Author Archives: Deborah

February 5, 2015!
Spiritual Eldering: The Paradigm Shift Envisioned in Reb Zalman’s “From Age-ing to Sage-ing”
with Deborah Fink Windrum
Time: 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Location: Boulder JCC, 3800 Kalmia Ave, Boulder, CO 80301
Contact: Kathryn BernheimerPhone: 303-998-1021Email:
Cost: Tickets are available online for $12; $15 at the door
Register Here:

Just as Reb Zalman’s entire life played out in the cultural avant-garde, his book From Age-ing to Sage-ing: A Profound New Vision of Growing Older, altered attitudes about aging. First published in 1995, the book immediately appealed to progressive thinkers and especially to Boomers just entering their fifties and, true to form, not willing to accept prevalent social attitudes regarding middle and old age. Let’s explore together Reb Zalman’s new model of aging, which offers a fresh image of the possible Elder and inspiriting pathways to generativity in today’s extended life span.

I just-retired (after 34 years) from the University Libraries! I had the opportunity while there to be a team member for the “Reb Zalman Life and Living Legacies” exhibit at the CU-Boulder Norlin Library. I have also been a Sage-ing® International committee member and presenter, co-facilitator of the Boulder Chapter of Sage-ing® International, and I have been presenting on midlife transition, “seasonal attunement,” and spiritual eldering. I hope you can join me on Thurs 5 Feb for this interactive presentation!

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What is “Seasonal Attunement”?

“Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it,” as Charles Dudley Warner said and Mark Twain more famously quoted. Seasonal Attunement is a practice for your inner. Spirit self to DO something about your relationship to the natural world, including the weather and the seasons that it signifies.

One of the most direct ways to align with the wisdom of the soul is to align with nature. Even when an urban environment or busy schedule minimizes the amount of time we are able to spend ‘in nature,’ the distinctive qualities and energies of each season offer a direct connection to natural cycles.

Seasonal Attunement is the choice and act of aligning or balancing one’s own feelings and mood with the pervasive sensibilities of the season and/or weather. It is an immersion in the ambience of a season in order to recalibrate and embrace or honor the gifts. It is a dance of releasing resistance and working with the felt sensations to be in alignment or at counterpoise.

Every season paints a distinctive landscape and evokes an ambiance that is likely to color our mood and summon resonant feelings, desires, memories, and thoughts. Each season provides an environmental matrix within which you may feel prompted to focus on and strengthen attributes that are suggested by and reflected in scene, weather, and celebrations. Depending on your response to a time of year, you may find that you are inclined to explore an emotional or developmental ascent or descent.

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SPECIAL HARVEST OFFER for your mom or yourself!

These days, moms are less likely to be about apple pie than masterful juggling of family, health, home, career, and personal passions. Honor your mom and/or your own mothering with the beautiful and inspiring book Harvest the Bounty of Your Career. On sale now through May 11 at

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Harvest’s Latest Review!

Harvest reviewed in Itineraries

along with John Sullivan’s The Spiral of the Seasons

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Honoring the Cycles of Our Inner Seasons

Excerpts from my article “Honoring the Cycles of Our Inner Seasons,” Itineraries, Spring 2011,

Do you remember being asked as a child: What do you want to be when you grow up? What image did this question generate?

As youthful adults, we busily till, plant, and cultivate the landscape of our life. We are the architect of our dreams, goals, education, work, family, and material needs and wants. We choose what to do, and we are asked: How are you doing? Over time, we notice how we feel in the doing.

And then how quickly the landscape of life reaches full bloom and the weather begins to change, suggesting the onset of a new season, new priorities. Interest in retirement from employment may arise when preoccupation with the outer landscape gives way to a desire to create more balance in life, and the inner landscape and the relationship between the inner and the outer become as compelling as being busy in the world

The usual question at this transition point is “What do you want to do when you retire?”

However, the most important question is not What will you DO? in retirement or your second half of life or your third age. The question is not even: What do you want to be when you retire? The question is: How will you be? And then: How are you being?

The autumn season offers an opportunity to create a deliberate blueprint for living—to notice how we want to be in order to choose what we want to do. With the advantages of youth and adulthood—experiences, skills, knowledge, and acquired wisdom­—we are positioned to become the considered architect of our being. With qualities of agefulness, we have the opportunity to mindfully fulfill life’s cycles.




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Growing ‘Old’? or Just Growing?

