Here is a video with some simple steps to get started…
Drinks With Your Elders
Wed, Feb 12
Limited space available, please RSVP
Hi… It’s been a while since you and I have been in touch…
Over the past year since my book launched, I’ve been doing an even deeper dive interviewing elders in their 80’s 90’s and 100’s. (That means a lot of listening and not as much writing and sharing)
The most impactful elder wisdom I heard all year was from a lady named Elaine, who described how many times the pendulum has swung through her life.
She told me how she loved and lost… multiple times. She earned lots of money and lost lots of money…multiple times.
Maybe you can relate?
Personally, there was a time in my 30’s when I was CRUSHING IT. And there was a time in my 30’s where I got my ass handed to me.
I spent the first half of my 40’s trying to make sense of these ups and downs…
That’s where this interview with Elaine continues to shed light.
The pendulum swings constantly through each of our lives.
So many people I know who once were the heroes of my college graduating class have come on hard times in recent years.
And others who seemed like they were going nowhere have found there way into the light!
As Elaine shared…you have to hang on and keep going.
On that note…I’m re-emerging in 2020…and would love to get back in touch with you!
I know with travel, family and the daily grind of work it’s hard to stay on top of things, but you have been part of my community because I bring a realness, humor and perspective to what we are all going through each day…
…so you’ll forgive me if I show up more often with these little reminders about trusting the journey, savoring the beautiful, funny, and delicious moments each day…and hanging in and hanging on for a great new year…TOGETHER!
I’d love to ask you a few questions. If you would take 2 seconds to answer, that would be AWESOME! Please visit here.
Thank you so much and I really look forward to being in close touch and hopefully seeing you again very soon.
PS: If you miss me too and want the beautiful funny and delicious reminders to trust your journey each and every day…
…I’m launching a new meditation experience in January and would LOVE to have you on board. More to come very soon…
In August, I was in Boston to give a speech. Elaine, 70, was the head honcho in the room.
I noticed that her team and her clients revere her.
By that, I mean she is the boss, but she is also the guru with the wisdom and guidance that only 50+ years of professional experience can forge.
Most “elders” I meet are looking back on life, sharing their insight from a relatively calm place on their timeline.
But Elaine is in the thick of it!
She told me of her travel schedule for the week to come…London, Amsterdam, Dublin, back to her home in Southern California, then back to Maryland.
I used to think that sounded so glamourous… first class airfare, luxury hotels.
But a good friend once told me the perks can be nullified by the absolute exhaustion of international travel.
This is where Elaine becomes worthy of your attention.
At 70, she has the energy to run big meetings in international capitals…constantly.
She began her career with the intent to travel, but travel with a cause.
So she got a job working for World Airways, the charter airline that flew soldiers to Vietnam.
Elaine shared her story:
“These handsome gorgeous young military men would come in on helicopters and load guns and arms in the belly of the plane.
“I’d fly them on a 15 hour flight into Danang or Cameron Bay or Saigon. Helicopters would be waiting and take them to the jungle.
“I would be the flight attendant for the 15 hour flight. We would take these boys who were scared to death. I mean, these were boys off the farm in Omaha who didn’t know where Vietnam was.
“We would entertain them. We’d sing and dance, anything we could do to help them pass the time without thinking about death.
“I was a big hawk and didn’t like the people marching against the boys. Didn’t matter whether I believed in the war. I believed in those boys and I saw those boys die.
“The people we see today on the streets were the boys I took in who survived Vietnam. I think of that every time I see homeless people in wheelchairs with military outfits.
“We brought them in and we brought the bodies out.”
She described how the return flights from Vietnam back to the U.S. were filled with coffins on the bottom of the plane and survivors on the top.
“The survivors often couldn’t stand up. They were so shell-shocked. They didn’t call it PTSD back then.
“When we landed, there was a brass band at the military base greeting the soliders. They’d be looking out the window. They’d say “There’s a band playing.’
“I’d say, ‘That’s for you for the great job you did.’
“They said, ‘That’s for us?’
“I mean..to go from the jungle and 15 hours later to land in Oakland?”
Elaine sadly remembered how the injured veterans “had no support getting out of the hospital. Many had no arms, no legs, we didn’t do much to help them.”
We barely think about that war anymore. Have you been to the Vietnam Memorial?” she asked me.
“Do you know how many thousands of names are on that wall?”
“Is it 50,000?”
“That’s a whole generation of men.”
Then Elaine’s life swung hard in another direction.
