Thursday, April 26, 2018

10 People Who Reinvented Their Lives After 50

During my years on the air as a morning show co-host, one of my favorite features was a segment where we celebrated accomplishments and shared good news happening in people’s lives. Amidst the stories of good grades, new babies, home runs, and surprise engagements, one story still stands out to me.

A woman who just turned 60 was graduating with her Master’s Degree. It took her about 2 years to do it and she admitted that going back to school later in life was scary. When asked about her motivation she said she figured time was going to move on anyway and if she did nothing, she’d still be two years older, so why not be two years older with a degree that would help her reinvent herself?

Many look at their 50’s and 60’s as a time to prepare for retirement, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. But others still feel that they have much to do and  much to give. After decades of learning, developing skills, living and could be the best time for you to put those skills to use.

Think you are too old to fulfill a dream? Change careers? Reinvent yourself? Here are 10 people who will inspire you and make you realize it is never too late.

  1. Grandma Moses aka Anna Mary Robertson Moses, began her career as a painter at 76, when her arthritis made it too hard to continue her embroidery hobby. She completed over 400 works of art over the next 25 years until her death at the age of 101 and is considered one of our country’s greatest American Folk artists.
  2. Duncan Hines wrote his first book, a food and hotel guide, at 55. At 73 he licensed his name for the cake mixes you see at every grocery store. 
  3. Laura Ingalls Wilder published her first book when she was 65 and then completed 12 in her Little House on the Prairie series by the time she died. 
  4. Harland Sanders had many business failures and was broke at the age of 65. He tried one more time, and sold his first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise. 
  5. Julia Child began her first cooking show on PBS at the age of 51.
  6. Peter Roget started keeping lists of words as a young man, but didn’t publish his Roget’s Thesaurus until he was 73.
  7. Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa in 1993. He was 75
  8. Dr Ruth was was 52 when she delivered a lecture which led to a radio talk show called "Sexually Speaking." The show was a hit and she became a nationally recognized authority on sex via that syndicated radio show.
  9. Charles Darwin was 50 when he published On the Origin of the Species in 1859. 
  10. Ronald Reagan was a famous actor in in younger years, but decided to switch careers and run for his first elected public office--at 55. The rest, as they say, is history.
If you ever wanted to do something different, launch a new career, start a new business, change the world (or at least a little part of it) ... how old is too old?


Start today.

Inspiration for this piece came from my friend Tony Agnesi as well as articles on these blogs and sites: 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Question That Changed Christmas For Me

About 5 years ago, my daughter asked me a question, and although I certainly didn't expect my answer to be that profound, it actually changed the way I  looked at gift giving from that point forward.

Let me first say that I love Christmas. It's always been my favorite time of the year. Although I was raised Catholic --the religious aspect was, and still is, only a small part of my Christmas spirit. Christmas has always been magical for me. There is a spirituality that extends beyond any one religion, and represents a time when we are reminded that there really should be peace on earth and good will toward humankind. And the eternal hope that there still can be.

I am the youngest of 7, and my mom always made Christmas special. Looking back, I recall there being way too many gift under the tree, but that isn't the memory I cling to. While I suppose I believed that Santa would bring gifts that could make everyone happy, for me it was never about the presents but the gifts. The gift of delicious food. The gift of watching my dad carve the turkey. Of my mom's apple pies. Of having my brothers and sisters around me. The gift of feeling loved.  In fact, as I got older and started my family, I tried to replicate the gift-giving part for my own family and  found the holidays becoming stressful for me. And then there was a realization that it must have been really stressful for my parents hit me once I had kids of my own.

So back to that question my daughter asked me: "Mom, do you remember any of the gifts you received last Christmas?" I had to think long and hard. And I was embarrassed that I could not. She then pointed out that every year we spend far too much money and time getting stressed about gifts, and that isn't what Christmas should be about. She said that as a new mom and living states away, the best gift was being home. And with airfare, getting him was the best gift. Plus, although she wanted  to make Christmas special for her son, she didn't want him focused on the consumerism that Christmas had turned into. I was proud that she, and my other daughter too, felt the best memories from childhood were laughing, cooking, eating, playing board games, and watching Christmas movies. So we all agreed we'd scale back on the gift buying, although we still spoiled my grand son--just a little!

Now we haven't completely stopped giving gifts--but the gifts we give now are mindful. We give gifts of time and experiences. Gifts that are practical. If you can't use it, wear it, eat it or do it--we won't buy it. No more impractical "stuff" to sit on a shelf and not get used. We've also incorporated giving gifts that have true meaning--gifts for the greater good. And one of those is making a donation to a worthy cause.

