It’s terrifying to be a mom and we men need to do far much more than honor that.

fathers and daugtersWhat most men and fathers are seemingly unaware of is that mothers of our daughters have a truly frightening task: teaching our daughters how to be safe in a world where at least three of five girls will be subjected to sexual abuse  or other forms of gender abuse in their lifetimes.

Our beautiful teenage daughters desire to be boldly and vividly alive, fully self-expressed, socially popular and accepted by boys and peers. They demand of us that we permit them the freedom to dress as they please in pursuit of self-expression, popularity, and belonging. They are furious and resist us when we deny them freedoms they feel they deserve.

Our daughters simply do not recognize the terror we live with on their behalf. Our beloved daughters cannot know what we know – how easy it is for them to become the next statistic: abused, raped, drugged, abducted, exploited, enslaved, or murdered as a result of their female gender.

We adults respond by attempting to suppress our daughter’s natural exuberant sexuality and sense of self-expression. We attempt to hem them in with rules; we (naively) enforce curfews. We’ll interrogate and give the stink-eye to potential male admirers. We make ourselves become gatekeepers in a desperate pursuit for their safety.

To add insult to injury, our nightmares and anxiety will remain with us for the rest of our lives, well after they have left the “safety” of our home. We will do the best we can to numb our anxiety the day we see them drive off without us to protect them.

Part two

And men, we are not as helpful as partners to our spouses as we might be. All too often our female partners, the mothers of our children, feel alone and unsupported by us, as if we did not care about our daughters. We often minimize their all to real concerns.

By way of offering a mitigating defense – I would assert that many males grow up in a world in which some kind of masculine “sucking it up” is our norm.

Growing up in the very same gender-distorted society as our female partners we adapt in our own unique way. We learn to survive our male lives with, “Tomorrow is another day. It’s not so bad. Take a break. It will feel better in the morning. Have a beer.” Or, to quote King Solomon, we’ve learned that, “This too, shall pass.” And it does indeed pass – until it doesn’t.

However, this adaptive male worldview and set of coping, survival perspectives makes us poor partners when it comes to raising our daughters.

In effect, the bulk of responsibility for our daughter’s safety winds up on the plate our female partner’s shoulders.

I’ll never forget the day when my fifteen-year-old daughter turned to me in anger, noting and resenting the fact that, “men were looking at her differently now.” I knew exactly what she meant. I sympathized that that is the way the world is. I tried to explain but I, her dad – had nothing to offer.  Atlas shrugged.

I admire, appreciate and honor all female partners and mothers of daughters for shouldering the burden of our daughter’s safety. I deplore that we as male partners and fathers of daughters have largely left it that way.

So the challenge, for both mothers and fathers is: What is next?

A few suggestions as the man I am who admires the women in my life.

  1. Talk about it.  Talk about our feelings as we watch our children mature and evolve.
  2. Stick to the 80/20 rule – wherein we listen 80% of the time, speak 20% of the time.
  3. Support the mothers of our children – even when we might rather not.
  4. Talk to our daughters and sons, appropriate to their age, as they grow and develop. What they can grasp at age 11 will grow yearly at least till they reach age 25.
  5. Don’t fool ourselves that a some spontaneous generational shift will occur without our personal participation.

Your turn: What would you offer?

Hint: Accepting that our world is and will continue to be a place where women are abused is not an acceptable answer.

10 Things to Be Grateful For

Retirement gratitudeDuring their transition from their full time work world into the encore stage of life, Baby Boomers may experience feelings of loss and letting go. These are valid feelings because you have left a very familiar way of life and they should be acknowledged. Losing a significant part of your life may cause feelings of lack because you no longer have what you had before. And, if you do not have a clear vision for your future retirement lifestyle, you may feel a great deal of scarcity and emptiness rather than rich abundance.

All this may feel very overwhelming. One powerful antidote to these feelings is focusing on that for which you are grateful at this new time of your life, whether large or small. Consider these:

10 Things to Be Grateful For

Yes, we’re thankful for our health, our safety, our loved ones. But what else? What do we take for granted? What moves us? What would fill our hearts daily if we would just notice it?

1. The senses. Sight, sound, touch, smell and taste—daily miracles each of them.

2. The plant world. From the productivity of a late-summer tomato plant to the delicate unfurling of a fern, nature’s exuberance and tenderness is something to behold.

3. Opportunity. Our steady companion, opportunity is always ready to take us down a path yet unknown. (Hint: We have to say “Yes!”)

