Work

In Our 60s, It Is Time To Recreate Ourselves!

After a rocky start to the year, my head is getting straightened out.  Am realizing that changes need to be made to continue my journey of being more fully my fabulous self.  Finally letting go of “Dr. Pat, Inc.” the company that has been my safety blanket identity since I finished my doctorate.  No matter how little or how much it succeeded, it existed.  And that existence took energy – writing a blog, doing paperwork, talking to potential clients, working with clients and otherwise catering to its multiple small business demands.  Like children, friends, and pets, owning a small business takes more time and effort than one expects.  With my constantly shrinking and limited energy, and the serious belief that my separate online coaching business’s time has FINALLY come, I am in the process of dismantling the world of Dr. Pat and welcoming the new Dr. Patty.

It is going fairly well.  As I tell my existing coaching clients, they are taking the news well.  They understand I will always remain there for them, but won’t be handling new clients.  My wonderful accountant for Dr. Pat and I have decided to talk once a year, even though our business relationship is ending with my 2016 final return.  My social media/marketing wizard is OK with new work opportunities including doing something in our online coaching business and its upcoming new launch.  In reality, the disappearance of Dr. Pat isn’t having much of any impact at all.  My sister – whom everyone knows who reads this blog understands I am close to, didn’t even know my Dr. Pat business was separate from E-Coach Associates (ECA), the owner of QwikCoach, our online coaching tool.  Obviously my professional identity wasn’t clear, strong or differentiated.

When we identify with a definition of ourselves that is not current with where we are now, we limit our ability to reshape our identity to new realities.  By holding onto Dr. Pat Inc., I was limiting my ability to be “all in” with our online coaching business.  I had to divide my professional self when in reality I have barely enough energy to do one business well.  Since ECA is having a new launch soon, I need now to focus my energies there introducing myself to new clients as the Chief Content Officer of this enterprise.  That new title speaks differently to people who now will know that my most important professional role is making sure our QwikCoach product has the best content possible.  And that is what I want them to know.  My LinkedIn profile will definitely be reframed.

By re-naming ourselves, we re-create ourselves and hold ourselves accountable as well as “explain” who we are.  And this is happening personally as well.  Until now I had a business card/personal card that had my Dr. Pat business on one side and FabulousOver60 on the other.  The Fabulous side of the card listed me as Patty Gill Webber, Co-Creator of FabulousOver60.  That card is no more – and I am thinking when I do have a new card, my fabulous identity will be left out.  No one will know me in my fabulous incarnation except those reading our blog on Facebook or on our site directly – which is fine – we have been promoting FabulousOver60 for years and have a following we are happy with.  No need to keep pushing this identity.  And, as Cathy and I have stated before, we are not sure if we are going to float on from this blog when our 60s are behind us.  That is getting closer since we both will be 68 on our next birthdays.

I’m calling myself Patty now professionally – at my Church, in my neighborhood and in nearly every new situation I find myself in.  When we first joined 10 plus years ago, I was Pat and Dr. Pat and did some work for the Church under that identity.  Now, I don’t want to be more than a helper at Church – wanting my newly selected volunteer work to have me meet and mingle as just an individual person – so Patty it is.  Patty is my childhood name, my most casual name, and a name that says: she is perky and nice and maybe smart and maybe sophisticated and maybe fabulous (but not necessarily style conscious).  But Patty is someone to get to know – the name doesn’t say much except born in the 1950s. It is a humble name, and I am ready more than ever to be humble.  Running a business didn’t feel quite right as Patty, while volunteering and focusing on others’ needs it seems perfect.  I am even ‘Grandma Patty’ – so much softer than ‘Grandma Pat’ – don’t you think?

Identity is a powerful thing.  I have spent most of my adult life trying to be seen as equal to men, a professional heavyweight, independent, capable, kind but tough when I need to be, woman.  Other than being the Chief Content Officer of our online tool, I just want to be someone who lights up other people’s lives, and in doing that lights up my own.  When not working part-time for ECA, I want to love and be loved as a friend, sister, aunt, mom/grandmother, neighbor, a member – not necessarily leader of any band.  I want to be accepted and judged by how human and humane I am and how much I give away emotionally and spiritually.  Only thing I want to keep from that earlier self is my fun side – my slightly wacky personality that has served me well over the years both professionally and personally.  I, Patty, will try to keep people relaxed and laughing, for no other reason than it makes me happy.

