We continue to celebrate the release of Irene Weinberg’s Good to the Last Drop! Embracing Your Life’s Third Chapter. In this second part of the series, we journey through life’s third chapter, exploring profound reinventions and new purposes with more of our contributors. Meet Julie Ryan, a former businesswoman who embraced her psychic abilities, and Betty Jampel and Julie Lazar-Reskakis, who found a new calling supporting others through grief after loss. Also hear from Phyllis Okon, the “mother of reinvention,” who discusses navigating change and staying relevant later in life. The episode is packed with even more wisdom: Jeff Rasley shares a powerful story about getting lost on a mountain, highlighting the importance of both community and solitude. Brian Smith and Alan Stein detail resilience in overcoming obstacles and finding purpose beyond adversity. Finally, animal communicator Tami Hendrix explores the profound impact animals have had on her life and her work helping others. This episode is a must-listen for anyone seeking inspiration and guidance as they navigate their own “third chapter,” filled with stories of transformation, resilience, and the enduring strength of the human spirit.

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT THINGS LIKE: 

  • Exploring psychic abilities.
  • Finding a calling in grief support after personal loss.
  • Change and reinvention as a medium and author.
  • Getting lost on a mountain and discovering the importance of community and solitude.
  • Overcoming a difficult upbringing and multiple health challenges with a positive outlook.
  • The impact animals have on navigating life transitions.
  • Stories highlighting the importance of both personal resilience and support systems.

Don’t miss out on Irene’s giveaway. Follow this link: https://ireneweinberg.com/good-to-the-last-drop/#giveaway

Watch the episode

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Celebrating the Release of Good to the Last Drop! │ Part 2

 

 

 

 

No two people’s lives unfold the same way. Our life experiences, good and difficult, impact and shape each of us in unique ways. Every experience has a lesson to teach us if we learn to embrace it. By exploring their personal challenges, the chapter contributors to Good to the Last Drop have found ways to help and guide others through their experiences.

Every human must learn to live with grief or loss. It happens to us all. Good to the Last Drop could be the book you never knew you needed to read just when you needed to read it most. Explore ways to find personal meaning and your way forward through life’s many challenges and experiences as you explore Good to the Last Drop. Now, Available on Amazon. Get your copy.

My esteemed contributors to Good to the Last Drop, I want each of you to know how deeply appreciative I am for your wonderful, inspiring, and heartfelt chapter contributions to Good to the Last Drop! Embracing Your Life’s Third Chapter. It feels like I’m welcoming family to greet Julie Ryan, Phyllis, Jeff, and Brian because I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing each of you on the Grief and Rebirth. You each are very special and remarkable.

I’m truly honored to know you and thank you once again. Julie Lazar-Reskakis, when I received your email telling me how my interview with Sherokee Ilse changed your life, “I cried tears of joy.” I could not be more delighted to greet you. Thank you for your wonderful chapter. Dear friend, Betty and beloved brother Alan, I love your chapters and I love you.

By the way, a great sidebar. It was Phyllis Oken who channeled the guidance I received to create this book. Heartfelt thanks to you, Phyllis. Thank you spirit and to each of you for joining me on this heaven-sent journey we are sharing. Now, a huge heartfelt welcome to the cherished members of my popular International Award-Winning Grief and Rebirth audience. What a pleasure this is to introduce the wonderful contributors and their riveting chapters to Good to the Last Drop, Embracing Life’s Third Chapter to each of you. It is such a joy to have you here.

If you missed our introduction to Part 1 Grief and Rebirth, you can catch up on YouTube or on Apple or Spotify. We touched on compelling stories from several authors, me included, whose lives were wrought to the core and transformed by life-changing events. In the second segment, called Embracing Life, Reinvention and New Purpose, which we are focusing on. You’ll read about the various ways these authors came to find new, renewed purpose or added clarity in their lives. Whether from personal loss and trauma, epiphany, or the recognition of the need for support for those experiencing loss.

It is my honor to have each of the esteemed, embracing life, reinvention, and new purpose segment contributors introduce him or herself to you, share a third chapter tip or reflection learned to date, and read an inspiring excerpt from his or her chapter to you. Now, it is time to turn this fun fab book launch over to my incredibly wonderful and highly competent assistant, J. Dean Stout Williams. Her friendship and professionalism mean the world to me. As we continue to navigate the podcast book and social media landscape from our respective faces in New Jersey and Barletta, Italy. Take it away, J.

Journey Beyond

Thank you. To kick off our Contributor Spotlight, we’re going to have Julie Ryan present her chapter, Journey Beyond: Exploring the Mysteries of Life, Death, and Creation.

I am so honored to be here. I was so honored to be with all of you, all of my colleagues here, and to be asked to contribute to the book. When Irene and I were talking about it, I heard, “It’s for people who are in the 3rd or 4th chapter of their lives. What are you going to do with it?” It was a catalyst that caused you to shift gears. Certainly, there was, with me. Irene, you’re the Queen of shifting gears in midlife or phase 3 or 4 or whatever you want to call it.

Mine was, I’m a businesswoman and an inventor. I have founded nine companies in five industries. I’m an inventor of surgical devices sold throughout the world, so I’m a businesswoman. I learned how to do woo-woo. I’m a buffet of psychics now is what I like to say. That means we can talk with these loved ones, scan animals, scan people medically, and do past lives. Once we connect with spirit, we can do it all.

I was interested in learning about this woo-woo stuff, spiritual stuff many years ago. I took some classes for years and paid the equivalent of what I would have spent on an MD or a PhD to learn how to do this. People were saying to me, “What are you going to do with it?” I’d say, “Hello.” They’d say, “Why are you doing this?” I’d say, “I have no idea. I’m just being led to do it.” Here I am all these years later. I sold my surgical device manufacturing company in 2015 and thought, “Now what?”

I’ve been in this spiritual space ever since. You never know where spirit’s leading you. You never know what your next chapter’s going to be. We’re all led and we get to the point where we think, “I can’t do that because of a number of reasons.” We don’t follow where we’re led. Irene, again, you’re right in there.

