Inspiring stories of success, joy and refusing retirement from renegades rocking life after 50.

Kari Cardinale

Episode 016 Finding Purpose After 50

Join us for an uplifting episode with Kari Cardinale! Discover her wisdom on aging, ageism, and embracing a "modern elder" mindset. Get ready to rock your career and personal life, regardless of your age. And tune in for inspiration, positivity, and unlocking your true potential!



Favorite Quotes:

“It’s all about the mindset that allowed me to bravely step into new territory.”

“Midlife is a stage, not an age.”

“What would it be like to have a purpose portfolio?”

Favorite Moment From The Interview:

There are so many…

Building a purpose portfolio and embracing the modern elder mindset are just two of them.

I also particularly love when Kari says our brain never dies and that you can teach old dogs new tricks. And her Winnie-the-Pooh analogy.

Why RB Community Will Love It:

If you’re seeking a boost of motivation, guidance, and connection, this episode is for you.

Because it will make you feel seen and understood as Kari addresses the challenges and opportunities that come with this chapter of life. You’ll realize that you’re not alone in this journey.

You’ll find validation for what you’re going through and, more importantly, this episode is packed with empowering insights to help you move forward. It recognizes the concerns you may have, such as navigating career changes, overcoming age-related stereotypes, and seeking fulfillment.

From self-reflection and resilience to embracing new opportunities, Kari shares actionable information that can fuel personal and professional growth.

This episode is a source of inspiration that will help you embrace the change, redefine success, and pursue a life of purpose.

It will remind you that age is just a number, and there are incredible potential and opportunities that come with your experience and wisdom.

And it’s never too late to embark on a new chapter and discover the amazing possibilities that lie ahead!

So, get ready to be inspired and empowered!

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View Transcript:

The Renegade Boomer™ Podcast

Episode 16 | Kari Cardinale

[00:00:00] Tina: Hey, Renegade Boomers! Welcome to the Renegade Boomer™ Podcast today, and I’m really excited about my guest, Kari Cardinale, because her heart is exactly where mine is as far as really working to make a meaningful life transition for people, especially those past 50, those of us that are in that neighborhood.

So we’re gonna have a good conversation about all that today. And Kari’s the Senior Vice President of Digital Strategy at Modern Elder Academy, which is another group that I’ve just been so interested in seeing what they’re doing and doing some amazing things to work with people in our age group.

She helps design and deliver programs to build a community movement for redefining midlife as a calling. So, that’s right up my alley as well. So she served as a weekly contributor to the Huffington Post. She’s appeared on Dateline NBC. She was part of the PBS series “This Emotional Life” and a whole lot of other things too. But welcome Kari. Welcome to the Renegade Boomer™ today.

[00:00:51] Kari: Oh, Tina, it’s such a pleasure to be here today. Thank you so much for inviting me.

[00:00:55] Tina: Oh, you’re welcome. Because, you know, at the Renegade Boomer™, we’re all about an Anti-Retirement Movement, which is really about meaningful and impactful aging with confidence, with clarity, with enthusiasm, and knowing that we still have so much to offer.

So, today I wanna talk about all those things that are near and dear to both of our hearts, which includes lifelong learning, about creating meaning in this chapter of our life and finding purpose, right?

[00:01:18] Kari: Yes. I can’t wait.

[00:01:20] Tina: So how did you get involved in this particular movement? Because it’s very similar, I think it is. Tell us about your mission with what you’re involved with.

[00:01:28] Kari: I love your mission and I share it. I found as I started hitting that midlife, you know, 48, 49, and then as 50 was looming, I had all sorts of weird reactions. I was starting to get all irritable, and the little things like getting glasses and and gray hair stuff was provoking so much reaction from me that seemed out of sync with who I was, and I’d never heard of the term ageism before.

And as I started thinking about what’s going on with this transition, it’s sort of like any other transition of becoming an adult or working your first big job or becoming a parent, that there was a significant transition that I was facing that I wanted to do well, and I didn’t know much about it.

And so I personally just became really interested in learning about the longevity movement. I didn’t know that was a thing either, to just really lean into the leadership of the boomer generation who are redefining a stage of life that didn’t exist before and creating a pathway and a new mindset for me to move into, for my peers to move into.

So I’ve found it to be endlessly interesting and applicable and comforting in a weird sort of way to keep reminding myself that this narrative is just not real of fragility and frailty and irrelevance is not the future.

[00:02:58] Tina: And isn’t it interesting how often we can feel it, you know? I was talking with someone the other day, like even just having a checkup or going to the doctor and you happen to catch a note where you’re refered to as elderly. It’s like, “What?” I mean, there’s some words that just seem like we need to redefine them, retirement is one of them, of what that means.