4. Beauty. What do your eyes feast on? What splendor makes your soul rejoice? It is all around us every day. How often do you stop to drink it in?

5. The ability to learn. There is no age limit on learning—period. When we stop learning, we really stop living.

6. Young children. They model for us innocence, faith, resilience, playfulness and unconditional love.

7. Music. What inspires you, lifts your mood? Rock & roll, African drumming, violin concertos, Turkish oud, gospel? A nightingale?

8. The ability to give. Every act of love benefits the giver as much as the receiver.

9. Color. Sunsets, Gauguin paintings, green peppers, blue eyes. Imagine a world without color….

10. Change. It’s unavoidable; the only constant. Change can be unsettling or challenging. But the mystery of it and what lies beyond it can keep us young at heart.

Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications

Janice Williams, Retirement Coach, www.welcomingretirement.com

 

Are You Open to Unsought Opportunities?

FreedomIn your full time professional world you may have enjoyed the feeling of control over your activities and the approval from those around you. When Baby Boomers leave the comfort of that world, they will experience a major life change. The change requires navigating the emotional transition that arises from letting go of the past, traversing the period of unknowing, and welcoming the new beginnings. The degree to which you hang onto your need for control or approval during these phases will determine how smoothly you make your transition into your retirement lifestyle.

When you free yourself from your need for control or approval in the encore stage of life, you create space to allow unsought opportunities to arise. When you let go of the need to control what happens in your life you actually can experience greater fulfillment by being aware of the unexpected. This is a new chapter of your life. When you let go of your need for approval from those around you, you become freer to make new and exciting choices for your retirement lifestyle.

The Sedona Method is an effective process for releasing such limiting feelings. The 5 Step Process consists of:

Step 1 – Notice what you are feeling about wanting control or approval.

Step 2 – Ask yourself three questions:

  • Could I let this feeling go?
  • Could I allow this feeling to be here?
  • Could I welcome this feeling?

Step 3 – Ask yourself if you are willing to let go of the feeling.

Step 4 – Ask yourself when you will let it go.

Step 5 – Repeat these four steps until you no longer experience your feeling.

For a more complete description of this deceptively simple, yet powerful, process, please see http://www.sedona.com

When you let go of your need for control or approval you can more easily accept the dynamics of transitioning through the change into your retirement life. Allow yourself to surrender to the process, have faith in yourself and those around you, and trust that everything is as it should be in the present moment.

What do you do to be open to unsought opportunities?

Janice Williams, Retirement Coach, www.welcomingretirement.com

 

Where Do You Start?

Encore startEven with the best designed plans, Baby Boomers can experience a shocking new reality when they leave their full time work world. Your encore stage of life may look like nothing you have ever known before. You may feel naked and alone without the familiar structure and community that supported you so well. How will you spend your time? What will your identity be? How will you make your transition with ease?

Whether you have already designed your retirement lifestyle, or feel overwhelmed about what could be possible, where will you start living the life you truly want and deserve?

Start with what is true for you right now

Pause and allow yourself to become engaged in your present moment. What do your senses tell you?

  • What do you feel right now?
  • What do you see right now?
  • What do you hear right now?
  • What do you smell right now?
  • What are you aware of within yourself?

This exercise will give you the courage and clarity to feel grateful for and contented with all that is true for you in the present moment. The present moment is the reality you have at all times. Everything else in your life is based upon your own perspective that comes from memories of your past or visions for your future. You can enrich the encore stage of your life by returning your attention to the present moment regularly. This is the starting point for each next step in every action you take in the third phase of your life.

When you create the habit of recognizing the reality of your present moment, you have the power to make the choices that will continually upgrade the quality of your retirement lifestyle – a lifestyle that is unique and exciting for you.

What is your true reality in this present moment?

Janice Williams, Retirement Coach, www.welcomingretirement.com

 

What Are Your Three Wishes?

Wishes for retirementThe encore stage of life for Baby Boomers can look like a blank slate. What will you fill your blank slate with so that you make your transition with ease and live a unique and exciting lifestyle in the encore stage of your life?

You may have spent many years in the familiar structure of your full time work world. Now is your chance to write a new chapter for your retirement lifestyle. What do you want to include in it? One place to start is to make the time to reflect back on your entire lifetime with the focus on what went well for you over the years in the various aspects of your life. What would you like to get more of in these next years?

Making use of the organizational development tool known as Appreciative Inquiry* (AI) can help clarify what you want in your own encore years.