I have to ask – who are you now??  Yes, time to rethink about that.

Patty

On Second Thought

Long story short, the part-time work I am doing turned into “full time” work for a time.  It is happening now, as I write this. In fact, I am beginning day 2 of the second set of days – did 10 days earlier in the month, then had a 5 day break. Now back “on the job”.

Working “part-time” as you know can mean anything from staffing the volunteer booth at the hospital 6 hours a week, to working 4 days a week as a litigation attorney in New York City.  My part-time work has gone on for years.  It consists of coaching a few clients at all times, and working anywhere from 8-24 hours a week writing.  All work for years has been “from home” or at my convenience, except for scheduled coaching sessions and very occasional meetings with my partners or clients in my online coaching business.

Already, on day two of working in LA, I am getting déjà vu – all over again!

Up early, hit the gym, small breakfast, read/reply to emails and changes in issues for the day-long video creation work.  Already my partner is delayed in LA traffic.

At the gym this morning, a 25 year old guy put the treadmill next to mine on the highest setting and pounded for 35 minutes – while I strained to hear a little morning news going 3.5 on my own treadmill.  This didn’t bother me when I was 55 – now I was dreaming of getting to go workout outside of when working people do.  It’s busy in there at 7 AM!

Last night after work was done, I was pretty beat.  Bill is with me on this trip – that’s my retired husband for those new to the blog.  Naturally, we needed to go out to dinner – which we did, nearby, casual place. But I did have a glass of wine and we tried to keep to our commitment not to discuss the President and also chatted about the pace and issues of the workday.  In my consulting days, I could work alone for a time when the formal workday ended, order room service and not drink or talk or do anything till dawn the next day.  That was sort of a drag in one sense, but it helped me keep stay in shape and stay focused.  I remember one of my clients once sharing: “you know Pat I thought my life was boring until I met you”. OUCH!

We are starting shortly, so we have already been reviewing scripts – 60 pages of which we hope to film today – and I am already getting that full-time work feeling I haven’t had in a long time: Is it Friday yet??

On second thought, doing lots of full-time work may not be as great as I thought it would be.  Although I have to admit there is a certain charge and adrenaline rush when you are up, with a full face of makeup, in a grown-up person’s clothes that are not gym clothes and people are counting on you to actually ACCOMPLISH something on a timeline.  If there was a way to do this once a month for 3 days it would be ideal – any ideas for a job where that could work?

Got to go – I am being called to the set! ACTION!

Patty

Never Stop Having Fun, It’s Seriously Underrated

New Year traditions have been overhauled for 2017.

For 99% of my adult life, the end of the year coincided with buying a blank book labeled with The New Year. It was used to write an analysis of the current year just ending (versus the goals and objectives I set out with) and then begin planning and big-picture thinking about the year ahead.  I would create several versions of my goals and often did this for each of what I thought of as “key areas”: health/fitness, business, friends, relationships, family, community, and often a new area like write book, graduate school, new office, move, or some category that related to a particular big area that was going to happen in the coming year.

By the first week of January, I was set to go.  Many items and specific strategies were already in the book and most goals were already memorized and I was set to take action.

I bought a lovely blue blank 2017 book at the end of 2016. It still sits idle and empty.  If you want to give it a home let me know.  Just never got focused on the big end-of- year analysis and next-year planning thing.  Maybe 2016 stressed me out too much, or I just lost interest in over-evaluating myself.

I have informally evaluated the year in my head – more than once. Many down arrows around plans – I had to jump start a work project that has been in fits and starts for nearly 15 years, one quite odd and one very tough health issue happened along, a plan I kept pushing never jelled, a different and very successful 45th college reunion was special. But then lots of up arrows around all I learned and all the fun and experiences from the first year of traveling all over for half the year.  I don’t seem to want to put it all down on paper much less get my goals out from the start of 2016, and check off the ones done and those undone.

What’s going on?

 

As I soon approach my 67th birthday on the 20th, I seem definitely less inclined to elaborately plan and set multiple goals in multiple areas anymore.  I am not feeling bad about what I used to do – just don’t feel in my heart it is what I need to do now.  Complexity doesn’t thrill me anymore.

