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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

A for Accomplishment

A for Accomplishment

Monetary aspects of retirement are usually first and foremost in people’s minds. They diligently save money for their golden years. This is a fear based approach though. People worry about not having money to live after they stop working so they singularly focus on that.

I was the perfect example of that kind of singular focus. The minute I was convinced I had enough financial resources to sustain my life, I retired. The honeymoon phase of retirement is nice. Not having to wake up early every day; not sitting through endless and meaningless meetings; not having to deal with people who don’t hesitate to hurt you in order to advance their careers. Retirement was bliss, for a minute!

Some of us are intrinsically driven. Work provides more than money for us to live, it provides meaning and satisfaction. Turns out, I am one of those people. I missed the structure of waking up at a set time to start my day; I missed the camaraderie of (some) of my colleagues; I even missed some of the meetings where useful projects were discussed and accomplished.

Accomplishment is one of the dimensions of well being according to positive psychology. After retirement, a significant contributor to this dimension is no longer available. It is natural to become bored or feel useless. Statistics show that depression, alcoholism, and divorce rates go up for retirees. We need to find new ways to satisfy this part of our lives. These can include volunteering, taking on a part time job, starting a business, going back to school, etc. 

A friend of mine chose volunteering and part time work. Every time we talk, I see that the spark, that she had lost after retirement, has returned to her eyes. I am so happy for her. I chose volunteering, and school, and new business. Unfortunately, the pandemic ended my volunteer opportunity, but I am grateful for the two businesses that I started. Not only do they provide additional income but also an opportunity to learn new things and a sense of accomplishment.

So, as you ponder your retirement, please take a moment to reflect and consider how you are going to address this important dimension of well being. Will you learn a new trade like wood carving or cake decorating? (Working with your hands is an important way to slow cognitive decline.) Will you start mentoring your younger former colleagues? Will you at long last start that coffee roasting business that you had been thinking about for years, like one of my former clients did? Whatever it is, even just reflecting and planning for these things will help.

Wishing you a fulfilling retirement!

Let’s do this! (1)

Let’s do this! (1)

I decided to retire at 55. I didn’t have a plan A or a B for what I would do once I got to Chicago. This much I knew though, I was going to move to Chicago eventually. I had purchased a condo there the year before, just a couple of weeks before my granddaughter was born. I purchased the condo thinking it would be a crash pad for when I drove up to see my daughter and her family. Living in it permanently was a long term plan. I didn’t expect my working conditions to turn to hell so quickly, but they did and I decided to take early retirement. My long term plan became a very short term reality.

Fast forward 6 years and I am flourishing, gratefully. I stumbled through these six years, bumping into many walls, most of which were my own making. 

Recently, I delivered several webinars and workshops related to dealing with change in our lives. What started as an academic exercise, turned into a personal revelation. Turns out, my experience was a textbook case of transition.

The late Dr. William Bridges wrote that change is what happens and transition is how we process that change internally. His three step transition process starts with an ending. Retirement is this ending. Then comes the “neutral zone” which is one of confusion, but can also be one of creativity. The walls that I bumped against, all the shopping trips I made were a part of this confusion. My identity took a hit with retirement. If I wasn’t an Assistant VP at Ball State University, who was I? With a lot of luck and help, I finally figured this out and it has nothing to do with what I do for a living. The last stage of transition is the “new beginning.” I feel that I have finally am at this stage. 

Join me in this series of posts as I try to articulate this process through both my personal experience and plenty of learning and reading. I hope you can find some useful kernels for your life. 

Much love

#retirementcoaching #lifecoaching #lifetransition #managingchange

Sky Is Falling

Sky Is Falling

Is it just me, or does Chicken Little live in everyone’s head? Knowing that there are umpteen books on anxiety, and countless memes/words of wisdom of encouragement, I have a feeling I’m not the only one.

In their book “The Resilience Factor” psychologists Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatte call this “sky is falling” thinking process catastrophizing. We all do it. We take a mole hill and turn it into a mountain. It starts out innocently, for our protection. But, over the years, this protection turns into extreme chatter that limits our lives.

Covid certainly made things worse, especially for us members of the mature crowd. And for good reason. I wrote about my own brush with fear of Covid in an earlier blog. This time, I want to offer another possible way to overcome the “sky is falling” thoughts. Drs Reivich and Shatte suggest this technique of disputation. Let’s give it a shot:

The Chicken Little in my head tries to convince me that the worst possible outcome will come to pass. As my 4 year old grandson is running through the house, all I can think of is oh my god he’s going to go through the window, or fall down the stairs, or, or , or… As I am asked to present a webinar, all I can think of is, these people already know what I’m going to say, how can I possibly contribute? These are not the thoughts I want, nor do I like them.

How can I overcome this Chicken Little in my head? With evidence: My grandson has been running through his house ever since he has learned to run. That’s what little boys do. He knows his way around his own house and where to stop running. I can trust him. The people/organizations who have asked me to present a webinar think that I have something to contribute because they have heard me speaking at another event. I can trust myself, and them.

I dispute Chicken Little’s prediction that Cameron will hurt himself or I will fall flat on my face during the presentation with evidence that those predictions are false based on past experience. So instead of stopping Cameron from enjoying himself or stopping myself from meeting new people or earning some money, I allow myself to go past those limits. I hush Chicken Little with evidence that the sky is in fact not falling.