3rd Act: John Robinson–Aging as a spiritual path


Many of us fear aging, out of concern for what might happen. But what if aging was about “giving birth to the true self” and the hardships which we may encounter, could be reframed as part of a path of initiation.

John Robinson’s book on The Three Secrets of Aging blew me away. Whereas many books on aging talking about holding on to your youth as long as you can, preparing for a healthy, affluent retirement, or how to deal with your worries around dementia, John takes a different path. He writes about wisdom and consciousness expansion.

He sees aging as a possible path of transformation through the process of aging.

He just doesn’t promise that it will always be easy but it can be joyful.



John C. Robinson is a clinical psychologist with a second doctorate in ministry, an ordained interfaith minister, the author of nine books and numerous articles on the psychology, spirituality and mysticism of the New Aging, and a frequent speaker at Conscious Aging Conferences across the country. You can learn more about his work at www.johnrobinson.org.

His major works include Death of the Hero, Birth of the Soul; But Where Is God: Psychotherapy and the Religious Search; Ordinary Enlightenment; Finding Heaven Here; The Three Secrets of Aging; Bedtime Stories for Elders; What Aging Men Want: Homer’s Odyssey as a Parable of Male Aging; his first novel, Breakthrough; and The Divine Human: The Final Transformation of Sacred Aging.

John’s work has received praise from numerous visionary writers including Angeles Arrien, Arjuna Ardagh, Robert Atchley, Robert Bly, Allan Chinen, Matthew Fox, John Gray, Andrew Harvey, Gay Hendricks, Robert Johnson, Aaron Kipnis, Stanley Krippner, Malidoma Some, Harry Moody, Carol Orsborn, Kenneth Ring, Bernie Siegel, Jacquelyn Small, Jeremy Taylor, and Jonathan Young.

John’s growing audience comes to his work through talks and workshops at conscious aging conferences (e.g., Sage-ing International, Conscious Elders Network, 6th and 7th International Conferences on Aging and Spirituality, Creation Spirituality Communities Gatherings, Mankind Project in Louisville, Progressive Christianity Embrace Festival, and the United Church of Christ) and webinars with The Shift Network Summit, CSource, Unitarian Universalists, and Sag-ing International), a website hosted by the Authors Guild, radio and video interviews and presentations and five conscious aging books published by John Hunt Publishing. What is unique about his material is its mystical description of the evolution of a Divine Human in a Divine World via the profound and unprecedented dynamics the New Aging.


Highlights and quotes from the Show

Aging is enlightenment in slow motion.”

“Aging is an initiation to another stage of consciousness.”

We start asking the big questions when things fall apart.

How to deal with the process of letting go of your old life…

“Aging is about giving birth to the true self.”

3 stages of aging:

Young-old – overcompensation against the fear of deconstruction that’s coming

The white water at this stage of life can be rough.

“We all lose it…the good news is it comes back.”

“Spirituality does not give you an end run around suffering.”

Why sometimes it’s useful to let go of thinking about purpose, or at least thinking about purpose from the head down.

Asky yourself, “What makes me come alive?”

Hear the interview with John:

Click here to go to the full interview on iTunes (#91).


And please leave a rating and review!


The Show Notes

Read The Three Secrets of Aging

and other books you’ll find on his website: www.Johnrobinson.org

Marilyn Paul–The Power of a Rest Day

Marilyn Paul knows that miracles can happen when you take a day of rest.

Building on the Jewish idea of a Shabbat and her own life experience,  Marilyn wrote An Oasis in Time to help anyone, regardless of faith or belief, tap the benefit of taking one day off a week.

In An Oasis in Time, she shows how we can recharge our juices in these heavily stressed, productivity-obsessed times.


Marilyn Paul is an organizational consultant and the author of two bestsellers of An Oasis in Time: How a Day of Rest Can Save Your Life (Rodale, 2017) and It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys, named a best book of the year by Spirituality and Health Magazine and now in paperback. In Keys, she shares her pioneering model for making the journey from being disorganized and mismanaging time to a far more powerful life of being “organized enough” to go after your cherished dreams. In Oasis, Marilyn describes the path to a day off each week for what you love, and often don’t get to

With a Ph.D. from Yale and an M.B.A. from Cornell, Marilyn takes a unique approach that blends inner work and practical skills training. She has consulted to a wide range of companies and institutions around the world. In addition to her consulting work, she has taught on the faculties of Yale University School of Public Health, the Hebrew University School of Public Health and Colby College in Waterville Maine.  Her work has been featured on national media including National Public Radio, The Chicago Tribune, USAToday, and CNN.


Highlights and quotes from the Show

Why taking a day a week can be life-saving and the antidote to a relentlessly stressed life.

The word Shabbat means “stop” and we can all put away our work once a week and stop.

Rest is the third best health practice we can develop, after food and exercise.

Rest gives our whole body a way to recover.

How preparing for an Oasis day can actually make you more efficient.

Our Oasis day gives a chance to be with people in deeply connected ways.


