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Greetings from Lazarus…

Greetings from Lazarus…

photo by Peter Pryharski,

About six years ago, I went from a cocky, exuberant, in-your-face active “senior she-jock” to a physical basket case. Every day became a struggle just to get the simple things like laundry done. I took naps morning, noon, and sometimes in the evening, and still fell into bed exhausted. I woke myself up moaning in pain.

My healthcare team were involved but pretty much useless. All the tests came back normal. “You’re doing really well for someone your age” may have been well intended, but it stung like hell. What seemed so acceptable to them as my new lifestyle was lightyears away from what I had been doing recently. And enjoying immensely. Most of them never grasped that.

Instead, they were firm in trying to make me believe all that was over. “You are just going to have to do less”….”Get used to being less active”….”This is the way your body needs you to live now”…etc. Given as professional advice. Stunningly clueless. And nowhere close to what I needed.

Eventually, the right resources came into the picture. I am grateful for them. But I am also proud of my own dogged persistence in not accepting all the wrong things I was told along the way and continuing to search for the real answers instead.

It’s tempting to go through a litany of the things they decided I had that were not the case, to give you a long list of the tests we did and describe the heavy emptiness that came from not knowing what to do next when each “maybe” came back normal and ended in silence from the doctor who’d ordered it. It was hell, and I won’t pretend it wasn’t. But it was my hell and one I had to walk through it to learn what it was time to learn. My job, so I could get past it, was to get honest about who I am, what’s really important to me, and what it is I’m here to do. That took six long years. It was worth every second of it.

This website and my commitment to living the last third of life on fire and growing went dormant while I did that work. There was a TON of doubt that I would ever again have enough of a life to be able to enjoy living it, much less have anything to offer for others to use in living theirs well.

I don’t need to go into the details of this quest–at least not right now. But I do need to point to what’s different about Mining Silver as of today.

Today we launch a completely revised version of the website, which has been around since 2008. When I started, I was in lock-step with the marketing and online gurus, focused on “what I had to sell”–my books and availability to speak, do seminars, etc. Now the emphasis is on providing information and insights to spark conversation, either by comments posted here or in real life after you read something here.

This is not about making money for me. This isn’t even about creating a following. I want to do what I can to raise awareness about what’s possible, reasonable, and worth pursuing in the last third of a life. That will be a work in progress until I take my last breath and a collaborative effort with anyone willing to be involved. As of this moment, there are new pages (the permanent information that stays in the same place on the site) plus ten years of blog posts about living this stage of life well (a list that gets longer every time I add something new). The site is content rich. That’s ALL it is–content…ideas, information, observations–you get the drift. Please explore. (And comment!)

Loving What You Do

Loving What You Do

Quite a few of us are rethinking whether we are going to retire soon–or ever.   Before you opt for being a permanent member of the workforce, there’s one thing I beg of you.  Love what you do.  If the thought of doing what you are doing now until the day you die feels like drinking a large glass of vinegar, please make plans to do something else.

Once we’ve been at a kind of work for a while, it’s comfortable to just keep doing it, even if it never was fun.  But you lose in five different ways if you use that strategy.  It makes heaps more sense to love what you do.

Job Satisfaction The first reason is, of course,  that it makes your life more satisfying.  People who love their jobs are happy to go to work and come home in a good mood.  That translates into better health, too.

Let’s not kid ourselves.  No job is going to go well all day everyday forever.  But if most days have you humming while you grade the papers,  write the report, adjust the machine, or flip the burgers, you’re onto something.

If, on the other hand, just showing up at the old grind makes you want to throw up, you have a little remodeling project to take on.  You need to make your work match yourself or you are in for a steady dose of negative energy.

This sounds simple, but quite often it isn’t.  For some of us, it’s a matter of getting to the flashpoint and then saying, “That’s it.  I’m outta here.”  That works, but being “outta here” without knowing what you are going to do next can be pretty stressful, especially with the current economy.

