Inspired by My Friends


Inspired by my Friends!

That’s how 2020 started for me.

Guest blogger Becky Beaton

First, there was Becky’s story in January.

Feeling blue on Christmas day, Becky decided to visit a friend in the hospital. “Nobody should be alone on Christmas Day,” she thought.  It was a heartwarming story. Several of you commented.

A ripple effect. After the blog went out, I started a New Years’ clean up of my ‘contacts list’.  I saw the names of people I hadn’t connected with for years. Perhaps inspired by Becky’s story, I decided to surprise them with New Years’ greetings, and a bit of update news. The result was several wonderful responses. 


If you want to keep your memories, you first have to live them.”― Bob Dylan


Surprise call! While I was updating my contacts, I received an unexpected call from my old friend Robin Jones. “Just to say Happy New Year”. Robin and I go back about 50 years. I lived with Robin and his first wife when I was a young man in Toronto. 

Robin and his wife Kit moved to Vancouver Island a few years ago. Sadly, Kit died last year of dementia. He’s thinking of writing a book about the 12-year ordeal. Perhaps the main difference between age 65 and 75 is increasing challenges and conversations about death and dying. “Not for sissies” indeed.

After our call, I realized that Robin is a good example of the ‘New Retirement’ philosophy in action. “Seek meaning, purpose and adventure”. I started to write and is this is the result.

 Friendly Observations 

Naturally resilient. Robin may have been fortunate in that his Enneagram personality type is the ‘Enthusiast’. Enthusiasts are naturally upbeat. Their feeling goal is to have fun and create fun for others. Even, perhaps especially, in difficult times. 

Robin Jones. Enthusiast!


“Don’t Let the Old Man In.” Robin has fun with his dress. Another expression of the Enthusiast. In addition to his yellow outfit pictured above, he has a blue outfit a red outfit and a white outfit. Maybe more. To me, as a man, it’s an expression of the movie theme song for The Mule. “Don’t let the old man in“. Link below.

The Joke Master. Ever the Enthusiast, Robin often starts or ends conversations with a joke. This call was no exception. “You can use this one at Toastmasters”, he laughed. A clean joke. I told his joke a couple of weeks ago when I was Jokemaster. It was a solid hit! For me, telling a joke is a challenge. I’m always afraid I’m going to screw it up. So thanks, Robin!


He keeps working. Although his degree was in town planning, Robin became a renovator. He’s still doing renovation work, but at a slower pace. He sets his own terms; starting late and quitting early. “ I like to start my day at a leisurely pace,” he says. 

He’s not working to just stay busy, or to make money, although the extra money is nice.  It’s clear talking to him that it’s about meaningful service and pleasant relationships. He seems to have a few regular clients.  Like partnerships. They’d have to appreciate his sense of humour. 🙂


There were dark days! Years ago Robin had a drinking problem. He was divorced and broke. I’m happy to say that he found the will to turn himself around. He quit drinking in “March of 1989”.  For ten years Robin worked hard to rebuild his life.


Then he got a Lucky break. One day in 1999 I got a call from Robin. “ Mike, you won’t believe it, I just won a million dollars”. He was right, I didn’t believe him. I thought it was just Robin being Robin. But I quickly realized that it was no joke. He’d won a million bucks on scratch and win. Fortunately, Robin had a good friend in ‘wealth management’ to help him take care of his money. 


The Romantic. Enthusiasts often have a part of them that likes to retreat and play with words.  You may have noticed that comedians first have to write their jokes. Robin’s creative outlet is writing. A couple of years ago Robin romanced a woman by writing her a new poem every day for twelve months!  Then she dumped him:) She probably tells a story about being pursued by a mad poet.    


Award-winning writer. One day Robin discovered a treasure trove of his childhood letters to Santa. He decided to turn them into a book for kids. It’s called ‘Letter from Santa Clause’. Letter from Santa Claus by Robin Jones – Goodreads 


A labour of love. To promote his book, Robin attended book fairs across the country last year. He cautions that writing a book is not about getting rich it’s about the joy of the experience. The promotion expenses can be substantial. Always the optimist Robin hopes that “someone from China will buy the rights” and the money will pour in.

