Capital Investment Advisors

#22 -Embracing the Beauty of Aging With Hugh Willard

After a successful 35-year career as a psychotherapist, Hugh Willard decided to embark on a new journey as a writer. Currently pursuing his Master’s Degree in Creative Nonfiction, he authored a book and hosts a podcast about finding beauty in the gray. I have more gray hair than I used to, and sometimes, I feel insecure about it. But it’s funny; my barber recently told me some of her clients would shell out a lot of money for that brownish-gray coloring. And it’s that positive twist that Hugh uses to change the conversation about aging.

Hugh lives in the beautiful city of Apex, North Carolina, which is fitting because as he ages, he seems to be summiting the peak of his own happiness.

Read The Full Transcript From This Episode

(click below to expand and read the full interview)

  • Hugh Willard [00:00:00]:
    We cannot live healthy if we do not have a sense of purpose and a sense of identity. That’s really chicken and egg. They go together. One begets the other.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:00:11]:
    Do you ever wonder who you’ll be and what you’ll do after your career is over? Wouldn’t it be nice to hear stories from people who figured it out, who were thriving in retirement? I’m Ryan Doolittle. After working with the retire sooner team for years and researching and writing about how they structure their lifestyles, I know there’s more to be learned, so I’m going straight to the and taking you with me. My mission with the Happiest Retirees podcast is to inspire 1 million families to find happiness in retirement. I want to learn how to live an exceptional life from people who do it every day. Let’s get started. Hugh Willard, thank you so much for joining us on the Happiest Retirees podcast. And you’re out in North Carolina, right?

    Hugh Willard [00:00:56]:
    Yes. Central Park, North Carolina, just outside of the capital city, Raleigh.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:01:01]:
    I want to hear a little bit about your story. You know who you are, but I want our listeners to learn who you are. So tell me a little bit about what you did during your primary working years and where you’re from.

    Hugh Willard [00:01:13]:
    Right. Well, I, well, originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but we moved my family, we moved down here when I was young. And so basically I grew up a little bit west of where I am now, still central part of the state, but a little bit more west. I migrated over to Chapel Hill to go to school, did both undergrad and graduate school there in Chapel Hill. And I have been a psychotherapist for 35 years now. So I’m actually, I’ve been in private practice for the past 2022 years, something like that. And I’m actually pivoting this long arc of this career in psychotherapy. I have decided to go back to school, and I am in the midst of getting my MFA in creative nonfiction from Bay Path University.

    Hugh Willard [00:02:07]:
    So I have done some writing. I have a number of books that have been published. I had my first nonfiction book published last November that’s called finding beauty in the gray, and it aligns with a bit of teaching that I’ve been doing over the past seven plus years with osher lifelong learning institutes, and they’re scattered about the country. Some of your listeners may be familiar with these different institutions, but anyways, I’ve certainly enjoyed these. The osher institutes are for folks 50 and older, so we cover a variety of topics looking at the different aspects of aging, psychosocial aspects of aging, looking at relationships, and just the preparedness for retirement. A lot of different angles that we take in these courses. And I decided to put together a book out of my teachings there. And so that has come out and certainly have enjoyed that.

    Hugh Willard [00:03:10]:
    So I’m looking to not so much retirement as a pivot into a second career that is teaching and writing.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:03:20]:
    Well, first of all, that’s amazing. Now, tell me, just so I can be clear, did you say it’s the Osher Institute?

    Hugh Willard [00:03:27]:
    Yes, it is the Osher lifelong learning institute. They’re connected with different colleges and universities across the country, and I have worked the most with North Carolina State University.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:03:41]:
    Okay. Yeah. And so tell me your involvement with Osher, plus your career being a psychotherapist, that played a big part in writing, finding beauty in the gray.

    Hugh Willard [00:03:54]:
    100%. Absolutely. Yes.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:03:56]:
    How did it do? So how did it. What did you pull out of there? And I think you said it’s creative nonfiction.

