Make a Difference

Preparing for a talk on Designing your BEST ThirdThird, I made an icebreaker activity, noting people who made a big difference in their ThirdThird. People like Ronald Reagan (was elected President when he was 70 years old), Lady Bird Johnson (Beautify America), Mother Teresa. They did amazing things in their later years. Impressive.

Reality is that most of us are not going to make some significant difference in a worldwide or even national arena in our ThirdThird.

But, we can make a difference in the world around us, locally and relationally, in our ThirdThird. The differences we will make will most likely be similar to the ways we have been impacting people and situations in our lives so far, so you don’t have to look far or become a difference person to make a difference in someone else’s life.

The real challenge is to figure out what we CAN and SHOULD do to continue to contribute what we know and have experienced, wherever we are.

I am, obviously, interested in people who are making their ThirdThird their BEST Third. My husband has a friend who lives in Mexico City who writes about the great restaurants and food places in her adopted country. She is influencing many to try new foods and to explore new places.

Another friend has begun to create art in her 70’s. She has developed a personal style of expressing her perspective to enjoy life to the fullest in whimsical pieces of art that are selling well. She even offers workshops in her basement studio, encouraging others to express themselves and find an outlet for their creative interests.

I know there are men and women who love to offer their babysitting services to free up their kids to pursue their dreams and careers. An article in the local newspaper highlighted the courtesy car drivers for car dealerships who are mostly retired and make a difference by being interesting and cheerful for their passengers.

The women’s shelter in my community ran into serious financial problems when the State failed to come through with promised funds. When the news was discussed at the dinner table in the dining room of a retirement community, several women decided to get involved. They heard of the plight through another resident, the treasurer for the board of the organization. These 4 women decided to start a “$5000 Club” by each of them giving $5000 to the Shelter. Then, they wrote letters to their friends, inviting them to join their $5000 Club. Before long, their campaign had raised $120,000 and had started a larger awareness that resulted in $350,000 in total revenue raised.

That is making a difference!

So whether it is volunteering to mentor a student or to teach a class or contributing to a cause or reading to a child, you can make a significant difference.




Photo Credit: Amanda Creamer via

Objective & Subjective



Designing our best ThirdThird requires that we be able to merge objective information and subjective information.

Subjective information like….

  • What gives me joy?
  • Who do I like to be around?
  • When am I most satisfied?
  • How do I like to be treated?

Objective information like….

  • How have I been successful in the past?
  • When have I been able to accomplish my goals?
  • Who has been there for me?
  • What is my skill set?


The DiSC Personality Profile allows me to connect the dots on both subjective and objective information I have about myself, to allow me to design my life for the greatest satisfaction and joy.

Personally, I know about myself that I …..

Am not afraid of hard tasks,

Need to be learning new things,

Function best with some, but not strict, order,

Have stories to share that will inspire others,

Love to make people laugh.

DiSC explanations make me realize why these are true about me…

I enjoy a challenge, 

I bore easily, 

I’m wired to like to sort and organize, 

Meaningful interaction energizes me, 

Adding to others’ lives makes me smile.


You can learn a lot about yourself and be designing your own BEST ThirdThird now, no matter what your age, with our Understanding Your Wiring DiSC program.








Straight and Sturdy and Strong

sturdy and strong

My husband and I happened to be in a house recently that was next door to one we lived in long ago.  It brought back a lot of memories and we smiled a lot while remembering our lives and our family at that place, that stage of our journey.

We remembered a lot of work there, too.

We are always remodeling, upgrading, adding to homes, it seems.  Once, I counted 17 different addresses we’ve had in our 43+ years of marriage and in each, we left our mark of added rooms, new roofs, refinished floors, etc., etc.

At this particular past address, Dave noticed the fence he had built 30 years ago. He designed it and erected it by hand with his carpenter/friend. Six feet tall, made of wood, handsome lattice at the top, it is still straight and sturdy and strong.

No warping.

No sagging.

No leaning.

I think back to my life there in that home and realize that home is where I started building my strong life, digging a deep foundation for where I am now…making my BEST ThirdThird.

We were living there when I learned about wiring and started studying and sharing the life-changing information that comes from understanding self and others in terms of DiSC behavior styles.

It was there that I decided I would no longer be insecure.

There I learned there were certain volunteer efforts that I should say no to because I wasn’t all that good at them and others could do them better.

In that home, I learned to be grateful and to appreciate the moment.

Now, I stand straight and sturdy and strong….just like the fence Dave built.

Weathered a bit.

Needing a fresh coat of paint occasionally.

Showing age if you look closely.

But, standing straight and sturdy and strong.

