The First Stage of Transition: The Ending

A transition always starts with something coming to an end. We may not have realized it yet; we may still be in the throes of the beginning of an end, coming to terms with it. It also often includes many mini endings before the final one.

I would say the beginning of the transition started about 5 years ago when my husband had his prostate removed because he had stage 4 cancer; then he was fine for about 2 years following which he had radiation therapy; only to then find out in August, 2014, that he had an aggressive mutated cancerous mass growing. It was recommended to him in September that chemo therapy was only palliative in nature; to likely extend his life 6 months to 1 year, as well as greatly improve his quality of life.  Without realizing it, my transition really started then.

I was shocked at the diagnosis of terminal cancer. The doctor was proposing chemo therapy only to improve the quality of life and to extend it for a short period of time. It certainly should not have been a surprise; I already knew he had an aggressive cancer for at least a month. It felt like it was the first time I had ever heard the news. I am not the type of person who believes this should not happen to us. Even so, I realized it really does not matter how much the mind can absorb such information, the emotions don’t react the same way at all!

In response to the shock, I realize now that at that time I felt like shutting out everyone else, to close in. I was not feeling much of anything, except the occasional crying of coming to terms with losing my life partner.  It’s like I wanted to stay “inside and not go out” any more.

It is only after the urging of some of my friends that I reluctantly asked for help from our amazing network of friends and family by putting in place the ”care calendar”, to share news and ask for the help we needed (I highly recommend this online tool: http://www.carecalendar.org/  – a charitably run website where people are informed on what is happening as well as they can schedule the time they would like to come for a visit or help).

The outpouring of love that came back was incredible. Even so, it was still hard for me to take it all in. The urge to stay in the cocoon, insulated from the outside remained strong.

More to follow!

Major Transition – Journeying with a loved one dying –my Personal Journey

Being a transition coach, I am obviously very familiar with the subject of transitions and the profound impact they can have on our lives.  I am particularly vividly aware of this now as I’m going through a major transition myself; the journey of being with and seeing my husband dying.

Why share this particular journey? I realized when I started expressing my thoughts and feelings in writing that I found a voice I had not heard before. Prior to this, I was floating through the motions; it was just a blur, although not aware of it. Blogging forces me to reflect upon what I’m living, experiencing, although not comfortable, I am finding this very enriching – an interesting surprise. At the same time, it is my intention that my sharing will also allow others of you to reflect on what you have experienced/are experiencing on this subject as you are/went through this transition yourself.  I invite you as well to use the comments section of this blog to share with myself and others about your experiences.

July/August Tone Magazine Article

From Adult to Elder – the Wisdom of Slowing Down

I’ve recently realized how much we want quick answers even to profound questions. We promote and reinforce the multi-tasking, frenetic pace of life such that if we can’t do two things at the same time, we’re not operating at maximum efficiency and there’s something wrong with us. I think we’ve all been there, done that.

As we enter the fall season of our lives, many of us have been so busy being busy that we are worried and some even petrified of having nothing to do.  A client of mine said she was clear she would never get busy to the extent she did while working and is now spending much of her time meditating and meeting like-minded people talking about philosophy and spirituality.  She loves telling people at parties that she is doing nothing because they often gasp, or take a step back in shock that anyone could wish that for themselves. This person is obviously doing something worthwhile, quiet contemplation, engaged from the inside out. It is often not seen that way.

I was certainly one of those who could not see the value of inner contemplation nor have the patience to do so. With time, I got to experience the profound revelations that show up when sitting with a particular problem or question, in the quiet, and allowing the answers to come up rather than forcing them.  The problem with busyness and quick answers is that it keeps us on the surface of our life, at the superficial plane and does not allow depth. When we get an immediate answer it stops the inner query.  When allowed to engage, our inner Self very often reveals to us a much richer and deeper view of a problem as well as much more viable options.

As we age, it seems to become a stronger need to connect to our soul which seems to communicate much louder in the silence.  To explore deeper questions such as what is my inner wisdom, what brings meaning to my life, what is my legacy, are questions best answered by sitting with them for a while and on a regular basis. Having been the ‘queen of quick answers’ myself, it took a lot of perseverance to do this, however, it has definitely been worth it.

Thérèse Kelders offers personal consultations and programs to facilitate people transitioning from adult to elder, to realize a more meaningful and fulfilled life.

I would love your opinions on this article.  Please go to my Website (www.lifeintransition.ca), under Blog, click the title of this article then put in your comments.

I will be at the Ottawa Valley Midsummer Herbfest in Almonte on Sunday July 28, 2013, giving a presentation on:  a Major Life Transition – from Adult to Elder:  Harvesting our Wisdom. Hope to see you there!

 

April Tone Magazine Article

Society’s View of Elders

In my March article, I talked about how we don’t have a tendency to see the elders amongst us.  The other impression that I have is that society has a tendency to see many older people as demanding and self-centered rather than wise.  Does this mean we have fewer elders than previous generations in our society because we do not ‘see’ or respect it and therefore does not get fully developed or expressed?  Or is it because we have become more ego-centric and therefore not as interested in developing our wisdom or interest in how we can make a difference in our society? I suspect the former is the greater culprit. Without a ‘fertile ground to flourish’, the potential atrophies. 

