Fear and Aging

Here I am on my balcony last summer. I let my gardening go this year so that I could spend more time solo camping.

I live my life relatively free from fear. I learned a long time ago that fearing the future means that my today is lived with less aliveness than is possible because some part of me is bracing against a negative future. As I often tell my coaching clients who don’t believe that they can envision a future for themselves: if you can worry, you are already adept at creating a vision for yourself. It just happens to be a negative view of what’s possible.

That isn’t to say that I don’t have certain concerns about my future, but I don’t fear it. For example, I’ve chosen to live alone in later life; what biological family I have all live over 1,000 miles away. I’m very mindful that this means that should I ever get sick or otherwise need the support one typically looks to family for, it won’t be there.

I was just chatting with a friend who has just come through a rather prolonged medical situation. She was surprised at just how much self advocacy it took to receive the best attention from the medical system. Those kinds of conversations give me pause to consider the future. Not in a fearful way, but in a way that invites creativity and an awareness that I need to develop alternative strategies for myself.

Making new friends with people younger than me is a key ‘self preservation’ strategy of mine! Sadly, Trish is from Ottawa so we really only spend time together volunteering at Stanfest each July

I don’t know what my answers for dealing with life’s inevitable crises will be, but I do have every confidence that they won’t be fear driven. Rather they’ll be considered and mindful, anticipating alternatives, just like I live my day-to-day life. One thing I’m very clear about, though, is that I have no plans to become one of those fearful little old ladies who sit quietly in their homes and apartments afraid of every knock at the door. I know that the best way to live the future without fear is to live today without it. I also know that the best way to live the future mindfully is to begin to develop plans and strategies today.

Hmmmm . . . .

Real food for real people

One of my famous breakfast fritata’s filled with whole food

I happened upon an old Oprah show this morning. The topic was about food, specifically being mindful about what we put in our mouth. The entire Oprah staff was offered the opportunity to go vegan for a week as a process of becoming mindful about food. I was thrilled that she had Michael Pollan as one of her guests, plus a food writer who has gone vegan.

I’m not the sort of person who easily worships personalities, but I have a lot of time for Oprah and for Michael Pollan. I read his book “In Defense of Food” a couple of years ago and it is up there on my Top Ten List of Books that have Rocked My World. His concept that in today’s world we don’t so much eat food as eat food-like substances really startled me and started me on a pathway of improving an already well above average mode of eating.

Pollan’s notion that the closer to the ‘original’ form of food that we eat, the healthier we will be is an important one. I’ve always been a cook and have tended to eat food cooked from scratch, but Pollan’s ideas have helped me clean up the hidden corners of over processed food that were still present in my dining life.

So I had to laugh as I watched the vegan expert help one of Oprah’s staff with her shopping. Where did they head? To the parts of the grocery store that were chock-a-block filled with highly processed foods that were vegan. Soybeans processed to within an inch of their lives before being turned into ‘food-like substances’: pretend sausages, chicken breasts, hamburger, etc., etc., etc. I was stunned that nobody seemed to notice the incongruity of promoting these ‘food like substances’ as part of a healthy diet. Sure they provide protein, but at what cost? They have to be filled with artificial colourings and preservatives to make them have any shelf life, to say nothing of the amount of plastic and cardboard packaging they require. I found myself wondering if, beyond ideology, these types of food products really have much to offer us.

I can’t believe that in the long run ‘pretend meats’ are any better for you than a well raised piece of beef or chicken, given how processed they are and the number of chemicals that are undoubtedly present in them.

So it was a good reminder to me to never forget the big picture. Rather than getting lost in the details of whether something is animal, vegetable or mineral, I was reminded how important it is to keep in mind how much has been done to a product before it passes my lips. How ‘real’ is the substance that I’m chowing down on compared to the original format of the ingredients involved?

Now that feels like it will help us all eat the real food that we very ‘real’ people need in order to remain hale & hearty for an entire lifetime.

Twitter has been very, very good to me

My top 10 benefits from regular Tweeting

 Many friends and colleagues think I ‘waste’ a lot of time on Twitter because I can’t claim any significant direct sales. And yet, for me, Twitter has been an invaluable business tool. I’ve developed an international network, gained significant exposure, begun to understand how new-to-me industries operate (social networking, travel, publishing) and built some great business associations.

 

Here’s a list of 10 specific benefits I’ve achieved over the past 3 years on Twitter:

 

  1. Guest blog posts – at least 6 covering various aspects of my interests. Guest blog posts are great for highlighting your expertise as well as deepening relationships
  1. Travel agent – found myself a travel agent to handle my client’s bookings
  1. Advertisers – found a woman’s travel site on which to advertise my retreats, plus a retreats site for highly targeted promotions
  1. I’ve been interviewed by several journalists and achieved increased profile for both my coaching and travel businesses. Great credibility builders.
  1. I’ve built in-depth relationships with around 20 specialists in Portuguese travel industry with whom I’m in regular interaction
  1. I’ve arranged free tour and travel opportunities with people I’ve met via Twitter
  1. I’ve sold copies of my Algarve Dining book to Twitter contacts
  1. I’ve obtained great ‘how to’ information about social media, the travel industry and book publishing/promotion by following links and downloading free e-books offered on tweets
  1. Twitter helped me discover a critically important industry conference that I now attend regularly
  1. I’ve been able to help many of my clients on a wide array of topics from articles I’ve read via Twitter. Allows me to offer serious ‘value add’ to clients without any appreciable additional effort or cost.

 

@gwenmccauley

www.algarveexperiences.com

www.ouicoach.com