The whole point of being alive, it seems to me is to continue growing and maturing in order to fulfill a complete life cycle. So, despite the media’s offerings of lasting youth, life is not, to my mind, about staying young or getting younger. Every stage and season of life in nature—and for the human species—is natural, necessary, and integral to the whole. As participants in life, we are intended to experience growth in every life stage or season.

For the infant, every sign of growth and development is applauded. The enthusiasm and praise generally continues for the toddler, pre-schooler, elementary school child, and high schooler. We love to celebrate the landmarks of youth and admire the freshness, enthusiasm, energy, and possibilities in the spring time of life. The potential of the human species is renewed in every child.

It seems, however, that as a culture we find the summer season of life so fascinating and exhilarating that we want to prolong it forever. In our ever summer culture we always look and act young and sexy. There is always more to do, more to acquire. Now that so many activities are ‘easier’ and faster, we can do so much more, and be caffeinated and productive 24/7. Why give it all up to grow old?

Has it come to pass that Boomers are actually tiring of endless summer? Are we learning to appreciate the benefits of an autumn time of life? In fact, autumn is the developmental stage that brings us to true ‘maturity.’ Not the staid, boring, narrow maturity we were once certain would descend when reaching 30. Rather a robust ripeness of being that is expansive, creative, embracing, accepting. And, Boomers are learning that a new extended transitional period is critical to affect the shift from productive worker to ‘retired’ elder.

It seems to me that we even perceive glimmers of a “best yet to come” when we view the winter season of life as a newly extended and activated period that holds the promise to be the most significant and fulfilling life stage. And not just on the individual level, but for the well being of the planet as well  if we offer our life experience and wisdom to those who building the future or we hold for others those qualities that uplift humanity.

What then is this thing called “growing old,” when I grow productive, and ripe, and fulfilled, and renewed every cycle of every year? I am no less vitalized and burgeoning this spring in the autumn of my life than I was as a young woman. In fact, now, in what I call the “Maven” stage of life, I enjoy an even deeper awareness and appreciation of every transition, every development, every opportunity to fulfill the meaning of being alive and growing.




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Are you planting dreams of life after full-time employment? What fruits will you reap?

Although the Boomer generation started turning 65 in January, most of us are still in our fifties and early sixties and contemplating our age of retirement. It’s a big step—like graduating from high school and college, landing the first job, getting promoted, or making a career change. How did you create each of those turning points? What resources—internal or external—did you draw upon to move through and beyond each of those transitions and any others that come to mind?

After considering how you have addressed past transitions, allow your imagination to turn towards the future. What do you anticipate as your next life transition? What did you learn in the past that will support you now? What resources are available to you? What inner resources are you likely to exercise?

The option to “retire” or otherwise change your employment status in the foreseeable future, may provide the opportunity now—perhaps for the first time in your life—to make choices based on your own innermost promptings rather than on socially imposed or unconsciously internalized motivators, no matter how “honorable” they may have once felt.  Often, in our attempts to fulfill outer expectations and social values, we neglect our own deepest urges and heart-felt desires.

Calling forth our inner resources empowers us to reclaim the strength and vision of our heart. Do upcoming options and opportunities stir a sense of freedom and possibility?  Are you ready to pursue some long-awaited vocation, travel, offer service to others, or rouse some latent passion? Will you create a second, even better, half of life or a second chance at life?  Only your heart knows what fruits to reap in your next stage of life…


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Heart Work

What is work of the heart? Heart work falls into two categories – work in the world that represents our passion or something we love, and inner work that empowers us to reclaim the strength and vision of our heart or most essential self.

Social acknowledgment is directed almost exclusively to our work in the world, whether it is motivated by money and/or affinity. The true measure of the ‘success’ of a maturing person, however, is their level of commitment to the inner work of the heart. Dedication to that requires courage in the face of daily demands for our time, energy, and service to others.

The word “courage” can be traced back to “c.1300… from L. cor  “heart,” which remains a common metaphor for inner strength” (courage. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian., accessed: 13 Feb 2011).

What gives you the courage to sustain your inner work? For me, the inner work itself provides the courage to sustain my work in the world. My most significant work in the world is not my career in academic librarianship or my vocation to writing. My signature work in the world is encouraging others. To encourage is to hearten or uplift. Through deep listening, appreciation, kind words, and insight sharing, I find that I am able to both encourage others and hearten myself. What a sweet practice for the second half of life!

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How ready are you for a life unregulated by salaried employment?