The key is to take action when you’re being led to do something along these lines because you have no idea how amazing the experience is going to be and how it’s going to unfold for you. I find that at my age in my mid-60s. It’s almost like I’m more excited, energized, more willing to try new things, explore things, learn things and see what’s happening because I know my time here on Earth is limited. I have never had more fun in my whole life. It’s always an adventure every day.

That’s so wonderful. What a third chapter you’re having. Have you got an excerpt for us?

Our journey doesn’t end with death. It merely takes on a new form. Only because someone reaches a certain age, doesn’t signify the cessation of their creativity. Instead, it signifies a transition into something new and different customized to the unique stage of life they find themselves in. I’m a great example of that.

From Audiologist To Perinatal Bereavement Specialist

Up next, we have Julie Lazar-Reskakis.

My name is Julie Lazar-Reskakis and I live in Bergen County, New Jersey. Not far from Irene. We’re in the same part of the world. The title of my chapter is My Journey from Audiologist to Perinatal Bereavement Specialist, and a few things in between. There were many things in between that led me down this new path but I don’t think any of them were a coincidence.

First of all, let me say that I have suffered from imposter syndrome my entire life. From the death of my mother when I was three years old, followed by two abusive and wicked stepmothers, a cancer diagnosis and other trauma. I never felt that I was good enough, smart enough, and attractive enough. As I sit here with you all, amazing and inspirational people who have discovered a new chapter in their lives, I feel like I am enough.

When I looked up the word retirement in the dictionary, one of the meanings I came across from the Cambridge Dictionary was and I quote, “The act of leaving your job and stopping working usually because you are old.” Safe to say we have debunked that definition. After I retired working as an audiologist in New York City, I became interested in working with people at the end of their lives.

In fact, the nursing home where I spent a great deal of time in my career opened up a hospice unit, a ten-bed freestanding hospice unit. There wasn’t much call for an audiologist on a hospice unit. As you can imagine, problems with their hearing was one of a minor consideration in terms of everything else that would be going on in a hospice but a seed was planted. Even though I was not called to do many consults on that unit, I would often go up in my free time and talk to the staff to find out what hospice and what the philosophy was all about.

When I did retire, as I said, I became interested in pursuing that, working with people at the end of their lives. I must say I had an equal amount of terror and curiosity about death and dying. I enrolled in a course and I became a certified end of life doula. I began to volunteer in a hospice. That was years ago and I still do that volunteer work.

Through many other twists and turns, I ended up becoming a certified grief educator with David Kessler in his inaugural grief-educating class. Subsequently, I became a birth doula many years ago. In fact, I suffered what, to me, was a devastating stating pregnancy loss. During that time, there was very little support for mothers and their families suffering the loss of a baby at any gestational age.

This grief stayed buried within me. One day, completely spontaneously, or was it? I was reading to Irene’s show and the guest that day was Sherokee Isle. Sherokee is the foremost pioneer in this field of perinatal bereavement. In fact, she began writing her first book, Empty Arms, while she was still in the hospital bed after her third loss.

This is a book we still use in this perinatal bereavement field. It was as if Sherokee was sitting next to me and reading the show. At the end, she gave out her cell phone number and I called her. I knew in my heart that this would be my next chapter. After many months of training with Sherokee, both online and in person, I became the first and still only person certified as a perinatal bereavement specialist in the State of New Jersey with Sherokee’s Baby Loss Advisors Organization.

A few years ago, I became the Perinatal Bereavement Specialist at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey. I am now proud to serve on two nonprofit advisory boards in the community supporting women and their families through miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant death. I wrote a letter to Irene telling her how her show changed the entire direction of my life.

Here’s a very quick two sentence excerpt from my chapter. I had my own history of pregnancy loss many years earlier and did not receive the support I so desperately needed at that time. I wanted to change that narrative for other families. In conclusion, thank you to Irene Weinberg and Sherokee Isle for guiding me on a path I never otherwise would have taken. I am internally grateful to both of these women and honored to do this work.

I could not be more humbled and honored.

Mother Of Reinvention

Now, we’d like to invite Phyllis Okon to present her chapter, Mother of Reinvention.

My kids have a fond way of referring to me as the mother of reinvention. I’ve had many incarnations in life. One of the first things, I started out as a teacher for about an hour until I left that. My husband needed help running his business. He was an immigrant and he needed help. He needed an English speaker. I said, “Okay.” I left the business and the deal was I wanted to start a family.

We started our business and the reason why I’m telling this is because it’s pertinent. We ended up heavily into Hollywood. We own a car service. We fell into a thing that if they needed help in LA, we took on. We became the premier service in Hollywood. Very exciting stuff. I spoke on the film with actors, writers, directors, and the people movers. Every movie for the past 50 years, we’ve been involved in one way or another but something happened.

In the beginning, we were embraced and everybody loved us. It’s young mom in the house. I sat with yellow pages and cold calling. A lot of those accounts are with us but something happened when I turned 40. I discovered I became invisible. I wasn’t invited to the table. I’d show up in these young publicists, they would look past me. All the things that used to work to get business, all of a sudden, didn’t work. They wanted new people. They wanted young people. They didn’t want me.

I was standard. I was horrified. It just so worked out, I floundered with this for a little while and my kids started to have babies. When my son had a boy, I was the light of his life. He adored me. All of a sudden, one day, he was bored with me. My son turns around and said, “Ma, you have to reinvent yourself to match what he wants.” I realized I had to reinvent myself for everything, so I started reinventing myself.

Life breathes in and breathes out. You have highs and lows. It’s not a merry-go around. I like what Julie said, everything in your life prepares you for the things that you end up doing. Everything in life, it’s like this ride. As you accumulate, you put things in your shopping cart of life and, all of a sudden, you find out that you’re going to use it later on. She’s right because we’re surrounded by signs. Sometimes, we’re just blind to those signs.

When I lost my mom, I became an author. I was so sad. I never had been depressed in my life. My kids tried to pull me out of my depression and they said, “Write a book.” It was a lifelong dream. I started writing and 83 books later, I became a bestselling author and award-winning author. It opened up a whole new world but I didn’t stop being involved in the business. I was still running the business and doing that.