In the early 80’s, she worked for a corporate travel company running incentive trips. Companies would spend $12 million to send 30 people to Asia for 3 days.
“Sex drugs rock n roll everywhere.
“We built a plexiglass stage over the ocean in Hawaii with Burt Baccarat entertaining a Board of Directors.
“I’ve seen $24 million spent on 6 people. I’ve seen corporate America spend money like crazy in the 80’s and early 90’s.
“I saw the Prince’s wine cellar in monaco. I rode a hot air balloon in kruger national park. The people there had never seen white people. We took polaroids pictures, they thought we were Gods.”
Now at 70, she is the Executive Vice President at a prestigious hotel company. She has led her division through impressive growth.
And her travel schedule is relentless.
One of her young clients said to her, “You’re a 30 year old in 70 year old body. I’m a 70 year old in a 30 year old body.”
Personally, I get tired traveling with toddlers from Phoenix to Scottsdale to pick up burritos. That’s a 12 minute drive. I asked Elaine her secret to stamina during nonstop intercontinental travel…at 70!
She said, “I have a passion. Passion is energy. I don’t eat as much on the road. I don’t drink. Learning about people is fascinating. i like to take care of people. I live in the now. I enjoy it.”
The pendulum has swung hard through Elaine’s life. It’s not just from the horrors of Vietnam to the corporate greed of the 1980s’.
She has loved and lost three times.
Her father left home when she was young.
She has earned money and lost it all, three times.
The older I get, the more I realize this story is part of the human experience.
At 46, I know many people who were riding high in their 30’s and 40’s and have bottomed out in late 40’s and 50’s.
Whether their business hit a wall, or their marriage fell apart, or they lost a loved one, it’s the human experience.
Some people get struck on a hard swing into dark times. Maybe you’re there right now.
As Elaine said very clearly and emphatically:
“You can come back from anything. You can be anything you want to be. You can achieve anything. You just have to focus on it and believe in yourself.”
Enjoy this sample from my 6 Month Daily Meditation
(enter the code: magic)
Today is a tribute to one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met: Sean Stephenson
Last week, Sean passed away at the age of 40.
You’ve got to hear his story.
Sean was born with a condition called osteogenesis imperfecta. He stood three feet tall, had fragile bones, over 130 surgeries. and through it all, he was a total badass.
A few years ago, my friend Ian got me the gift of a daylong session with Sean Stephenson. It was supposed to be about becoming a better public speaker
Sean was a world class speaker. I mean… he was RIVETING to watch.
So I showed up and thought Sean was going to give me tips on projecting your voice, how to command the stage, etc.
But over the hours we spent together that day, I spilled my beans to him. Told him everything. He kept asking questions. I kept sharing and sharing.
At one point, I said to him, “Isn’t this supposed to be about becoming a better speaker?”
He explained how his background was in therapy, and you can’t be a great speaker until you are true to yourself.
His exact quote that summarizes his life and his teachings, at least to me:
“Being a world class speaker means being a world class human.”
So I put all my cards on the table and we looked at them… together.
It was a beautiful experience…super healing…to be vulnerable in the most real way.
Sean committed his whole life to vulnerability. He had no choice.
When he was born, the doctors told his parents that he would be dead within the first 24 hours.
40 years later, he lived and all those doctors had died.
I want to share a few lines from Sean’s legendary TedTalk:
“Never believe a prediction that doesn’t empower you.
“How many predictions have been thrown at you your whole life?
“If you believe predictions that do not empower you, you will wither away and die, either physically die or your spirit will die as you just walk around the world like a carcass that is just following the masses.
“I get stared at everywhere I go, and the moment people meet me, if they don’t know a thing about my résumé, they automatically, just by the human nature, think to themselves: ‘Oh, it must be so difficult to be that man!’
“If somebody pities me, they’re wasting their time, because I have chosen a life of strength, and I am here to help you choose a life of strength.
“You know what the worst drug that ever hit the human race is? Pity.
“The moment you feel sorry for another person, or the moment you feel sorry for yourself, you’re hosed. You’re totally, completely frozen in potential.”
CHOOSE A LIFE OF STRENGTH!
Take a look at the Facebook post announcing Sean’s passing… Look at the comments. The outpouring of love is incredible!
He created an internal stirring in others.
It’s a very rare human with the ability to do that.
As Marianne Williamson writes,
“Achievement doesn’t come from what we do, but from who we are.
“People who profoundly achieve aren’t necessarily people who do so much. They are people around whom things get done.
