Relationships are all about WE and US, not ME.

How many times have you, or someone you know say, “THEY are not making ME happy, there’s something wrong with THEM, MY needs are not being met.” Or alternatively, “If only THEY would… I would be happy.”

One of the couple complains the other defends, the temperature rises in the room, feelings get hurt, the argument escalates, and the relationship goes downhill from there.

WE’ve all had conversations just like these. We are all too aware of how conversations like these will end. WE hate listening to conversations like these between those around us. WE are well aware that our homes, our families, our communities, the public media, popular literature, are awash in conversations just like these.

I call these conversations ME-based conversations. They are full of ME, MY feelings, MY experiences, MY needs, and how I am being frustrated.

But what if shifted the way WE talk about our relationships from ME-based language to WE-based language?

What if WE were to say instead, “WE are not making ME happy; there something wrong with US, OUR needs as a couple are not being met?”

With this simple linguistic shift in the way WE speak about ourselves to ourselves and others WE take our partner off their hot seat, stop making them wrong and the one accountable for our feelings, responsible for the dysfunction of our relationship with them.

Isn’t it a lot easier to hear our partner when they tell us, “WE are not making ME happy,” “There something about US, how WE speak and listen to each other that isn’t working for US.” Isn’t “WE need to take a look at how successfully WE are doing US.” easier to hear than, “if only YOU would…then I would be happy.”

With this simple clever shift in the way WE talk about ourselves WE take our partner off the hot seat, stop making them responsible for our feelings and upsets. When our partner no longer has to defend themselves in the face of our upset and dissatisfactions – then WE can shift our attention to where it belongs, to US, about WE, and what is going on between US. Once WE have accomplished this, WE can begin to discuss, focus upon those thoughts left unsaid, misspoken, mistaken and misunderstood.

As a WE, speaking with one another as an US, WE have an opportunity to powerfully listen to one another. Together, WE are able to focus upon our WE-practices and take a good look at persistent behaviors and ways of our being together that are hurtful, unproductive, identify and examine those behaviors that simply don’t work for an US, any US.

As a WE in partnership with our relationship at stake, WE can look for what is missing, that if present would make a difference for US as individuals and bring new workability, expanded love, relatedness and intimacy to our WE.

And then We can be happy.




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,


How Comfortable Are You with Ambiguity?

Ambiguity for Baby BoomerThe major life change for Baby Boomers when they leave their full time work world is an external event that happens. How will you experience your transition through your change into your encore stage of life? You will go through endings and new beginnings, bridged together with periods of unknowing which can feel very unsettling in your retirement lifestyle.

If you have been deeply immersed in your full time work world, you may have felt very comfortable and confident with your responsibilities and your relationships. When you move into your retirement, you may feel overwhelmed by your unknown future. It may seem so ambiguous to you.

Your encore stage of life is a time for exploring yourself in new ways. You may feel bewildered by all of the questions you ask yourself about how to spend your time and what your identity will be. Instead of trying to take control of your life as you may have been used to doing in your work world, I suggest that you give yourself time and space to allow new understanding and new opportunities to arise. You’ve never been in your encore stage of life before. It is a new time to ask yourself new questions and make new choices for yourself.

The poem below by Rainer Maria Rilke beautifully states how to understand this time of unknowing.

Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the question now. Perhaps then, some day far in the future, you will gradually without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Approach your encore stage of life with humility and patience, feeling gratitude for your capacity to expand your own self awareness. This exploration will strengthen your ability to live a retirement lifestyle of fulfillment and contribution, leaving a legacy of your choice.

What questions are you living right now?

Janice Williams, Retirement Coach,

How to Upgrade Your Life in 2013

The New Year has begun! This is a time of year when many people commit to new goals and resolutions for the year ahead. As a Baby Boomer, what will you do to thrive in your encore stage of life this year? The choice is yours.

When you are on the threshold of retirement, you may feel overwhelmed about your unknown future. I recommend that you hold the intention that you will upgrade the quality of your life as you plan your retirement lifestyle. Use that intention as your guiding light to make your transition with ease.

One effective way to upgrade the quality of your life is to survey what is working and what is not working for you in your current lifestyle. What do you want to be doing this time next year, and what will it take to get you there?

You may feel perfectly content with your current retirement lifestyle. If so, allow yourself to be open to explore any unsought opportunities that may present themselves to you during the months ahead. By holding the intention to always focus on upgrading the quality of your life, you will make beneficial choices for yourself when such opportunities arise.

No matter where you are in your transition into your retirement lifestyle, you can upgrade the quality of your life by creating new habits. The dictionary defines the word HABIT as an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.