Hear the interview with Marilyn:

Click here to go to the full interview on iTunes (#90).


And please leave a rating and review!


The Show Notes

Check out Marilyn Paul at http://marilynpaul.com/about/

Check out her book An Oasis in TIme


3rd Act: Dr. Juliet Bruce–Transformational Storytelling.

Juliet Bruce, Ph.D.,  is helping people discover their legacies, and find more meaning, as they look at their lives through the lens of story, and specifically the Hero’s Journey framework.

For those of us who are aging, Juliet knows that even with its difficulties, aging can be viewed as another step in a heroic, transformational journey.

For twenty-five plus years, Juliet has been helping people understand how they live inside of stories- and can change those stories.

Combining her training in expressive arts therapy with her background in literature and journalism, Juliet has developed a unique way to work with individuals and groups. Her clients have ranged from trauma survivors, to members of our most marginalized populations, to those grappling with questions of life and aging.

Juliette holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Northwestern, an M.A. in Comparative Literature from Washington University, and a Ph.D. in Expressive Arts Therapy and Transformational Education.

In the wake of 9/11/2001, she founded Arts for Life, a non-profit organization that sent trained teams of storytellers, visual artists, dancers, actors, musicians, and expressive therapists into public venues to facilitate healing programs. She also founded a program to help New York City first responders who were continuing to experience PTSD.

She is currently writing a book, which draws from her moving experiences bringing the world of myth and story to clients including her work within a maximum security prison for criminally insane men.

If you can help transform lives through storytelling in that environment – anything is possible.



Highlights and quotes from the Show

How a cat helped Juliet start her own transformation.

“As soon as we begin to frame our experience as a story, as an adventure, everything changes, anything becomes possible, and we begin a transformational journey that leads up and out– ultimately to finding a gift or a strength in our circumstances and in ourselves that we can then share with other people.”

Transformation is the key to the journey – First, there’s a crisis, then a struggle, and finally, transformation.

“I wanted to use my writing to serve something good. I understood the power of story to change and  transform, not just individual lives but community lives. To create wholeness where there was a shattered experience. I’m always in awe of what happens in a group of people who are sharing their stories. Not their victim story, but their hero’s story–the story of how they did things right in difficult times in their lives, and how they found meaning in moments in their lives that changed their lives.”

How so many people are incarcerated by their own limitations or by life circumstances.

How a group of men in a maximum security prison went from feeling completely victimized to understanding that they were undergoing a rite of passage in their Hero’s Journey.

“The truth of the hero’s journey is found in the darkest parts of the soul.  The ‘all is lost’ moment is the moment before breakthrough.”

How aging, as we are confronted with our own dark night, has the power to be transformational.


How Juliette works with legacy stories – asking story questions about what people want in their 3rd Act even as they face the limitations of life.

“Ask a person not to remember, not to talk in generalities, but to ask story questions about their lives. What was your wedding day like, tell me about your wedding day? Very specific scenes in their lives. What music played around the birth of your child? Get people into their senses, their sense memories and whole beautiful stories of decades emerge.


Using The Hero’s Journey paradigm people find that their lives were not a waste, in fact, they were very beautiful lives no matter how ordinary they were. They made choices that were the best choices they could make in the moment. They endured, they carried on, and they made it to this age. And now, faced with the frailties of the human body, and sometimes the mind, they still have great wisdom and a sense of continuity to share with younger people.”

How she is helping people, in their older years, reclaim their sense of adventure.

“You became a hero because you took the hard road. The Hero’s Journey is about someone transcending difficult circumstances and bringing it [what they learn] back to people, and serving people.”

How she asks people, “What are you doing to do with this gift?” “Who needs to hear your story?”

Why we need stories of people overcoming adversity. How Juliet works with people on the verge of deportation.

“Life wants to live and story supports life.”

Hear the interview with Juliette:

Click here to go to the full interview on iTunes (#88).


And please leave a rating and review!


The Show Notes

Website:      JulietteBruce.com

Coming this year: Juliette’s book:  A Write of Passage: A Storypath Home.




3rd Act: Dr. Robert Weber-The spirituality of aging

Bob Weber invites us to discover a new narrative about the possibilities that come with growing older while developing a deeper sense of self. 

Robert L. (Bob) Weber, Ph.D., is a former Jesuit and clinical psychologist, on the brink of a happy retirement from his position as Assistant Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital.

For the past fifteen years, the principal focus of Bob’s work has been weaving together aging, spirituality and mental health, professionally and personally

He’s the co-author of the book The Spirituality of Age: A Seeker’s Guide to Growing Older with Carol Orsborn, Ph.D. They were awarded the 2015 Nautilus Gold Medal in the category, “Aging Consciously.”

Bob was the 2014 recipient of the American Society on Aging’s FORSA Award (Forum on Religion, Spirituality and Aging), given annually to outstanding individuals, programs and services in religion, spirituality and aging.

Bob lives in Cambridge Massachusetts and has a private practice with his wife, Pamela L. Enders, Ph.D., who is also a clinical psychologist.