My husband developed lung cancer alongside my mother who was CFO of our company. He was the CEO. They developed lung cancer within three months of each other. That was a gut punch. I knew she was terminal. I had to make it the best two years she could have. She was my best friend then with my husband, who was my other best friend. I had been with him since I was sixteen. We didn’t know if he was going to live or die. He lived fifteen years, which was a miracle but it was a miserable fifteen years because this was a person who could not accept that he wasn’t going here. He was only going to here.

I had to reinvent myself again. I became a nurse and the cheerleader. I took over the business without allowing him to feel that he was diminished. When he passed, I missed him. I had been with him every waking moment. I was going from medium to medium to try to get messages. I didn’t see the signs around me. I was desperate then COVID happens. I found myself at home. I started taking lessons to be in media. It never occurred to me. It’s more like, “Let’s see.” All the meetings were telling me, “You can do this yourself.”

I didn’t believe them. Once you see it, you don’t unsee it. That’s what happened to me. I was in a class of 86 people and I was the only one that the teacher endorsed. Every class that I took, I ended up being endorsed by the teachers. I took 20 or 30 classes. My kids had a show and they invited me on. They didn’t prepare me that they were going to have guests on that I was going to read. I was a baby medium. Imagine my surprise when I was able to do it.

It was as surprising for me as it was for my sons, reinvention again. The next day, they set up a shingle and I averaged between 20 to 40 readings a month. A good friend, a person who put Irene in my path, said, “You have to teach.” I said, “I can’t teach this. This is something you have to come to realization on your own.” She said, “Try it.” Now I’m teaching three classes a week. I have over 40 students. I’m starting a new class. I have a Patreon. Reinvention once again.

Sometimes I feel a little bit like Mother Goose. All the ducklings are coming underneath my feathers. I can’t believe how age doesn’t matter now. That I’ve become relevant again. It’s delightful to feel that you have a purpose. Unlike Julie, I kept my old job. While they’re texting me and telling me what’s going on over there, I’m here. Somehow, I like it. Do you remember the Ed Sullivan show or are all of you old enough to remember?

Do you remember that guy who had the place going, “Da da da.” That’s what life is like. When the younger people say to me, “I can’t do that.” I go, “Yes, you can. Try. If I can do it, I can’t even see anymore. I can’t see the chin hairs to pluck them. Isn’t that convenient? They take away your sight so you don’t see all what’s going on with you. If I can do it, you can do it.”

I love the discovery when they’re in the class. All of a sudden, they get 5 out of 5 and they go, “How did I do that?” I go, “You just saw the signs.” It was like Julie said, “You just saw the signs and you put them in your shopping cart.” I have one son. I like to think of him as a stonehead. He has nothing goes in. He’s very concrete. He says, “I miss daddy.” I said, “Ask him for signs.” Three days in a row, he’s calling me up. He says, “You can’t believe this. I asked him for a sign and I opened my phone. The first thing on my phone was this or I turned on the TV and it was that. It was a sign.”

My other son was so intrigued that, “If I could do it, he could do it.” He’s taking the course and now he’s reading people. What I’ve learned is we’re not extraordinary and I tell people I’m not gifted but I’m a gifted medium. In other words, I know how to read the signs and anybody can do that. Reinvention is the spice of life. It’s interesting, I had a very famous tarot reader. I was reading my tarot cards. I had gone gray during COVID and I decided I’m not dying my hair again.

It was too painful for me to watch my hair grow out. It was just too painful. He figured I wasn’t a spring chicken. I don’t know how he figured that out, but he’s laying out my cards. He’s looking at me and looking at my cards. He’s looking at me and says, “Something’s wrong.” I said, “What’s wrong?” I figured he’s going to tell me some terrible. He says, “These cards indicate you have so much coming on. You’re not retiring.” I said, “Who said anything about retiring? Only because I have gray hair doesn’t mean I’m going to retire. What’s new?”

We opened in London. That was new with my day job. I’m leaving. We’re going to LA and Vegas. I’m visiting different offices. What else can we do? I published a book months ago on affirmations. I have to look because with 83, I can’t remember all the titles. The point is, life begins every time you wanted to. It’s all about choice. We eat the old people in this country. We stopped respecting the value of age. My grandmother lived with us until I got married.

I moved so I would be 2 or 3 blocks away because I called her all the time, “What do I do? The baby has a rash. The meal isn’t working. I’m having a problem with my husband.” She had such invaluable advice. I feel richer for it. I live a mile from both sets of my grandchildren and they come to me when they can’t communicate with their parents. Don’t throw away the old people. We got a wealth of advice and we don’t talk nonsense.

Please read on excerpt and what you said is wonderful. Thank you, Phyllis. It’s so true for the third chapter that we all reinvent ourselves and keep going on.

The heck with people who don’t support us. You don’t need support from other people. If they’re not going to support what you’re doing, don’t worry about it. Do it for yourself.

If they have you in their box and they can’t accept it that you’re not in that box where you’re supposed to fit. Bravo.

I have a four-letter expression for that one but rediscovery, stepping outside my comfort zone and learning that my horizon is unlimited is inspiring. You’re never too old to try something new. You might even see it through different eyes. Life’s experiences make us stronger, smarter, and more perceptive. I’ll be 70 when the book is published. The big number is looming but I don’t feel it. I post content daily to social media sharing what I’ve learned. I write blogs, do gallery events, and something I never thought I’d do again. I’ve come full circle. I’m teaching again, my own course. I have over 40 students. I wrote a book about it. Of course, I did.

That’s great. Thank you, Phyllis.

You’re welcome. Thanks for listening.

Cosmic Dreamer

Thank you, Phyllis. Up next, presenting her chapter, Cosmic Dreamer. We have Betty Jampel.

Thank you. First of all, Irene, I want to say a big thank you to you for all these years of friendship and guidance and just pure love. Thank you for inviting me into this project for you. I’m forever grateful to have met you all those years ago in that search group for Grief and Rebirth. I have to put that out. I live in New Jersey. I live in the same town as Irene.

I have been in New Jersey since 2000, but my life started out in Brazil. I was born in Brazil to Holocaust survivor parents and came to the US when I was three years old in the early 1960s. I would say that my birth into the family that I’ve come into has been the trajectory for my life in exploring grief and my own rebirth. I always like to start there. and

I tell people, when they’re exploring their life, they’re exploring and wanting to make changes. Start there. See where you came into and why did you come into that space. What have been the challenges and what are the life lessons that you have to learn from that. I always like to honor my ancestry and my beginnings because that’s where I’ve learned the most. I grew up in Brooklyn. I’ve been a social worker for most of my adult life.

