Act3 – The Art Of Growing Older

By Adrian and Judy Reith

Friday, 10 November 2017

Weathering The Storm


You are a delight.  Your forethought, your planning has taken us to 27% funded.  Thank you.

And since planning is at the heart of what we believe makes a successful Act3, here's a story from our own recent experience.   

In planning for our own 50/60+ future Judy and I decided to sell up and build a house suitable for our third act. 
There's a single tree on our plot.  A 150-year old yew stands, annoyingly, in the worst possible place for building the new house – blocking access.  And sadly the tree is healthy.

I would've chopped it down, but was forbidden as it has a Tree Preservation Order. 

And the fine for taking it down without permission?  £25,000. 
The Council Tree Officer — dogged woman — forced us to tunnel under the roots with a specialist air spade to pass the gas, water and drainage pipes; communication conduits and electric cables.  

It is imperative to protect those precious roots at all costs, she said.  For a few days the roots of the tree were completely exposed on one side to allow these works, then carefully re-buried, unharmed.

Next the entire 35-ton house had to be flown over the tree by crane — piece by piece — mercifully we'd bought a modular house. 
So you'll understand why, when we settled in and started to enjoy our new home — we named it ‘Treehouse’. 

And the tree continues to figure large in our plans, as the last of our three daughters left for college.  And Treehouse feels newly … erm ... empty.  We’re here in Act 3, that 50-plus bit.

The Great Tree Drama helped us see the importance of applying the same care to preserve healthy yew roots to the very roots of Judy and my relationship and our plans, especially in our post-60 years — having been married 28 — and with an empty nest.  Let's be honest, we're in the life stage where so many get divorced.
So, our yew has become a useful metaphor for us to plan for a good Act 3.  And of course the roots are the most important parts of any tree — but rarely visible. 

Healthy roots make happy healthy lives.  Root 1 – Relationships

In our work as Life Coaches, Judy and I are inspired by Dr Robert Waldinger’s Harvard study, which proves good relationships keep us happier and healthier, and loneliness kills. He says:

Simply watch what you’re doing each day and who you’re with.  And see if you can pay more and more careful attention to the people you’re with.  Put aside all your preconceptions and just be there with somebody.  Listen to them.  It makes a huge difference. 

Healthy roots make true lives.  Root 2 – Values

We also highlight findings by a palliative care worker Bronnie Ware who found the most frequent regret of the dying people she nursed was "I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me".

So a good plan would be to listen to the kind, true voice inside you whispering "Stop doing X.  Start doing Y.  Continue doing Z".  So that at your 80th birthday people can say "Wow! This period of your life has been inspiring – what happened to you after 60?  You re-invented yourself."  

You make change true by acting on it.  Not thinking about it.

Healthy roots make engaged lives.  Root 3 – Purpose

The Harvard study also found by the time people reached middle age, those who engaged in what psychologists call generativity, or an interest in establishing and guiding the next generation, were happier and better adjusted than those who didn’t. And generativity is not dependent on being a parent — while people can develop it by raising children, they can also exhibit it at work or other situations where they mentor younger adults.  Giving back gives you purpose.

Gazing at a beautiful tree you’ll probably not be thinking about the roots.  You’re admiring the shoots and fruits. 
Look after your roots and you’ll withstand any storm.


We'd love to see you at our next workshop 24/25th February 2018 - details are here Act3 Guardian Masterclass Weekend

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