    Hugh Willard [00:04:02]:
    That’s correct. And so one of the things I say in the prologue, in the author’s note at the beginning of the book, is I take pains, and it’s a little bit lighthearted, but I take pains to say this is not a self help book. And what I’m referencing there is, rather than a more standard boilerplate format for looking at the different issues that are most relevant to the aging process, the psychological lens for that, rather than doing that. The book is comprised of stories. Most are true stories. There’s a couple of vignettes that I put in there just for emphasis, but the book is comprised of stories and of poems, my original poems that are illustrating and highlighting and emphasizing different aspects with respect to the aging process, looking at identity and meaning and issues of loss and just the transitions and relationships and creativity and how we engage these things. So how the book came about was really just extending out of my teaching with the osher institutes, and just knowing that I wanted to write this book, I just. It’s.

    Hugh Willard [00:05:19]:
    It’s. I wanted to take the courses that I had constructed, and I wanted to sort of distill from them the. The main function, the main purposes, the main points, and put them through the lens and the vehicle of story to put them out for everybody.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:05:36]:
    So, yeah. So many times story, at least for the human experience, it seems to help us understand things better than just charts and lists. The story really is a way to.

    Hugh Willard [00:05:47]:
    Absolutely.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:05:48]:
    It’s a vehicle.

    Hugh Willard [00:05:50]:
    They stay.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:05:51]:
    Right.

    Hugh Willard [00:05:52]:
    They stay. They do. They remain.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:05:54]:
    Yes, yes. Yeah.

    Hugh Willard [00:05:55]:
    We remember stories.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:05:56]:
    Exactly. Yeah. So 35 years as a psychotherapist, it sounds like you enjoyed that career, but are you fully out of that now you’ve moved all the way over, or are you doing a little of that?

    Hugh Willard [00:06:11]:
    It’s transitional. It’s incremental. I’m coming out of it. I guess I should add another piece. When you were asking about the impetus for the book coming together.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:06:18]:
    Oh, sure.

    Hugh Willard [00:06:19]:
    I think Covid was a big impetus as well, just going through the pandemic years and the sequestration, if we want to call it that. But I would say certainly, yes, I’ve loved my career and it’s been very meaningful. And I say that with all respect. It’s not that I celebrate people’s struggles, but I knew I wanted to go in a more generative direction in the future rather than the more sort of looking through the lens of pathology and resolving issues, but rather going in a more, you know, generative, constructive direction. And I will say that coming out of the pandemic, there has been a crush of mental health needs that have arisen over my whole career, the trajectory of my whole career. I have not seen anything like this. And so basically, certainly here in our area in central North Carolina, but I hear it really everywhere there is such high demand, and I think it’s reasonable to look at the correlation coming out of the pandemic and the impact that that had. I’ll leave that to the social scientists who are doing the research to get more of a read on that in time.

    Hugh Willard [00:07:35]:
    But certainly the demand has gone up and most folks are full. It’s very difficult for new folks to get in and to get the support that they need, and I think it’s taking its toll. There’s a number of folks who are just kind of washing out a bit with this, and I’m hanging in there. But for me, it was, I think it would, I would have come to this either way. But I think certainly coming through the pandemic and just the greater intensity of the needs is a bit of a push for me to go into the new direction.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:08:08]:
    Yeah. So first of all, I think there’s some kind of collective trauma that everyone has from the pandemic that we almost don’t want to deal with because we just want to move on. But trauma has a way of insisting, I guess, and maybe trauma is too serious of a word, but there’s something there. And so it’s interesting that that actually weighed on you as the person helping people because it was just such a heavier burden.

    Hugh Willard [00:08:36]:
    Sure. Sure it is. It’s taxing. Absolutely.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:08:41]:
    Okay. So coming out of that, you’re phasing down. And part of that transition was writing. Finding beauty in the gray.

    Hugh Willard [00:08:48]:
    Yes, that was part of it. The school that I, you know, I’m in the midst of my MFA. I’m going to be going in the direction of full time teaching and writing once I finish my MFA.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:09:00]:
    Amazing. Can I get. I want to get a picture of your first day of school in kindergarten next to your first day of school for your MFA.

    Hugh Willard [00:09:11]:
    That would be fun. That would be a lot of fun, actually. You know, of course you don’t. You don’t know what those images are, but, you know, you’ve popped it in my mind, this. This mop headed, you know, boy. And now I’m sitting here with a scant hair, a little bit on the sides and back. And that’s about it. So.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:09:30]:
    Well, hey, I am inspired by you because I never want to stop learning. So the fact that you are going back or have gone back to school is just amazing. And you also have a podcast that’s called aging, finding beauty in the gray. Is that something you had before or. That’s another part of this transition process?