This year, there are so many who will  not be celebrating Christmas as they did last year because their home was destroyed by the devastation of a hurricane. Every night, in any given city, there is a home fire. As a board member for the Red Cross of Summit, Portage and Medina Counties, I've seen first-hand the work the Red Cross does on a local and national level. This holiday season if you'd like to  give a gift that really means something, you can visit The Red Cross Store  and select a symbolic gift  for someone on your list. The gift is tax-deductible and will support Red Cross programs like Disaster Services, Service to the Armed Forces, Blood Services and International Services. 

A gift like this will make you feel just like Mr. Scrooge did  when he woke up --giddy on Christmas morning -knowing he was going to make so many people's lives better. And that's what the Christmas spirit is all about.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Shades of Gray

The world is so black and white these days. I'm looking for shades of gray. It used to be, compromise was a wonderful word, and the key for a good relationship. Whether with a friend, coworker, or life partner, one person leaning in a little and the other doing the same somehow can find middle-ground-and get along.

In today's political climate, it seem compromise is considered a dirty word; a sign of weakness. Compromise is gray in a world of black and white.

There's a great deal I don't like about what's going on in my country and I gave up thinking my expressing an opinion on social media or anywhere else would change anyone's mind. But I'm not gonna lie--I have changed my mind on a lot of things over time. I've been black on white on issues I'm now gray on. When faced with conversation from people with a differing view, who present facts I hadn't considered or experiences I have never had opens my mind and softens my position ... I won't be shamed for that. Angry keyboard warriors call a politician who has changed their position a flip-flopper, but if you flip-flopped because you were wrong, and admit it--I think that's a sign of strength not weakness.

Every day on social media I see these keyboard warriors shaming others. The far left and the far right pontificators are the most represented in social ( and all ) media, and in fact, as we learn of paid propaganda ads and fake news from Russia, I'm starting to think social is the problem-not media. All of us and our shades of gray cower...not wanting to offend or get a fight started on our walls. The sane among us are left in the dust.

I did not vote for Donald Trump, and find his brand offensive and destructive to our society. But I want to understand why people hold a different opinion than I do. And I think we need to elect politicians who aren't afraid to do the same. We need bridge builders. I regularly converse with a friend who holds vastly different political views than I.  On the subject of how this president got elected she said-- "we need to understand many did not vote FOR Trump. They voted AGAINST everything our political system has turned into." Proving that it can be done--we always have great discussions. We listen and end up realizing how much we agree on. It's amazing how two women can solve the world's problems on a walk in the park.

The taking a knee protest is another issue that seems as divisive as the election. Like Hillary vs Trump there is no middle ground. No gray. If you agree with a person's right to take a knee you are anti-American, disrespect the flag and the military. If you don't think taking a knee is an appropriate way to protest, you are a close-minded racist. So many see the other's view as not only wrong--but unforgivable.

The most compelling opinions I've heard that have helped form my view on this subject are people who have had experiences I have not had. They are 1) black, or 2) veterans. Every person I know who is offended by black athletes taking a knee is white. While those who accept the protest are of mixed races, creeds and ages.

The veterans that support the protest say it not an assault on the flag, but instead,  an example of the rights they fought for to peacefully protest an injustice that happens in the country our flag represents.

I don't live in black skin. I understand that just by being born white, I simply don't know what it feels like to be teased on the playground because of my color, or my accent. I don't know what it feels like to be a black mom or dad having to explain to my pre-teen why he puts himself in danger if he wears that hoodie outside on the street...why people may cross the street if they see him walking by with a group of his friends. Or why him running around wielding a stick on a playground or park could have different consequences for him than it would a white boy. My black colleague once described his fear of being pulled over, the thoughts that went through his mind seeing blue lights behind him. How to talk, where to place his hands, what would happen to him if he stepped out of the car. Was there a robbery nearby? Does he fit a description? I simply don't know that fear. My experience being pulled over has been that of  a cute white girl talking herself out of a ticket. The learning to drive "tips" I gave my kids are a lot different than the ones my black friends are giving their teens. I have had an advantage--yes "privilege" that I did nothing to earn. I just was born. Not being black, asian, brown or what is now called "other" on the census form, I cannot not know the experience of a person of color.

So now, football, of all things,  has given us an opportunity for dialogue... an opportunity to try to see another view. An opportunity to build a bridge. And a white girl like me saying black athletes shouldn't use a venue where all of America is watching to protest seems...well, to be proving their point.

