“It is not that I'm so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.”  Albert Einstein

Live and Learn

I met Dori Mintzer in Boston in 2014, when I went over to the USA. I had read the book that she and Roberta Taylor had written. The Couple’s Retirement Puzzle is a guide for couples as they navigate retirement together and after reading it, I wanted to meet its author.  

I love the impact Dori has made in both the retirement and relationship spaces and I include her principles in the work I do in life-planning meetings with my clients. Underpinning so much of what defines Dori’s contribution is the importance of couples having courageous conversations with each other. In fact, her book’s subtitle is exactly that: “Ten must-have conversations for transitioning to the second half of life”.
In the work that I do, a life-planning meeting is often one of the first times couples tackle some of the serious issues they’ve been too afraid to talk about. A life-planning session can often be the very first time that they have a “must-have” talk.

Those crucial conversations – sometimes decades in the waiting – require courage. And they are hardly ever easy. But what I’ve seen over the years is that those conversations, which sometimes even involve confrontation, generally result in connection.

One plus one equals three
I’ve been thinking about what happens behind the scenes of this invisible equation. How does a conversation end up equalling closeness and connection? I think it’s because somewhere, somehow, something profound happens. Between the discomfort and the connection, there is learning.
Learning is the multiplier effect, the fabulous formula that takes a couple from talking to feeling a sense of togetherness. Learning has everything to do with coming across something – or even someone – we didn’t know before.

Have you ever discovered something about your partner at a dinner party, something that you didn’t know before? Someone else asked your wife a question and her answer teaches you something new? When we see something through new eyes, even if it’s a situation or scenario that isn’t of our choosing, we open ourselves to learning. And learning can happen without us even realising it.
Have you ever been retrenched from a job, worked through the humiliation, the having to make ends meet, the needing to change tack mid-career because your situation demanded that of you – and then then ended up thinking that it was the best thing that ever happened to you? Or had a health scare that forced you and your partner to rethink your lifestyle, so much so that you live a better life now than the one you lived before and wouldn’t have it any other way? We have to be open to change, to learning how to do different things – or at the very least, to doing the same thing differently – because not only is that how we survive. It’s how we live.  
My challenge to you is simple: don’t be closed to conversation. Discomfort sounds, well, uncomfortable. That’s because it is. But there’s a lot of truth in the adage: “No pain, no gain.” What if you chose to welcome such a conversation? What if it’s just one courageous conversation that stands between you and something magical?
Dori and her husband visited South Africa for the first time a couple of weeks ago and they came to dinner at my home. We didn’t just share dinner though. We shared wine; we shared stories. Dori was travelling with her husband, David – now in his eighties. Together, they opened themselves to exploring Africa. They talk, they travel – and they laugh and learn together. Their learning is their living. Let’s aim for the same. 

Thank you to Kathy Lithgow for sharing her journey of learning with us in this newsletter. We love to share stories from our clients.

In our next newsletter, we will chat about grief and ways to help each other through a difficult time when we lose people we love. You are welcome to send us ideas for future newsletters. 


The untold story behind the miracle on the Hudson

If you enjoy true stories of heroism, then you may want to watch this Clint Eastwood directed film.  Starring Tom Hanks, 'Sully' tells the story of Chesley Sullenberger, an American pilot who became a hero after landing his damaged plane on the Hudson River to save the flight's passengers and crew. 

Following this heroic act, Sully faces a series of safety hearings that have a strong financial motivation behind pinning the blame on him.

Click here to view the trailer.

A 2017 film based on fact, and celebrating the spirit of bravery, is Lion.

A five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family.
Click here to watch the trailer.

Dori’s 10
must-have conversations

Make some time to think about where you stand on a few of them – and then have an open, honest conversation about them. Who knows what learning – and loving – is just around the corner?
  1. If, when and how to retire: twice the husband, half the income
  2. Let’s talk About money: finances without fighting
  3. Changing roles and identities: I don’t do windows
  4. Time together, time apart: I love you and I need my space
  5. Intimacy and sexuality: love birds
  6. Relationships with family: the theory of relativity
  7. Health and wellness: will Medicare pay for the spa?
  8. Choosing where and how to live: staying put or exploring new frontiers
  9. Social life, friends and community: I signed us up for hip hop
  10. Purpose, meaning and giving back: what’s it all about?

Kathy puts her learning to practical use

After retiring to Plettenburg Bay with her husband, former SAA pilot Stewart, Kathy Lithgow found that she needed to fill her time with something interesting, mentally challenging and potentially useful to others.

Kathy explains, “In order to gain a better insight into myself and what I should focus on, I completed a short on-line assessment called StrengthsFinder. 

This psychometric assessment tool enables people to uncover their top five talents.  In my case, ‘Thinking’ came out first, followed by ‘Learning’.  This was not surprising as I had always enjoyed the learning process and saw no reason for this to diminish just because I was retired.”

Kathy also wanted to marry this learning process with an element of service, so she enrolled for a counselling course via correspondence through the South African Theological College, an accredited institution with varied courses on offer.  “This course taught practical psychology linked to a scriptural foundation.  I qualified with a Higher Certificate in Christian Counselling,” she says.

The door was now open for Kathy to start serving as a counsellor.  “Under the auspices of the Plett Evangelical Fellowship, our home church, I now receive referrals from all over.  I have a small office at home where I see people.  There is no payment involved as it is effectively a part of the church ministry.  I act as a support for people with a variety of needs and problems.  I see myself as a kind of useful friend.”

Learning is a cornerstone
An important aspect of Kathy’s work, for her, is to continue learning.  “Learning was the starting point for this process and it continues to be a cornerstone now.  In my niche area of expertise, Christian counselling, there is so much that I don’t know.  And because there is a wealth of information out there, plus I am challenged by the variety of situations that my clients present to me, I am always learning and growing.

“Stewart and I count our blessing daily,” she says.  “I have plenty of time to spend with my clients and also to learn and become more skilled at what I do.  It is now my passion –to facilitate change in people’s lives, in a small way.”

Legendary American industrialist Henry Ford once said, ““Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.  Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” 

In her sunny office in Plett, Kathy Lithgow, on a continuous cycle of counselling, learning, becoming more skilful and counselling some more, is living proof of those words.

A film buff? Take this quiz and win!

With the Academy Awards in the news recently, you might enjoy a journey through Oscar-winning films. 

Win a prize by sending quiz answers to

Click here for some help ... and fun!

1.  A Streetcar named Desire marked the first of four consecutive Best Actor awards for which lead actor?

2.  What royal starred opposite Gary Cooper in High Noon?

3.  The 1963 film Cleopatra was nominated for 9 Academy Awards.  How many did it actually win?

4. What 1981 adventure film starring Harrison Ford won four Oscars?

5.  This same actor starred in three Oscar-winning films: a political drama in 1976 opposite Robert Redford, in 1979 as Meryl Streep's estranged husband, and in 1988 as Tom Cruise's brother. Who is he?

6.  This 1965 film is based on a true story of a singing family who escaped Nazi-occupied Austria.

7.David Niven's character bets he can circumnavigate the globe in the 1956 film based on an 1873 novel by which French writer?

8. 1993's Schindler's List was nominated for 12 Oscars, and won 7.  Who was the director?

Well done! I hope you enjoyed this quiz.

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