It appears that I am now “getting” the big (but unoriginal) insights most people get when they are aging – even fabulously as my partner Cathy Green and I do.  Here’s a few: we all are going to die, and likely it won’t be a blast and it will be decades from now; everyone we know is in that same boat; we absolutely positively cannot and will not change anyone but ourselves. Changing ourselves can still happen – but we must get very strong, disciplined and focused. The standards we have for how our nieces, nephews, children, grandchildren, and people in general, should handle things is not just a complete fantasy and waste of time thinking about. It can take too much bandwidth, as my one friend says, and make you lose focus on what you can control: your own life.

Yes, the BIG insight has come through – success in life means staying on your own yoga mat.  Or, as our mothers’ used to say: mind your own business.  It wasn’t exactly the same point, but it worked for them. The yoga mat is more in keeping with being fabulous, since it implies we have to stay focused on ourselves and have to do it with discipline – our long-suit anyway. We would not be fabulous now if we hadn’t been super-disciplined then.

Here’s my new plan and goals for 2017.  Short, sweet, and I hope, freshly fabulous. My hope is it gets you thinking about your 2017 – in a new, light and happy way.

  1. Make money on the product I (and my partners) have focused on for 15 plus years. Get leverage from years of work already finished. Continue to make it better as it takes off. New technology will allow us to sell it quickly (January and February launches are set) see what works, what doesn’t and what maybe never will.  Dump it or celebrate it.
  1. Feel as good as I can every day. Exercise, meditate, pray, give time and attention to those in need who are present on my road. On the days I can’t do these things, take a longer nap.
  1. Use some new inputs for spiritually, reflection, growth – mix it up a bit. Get off old lists, or emails and get on newer ones. Constantly curate my world.
  1. Continue to write. Continue to read good books. Watch more Netflix. When in doubt or any distress, listen to classical or spa music.
  1. Have as much fun, find reasons to laugh and do as many new things as possible – both alone and with those I love. Travel frequently but lightly.
  1. Coach people I love and know I can influence – keep that group very small. Let my tribe thrive (those who matter) and keep those close who care, and detach from those who don’t, without any thought. If something needs a great deal of analyzing, skip it.

Guess I am set – I feel a little naked with this short a list.  But as I continue to be challenged by aging and its numerous losses and surprises, I recommit to the less is more approach. Focus on what matters. Forget everything else. Never stop changing as the situation demands, and absolutely never stop having fun.  It’s seriously underrated.

Patty

Nurse Patty 1969 and 2015

When we fabulousover60 women graduated high school and college (mid-sixties to mid-seventies) the major careers for women beyond homemaker were three: secretary, nurse and teacher. It struck me as I have attempted to “nurse” my husband post his knee surgery on January 7th that so much has changed and will continue to change since I made a decision to definitively NOT be a nurse.

Wearing my white stockings, shoes and shift dress of cheap polyester with a “Peace Now” button I entered the hospital as a would-be nurse’s aide with some trepidation back in 1969. My peace button was quickly removed by my supervisor in the first hour of my shift, and my “career view” of nursing was formed in just a little more time. “The drill” was taking orders from male doctors who you stood up for when they came to the nursing station, and doing tasks of compassion that made you feel central to the patients care, but also isolated from doing much about the overall medical outcomes or the obvious inefficiencies of some hospital routines. This was when nursing joined being a homemaker and/or a grade school teacher as definitely OUT as career choices. Business looked all shiny and new then didn’t it?real1604[1]

What this recent blip in the road of our lives (Bill’s surgery and recovery) has reminded me, is that the most mundane things I undervalued as a nurse’s aide are what is most helping Bill’s comfort and recovery. True, the surgery performed required skills beyond mine, but caretaking and support for the day to day activities of life matter more than I imaged. Making a cup of tea, straightening the sheets, helping him to the bathroom, listening to his complaints about the pain, and drying unreachable places post a shower are very good uses of my time and energy. While certainly not often stimulating, these “chores” are giving me informative reinforcement for my earlier life decisions and helping me make better decisions going forward.

My decision not to do anything for a living that was connected to serving others who were young (school teaching), dirty (everyone – cleaning is not my thing and yet I love cleanliness), ill or disabled (nursing), hungry (cooking) or disorganized (secretarial/clerical work) was absolutely the right one. I live most happily in my mind — and I love to listen to and analyze the quandaries of people’s lives and/or work—and then support efforts to improve the situation. Another good result of not choosing nursing or other direct care/support work was that now, at 65 (January 20, 2015), I am not worn out from years working in these support fields and can experience these roles freshly — rather than as an extension of an earlier career.