“Gandhi and JFK were examples of this. Their greatest achievements lay in the energy they stirred in other people. The invisible forces they unleashed around them.
“But touching their own depths, they touched the depths in others.”
Just in case that’s unclear, I’m putting Sean right there with Gandhi and JFK. At least that’s the impact he had on me.
i didn’t fully appreciate the gift of a day with Sean until after his death.
Sadly, that’s how life often works.
But isn’t it so much better to appreciate life as it happens… in the moment?
If a man who was 3 feet tall in a wheelchair with over 130 surgeries can have this kind of authentic presence and gratitude, do you and I have any excuses?
For just a moment, would you open your mind and heart and allow yourself to feel the depth and heart and blessing of this man’s incredible spirit.
Of all the elders I’ve met over the years, this guy in the photo is the most mystical.
Last month, my brother called me excitedly, “David I just got back from a cactus show and met this guy…he’s 94…he has the most amazing cactus collection….…you have to meet him!!!!!”
Don’t feel badly because I didn’t know either.
But cacti are very special, very powerful, and very mystical.
My brother started collecting and planting cacti all over his house, and he goes to these cactus shows….constantly!
A few days later, I drove up Topanga Canyon in Los Agneles to meet this 94 year old cactus collector.
He goes by the name of Uncle Hal.
With my voice recorder, I sat down across from Uncle Hal.
I was completely unprepared for what was about to be one of the more mysterious hours of my whole life.
If the following sounds a little strange, trust me, it was very strange…in the most magical kind of way.
Uncle Hal told me how he left home at 17 to serve in World War II.
He called it “three expense paid tours in the South Pacific.”
He was an electrician, supporting three battles during the war, for which he received three battle stars.
After the war, Uncle Hal was a teacher for 32 years in the LA school district and then volunteered for many more years at a hospital.
Along the way, he became very interested in the mysterious cactus.
30 years ago, Uncle Hal planted some cacti in the gully across from his house in LA.
He watered them for the first few months but has never watered them since. That’s 30 years!!!
He said once a cactus’ roots hit the groundtable, they are good to go.
Uncle Hal’s house is surrounded by old, rare, beautiful cacti.
He describes his affinity for cacti with one word about their character: resilience.
Then Uncle Hal got really into collecting Native American artifacts like belt buckles and clothes and paintings.
Throughout his house on tables and shelves and walls..are old, gorgeous, mystical, Native American artifacts.
I asked him, “Are you spiritual?”
He paused for a long time as 94 year-olds sometimes do.
Uncle Hal responded, “I would have to say yes to that.”
This is the point where everything about this encounter changed.
What was an otherwise easy-going interview became one of the spookiest experiences of my life.
I mean “spooky” in a positive way. Not scary. But absolutely INTENSE.
It was as if a doorway or portal opened, and the spirits came pouring through!
Uncle Hal told me how he has found mathematical secrets to the universe that are conveyed through his dreams.
He handed me a copy of his book, which is almost entirely numbers, formulas, and equations. All of it came to him in his dreams.
Uncle Hal started talking to me about atoms, and frequencies, and black holes.
More than anything, he was talking about energy.
He had an experience when he was younger that the yogis call Kundalini rising. It’s a sense of awakening, a mystical experience.
I explained to Uncle Hal how, over the past few months, I’ve become deeply interested in energy, which far exceeds the power of intellect.
Whether or not you are intellectually skilled, you can really impact people with the quality of your heart, your love, your joy, your enthusiasm. That’s ENERGY.
At this point in our conversation, I felt something so overwhelming…a kind of pressure for which I lacked the capacity to handle.
There was just too much energy in Uncle’s Hal’s home.
When you have all these rare cacti, and all these old Native American artifacts, and a deeply spiritual 94 year old man…
…it was like that little old psychic lady in the movie Poltergeist. Do you remember that?
I said very abruptly, “Uncle Hal, I can’t take anymore today. I have to go.”
He said, “Before you go, go sit under that tetrahedron.”
It was his meditation corner where the energy is strongest.
At that point, I stopped the voice recording and literally ran out the door.
As I was leaving, Uncle Hal said to me, “Now that you are in touch with the energy, what are you going to do with it? What are you going to do with it? What are you going to do with it?”
It was just too much. I had to go.
The next day, I called to set up another meeting with Uncle Hal but our schedules didn’t connect.
I regret to tell you, Uncle Hal passed away just last week.
Uncle Hal’s last words to me, “What are you going to do with the energy?”
I will never forget that.
