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.




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 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,


Discover Your Family Treasure

Stories of familyThe encore years of life offer Baby Boomers a time for reflection and conversations to discover valuable family stories. When you uncover the stories you hold for your own life you create greater awareness of how you fit into your family. And, when you share your stories with others in your family, you expand their perspective of their own lives, as well as of the family as a whole.

Reflections on your own life stories can help you design your retirement lifestyle. What do you remember as the most important? Are there any repetitive themes? How can they inform your choices for the next stage of your life?

Discovery Process

There are many ways you can discover your family treasures, including:

  • Journals and diaries that you and others have kept, or currently write.
  • Asking other relatives what they remember about events that you remember – their memories may be illuminating.
  • Allow other relatives to interview you with their own questions which you may never have thought of.
  • Record your discoveries to share in the future by writing them down, or by making audio or video recordings.

Sharing Your Stories

Family members may think they know each other well when they have grown up together. Other relatives may know each other superficially because they see each one another infrequently. Instead of keeping conversations on a mundane level, I encourage you to share the wisdom you have accumulated throughout your life when you reach your retirement years. Your stories will allow others of all generations to know and appreciate you more. Your perspectives on life can inform family members of new ways of experiencing life.

Throughout the ages, and in other cultures, the wisdom of the elders has been highly regarded. I recommend that you gather your own stories and the stories of your family and actively keep them alive by sharing them with one another often.

What family treasures will you discover in your encore years?

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,


Self-Responsibility Starts with I am

Self-responsibility in retirementThis is the good news, especially when you plan your retirement lifestyle. Your life is in your hands. You get to make the choices, elect the options and take the actions that come with self-responsibility. It’s through the door of self-responsibility that your personal power and independence enter, often hand-in-hand, bearing gifts of confidence and self-esteem.

Self-responsibility is not the same as feeling responsible or accepting the blame for bad things that have happened or situations that are painful. We don’t all enter the world with the same trappings, and people, events or circumstances have wreaked trauma and caused wounds from which many are recovering. Self-responsibility means that when you have worked through your grief or anger or other issues, you can ask yourself: Now what am I going to do? What options do I have? How will I thrive in the third phase of life when I retire?

At the other end, self-responsibility doesn’t mean becoming so self-reliant you don’t ask for help when you need it or seek others’ opinions or points of view. And it certainly doesn’t mean you have to know everything, make every decision alone or take on the world single-handedly. This is especially important to remember during retirement when you may no longer have the structure and community you relied upon in your work world.

Rather than a heavy burden, self-responsibility can be a source of joy. Knowing you can create the retirement lifestyle you want by accepting responsibility for yourself is a great freedom. Even saying the words aloud can produce a feeling of power and strength. Try it:

  • I am responsible for my choices and actions
  • I am responsible for how I use my time
  • I am responsible for my behavior and communication with others
  • I am responsible for achieving my desires, dreams and wishes
  • I am responsible for the work I do and the quality I bring to that work
  • I am responsible for the values I live by and standards I set

Granted, saying the words out loud can be a little scary and intimidating, as well and empowering. Accepting and acting out of self-responsibility isn’t like falling off the proverbial log; it’s not that easy. It takes practice and working through and making mistakes and falling back and finding yourself in a place you didn’t want to be again. But that’s the thing about personal growth, the place to start is where you are now. Transitioning into your retirement lifestyle is one of the greatest opportunities for personal growth by acting out of self-responsibility.

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

Mommy, Let’s Skip!

Mommy, are you fuhstrated?

A little bit.

Vroom, vroom, vroom. Look I am driving my worker trucks in. They can help. Beep, Beep, Beep!

Thank you, honey that’s helpful.

Mommy, I know – let’s skip!


Yeah! You can’t be fuhstrated when you skip it just doesn’t let you. Watch!

Skip. Skip. Skip.

He: Over-the-shoulder-larger-than-life-over-the-moon-smile.

Me: Love-pounding-heart-shouting-how-lucky-can-a-girl-get-smile.

See Mommy, see! I have to be happy or it won’t work.

I see.

Come on!  Let’s skip together.

Okay – let’s skip.  I need a good skipping today.

No Mom, THIS is how you do it. Here, let’s hold hands. I’ll show you.

Like this?

Yeah, that’s real good Mom.  Really, really good.  See?  Are you happy now?

Yep, thanks honey. Skipping was a great idea!

I know.





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.


Who Is on Your Personal Board of Directors?

Board of Directors for RetirementWhen you design your unique and exciting retirement lifestyle you can benefit from the help of a support team. In your full time work world, your organization likely had specialists who focused on specific aspects of creating the company’s overall success. Creating your successful lifestyle in retirement also requires experts to support you along the way, like a board of directors.