The media has not demonstrated much interest in showing us the elders amongst us.  I have seen very few articles in magazines, newspapers or television about elders’ contributions to society although I have no doubt there are many amazing ones.  They rarely use people over 40 in advertising other than for promoting seniors’ residences or medical conditions.  They seem invisible.  The fact that a few movies have come out recently about older people and have had great reviews from the critics and the public, I think is an indication that we are interested.     

Society seems to attach value only to those contributing in the workplace.  Once they leave, they belong ‘out to pasture’, out of the way.  Many of us, however are not interested in the leisurely retirement of just staying home, golfing and/or travelling, we want to participate. 

The fact that society does not recognize elders affects those of us who are transitioning from adulthood to elderhood (usually between 50 and 65) as we experience a sense that we no longer belong where we used to have a very strong sense of belonging.  I assume it affects as well the generation just before us, who are already elders and feel separate from society, not experiencing being an integrated part of it.

All of this is happening at a time when our lives have been extended 25 to 30 years at the end of our adult years and likely to be in relatively good health.  In addition, the boomers are the first generation to outlive all previous ones before us as well as being the largest cohort of all time.  

Why does all of this matter? Because how society views us impacts how we will experience our elder years ourselves. We will need to change society’s views of us, starting with our own perspective on aging. Although we are seen as the generation that had the most opportunities, the most privileged, most of us lived a full and active life, we worked hard, and wanted the best for our children and actively involved in their lives.  We were demanding of what we wanted in life, we had high expectations and we fought for what we believed in. I think we learned a lot from what we lived and as a result, have a lot to give back.

Furthermore, as we transition into elderhood, we have a tendency to shift from busyness to meaningfulness. Our interests turn more towards our heart’s/soul’s needs than those of our ego. We are less interested in doing more than doing what matters.  I believe this is a very worthwhile endeavour.

I offer one-on-one process work as well as a six-month program. If you are ready to engage in this transition, please contact me to discuss which process is best for you.

I would love your opinions on this article – please comment below.

 

 

March Tone Magazine Article 2013

How to Recognize the Elders Amongst Us

Agism is an undercurrent that we don’t always recognize.  Since I’ve been researching and putting together a program and process work on how to transition from adulthood to elderhood, I considered myself rather ‘enlightened’ in ‘seeing’ an Elder, who in my definition, is an old wise person.  From the following encounter described next, I realized to what extent we unconsciously judge people passed a certain age.

I was waiting at the counter in a store to pay for an article when I noticed the woman who was serving the customer in front of me was arduously calculating something and it was taking her an inordinate amount of time (from my perspective).  I noticed that she was likely in her mid- 60’s or older and immediately thought she was very slow because she was too old to be doing this.  I realized how automatic that came.  If she had been a young person, I would have just thought she was slow.

A young woman, about 18 years old, came to the counter and the older woman continued concentrating on her calculations.  The young woman said hi and asked a hug from her.  She extended her arms and gave her a hug.  The young woman said she would come later.  The customer whom she was serving in front of me commented she must be her grand-daughter.  She replied:  ‘oh no, she used to work here and I just encouraged her because her family was too busy. I didn’t think she should spend the rest of her life working in a store and I encouraged her to go back to school which she finally did.  She saved the money and went back to school.  I probably nagged her too much’.  I replied:  ‘whatever works!’  The woman in front of me agreed. 

This older woman said all of this very matter-of-factly, like she was commenting on a movie she watched last night.  She did not seem to realize the profound difference she made to this young woman.  She just did it naturally, like there was nothing exceptional about it.  She continued serving us attentively; taking the time she needed to serve us well. 

If I had not done the research on how society, which means us, view older people (of which I a one at age 60), I would not likely have noticed what an amazing woman she was and the profound difference she made to that young woman who very clearly appreciated her.

How many of us truly ‘see’ people we consider old?  How often do we just assume they are too slow and should not be ‘seen nor heard’?

I would love your comments below on this article.

I offer one-on-one consultations and programs to support people transitioning into their third stage of life, from adulthood to elderhood, to realize a more meaningful fulfilled life.  Please contact me at 613-833-1988 if you wish to explore further.

Thérèse Kelders

 

 

Transition from Adulthood to Elderhood

February Newsletter: Are you Transitioning from Adulthood to Elderhood?

As my first newsletter on the subject of transitioning from adulthood to elderhood, I wish to say that I had no idea it existed when I lived through it myself. Around 55 or so, I started feeling restless, that something was missing in my life although I had a great husband, work, home, family and friends. As I started to research the subject matter, however, I realized how common was my experience.  I also realized how taking the time to delve into this transition can be life-altering. 

If you are experiencing feeling out of sync in one or more areas of your life at this transition point (usually between 50 to 65 years of age), you will want to read further.