And so, what are you finding with the people that you work with as far as— I mean, we have kind of this line of age 50 and beyond, and maybe that seems a little random. Well, part of this is it echoes my own journey because I didn’t start online until I was already past 50 on something I’d never done before. And so what I’m doing just kind of mirrors that. I guess that’s why the number kind of stuck with me.

What are you finding that is starting to happen especially with the ageism aspect of being treated differently and maybe in subtle ways sometimes?

[00:03:46] Kari: It can be subtle and it can be so direct, and I think what I’m seeing is what you’re bringing up with language. If you look at like back to the kind of statistics of what does this mean that we’re in this new stage, that many people don’t realize that 100 years ago, the average lifespan was 47, and today it’s 77 and change depending on where you live in the world. So what does that mean that in 100 years, we’ve gained 30 extra years of life, but we’re just living into it? And so, a lot of language doesn’t fit anymore.

So that’s probably why I love working with Modern Elder Academy because we’re throwing all those words right up to be redefined. The best way to go about it is to just look it right in the face. To me, a modern elder is anyone who’s displaying, sharing wisdom to someone else.

So, I’ve told 18-year-olds who are mentoring the 16-year-olds, you’re being a modern elder. It’s a stage. It’s a mindset. It’s not a certain particular number in your lifespan.

And the other term is midlife. And I love that at 50, you went through a major pivot and went into a whole different career and entirely different direction and rightfully so. Because if those numbers actually work, if you start your adult life at 18 and we think we’re gonna live into our 80s, that means you’re not even halfway through your adult life yet.

And so, why wouldn’t we start all sort of things? Why wouldn’t we begin new chapters with the same sort of excitement and enthusiasm that we would have when we were in our 20s?

[00:05:18] Tina: Well, you know, I’ve heard people say that even people in their 40s are starting to experience ageism when it comes to applying for jobs, this type of thing. And some people are saying, well, we’re gonna have to bring boomers back into the workforce because the Gen Xers are kind of gonna age out, so to speak, and who’s gonna do this? Who’s gonna step into the fray?

But also I have experienced that a lot of us that are in this age category, we don’t wanna go work for somebody else anymore, you know? We wanna be part of a movement or we want to do something entrepreneurial. How do you feel about taking on that cloak of entrepreneurship as we are growing older?

[00:05:51] Kari: I did the same thing, I have to say. You know, I took on an entrepreneurial approach in my 50s as well, and I decided to indulge my interest in this longevity industry that I knew zero about and I had zero qualifications whatsoever.

But I was a journalist and I love storytelling and I had worked with thought leaders in the past. And a friend of mine was doing virtual summits in digital marketing, like a totally different world. And she explained what the summit was, and I go, “That sounds so interesting. It sounds like you’re just interviewing a bunch of thought leaders and then sharing it with people. How do you do that?” And she showed me some expert who had a 2,000-dollar class that I paid for, which felt like an incredibly indulgent, very expensive investment to learn.

And I taught myself how to create digital events and I loved it. And my background as a facilitator came in loud and clear, and my instinct on how to build digital events was so present for me and I loved it. And I hired 25-year-olds to help me with some of the stuff I didn’t know how to do. And it was all about the mindset that allowed me to just bravely step into new territory.

So, you know, midlife has become a stage and not an age, that some people hit midlife in 35. If you’re a professional athlete, you are a dancer, you are a Silicon Valley startup exec who sold their company. So they’re retired in their 30s or 40s and are experiencing the identity shifts, the what’s next. And yes, as we hit 40s or 50s, ageism becomes this bizarre thing that either we need you back in the workforce or we don’t want you in the workforce, or you’re competing with someone else’s job.

I think it just allows us to go back to what do we want to do and how can we look at our career with a lot of stages instead of just one trajectory that maybe there’s a period of time when we’re working for a company and we have the insurance and we have the stability, and then there’s another time we want the break. We take a sabbatical or we decided to do an entrepreneurial play.

I think that flexibility is one of the greatest things that I see as a result of this not only increase in longevity but in the capacity for entrepreneurship.

And you, Tina, are in a great category that studies show that entrepreneurs at 50 and up have the greatest chance of succeeding in an entrepreneurial venture. Why? Because we probably have learned a few things along the way.

[00:08:26] Tina: Yeah. And when I first started, I didn’t know how to be online. I didn’t know anything. I mean, I have never considered myself a techy, though I think I’ve come a long way in understanding how to use certain tools online.

But have you found that some of the people you work with and when they’re making that transition, when you talked about like maybe having a high-powered career, at some point, maybe they’ve sold their business, maybe money isn’t even the issue, that they have plenty of it, or maybe they still need to continue to create revenue.

And so one of the things I’ve noticed with clients that I’ve worked with over the years is that sometimes they’ve kind of lost their identity into that corporate structure or what they were supposed to be in that role, to the point where they kind of don’t know who’s really in there, you know, who’s behind all of that little suit, you know, the metaphorical suit that we put on to be a certain image, have you found that to be the case with some of the people you work with?