You may already have some experts who have given you guidance in the legal and financial areas of your life. However, what has been the nature of your relationship with them? Perhaps you know how to reach them if you have a question and that is as far as it goes.

You retirement team

The third phase of life is filled with changes that require expert guidance more than ever before. Some of the types of specialists who can help with your retirement planning you are:

  • Financial planning: Certified Financial Planners, insurance and investment brokers, bankers.
  • Legal: Attorney at law, people designated as your powers of attorney.
  • Health: Doctors, dentists, ophthalmologists, pharmacists, physical fitness trainers, body workers.
  • Home Environment: Decluttering and downsizing specialists, real estate agents, relocation advisors.
  • Life Transition: Retirement coach
  • End of life decisions: Legal, financial, medical, family.

My experience

Sometimes an event will occur that requires a highly specialized team. When the right side of my face became paralyzed from Bell’s palsy, I tried a wide variety of healing modalities to help restore the functionality to my face. As with building any team, I looked for both skill fit and personal fit in the practitioners. I selected three that I continue to work with regularly.

Think of who you could have for your personal board of directors. How would you develop a cohesive team to help you design and live a retirement lifestyle of fulfillment and contribution, and leave a legacy of your choice?

Mommy, Can We Just Sit Next To Each Other For A While ?

Sure, Honey I am happy to sit next to you, anytime.

Mommy, did you finish your emails?

Not yet, but I need a break.

Me, too.

You need a break from your emails?

Yes, I have work to do, too, you know.

You do? What kind of work do you need to do?

Pause. Silence. Pause. Furtive glance.

Mommy, you have no idea. But it is lots and lots and lots of things.

Okay. Well, I am here to support you. How can I help?

Pause. Silence.

Well, just sit here with me, that helps.

Okay. Happy to.

And, Mommy?

Yes, you could get me a treat. That would really help me.

Oh, it would, huh? And just what kind of treat do you think would help?

Pause. Furtive glance.

Well, I guess I have had enough sugar today. How about a hug? And then we can just sit next to each other for a while.

Pause. Furtive glance from me to him. Heart pounding. Love abounding.

No words. Just hugs.

Just hugs and sitting for a while.

Joni Kovarik | BizDev Consulting | Blog


Facing Grief, Unflinchingly.

What is a good metaphor, or simile, for grief?

Grief is powerful and inevitable. It occurs to all of us. It can be disabling.  It can feel like a tsunami – an unimaginably powerful force overtaking and smothering every other aspect of… reality.  Grief can feel like a magnet – one occurrence of grief becoming a magnet for every other possible grief response we might have imagined, but never did, and so when a knife-like grief experience occurs, suddenly…. other grief responses are invited into spaces that existed before… but now those spaces also have the added burden of grief.

So what are good similes or metaphors for grief, I ask my writing community? Please! I want to know! Comment on this post, or create a post of your own that links to your personal website. Please.  Similes and metaphors are powerful tools in writers’ toolboxes for dealing with…  and shaping… grief.  (And also other powerful life experiences.)

Many of us know the power, value, and utility of simile and metaphor.

Simile is saying something “is like” something else.

Metaphor is saying something IS (identity-like) something else. A bit more powerful and abstract than simile.

Similes AND metaphors have their place and their usefulness as we understand our human experience.

So what are the metaphors (or similes) for grief?

Grief is like the rogue wave, unexpectedly roaring in and covering, maybe obliterating, everything in its path. (That is a simile.)

Grief is a cranky bitch. (That is a metaphor – the “is,” construction, not the “is like” construction.) But this statement invites questions about the meaning of “cranky” and the meaning of “bitch.” I will not expend my own life force on explaining this metaphor at this time. But let me know in a comment if the metaphor intrigues you.

So I return to my original question: what is a good metaphor, or a good simile, for grief?  Because metaphors and similes allow us room, and space, and vocabulary, with which to deconstruct and understand life experiences that otherwise would be…. obliterating of our own lives, or of the meaning of our own lives.

We grieve all kinds of losses.

We grieve the loss of the heart-beating lives experienced by people we know and love, even when the ending of that life is a loss more to “us” than to the person who lived that life.

We grieve the loss of… jobs… marriages…. friendships… tomato plants that did not thrive in clay soil.

Like many people, I retreat from the nearly overwhelming, death-dealing, breath-squeezing, reality of authentic grief to the….. safer… less breath-squeezing level of… humor.

I feel, in this moment, when asking for a simile or metaphor for grief…. that I would like to know: “I do not know what I am talking about; do you know what I am talking about?”  (That statement/question is my idea of humor.)

My beloved and respected writing friends’ authentic wisdom about grief is invited. We all experience grief. May our collective and caring words about grief serve to increase compassion in the world. And thereby change the world and the future of humanity.