Transitioning from Adulthood to Elderhood

This particular transition is significant as we move towards the completion of our life. We become more drawn to and seek what is meaningful, authentic and has substance. It is therefore important to stop at this juncture to reflect and take stock of our life so far:

  • what is no longer working
  • what has ended/ending, no longer relevant
  • what lessons have we learned so far, to uncover our wisdom

From the foundation of our wisdom, we can then look at:

  • what is now emerging
  • what brings meaning and fulfillment
  • what is left for us to experience, express and contribute.

One Foot in Adulthood 

As we start this transition, we have one foot remaining in adulthood where our focus has been on:

  • Career: where we expanded our experience and expertise, working our way up or looking for opportunities in our field of expertise
  • Family life: where many of us got married, had children and focused on the development of our children
  • Personal life: where we developed a sense of who we are, our character, our personality, how we related to others, who we engaged with i.e. friends, colleagues, family
  • Material wants/needs: where most of us accumulated more things, initially starting small and over the years became bigger: homes, cars and accumulation of various stuff

Moving into Elderhood

As we start the transition into elderhood, we have been in the adult aspect of life for 25 to 30 years, very comfortable there, where we have come into the fullness of who we are. As a result, few of us are really aware or paying attention that we may be shifting into something else. We therefore continue to experience the above-noted adult wants and needs but start to feel/sense the gradual shift/pull towards something else. Often these symptoms or shifts start showing up:

  • for some, what we used to love, we don’t any more or much less. For example, the types of movies or programs we want to see, the types of conversations we want to have, the quality of relationships
  • our relationship with our adult children are shifting from care-giving to mentoring
  • concerns with what we’ll do in retirement that is satisfying
  • realizing being constantly very busy is no longer desirable nor sustainable
  • what matters to our heart/soul starts speaking louder than our mind
  • concerns about aging – our relationship to our aging body/mind
  • a sense of urgency regarding the quality of our life, sensing/feeling we have much less time in front than behind us
  • change in focus from action to reflection and what is meaningful
  • facing that certain aspects of our life is out of sync with who are now/becoming
  • a ‘dark night of the soul’ where feeling empty and disconnected with Life
  • experiencing our life is not contributing to something worthwhile
  • sense/feel Life wants us to either express something that was ignored or that is different
  • at a loss of what is next in our life

We may not always be aware that this is happening underneath the surface. At times it feels more like a general malaise.

I’ll have more to say in my March Newsletter.

How Do You Relate to This?

For those of you who are in this transition, I would love to hear from you:

  • what are you are going through regarding what I mentioned above, what you are experiencing in this transition?
  • do you feel/ sense something is different inside of you even though you may not quite know what it is?
  • how do you feel/sense about growing old – are you comfortable with it, avoiding it or fighting it?

Ready to Engage?

If you are ready to engage with this transition at a deeper level, please contact me regarding my program and one-on-one work.  You can reach me at:  613-833-1988.

Mining the Gold in the Third Stage of Life

Mining the Gold in the Third Stage of Life

Published in Tone Magazine, June 2012 Issue

We enter “new turnings” regularly as we move through our lives.  At each turning, we change how we feel about ourselves, our community and the future.  Between 50 and 60, we arrive at one of these turnings, when life offers us one of our last opportunities to evaluate and to transform who we are.

There is a new urgency at this time, as we have, at best, another 20 to 30 years before we become either physically and/or mentally unable to live the quality of life that we want.  Before it is too late, now is the time to excavate our lives, to see the journey taken so far, to give ending to what needs to be completed, as well as to originate what needs to begin, to access our deepest gifts and to reclaim what we have set aside, so that we may make the most of this third stage of life.

As we live busy lives, many of us do not take the time that is necessary to be present to this turning, or transition.  We continue living, pushing forward and take life as it comes.  We often just touch the surface of what is happening within us, not taking the time to go deeper, beneath the surface.

It is in these depths, however, that the gold lies.  As we know, gold is hidden deep in the dark.  By bringing the light of awareness to the darkness, we can then access the gold of our deepest wisdom, the wisdom that comes with age.

The act of excavating the wisdom of age flies in the face of a society that is obsessed with youth.  We are told that as long as we stay ‘young at heart’, we will beat getting old.  ‘Getting old’ is now interpreted to mean being dowdy, boring and discarded – nobody will need us if we are old.

Ironically, nothing could be further from the truth!  In fact, to become an elder is to step further into our lives, into our Purpose on earth.  As we fulfill our purpose, we not only feel more fulfilled personally but also enrich the lives of our families and our communities. When we grow into the role of elder, we continue to evolve, to deepen our rich fertile life including a depth of character where meaning is more important than wanting and having.

My work as a Life in Transition Coach is designed to support and challenge people to take on this transition to elder fully either in a one-on-one setting or in my program – New Life after 50: The Third Stage of Life (www.lifeintransition.ca). I believe it is our birthright and our responsibility to become elders.  Engaging with the transformation of becoming Elder will yield our most beautiful gold, enabling us to live our best lives, for ourselves and for the world at large.

Thérèse Kelders, Life Transition Coach
Provides individual and in-depth programs on the third stage of life.