With gratefulness and purpose.



photo credit: Nanagyei Droplets – HFF via photopin (license)

You Spot it, You Got It Mantra

you spot it, you got it

You Spot It, You Got It

I have “ThirdThird Mantras.”  Words to live by. Lessons learned. Guidelines for designing my BEST ThirdThird.

An important manta for me is “You Spot It, You Got It.”

It goes like this…..I meet someone and they begin to explain to me that (or treat me like) they know more about our topic than I do. Without ever clarifying my interest or experience. Assuming that I know nothing.  It is very annoying to me.  A “pet peeve,” in fact.

But guess what? I realize that I can be just like that if I am not intentionally caring about others. I can jump in and run on and slash and burn with the best/worst of them if unchecked. It takes thought and care and practice for me to genuinely care to hear other people’s thoughts and experiences and concerns.

“You Spot It, You Got It” is a gentle reminder that being critical of someone else is often shining a spot light on a personal area of need.

I remember clearly from my childhood an instance when I was critical of a friend’s approach toward another person. My mother pointed out to me that, quite often, what you notice as a deficit in others is probably a deficit in yourself.

Ouch. I remember at the time reacting to that, confidently stating that I didn’t have the annoying character defect I noticed in my friend. Of course, privately in my own thoughts later, I could clearly see that my mother was right.

It is a principle that I have not been able to forget. I have passed it on to others and have used it for my own efforts at living life on purpose, letting my occasional 20/20 insight into others’ lives be mirrored back to benefit my own growth.

As an example, lateness is an irritating habit in other people that I have to constantly monitor in my own life. I can be highly offended when others are late to meet me, but effectively justify my own tardiness.  Unless I am remembering this gem from my childhood. You Spot It, You Got It.

How to use this life mantra

This is a good mantra to get into your head.

If you have a friend who is a constant complainer and you can’t help but notice, there is a good chance you are a complainer.

If you easily spot the person who demands to be the center of attention, you might be, just a little bit, wishing you were more noticed.

If you are frustrated with people who make assumptions without facts, guess what?  Check your own facts.

When there is a habit or behavior that you quickly pick up on and react to in others, chances are it is a quality that you, yourself, are demonstrating to others.

“You Spot It, You Got It” is a useful tool.  When you are annoyed with someone, stop and think about it.

Does “someone” use social media when you are in a conversation and it annoys you?  You might check to see how often you find yourself checking your phone during meetings or at dinner. It is often easier to spot the truth in others than it is in ourselves.

The “You Spot It, You Got It” mantra might be a slightly painful tool to use initially, but it can become fun.  It is certain to be instructive for your efforts at designing your BEST ThirdThird.

It took me a while when my mother pointed it out to me long ago, but it is a lesson I learned early and for some reason, it has stuck with me.

photo credit: amseaman Binocular Boy via photopin (license)

Which Old Woman Will I Be

which-old-woman-will- I-be

Which Old Woman Will I Be? Good question that each of us should address.

I just gave a talk on “Which Old Woman Will I Be?” as a part of “That’s What She Said“–a local women exchanging stories event. It is a key/core story of mine.  I’m not sure why, but I have always thought about what I’ll be like when I’m old.

I’ve always been fascinated by people and why they are the way they are.  I’ve observed family and family friends age over the years and nothing has really surprised me at how they “ended up.”  Seems to me that we just become more of what we’ve always been.

I had two kinds of grandmothers.

Grandmother didn’t have a television, but always had oatmeal raisin cookies and coke (in small glass bottles).  She was widowed and her widowed sister lived with her. She was not particularly warm, but she was not unkind and was soft-spoken. Her sister, Auntie, bought the latest comic books for us to find when we came. My favorite was Chip and Dale. There wasn’t a lot to do there, but it was peaceful.

Grandma had a television, but could not be interrupted during her shows (I remember As the World Turns and Guiding Light).  She was sharp-tongued, distant, and not kind, as I recall. Definitely not warm or peaceful.

It made me wonder what they had been like when they were younger and why they had become who they were.

They had both had difficult lives with young families. Both had been widowed during the Depression. Neither had great wealth, but were comfortable.  Both had fiercely loyal children. One ended up self-absorbed (from a young granddaughter’s perspective) while the other was more approachable.


Who we will be when we are old and in our ThirdThird is going to be a less-filtered version of who we are in our younger years, our SecondThird, in particular.  The older we are, the less we are concerned about others’ opinions of us and we have less energy to pretend.


which old woman

Grace & Frankie (Netflix) – The series follows Grace, a retired cosmetics mogul, and Frankie, a hippie art teacher.


I find that a lot of us have two kinds of grandmothers, if we have been so blessed to have two whom we have known.  One we feel (felt) closer to.  The other more distant in our affections.

I think about how I want my grandkids to remember me.  I want to be the Grandma who is (was?) understanding, supportive, encouraging, kind. The one who shows up and doesn’t pretend, who says truth but is graciously tolerant.