    Hugh Willard [00:09:49]:
    That’s another part of this transition process. And the genesis of that was when I was. When I had my manuscript a few years back for finding beauty in the gray. I was chatting with an agent, and she was really high on the book. She loved it. And she said to me that this would pair really well with a podcast. I have listened to a few podcasts. I’ve certainly enjoyed them.

    Hugh Willard [00:10:17]:
    At that point, I had no more thought of doing a podcast than the man on the moon. And. But I get it. I get the landscape that is publishing today. You really have to bring a platform. You have to really build an audience, and that’s what publishers want. So this was three years ago. So I started to look into the mechinations in the world of podcasting.

    Hugh Willard [00:10:43]:
    And I have a good friend who’s a tech whiz, and he and I started chatting and consulting. So we put this thing together, and we’re in year three now. Ryan, I absolutely love it. I’m sensing that’s probably your experience as well, but I absolutely love it. I love having the conversations with the guests. I love having their stories, getting them to share stories I have experts on at different points, but I also love having people share everyday stories that everyone can relate to. And it’s just been a blast to do that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:11:18]:
    This is kind of a fun part of who you are. You have a lot of music background, too. You were a founding member of the rock band Thursday’s flight. And I don’t know if Thursday’s flight is still playing, but you’re doing more kind of classic singer songwriter like, Paul Simon type stuff. Now, tell me your music history and how it’s made you happier and how you’re still utilizing it.

    Hugh Willard [00:11:45]:
    Right. Well, so, yes, music has been a salve. It has been a buoy. It has been an anchor. It has been just a joyful part all along for me. I actually started late with respect to. Well, I guess that’s relative. I picked up a guitar when I was 27 and started noodling around with it and taught myself to play.

    Hugh Willard [00:12:10]:
    It has been just a lifelong love affair since then. I did not join. Well, you know, we formed Thursday’s flight when I was. My goodness, let’s go with 48. And so that was my first experience being in a band, a rock band. We were a cover band, which was great fun. I was the oldest member of the band. The other guys were ten to 17 years younger than me, but we had great chemistry and a great rapport and just really loved playing together.

    Hugh Willard [00:12:49]:
    A couple of years in, the lead guitarist said, why don’t we write our own stuff? And I. I don’t know what happened in that moment, but it was. It was like a canadian oriel forest fire. I just started writing like crazy.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:13:05]:
    Wow.

    Hugh Willard [00:13:05]:
    And have written and written tons of songs and have loved those with the guys in the band. They were all younger, as I said, so they still had kids in school. We all had our day jobs, but my kids were older, and so I had more time. So I ended up doing more solo gigs.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:13:25]:
    Oh.

    Hugh Willard [00:13:26]:
    Just because I had more time than the. Than the rest of the guys did. So coming out of that, I have been with my partner Heather, for several years now, and she and I, I’ve coaxed her into coming out on the road, as it were. And so she and I are doing gigs together, and it’s. That’s a lot of fun. We. It’s. We.

    Hugh Willard [00:13:46]:
    We do well with the harmonies, and it’s just a lot of fun to play together.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:13:50]:
    So she. She plays music, too, in that she’s in this. It’s a duo.

    Hugh Willard [00:13:54]:
    She is. She is not in the band. So. Yeah, and so I’ve stepped aside from the band at this point, and that’s. That was a. It just sort of ran its course. And when I went back to school and, you know, doing stuff with the book, just really didn’t have the time. But Heather and I, you know, we have time to play together at home.

    Hugh Willard [00:14:14]:
    So we don’t play that many gigs, but we certainly have fun when we can get out and do that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:14:18]:
    So you have two adult children, right? Daughters, yes. And do they live near you? Yes, they do. Okay. We’ve done research that shows the happiest retirees live near at least one of their adult children. So it sounds like you live close to two of them or both of them.

    Hugh Willard [00:14:37]:
    Right.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:14:38]:
    And when you talk to them and you help them with their problems, do you send them a bill for psychotherapy or you give them pro bono?

