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Life in Three Acts, Part 1

By Janis McDonald

When people ask me to explain my logo, Live Like You Can, I simply share what it has meant to me. Basically it is about accepting the things I can not change, discovering the things I can change, deciding on what I want to be different, exploring what I need to support me, committing to a plan to make it happen and setting a date to take action.

After listening to Jane Fonda’s inspirational talk, “Life’s Third Act” on Ted Talks, I felt fired up and energized to expand my thinking, motivated by her facts and figures on aging. Jane states we are in a longevity revolution and living an average of 34 years longer than our great grandparents. Amazingly, this is another adult lifetime to create and enjoy. This fact alone has helped to make the huge paradigm shift in expectations about the aging process.

When I think of my parents and their beliefs, I remember the usual aging statements such as, “when I am old and decrepit,” or “I am too old to do it,” or “act your age.” The old paradigm of aging was seen as an arc beginning with birth, curving up to a peak at mid-life, then curving downward to decay and death. What if instead we looked at aging as a staircase, ever ascending and evolving? Wouldn’t this shift in thinking open endless doors to what could be? Expansion, growth, energy, excitement, and a time for finding  and fulfilling who we really are.

It is true that everything in the world is in a state of decline or entropy; the only thing to escape is the human spirit, which is capable of climbing the upward staircase until the end. AARP has taken an active role with beginning a new conversation about “living versus aging” with “Life Reimagined,” the online website designed to help you dream about what is possible for you. It’s a wonderful tool to help discover what’s next for me and for all of us.

Last November, Mary Murrell and I conducted a workshop for women, Practical Solutions for Personal Change. It was so exciting to see evidence of the paradigm shift in thinking about aging. There was lots of energy, enthusiasm, and optimism all the way around during the two days and we kept it going with continued follow-up with the participants.

One of my clients recently told me she experienced a dropping away of the fear about aging. She discovered that worrying about possible catastrophes, as she had done for years about being old, changed when she actually sat in the middle of being “older.” In fact, she felt more at peace, centered, and happy now.

Released from our fear, we can now have excitement about ascending the staircase. It’s discovering what’s possible by designing the gift we have of a second adult lifetime. As Jane calls it, The Third Act. My next article will focus on what needs to happen in order to design the very best next stage, The Third Act. Be on the lookout for Life in Three Acts, part 2, coming up in 2 weeks.

Janis McDonald, certified professional coach, functional aging trainer, Private Gym. 152 0457. Follow the Live Like You Can Blog! Go to:


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