I’ve never done anything else. I went to graduates. I went to got my bachelor’s then pretty much went into graduate school and became a social worker. It’s no accident that I became a social worker.

Growing up, I was always listening to stories and telling stories. It’s always been my interest. I always picked the people’s stories. People would tell me, “I’d be on the New York City subway,” and people would start talking to me and telling me things. I didn’t know what it was about. When I went to social work school and learned that becoming a therapist was all about listening to people’s stories. I got it.

I have been a social worker. I have worked on psychiatric units. I’ve worked primarily in behavioral health. I have heard a lot of what people might think are crazy things. I’ve worked in no capacities as an administrator supervisor. All of that has created who I was, but it was in my own personal private practice that I began my growth. I started out as a very clinical social worker but through the years of my own training, I have been involved and trained in holistic modalities.

It started out with hypnotherapy, past life regression therapy with Brian Weiss many years ago. I trained with him. I delving into more uncommon types of work and started to integrate that into my own work with folks. Also, integrating it into my own personal life and learning. I would say that my professional is my personal my personal is my professional because I come to my work as myself. If I have not done my own work, it’s very hard to help others with their work.

That had been my trajectory for a very long time then my parents died, then my brother died. My brother had been a very pivotal person in my life. He died fairly young, I would say. It was a great loss at the time and he was in hospice work. I had been a hospice in my first internship in social work school. After he died, I left my administrative job and decided I needed to have a day job. I always had a private practice and I decided, “I want to do hospice work.” For years, I’ve been doing end of life work and what I have learned has been phenomenal.

I cannot tell you the privilege it’s been to sit at patients’ bedsides and listen to their stories and support their families. It was through the stories that I was blessed to hear about what they were experiencing at end of life triggered in me this fascination with non-ordinary states of consciousness. I always had a fascination with that because even as a kid, I had very otherworldly experiences but I didn’t understand it.

There were other things that happened to me throughout my life with the birth of my children that threw me into these other realms. I didn’t start to understand it until I worked with people at the end of life and realized what was going on then began to take more trainings and more interest in those areas. A few years ago, I became a psychedelic facilitator for a psilocybin study. It was through the watching and participating with these participants, what they were able to experience on the psychedelic medicines that I became a psychonaut.

I started to delve into these medicines myself and have had life-altering experiences and everything had come together for me in terms of why I was doing my end of life work, why there in those spaces with these patients, listening to their stories, and doing my own work with these beautiful medicines. All of which have spirit behind them. That’s the message I always get. These are not just a compound. It’s not just a plant.

There’s a spirit behind it. If you use it wisely with great intention, the lessons are innumerable. I’m trained in ketamine assisted psychotherapy, so I’ve been doing that. I’ve been training to do MDMA and psilocybin assisted therapy. When that becomes legal, I’ll be working with that and have a deep interest in doing palliative work end of life work with some of these medicines to help people be able to cross over in a more conscious way so that they are not frightened.

They are living every moment that they do have with great integrity and with great purpose, and to help their families be able to deal with their crossing over with as little trauma as possible and to be able to grieve appropriately and fully when their loved one does pass. That is my passion in my life. People say, “What do you want to do when you retire?” It’s not what I want to do. I always think of like, “Who do I want to be when I retire?”

This is what I want to be and this is the space I want to be. We come into this world, our birth is the same as our death. We’re coming from one realm into another, then we leave into the next realm. I say to everyone, “Pay attention to all of that. It all matters.” Life is a gift. We don’t know when we’re going to cross over. We think we hear doctors say, “It’s going to be this many months or weeks.” We don’t know and even for ourselves, we can go tomorrow for whatever reason.

I say, live life as you would want to leave it, doing everything that you want, or at least trying to. Anyway, thank you for this opportunity. I would like to read a little bit of something. We in the West are not accustomed to the language of spirit and nature. We are not encouraged or validated to see and acknowledge that which is not three dimensional and tangible to most. We tend to demonize, pathologize and shun any reports or experiences of an unordinary nature.

We are taught to believe that children have vivid imaginations, that dream states are imaginary, and that death is an end game. I am here to tell you that none of this is true and this has become my passion to educate and to create opportunities and a portal for transformational healing and growth so that generations to come are open, enlightened, willing and able to access and express higher states of consciousness to make compassionate and life-sustaining choices.

Thank you and for who you are, Betty. Truly. That was wonderful.

Finding Meaning In Solitude And Community

Now, we’d like to invite Jeff Rasley to present his chapter, Binding Meaning in Solitude and Community.

That was wonderful to hear Betty talk. In a lot of ways, it’s an interesting and appropriate lead-in. I’ll spend a bit more time reading than Betty did because the chapter that I’ve contributed is a story. It’s an adventure story going wrong but it has a worthwhile lesson in it. Briefly, a little bit about me. I practiced law for many years and was enmeshed in the oftentimes awful and sometimes joyful and rewarding legal world. Also, to some extent the political world, too.

It was a wonderful life, long-term marriage and two kids who are now grown and very successful career. Yeah. Before my legal career ended, I hit 40 and I had a classical midlife crisis experience. There was nothing about my life, if you looked at it from the outside that I should have had any complaints about. I had this sense of, “This wasn’t the life I wanted.”

When I was young, I was quite an adventurer and traveled all over the world often on my own and usually, out of fairly low budget. Anyway, that part of my life I had let go of because I had become the head of a small law firm and had another business on the side. I was serving on about 5 or 6 different boards and I was coaching my kids athletic teams. I was busy all the time. Scheduled out all the time.

One day, I came home from the office and my wife slapped down this brochure on the table in front of me and said, “Why don’t you go do this?” It was to join a trekking group and trek to Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal. Essentially, she was telling me to go take a hike and do it on the other side of the world. It was extraordinarily sensitive and kind of her to do that, and so I did. I fell in love with the Himalayas. I spent most of my life in Indiana. Not exactly a lot of background in mountaineering or mountains at all but I fell in love with the mountains.