5-D AI Process

  • Definition – Decide what to learn more about.
  • Discover – What is the best that is in your life.
  • Dream – What is possible for your future.
  • Design – Innovative ways to create your new future.
  • Delivery – Implement and sustain the changes for your future.

Points to ponder-

  • Describe the most energizing moment, a real “high” from your professional life. What made it possible?
  • Describe what you value most about yourself – don’t be humble.
  • Describe how you stay positively affirmed, renewed, energized, enthusiastic, inspired.
  • Describe your three concrete wishes for your retirement lifestyle.

Many people believe that energy flows where your attention goes. Focus on where you experienced positive energy in your past. Now you can choose what you want more of in the encore stage of your life.

*Appreciative Inquiry is a methodology developed by Professor David Cooperrider and his colleagues at Case Western Reserve University and is used throughout the world. http://appreciativeinquiry.case.edu/

Janice Williams, Retirement Coach, www.welcomingretirement.com

Two Secrets for Building Trust

Retirement identityLeaving the full time work world may cause Baby Boomers to feel a disruption of trust in their identity. The dictionary defines trust as the confident expectation of something; hope. When you enter the encore stage of your life, you may experience many changes that are unexpected which can alter your level of trust in your own identity.

Being immersed in the familiar structure and community of your full time work world can give you confidence in who you are, what you can do, and your life in general. Transitioning into your retirement lifestyle can shatter that confidence.  You no longer have those familiar props to define you. What do you trust your identity to be now?

Courage and curiosity are two attributes that you can use to renew your trust in yourself in the encore stage of your life. When you let go of your previous identity, you can build a new one through being courageous and curious.

The dictionary definition of courage is the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear.  Entering your retirement years is a major life change that can create feelings of fear, uncertainty, and doubt about what your identity will be in your unknown future.

Curiosity is defined by the dictionary as the desire to learn or know about anything. You can transition through this major change into the encore stage of your life by activating your curiosity and learning about the many new opportunities that are available to you now.

You may have used your courage and curiosity to be successful in your professional world. Now you can employ these strengths to design your own unique and exciting retirement lifestyle.

Reflections to build trust

  1. Set aside an hour for quiet inner reflection to better understand how courage and curiosity have served you throughout your life.
  2. Look back over your life and pick three major life changes that you navigated successfully.
  3. Write down what you did to be courageous during those changes.
  4. Describe how being curious helped you establish your new identity in each life change.

From what you now know about your ability to be courageous and curious, how will you trust them to create your identity for the encore stage of your life?

Janice Williams, Retirement Coach, www.welcomingretirement.com

 

Find Your Authentic Power

Authentic powerWhen navigating the transition from their full time work world, Baby Boomers have the opportunity to increase their self-awareness. As you design your encore lifestyle, what is your relationship between your personality and your Higher Self?

You may have lived your life driven by taking care of your individual demands and satisfying the demands of others. This worldly focus of your personality, or ego, can cause all sorts of discord and discomfort throughout your life. A life filled with striving for personal success indicates that you may have been unconscious of your Higher Self, or Soul.

Now you have an opportunity to enhance your experience of life in retirement by aligning yourself with your Higher Self. This higher energy can speak to you as your intuition and creativity. Your authentic power can motivate you to leverage your knowledge, wisdom, and expertise, to serve others without attachment to the outcome. You may feel a strong desire to live with greater ease and compassion.

My experience

For many years I based my life choices on fear and self-doubt. Finally, a health challenge forced me to reassess how I was living my life. I investigated numerous teachings and practices that all seemed to advise living in alignment with my Higher Self. Through practices of reading, writing, and reflection I have learned to live my life with trust, peace, and harmony. My daily practice of meditation reconnects me with my authentic power and sets me on a course for the day of ease and grace. I invite you to enjoy the same in your retirement lifestyle.

Many authors have written about how to live in alignment with your authentic power, Soul, or Higher Self. The Seat of the Soul Institute at http://seatofthesoul.com contains valuable information about how to explore this subject more thoroughly.

How will you live in alignment with your Higher Self during the encore stage of your life?

Janice Williams, Retirement Coach, http://welcomingretirement.com

 

How Will You Get There from Here?

Retirement vehicleThe encore stage of life can be the perfect time for Baby Boomers to renew their physical self-awareness. When you leave your full time work world, you can feel like you are waking up from a very long sleep. You now have the opportunity to assess the state of your health and well-being as you design your retirement lifestyle.

