Third Age is an emerging life stage running roughly from ages 50 to 75 and made possible by longer life expectancy. Rich in possibilities and potential, it involves the questioning of one's old identity, a search for new or greater meaning and purpose in work and life and profound change. It is a time of renewal if we address both its challenge and opportunity.
Melita A. DeBellis, JD, CPCC, is a life coach, entrepreneur and trainer based in beautiful Shelburne, Vermont. Her business is Midlife Unlimited. She is a former attorney and human resources executive who has made her own personal journey beyond the corporate world to a deeply satisfying vocation supporting individuals as they navigate their journey through their Third Age. She is a former board member of The Center for Third Age Leadership and the co-author/facilitator of its "Coaching for Third Age Fulfillment" program. She is also a trainer with Associates for Training and Development based in St. Albans, Vermont. Melita received her B.A. from The University of Vermont, her J.D. from The National Law Center, George Washington University, and has been trained and certified as a professional co-active coach by The Coaches Training Institute of San Rafael, California. Melita knows the fulfillment that comes from journeying through personal transformation and finding one’s passion. She finds that passion enjoying the natural world of Vermont with her husband Mike and their dog Chloe.
Spring is supposed to be about rebirth and renewal yet to be honest, I'm not seeing it. In Vermont on the first day of spring we were digging out from 8 inches of fresh snow. Now I'm in New Jersey near April 1st and there's snow in the forecast here as well - a not so subtle reminder of the unpredictability of the season and of life.
When I was younger I always thought it was so sad when I would see people getting rid of their "stuff" - their accumulated possessions of a lifetime. They'd always say "I don't need this any more". To my inexperienced eyes it seemed like they were giving up on their lives, packing it in, preparing for their life to end.
"Hummingbird Alert!" announced my husband as he walked into my office. "What?", I thought. It's only March 31st. We still have the markers up along our driveway to guide the snow plow driver, clinging to the hope that we'll receive the big snow storm that never came during this crazy winter. It's way too early for the hummingbirds - we usually don't see them until late April.
Fear of anything new, any break in routine or habit, can be daunting. For me, putting on a swimsuit and going to a pool feels as daunting as any major life change might.
During the past year I've often felt stuck and overwhelmed. Life overall has frequently seemed so difficult and sad that it has been impossible for me to write an inspirational message - especially when personally I haven't felt inspired. I spend a lot of my time encouraging - or is it preaching? - others to take a break, stop, listen for that inner voice to emerge. Yet, like many teachers, I don't do so well practicing what I preach.
Just one week ago I closed the doors for the final time on the family home in New Jersey where I was born and raised - the home that has been in our family for 62 years. When my Dad died two years ago I inherited the house; I desperately wanted to keep it - and to keep the physical manifestation of those 60+ years of memories. However, after two agonizing years, I finally accepted that the most manageable and realistic choice was to sell the house.
So, what will you do with your Third Age? What are the expectations of your profession for what retirement should look like – and how closely does that match your true interests? Do you feel drawn to Florida ’s sandy beaches and the country club? Or perhaps something else holds greater heart and meaning for you. As your identity shifts from the family and career roles you have held for so many years, who would you like to become? What are the new ways for making a contribution using all of the gifts and talents you have honed over the years? What does the concept of legacy mean to you?
The desire to grow is nothing less than the love of existence--a purpose for being here and a deep desire to fully explore life. Growth is at the root of everything that makes us feel vital. Yet, sometimes we do stop growing. Few coaches are as clear and profound in their guidance as Nancy and Melita. They are master gardeners of the growth soil. If you want to feel vital in your third age, study.... It is a must read for anyone who is willing to ask the question, 'Where do I grow from here?"
- Richard Leider - Best selling author of "The Power of Purpose" & "Repacking Your Bags" and founder of The Inventure Group