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Clearly, whether we did or did not choose nursing, teaching, administrative work professionally — we are going through more of just those things as we age. Our lives, and the people in them dictate that. From spouses, friends and partners needing care, younger family members needing help with young children or teens, or our inevitable downsizing/re-invention efforts requiring more organizational skills and planning we need to be close to the ground executing what we may have thought of as “mundane” or “beneath us” activities rather than working in the relatively detached vacuum of executive and professional work.

This means as fabulous women we need to think a great deal more deeply and realistically about our own abilities and our limits for caring for others, being in an educational role for younger generations or organizing and supporting downsizing strategies (rather than just deciding on them) for our lives. Few of our moms worked outside the home and for many of this “greatest generation” care-giving was natural—or at least extremely familiar. As for being an organizer and downsizing wizard, many of our parents didn’t quite handle these tasks well — some of course did, but not a few of us cleaned out our parents home after one or another crisis, and in some cases made decisions for them on next steps since they obviously, in denial, did not plan to age and/or die doing anything other than what they were doing 20 years before the crisis.

Denial[1]

We know we want to do better dealing with aging – but I wonder if being fabulous is going to help us actually do that or just push us into a different form of denial and inevitably messy if not dangerous situations of being ill-prepared to care for and plan with those we love; and/or become too cheap or poor to pay others to do it well. We all know boomers who are convinced becoming a 24/7 exercise fanatic will eliminate aging for them — or are still holding on to a lifestyle that was getting outdated in 1990 — along with their furniture.

I do not envy those of you who chose careers of care and are now faced with caring for those in your own life. Can’t decide if you are more at peace with knowing that your life’s work inevitably becomes everyone’s job at some point or if now in hindsight wish you too had let others do it professionally. As our mothers often said “time will tell”. But along with other decisions, we have to hurry up and make some decisions on new roles and efforts. It is easy to criticize our parents’ lack of “appropriate” planning, but I wonder if fabulous or not we are sliding into similar tracks of denial and side stepping the realities of being older and having to play nurse.

Patty

Use Mad Men Wisely

Like millions of others, I couldn’t wait for the seventh and final season of Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men on AMC.

This last season of Mad Men is dredging up old stuff I hadn’t thought about – or have been pissed off about – for roughly 45 years.

A new marketing lead at an existing client company meets Joan Harris, not one of the male partners of advertising agency Sterling Cooper, and is clearly disappointed. Over a coke at the bar he starts lecturing Joan like she never worked at an advertising agency much less is a partner of one. It made my blood boil.

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A senior executive refers to a black woman and some white men as “Gladys Knight and the Pips” as they enter a work meeting. OMG this hit my buttons.

Don Draper hits on another woman while on a plane from LA (and his time with his wife Megan living the LA life) back to New York. If I see Don with that sympathetic and lustful face looking at one more different woman while she shares her woe (this one a widow) I am going to scream.

Mad Men is terrific entertainment, not reality. 1969 is LONG over. While it may be troubling to recall the professional travails back then; getting angry all over again wastes energy that could be spent on real current problems — like continuing gender bias in the workplace.

What I realize as I watch Mad Men this season is that it was cutting a little too close to home — and giving me an opportunity to reflect on some buried issues as well as current ones. This is a good thing: fresh opportunities for personal reflection and renewed growth – and this I recommend.

The accurate costumes make one wince and are without doubt triggers for memories of our own past. But what has me really exploring raw feelings are the subtle or not so subtle mocking of the ways we experienced our lives back then. It seems to me that how we were experiencing new avenues of sexual freedom, politics, civil rights and patriarchy comes across as a bit too much like a surface set of fads rather than the difficult, thoughtful and challenging opportunities of that era.

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It really was not easy to “become liberated”, “be involved in civil rights”, or “want to be taken seriously”. Politics were white hot and challenging and conversations with parents/authority figures were often brutal. Mini skirts, and smoking pot were more than props – they were small attempts to express new ways of thinking in the culture. A culture which we were trying desperately to change — and ultimately did.

I can take Mad Men and its terrific acting and writing as a way of getting into my own history and life explorations; or, I can just let the show continue to annoy me, and remind me of old, relatively minor wounds, and 60’s fashion. Upon reflection, we at least cared about fashion and looking pulled together back then. Seems like anyone today could spend 6 weeks traveling anywhere with black pants, jeans, two tops, a washable universal-looking dress, walking sandals and an average-looking sweater or cheap raincoat. To me, that is not progress. Or maybe, sister boomers, it really is.

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