I’ve been thinking about it for over a month, before finally getting the clarity to share this story with you.
As goes the teaching, “God cannot do for us what he cannot do through us.”
If all you do is open your mind and heart and become a conduit for love, you are doing the very best work you can possibly do.
But for most people, myself especially, we block the channels with feelings other than love.
Everytime I look at social media, I feel the need for something I don’t have. That’s a blockage.
Everytime I watch TV, I feel disturbed or desirous or disconnected. All blockages.
Everytime I dabble in anger or doubt or anxiety…blockages.
Just for fun, will you try this today?
Clear the channels and let love move through your mind and heart and words and actions.
Bring the greatest amount of love into your conversations, meetings, encounters.
“What are you going do with The Energy?”
We all feel The Energy in fits and bursts…after yoga or in meditation or in your own impassioned experience of life.
But more often than not, we get on with our day, and The Energy dissolves.
There’s no power in that.
The UNLOCK comes in that moment where you feel it…and SPREAD IT.
Just for today, instead of being a teacher, entrepreneur, doctor, lawyer, or salesperson…
be a lover.
BE A LOVER!
Do something amazing with The Energy.
Nothing is holding you back.
“To have…give all…to all.”
Whether or not you watch Game of Thrones, let me tell you about the real “Dragon Lady.”
That’s what people call Dr Yvonne Kaye, 85.
She grew up in England, where she was bombed out three times during World War 2.
Homeless and literally shell-shocked, Yvonne hid in her cellar.
There were times she was outside with friends and could not get to a bomb shelter in time. She saw a few of her friends die in front of her eyes.
Those few neighbors whose homes were not destroyed offered Yvonne safe shelter and food.
She felt such a debt of gratitude to these kind humans that she decided to commit her life to helping others.
In 1968, she moved with her four children to America and became a bereavement therapist and addictionist.
For 18 years, she had a radio show, Two Way Talk, and one day, received a phone call from an organization called Compassionate Friends.
It’s an organization that helps bereaved parents. They asked Yvonne to come and speak. She has worked with them ever since.
Yvonne said there are so many kinds of grief she deals with. It’s the worst of the worst.
Yvonne is the one who is called into ground zero… triage… for people enduring impossible pain after the overdose of a child or a homicide.
Only in the last 3 or 4 years did she stop running out at midnight as a crisis worker.
She would be the first on the scene to be with families of a homicide or do interventions with addicts.
To this day, at 85, Yvonne is a grief therapist working in Bucks County Pennsylvania. She is on the front lines of the opioid crisis.
She trains staff at recovery centers on what to do when a patient relapses.
And she councils families who have lost a family member from an overdose.
Yvonne told me stories that I can’t…that I won’t…share with you.
It’s too hard to even think about.
But the fact that she is out there…with her storied past and her mystical strength and impossible courage…I didn’t know people like her existed.
To see and feel this kind of grief once, let alone constantly?!
I asked how she handles all the pain.
“It takes a big chunk out of me. It’s horrific. But early childhood trauma gave me the ability to communicate with people in the throes of grief.”
This might explain some of her tattoos, particularly her tattoo of a dragon.
“People call me the Dragon Lady, which means ‘Don’t mess with me. Don’t tell me i can’t do anything.’”
She also has a bumblebee tattoo.
“The bumblebee… aerodynamically it’s not supposed to be able to fly but nobody told it. That’s been my attitude.”
And a Phoenix.
“The phoenix rising because we rose from the ashes after World War 2. And I believe in people who rise from the ashes whatever those ashes happen to be.”
I have to be honest in saying that I interviewed Yvonne two times.
The first time, we barely cracked her story. And I never wrote about her because I wasn’t sure what to say.
But Yvonne has an amazing son who followed up and said “Dave, when you are writing the piece about my mom? My mother is an amazing person, full of kindness and light, so it is terrific to see her recognized like this. Thank you!”
That was my kick in the ass to reconnect with Yvonne, and that’s when her full story reared its Dragon head!
I am so grateful to have met, not just Yvonne, but also her son Daniel who spends his life fulfilling the wishes of elders.
If you talk to him, you would realize, there aren’t a lot of people like Daniel. He’s truly dedicated.
It’s a testament to his mother, a total badass who also knows how to have fun. That seems to be the formula for the type of mom who raises strong children.
Yvonne said, “Music and laughter saved my life.”
She loves Bowie, Queen, and Phil Collins and shares this music with her patients in recovery.
She said, “The song ‘Don’t Lose My Number’ is especially relevant for a recovering addict.”