I believe conservatives and liberals, straights and gays, blacks, browns and whites, and persons of all faiths need to find some gray and not be ashamed to put a listener, a negotiator, one who compromises---a LEADER  in the White House in the next election.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Talkin' Bout My Generation

NPR had a piece recently on social media's depiction in the romantic comedy genre. Not since "You've Got Mail" in 1998 has there been a movie that successfully tackled the subject. Yet, over 30% of marriages today are a result of an online meeting. Far higher for online dating.

The story went on to say that they can't get a screenplay on this subject produced, because most people approving concepts and scripts are 50 and older men. Most of these decision-makers were married around 1986 and by the time they were going into a second marriage in 1998 they were rich enough that they didn't need to use technology to meet a partner. If they don't get it, believe in it, haven't experienced it, or fall into the "negative stigma of online dating" camp, they won't approve it, this piece concluded.

I thought about the men my age, mid 50's and how that transcended to my business: radio and music. In the music business, mostly men run radio stations, and make programming and music decisions about what even female targeted stations want to hear on the radio. Most record labels also have men in the top decision-making positions as CEO's presidents, etc.

I work in country radio. For years the format has had an inordinate number of male acts worked to radio as compared to women, probably a 12-1 ratio at any given time over the past 8-10 years. When I talk with mainly female artists and record reps, they express frustration over the fact that male acts get signed at this ratio, and even once signed, they get worked more often and with more passion than the female artists. Most of the time, the decision on which single is shipped to radio is also made by men. One rep told me she and the other women reps who really believe in one of the female artists they were working begged their male bosses to release a different single. They felt that these guys were consistently picking the wrong ones...and sure enough, the song selected failed to make traction.

There's no doubt that the male-oriented version of the country format has been successful. No one can argue the appeal and success of Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Jason Aldean, Eric Church and tons of newbies. But there have also been plenty of failures. Because there are more men signed to labels, there has been more male acts that haven't made it.  It's a matter of numbers. I just wish there would be more risk taken on female acts, similar to the pop world. The more women signed to labels, the more women you'd hear on the radio, the more hits there would be. It, too is a matter of numbers.

So why aren't more women getting signed to country labels and being worked to country radio? There seem to be no easy answers.

I've heard for years (from men) that "women don't like to listen to other women". To that logic, women wouldn't be dominating the charts or sales in pop music, which also targets women. These comments are disturbingly similar to the line of thinking in this article from 2015. It's a frustrating portrait of the inequity, sexism and the downright verbal assault women have endured in the entertainment business alone.  Can you imagine male-based industries like banking, auto, or tech?  And people are surprised at stories about Bill Cosby or Fox News Roger Ailes?

I know I will sound like a male-bashing feminist but I think it's time for many of the 55-70 year old men to step aside and move women into more decision-making roles about what women want to hear and watch on the radio and in movies.  It may take awhile before a woman is the CEO of a label or film-making company,  but perhaps if more women were in these roles, country radio may sound different; and maybe the line-up of movies would also look different. I don't know....

I recently asked a group of younger women in my circle their opinion on women in music, what they like listening to.  These late 20 early 30-something women were in agreement that they wanted to be represented. While they love fun party-songs on the radio, they also want to hear their "voice" represented. They want to hear a woman singing about things they are living, thinking, feeling and experiencing, and there is very little of that in today's country music. They find those songs in pop radio and online, but think of country as the fun party-format.

Speaking as a 50 plusser myself I had Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, Bonnie Raitt  and Carole King to name only a few,  as my voice.  I know there are plenty of talented women with a voice and something to say out there, and they are being discovered online rather than on the radio.

As for me, I know I've been luckier than many women in my business. I've worked for mostly private companies with forward thinking men at the helm, who have allowed me and others on my team to make decisions we felt best for our target audience. I'm now at the point in my life and career where I hope I can use my years of experience to mentor, advise, and encourage those coming behind, as we have the invaluable insight only living through these experiences can give.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Gift, or Curse of Being an Empath

I went through a stage of more than a year with very little TV watching. I canceled cable and limited my news consumption. When I decided to stick my big toe back in, we got a smart TV so that I could be mindful of my viewing selections. I began watching very specific shows available on-demand, from recommendations from friends and family. But that experience, too, has grown dark for me. Clearly, I can't "take" what others can. I get easily stressed and upset by so much of what I am exposed to. What's wrong with me?