The decision to leave or retire from a salaried position can be among the most significant of life choices.  An employer provides structure, security, constraints, and benefits.  Whether we are in service to a profession, organization, or paycheck, our lives are regulated by our employment, not unlike the regulation provided by parents and schools in our youth.  Our work schedule is likely to determine when we arise in the morning, perhaps even when we eat, and probably when we enjoy leisure.  We are typically dependent upon our employer for health care and retirement options.  Consider what elements of parental control and safety are present in your working situation.  If you are considering retirement from a job or career, what will it mean to take more control of your life outside the parameters of employment?

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Aging’s Bounty

Why do we “practice”? We practice to get better at something—a musical instrument, a sport, any skill. This is practice to acquire mastery of something. There is also the practice that one integrates into life, such as meditation or yoga, not just to do, but also in order to BE masterful in your life.

It occurs to me that aging can be viewed as a practice for a masterful way of being in life.

So, how will you/do you practice aging in your life?

By making yourself your priority?
Interacting with your family?
Caring for others?
Working at a job?
Advancing a profession?
By retiring?
As a facilitator or leader?
As an activist?
As a volunteer?
As an artist or writer?
As a speaker?
As a thought leader?
Following your passion?
Saving the world?
Savoring the world?
As part of a community?
Being cared for?
In service to others?
By resisting, fearing, worrying?
By embracing, enjoying, appreciating?
By accepting death?

To my mind, aging is not about staying young or getting younger.  It’s not about youthfulness— it’s about ‘agefulness.’ Authentic aging is about fulfilling life’s cycles and seasons. Authentic aging is a fresh ‘maturity.’ Not a maturity that is staid, boring, narrow. Rather a maturity that is expansive, creative, embracing, accepting—aging’s bounty.

However you choose to practice aging, you have the advantages of your youth and adulthood—the background, experiences, training, skills, knowledge, and, yes, wisdom. All available for you to harvest and give.

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Filling Imagined Glass Ornaments with Appreciation

One of my favorite ways to transition into sleep at night is to savor the many gifts of my life.  I love to feel appreciation for my husband and daughter, my parents and extended family, my dog and my home, my neighborhood-city-state-continent-planet-moon, and, of course, my life work. Gifts of the current season are often included. At this time of year, I am enamored of tree branches starkly revealed and of the stalwart pine trees that grace the drab landscape with their ever green. Last night as my mind sang me to sleep with a litany of gratitude, each object of appreciation appeared within a clear glass orb hanging from a pine tree that I experienced with all my senses. I could smell tangy sap, feel prickly needles, hear sighing branches, taste inner oil, and see glistening globes suspended in deep green.

What a magical way to harvest and display for the mind’s eye the bounty of a life lived with appreciation.

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Harvesting is reflecting upon your life with a new focus

Just two years ago this month, I completed the final piece of Harvest the Bounty of Your Career—the opening “welcome.”  I recall vividly the deliciously cool and drizzly day and the intimations of fall’s transitional finery.  It would be another 10 months before I’d hold a printed copy of the book and, during that time, I returned to full from temporary three-quarter time at the University Libraries.  The journey that led to writing the book began in May 2005, and active development and writing commenced in August 2006.  During the two years of consistent writing and rewriting, I felt energized, inspired, and creative.  No surprise that I experienced some sense of ‘let down’ after the book was published and felt a bit overtaken by the increased demands of full-time work.

So, I understand completely if you feel both urged from within to enter into a harvesting period and reluctant to begin in your busy life anything that you feel concerned about finding time to do.  However, harvesting does not require lengthy or consistent chunks of time or a foreseeable conclusion.  Harvesting is a way of seeing and reflecting upon your life and world with a new focus.

Literally, to harvest is to gather, sort, and prepare.  Can you gather your own personal thoughts on the way to work in the morning or as you relax into sleep?  Perhaps you create an opportunity to walk or stroll most days, even if for only 10 minutes – what an ideal time to gather your thoughts.  If you view your past and current life from the perspective of your future, you may find many ways that you can sort your experiences, skills, talents, and longings into stepping stones towards new endeavors.  Just framing your present as a transition to some new season will prepare you to create change.  It can be that simple!

If you own a copy of Harvest the Bounty of Your Career and have yet to immerse yourself because you can’t seem to find the time, try taking some quick dips just to stimulate the harvesting mind set.  Open to the pages of art and let the colors and evocative images work their magic without even thinking about it.  Turn to a particular chapter that appeals to you and just enjoy the quotes.  If you’d like to more systematically dip into the book and experience some high points, click here to find a listing of brief readings and short sections to skim.  These will give you the essence of the book.

Give yourself permission to just get started with a ‘quick dip.’  This may be the first or a continuing round of your ongoing spiral through career/ life review and midlife transition. Enjoy the season!

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