I fell in love with the people that live up in the mountains and kept going back, became a mountaineer led trekking and climbing group. I started a foundation over there. I wouldn’t say it changed my life but a whole new pathway in life opened up that I hadn’t foreseen. It’s been very important to me ever since. I’m still president of the Basa Village Foundation, but I have not been back to Nepal for a few years for various reasons.

Anyway, this will take a bit longer. I’m not close but I’ll read a bit just from this story. I’m on a 14,000 foot peak in Nepal, a remote area. 14,000 feet is not a high mountain in Nepal. Not a big mountain and I had ended up climbing it. I left my climbing group behind. I’m on my own and I got lost, so I’m trying to find my way back to our base camp where our guys and porters and the rest of my group is. This was supposed to be a fun adventure for the whole group, but for different reasons, it ended up being a solitary thing, which I got lost.

I’m coming down the mountain side. The fog had cleared enough that I could see 50 yards or so. Twenty minutes later, the trail came to an abrupt end. A rock slide wiped out a hundred yards stretch of the trail. Traversing a mountainside across a rock slide without a rope or a partner would be very risky, but this made no sense because our team didn’t have to cross a rock slide on the track to Pikey Peak. It must be the wrong trail. I’m trying to find the trail that we had tracked to get the base camp and having trouble finding it.

I slid down an ice slide and had to climb down a steep rock face. Anyway, here I am. Was it possible I did not see the correct trail in the fog as I struggled down through the rhododendron forest? There had to be another trail. I backtracked once again, but this time on the run. I also started looking for caves and shelters in case I would have to spend the night on the mountainside. Past the point where I had originally found the trail, I noticed a break in the trees.

Above the trail, there was a little clearing in the woods. I hadn’t noticed on the descent. There was a yak pasture. I remembered seeing it on the way to our campsite. Across the little pasture was another trail, and there was Booty’s arrow. Booty drew an arrow to mark the correct direction at every trail intersection on the track to Pikey. I soon came to another trail intersection. I was sure I should take the upward trail. Without hesitation, I turned to the left, heading uphill.

Another twenty minutes, and I was back at the pasture where I’d started. I had gone around in a circle. I needed to regain composure. For a couple of minutes, I chanted the Buddhist mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum.” I was calm again and I strode back down the circular trail at a steady pace. This time, I went straight in the direction Booty’s arrow pointed. The sun had sunk behind a mountain to the west. I had lost sight of Gannis. Gannis was our head guide.

Gannis and Mike had started up the mountain with me, but didn’t finish and they were back in camp. Now that I was confident, I was on a correct back to our camp. The feeling of joyful pleasure in my little solitary adventure returned. I was lost but now I was found. Night had settled on the mountain by the time I sighted lights at our campsite. I knew Gannis and the crew would be worried and upset, so I began yelling as I approached the camp.

No one responded and I didn’t see anyone. I poked my head into Mike’s tent. He was asleep. Ron came out of the goth he was using for a kitchen. He said that Gannis, Booty, Nerman, and Hanid were all up on the mountain looking for me. I jogged up the rocky path toward the summit of Pikey Peak yelling and whistling. I spotted Gannis on the mountainside waving at me.

Higher up the mountain, booty acknowledged, Gannis’ signaling whistle. When we were all back down and gathered in the meal tent, we learned that poor Hamid had hiked all the way to the top but had found no sign of me. It felt very good to share the warmth of our meal tent with the guys to laugh about my extroval sense of direction to pass around plates of dolbat, cups of hot tea, and finish off the meal with a shared bottle of Roxy, which is the local spirits.

At first, I enjoyed being alone on the mountain but when I realized I was lost, anxiety replaced enjoyment. Being back at our meal tent with my team reminded me that we humans are social beings. Sharing experience with family, friends, or within a community makes it more meaningful. That was how the chapter piece ended but as a post-script. The adventure on Hickey Peak was supposed to be an enjoyable diversion during a mission track.

Three members of the Basa Village Foundation tracked with villagers from Basa Village. This was in 2010, to deliver all the materials and equipment to build a hydroelectric system for the remote village of Basa in Nepal. That’s why we were up in the mountains. We were carrying all this equipment to the village. This little mountain experience was supposed to be a fun break from heavy labor. Instead, it turned out to be more of an adventure than I had planned

Sounds like this has led you to a wonderful third chapter part of your life.

It has. I ended up going to Nepal fourteen times and once to India. I had never planned on going to that part of the world. It became a second home to me then the meaning that I’ve gotten from having this relationship with this one village and seeing how life expectancy because this started quite a while ago. Life expectancy in the village has risen because we brought a medical clinic.

The infant mortality rate was 75%. Now, it’s down to 25%. All of the improvements in the quality of life of the village have come through requests from the villagers. We made a pact at the very beginning with our sister foundation in Nepal that we would never impose our expectations or our values on the village because we wanted to respect its beautiful and unique local culture. The infrastructure development we’ve done has all come at the villagers’ choice. They have done all of the work like building a school, the medical clinic, and the hydroelectric water system.

It’s wonderful. And part of your experiences have been about creating community and how important that is in this part of life.

Very much so. I’ve learned so much from the right people of Basa Village because community there is so much more integral and organic than what it is in modern life in the US. Every villager can recite the genealogy of every family in the village back five generations or more. When someone is ill or injured, the village takes over. The house where it does their farming. They have the traditional ethic of welcoming a stranger as a guest. They have so much of what we have lost. I’ve tried to integrate to some degree that value system back into my own life.

It’s wonderful and you’re spreading these values in your third chapter to so many other people. What a wonderful mission that you have. What a wonderful legacy that you’ll be leaving. It’s terrific. Very admirable.

Thank you, Irene, and for the opportunity to spread it.

My pleasure.

A Lifetime Of Resilience, Renew, And Reinvention

We now have Alan Stein presenting his chapter, A Lifetime of Resilience, Renew and Reinvention.

Thank you for everybody aligned me to be here and make this presentation. Through me, you’re going to learn more about Irene.

If there’s a resemblance, Alan is my brother.