[00:09:14] Kari: Completely, a hundred percent. Even this change of identity. What if someone stayed home and took care of the kids, and then they become an empty nester? That’s an identity crisis too, as well as, “I’ve worked in one job my whole life, I was successful there. I was competent there, and now I don’t have that anymore.”

We’ve worked with thousands of folks from all over the world at different ages, from 30s to upper 80s, and I find that we all are struggling to understand transitions for sure. We’re going through personal transitions around my identity or my work or becoming a caregiver.

Physical transitions, how do we manage menopause or symptoms related to aging. Or professional transitions or professions related to our sense of purpose, you know, “What matters to me now?” But no one’s ever really taught us to recognize that, “Oh, I’m in a transition. That’s what’s going on right now,” that it’s okay. No one’s really taught us what are the stages of a transition, because there are stages and each stage can be fairly predictable once you know what it is. It has emotions that go with it, and how long transitions take. Some transitions could take 4, 5, 8, 9 years. And we might think, but we’re the only ones or something wrong with us that we haven’t gotten our act together when it is really this process that we need to give ourselves time to go through.

[00:10:39] Tina: What are some of the stages? Do you have like kind of a defined journey? I’m relating it to the stages of grief and maybe there’s grief involved in some of those transitions. So could you share?

[00:10:48] Kari: Absolutely, yes. You know, we stand on the shoulders of greats like William Bridges, who defined work of change and transition. I taught his work in the ’80s. Bruce Feiler wrote a wonderful book I highly recommend called “Life is In the Transitions” that came out a couple of years ago. And they’ve all kind of come to the same understanding that there’s three stages of a transition and we at MEA interpreted it into our own ebook called “The Anatomy of A Transition”. But usually a transition begins when something ends.

So my marriage is over. The kids have left the house. My job has ended. I sold the company. There’s an ending. So to your point, these stages of grief, when something has ended, there is a feeling of loss or sadness or fear, uncertainty, anger, lots of emotions that go with that ending.

And then the second stage is the longest. We lovingly call it the messy middle.

[00:11:43] Tina: Yeah.

[00:11:45] Kari: And a fancier, lovelier word is to be liminal, to be in a liminal state where, “Okay, this job has ended, but I don’t know what I’m gonna do now. I don’t really know what to do every day. I don’t know who I am right now.” So that liminal space is so rich. But it can be a place of frustration or fear, uncertainty or desire to just go back, to regress back to what’s familiar.

But if we can hang on and be mindful during that messy middle, that’s the time to take a sabbatical, to take some time off, to do some journaling, reflecting, singing, baking, art projects, whatever it is to give yourself the time to sort of metabolize those changes.

And then the final stage is a new beginning, sort of the new normal. You’re definitely in a new beginning in this amazing career and a podcast and all the things that you’re up to. That’s when things sort of kind of normalize. But on average, during these stages of midlife, we have more transitions than any other time.

So maybe we’ve just gotten, “The podcast is going great, but then, oh, now my mother is falling apart. She’s gonna have to move in with us.” “Oh, I just got the kids out. Now, I move my mom in.” Or, “Oh, now my partner is gonna go through a cancer journey, and we got to put everything on hold to go through.”

So there’s transitions that come and go and they’re all at different times and have different lengths. But I’ve certainly found it’s very comforting to just know that, that this is a normal part of life and that we have done some transitions really well and we’ve learned strategies that we can deploy and bring in when we’re facing something ending or is facing a new transition.

[00:13:24] Tina: Well, that’s really interesting because to your point with what I’m doing with the Renegade Boomer™ Anti-Retirement Movement, it is very different from what I have been doing because I started off as freelance copywriter, marketing strategist, and then I started creating programs about all of that, and I still have all of those things, and I still do a portion of those things, but then was the calling of, “This is what I’m meant to do. THIS is what I’m meant to do.” And it’s taken months of preparation, of thinking, of doing all that transitional work and kind of slowing down other aspects.

And that can be nerve-wracking, you know, when it’s just been going along at a certain level and it’s like, “Okay, well I’m gonna literally on purpose pause to do this.”

So what do you think about giving yourself the time to make those transitions if you’re able to do that?

[00:14:09] Kari: That’s so brilliant. I love that you just said “on purpose pause”. Genius. Because the pause was to help you stay on purpose and that it really, you had said, this is sort of my calling, and what a gift to find a calling in our life, whatever that calling might be. And all the skills that you brought in as a marketer and a copywriter, how handy to have that under your belt now to launch into this direction?

And you know, the idea about the first half of our life is sort of like understanding our purpose. That’s the first half. And the second half is how do we give our purpose away?

So I love that you’re on a mission to connect with other Renegade Boomers™ who are trying to age differently, who can find each other, who can build a new community that feels more aligned with who you are naturally.