    Hugh Willard [00:14:47]:
    They. They get pro bono. They get pro bono. Although I may need to reconsider that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:14:52]:
    Yeah. I mean, you know, check their insurance, see what the copay is and.

    Hugh Willard [00:14:56]:
    Yes, that’s right, because I have to pay that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:15:00]:
    Okay. And you have. Do you still have one irascible beagle?

    Hugh Willard [00:15:05]:
    Yes, I do. Now she’s sleeping in another room, so she won’t make an appearance here, but. But, yes, she’s a sweet girl. A sweet, sweet girl.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:15:15]:
    What’s her name?

    Hugh Willard [00:15:16]:
    Her name is Audrey.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:15:17]:
    Audrey. Okay, and tell me, is a beagle. So a beagle is a good dog to have. Cause I love beagles, but I was worried they might howl a lot.

    Hugh Willard [00:15:27]:
    Well, Ryan, they do howl a lot. Audrey is my second beagle. Both have been rescues. And the first one did some howling. That’s in their genes. That’s their constitution. But this is amazing. Audrey is basically silent.

    Hugh Willard [00:15:46]:
    I have had her five years and she. I’ve heard her bark less than five times. Wow. So she just is silent and her background is a mystery. This is a fun story. She was rescued in China. She and a handful of other beagles were on their way to a meat market festival. And the assumption is maybe someone stopped them and paid off the driver and took the dogs and worked through official channels in China to and then connected with an adoption agency here in central North Carolina.

    Hugh Willard [00:16:24]:
    They got the Beagles transferred over. So that’s how we ended up with Audrey. So we know nothing about her backstory, but she is sweet and gentle. She is rarely excitable other than around food. She loves eating dried earthworms, and she’s a sniffer. You know, she’s wanting to smell everything, but she doesn’t care about cats or rabbits or squirrel.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:16:48]:
    And so you also have two cats. Right. And you describe them as two cat like cats?

    Hugh Willard [00:16:53]:
    Yes. Well, actually, one of the cats, Charlie, he is more dog like. He is more into fetching and chasing, being scratched on the belly and roaming, rolling around and doing that sort of thing. The other cat, Marley, is, she is a quintessential cat. So she decides when she wants attention and how much and when she is to be left alone.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:17:15]:
    Okay. I mean, can you really, can you really blame her?

    Hugh Willard [00:17:21]:
    No, no. She’s, she’s living the good life and she is in charge.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:17:25]:
    Yes, that’s. Cats have a way of being in charge. I have two of them myself. They sort of run my life. One of them wakes me up every morning around five.

    Hugh Willard [00:17:35]:
    Oh, my goodness.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:17:37]:
    Yes.

    Hugh Willard [00:17:37]:
    Yes, I know that. Well, yeah. Okay.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:17:42]:
    So, Hugh, now we’ll get a little more, I guess, esoteric. So you really, I mean, even though you’ve had a shift in career or you’re shifting your career, you don’t consider yourself retired, which is actually, despite the name of this podcast, very on par with a lot of the people I talk to. Cause a lot of the people that retire isn’t really a great word. We just don’t have another one yet in the vocabulary. So tell me, why should people listen to you to help? What can they glean from you to become happier in their, quote unquote, retirement?

    Hugh Willard [00:18:17]:
    Well, I think the key here and again to talk about retirement, I really talk about that as a transition. And I don’t mean to take away from anybody’s goals or interests in moving out of whatever length of vocational career or homemaking career that they have or had, but retirement is about transition into something else. So whether a person is going to fully retire and go in the direction of whatever other pursuits that are non revenue generating, and I say that intentionally, or if a person is going to pivot into another direction, as I am, or if a person is not going to retire but continue on forward in their career, I think the key for any of those three buckets is that we need to be engaging in that which brings us a sense of purpose. It has value for us. And in doing so, there is a psychological valence, there is a psychological health to that for many folks, and I realize that I am generalizing here, and there’s a whole gamut of this. For many folks, the career that they have, the vocation that they have, certainly we hope it has more ups than downs, but there can be a lot of stress associated. And for many folks, they have the countdown until the time that they get to retire. One of the challenges there, I don’t want to go too far off the side here, but one of the challenges there is if folks are going away from career, they may not be fully preparing for a life in retirement.