I had the benefit of being the third child. When I grew up, I was fortunate enough to learn quickly to be an observer and to absorb the things that I saw around me, change my attitudes and responses based upon those things. Irene became such a great orator because she had to entertain the people around her who were emotionally dysfunctional.

In our case, my brother was very rigid and like a tree that doesn’t bend in a storm, he basically is broken as an emotional person and gets stuck. I had the benefit of being very able to adapt to the circumstances that I saw. In our case, our father was 1 of 6 and 4 of which died before the age of ten. His parents were very naive and shallow in their view of life and were mad at him when he got polio when he was six years old.

They lost four children. They had one sick child then they had one healthy child. They favored the healthy child, which created this hostile resentment and anger on the part of our father. The fact that he had polio and was disabled with both legs. He had to wear braces. He had aspirations to be a doctor, but was unable to fulfill his dream because his parents didn’t support him. During that period of life, he became very dependent upon his parents. He ended up going into business with his parents and was always frustrated because he never stepped out on his own and was always angry at them because he didn’t take responsibility for himself.

He was too reliant on them then took out his anger and frustrations on the people around him. The fact that he was handicapped was always an issue. He was always a victim. For me, as the youngest of three, I was able to understand and see what I thought were the strong attributes that he brought to the table. He persevered and resilient. He pulled himself together every morning. He struggled physically, but he was able to do what it was that he was in a position to do, even though he wanted to do so much more.

He was a smart guy, but he was physically challenged. He was very limited and was an angry guy all the time. For me, the lesson there was never allow anybody to define you. Always pay attention to the circumstances that you’re dealing with a hyper focus on the positive and compartmentalize the negative because a significant proportion of the people that I’ve come across in life allow their traumas to define them and they get stuck. Whether they’re stuck as a teenager mostly or in their mid-twenties.

Many of the women that I’ve met, either they’ve been raped or had bad experiences and that defines who they are. In my case, having that type of upbringing, which I wouldn’t say was the most desirable upbringing, prepared me for what I eventually had to deal with. I’ve had five different cancers, eight surgeries, metastatic melanoma, lung cancer, and prostate cancer. I’ve had sepsis. I’ve had all kinds of physical challenges.

For me, I never got depressed. Whenever I had these issues, I always hyper-focused on my goals and objectives. In my case, the first serious cancer that I had was melanoma. I was nineteen years old. It spread to my lymph nodes when I was 26. I was given 15% chance of living five years. When I left the hospital on the way home, as much as I am a logical, pragmatic individual. I had my first spiritual experience sitting in my car out of traffic light, feeling a little sorry for myself for what I had to deal with.

I got visited by my two dead grandparents, who was the only time I’ve ever had that experience. I had no doubt they were there. The message was, “Don’t worry, you’re going to be okay.” Never had the experience again, but as I got into the spiritual world, was much more receptive to listening to some of the things that she was experiencing, especially when Saul passed away. Her development and evolution to where she’s now got her show and doing the things that she’s doing.

For me, the lessons in particular were, don’t let other people define you. There’s no question as we age in our culture. In this country, it’s unfortunate, but you do get aged out. The young people don’t have the connection that they do in other cultures. They don’t respect age. They want to push age aside. They want to be able to replace you and you become irrelevant, which is very unfortunate in our society. It’s something that seems to have become more prevalent.

With each of these, I could never confide in anybody about my illnesses because I could never feel that if I told them, they would then support me in the businesses and the circumstances that I was in. I basically worked for an insurance company for eight years. When I saw the limitations that would be imposed upon me because of my health, I branched out of my own, created some products, my own insurance agency, and continued to develop different products for over 30 years.

Subsequently, I got into mergers and acquisitions. I formed two new companies having to do with Amazon. I’m a consultant for Amazon and we do trading. The big thing though, if there were lessons in life. It’s about being able to focus on the positive, trying to compartmentalize the negative. Don’t allow other people to beg you down. It’s important to avoid being depressed because it’s easy to get depressed.

There’s so many people in life who are dealing with stuff where the emotions overwhelm them and they don’t have the ability to focus on where I’m going. They get stuck in where I’ve been. A lot of times, where I’ve been defines who they are then they can’t move forward. With that, I’ll read you a quick excerpt of the conclusion of my chapter which summarizes what I’ve been saying.

Although this is the third phase of life, it’s my unkeenth time to start again. Having a daily objective with purpose, a focus on business and social activities that are mentally stimulating, surrounded by a professional and social work of intelligent, vibrant individuals seeking knowledge and enlightenment. I have no time to feel old, hired, non-productive, and without purpose. That’s not my chosen path. In spite of and while enduring the multiple health challenges through the chronology of surgeries and cancers, I’ve founded a religious organization.

I was a city commissioner and I kept my health issues confidential so those mind that individuals in power would not think to stop my progress because they might speculate that I get sick on the job. I live my life with gratitude, purpose, positivity and joy. Constantly seeking to learn new things to stay mentally active and live responsibly because I know how lucky I am. I don’t have the time, inclination, or desire to be a victim and refuse to dwell in the past to make excuses for I didn’t make other choices. Life is a gift to be enjoyed as best as your individual circumstances allow. I will always live with the knowledge that it can be taken away at any moment.

You are a gift for me. Thank you.

Embracing Life’s Tapestry With Animals

Speaking about portals and transition points in life, we now have Tami Hendrix presenting Embracing Life’s Tapestry with Animals.

I’m Tami Hendrix. I’m an animal communicator, healer, and compassionate medium. Animals have always been part of my life for as long as I can remember. When we moved to North Carolina from Chicago, I was four years old. We had a big backyard where I could explore and meet all kinds of animals. We lived in a neighborhood that I could ride my bike around and around. When I did, I would meet the animals that lived at the various houses.

I’d know their names. I’d meet the people. I was very happy outside. You see, no one paid much attention to me. I was the youngest of three girls. I’m the most active as my sisters were almost 6 and 12 years older than I was. It was like being an only child at times. One who was way more of an annoyance and nuisance to them. From a young age, I had an intense desire to understand my soul and that of others, animal and human.

It was if I had laser vision, an ability to see into the soul of another and understand who they were despite appearances. The animals taught me that humans cloak their feelings. They hide behind smiles. They hide behind words like, “I’m fine.” They hide behind laughter, but underneath, they may be feeling a great amount of worry. They may be quite alone and sad. They could be very upset about something and angry.