[00:15:04] Tina: Well, and just the boomer generation is huge. I mean, it is huge. And I think sometimes we may also lose sight of how much power there is in that to affect change, to lead, to mentor, you know, to make that impact and not just disappear quietly into the ethers, so to speak.

And for me, with what I’ve done, there’s been a very definite kind of the neuroscience of it as how do we think and our neural pathways and what kind of patterns of thinking, habits of thought, I call them the old stories that need to be demolished and disappeared that might be self-limiting, all of those things.

And there’s the other half. And I’m curious to hear what you’ve noticed with the people you work with, of the spiritual aspect. For me, it’s been prominent all the way through. Like I’ve sometimes joked that my copywriting marketing programs are really personal development programs disguised as copywriting programs because it’s kind like bookended with both of those, unapologetically, with both of those things.

What do you think about that spiritual connection in the journey? Do you find that it becomes more prominent, people are tuning in more to, you know, a lot of people think there’s a change happening just in the world with more of a consciousness awareness and rasing of consciousness about that.

[00:16:09] Kari: Great question. I love how the word spirituality can mean so many things. I actually minored in religious studies in college because I was so fascinated with, like, I was kind of jealous of other religions’ holidays that I wanted to experience and, you know, I wanted to talk to all of versions of great spirit and creator and God and Yahweh, and I wanted to know them all.

And what’s interesting about midlife, some of our greatest thinkers did their best work later in their life, in their 70s, in their 80s. Look at Abraham Maslow, for example, who created this hierarchy of needs. And the top of the pyramid was self-actualization, which makes total sense up until about your 50s, right? Because that’s what you’re doing.

But then much later in his life, he realized, “Oh, that is not the top.” The top he added was called transcendence. And transcendence was about moving outward or being at the top of the mountain but looking out and what you can give and contribute. And Carl Jung, you know, famously talked about the development of the soul in the second half of our life. That becomes translated to legacy or spirituality or a personal growth journey.

All kind of have a similar underlying message of we’ve had to work so hard for so many decades to make sure the kids were fed and the bills were paid and we’re competent and we’re good at stuff. And then there comes this desire to put that down and not worry so much about that level of egoic reinforcement, but to have the luxury to go down a little bit deeper and to have compassion for ourselves. Those early stages of life, there was no time to think about anything except were the peanut butter sandwiches made and did I make that deadline? So it’s a luxury. It’s a huge gift.

And you know, the research on the U-curve of happiness, I think shows how wonderful the stage is, that studies have shown that we’re pretty happy in our 20s, and then we start to become less and less happy as we go down and we bottom out around age 48. And then we start to get happier. And as I’ve talked to people, on average, many people say, “Yeah, my 50s were way better than my 40s. I love my 50s. And oh, my 60s are even better than my 50s.” Love that. And so, how wonderful to know that this kind of inward desire, whether it’s on a spiritual track or soulful track, or a legacy track, also correlates with being happier.

[00:18:42] Tina: Yeah, that is encouraging. And I think just having community where you can talk about these things with other people and not feel like, you know, there’s some strange aberrant person out here, having the spiritual journey all by yourself or whatever, that you don’t have to be afraid or ashamed to talk about it.

And if we can be more open-minded as we get older, of just accepting that there’s many ways that people experience their spirituality instead of, “Well, that’s not the right way,” you know? To me, the identity aspect too is who are we behind all this facade? All of us, who’s back there behind the ego? And to me it’s that, that deeper, really deep spiritual connector part of you, that spirit spiritual connecting that for some of us, we experience more in prayer or meditation and how we start incorporating that into, it doesn’t just have to be when I’m over here in the corner sitting quietly with my eyes closed, that it starts to be more woven into how we live. What do you think about that?

[00:19:36] Kari: I love all of that. You know, one of our favorite guest faculty at MEA is named Dacher Keltner. I don’t know if you’ve run into Dacher yet, but he runs the Greater Good Science Center at UC, Berkeley as a professor. And he in his lab have been studying the emotion of awe.

And it’s fascinating that, that awe actually is an emotion that many people would tie kind of closely to a spiritual experience for whatever that might mean. Awe on the presence of something greater than ourselves. And as he studied awe, he found eight pathways that we can experience awe. And most people would think, well awe would be when I go to the Grand Canyon.

[00:20:19] Tina: I was gonna say Grand Canyon.

[00:20:21] Kari: Right. That’s kind of the first thing that comes to our mind even though I’ve actually never been to the Grand Canyon. That’s like the default sense of what that emotion means. But in fact, nature was ranked number three.

So we can have a moment of awe by seeing a fantastic full moon when you go outside and then boom, there it is. It’s just astonishing. Or suddenly the flowers are blooming here in Southern California everywhere, and it’s just this astonishing moment.

