Category Archives: Best Places to Reinvent Yourself

A Mindful Transition Pause

Wherever you are on your journey of transitions, I hope you will find time during this Thanksgiving week here in the US to take a mindful transition pause. Many of us are experiencing or anticipating transitions in our careers and in our lives. These transitions are rarely easy and we can easily fall into a period of depression where we feel disconnected from our past, dissatisfied with the present, and uncertain about our future.

To avoid the mindless transition pause where we feel lost between two worlds, letting go of our past identity without knowing our true identity, or unable to replace the job we recently lost, it is time to become more focused, more intentional, and more purposeful about the future. A mindful transition pause is a time of reflection, letting go of the past to allow space for the future to emerge, a place for you to simply be, in preparation for what is to come. An excellent place to start this mindful transition pause is in the place of gratitude. Expressing gratitude for the past and for the present creates the space for a more conscious, purposeful, and fulfilling future.

My thanks to Madisyn Taylor for introducing me to the mindful transition pause in her inspirational daily OM ( Continuing in the spirit of gratefulness, thank you for reading this blog and thank you for your emails and calls. These connections help us at 2Young2Retire to help you, wherever you are on your journey.

I will end this post with a Quero Apache Prayer: “Looking behind I am filled with gratitude. Looking forward I am filled with vision. Looking upwards I am filled with strength. Looking within I discover peace.” I wish you a mindful, purposeful, and happy Thanksgiving!

50+? The Peace Corps Wants You

“Do people tell you you`re over the hill? … What if you were?  Over the hill, over a stream and over an ocean.  To another continent.  Thousands of miles from your own. Where elders are looked to as leaders …”

If you’re over 50 and have ever been attracted to becoming a Peace Corps volunteer, this advertising message should alert you to the fact that the Peace Corps is recruiting older adults, for their maturity, life and business experience, and transferable skills.  Of the approximately 7,800 volunteers around the world, people 50 and older make up 5%, or fewer than 400.  Host nations are asking for volunteers who can offer real-world experience in technical fields, business development, agribusiness or teaching, rather than young adults right out of college, says Rosie Mauk, the Peace Corps’ associate director of volunteer recruitment and selection.  Applications among older Americans, many of whom have lost jobs in last year’s economic downturn, are on the rise.

2young2retire facilitator and Peace Corps volunteer, Patrice Koerper, who recently returned from an assignment in Macedonia, describes it as the “most amazing, rewarding adventure of my life,”  and the Peace Corps itself as the best organization she has ever been associated with.  A seasoned public relations professional with a “great job,” Patrice was looking for a change of direction.  She had three personal goals for her next endeavor:  first, she wanted “to see the faces of the people I was helping”; second, she wanted to get to know more people; and third, she wanted to live in Eastern Europe from where her family immigrated generations ago.  Service with the Peace Corps in Macedonia met all three.

In 2006, while exploring new possibilities for work and life, she took the training to become a certified 2young2retire facilitator.  She also found herself drawn to the Peace Corps and decided to apply.  After a six-month application process which she found both “laborious and scary,” she felt the Peace Corps knew more about her than anyone.  If you’re an older volunteer, you should expect that because there is so much more to know.

Based on an assessment of your skills and experience, the Peace Corps decides what kind of work you will take on.   Once you have accepted an assignment – you are offered up to three locations – you receive language and other training to prepare you for life in your host country.  The mission of the Peace Corps is captured in these three goals:

  1. Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

The Three Goals, plus the commitment to a 27-month duration of service, tend to screen out all but the most serious applicants.  Peace Corps volunteer are supplied with a round trip ticket, housing allowance and a stipend to cover food, transportation and incidentals.  For Patrice this came to $220 a month, or roughly equivalent to 250 Euros, an average salary in Macedonia.  The point is, volunteers must live like the locals.  She received full medical coverage during her service and affordable health insurance for up to 18 months following service.   Older volunteers who draw Social Security and/or other pension benefits, may accumulate significant savings while they are away from home.  All returning Peace Corps volunteers are awarded just over $6,000 toward a smooth transition to life back home, and Patrice notes, they are eligible for Response Corps, short-term, high-impact assignments that typically range from three months to a year, at the request of a country.