Looking at your own life, what new habit or habits would you like to create that would upgrade the quality of your encore lifestyle? Areas such as your health and well being, relationships, finances, etc. Pick just one or two habits to create at a time so that you will avoid feeling overwhelmed. It takes about a month for a habit to become almost involuntary when it is practiced consistently and regularly, such as working out at the gym at a specific time on specific days each week.

When you successfully achieve your new habit, celebrate the ways in which you have upgraded the quality of your life. Your achievement can inspire you to make other new habits. You will have the confidence that you have the power to make changes in your retirement life.

What new habits will upgrade the quality of your life this year?

Janice Williams, Retirement Coach,


What Is Your Relationship to Learning?

Learning in retirementEntering the third phase of life gives Baby Boomers a wonderful opportunity to learn new things. When you retire from your full time work world you will likely learn new ways of living your daily life. Beyond that, you can explore new interests and go more deeply into ones you already have.

But, what do you feel when you attempt to learn something new in your retirement lifestyle? When you were immersed in your work, you may have felt very comfortable that you knew the lay of the land and how to function competently in that environment. When you did have to learn something new, the process may have been easy because of the support around you.

You can experience a whole new relationship with how you learn when you retire. Many of your life experiences will change, even the most mundane, daily ones. Be aware of what your responses are with each new learning experience. Do you resist doing things in a new way? Are you impatient when you have to learn something new? Do you avoid learning to do things in different ways altogether? What are some other responses you have to learning?

Four stages of learning

  1. Unconsciously incompetent – you don’t know that you don’t know how to do something.
  2. Consciously incompetent – you realize that you don’t know how to do something.
  3. Consciously competent – you take action to learn how to do something and do it with focused awareness.
  4. Unconsciously competent – you have learned how to do something so well that you have mastered it and it becomes second nature to you.

Your retirement lifestyle will be filled with opportunities for you to do new things and do things in new ways. Think back over some of the major learning experiences you have had in your life: Learning to ride a bicycle, learning to drive a car, adjusting to living with a new roommate, starting your first job. What common patterns do you see in your relationship to learning with those activities?

Learning with ease

  • Be flexible and adaptable.
  • Maintain an open and expanded state of mind.
  • Be patient and compassionate with yourself.
  • Have a lively curiosity and sense of inquiry.
  • Be present in the moment with what is.

What will your relationship with learning be in your retirement lifestyle?

Janice Williams, Retirement Coach,


Let Your Light Shine to Reach Your Potential

It has always mystified me how some people never get done what they had planed on doing in life.  They get caught up in what is known as paralysis by analysis and never get really started living.  The old Chinese Proverb that says “A journey of 1000 miles begins as a single step”, is so true in reaching our potentials.

I read a story the other night that really makes my point.

A few nights ago a peculiar thing happened.  An electrical storm caused a blackout in our neighborhood.  When the lights went out, I felt my way through the darkness into the storage closet where we keep the candles for nights like this.  Through the glow of a lit match I looked up on the shelf where the candles were stored.  There they were, already positioned in their stands, melted to various degrees by previous missions.  I took my match and lit one of them.

How it illuminated the storage room!  What had been a veil of blackness suddenly radiated with soft, joyous golden light!  I could see the freezer I had just bumped with my knee.  And I could see my tools that needed to be straightened.

“How joyful it is to have light!”  I said out loud, and then spoke to the candle.  “If you do such a good job here in the storage closet, just wait till I get you out where you’re really needed!  I’ll put you on the table so we can eat.  Or I’ll put you on my desk so I can read”.  I took down the lit candle, “I think I’ll put you in the living room where you can light up the whole area.”  (I felt a bit foolish talking to a candle—but what do you do when the lights go out?)

I was turning to leave with the large candle in my hand when I heard a voice, “Now, hold it right there.”

I stopped.  Somebody’s in here!  I thought.  Then I relaxed.  It’s just my wife teasing me for talking to a candle.  “OK, honey, cut the kidding,”  I said in the simidarkness.  No answer.  Hmm, maybe it was the wind.  I took another step.

“Hold it, I said!”  There was that voice again.  My hands began to sweat.  “Who said that?”  “I did.”  The voice was near my hand.  “Who are you?  What are you?”

“I’m a candle.”  I looked at the candle I was holding.  It was burning a strong, golden flame.  It was red and sat on a heavy wooden candle holder that had a firm handle.

I looked around once more to see if the voice could be coming from another source.  “There’s no one here but you and me,” the voice informed me.

I lifted up the candle to take a closer look.  You won’t believe what I saw.  There was a tiny face in the wax.  (I told you you wouldn’t believe me.)  Not just a wax face that someone had carved, but a moving, functioning, fleshlike face full of expression and life.

“Don’t take me out of here!”  “What?”  “I said, Don’t take me out of this room.”