But the number one pathway to awe for humans that he found in studying 26,000 people all over the world is something that he coined as moral beauty. And moral beauty is witnessing compassion and kindness in other people. And so when we witness someone being kind and compassionate to another, it moves us at actually a deep level that has physiological benefits in our life.

And the second pathway in order is called collective effervescence, which is one of Chip’s favorite words, and I love that as well. Collective effervescence. Like you know when you’re at a concert when you were younger and everybody’s singing the same song and the drums are pounding and you’re just totally in this moment.

[00:21:38] Tina: I don’t know. Freddie Mercury, you know, we can still do that.

[00:21:41] Kari: Come on, Freddie Mercury in Brazil. Like, that’s collective effervescence. Everyone’s together. Some people experience it in church or in synagogue, in nature. But it’s usually with people that we experience collective effervescence.

So how interesting that these first two pathways of awe are related to each other.

[00:22:01] Tina: Yeah. That’s amazing. That’s really cool. And I love the word effervescence. I mean, it’s just, yeah. So bubbly.

[00:22:08] Kari: It’s you. You’re very effervescent.

[00:22:10] Tina: Well, thank you. I’ll take that as a compliment. But it sounds like a really fascinating study, and I had not heard of it.

And one of the things I’m really noticing about you, and I think it is one of your passions as well, it’s lifelong learning. Your curiosity and your interest just come through loud and clear on all of these various topics.

So how important do you think that is, that ongoing curiosity, that ongoing willingness to be the learner, and not always the teacher or the mentor, but also the person that’s learning.

[00:22:37] Kari: Huge. You know, just huge. I’ve always been a bit of a geek, you know, I love stuff like this. I read these kinds of books. You know what’s here on my desk is “The Inner Work of Age”, and I keep telling everybody it’s a great book. And people are like, “What’s this that you’re reading? You should be reading Daisy Jones.” It was so good.

[00:22:56] Tina: Well, I’m watching that too but, you know.

[00:22:57] Kari: You’re watching it. But, you know, it is true that long life learning, being curious is such a gift and it does take energy. You know, I love that you’re interested in brain science. And we have these neural pathways that are designed to help us conserve energy. You know, like nobody really wants to work out because it takes a lot of energy to do that. Nobody really wants to sit down and like do a physics problem because it takes a lot of energy. The body wants to conserve energy.

And that can become a dangerous trap as we get older. And for the baby boomers, they are the generation to really be assessing this.

That sad statistic has come out recently that on average, the baby boomer retirees are spending 47 hours a week watching television. They’re actually the generation that grew up with television and are taking television deeply into this next chapter of life. Why? It conserves energy and it’s sort of entertaining.

It takes more effort to get off the couch, go take a pottery class, go volunteer, go start a new business. But yet, once that inertia is overcome, It’s so rewarding. It’s so much more fun than watching television for 47 hours a week.

So, I think curiosity is what gets us off the couch. It’s curiosity that gets us to go dig in, and then it’s feeling a community like you’re building here, feeling how fun it is to be with other people and talk of people that we can relate to.

Then suddenly, you’ve gotten past inertia, and now you’re cooking with gas.

[00:24:31] Tina: Yeah. Yeah. And I think some of those things, like the television thing, it just becomes a habit, you know. We’re training our brain to just, “Okay, just sit down and do nothing,” right?

[00:24:41] Kari: Right.

[00:24:41] Tina: And it makes an effort to build those new neural pathways. But what have you read on the statistics about how quickly you start actually creating those new kind of superhighways in your brain? because I read everything from like, even in 21 days you can start affecting your brain because our brains are malleable, moldable, you know, that’s some of the amazing aspects of our creation is our brains continue to change. It’s not just, “Okay, that’s it, the way you were when you’re 40.”

[00:25:06] Kari: You’re done. It’s just getting worse. Exactly.

[00:25:09] Tina: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, you know, all those sayings and expressions, and it’s actually the opposite, right?

[00:25:14] Kari: It’s the opposite. Our brain never dies. It’s alive. It’s growing. It’s changing all the time. You can teach old dogs new tricks. Totally. I have a 17-year-old dog that I taught new tricks, and I’m convinced I can learn new things with my brain too.

My favorite analogy, I have to say, around this is to go back to the days of Winnie-the-Pooh.

And I am a self-professed sort of an introvert. You may not know it in this conversation, but I am kind of an introvert and I get tired when I engage with a lot of people. I kind of prefer smaller, more intimate conversations, and I need more time to kind of restore. I have an autoimmune disease, so sometimes I get tired.

But then I can get in that 47 hours of television thing. And so I call that Eor. That’s being Eor, the donkey.

[00:26:03] Tina: Yeah.

