Renewal and Redesign

In April, 2019, I started my company, Five Pillars of Aging. In January, 2020, COVID made its debut. It is now May, 2022, and I am finally almost ready to possibly (maybe, I’m still not sure), launch my company.

This has been a journey of renewal and redesign. I have found it to be exhilarating, frustrating, eye-opening, bank-depleting, terrifying, validating and deeply satisfying. I have continued my education, albeit without the structure and rigor of an organized curriculum, and am happy to say that graduation is nearly here.

Now My Fourth Career

A brief review of my career path is like a “Where’s Waldo” picture. I had no idea what I wanted to “do” when I graduated from college, but I knew I loved acting and performing. My love wasn’t sufficient to pay rent, so I ended up typing my way into jobs in advertising, sales, program development, and computer programing.

I fell in love with a guy who worked for the American Red Cross and found myself learning how to teach as I acquired skills as a swimming teacher, first aid and CPR instructor, and disaster responder. That led to a chance interview with the State Bar of California, where I fell in love with the law.

A fork in the road offered me a choice between going to law school or becoming a therapist, and I returned to an early childhood affinity for seeking to understand what makes people tick. After a Masters’ degree and doctorate, I settled into practicing psychology and working with elders.

All that led me to teaching psychology to undergraduates and counseling to graduates. I talked my way into a lecturing gig and enjoyed traveling around the country speaking to other licensed providers on the DSM, and even wrote a book about that. Still not satisfied, I ended up writing a blog and publishing three books.

How To Succeed in Business without Really Trying (too hard)

Nowhere along the line did I ever think I would become a “business woman”. I have no inclination for business operations and I am absolutely resistant to keeping necessary records, much less doing the marketing research required to establish my brand, develop CRM, or entice folks to BUY, BUY, BUY!

I have sat through I don’t know how many webinars, downloaded endless pdfs, and attempted to wrap my head around this aspect of commerce. I am not sure I am any better for it all, but I did learn an enormous amount about just where my resistance lies and how stubborn I am. I suspect I need to ask forgiveness from friends, since they have exhibited unbelievable patience with my false starts and fizzled ideas.

Unexpected Outcomes

I have come to realize that what is crystal clear to me (in my head), doesn’t always fall out of my mouth in a way that others can follow. This has taught me to try things out. Even though that is a risky process, I now understand that if my idea doesn’t fly or isn’t clear, it doesn’t mean I am a failure.

I have discovered that I like thinking that I am on the cutting edge of things. I have learned, however, that this is not a constant thing, and more and more what I have been saying for years (decades, actually) is now becoming commonplace. This is good, in that the things I was thinking are pretty important, but I learned that I am very jealous and just a skosh resentful that I didn’t receive all the acknowledgment, applause, standing ovations, and gratitude for thinking of it first. [APPLAUSE, UP AND UNDER]

I have learned that I love giving advice to others, but am just a tiny bit reluctant to take it myself. I have given myself permission to get over myself, and start listening and, more importantly, asking others for their input. This has resulted in new friendships and alliances. It also has opened old wounds and feelings of inadequacy. Still, I have so much more compassion for myself now, and while the wounds are still tender, they no longer are life-threatening.

I have come to realize that I really, really like developing content and playing with software. This has taught me new skills and new ways of doing things. It has kept my brain active during COVID. Now I need it to start generating income and that requires that I hand over the content and focus on building the business. That scares me.

Moving Forward in Spite Of . . .

After all is said and done, ultimately I am the one who needs to make the decision on which way to go. Trial and error methodology turns out to be useful (costly!), and apparently necessary to renew and redesign my life.

One of my mentors started a school back in the 1970s. It really was little more than a dream with a few folks who were willing to explore transpersonal experiences. It went from a small, group consciousness raising experience to an accredited graduate program, graduating hundreds of amazingly talented researchers, therapists, and social change agents.

I call this to mind when I am feeling unsure about the future, recognizing that sometimes just putting one foot in front of the other is all that is needed, and other times, just doing nothing is required.

There must have been times (or so I imagine), when doubt crept into my mentor’s mind as to whether this vision would ever manifest. I am sure there were plenty of nay-sayers and critics, and folks with lots of helpful advice. Based on results, persistence paid off. I am hoping for a similar outcome.

Gestation and Birth

My vision has been gestating now for three years. It is time for birthing. I am so grateful for all the midwives who have stood by me in this process, and I am eagerly anticipating the addition of many others who will help me raise this business successfully.

I want Five Pillars of Aging to inform and empower aging adults as they navigate the challenges aging presents today. To accomplish this, I have developed courses on using values to make better decisions, how to make informed decisions about aging in place, how to stay engaged physically, emotionally, cognitively and socially, and how to create purpose and meaning as your life comes to its end.

Based on all the marketing information I have gathered to date, I should be sending you daily emails, posting on Instagram, and connecting on Facebook offering you free downloads, mini-courses, and free trips to exotic locations. That just doesn’t feel right to me. I will do some of that, but I am trusting that word of mouth will spread my message that we can all age better and age well, and people will pay me for value received in return.

Formal launch is August 1 – but if you want to take a peek at what is in store, you can check out the Five Pillars of Aging website.

One response to “Renewal and Redesign”

  1. Barbara Mahon Avatar
    Barbara Mahon

    Just a lovely overview of your path to current aspiration and intention, Mary. Both humble and confident in acknowledgement of your gifts and talent. For myself I am “of an age to die” and have done some of the work you are offering.. This will be a significant help to the many who are brave enough to acknowledge these final life stages. In a culture that emphasizes eternal youth, the exploration in to wisdom and right action for the aging self serves well. Word of mouth, online offerings with donations rather than fee speaks less of business per se and more of service. Your many years of exploration, experience, and wisdom of the rich process of Aging are a gift to share..Blessings as you go.

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