“What do you mean?  I have to take you out.  You’re a candle.  You job is to give light and joy to others.  It’s dark and scary out there.  People are stubbing their toes and walking into walls.  You have to come out and light up the place!”

“But you can’t take me out.  I’m not ready.” The candle explained with pleading eyes.  “I need more preparation.”  I couldn’t believe my ears.  “More preparation?”

“Yeah, I’ve decided I need to research this job of light-giving so I won’t go out and make a bunch of mistakes.  You’d be surprised how distorted the glow of an untrained candle can be.  So I’m doing some studying.  I just finished a book on wind resistance,  I’m in the middle of a great series of tapes on wick build-up and conservation—and I’m reading the new bestseller on flame display.  Have you heard of it?”

“No,” I answered.

“You might like it.  It’s called Waxing Eloquently.”

“That really sounds inter—” I caught myself.  What am I doing?  I’m in here conversing with a candle while my wife is out there in the darkness!

“All right then, I said.  “You’re not the only candle on the shelf” as I blew the candle out!

As Max De Pree said, “We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.”

<strong>So step out and begin letting your light shine.</strong>

How to Overcome Feeling Stuck

Your transition into your retirement lifestyle can seem easy or hard, or a continuing Momentum in retirement transitioncombination of the two. Starting something new often feels challenging and your retirement may be uncharted territory for you. Even when you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and a solid action plan to meet your goals, you can encounter moments when you feel stuck and unable to move forward with your plans. Below are three tips that you can use to regain your momentum.


Stop your current pattern of thoughts and actions related to your retirement planning. You may have wound yourself up tight in self-defeating thoughts and actions. Ask yourself these three questions to gain a new perspective of where you are:

  • Are you trying to force an outcome?
  • Are you looking for yourself where you are not?
  • Are you allowing yourself to fully feel your emotions?

Be grateful

Feeling stuck can come from believing you lack something. The unfamiliarity of your new retirement lifestyle can trigger feelings of scarcity and unworthiness. Pause and make a list of all the things for which you are grateful in your current stage of retirement. Include your knowledge, your skills, and your resources. Then, determine how you can leverage them to move yourself forward.

Do the opposite

Another way to release feelings of being stuck during your retirement lifestyle transition is to do the opposite. You can try an experience that is entirely new to you. It can be an activity for a day – like visiting a new place. Or, it can be ongoing such as taking a class on an unfamiliar subject. This experience will bring about new perspectives and creativity from which you can view your retirement lifestyle transition.

My experience

I recently attended an afternoon retreat to learn how to paint with oils. Art was always a dreaded subject for me in school and I had never, ever done any oil painting. All aspects of the retreat were new experiences for me. I drove out into the countryside to meet new people who were teaching and participating in the retreat. It took place outdoors in the cool shade of the apple trees overlooking the vineyards of a winery. Then came the oil painting. The two expert instructors were very helpful and I was quite surprised and pleased with my results. As I drove home I noticed that I was looking at the scenery with a new perspective of light and colors. I knew that something within me had shifted.

What will you do to regain your momentum in your retirement lifestyle transition?

Aurora Colorado violence: relationship literacy = domestic harmony

The Aurora Colorado cinema gun violence massacre is not about guns, controlling guns, reacting with yet more gun legislation – it is really about people, you and I, communication, and the quality of our relationships.


Rather than talk about domestic violence – why not shift he ground of being to legislating on behalf of domestic harmony?

Why not promote relationship literacy legislation in place of gun control legislation?

What do I mean by shifting the “ground of being?” What is being done now? How can you help?
Relationship Literacy is:
  • about shifting the ground of being in the conversation about domestic violence and abuse to promoting domestic harmony.
  • Relationship Literacy is tasked with the mission to “Bring honor and respect for ourselves and to each other in every communication in any relationship.”
It is now my counseling practice, and I am working towards “Relationship” being adopted as the “Fourth R” in our educational school system. (after the three traditional “R”s of education, “Reading ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic”.) Do you want to join?

Imagine teaching middle and high school students effective relationship and communication skills.

  • Quality of all their relationships would rise.
  • Domestic date rape and abuse would diminish.
  • Calls for police intervention services would go down.
  • municipal court loads would shrink.
  • Child Protection Services would be out of a job altogether.
  • Domestic violence would begin to disappear.
  • (This is all measurable BTW)
Note that there would be no room, no place, no conversation about, no need for legislative agendas regarding guns and violence.

If you want to be part of forwarding this pro-life conversation, let’s meet, talk, and generate the next step towards domestic harmony together.

You are invited to comment below and participate in our conversation.


There is a Holon of Love Goin’ on.