    Hugh Willard [00:20:07]:
    That is going to be fulfilling. That is going to be enriching. That is going to be generative because they just want to get, they want to get out that door for the last time and, you know, turn in the keys to the office and just live the life of leisure. And I’m not dismissing that out of hand, but we cannot live healthy if we do not have a sense of purpose and a sense of identity. That’s really chicken and egg. They go together. One sort of begets the other, and that can come in any form. So there’s, the good news is we have a lot of choices.

    Hugh Willard [00:20:42]:
    If we find that we have that in our vocational pursuit, I imagine folks would continue to work unless there was some overriding reason for them to make a change. But short of that, I would imagine folks would begin to work. There are certainly many folks who retire, and if they are living happy and healthy lives, they have plugged in in another way. And many times folks joke about being more busy once they hit retirement, but they hopefully are engaging in the things that once again are bringing them, you know, a lot of meaning. And so, you know, so as long as you’re doing that, whatever official label you have with respect to retired or, you know, a length of career that is continuing or second career, as long as it’s in the direction of something that has high meaning, people are going to be happy.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:21:35]:
    You know, it’s funny that you say a lot of people are often more busy once they retire because so many of the people I interview say that, and it’s a very consistent theme.

    Hugh Willard [00:21:47]:
    Well, and if it’s, you know, and again, if that busyness is, you know, if it’s feeding them, if, and hopefully that’s it, because they have the freedom to make choices. And so hopefully they’re not just busy filling their calendar as a way to avoid loneliness or just boredom. So hopefully it’s driven by something that’s much more, again, much more enticing for them. And to do so, it’s like, yeah, give me more. We still have to find balance, but it’s like, yeah, give me more. I love what I’m doing. I want to do more of it.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:22:21]:
    Yeah. Most of the people that I interview, the core pursuits, which is a term we’ve coined to mean hobbies that are, are almost on steroids because they’re so passionate about them.

    Hugh Willard [00:22:33]:
    Right.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:22:33]:
    They don’t seem to be doing these activities as just a distraction to not be depressed. It seems like they really want to do these things.

    Hugh Willard [00:22:42]:
    Absolutely.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:22:42]:
    And maybe that’s because I’m literally interviewing the happy retirees.

    Hugh Willard [00:22:46]:
    Well, maybe, but I think that points up the whole case that we’re making here, that when you are doing that which matters to you, you’re going to be happier.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:22:56]:
    Exactly, yes. Do you find yourself applying the skills you’ve learned in psychotherapy to your own daily life or when you help talk to another retiree friend of yours? Are there certain tactics you’re using that you’ve learned? Could you explain or describe some of those?

    Hugh Willard [00:23:13]:
    Yes, sure. Sure. Well, absolutely. And there are different sort of steps to it, but much of it has to do with exploration. When we come into times of transition, we need to be aware that that creates some volatility. I don’t mean that to sound dramatic, but it’s a time that we need to be more tuned in. We need to be paying attention, and we need to understand that it requires us to not rest on laurels or just consider that old, old protocols are going to still apply. So we need to ask ourselves questions.

    Hugh Willard [00:23:56]:
    We need to look around our environments and see what about these? Do I need to get more perspective or new perspective on what do I understand about shifting relationships and how do I resolve anything that I need to resolve with those? But we need to explore, we need to plan, we need to certainly get feedback from those around us for their perspective so that we get outside of ourselves a bit. As we are in the digital age, we have a lot of opportunity to get much more information, much more resource that helps us both in the exploration phase and then also the application phase. Looking at, okay, I think I might be interested in this particular thing. Well, you know what? I can learn a lot before I actually invest time and energy and potentially money into said pursuit. You know, it’s much more accessible for us to access information today than it was, you know, 30 years ago. So, yeah, it’s, it behooves us to be intentional, to certainly, if we have the space to allow the process. If we don’t, if we’re not going to be sort of pushed into a quicker retirement and having to make quicker decisions, we should take advantage and certainly just do inventory what matters to me now. How is that different from the past? What are my hopes for the time ahead? How do I feel about myself now? That transition invites some of these explorations and if we have the opportunity and the time, it’s good for us to do that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:25:34]:
    Yeah. And that goes along with something we talk about a lot. Some people feel the need to recreate their identity when they retire and they don’t even always realize how tied it was to their career until they don’t have that career anymore. So that sort of seems like what you’re talking about, that engaging in that deliberative process to answer, who am I now?