In a recent conversation with Robin, I found out a couple of things I didn’t’ know. 

He gives away silver dollars. It’s his unique way of showing appreciation to people. “There’s some kind of magic about silver dollars,” he says.  He’s often amazed at the reactions he gets from people when he gives them a silver dollar. “Maybe it’s childhood memories of grandpa giving them silver dollars” he speculates. One thing’s for sure, it always brings a smile.


“ My job in life”. One of the key ideas in the ‘New Retirement Program’ is to find a noble aim. Having a noble aim “creates order out of chaos”.“The nobler your aim the better your life”.  Here’s what it looks like for Robin.


 “I tell people that my work is renovation and that I do love the writing.

But I think my job in life is to make people happyto make them laugh!




A Gift of Friendship


‘This Christmas I was given the best gift ever;

experiencing the value of friendship.’

Guest blogger, Becky Beaton

Guest blogger Becky Beaton

Late Christmas eve, I realized that I was going to be alone on Christmas Day.  Feeling melancholy, I decided to spend Christmas day with my best buddy Jane. She was recovering from surgery at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver.  

No one should be alone at Christmas. Much less someone in a hospital!


The minimal decorations I brought were strewn around the room. A goofy stuffed Christmas dinosaur clung to the IV pole. I wore my gaudy Christmas sweater and dangly snowflake earrings. For Jane, I’d brought a Santa hat and my favourite beaded Santa earrings. The Lions Gate Foundation gave every patient a small poinsettia. Jane’s plant was on the window sill.

It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas.


We laughed and giggled until it hurt. We toasted with orange juice. And we hailed “Merry Christmas” to everyone we met on our ward walkabout. We got warm smiles and “Merry Christmas” in reply…. It was joyful and we were having fun playing.


My time with Jane was short and sweet. She was fading and needed her bed. Time to leave. My mood on the ferry ride home was sombre. I pondered what makes a true friend, and why is having a close friendship so fragile.


Having close friends is wonderful, but they need tender care. Complete faith and trust in each other have to be protected. One unintentional slip can threaten the connection.  Courage, love, acceptance and forgiveness may all be required to mend the damage. If it is not meant to be, let it go graciously and be truly thankful for the fond memories and time shared.


A true friend can share anything honestly, and be intimate, trusting and caring. Although most of mine live a distance away, we will always be there for each other, no matter what we may say or do.  When we do get together, we catch up as if we never parted. There is no judgement… no competition. Kerfuffles are resolved by talking and listening to each other.

We feel free to say ‘I Love You’.

I can count on my hand, four true friends. I feel blessed. True friends are few and far between. Hold on to them tightly, they are treasures. True friends are forever.


 “The best portion of your life will be the

small nameless moments smiling with someone who matters to you.”



Choose Joyfulness Every Day


Choose joyfulness every day.

You probably had someone wish you “a joyful New Year”.

That’s a nice sentiment, but it won’t happen by someone wishing it for you.

Or even wishing it for yourself. You have to choose it.


I was reminded of this by watching a Sadhguru video early this morning. If you are a YouTube fan, you may know of him. I find him relatable and practical.


One of his teachings is about joyfulness.

Before I encountered his teaching on joyfulness, I would have said to myself that to aspire to ‘joy’ as a constant would be over the top. Not realistic. An irritating idea. Certainly not an expectation I would have for every day. I’d settle for contentment or satisfaction or peace. But joyfulness? Not likely. And I would have been wrong!


In ‘Five Life Hacks for 2020′, the first hack is how to create joyfulness every day.

It occurred to me as a perfect New Years’ challenge.

Here’s the simple practice…

Start every day start with a question.

Shall I be miserable or joyful?


If you choose to be ‘joyful’, you may notice that you feel lighter,

brighter, and more optimistic right away.

Now do it every morning:)

Let’s create a joyful new year!