Highlights and quotes from the Show

What interior spiritual life development goes on at this stage of life. What do you begin to see that you didn’t see before?

“As we get older and wiser we also need to get more childlike.”

How can we live with wonder and awe now that we can let go of some of our activities and strivings?

How our difficult lived experiences teach us about life and what matters that allow us to live life to the fullest.

Hear the interview with Bob:

Click here to go to the full interview on iTunes (#87).


And please leave a rating and review!


The Show Notes

Website:       www.SpiritualityofAge.com

Email:            Bob@SpiritualityofAge.com





Could we retire retirement?

Did I tell you that I’m writing a book?

Maybe not, because saying I’m writing a book means so little until you actually have a completed draft. But I’m excited about the work and suspect some of you may have ideas to share with me. Besides, I’m a bit obsessed.

The book is about following your calling: working, creating, and thriving as we age past midlife.

I believe we can create a wonderful stage of life if we know how to work with the possibilities it represents.

Nobody told me that the period between fifty and seventy-five, or “the 3rd act of life,” is a time in which we can be more ourselves than ever and thrive as we work and contribute. (Same holds for some of my friends in their eighties.)

Can we retire the word retirement?

I didn’t always understand the potential of working through my sixties and beyond.

When I grew up in suburban Connecticut, I had no clue what I wanted to be–having been told that being a cowgirl wasn’t really a career. However, I knew that at the magic age of 65 someone rang the bell and you stopped working. If you were lucky, you’d be given a gold watch, like the one my Grandfather proudly shared.

Fast forward many years and the word retirement barely makes sense to me.

Why would I want to step away from contributing when I feel wiser, more creative, and more inspired than ever? Not to mention the fact that life didn’t leave me with a big pension to cover the so-called leisure living I see being promoted in magazines.

I’m meeting lots of folks like me who want to keep creating, contributing and working (broadly defined) well past the time the retirement bell was supposed to ring. Even the ones who leave their jobs often sneak back to employment, start businesses, do substantial volunteer work, or follow their creative passions.

In the 3rd act of life, we are older (bodies do creak), wiser (for the most part), and we may not want to keep working in the hyperactive, ambition-filled, ego-driven mode of our thirties. But we haven’t lost our creative drive.

In many of us, there’s still an urge, a longing, a calling that invites us to listen and do the work we are meant to do.

Ignore that longing at your peril–it’s your ticket to vitality and a longer life.

Our new tribe of post-midlifers has an opportunity to reinvent the conversation about working in our later years.

And, it’s about time.

Psssst. Danger. Don’t talk about aging.

There’s such a stigma on aging in our culture that even talking about it puts you at risk. It’s not sexy. People at cocktail parties may run from you. (“That’s very interesting, but I need to go get another gherkin right now.”’)

Our big, fat, cultural myth about the period post-fifty is that it’s about decline. You peak at 50, or maybe it’s 40 or even 35 and it’s just downhill from there. No wonder “aging,” without a positive vision, is a dirty word we want to avoid.

Of course, there’s the counter-myth that you don’t have to grow old or show any of the signs of aging. ($262 billion dollars in anti-aging products support this one.)

I could make millions if….

If I could call my book, Nine Surefire Ways to Stay Young Forever, I’m sure I’d have a hit. Just to be sure, I’d put a wrinkle-free celebrity on the cover and sell millions of copies! (No one needs to know about the repeated facelifts, modified teeth, or PhotoShopping behind her gorgeous portrait.)

I can’t do that. Because it’s fake. We’re all aging. You’ve done it successfully since the day you were born. Denying your age doesn’t keep you from aging, it just prevents you from pondering what the longing deep inside wants to tell you. When you’re in denial, you can’t ask where you’re going, what you really care about, what fills you with meaning and purpose, and how to best use the gifts that come with your age.

Wanting to work, create and contribute doesn’t require staying on the production line, burning ourselves out the way we might have done in our over-amped, adrenalized younger years.

We’re smart. We can choose to invent new ways to work that honor our energy, our bodies, and our knowledge of ourselves. We can let go of thinking we need to change the whole world (alas) and ask what is the one, often small thing we know is ours to do.

What about those employers who still practice covert age-discrimination? Don’t mess with them, if you can avoid them. They have no clue what they are missing. And age-ism? It’s like people discriminating against their future selves because they’ve forgotten that they, too, will hopefully be older some day. Bizarre!

Please share your thoughts

I have a lot to say about this, and that’s why I’m writing a book. Are you with me still? (You may have already gone out for the gherkins.)

Please let me know what you think, or share your personal tale of working, creating and finding meaning in midlife and beyond. I’m collecting stories now.

If you’re younger and already know that you want to work creatively in a wiser, 3rd act way, you can join the tribe.

It’s not age that defines us–it’s an approach to life.

Or, if you’re young and think you can avoid thinking about all this, just remember that you, too, will one day pass midlife. If you’re lucky.






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