Originating quote:

“Loving is learning how to let go of what we think we know about ourselves, others and what’s happening. Love IS letting go

I would assert that Love is about letting go of identity and other distortions in the field between us and an other.

When we remove: relationship-toxic points of view, undigested bits of history, and false identity from the past we become present, spiritually dynamic life swimmers; love is revealed and available.

Love is an experience; it comes from the World of Being and as such it exists outside of time and space, and resists representational (talking about) descriptive language.

Admittedly and having just said that…

Love is the experience one has when all that is in the space between you and the other has been taken out (however temporarily) and the two (or more) individual/spirits see (grok) each other clearly, having successfully distinguished and disappeared the (illusory) distance between them, to form a third Meta Being, also known as a “Holon” (see Sex Ecology and Spirituality by Ken Wilbur) a Being that is greater than it’s individual parts.

Love is the experience of all participants constituting the Holon/Transcendent Being.

Prior to that moment of transcendent unification (however fleeting) much of what has been labeled “Love” in the past is much more about the individual not the relationship, more monolog than dialog, more about biology than spirit, more lust than love.

BTW the same Holon-istic mechanism can be experienced within other holons, for example, an orchestra, where a unity is generated among the musicians, the conductor and composer, and a series of moments of transcendence arises among them. (A good friend of mine once revealed to me that her first orgasm was as a violinist in an orchestra.)

The formula is the same: take out of the space between you and another what is not germane to relationship, what remains is an experience of love in relationship.



We owe the homeless street people a debt of gratitude

In retrospect we owe them, big time.

I am one who doesn’t like to live with existential discomfort; I try to avoid disquietude as much as I possibly can.

I make an effort to avoid shoving issues under the rug, or spending more time in denial that I absolutely have to.

So I will, more often than is comfortable, choose to keep my eyes wide-open, feel what there is to feel. look, ponder, and reach for meaning I can live with, some meaning that allows me to live with myself for yet another day.

Case in point: The homeless and street people that publicly populate street corners. I listen to my inner monologs, my outer dialogs surrounding how I choose to respond, or not, to street people who strategically intrude into my flow of consciousness, who solicit my and our support, most often located at highway off-ramps or at traffic lights.

I am always and uncomfortably confronted by the following discourse: Do I choose to “see” them, acknowledge them, and offer them money or food? What does that make me, what does that make them if I do, or don’t? Am I still a good person if I speed on by? Have I dodged the bullet if the traffic light turns green just in time for me to slide on by? (Oops, sorry dude, I gotta go….) Should I slow down or stop traffic and risk irritating the drivers in the vehicles behind me?  Is a dollar too little; is a five, ten, or a twenty dollar bill too much? Are they really only looking for money to buy drugs? Am I being taken in, exposing myself as gullible if I succumb to giving them something? Couldn’t they find a job if they really wanted to?  Can I look good to myself, my neighbors, and my God in what I choose to do or don’t do? And so on and so forth.

And I attempt to empathize with and put myself, as much as one who has never been a street person, in their shoes.  I try to feel how hopeless and how powerless they must feel, to come to grips with what kind of person it takes to stand by the side of the road and subject themselves to the flow of human caring, or more often, human indifference, and do this for hours, days,and weeks?

It takes a clear need, an extraordinary need to take that step, breakthrough those invisible but iron social boundaries, and agree to subject oneself to that.

But is also takes courage to hold on to one’s self-worth, to be vulnerable, to give up all pretense of looking good, and a maintain fragile dignity in the face of all that.

It also requires significant faith in our common humanity.  These are people, our neighbors, who have decided that they will do what it takes to make it under intolerable conditions

And I begin to feel we may very well owe them our gratitude for heroism in the face of yuck. By their choice to stand out there, rain and shine, reminds us that “There but for the grace of God go I.” They are a vivid reminder to us, exposing our pretense, our struggle to feel safe and secure in uncertain times.

If we are honest to ourselves we will admit that one job lost, just one catastrophic and expensive health condition from now – and we are right there next to them, holding up a sign asking for a hand out.

They displace my complacency, remind me of our common humanity, and they offer me an opportunity to rise to and wrestle with my own humanity.

And so I offer the next street dweller I pass my gratitude, my acknowledgment: I catch their eye, bless them with good fortune, I make human-to- human contact, ask them to take good care of themselves; I reach for the packets of beef jerky I keep in my car and a dollar, or larger bill. Sometimes I double my order at a McDonald’s and give them half.

I haven’t made it to street person and middle class nirvana yet. I keep inquiring, reaching for that meaning that will break me and them through the boundaries that invisibly surround them and me, and us.

And I ask you who read this to share with me and us: What do you see, how do you cope with those boundaries, and how do you celebrate your humanity in the face of all that? Thank you.