[00:26:03] Kari: And I feel that way sometimes. And as we get older, it’s okay to feel that way sometimes. We need to restore our energy. We need to have some quiet time. Totally fine. And then the other character is Tigger. And your background, everything about you reminds me of Tigger, that bouncy energy, excited, get out and learn new things type.

And we need both of those in our life as we can craft the next stage of our life as Renegade Boomers is what can you be a Tigger about? What can you get excited about that just fills you with energy to counterbalance that whole of the Eor who wants to conserve energy and just watch Daisy Jones & The Six every night for the next three weeks.

[00:26:49] Tina: Well, you know, revealing confession, I totally relate to the introvert part. And this is the thing about being in my life as an entrepreneur, I work by myself a lot, in silence. I always kid that I miss that entrepreneurial gene that needs to have music blaring and three other conversations going on so I can work. I want silence when I work. I work quietly and do prefer that a lot of the time, but I can, you know, okay, time to flip the switch and into that interaction aspect, and I enjoy that too.

But I totally relate to what you’re saying about it making you tired. That you need to go wrap up on the fuzzy blanket to sit there for a while literally, you know.

[00:27:28] Kari: Exactly. You just can’t live there forever, right?

[00:27:31] Tina: Right.

[00:27:31] Kari: And sometimes you need people to be the ones that could be the Tigger to kind of pull you out and try new things.

[00:27:38] Tina: And what kind of advice do you have for those that maybe have gotten into the habit of just, you know, especially in the last few years, a lot of us became very isolated. A lot of us had to withdraw from society or felt that to be able to live, you know, that that might be necessary and with all the unknowns that came with that. And now we’re kind of reemerging and having to find our balance because I think almost all of us have been impacted in some negative way by the previous few years. So what are you seeing with how to balance that out? People are starting to gather again. And is it okay to be in a room with other people, this type of thing. Do you have any recommendations for those that are still kind of slowly moving through that transition?

[00:28:16] Kari: Yeah, I think that we all need to be learning how to be compassionate to ourselves and to others, and that, you know, it’s hard. Mental health has been rampant across every age group. Older adults down to teenager are struggling with mental health and wellness. So we need to be compassionate to each other and need to take care of each other.

And, you know, I am a huge believer in the power of digital __________ my department, that I loved working on Zoom before anyone knew it was a thing, and I love bringing people together and doing virtual events and conversations and experiences because I found you could get such real, deep, authentic connection even being on a screen and you know, now that we’re post pandemic, a lot of people are realizing, “Hey, I kind of miss my Zoom friends. We used to do Zoom Happy Hours, and I used to read to my grandchildren,” and you know, “I talked to these guys I haven’t talked to for so long. We’d play Majong and we’d do these.”

To me, that’s digital intimacy. It’s being able to use the power of our phone or our computers to connect, to keep social networks growing. And certainly at MEA, part of our goal with the Modern Elder Academy is to build a movement, a movement of modern elders. And having our online immersion courses allowed people to come in from 42 countries, spend six weeks together, two hours a week.

But the conversations that everyone was able to have with someone that they really loved who was in Australia and they’re in Arizona, or they were in Canada and you’re in Japan, was really amazing.

And so my advice has been, certainly from what I’ve practiced is I still get so much juice and connection through the capacity of our online options and to take an online class that has an interactive component. Take an online group or something that allows you to meet other people, but you still can be home. And then that gradually allows you to kind of lean back into moving out there in the world.

And maybe it’s picking a new hobby that is of interest that, you know, I decided to start making perfume and so I went to a class and learned how to make perfume. I don’t know anything about it at all, zero, but it was really fun. I met some really interesting people.

And so sometimes, it’s just allowing yourself to follow your own desire then it brings you with other people who have a similar topic, and then you’re likely to have a great connection with them and be a qualitarian. You don’t need a lot, it’s just the quality that matters.

[00:31:02] Tina: Yeah. And I’m thankful for Zoom and I was also using Zoom before the pandemic. I use it for my mentoring. I use it for doing VIP days, so we can have virtual ones if they can’t come and be in person. And sometimes those kinds of communities then lead to, and we have a live event, you know, that happens once or twice a year, that type of thing.

And you already know each other at a certain level just from that interaction. And it does take us from isolation. I’m actually really thankful for the technology that allows us to connect. I have grandchildren on both sides of the country, Washington DC, San Francisco, you know, and so it allows us to stay connected in that way as well. And we have four dogs, you know, “Show us pictures of the dogs.”

[00:31:38] Kari: Exactly. It’s so great. It is. You know, this is the first generation to have that, first generation to be grandparents with digital technology. Otherwise, you know, 15 years, 20 years earlier, you’re only seeing the grandchildren when you’re physically there.

[00:31:52] Tina: Right.

[00:31:53] Kari: Or you’re sending cards and that’s it.

