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H is for Healthy

H is for Healthy

For my 63rd birthday, I got myself a new life!

Out of nowhere and no one (not even the doctors) know why, my heart started to skip a beat. (No, I’m not in love in a romantic sense, ha!) My heart literally was pumping only half the time, even though the upper  chamber was sending signals to pump regularly. Half of the electrical signals were getting lost somewhere in the middle. 

My smart watch alerted me that my heart rate was below 40 at 4:30 one morning. I had been feeling a bit lightheaded and was running out of breath quickly for a couple of days, but hadn’t worried about it that much until that warning. 

I am a very healthy person in general and I am in reasonably good shape walking about a 5K most days with short spurts of running sprinkled in. I do Pilates on Tuesdays and workout with a fitness trainer on Fridays. I do not take any medications. (Even the nurses commented that I was a strange patient with no meds.) So this episode was totally unexpected. 

At the urging of the nurse practitioner at the urgent care center, I took myself to the emergency room. They admitted me immediately, put a pacemaker in the next day and I came back home the next. Wow!

I am originally from Turkey so the famous Mediterranean diet is natural for me. And, sure enough, my heart condition was not caused by any blockage in my arteries. Only electrical.

I am grateful to be alive, grateful for the technologies both for alerting me and for fixing the miscommunication in my heart, grateful for medical science, and of course grateful for the wonderful doctors and nurses who took such great care of me while I was in the hospital.

The H in SHAPE is for healthy.

No matter what your age, but especially if you’re of a “certain” age, please, please listen to your body. I am living proof that even when you’re doing everything right sometimes things can go wrong. 

I vow to be more mindful of my body and never again take this such complex and awesome biology for granted. 

How about you? How do you listen to and take care of your body? 

H is for Healthy

S is for Social

I am a Certified Professional Retirement Coach. I am also a retiree. As I talk with friends and clients, I hear a variety of experiences of retirement. We all eventually settle into a new routine and some of us even become happy with it. But, it turns out the first couple of years of retirement (after the honeymoon period) are very difficult for those of us who have thrived on and were proud of our work and accomplishments. So I created a free workshop to help. It is called “What’s the SHAPE of Your Retirement Plan?” SHAPE in this case is an acronym and in this series of several blog posts, I’ll talk about the SHAPE of my retirement. I hope it helps.

S is for Social:

Three months after I retired, I moved to Chicago to be close to my daughter and her family. The only person I knew in my new city, other than my daughter and son-in-law, was the real estate agent who helped me find my condo. I had left behind all my friends and colleagues and I was feeling lonely. Like most people, I had taken for granted my daily interactions with the folks in the office and around the campus where I worked and the friends I had known for years. Now, I missed those interactions, our “conferences” each morning with Keri, dinners at the Indian restaurant with Ron and the movies with Dianne…

The lonely feeling could easily become overwhelming and cause one to sink further into the cocoon of one’s home. Thankfully, in my case instead of this feeling turning into a depressive mood, it manifested itself as boredom. So I looked for volunteer opportunities and started “working” at Dress for Success. I know many retirees who volunteer to give back but the social aspect of volunteerism should not be discounted either.

I also joined TTN (The Transition Network), which is an organization for women over 50. At first my motivation was to find clients for my coaching business, but I found wonderful new friends instead and I can’t be happier. TTN is a national network of accomplished women and has many interest groups as well as social and learning opportunities. 

Organized groups and organizations need not be the only way to meet new friends and enrich your social life. A group of friends I now cherish came into my life totally serendipitously. As I waited for the train to take me to the Women’s March in January 2017, I met this woman who was also going to the march. She kindly invited me to join her group of friends since I was going to be alone at the march. We have been friends since and have enjoyed many fun times together. Our Saturday evening zoom meetings during the Covid lockdown were few social events we all looked forward to when the world seemed to have shut down.

My realtor Lin (who has since become a good friend too) and I are still in touch both for personal and business purposes since I have invested in real estate and own a small company that has a few rental properties.

I would not classify myself as an outgoing person. I am more of the shy/reserved type. Forcing myself to be open to new connections has made the difference between sitting in front of my TV by myself and having an active social life and enjoying the company of wonderful people. Even if the original intention was for professional reasons, I wouldn’t exchange any of my new friends for clients. As for my old friends that I left behind in Indiana, those are lifelong friends. Even if we don’t see each other often, we pick up where we left off whenever we can.

Social side of retirement is extremely important for our health and well being. Circumstances, towns, conditions may change, but it’s always possible to make new connections and explore new friendships. I wish you a happy and healthy social life!

Reach out to me at, if you’d like to join the “What’s the SHAPE of Your Retirement Plan?” workshop. Next one will be on September 24th.

Life After Work Workshop

Life After Work Workshop

Were you forced to retire early due to the pandemic, or did you choose an attractive buy out and left work earlier than planned?

Join me for a 6 week non-financial retirement planning workshop based on the dimensions of well being according to Positive Psychology and their intersections with life after work.

