The website for a seminar presented by Linda Ricketts and Robert Ferré
Our society is aging: the baby boomers, the "gray tsunami," and behind them, the millennials. Yet for the most part our culture does far more to attempt to prevent or postpone aging than to benefit from it. In reality, our senior years can be a wonderful culmination and fulfilment of our lives. There are many books that have been written about the second half of life, many of them by people who just turned fifty. More accurately, there are three stages of life, thanks to our vastly increased life span compared to those who came before us. First, we grow up and go to school. Secondly, we focus on family and career. Now there is a third stage, a post-retirement era that can be decades long. In many cases, this later stage has a distinct spiritual orientation. Our priorities are different, we are more concerned with the quality of life and relationships than accomplishments, wealth-building, or status seeking. Working is no longer a necessity, so we can use our time to do those things we never had time for previously, including creative pursuits, volunteering, tutoring, engaging in socially relevant activities. The two of us find this third stage of life the most exciting and rewarding time of our lives.
Our society, however, looks at aging as if it were a disease to be avoided at all cost. Just look at all of the books about reversing aging, staying young, at least looking young. This kind of vanity is unimportant when you embrace your years and wisdom. It's true that some areas of our life diminish, such as physical prowness, speed, even mobility. But other areas get better, especially those areas we classify as spiritual. So while the outer life constricts, the inner life can flourish.
In our workshop the labyrinth serves as a metaphor for our life's journey into aging. As a spiritual tool, the labyrinth offers us access to the inner world, not as a place of escape or refuge, but as a pratice that enhances the meaning of everything we do.
This website gives a brief overview of the kinds of material we cover in this seminar. For those readers unable to attend an actual workshop, we hope these pages give you some guidance in finding your way as you age. For those who may be interested in a more complete experience by attending or sponsoring one of our events, please feel free to contact us by clickinig on one of our names: Robert Ferré . . . Linda Ricketts. We wish you a happy and fruitful third stage of life.
Our goals for the workshop
Who am I now?
Stages of our Ages
What will matter . . .
From Michael Josephson:
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage, or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence but your character.
A typical workshop is four hours long from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (no lunch served). Needless to say, in such a short amount of time (which includes a labyrinth walk), we can only touch on some very important subjects. The interactions and small group sharings during the workshop plus the extensive handouts allow participants to continue to explore the topic on their own when they get home. We would wecome the opportunity to extend the workshop to a full day or even a weekend.
The subtitle of our workshop is "Challenges, Blessings, Possibilities." Of course there are challenges. Our lives go through many changes, some intentially and some of necessity. We may lose those close to us, or become caretakers for parents or spouses. This can be unsettling and stressful. Just as certainly, however, there are a multitude of blessings and unlimited possibilities.
The topic of aging is not theoretical for us. We ourselves are seniors and are experiencing this journey. Recently, a young woman came to our over 55 community to give a talk on a new memory care facility. She began by desribing some of the physical aspects of aging. More than once she uttered the words, "It's really depressing." If she were correct in her youthful evaluation of what is to come, then all of us in the room should have been in the doldrums. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Many of our beliefs about aging date from our youth, or from the unflattering pronouncements of our culture. The earlier stages in life have a different set of requirements, goals, and activities than do our retirement years. The priorities that serve us then, may no longer be relevant when we are older. What once was helpful in prior stages of life may become problematic in the third stage. All that drive for status and accomplishment and recognition, all that competition and aggression fades when we get in touch with a more authentic self.
Each stage of life should be inclusive of the previous stages. Just think of what our grandchildren can teach us about technology. Conversely, what we learn in our third stage of life could indeed be of value to those younger than ourselves, and to our culture. Slowing down, being more reflective, being less ego driven, giving more value to relationships, serving others. For this reason, I think that some of the negative predictions by demographers that an increasingly aging society will be a drag on our economy and social resources is inaccurate. Seniors make great empoyees, being more stable, reliable, and unflabable in times of crisis. Seniors offer an enormous well of time, energy, and wisdom which, properly direted, will make a very positive contribution to our society (much like the elders in traditional societies).
We often hear people say they will never retire, as if they could hang on to the middle stage of life indefinitely. In so doing, they could be postponing or missing all that their retirement years have to offer. Just as frequently, we hear people say they resisted retirement but were forced into it by circumstances beyond their control. Once retired, however, they found they loved their new life and were glad they had been nudged into it.