There are some great books on how to help yourself figure out what you really want.  (Mine for example– Supercharged Retirement.)  But if you’re tired of reading what I have to say, try something by Martha Beck or Barbara Sher.  Use them all, one after another.  Use a life coach.  Do  a Vision Quest.  Contemplate you left thumb for fifteen minutes everyday until the light starts to dawn.

It doesn’t have to be what everyone else does to be the right thing, but it has to give you a calm sense of confidence when you start to explore it.  Be sincere about looking for the real answers.  And be open to what comes.  (Thinking you knew before you really did got you to the job you’re hating.)

Talent Match When you do what you love,  the probability that you are truly suited for it goes up exponentially.  I have a long time friend I met in college who was a good geologist.  But when he started to use his natural sales skills along with what he knew about rocks, his prospects skyrocketed.  He sold mining and construction equipment, and it was a great fit.  He could sell salt water in the Mariana Trench.

Perceived Value The fact that you love what you do does not go unnoticed either.  People like to work with those who are happy with what they are doing.  And if you are doing what you love, you are probably doing it really well.  So customers want to work with you. The plum placements on the dream team also go to those who are really into it.

This is not a case of faking it for the sake of advancement.  There’s an intuitve piece to this that you just can’t counterfeit.  If you like what you do, people like working with you to get that done.  So find what you like.  Find what you LOVE.

Job Security Right, loving what you do will not guarantee you never get laid off.   Not even working for yourself guarantees that anymore.  But when you love what you do, you find other ways to use what you know to be able to keep doing it.

If you are told they don’t need you as the team lead manufacturing elephant harnesses and you love leather, there are other ways to work with it.  If you love to work in a kitchen and just got let go as a short order cook, you may hire on with a caterer, or start cooking nightly meals for clients who can then look forward to your delicious deliveries after a long day of their own work (also at something they love, I hope).

Longevity You can try to make yourself like what you are doing, but that’s a short term fix.  The real answer is to find something you love doing whether you get paid for it or not.  That  solution gives you one last plus–something you will be happy continuing to do–in some form–for as long as you live.

Including for money if you need to.  There are lawyers still lawyering at the age of 99,  and my favorite centenarian story is of the woman who was still a proofreader for the St. Louis Dispatch at 100.  Do what you love and use it to thrive–for a long time.

More about Mary Lloyd…

More about Mary Lloyd…

When Mary Lloyd left the natural gas industry, she thought she had it all figured out. The financial pieces were in place and the 65-mile one-way commute was starting to get to her. So in 1993, at the age of 47, she left a job as division manager for a Fortune 200 company intending to “retire” and become a commercially successful fiction writer. She’d already gained a reputation for handling tough situations well. This next phase of life would be a piece of cake.

Fifteen years later, she is on an entirely different mission. After trying everything from a multi-month world cruise to deploying to Texas with the Red Cross in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita, she is out to alert her baby boom brethren to a startling discovery: The current model of “retirement” doesn’t work.

She’s learned a lot on her circuitous path to finding this purpose in life.  She shares it in her book Supercharged Retirement:  Ditch the Rocking Chair, Trash the Remote, and Do What You Love . She offers more on her website, and in the Living Silver seminar series she began offering in early 2008.  And she is willing to do a lot more to get the word out. “This is nuts,” she says insistently. “We have to do this better.”

Lloyd on a bike ride with friends.

At age 61, she is tall, blonde and indefatigable. Her favorite activity is hiking–eight or more miles in the Pacific Northwest whenever she has the chance. She also bikes, skis and is learning doubles tennis. But her more energetic performances are in conversations with anyone who’s interested about making the years after work “better than retirement.”

She brings PhD level training in psychology, executive level experience in accomplishing complex projects, and the determination of a two-year old looking for the hidden cookies to this mission. And she goes about it with a both compassion and wit.

“The RV model might work for some,” she admits, “but most of us need a goal to work toward to feel worthwhile. To retire well, we need to learn how to include that and still relax and have fun.”

Lloyd as Sonny Bono on Halloween