Today, I am scheduled for my 6th biopsy. In the last six months, I’ve been poked and prodded, and scanned so many times that I describe myself as a glowing colander. To get ready for the six hour fast, I woke up at 5:15 so that I could get a bite to eat and take my meds. I checked the sunrise time on my app, turned out I had just enough time to see it.
Lake Michigan is 1.33 miles from where I live. It is a great walk any time, but especially very early in the morning before the rush hour traffic starts. Of course the biggest reward is catching the sun rise over the lake. This morning, not only was there a yacht near the sun but a water skier too. (S)he was speeding toward the sun behind another boat.
Hopefully, I am nearing the end of this cancer journey. Possibilities of potential new treatments are laid out depending on the results of this (hopefully) last biopsy. One possibility is to do nothing, but watch and see if there is new activity. I like that one. Do nothing, not more chemo toxins to my brain, not some new therapy that can potentially kill me.
I sat on the bench by the lake and watched the sun rise, like my hopes for doing nothing. I watched the skier disappear like my fears of more treatments. I am ready for this (hopefully) last biopsy and doing nothing more. I am ready to end this journey. Even the little bits of hair on my head are signaling that yes, end of cancer is near.
There is always hope!
Yes, Retirement Coaching is a Thing!
Retirement Coaching training manual defines retirement as “a dynamic process whereby client and coach explore all aspects of designing a dynamic and rewarding retirement lifestyle, and serves to guide the client towards implementing a plan of action.”
Retirement ranks 10th out of 43 most stressful events in a person’s life, according to Holmes-Rate Stress Inventory, especially for those who have their identity tied to their work. Loss of identity, structure, purpose, community are some of the reason why depression rates, especially among men, double after retirement. While coaches do not offer therapy, a trained retirement coach can help mediate between the expectations of retired life and its realities. Especially if the coach has personal experience with retirement.
One of the plans I hear from people about their post retirement lives is that they will travel. This is a wonderful plan, but not a full time one. Before the pandemic, and having had this exact conversation with many people, I sat down and calculated how much I had traveled. (I too love to travel!) At the time, it had been 2190 days since I had retired. During that time, I had visited nine countries that took a total of 90 days. You do the math.
I also hear, from friends and clients, that they are worried about not being relevant any more. Or that they are bored everyday, so they watch TV all the time. Or that their relationships with either their spouse/partner, or their children, or both, have changed for the worse.
Working with a retirement coach to create a vision for your ideal retired life can prevent all the negative parts of this new life style. Yes, retirement coaching is a thing. I have the certification to prove it. If you’re planning to retire in the next year or so, connect with me. If you have recently retired and have gone past the “honeymoon” phase and are now in the “now what” phase, connect with me. I would love to be your guide in your journey.
After a long “health break” or “me time” I am back in business. My non-financial retirement planning group program is ready to go and it starts in September. If you are planning to retire soon or have recently retired and past the honeymoon period, this program is for you!
Retirement is a major life transition. While most people plan for it financially, few consider other aspects of retired life. SHAPE refers to these other aspects: Social, Healthy, Accomplished, Purposeful, Engaged. These are the dimensions of well-being based in Positive Psychology.
In conversations with friends and others who are also retired, I hear that they lack a purpose; that they have become lazy; that they miss structure in their lives; that they realize most of their socialization was with work colleagues and now they feel lonely etc. I too went through most of these issues when I first retired. That is exactly why I chose retirement as my coaching focus. I know I can help.
I am offering SHAPE in two ways:
1. As a 6 week program starting Thursday, September 7 at 6:30 PM Central. This is a 6 week program with each session lasting up to 90 minutes.
2. As a 3 week program, starting Saturday, September 9 at 9:00 AM Central. This is a 3 week program with each session lasting up to 3 hours.
Both programs will also include a one hour individual coaching with me, arranged at a mutually convenient time. In addition to understanding each of the five aspects and how they are affected by retirement, participants will have numerous reflective exercises and develop a personal vision statement. Maximum enrollment for each program is 6 people. At only $315.00, this is a small investment you can make in yourself.
Please reach out to me at email@example.com for more information.
Well, it seems I was a bit ahead of myself in declaring that I had gotten myself a new life, almost to the day last year. Turns out, I’m still working on getting that new life. Between November 2022 and now, I have been dealing with cancer. It’s not over just yet, either. I am grateful that it is a curable kind, but the normal prescription of six rounds of chemo hasn’t cleared all of it. There may be more of that or other treatments in my future. I am feeling strong though so whatever this disease is intent to throw at me, I say: bring it on!
This past year was full of challenges but also lessons. I learned so much about myself.
I learned to accept, even ask for help. I was always proud of my self-sufficiency. But, at some point I was too weak to even shower standing up, let alone fix a meal. I learned that asking for help or support is only human, and I am human. I don’t need to prove that I’m anything more.
I learned I need to pay more attention to my body. I exercise regularly, so when I started to feel weak or fatigued, I just kept trying to push my body instead of listening to what it was telling me. I, possibly, could have caught my cancer before it got to stage 4.
I learned that all the meditating and all the self work I have been doing the last few years have enabled me to accept challenges as they come, instead of panicking or becoming their victim. Acceptance is the first step to overcoming challenges in a calm and strong way.
I learned that being bald is not the worst thing in the world!
Whew! What a year I had… As I enter my 65th year on this planet, I do it with gratitude and hope for a healthy future. I still have much more to live for and contribute.
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?