Eager to begin her new assignment, Patrice arrived in Macedonia and spent the first six months “doing nothing.  Patience is the Number One way to survive,” she notes.  Macedonia, which became independent from Yugoslavia in 1991, is in the process of reinventing itself and its economy.  She was assigned to work with a government agency and eventually found herself doing workshops on change.  At first, people tended to view volunteers with suspicion, perhaps because there has been no formal tradition of volunteering.  She grew comfortable with the experience of “living minute to minute.” The last seven months of her service in Macedonia proved to be the most fruitful and rewarding.   “I realized I was in the business of building hope and trust,” Patrice says.  She kept the motto of Macedonian native, Mother Theresa, in mind: “Do small things with great love.”

Here are links about the Peace Corps, including recent budgetary debate and how to go about applying:

Recruiting the 50+
Budget Debates, Future Prospects
From Job Loss to Peace Corps
About Peace Corps
Forum for Volunteers
How to Apply

Best Places

You’ve had it with shoveling snow, long commutes to work, paying too much in real estate taxes. The grandkids moved to another state. Your elderly parents need your help across the country. One or more of these can trigger questions about relocation as we cross the threshold into the second half of life. As we age, we become a nation in search of the ‘best place’ to live. Suppose you find, as we do, the usual list of location must have’s inadequate. You know, the lists that assume you’ve hung up your spurs as regards making a living: affordable housing; plentiful leisure activities; cultural options; sunny weather; good health care access.

All good, but suppose you want or need an income. Suppose you want to live near your grandchildren or elderly parents in an environment that is business-friendly. While it is true that technology has enabled many of us to work remotely, what if your dream is to become a minister, or open a dog grooming business or launch a practice as a professional organizer, to name three on our Top Ten? Through this lens, we took a look at information that is available for the asking on the web and here are our best picks. Who knows? When you start researching your personal best place, you may find that your own hometown has more going for it than you realized.

Rightsizing Your Life

“We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us,” said Sir Winston Churchill. That is a good preface for a review of Ciji Ware’s new book, Rightsizing Your Life: Simplifying Your Surroundings While Keeping What Matters Most (Springboard Books 2007). This is a well-organized, lively manual on creating an environment that supports our choices in the second half of life. It includes relocation – whether to, where, when, and how – which, after money and health, is a major concern for many of us as we grow older. This is due, in part, to the size of the continent we inhabit, and our propensity for moving for work or family. Sometimes those moves take us far from our homes of origin, for better or worse, and sometimes on the periphery of what we value most.

The other factor the book tackles head on is our possessions. To stretch the Churchill quote just a little, we have become possessed by our possessions. How to maintain, preserve, protect and store our stuff have become industries in their own right. So Rightsizing Your Life is, among other things, an exhortation to simplify in the second half of life, to pare down to what we consider the essentials (a revealing exercise if there ever was one!), and thus create space for self-discovery, creativity, an exhilarating new freedom, to name a few benefits.

Following an excellent Foreword by Gail Sheehy, Part I covers just that. Part II is where the rubber meets the road: a seven-step how-to that makes rightsizing sound, if not easier, than doable and necessary. I was particularly taken with Chapter 6, “Identify Your Favorite Things,” a discussion that goes far beyond the thing itself. You will no doubt recognize yourself somewhere in the list “Ten Reasons We’re Prisoners of Our Possessions.”

If you feel yourself more than ready to rightsize and simplify but feel overwhelmed by the task, go directly to “Call in the Professionals” – yes, there is a small army of people who can help you declutter, sort, organize, move, retrofit, remodel. Great resources throughout, including websites and other readings.