And, maybe, the one who let them watch a little more television than I was supposed to.

I’m beginning to get a glimpse of what kind of old woman I will be and I am going to keep working on making sure I’m one of the nice ones!






The Morning After


Last Saturday night was my first experience on stage at the Virginia Theater in Champaign with the That’s What She Said Show. It was a night to remember. Much preparation and bonding, availability and vulnerability, sharing fears and dreams culminating with a Show we could all be proud to be a part of.

It was a 2 1/2 month immersion into stories, or as someone last night said, “An incubator for fast female friendships.” Fast female friendships between five decades of women, ranging in age from 29 to 64.

On the morning after, I was thinking about the process we went through for That’s What She Said Show #4. Seven Women-Seven Stories-Seven Minutes was the original idea for the Show, as I understand it. Kerry believes that every woman’s story can be a window or a mirror to the women who hear it. What a beautiful mental picture that is. Giving women a glimpse of understanding. Letting another woman know you have “been there,” too. Helping others see that it is possible to make it through tough stuff. Showing strength that is welcome and helpful.

While the Seven Minutes got stretched a bit, the Seven Women with Seven Stories came together in a way that went beyond entertainment. As each of us discovered the story we were ready to share (thank you, Kerry!) and then honed them to an acceptable length (thank you Jenette!), a journey was taken together. Domestic abuse, middle age, addiction, mom vs career, aging on purpose, difficult childhood diagnosis, struggle to be content….topics were true and pertinent.
Digging a little deeper, thinking in a new way (people are going to listen to this!), deciding what to wear, our conversations were pretty real from the beginning and solidified as we went along.

What Kerry Rossow has created with is a little bit hard to explain from back stage. The Show is understandable—Women telling their stories. We have photos and videos of this show and of past shows.

The morning after


But how Kerry was able to take 9 women (7 speakers, Kerry and Jenette, the director) who don’t know each from meeting each other in the privacy of Kerry’s living room to standing together on a stage, being deep and intimate and real in front of a whole lot of other women (who mostly they don’t know) is something of a mystery.

Truly, it was a privilege to share the stage…and the process…with this group of women.





That’s What She Said

I get to tell my story to a whole bunch of women in a few days at “That’s What She Said” at the Virginia Theatre! I’m very excited to be up on stage and giving  a small (7 minutes) glimpse of The Life of Debbie. My topic is “Which Old Woman Will I Be?”

Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette Participants practice there curtain call during rehearsal for Thats What She Said at the Virginia Theatre in Champaign on Monday, Oct. 10, 2016.L-R-Kerry Rossow, Gianina Baker, Mary Enright, Peggy Prichard, Ashley Morgan, Stacey Cole and Debbie Hensleigh.

Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette
Participants practice there curtain call during rehearsal for Thats What She Said at the Virginia Theatre in Champaign on Monday, Oct. 10, 2016.L-R-Kerry Rossow, Gianina Baker, Mary Enright, Peggy Prichard, Ashley Morgan, Stacey Cole and Debbie Hensleigh.

So this event is all about telling stories.

It’s a great privilege to have someone listen to your story.  And there are a number of reasons to tell your story. Whether it is to share information that you think might help someone else or to make yourself feel like your story matters or to make others smile and think, stories have great power.

Because…..we’re not in this process of LIFE alone! We are each unique, but, as a wise man once said, “There is nothing new under the sun.”

My story includes more than one situation that others will be able to relate to.  I can tell you that you can face those challenges and come out better for it. You can build on those very experiences to design your BEST ThirdThird even if you are in your SecondThird or FirstThird.

Chances are, whatever story you have to tell, someone not too distant from you will be able to identify with it. You can be a help and an inspiration if you are willing to tell someone your story.

In the meantime, listen to others’ stories…and come to That’s What She Said!

Here are some details on the event:



Thinner Next Year – No, THIS Year!

Run Rabbit Run 50 miler.

You can be thinner next year–and have some fun doing it. Here I am at age 64 with son Willy at the end of my first ultra–the Run Rabbit Run 50 miler. Start now– an essential part of Your Best Third Third

Being a bit slimmer next year is a bit of a pipe dream (or a part of the denial process…it’s that NEXT word that does it) of many ThirdThird people. Chris Crowley (of Younger Next Year fame) has teamed up with Jen Sacheck, Ph.D to tell you in simple, no-nonsense, no fad diet terms how to loose some blubber THIS year. Starting right here, right now.

Their invaluable book is called simply Thinner This Year. And it is essential reading material for Your Best Third Third.

And remember that being set for your best third third is a process that relates to all ages. My wife and I cultivated practices in our twenties that paved the road for a vibrant last third of life. As a result both of us have avoided gaining that pound or two every year that leaves our nation in the grips of a healthcare crisis.