We often defend our hearts and don’t show our vulnerability as opposed to animals who are authentic where they are. If they’re angry, they show it. If they’re happy, they show it. We can always trust the animals to be clear. Not so much for humans. Seeing the true essence of another has been the foundation for the work I do. That and animals would be the superpowers that help me survive a trauma-filled childhood without being pulled under.

The trauma and the drama of my childhood is what helped me develop my intuition to a very high degree. It was more of a survival skill. I learned to read energy from one part of the house to the other. I would say it’s like scanning the borders, where I was feeling if there was any fluctuation in the house that might be getting ready to erupt in some violence. My mother may be get hurt by my father, who was a raging, violent alcoholic, very tall, and very scary.

I learned to take him quite seriously when he was in those moods. Since there were so many free-floating emotions, the animals taught me what heart shapes were. Heart shapes, they’ve said are various forms of our emotional hearts that take as we go through our lives experiencing the ups and the downs. Heart shapes are both shared but it’s also very individual, depending on what your soul lessons are. For instance, if you’re grieving a loss of someone, your heart may go through several stages or shapes.

Initially, you may say you have a fragile heart, a heavy heart, or a broken heart. As you navigate the loss over time, your heart shape may be a questioning heart or perhaps a searching heart or even a yearning heart. The heart shapes change and morph over time as we grow and develop, sometimes though lingering at one point for quite a while. The animals have shared with me that humans often get stuck at those certain points, in essence, jamming up the energy flow because energy is always in flow.

When it gets stopped up, it has to ultimately come to the surface. While it’s stopped up, we become depressed, bitter, hopeless, disconnected from life, and ourselves. Our circumstances, especially the hard ones. It can certainly contribute to that and they can define our state of being. That’s what the animals have always shared that it’s important to be where you are, be present in life, and not be ashamed of the heart shapes that you might be experiencing.

Without our helpers, animals are here to help with our hearts. I’m pretty sure they had to work overtime, in my case, to keep me from slipping under. I went through quite a period of feeling worried, fearful and afraid for the life of my mother. Afraid for all of our well-being. It could have gotten easy for me to have gotten stuck in anxiety and fear and not be able to move from that in my life.

Luckily, I had quite the load of animals that would come over time to teach me in very deep ways so that I could help people go through whatever they’re going through. We go through many portals in our lives. They’re transition points where we have a lot of seen and unseen helpers. We’re lucky the animals always are at the ready and I’m pretty sure it took a village with me. As I’ve grown in life and I’ve had children and had animals come to me in very unique ways. I’ve learned how to navigate those tough spots maybe a little better than someone who has not had some of the experiences.

I know all of the contributing authors have gone through their own portals of transition. I know you have also and maybe are currently undergoing transition points and perhaps you feel stuck. In my chapter, what I shared was one of the many times where I was basically saved by the animals that came in and swooped in like true earth angels, which they are to help me understand and feel my heart and be with where I was and know that I wasn’t alone.

I’d like to read a portion of that to you. It has to do with transformation. This is a story about some very significant happening for me in December of 2004. I would say, that was one of many transition points where my life changed forever. Transformation occurs at the edge of our comfort zones and mine had been blown wide open. Transformation is a cracking open of all our defenses and heart barricades all this is the way life is supposed to be to reveal bits and pieces of our soul, the fractured parts that we’ve kept locked away.

My sister’s passing marked the beginning of my descent into the pits of grief and sadness as every prior loss, my father’s suicide, my mother’s ex-communication of me, and subsequent death. All the traumatic experiences I had lived came to pay me a visit. Grief for my father’s loss, for my mother’s loss, my sisters came up like a swamp golem, torturing my thoughts and mind. Worst of all, my heart. Life became gray. I went numb.

I resorted to what I’d always done as a child. I sought out the animals. Murphy was always by my side, which gave me great comfort. I hugged him a lot. Every night, I would sneak off from the family to sit with Snoopy, a patient kind and loving hound mix, who was a mother to us all. Since I was a motherless daughter, she was a perfect match. Snoopy had her own transformation by going blind but she seemed to be able to handle this change with a grace and acceptance I always admired.

No one in my family knew the depths of my despair. During the day, I would function as if nothing had occurred. I was a mom, a business owner, and had a busy life with the kids and animals. Life had gone on. Yet, every night I would disappear to tuck her in. She and I would hunker down, soft music playing in the background. While I hugged her neck, I sobbed, rocking back and forth. I felt orphaned all over again. This went on for months. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the very support I needed, a friend, and a comforting mother or sister, came in the form of animals.

Healing hurts. Apparently, this was a group effort in the animal kingdom. Murphy, Snoopy, then Katie. That’s part of my chapter in Good to the Last Drop. What I’ve learned in my life and from the animals and one of the best ways we can navigate all the ups and downs is to be present, be honest with who we are, and be authentic always. Always have your authentic voice and your authentic heart open. Thank you.

From Personal Tragedy To Public Triumph

Thank you for all contributors. I now have Brian Smith presenting his chapter from Personal Tragedy to Public Triumph, the creation of Grief to Growth. Take it away, Brian.

Thanks for having me. First, I want to say that I’m honored to be included with everyone here. Thanks for letting me do this. I feel overwhelmed by listening to everybody’s stories and it’s tough to follow. It’s tough act to follow all you guys. In terms of my story, we talked about reinventing ourselves. I’ve had about eight different jobs now. I would call it maybe four different careers. I started off as a chemical engineer. I worked for IBM in marketing, so large systems there.

I worked for a bunch of smaller resellers. I started my own retail business years ago, then started Grief to Growth after the passing of my daughter, Shaina, who the way in June of 2015. I like what Betty said about, it’s not so much about what we do. It’s more about who we are and who we want to be. When we talk about reinventing ourselves, we often talk about our careers and the things we do to make money. For me, it’s much more than that.

I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian home. I had a big fear of God. I was in a religious box, I would say, at this point. When I think of how far I’ve come spiritually, it’s night and day. It’s been an amazing journey spurred by all these different things that have gone on in my life. One of my favorite quotes is about Kierkegaard about, “Life has to be lived forward. It can only be understood backward.”

