My fear of heights stems from a climbing accident 33 years ago.
All these years later, I still get a rush of panic when in an unprotected high space.
I have worked at managing the fear when it comes. One of the most helpful pieces of advice came from businessman and pilot Paul Odom II, who took me up in a 1945 Stearman biplane with an open cockpit.
Odom said, “Don't look down. Look up and out.” And it worked. Ignoring the feeling would have been foolish, but understanding it could be managed allowed me to have the experience.
“Look up and out” is a phrase anyone facing a significant life change might heed. Recently I've visited with folks facing one of those significant changes — retirement.
While retirement is not a one size fits all, the happiness of it will be helped by outward thinking. One can't “look down” and plan ahead, but when one looks outward, a positive change or productive action can be found.
Happiness, in order to be maintained, must be shared — requiring a portion of our time be spent with an interest and attention to something outside us.
The key is finding the balance between doing things just for ourselves and reaching out to others. A good example is the Oklahoma Senior Follies, a great way to use your talents, make new friends, and help Mobile Meals of Oklahoma County at the same time.
Go to www.okseniorfollies.com for more information on this.
Last year Mobile Meals fed 164,000 hot meals to frail, homebound senior adults. Some 67,048 of those meals were furnished as a result of the proceeds from the 2011-12 Oklahoma Senior Follies performance.
For those who enjoy learning check out the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offered through Oklahoma State University. OLLI offers a variety of educational courses for seasoned adults. No tests! Just the joy of keeping your mind active and meeting some like-minded folks. Go to education.okstate.edu/olli to find out more.
Life brings changes. The unknown can be scary. Don't get stuck in the fear. Look up and out and you will find experiences that you might have missed.
Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.