Let’s face it, our work is more than our way of providing for our families. We derive a sense of identity and purpose through it.  The first few months after our work ends, the honeymoon period, are fun and relaxing but after a while we start missing the structure, engagement, purpose, and even the social contacts our work had provided. No wonder depression rates among retirees go up by 40%, especially among men.

This need not be your fate!

Whether you are planning to retire in the next couple of years or have retired in the last couple of years, this workshop will help you create:

  • An enticing future vision 
  • A framework for your life after work
  • A social portfolio for engagement
  • A balanced life plan based on your strengths

I am a Certified Professional Retirement Coach with additional credentials in life coaching, meditation and mindfulness teaching, and positive psychology. I am also a retiree.

Workshop details:

  • Six 90 minute zoom meetings Thursdays at 5PM Central Time from September 8 through October 13
  • One individual 60 minute meeting via phone or zoom for a private coaching conversation
  • A workbook with exercises
  • Only six seats are available
  • $375.00 per person

If you have a loved one who is nearing retirement this workshop may be the perfect gift for them.

To register, reach out to me at

Negative Thought Patterns

Negative Thought Patterns

This young man who works security at my building stopped me yesterday to ask a question. He said someone long ago predicted that he would be obese or a criminal. He said he still thinks about this from time to time. He asked if there was anything he could do to get this thought out of his mind. Now, to be sure he is neither obese nor a criminal. To the contrary, he is wonderfully personable, responsible, in shape young man with a beautiful singing voice that I catch if I am lucky to be headed to the lobby when no one else is there.

I have been reflecting on this encounter and thinking about the negative thoughts I used to have about myself in general and about my appearance in particular. I have done a lot of work to put those thoughts away, and for the most part I have been successful. This is not to say I no longer have those thoughts. I am thinking they will always be there because their origin goes back decades. My success is in noticing them and smiling at them. They seem to have lost their power over me. I am grateful!

How pervasive is this “self hatred”? Considering there are volumes of books and many poems written and countless meditations and Dharma talks given about it, the answer seems to be VERY! 

How come we internalize these negative messages about ourselves? Perhaps because they come from the ones we love, the ones closest to us, the authority figures in our lives. Some of these messages are repeated regularly until we believe them ourselves. Some are uttered once but cut so deep that we can’t seem to shake them off, like Joe’s.* 

Noticing that we are caught in a thought storm or rumination is not easy. I owe my success in this area to my mostly regular meditation practice. Meditation is really mind training in its simplest form. Thoughts will come, both good and bad. There is not much we can do about that. But, with mind training, we can catch them before getting caught up in them. And once we catch these thoughts they lose their power. I know exactly from whom I heard each of those thoughts, so each time I catch one I send a smile of forgiveness to that specific person. This is my simple practice in self compassion and it seems to work just fine. 

My wish for you is that you too are able to understand your thought patterns and overcome any stale messages you have internalized. Whether it is through mind training or daily affirmations or any other type of practice, self compassion is an important step to get us unstuck in our thought and behavior patterns and on to achieving our goals and desires.

* Name changed to protect privacy

Well Being

Well Being

When a friend mentioned something about a character strengths survey a few years ago, I was intrigued. I immediately googled it and was introduced to the world of Positive Psychology. I had taken a couple of psych classes decades ago, but I had never pursued it as a field of study. What I didn’t realize was how much this ontological coaching business is based on psychology, especially humanistic and positive psychology. 

Of course I had to find training to learn more. And, I did. I finished a 5 course foundations of positive psych program offered by the University of Pennsylvania, the birthplace of positive psychology, via Coursera.

What is Positive Psychology?

Up until the end of the 20th century, psychology had focused mostly on what’s wrong with people, though some prior psychologists (notably Abraham Maslow), were interested in exploring human potential. In 1998 Martin Seligman, who was elected the chair of American Psychological Association, coined the term Positive Psychology and declared that this branch of psychology will focus on what is right with people. (Dr. Seligman himself was one of the teachers in my program!)


There are 5 dimensions of human well-being, according to positive psychology. Positive thinking (P), Engagement (E), Relationships (R), Meaning (M), and Accomplishment (A). PERMA!

This movement is criticized, rightfully, for leaving out health as one of those dimensions. But, we already know the role of health (physical and mental) in well-being. These other dimensions in PERMA had not been formally studied in this context and collectively. Now, there’s tons of research and many many books on these topics.

On my end, I have found that being mindful and practicing meditation have enabled me to recognize my thought patterns. When my inner critic starts acting up, I am able to switch that channel. I took stock in what brings me joy. Turns out writing, cooking/baking, learning are the activities that provide the greatest engagement (flow state) to me. I constantly focus on being present to enhance my relationships with friends and family. My new job as a life coach as well as my Wednesdays with my grandkids provide the greatest meaning in my life. My clients’ success, smiling faces as people eat one of my cakes are what accomplishment means for me these days.

I have written about accomplishment in a previous blog post. I will write more about the other dimensions soon.

What does PERMA mean to you? I’d love to hear from you.