling in the midst of stuckness, one idea to  stay motivated is to create a gift box as an accountability tool for yourself. It can hold you accountable to your dreams, your goals, and your Authentic Self. Create it for yourself as a personal gift that will inspire you. Here are some suggestions for your gift box. The “Letting Go box” and “Friendship box” are amazing ideas that were offered by students from my “ReDesign Your Life for Retirement” class.

* Core Values Box - After clarifying your personal core values (a life coach can help you!), write down each one on a separate piece of paper. You can write down as many as you want - 30, 50, 75! Each day, remove one from the box and honour it throughout your day.

* Celebration or Gratitude box - Every day write down (at least) one thing you feel grateful for or want to celebrate and read your collection at the end of the month or at a time when you most need it.

* Accomplishment box - Oftentimes when we are moving through a transition or making a big change in our lives, the steps we take and the work we have done can get lost amid all the movement. Creating an accomplishment box that you fill daily with one thing you have done can keep you inspired as you read your accomplishments a week or a month at a time.

* Inspiration box - Fill your inspiration box with 30 meaningful quotes, sayings, poetry, jokes. Draw one out each day to enjoy, inspire you, make you laugh or give you a moment’s pleasure.

* Letting go box - Write down things you want to let go of. For example, a book, a household item, a bathroom item, an item of clothing, an emotion, a grudge, rigidity, smallness, frustration, a situation, tension, etc. Fill your box with 30 different items. Draw one item every day from the box and practice letting go on a daily basis.

* Friendship box - Place the names of your friends in the box. Each day pull out one name and contact that person. Keep on meeting new people and making new acquaintances to add to your box. What a wonderful way to stay connected to your friends and deepen your friendships.

* Kindness Box - Lynnette Rumble of Aim Coaching and Be The Game offered this great idea for a gift box. She says, “We suggest this to our school kids as part of the 21-Day #KINDEVERYTIME Challenge. Write down kind things you have done or make note of the kindness bestowed upon you by others.” Such a great idea!

When you finish filling or emptying one box, consider whether you want to stick with the same gift box or try a new one. Each one will offer you an opportunity to learn about ourself, experience connection, resonance and aliveness, and honour that which is most important to you.

Do you have any other ideas for a gift box? I’d love to hear your suggestions or other ideas you have tried.