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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Are You Too Old To Start Pursuing Your Dreams?
                   Ruth Eisner started an acting career at 88 years old

Thought for the day: It is never too late to be what you might have been. – George Eliot

How many times have you thought about doing something & stopped yourself because you felt you were too old to start something new? If Anna Marie Robertson Moses had taken that stance in her late 70's the world would have been deprived of the art of acclaimed artist better known as Grandma Moses. Is there a dream you have been stopping yourself from following because you feel you are too old? Write to me, tell me about your dream & I'll help you come up with a creative way to start moving towards that dream at any age.

About a month ago on a LinkedIn group of professional psychologists & therapists, a 33 year old posted the question: Is it too late to start a psychology degree at the age of 33? I wrote a response encouraging the student & explaining why I felt it was never too late to follow your dreams. Since then there have been so many e-mail responses encouraging the man to start on his degree that I had to stop following the discussion. Hundreds of psychologists have been telling him their stories of starting back to school or finishing their degrees in their 40's 50's & 60's.

The fact that the question came from a 33 year old, however, is thought provoking. What could lead someone so young to fear that they are too old to start working on a 4 year degree? My guess is that it has to do with the second danger sign I spoke about in an earlier post, Five Danger Signs That You May Be Undermining Your Dreams. It is related to a DQ factor that can be discovered by using the Dream Quotient Questionnaire (TM). This DQ factor is connected to difficulty adjusting to life transitions. The warning signs that you may need to do some work in this area are feeling that once you have started in one direction in your life, it is too late to change your course.

A similar dilemma arose for one of the clients, George, whom I story is included in my book. George was nearing graduation from college. He was only 21 but also afraid to change his path & follow new dreams. George had dreamed of becoming an EMT, like his father, from when he was a little boy. His parents encouraged him to go to college even though he wanted to start working as an EMT after completing high school. As a compromise, he did both. He worked part-time as a volunteer EMT throughout his college years. When he neared graduation he was still intent on continuing in his dream profession. A call to assist following a car accident changed the course of his life & led him to reevaluate his dreams.

George had been on tough calls before, but this one traumatized him. Perhaps it was the age of the victims who were college students like himself,  or the horrific nature of the accident, or graduation & being ready to start life in the "real" post college world which was just moths away, but George was suddenly unsure whether he was on the right path. For the first time in his life, he had no idea ofwhat he wanted to do with the rest of his life. He worked in therapy to overcome the trauma & was able to return to work as an EMT, but his heart was no longer in it. His Dream Positioning System (DPS) work helped him discover new directions & dreams. He chose to enroll in business school & to do volunteer work for Students Against Drunk Driving. He wanted to start doing work to prevent accidents like the one he had seen. He hoped to start a foundation to lobby against alcohol advertizing on college campuses.

D.R.E.A.M. Program
Ruth Eisner, the budding actress in the video clip at the beginning of this post was discovered because she lived in one of the residences run by Menorah Park in Ohio. Menorah Park's Dream program, which produced a YouTube video that went viral for Ruth, is one of the Dream Nonprofits featured in & benefiting from my book, The Wake Up And Dream Challenge. In addition to helping Ruth, they have helped senior citizens accomplish hundreds of dreams in the six years since the Dream Program was founded. They realized the impact  that unfulfilled dreams have on older adults as they near the end of their lives. Fulfilling their dreams, big or small gives senior citizens deep personal satisfaction, comfort & peace as they reckon with the final stages of their lives.

National media took notice when they arranged a call from an American Idol judge & a rock star for a seventy-two-pound woman with ALS. Camera crews swooped in for footage of a ninety-year-old woman’s thrilling ride on a motorcycle with the city’s Mayor. The media showed the world artistic vision can continue throughout life. Not only did they broadcast the story of a dream-come-true of a legally blind resident in his ‘90’s who displayed his stunning art in a gallery for the first time, but he also appeared for the first time on television. News of 13 couples who dreamed of renewing long-time wedding vows went international.

The community has become reeducated about the possibilities, vitality & richness that can & does exist in later years. Each person matters & each has unique energy & passion. Menorah Park believes in ensuring their residents are happy, loved & appreciated; their dreams matter to Menorah Park. How amazing it is that through excellence in communication the many forces of good can come together to make this time in residents’ lives a very special time when dreams come true.

I chose to include Menorah Park's Dream Program in my book to show that it is never too late to start on your path towards a dream. In addition to supporting this program, I hope that other centers for senior living will learn about it & initiate similar programs for their residents. If you would like to contribute to this amazing project, half of the profits from your purchase of The Wake Up And Dream Challenge will go to the Dream Program at Menorah Park Center for Senior Living.

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