[00:31:55] Tina: Yeah. And for some of us, I did not have the good fortune to know any of my grandparents, and so it’s been especially important to me the grandparenting role. And what a great thing to be able to combine all of these things as we get older and mentor them and be an example to them as well as still connect with people that we’re working with and changing lives, you know, really, the whole transcendent aspect of it is just like it’s totally amazing.

So I know another aspect of what you do then is also helping people find their purpose. So do you have any suggestions for those that might still be going, “I don’t know for sure what it is,” you know.

This is something I work with, helping people transition into really identifying what that is. Peeling back the layers is how I think of it to get to the core of what’s really important to you.

But what kind of advice do you have for people that are still looking for that?

[00:32:41] Kari: You know, we teach a whole eight-week course on purpose, finding purpose, living more purposefully. And so I do love we start, and Chip often talks about this, of this idea of finding my purpose.

It’s kinda like I’m finding my purse. “I lost my purse. I need to go find my purse.” “I need to go find my purpose. Where is it? And darn it, I don’t have a purpose as good as Oprah’s.” So you know, we beat ourselves up because we haven’t found our purpose, like as a noun, as this thing, this one thing. And yet studies often show people who have one purpose in life greatly struggle.

So think the child athlete who’s only known one particular thing, and then that ends because of an injury or aging out. And then there isn’t anything else there. So that takes a lot of work to kind of start over again.

And the first thing I often ask the boomers is to think about if you’re gonna have a purpose, you know, what does that mean versus purpose being something you do, purpose as a verb. It’s how can I be more purposeful in my day? How can I wake up and just have a moment to go, “Whoa, I’m still here. Great. Awesome.” And how can I be purposeful in how I’m choosing to spend my time. Instead of sitting down and watching two hours of the morning news, maybe I’m actually gonna go for a walk or I’ll call a friend. I will invest some time learning about doing a digital podcast like you are doing, that being purposeful breaks down the overwhelm and makes it much easier.

And at this stage, what would it be like to have a purpose portfolio? You know, some people are lucky enough to have a rich financial portfolio. Some people don’t have a portfolio at all, but we all can have a purpose portfolio. So it sounds like your grandchildren is one part of your purpose portfolio. You wanna be an example to your grandkids and they to know you and you have a career initiative running with your podcast and all the work that you’re doing. That’s also part of your portfolio and your friendships and your path of spirituality.

It starts to create this beautiful tree that has many pieces of fruit that you can, you know, develop and harvest, and then it regenerates and goes back down into the soil. So we like to think of purpose like a tree, like a whole system that you nurture and grow and aspire to.

[00:35:04] Tina: I love that. And it’s like, yeah, where did I leave my purpose? I think it might be out in the other room, you know?

[00:35:09] Kari: Exactly. Exactly.

[00:35:10] Tina: With my shoes and my jacket, you know.

[00:35:12] Kari: And my phone.

[00:35:13] Tina: Yeah. That’s a great one. I love that. And I love the visual of a tree, you know. And in Mexico, they have the trees of life, you know, I have some old ones that I’ve collected that are just beautiful. Display is very colorful and multifaceted, you know? I think that’s such a beautiful way to think of it and that it isn’t a destination, right? It’s all part of the journey and not just like, “Oh, I made it. Here I am at the crossroads of purpose and meaningful life or whatever,” you know.

[00:35:40] Kari: Exactly, how boring it would be if that was the case?

[00:35:42] Tina: I think the other thing that people get caught up in then also especially, is then the comparison. Like you said, “I don’t have a purpose like Oprah. Mine must not count.” And that polarity of it’s this or it’s that kind of a thing. It’s not all one way or the other. There are those middle areas, and it is not a contest.

[00:35:58] Kari: Totally. Right. I see it so often now with grandparenting. That again, the boomers are getting to redefine grandparenting and what role, do you wanna be the grandparent that lives close by and has a real day-to-day influence? Do you wanna be the grandparent that can afford to take the kids on a really fun trip once or twice a year? Or are you the grandparent that’s going to sort of school them into new experiences? It’s a wonderful thing, and they’re all different. And they’re all valid and valuable as an individual to get to choose kind of how is my purpose being expressed through how I’m living my own life and the interactions with my family and my friends and my work.

[00:36:40] Tina: Yeah. It really is close to home when you mentioned the grandparenting because one of the things we started developing kind of a tradition of is bringing the older grandchild here by herself and just to be with us. And then her sister got added to it when she got older and they are actually coming next week.

My husband flies all the way there and gets them, flies them all the way back, you know, accompanies them. And then we go horseback riding. We have a swimming pool so they get to swim every day. We go to the zoo, and we just spend time together. We read books. It’s a whole different setting because they live in the Washington DC area. And I have a third one, but she’s very young. She’s only 18 months old, so not time for her to do that yet.

But giving them a whole new experience is just something super meaningful to my husband and myself of feeling like we’re giving them a gift of seeing the life in a different way because we live out with a beautiful view of the mountains and the cactus and wildlife, you know. It’s such a great feeling and purpose.