“Billy, Billy don’t you lose my number
‘Cause you’re not anywhere
That I can find you”
Yvonne also leads bi-monthly workshops at Gilda’s Club, a worldwide cancer support community, inspired by Gilda Ratner. “Even in excruciating pain, we laugh with each other -when nothing seems funny, and when it is.’ “
Dr Yvonne Kaye is woman who has lived through the worst of humanity during WW2, and instead of hiding from the pain, she walks toward it…everyday.
To anyone who has been through loss…
to everyone who is blessed with life…
as Yvonne said, “You miss out if you take things for granted.”
Dr Yvonne Kaye speaks nationally on subjects of grief and addiction.
Check out her website.
Joe Pietroforte is rare.
He is 100.
He is a decorated veteran.
His mind is sharp and he shares VIVID memories from every decade of his lifetime.
Joe took me through his nice months of combat in Europe during World War 2.
They crossed rivers in the pitch black of night.
The Germans were often well-entrenched, shooting at them from the other side of the river.
One out of every two soldiers Joe fought alongside did not survive.
Some just hid in their foxholes and didn’t come out.
Others shot off their own toes or fingers, in hope that a trip to the medic would help them avoid combat.
He said, “Dying is easier than living when you’re in combat.”
I asked Joe if he knew he had this courage within him?
“I knew I’d die here or die there. I figured there was no chance I’d survive the war.”
But he survived, and pressed on with his portable rocket launcher, 3 rockets, grenades, belt of ammo, and a backpack with 2 days of rations, a bayonet and a shovel.
After the war, he was decorated with a Silver Star, Bronze Star, European Theater of Operations, 3 battle stars, a victory medal, a Medal of Honor from the government of Luxembourg, a Medal of Honor from the government of Belgium.
Joe did not have a gratitude teaching to tie it all together with a pretty little bow.
When talking to these elders with such a prestigious and grizzly history, I remember that words and quotes and sayings are cheap, something anyone can cut and paste.
Here’s what I did learn from Joe, whose wife died 10 years ago, and yet he is still going strong.
He lives with his baby brother who is 91.
They obviously have good genetics. They credit their diet of olive oil and homemade red wine.
Joe’s brother sings opera.
And Joe LOVES to go dancing, especially when accompanied by younger women.
He said, at this point in his life, when he wears his World War 2 uniform, he is a celebrity.
Joe recently met two younger woman at a veterans event, and they took him out for a night of dancing.
I left this meeting with Joe’s favorite “swing music” playing in my car, imagining the incredible thought of a 100-year-old dancing his heart out!
To spend an hour with any combat veteran, let alone a decorated WW2 centenarian, changes the definition on “value of life.”
It’s not something that usually comes up in conversation and is rarely something one recognizes until their very life comes into question.
When I got together with some of my best college friends last week, we watched the NCAA Tournament, talked about fitness trends, business investments, mutual friends who are struggling, friends who are thriving.
Maybe this sounds like a conversation you’d have with your friends?
There was no “value of life” in the conversation.
And it might have been awkward if someone were to suddenly say, “Dude, how about this? We are lucky to be alive.”
Therein lies the value of the Joe Pietrofortes of the world.
In his book War, Sebastien Junger writes, “Combat isn’t where you might die — though that does happen — it’s where you find out whether you get to keep on living.
“Don’t underestimate the power of that revelation.
“Don’t underestimate the things young men will wager in order to play that game one more time.”
You get to keep on living.
If that doesn’t resonate…
Imagine voicing your everyday complaints to Joe’s best friends…many of whom perished on the European battlefields, right in front of his eyes.
If it still doesn’t hit you in the heart…
Yesterday I visited my friend who has been in ICU, fighting for his life, every second of everyday, for over a month!
He has 2 young children. His road to recovery will be months and even years into the future.
When asked if he is depressed, he said, “No. I’m fighting to survive so that I can be a parent to my children.”
Consider parenting, not as a hassle, but as a privilege.
You get to keep on parenting.
You get to to keep on running, stretching, breathing.
You get to keep on dancing.
There will come a day when you can’t do this stuff anymore.
God wiling, it’s a day in the very distant future.
But as Joe or my friend in ICU might tell you, that day can come any second.
So fill in the blank.
Today, I get to keep on —————-.
And go do it!!!!
Oscar Wilde said, “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist.”
Weinberg Community for Senior Living
Intergenerational Conversation and Book Signing
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Thursday, January 17
River Oaks Bookstore