Saturday, December 15, 2007

Hoping You 'Hit' All Your Goals!

The following piece has been making the rounds on the internet. It was sent to me as something comedian George Carlin said, but a quick Google search indicated that the Carlin attribution was a hoax, that he never said this. Whoever wrote it – and I will give credit to anyone who proves authorship – I got a hearty chuckle out of it, and I wanted to pass it along:

Do you realize that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we're kids? If you're less than 10 years old, you're so excited about aging that you think in fractions.

"How old are you?" "I'm four and a half!" You're never thirty-six and a half. You're four and a half, going on five! That's the key.

You get into your teens, now they can't hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead.

"How old are you?" "I'm gonna be 16!" You could be 13, but hey, you're gonna be 16! And then the greatest day of your life. You become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony. YOU BECOME 21. YESSSS!!!

But then you turn 30. Oooohh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk! He TURNED; we had to throw him out. There's no fun now, you're just a sour-dumpling. What's wrong? What's changed?

You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you're PUSHING 40. Whoa! Put on the brakes, it's all slipping away. Before you know it, you REACH 50 and your dreams are gone.

But wait!!! You MAKE it to 60. You didn't think you would!

So you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50 and MAKE it to 60.

You've built up so much speed that you HIT 70! After that it's a day-by-day thing; you HIT Wednesday!

You get into your 80's and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch; you TURN 4:30; you REACH bedtime. And it doesn't end there. Into the 90s, you start going backwards; "I Was JUST 92."

Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. "I'm 100 and a half!"

May you all make it to a healthy 100 and a half!!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Phil Knight -- Rebooter (or maybe Re-Shoe-er?)

I just read a remarkable story in today's Wall Street Journal (Dec. 3, 2007) about Philip H. Knight, the billionaire founder of Nike, the world's largest sportswear company.

It turns out that Knight, renowned for his seclusion and secrecy, has been quietly attending creative writing classes at Stanford University for three years. He has told fellow students that he is writing a novel. And he has been a full participant in his classes -- sharing his homework with other students, debating themes and characters in novels and, with his wife, Penny, hosting after-class get-togethers with students at Palo Alto bars.

Knight is an exceptional figure on the Stanford campus for reasons other than just being an older "adult student." He has given $102 million to the Stanford Graduate School of Business (from which he garduated in 1962), funded a professorship at the business school, donated a graduate school building and made gifts to the athletic department.

Edward Schwarzschild, a novelist who visited one of Knight's classes, is quoted as being struck by his unassuming approach to learning the writing craft. "He could easily import someone, fly them up in a helicopter," Schwarzschild says. "But he wanted to be a part of a true workshop, as an equal. He didn't want to be CEO. He wanted to be Phil Knight, the student."

Makes me want to head for a Nike store and re-shoe myself.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pleasure, Purpose and a Reason for Living

The New York Times had a sobering article on Nov. 27 about the incidence of suicide among older Americans. Although people 65 and older make up only 12 percent of the population, they represent 16 to 25 percent of the suicides. Four out of five suicides in older adults are men.

The article, by Jane E. Brody, noted that while depression is the main precipitant of suicide at all ages, social isolation is an important risk factor for suicide among the elderly. "And older men, more so than older women, often become socially isolated," Brody wrote.

Dr. Gregory K. Brown, a suicide specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, recommended that older people make every effort to prevent depression in the first place by maintaining a regular cycle and planning activities that "give them pleasure, purpose and a reason for living." He suggested "social activities of any type -- joining a book club or bowling league, going to a senior center or gym, taking courses at a local college, hanging out at the coffee shop."

Dr. Brown said any activity a person is capable of doing can help ward off depression. Rebooting yourself into a new career or pursuit is certainly one way to stay active in the later years and maintain good mental health.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Two Amazing Stories of Reinvention

Are you hesitating to reboot yourself because you’re afraid you might have lost your edge, let your skills go stale, or become unable to do what you used to do?

This happens sometimes. Self doubt creeps in like an unwelcome visitor, displacing self confidence. You’d go out and really do something new and exciting, but … you are worried that you don’t have what it takes any more.

If this description fits you, then consider two amazing people whose stories have just come to my attention. They are Izumi Tateno, 71, and Leon Fleisher, 80. Both were concert pianists who lost the use of their right hands – Tateno through a stroke and Fleisher through a neurological disorder called focal dystonia. Both have become inspirations to millions by learning to play pieces composed for the left hand only. Fleisher has undergone an almost miraculous recovery and can once again play with both hands.

Tateno’s reinvention as a one-handed artist was reported in the Wall Street Journal on Nov. 12. During a concert in 2002, he suffered a stroke that paralyzed his right side. He became discouraged and frustrated that he could not quickly recover the use of his right hand, and for a while refused to play music for the left hand.

His son Janne visited him in 2003 and left on his piano some scores for the left hand that he had found in a Chicago music store. One day Tateno began to play one, and soon became so engrossed in the music that he forgot he was playing with just one hand. “That’s when I realized that music was music, whether you play it with one hand, or two hands or three,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “That realization changed me completely.”

“Many people have told me I should just take it easy,” Tateno said. “But I am not interested in taking it easy. I don’t even know how to. I want to perform as I have done in the past 30 years, so I can share my music with others.”