Sadhguru talks about creating joyfulness. Start at 0.30. You may have to drag it back.

New Life Focus

The theme of ‘new life’ had a special meaning this month with the arrival of our granddaughter Shalamay Worsfold. 

I also gave birth to a new song called ‘Take the Stage’.

About giving birth to a new self.

I sang the song at our MorningStars Toastmasters last week

at the home of one of our members. Shortly after 7 am I might add:)


Take The Stage 


I know you’ve got a secret dream 

Of who you’re meant to be 

Your future self is calling you 

Yearning to be free 


When I saw who you could be 

You felt like you’d been busted

Now your secret’s out

I wonder if you trust it



Your destiny is calling you

                        No place now to hide                      

It’s time to take the stage 

The world is open wide


Your life is going to change

No more playing small

Your dream is coming true now

Stand up strong and tall


I see your fancy coloured sox 

I know they’re all the rage

They’re sure to boost your confidence 

When you take the stage


Not many people feel the joy 

Of betting on their dreams

There’s really nothing like it

And It’s safer than it seems



©. December 2019

In tribute to Katherine Scott,

fellow Toastmaster and mentor, who died this month.

Katherine helped me start this blog earlier this year. She will be missed.

Change Management 2


To all New Retirement Subscribers,

Apparently some people on the list were not notified of my Sunday blog.

Click on the link

The topic is managing the stress and costs of ‘reaction’.

I wrote this because I see reaction everywhere and experience myself despite years of work.

The blog summarizes tools that I have learned over the past 20 years.

I hope you find the information useful.

I would appreciate your feedback. Useful? Not useful? Comments? Questions?

‘Like’ comments are great but what is better is feedback about usefulness.

Thank you,


Mastering Change

Mastering Change


A reactive experience goes something like this.

A change occurs.

That creates a problem that stops you.

You feel helpless and powerless and you are stuck!

You just want to get something done and you can’t. It’s infuriating!

Usually, you are pretty easy going, but this time, it’s been a bad week, you are hungry and tired and this pushes you over the edge.

You lose it. You feel enraged… you want to smash something.

You seriously want this problem to go away. NOW!

But it just sits there… mocking you.


So you lash out!  You fire off an angry email. You cancel your program, you quit your association, you quit your job, you quit that relationship. You walk away. You call somebody and let them have it, or attack some innocent bystander. Perhaps you retreat into a dark place and cut yourself off from people. The stress is too much to bear!

And then… there’s the morning after.  You wake up to the carnage.  You start realizing the consequences of your reactive actions. The people you hurt. How you hurt yourself.  What you’ve lost. The guilt. The regret. The embarrassment. If only you could pull that back. 

You may still justify your actions, but you know that it goes deeper. There are times when anger is appropriate, but the equivalent of road rage over some relatively minor problem isn’t one of them. If we are honest with ourselves, we all know the difference. 

Perhaps you can’t pull your actions back, but you may be able to do some cleanup. Acknowledgement is a good start. You may or may not want to change your decision. Perhaps you can’t change it.  But an apology might do wonders. People are generally understanding.

You might still be able to ask for help to solve the problem that had you so activated. I know… asking for help is a stretch.:)

This description may sound extreme. But we all have experienced something like this. This blog is about how to deal with it when it happens, and how to prevent such reactive breakdowns from occurring.

Managing Autopilot Reactions

The pace of change: Technology driven change is getting faster and faster. The more change there is, the more problems we have. Problems tend to accumulate, not go away. We experience change as a threat. When we feel threatened we react defensively. It’s wired into us. 

Solutions, not sedation: Our first reaction to change is often resentment and resistance. If the stress and depression get too much we want to escape. We may act out, or we may ask our friendly doctor for help. But usually, we don’t need sedation, we need solutions to life problems. 

Guidelines for Managing Reactivity in Times of Change

One: Self Observation: It starts with observing yourself in reaction. You can be conscious and self-aware. You are not your reaction. You are the observer and the chooser. You can observe yourself in reaction, and knowing that you are at risk, you can make a wiser choice.

