life path

When Do You Retire?


Since I’ve become so interested in The Next Stage, or the Third Stage, or what most call Retirement, friends and colleagues have begun sending me their thoughts, including the thoughts of their friends and colleagues. So the conversation is beginning to spread.

I want to share with you one of the most moving statements sent to me recently:

I was thinking about what I want when I finish working and retire and this is the list I made for myself:

1. Financial security

2. Wake every day with a purpose

3. Engage in meaningful work that helps my community

4. Be in good health

5. Have time for and enjoy family and friends

6. Do more of the things I love

And I suddenly realized I could retire today! As long as I have a job, I am financially secure. I wake every day with a sense of purpose and engage in meaningful work because I am privileged to work in a nonprofit that helps women and families escape domestic violence and family homelessness. I am fortunate to be in good health and have time for family and friends. While I do things I love, I recognize that I want to do more of the things I love so I started a list and consciously look for opportunities. And then it hit me: Retirement is a state of mind! So, I retired that day.


What a fantastic view of her life! And what a wonderful way to be mindful about her values and what’s most important to her. Why wait, indeed? If it’s a state of mind, she can have that today!

I’m so excited about that! It moves us so much closer to the goal of living mindfully and being conscious of the choices we can make. I was taught long ago that in the face of extreme stress, Step 1 is to identify what you can control and focus on that. One thing I’m doing to begin to plan and prepare for that stage is to create a community of others at the same stage – to brainstorm, cheer each other on, challenge each other’s assumptions, and provide a place to explore possibilities

What would you most want to have today? What do you want when you retire? And what could you do to bring more of that into your life RIGHT NOW? I’d love to hear your thoughts and expand the conversation. Feel free to add your comments.


It’s Not Always Straight

Following your life pathWhen I was young, I always thought it was important to choose a path and follow it. It would be a direct path and lead in a straight line. You were supposed to know where it would lead, know that when you reached the destination you imagined, that you would be happy, fulfilled and have a sense of completion.

But life isn’t like that. The path isn’t always straight. I was supposed to go to college, graduate, choose a career, perhaps go to graduate school, work in some company, get married, have children and live happily ever after. Instead, I discovered I wasn’t ready for college, so I managed to be “invited to leave” at the end of my freshman year and the trauma of that situation kept me away from school for 10 years. It was as though a huge tree had fallen across my path. It was a major setback and my self-esteem was in the gutter. Looking back, however, it was one of the best things that could have happened to me. What I wanted more than anything at the time was to find my way as an adult – to live on my own and create a life for myself. I managed to create a situation that forced me to do just that. Painful as it was – and it was devastating – I learned some invaluable lessons.

I learned first and foremost that I could not be done in, that I would survive and make a life that I could be proud of. I was lonely. I survived it. I had no idea how to manage money. I learned. I didn’t know how to cook. I taught myself little by little. I didn’t know how I had gotten myself into such a mess. I got myself into therapy (paying for it myself!) and with help, I figured it out. In other words, I learned about my resilience, my resourcefulness and my determination. What could be more important?

My path continued to be pretty crooked. I got married, began having a family, became a family therapist (“through the back door,” as my mother never failed to remind me), divorced, eventually got not one but two master’s degrees (and still no B.A.), got remarried, started a company with my husband, and years later, became a coach. I love my life! I love where I’ve gotten to, and I love supporting others on their crooked paths. I know now how important those roadblocks, downed trees, detours and unexpected potholes are. That’s how you find out who you are. It’s where you get to test yourself, to learn from your setbacks as well as your successes, and to keep putting one foot in front of the other with the knowledge that you’re going to be fine.

Do I wish I could have avoided the pain and humiliation of getting thrown out of college? Well, yes and no. On the one hand, it was painful and enraging, but on the other hand, look what I gained! Could I have learned those things another way? Maybe. But I keep being reminded of the wise words of Kahlil Gibran: “…is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?”*

*Gibran, Kahlil. The Prophet. New York: Alfred A. Knopf 1961.




This blog is about the many things that are important to me. I hope they will resonate with you as well. My dream is for it to be a conversation, with comments and additions by all of you who read what I – and my guests – write. I hope you will feel free to share your wisdom. I’m looking forward to the conversation.

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