Fleisher’s story was recounted in the New York Times on June 10. He first experienced problems with his right hand in 1964. Within a year his condition had worsened and he could not open the fingers of his right hand. He began to focus his talents on performing the left-hand repertory. Now, after more than 30 years of trying everything from aromatherapy to Zen Buddhism, and finally Botox, he has regained almost full use of his right hand. He says he never doubted that he would someday be able to play again with both hands.

“I just couldn’t accept it,” he said in a New York Times article on June 10. “And I guess my fantasy was that with the same mystery with which it had appeared, it would disappear.”

With all the remedies he has tried, including Botox, the malady has at least become manageable. “I would like to make it clearly understood that I have not been cured of focal dystonia,” he said. “A way has been found to ameliorate the symptoms enough to enable me to play this literature to an extent that is not only enjoyable but also presentable in public.”

If given the chance to rewrite the story of his life, Fleisher said he’s not sure he would change it. “There are forces out there,” he said, “and if you keep yourself open to them, if you go along with them, there are wondrous surprises.”

So let me ask the question again that I asked at the start of this post: Are you hesitating to restart, or start something new, because you think you’ve lost your touch, lost your confidence?

Tell that to Izumi Tateno or Leon Fleisher. They might convince you otherwise.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Are Rebooters a "Community?"

I have this idea that rebooters -- people who reinvent themselves after one career and go into another (at any age) constitute a "community." Wikipedia defines a virtual community this way:

A virtual community is a social network with a common interest, idea, task or goal that interacts in a virtual society across time, geographical and organizational boundaries and is able to develop personal relationships.

I'm hoping to jump start such a virtual community of rebooters with my website, I realize that a network doesn't just spring full blown into existence, but has to grow over time. And growth is really slow when the numbers are small. So I need to figure out how to get more people involved.

Any and all ideas would be welcome!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

American Association of Rebooting Persons?

AARP is really getting into the rebooting game.

The feature article in the November/December issue of AARP The Magazine is titled "Retire? Heck No!" It features stories about five 70-plus folks who are going full steam ahead with no intention of "retiring" in the conventional sense of the word.

The article by Bill Gray describes the five as "supersuccessful doers and thinkers who, at 70 plus, continue to work at peak performance. All could easily have slipped into the retirement night years ago but they forged on -- happily. Their secret? In a word, passion."

[Lee's aside: AARP magazine talking about "the retirement night?" Wow!]

The five are:
  • Shu Chien, M.D., Ph.D., 76, professor of bioengineering and medicine at the University of California, San Diego. He attributes his energy to his constant effort to develop "brain muscle." "My mind is constantly working," he says, "and that lets me accomplish tasks with twice the efficiency of the ordinary person. I can do more now than I could at 50."
  • Elliott Carter, 99, classical music composer, who still composes daily at his home in Greenwich Village, New York City. He has won two Pulitzer Prizes for Music and a Grammy. His 100th birthday "comes with a bit of anxiety," he acknowledges, but declares, "it's wonderful."
  • Dayton Hyde, 82, cowboy novelist and owner of a private wild-horse sanctuary near Hot Springs, South Dakota, home to 500 mustangs. "I wanted to pay them (the horses) back for the joys they gave me, by taking care of them in their old age," he says. "Actually, we're taking care of each other -- they're bringing me back memories and giving me a way of life that very few Americans are lucky enough to lead."
  • Barbara Bowman, 79, teacher, co-founder of the Erickson Institute for specialized teacher training, and chief of the Chicago Public Schools' Office of Early Education. One thing that keeps her going is the delight of learning. "It's so wonderful when there's a breakthrough in your field and you're back to being a student again," she says.
  • Irma Elder, 77, head of the Elder Automotive Group and owner of 10 automobile dealerships in suburban Detroit, who took over the business after her husband died of a heart attack 24 years ago. "If you ask me when I'll retire, I'll tell you it's when I stop having fun," she says. For her, running the business "makes me come alive."

Maybe AARP should go back to words for their name -- "American Association of Rebooting Persons!"

Monday, October 15, 2007

Staying on the job

That's the headline on an article in the October 2007 issue of the AARP Bulletin by Bill Novelli, CEO of AARP.

"More Americans are working longer, into their so-called retirement years," he writes. "Some are setting up their own shops, others have changed jobs or even careers, and many are still at the same organization where they've been for decades."

Our point exactly. I love it when the AARP -- formerly the American Association of Retired People -- refers to the "so-called retirement years."

Novelli goes on to talk about the challenges older workers face in looking for work. Excerpts from his article are posted under "Hot Flashes" at Here's his conclusion:

"People who work longer contribute to their own well-being, to their workplaces and to overall society. As more Americans stay on the job, the trend is going in the right direction."

Monday, September 3, 2007

Let's talk about rebooting

Working after retirement? What a crazy idea! I mean, come on. Retirement means what it says — retiring from work!

I used to think that. But that was before I “retired” and discovered the joys of rebooting. Now I don’t think retirement really means to retire! Retirement is just a time to start something else.

The purpose of this blog is to talk about current trends, events and commentary that pertain to reinvention and rebooting, to connect the dots between thinking or talking about rebooting and actually doing it. I hope you’ll join in the discussion.