    Hugh Willard [00:25:55]:
    Yes.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:25:56]:
    So you’ve answered some of these questions for yourself. Clearly. Have you found that you have less limitations to go pursue the answers than you did when you were working full time, or at least working full time as a psychotherapist? In this new phase, you have less limitations other than physical?

    Hugh Willard [00:26:16]:
    Well, it’s been a luxury for me, a quasi luxury for me to be in a full time private practice. I still set my schedule. That said, it certainly has been busy for many, many, many years. I am transitioning, and again, I’m the driver of this. So that that’s a luxury. It’s not as though I have to get approval from a workplace setting and a supervisor to cut my hours. I make those decisions. So, yes, so there certainly is more space in there.

    Hugh Willard [00:26:48]:
    Yeah, there’s more space in there. And so I can set sort of caseload level. And that does offer me. And what I’ve done with that at this time is really just sort of filled that space with my school.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:26:59]:
    Yeah. And within that framework, you mentioned that it’s important to try to understand external and internal ageism. And that’s something I haven’t really talked about before or thought about, per se. What did you mean by that?

    Hugh Willard [00:27:16]:
    So it’s a word that’s coming into a little bit more of the public sort of vernacular these days, and with good reason. It’s just a lot of sort of, I think, passive or subtle conditioning that we have with respect to associating aging with declining capacity. We can think about the physical limitations. We tend to overshoot on that because we can do more than we consider we can do. But certainly along other fronts, we look at people as they age, as their limitations are more just more prohibitive. They’re more, you know, they limit folks. And that’s not accurate. That’s not true.

    Hugh Willard [00:27:58]:
    The internal ageism is where we unwittingly buy into this messaging ourselves as we age, and we just consider that, well, you know what? I don’t have the capacities that I used to have, and my memory is not as strong as it used to be. And if we aren’t more conscious and more discerning about this, that kind of stuff will just sort of carry us downriver. So, yeah, I mean, there are certain realities to just the declines that happen. Memory is not as sharp, but there are other sorts of cognitive capacities and functions that are actually sharper. You know, we do have greater capacities and different styles of cognitive processing and creative output. We have something in our brain called the default mode network. And, you know, when we really stay engaged in things, we become much more discerning than when we’re younger. So it’s not as though it’s just a straight decline.

    Hugh Willard [00:29:03]:
    It really is this process of how do I continue to learn about the shifts that I experience, what that means in terms of skills and advantages that I have now that I didn’t have before, as well as what does it mean in terms of limitations that I have now that I did not have before? How do I allow for both of those qualities of experience? And that serves me, and it serves everyone around me as well, for sure.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:29:30]:
    I’ve never heard someone explain the internal ageism, which is, it seems like, could be even more damaging than the external.

    Hugh Willard [00:29:37]:
    Sure. Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:29:40]:
    And is that something you’ve had to. That’s something you’ve had to conquer? I guess maybe you never conquer it, but you. That’s something you have to stay vigilant about for yourself as well.

    Hugh Willard [00:29:50]:
    Stay vigilant about? Yes, I feel very fortunate, and maybe this is a byproduct of my tenure as a therapist. I have not really bought into that messaging of limitation. So I think, as evidenced by a choice to go back to school at this time in life.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:30:08]:
    Yeah.

    Hugh Willard [00:30:09]:
    And, you know, extending forward. So. So that’s. I’ve been fortunate, but it is something that I have to stay vigilant with, and. And. But I see it around quite a bit. So we have a lot of work to do in that area, and this.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:30:22]:
    Speaks to why I think you’re a good example for people to follow. But maybe tell me a little bit more about. I mean, I want you to brag, so this doesn’t count as bragging. Tell me why you’re a good example. And I think it’s because. Because you’re not immune from these. This internal ageism, but you’ve. But you still find a way through it.