Here is what I have gleaned from this little “health bible” from Crowley and Sacheck:

1. Its about the food, not the exercise. Like they say, “Don’t eat crap and eat less of what you eat”. Simple.

Drink less alcohol.

The Okinawa Diet quotes the Japanese phrase “hara hachi bu” which our aspiring Japanese scholar son Willy tells me means literally “belly 8/10” or “belly 8 parts”. The idea is eat until you are 80% full.

And if you have not gotten the memo about the onslaught of empty food we are generally offered at the supermarket and restaurants, then wake up and smell the Wonderbread!

This eating less and well is not easy–but it is not rocket science.

But its fun, feels good, and is usually cheaper.

2. Look around and learn.

We are surrounded by a deadly epidemic of obesity.

Ask yourself if you want to loose your hips/knees, heart, brain, etc to a mass of fat tucked all around your legs, arms, and vital organs.

Get real and get motivated. Pick up Younger Next Year (or Younger Next Year for Women) and do every thing it says–starting today.

3. Exercise starting where you are.

So, ok. Exercise is an essential part of the plan. But most of us are not really serious about it because we have some excuse. Some lame excuse.

When I wrote this post I was in Steamboat Springs doing final training for a 50 mile run (Run Rabbit Run). My target is to improve my course time by 20 minutes and set a good record for a 66 year old.

You may think that is clear out of your realm–and perhaps it is. But I started some 25 years ago getting my stride and I work at it every day. Right here right now.

I am not a natural athlete. Far from it. But back early on in my second third, I returned to my heritage and love of running … and I have stuck with it. I hear a lot of excuses from my fellow Medicare friends. But whether it is running/walking, biking, fitness center, or whatever. You can get and stay active.

So start now. No excuse.Walk 5 minutes if that is what you can do. And next week make it ten—and keep going. Work out every day–ok six days a week–no excuses.

Here is the vision and promise: you will feel great, live longer and happier, and there is just one downside. You will unfortunately live longer and end up helping to fund (insurance, medicare, etc) the hip replacements, open heart surgeries and diabetes meds of your compadres who just THINK that thinning down and health is a good idea.

Sounds like a pretty good downside to me!

Run Rabbit Run 50 miler--and i am Younger Next Year!

The Run Rabbit Run 50 mile race passes through the lovely meadows and forests of the Rockies above Steamboat Springs. [Post race note: I DID finish the race (many didn’t) and felt great the next day—and I lan on running another big race soon!]

Doing Their Best

I’m always on the lookout for people who are doing their BEST ThirdThird.  I am drawn to people who are doing what they want to do, choosing intentionally how to spend their years.

Dave and I were recently camping in the mountains of Colorado.  He was doing what he loves to do…. run.

This time, he ran in a 50-mile ultra-marathon, a trail run traversing rocky trails with a 3,000 foot elevation change. His BEST ThirdThird definitely involves running. Acclimating to the altitude had him out there for 2+ weeks prior to the race, I came in for day of and day after the race. doing best

Part of my BEST ThirdThird involves supporting Dave’s keen interest in pushing himself physically as a runner.  I “crewed” for him…ultra-speak for meeting him at the 2 aid stations possible with dry socks, hot tea and soup, and encouraging words.

Camping at 10,000 feet, the mornings were cold, we had no electricity, and the “amenities” were a stiff hike away. I didn’t mind… I was there to support and to experience.

We met a couple who were traveling in their pickup /camper. They were there, enjoying nature, for a week. Then, they were heading west to more mountains for a few days. Eventually, they’ll make their way back to Utah and home.

They take two trips a year. The other trip this year that they took in their camper/truck? Alaska! For 3 months! They love to travel and have found a way they enjoy traveling.  No cruises for them, they said.


Being the not-shy person I am, I asked them their ages.  Dave and I had both thought them to be mid-seventies. I asked when they told me that have a daughter my age (well, 62, actually, slightly younger than me).  They are 82 and 84 years old! Hiking around at 10,000 feet every day. Walking to the lake and around the trails. Sleeping in their bed above the cab of the truck that crawling into can’t be a small feat. And enjoying one another’s company.

doing their best

We found out their 64th anniversary was the day after Dave’s race. We took a bottle of wine over to their campsite along with our chairs and we heard of their family, their year long separation (unexpected, one week after their honeymoon) when he was drafted to Korea, a few of their other trips. They had blue collar careers, raised three children and have grands and greatgrands. It was such an unexpected joy to sit with them and watch the sun set up in the Rockies.

Mark and Bobbe. We won’t forget them. Living simply. Figuring out how to enjoy their (unexpected) ThirdThird into their 80’s! What great inspiration they were to us spring chickens on our 60’s!