[00:37:32] Kari: There you go. It’s sort of a purposeful application of grandparenting instead of just sort of an obligation to babysit the kids and urghh. No, you found a way to make it aspirational and create these really special memories.

[00:37:46] Tina: A huge part of it is creating the memories, you know, I want them to remember because my husband still remembers his grandmother. And she passed away many, many decades ago, and he still tears up when he talks about how special she was to him, you know, and just going to her home and she’d make him his lunch, and during the middle of the day at school, you’d come home and have lunch with her. It’s just things like that, that have so much meaning and beautiful things.

So any other tips for those of us that are, you know, and the meaning of the words, when you say elder, it’s like, don’t. It doesn’t have to have ly on the end. It doesn’t have to be ly.

[00:38:16] Kari: There it is. Right. I hope that this generation can start working down the ageist language and embrace, you know, the true meaning of an elder in traditional cultures is someone who is wise, is someone who listens, who is the best listener who can be compassionate, who can see the bigger picture. What is not aspirational about that?

And it’s really interesting when I give talks of a diverse group of people. Just recently, I gave a talk to a bunch of women who are ranging from like 28 to 80. You ask people, how old are you and how old do you feel? So most people who are baby boomers and up typically feel younger than our calendar age.

[00:39:06] Tina: Mm-hmm.

[00:39:06] Kari: Most of the time, people say, “Oh, I feel like 15 years younger than I actually am.” And a lot of people when they’re younger feel older. They’re 28 but they feel like they’re 35 or they feel more mature. It’s so weird that we just can’t ever kind of land on embracing where we are because we have these weird judgments about it. And to be considered an elder when you’re younger would be a compliment that you’re kind of an old soul.

[00:39:29] Tina: Mm-hmm.

[00:39:29] Kari: You’re wiser beyond your years. So then it’s a compliment. Then, oops, sorry, you hit past 50, now this is gonna be bad news for you if you’re an elder, you know, it means something terrible.

Let’s take the word back. Let’s take back the gift of wisdom. And to embrace being a modern elder is the same as a Renegade Boomer™. So I was so excited to talk to you. They mean the same thing to take back what’s so aspirational about aging.

[00:40:02] Tina: And just celebrate it, you know? I mean, I think one of the downsides maybe to being online for this long is, you know, with Instagram and social media, that you can begin to feel like, am I obsolete? You know, am I no longer relevant? Because if you’re comparing to here’s the images of Instagram, for example, and instead of just really embracing who we are exactly without apology and just not worrying about that, the outside facade and how we’re put together one way or another. Too old, too young, too fat, too thin, too whatever, you know? And just have that freedom to just actually be who you are and celebrate each aspect of that instead of looking over your shoulder with regret or, “If only I we’re still that age,” or whatever. And to be able to embrace where you are right now and see the benefits of it and the joys of it and totally revel in it, right?

[00:40:55] Kari: Yeah, look at the top end boomers like Gloria Steinem and, you know, Jane Fonda, who are absolutely continuing to innovate and live on purpose into their late 80s and to their 90s. If that doesn’t help create that inspiration, I don’t know what does.

[00:41:11] Tina: Well, I love doing this podcast because of the diversity of people that I’m interviewing. And I interviewed an attorney, a New York attorney, who just opened a new practice at the age of 90, a new division of her practice and plans to work until she’s a hundred.

[00:41:23] Kari: There we go.

[00:41:24] Tina: There we go.

[00:41:24] Kari: Love that.

[00:41:26] Tina: Sounds good to me. Well, Kari, thanks so much for being here today and just sharing your wisdom and you just have so many great insights. I’ve just really enjoyed our conversation. And how can people find you and what you’re working with, with the academy?

[00:41:39] Kari: Well, thank you so much, Tina. I so enjoyed our conversation as well. So really easy, is the website, and we have destination weeklong, kind of reset retreats at our Baja campus and starting next year in Santa Fe. So not too far from you.

[00:41:55] Tina: Yeah.

[00:41:56] Kari: And then I run our online courses on the topics of transition and purpose, and we also do a bunch of free things. We do a lot of free fireside chats with thought leaders that live on our YouTube page that are really fun to listen to that are consistently helping us reframe this next stage of life.

[00:42:13] Tina: It kind of makes you proud to be a member of it, you know?

[00:42:16] Kari: I am so proud. I am. I love it.

[00:42:19] Tina: Yeah, me too. Thanks so much, and I hope we’ll have another conversation one day very soon. I’d love to come to one of your events, actually.

[00:42:25] Kari: Please do.

[00:42:26] Tina: Okay.

[00:42:27] Kari: Thank you so much, Tina.

[00:42:28] Tina: Thank you.

Copyright 2023 Tina Lorenz

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