After a great deal of self-reflection, research, life-experience, and some therapy, I have learned there is a name my my personality type. I am an empath, and can be deeply affected, even obsessively so, with things I have viewed, read about, learned of or experienced. That explains why watching the news, a show, documentary or movie with a storyline of injustice, terror, or violence affects me so deeply. When watching a disturbing scene, especially if it involves children or animals, I literally feel it, physically in the pit of my stomach, and then often have dreams (nightmares) and then feel torn about the dilemma of burying my head in the sand or facing harsh realities. Once I have learned first-hand of some kind of injustice, I feel faced with a decision: now that I know...what do I do? Then I feel guilt when I do nothing. Or if I do something, it's never enough.

I remember when I was young, the mini-series Roots affected me deeply, watching a 17 year-old Kunta Kinte being kidnapped from his village and taken to a Virginia plantation and mercilessly whipped while they demanded he accept his new slave-name left me crying and gave me nightmares for weeks (actually years). Another mini-series about the Holocaust, again, was important for me to see from a historical and educational perspective. But I watched with a sick feeling the entire time, fearful of what would happen next...imaging how I would feel to be in their place. Many a date or movie lover in my life would get annoyed with me because I don't like going to a movie in a theatre, because if a difficult scene comes up I can't escape. I've heard many times: "it's just a movie" or, "you know this didn't really happen...these are actors" by annoyed people who can't seem to understand why I just can't watch certain things.

Movies or a series rooted in history that tell a story that needs to be told are important. Documentaries showing a hidden camera view of inside a factory farm confirmed my decision to stop eating meat. As hard as those stories were for me to learn about, I believe that starting at a certain age of maturity watching a well-produced educational documentary or a replay of a series like Roots or the Holocaust may open the minds and hearts of our young people. The history of humanity needs to be taught, in order for there to be any chance it may not repeat itself.

Now that I have discovered this gift, or curse, it explains the things that have always happened to me. There are times I have met people, whether on a plane, at a social event or in a grocery store line where within minutes people begin to tell me things. I often avoid conversations with people if I'm not up to it completely because I can't just make small talk. People just open up to me. I've heard many times, "I don't know why I told you that. I've never told anyone that and I barely know you." I feel an energy coming from someone (positive or negative) and I have learned to trust those instincts. More than one person has told me that when they walk into my house there is a healing energy.

But the dark side of empathy is that feeling so deeply can be draining. I often don't want to believe what I am instinctively feeling about someone. I know when people are lying. I get a sense when something is happening to a friend or loved one and I call them and sure enough, they are sick, or sad or something. I can easily become entrenched in the drama of someone going through a rough time and I try to take on their problems. Then, it deeply affects me. I have been called "too sensitive" or a "pleaser" because I like to keep the negative energy to a minimum.

When I became a new mom I was tormented by any bad news item pertaining to kids. An episode of Criminal Minds now freaks me out, because, well, they pull the story lines from somewhere, don't they? What if someone tried to do this to my child? My loved one? I have colleagues and acquaintances who are hunters and I try to understand--but I can't imagine pointing a gun at a living creature (unless it was self defense) shooting it to watch it fall and then celebrating that death with a smiling photo over the still-warm, not quite dead creature. An trophy hunting a beautiful lion, elephant or bear?

I. Can't. Even.

I have concluded that while many of what has affected me most was important for me to see, hear, read, or somehow experience to make me the person I am, as it changed my life perspective;  moving forward, limiting my exposure to such things is in the best interest of my sanity.

If you wonder if you are an empath, I have put a list of characteristics that you may or may not relate to. Some of these are from my own experience and from many online resources, including this one

You may be an empath if you:
  • Often feel fatigued, exhausted or ‘heavy’ inside.
  • Find it intensely painful to watch or read about cruelty, torture, violence or tragedy
  • Experience a strong Friday relief and a deep Sunday night blues due to anxiety of work or school 
  • Take on guilt easily, even for things you didn't do
  • Are conflict averse and try hard to keep the peace
  • Find it hard to relax until others are happy
  • Are often the "go-to" for emotional support to those in need 
  • People tend to easily open up to, and confide in, you. 
  • Can easily “read” other people. 
  • Can pick up when someone is hiding something or lying. 
  • Are deeply affected by the emotions of others and these emotions often linger in the form of obsessive thoughts 
  • Often feel unexplainably moody, or physically ill after spending time with certain people or in certain places 
  • Have excellent intuitive abilities. You often just know things, or can pick up a hidden nature of a person. 
  • Often put others needs and happiness above your own
  • Are a good listener 
  • Feel really good when those you care about feel good, and really bad when things are feeling bad 
  • Are driven to support the underdog, downcast or emotionally crippled 
  • Have a deep love for nature and animals 
  • Are creative, solitary and spiritual 
If you relate to most of what is on this list. You are not alone.