Two: Responsibility: Seeing yourself in reaction, and seeing your compulsion to blame and complain, you can choose to accept responsibility for managing your reactions. You’ve heard it said that pain is a fact of life, and that suffering is a choice. But it’s really only a choice if you are aware that you have a choice. Otherwise, you become victimized by your lack of options. 

It is not easy to accept responsibility for your reactive state. It’s much easier to be the victim and blame someone or something else, but it’s costly. Accepting responsibility is the way through.

Three: From Reaction to Response. This may be the most basic strategy. Finding yourself in reaction you ask yourself -What would be a more appropriate, more effective response? You may be surprised. The answers come immediately. 

Four: Notice your mood: We think of mood in terms of ‘good mood’ or ‘bad mood’. But it actually more complicated than that. And more important. Your mood, your emotional state, predisposes you for action.  Living in a mood of resentment you are resistant. Creativity dies. Your inner conversation is words of complaining and blaming. You ‘sentence’ yourself to prison. But the door is not locked.

The Mood Continuum

The mood continuum shows the steps to free yourself from negative moods.

Resignation >>>>Resentment>>>>Acceptance>>>>Ambition

You can stay stuck in resignation or resentment and continue to blame and complain, which will spoil your experience and make you less effective. You can walk away in a huff, which may cost you more. Or, you can simply accept what is, take responsibility for moving out of your victim state, and shift to a state of ambition.  Stop letting the problem run you. Decide to take back your power and master the problem.

In my experience once you see where you are on this continuum, and what it’s costing you, it’s relatively easy to shift your state to acceptance and then ambition,  it’s amazing how fast it works. It is as simple as making a couple of decisions.

Five: Time out rule. If you are extremely reactive, your body chemistry has you in flight/fight mode.  You are not thinking clearly. The smart move is to take a time out. Go for a walk. Create space. Sleep on it. Allow your system to normalize. (Don’t push send until you reconsider the next day)

Six: Seek help from Google: I am constantly amazed at the answers I can find to the most basic questions. Especially tech problems. Got a problem?  Google your question. Make it a habit to save a lot of time and frustration.

It happened to me a couple of days ago. I noticed that I hadn’t received any email on my laptop for three days. I Googled for an answer. I couldn’t make sense of the answers that I found. So I slept on it. Came back the next day. Tried again. I found the Mailbox bar that I couldn’t find before. I followed the instructions to click ‘receive mail’ and voila I was back in business. It feels good to solve these problems yourself.

Seven: Ask for help: This is an advanced strategy:) There’s this thing called ‘asking for help’. It’s amazing what can happen. I have had to seek help a number of times this year with tech problems. People have been very willing and very helpful. Sometimes just talking about the problem helps solve it.

Eight: Change Your Way of Being: I tell a story about a reactive episode I had with our Apple TV. After fuming for some time, I said to myself  “You know better than this Mike. What is your current way of being? Angry and avoiding. How is that working? It’s not. What would be a more effective way of being?” The words “creative problem solver” came to mind. I kid you not. Right away I noticed my internal state shift. I called Apple support and we got it done.

Nine: Master it: Doing a minimum to get through a problem is the norm. That usually means that the problem will come back because you haven’t really mastered it.

As an example, I got my first Apple laptop a couple of years ago. They said learning to operate it would be ”intuitive”. Maybe for twelve years olds, but not for me. I struggled. Finally, I got some coaching from my son PJ. He said, “Dad, you have to master it.” That meant going online, finding the tutorials and spending time figuring it out step by step.  I got a few extra tips from PJ along the way and learned to collaborate with friends who were having similar problems. Soon I was able to function. I keep learning.

Note: When I say ‘mastery’ I mean pushing through to a place where you can function. There may be plenty more to learn. 

Summary: As the pace of change increases, we have more problems. We need to see that our basic problem is change management. There’s a natural cycle that starts with reactive emotions such as resentment and resistance. We may fall into fight or flight mode.  If we don’t see what is happening, we become the victims of our reactive state. We get stuck. We may say and do things that are costly and which we later regret. Mastery starts with self-observation. Seeing ourselves stuck in ‘reaction’ we can choose ‘response’; take back our power, be more effective, and improve the quality of our lives. It’s about managing change so it doesn’t manage us.