    Hugh Willard [00:30:41]:
    Yeah, well, so I think there’s a number of angles on this, but if we go back to the band. I was in the band for ten years, and as I said, there’s a. There’s a good age spread there. So I enjoy. One of the things I think, that helps us is to be engaged. I call it intergenerational connectivity, you know, connecting across generations. I think that serves everybody. And so, you know, a couple of the members of the band.

    Hugh Willard [00:31:10]:
    They were 17, 817 years younger. And actually, the. The last member that joined late. We’ve gone through a few drummers, had gone through a few drummers. He was even younger, so there was quite a span there, and I didn’t feel out of place with that. There was not this sense of differentiation. We were all members of the band. So, you know, to continue to pursue things of interest.

    Hugh Willard [00:31:34]:
    And, you know, this sounds a little typecasting, but folks who retire and enjoy pickleball, great. Wonderful. I haven’t done that yet. I probably will sometime. But we’re not too old to learn. We’re not too old to engage. You know, I’m still playing music just.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:31:54]:
    Like any of us. I’m sure you’ve had times where you failed, but how do you look at that when you do in a way that might be healthier than the way someone else might?

    Hugh Willard [00:32:05]:
    Well, and this is just a little trick that I use, but, yeah, failure does not feel good. I mean, that’s a universal truth. It does not feel good. And certainly we can have a lot of different inspirational quips and quotes that help us with overcoming failure. It’s hard, but going into the face of it, you know, there are times when we should quit. There are times when we fail, and we should acknowledge that this is not my bailiwick. I should be doing something different. That said, I think often we’re too quick to quit because of early failure.

    Hugh Willard [00:32:44]:
    And that’s unfortunate because it’s all a part of a larger learning process. I like to think about what I call lowercase f failure, and then capital letter f failure. And. Yeah, and so it’s okay. And hopefully, as we get older, we are getting into a space where we’re more comfortable with perceptions of failure. Certainly outside of ourselves, there is our own frustration with not being successful, but also that idea that how will I be perceived by others? And the sense of shame or embarrassment that may come with depending on what the failure is. But hopefully, we get more comfortable as we get older. And, yeah, I mean, if you want a good experience, if you want a lot of practice with failure, go into the writing business.

    Hugh Willard [00:33:39]:
    You know, submissions for articles and books and queries. You know, if you. If you just feel like you don’t have enough failure in your life and you need some more just to help you get more steeled to it, go into the business of writing.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:33:54]:
    Absolutely. You. Something I learned when I was younger and I was trying to date was that failure’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person cause someone says no to anything like that or a writing submission, you never know what kind of place they were in that day or maybe just wasn’t the right fit. Well, tell me, Hugh, so we’ve definitely talked about this, but I want to get like a concise, juicy morsel from you since you’re so wise of what your definition of, quote, retirement is.

    Hugh Willard [00:34:27]:
    So retirement is a transition away from typically a lengthy quality of experience that is about work, whether that be outside of the home or within the home. And it is a transition to a new phase of life that offers freedom, opportunity, and in some manner of speaking, loss. Because there are changes that are a part of that. You know, I’m not going to define it more specifically than that because it shouldn’t be. There should be a nice width to the opportunities that one perceives in front of them. So retiring means to move away from one thing and to go into the next and where that energy is really focused in the going into the next that serves, you know, that serves the individual the best.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:35:25]:
    Perfect. Well. So tell me, Q, where can people find you? Or go and get your book or this is your chance to plug your things here.

    Hugh Willard [00:35:35]:
    Yep. Absolutely. So online, online. Amazon.com comma barnesandnoble.com. they can go to Warren Publishing. W a r r e n, Warren Publishing. They can access it there. They can learn more about me@hughwillard.com.

    Hugh Willard [00:35:55]:
    that has all my writing stuff. I’ve got blog posts there as well as my podcast. They can go to findingbeautyinthegrey.com to go more directly to the catalog of my podcasts. But my music is on my website, so that’s really a good place for folks to go.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:36:14]:
    Okay, great. Hugh, thank you so much for being on the happiest retirees podcast. I’ve learned so much and I know that listening will as well.

    Hugh Willard [00:36:23]:
    It’s been a pleasure.

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