One of the joy is about getting older is that you get more perspective on life. You can see things that these things that we thought were tragedies. These things we thought were the end of the road, the roadblocks that we could never get over and opportunities to guide us maybe in a different direction. I think about back to the first time that was fired from a job, I could have been fired a couple of times.

The first time I was fired from a job, I was very upset. My daughter was nine months old. My wife was staying at home. We just bought our first house, and here I am without a job. I look back on it now many years later, I realized that was an opportunity for me. It forced me from something that I was going along and not doing that great in the job I was in, but it was working for a big company that was stable, enforced me to do something different.

Now what I do with people is try to help people to reframe, to understand, as we’re going through these things, if we can. What can we do with this? How can we take this? How can we use it to transform something? Again, when Shaina passed away nine years ago, which is hard to believe. I never imagined that I would even be still on the planet at this time. Let alone that I’d be doing what I am doing because I didn’t want to be here but it presented another opportunity to me.

I found organizations like Helping Parents Heal, which I know some of you folks are familiar with. I’m now on the board of Helping Parents Heal. Again, I never thought I’d be doing that, but working with parents who have lost children to help them understand that our life does continue but not just in spite of our children, but with our children. My daughter is part of everything I do, which is why she’s my background.

My daughter’s behind me as I speak to you folks because Shaina’s with me all the time and because of people like Irene and other people that are putting out this material. I’ve learned so much more in the last nine years than I learned in the previous 54 years before that. As Irene asked me to write the chapter, I was in my 60s. I’m like, “I am in the latter phase of my life.” Only in terms of this particular chapter of our life because even this entire thing that we call a life. It’s just a chapter.

It’s just a chapter in a much larger picture. As I approach the end of what we call this life and sometimes people, as we get to the end, we think, “I’ve got all this wisdom now and it’s being wasted because I’m coming to the end. I liked it.” No, we take all this with us. We take the wisdom with us. We take the love with us and know nothing that we do year is wasted. So I am,

I’m focused on the next however many years it is. It’s still continuing to be creative. I love to create. I do have the show. I’ve written only one book but nothing compared to what Phyllis has done. I don’t even know if I’ll get the two. I’ve written one book and I produce an episode every week. I have a YouTube channel. It’s great to be able to do things to touch people and to be able to have these opportunities to speak to people and to share with them the wisdom that I’ve gained over the years.

I remember my grandmother. I grew up with my grandmother in the house and I remember being sixteen years old. She was probably only in her late 60s but she seemed like she was 50 to me. She told me that, “I still feel the same today as I did when I was sixteen.” I couldn’t understand that when I was sixteen. I thought, “Old people are different.” They’ve always been old in there. I’m at that part of my life now, it’s like, “I understand what she meant.”

I still have the same spirit I had when I was a sixteen year old kid. I still have the same likes and desires. Some of the same fears even but I do have more wisdom to go along with it. I’m happy to have this opportunity to be able to share a little bit of that with people. This book is a great project because as someone was saying earlier, we don’t respect age much in this country. We are such a youth-oriented culture.

We’re like, “Let’s stay young. Let’s be young. Let’s only look at young people. Young is where it’s at.” With youth, we don’t have the experience. We don’t have the wisdom that everybody here on this panel and everybody that’s contributed this book has. I hope the people will pick this up and get some of the wisdom that I was able to get from the fact that my grandmother lived with me. She lived with me for about eight years. That was a real blessing for me that a lot of people don’t have.

With that, I’m going to wrap up. I’m going to read a little bit from my chapter. I’m going to read from the beginning of my chapter. What I said is, “As I stand on retirement’s doorstep, I can’t but help and reflect on the wisdom of Kierkegaard who wants that life can only be understood backwards but must be lived forward.

It’s funny how as we accumulate more life experiences, we get more candles on our birthday cakes. The pieces of the puzzle pieces of our existence start to in the place. Some might say it all finally makes sense when we’re nearing the finish line as if that wisdom has crossed or has lost me across the line but I know better. I see the death of my physical body as the start of a thrilling new chapter in a never-ending story.”

I look forward to death. I know some people find that my roast, but I’m looking forward to that new chapter. At the advanced age of 63 now, I was 62 and I wrote this. I’ve held out eight professional gig since my high school days, navigating through four distinct careers. I’ve danced with divorce. I’ve been shown the door by employers twice. I’ve had my heart shattered by the loss of my beloved daughter, Shaina.

Back then, none of these things made any sense to me but as Kierkegaard predicted, life’s river of time keeps flowing, and with it comes a deeper understanding. I’ve discovered that the most profound meaning often emerges from the most challenging chapters of my life. I didn’t endure those adversities. They sculpted me into who I am. Without them, I would be less. I will say that I’m grateful for everything that’s happened to me. Regardless of how bad it looked at the time. With that, thank you for having me.

Brian, you’re so eloquent and articulate. Your story is wonderful. Talk about having a wonderful third chapter. I’m glad that ours are on parallel paths in certain ways and such a blessing. I want to thank each one of you because each of you are blessing in my life. I’m so grateful that you are participating in this wonderful project because I think that we are going to uplift, enlighten, and empower many people with this book.

To celebrate the launch of Good to the Last Drop, we are going to give away 50 free copies to enthusiastic readers who are willing to leave an honest review on Amazon after reading. Entering is going to be easy, so I want everyone reading this launch to fill out the form that is linked, which will allow us to contact you if you’re one of the lucky winners.

Once you’ve entered, you’re in the running. We’ll select the first 50 entries as the winners, so don’t wait. If you’re selected, we’ll ship you a free copy of Good to the Last Drop straight to you. Dive in, enjoy the read then head right over to Amazon to share your thoughts with a review. I would like to encourage you because the giveaway and soon to hurry. Don’t miss the chance to get your hands on this free copy of Good to the Last Drop and share it with your feedback on Amazon. Thank you to each of your wonderful contributors. To this new book, Good to the Last Drop! Embracing Your Life’s Third Chapter and to you, all the cherished members of the Grief and Rebirth audience for your love and your support. Enjoy the read and as I like to say, to be continued, many blessings and bye for now.

 

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