 Launching a New Retirement Program in early December

 Two people are committed. Dates and time to tbd by the group.
 You could be one of 2-3 more who can make this an exciting group process.
 Below is the flyer.
 If you are interested in knowing more please call or email me. See below.
 Thank you, Michael

Coming of Age: The Inner Game

Thriving in your 50’s 60’s and beyond

    Conversations to energize and add joy to your life:


    • A new meaning for retirement: From pleasure to purpose.

    • The goal of wellbeing: Keeping the main thing the main thing.
    • The inner game: More wellbeing by navigating your life experiences.
    • Creating your ‘noble aim’: “The nobler your aim the better your life.”
    • Your story defines you: Author your ideal future. Your hero’s journey.
    • Speaking your story into reality: Declaring your new life with your ‘words’.
    • Be a ‘wise elder’ in training: Cultivate your ultimate asset; your wisdom. 

Best suited for: people contemplating retirement or already retired and looking to rejuvenate.
Process design: Not a ‘course’ but rather a process for creating and launching your new life. For cost-effectiveness, the process is done in small groups as demand arises. It consists of five 90 minute group sessions and two private coaching sessions. We aim for a spirit of ‘partnership’; helping each other to reach our goals.
To put your name on the list for the next date call 604 989 3657 or email
Investment: $295.00 Includes GST. Cheque or bank transfer to Partnering Designs inc.

The process is changing my life. Continually evolving. I am wholeheartedly grateful. 

Becky Beaton



Sleep is Your Superpower


We were supposed to get an extra hour last night. 

But we forgot to tell Taj about the time change.

She was up dark and early.

Now she’s ready for a nap.


In keeping with the theme,

I thought I’d share this Ted Talk. 

(Thanks to Becky Beaton)


Rising Up From A Dark Place


I was in a low dark place this week. 

It was a dark and rainy night. Really.

It was Monday night. Election night.

Here’s what happened.


Earlier in the day, I’d spoken to a friend who is suffering from chronic pain. It’s been going on for months. They can’t find the cause. She’s exhausted and getting weaker by the day. She’s used to being the rock, the strong one. Now she needs the cavalry to come save her. She has a strong daughter who could help, but my friend apparently hasn’t called for help… “yet”, she said yesterday. We are 3000 miles away. Our friend is in distress and we are powerless.

Then there was that conflict with a friend a few days ago. It left me feeling unsettled and sad. And let’s throw in a dash of loneliness for good measure. 

Watching the election results I became aware that I was sinking lower and lower. Maybe you were too. What stood out for me was the signs of division and discord. Not much to be happy about. 

Sometimes it just piles up. If I’m a bit tired it can get me down.

As I went to bed I asked myself – How can I climb out of this place? 

Recently I’ve been revisiting ‘present moment awareness’. Playing with it at odd moments during my day.  Here I was in the depths. I wondered how present moment awareness might help me now.

Here’s what I did as I lay in bed:

I began to observe myself and remembered the phrase… “I am not that”.  I am not my mood of depression. I could feel that I was creating some space between me and my turmoil. It was a start.

I become aware of my breathing, noticing the inhale at the tip of my nose, and listening to the sound of my breath inhaling and exhaling. 

I noticed the thoughts in my mind and let them go... as another would come up and I’d let that go. 

Next thing I knew, I was waking up for a pee. It was the middle of the night.

I went back to sleep with no difficulty.

A good night’s sleep works wonders, doesn’t it? 

I woke up at 6:05 feeling ready to meet the challenges of the day.

Have you worked with present moment awareness? 

Please leave a comment.


Create the Life you want.


Smart young man. Living life as an adventure. Unconventional.Inspiring.

Some key points: You can’t do it all. Focus your north star. Design your life to focus. Don’t worry about perfection. Be open to change in direction.