What would you discover if you viewed your body as the vehicle in which you will travel through the encore stage of your life? If you compared your body to a car, what would it look like? Would it be luxurious and finely tuned like a Maserati? Would it be tough and utilitarian as a Jeep? Or, something in between?

Vehicle Maintenance Checklist

  1. What is the comfort level of your vehicle? How do you feel within your own skin?
  2. What do you use to fuel your body from the inside? How positive is your mindset and self-talk?
  3. What do you nurture your sensory system with? What do your eyes see? What do your ears hear? What does your skin touch?
  4. How well do you maintain your body with regular medical, dental, vision, etc., examinations?
  5. What emergency services are available in case you experience any physical challenges?
  6. What external conditions do you expose your body to? How healthy and supportive is your environment?
  7. What do you use to decorate your body – hair, clothes, makeup, etc.?
  8. What retirement lifestyle activities do you expect your body to perform and what do you do to ensure its long-term reliability?

As you set out on the journey through the encore stage of your life, what additional preparations and practices will help you maintain your body in peak condition? This is the time of your life to leverage your knowledge, wisdom, and expertise to live a life of fulfillment and contribution with ease.

Janice Williams, Retirement Coach, www.welcomingretirement.com

 

Little Changes Make a Big Difference

Accepting the changes that come from leaving their full time work world may be difficult for Baby Boomers. Even though this major life change may bring new opportunities, you may feel more comfortable with preserving the status quo. This feeling can lead to resistance, even though there is a promise for a better future in the encore stage of your life.

The next time you feel resistant to change in your retirement life and you are having a difficult time accepting it, try making the change in small increments – one little step at a time.

Here are 8 bits of wisdom to help you accept your retirement lifestyle changes:

  1. Acceptance of change doesn’t have to be some big and formal event.
  2. Change can happen in many little ways.
  3. Try making changes in small increments – say, 10%. 10% doesn’t sound like much, but the impact can be profound.
  4. Your life is actually filled with dozens of little changes happening around you and to you all the time, which hardly seem worth noting. But 10% + 10% + 10% adds up.
  5. Every one of the little changes in your life means that there are also little beginnings taking shape and building a larger whole.
  6. 10% is certainly something you can learn to accept in the encore stage of your life when it comes to change.
  7. Don’t think of change in terms of “all or nothing,” “100% or zero percent.” Instead, think of accepting change in smaller doses.
  8. Minor events can have major impacts on living your retirement life with fulfillment and contribution.

Making small changes as you adjust to your encore stage of life can help you to eliminate resistance and feel like you have more control.

What small changes will you make this week to enrich your retirement lifestyle?

Janice Williams, Retirement Coach, www.welcomingretirement.com

 

What Is the ROI of Your Time?

Clock for the encore stage of lifeWhen fully immersed in their full time work world, Baby Boomers’ personal and professional lives can be filled to overflowing with a myriad of activities every day. When you leave your work world, and all of the related activities, life can seem to move in slow motion. The empty spaces in your calendar may loom ominously. How will you spend your time?

Fill your calendar with new activities. You may now feel overjoyed to have the freedom of your encore years to do the many things you have longed to do and yet never made the time to do them.

Fill your calendar with action steps to achieve new and existing goals to make your retirement lifestyle fulfilling.

Leave open spaces in your calendar to allow yourself to be drawn to new inspiration for renewing and reinventing yourself in the encore stage of your life.

I suggest you closely observe how you actually spend your time during one full week to see where your intuition leads you and what activities draw your interest.

Witness your actions

  1. Print a one-week calendar that shows hourly increments for each day. Or, use a calendar journal with hourly increments.
  2. Record on your calendar how you spend your time during each hour of each day throughout the week.
  3. When the week has ended, take some time to reflect on what activities filled the hours of each day of your week. What activities were related, were repeated, were random? What activities inspired or energized you? What do you want to do more of, do less of?
  4. Ask yourself whether or not your actions support your values and the achievement of your retirement lifestyle goals. What changes in how you spend your time during the week would help you upgrade the quality of your life and give you a better return on your investment of time and energy?
  5. Print another one-week calendar that shows hourly increments for each day. Schedule time for those activities that you want to make sure you include each day and/or week to ensure that you live your encore stage of life to the fullest.

Know that your calendar can change again and again as you take action to continually upgrade the quality of your life. As you grow, you will experience new inspiration and interests on your journey through your retirement lifestyle.

What is the return you are currently receiving on the investment of your time?

Janice Williams, Retirement Coach, www.welcomingretirement.com