For those of you who care about such matters, I am 67 years old – have a BA in economics, an MBA in finance, an MA in clinical psychology, an MA in Organizational Development, and a Ph.D. in Human and Organizational Systems. I am relatively knowledgeable on the subjects of human systems change, dynamic (or complex adaptive) systems theory, adult psychological development, positive psychology, and aging. I am an INTP on the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator, and a #5 on the Enneagram.
My Ph.D. was earned from the Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara California. The reason this is significant is that Fielding represents one of the first adult learning institutions in the country. It allowed me to design my own program of education, taught me to become a self-directed learner, while also emphasizing the need for its graduates to become “scholar-practitioners” – as opposed to training us as more traditional academic or research Ph.Ds. Along with my own research and life experiences, this has allowed me to filter through the volumes of almost indecipherable current academic research and literature on aging theory. From this self-directed inquiry I have designed a systemic and pragmatic approach to aging – based on dynamic systems theory – that almost any motivated older adult can utilize to significantly improve their quality of life, and perhaps even discover what Abraham Maslow called “self-actualization” or Eastern spiritual traditions refer to as “enlightenment.”
I think I should also give you a little personal information so you know where I am coming from at this stage in my life. My work career was primarily in the automotive industry, and I lived in Detroit for over 20 years. I was the CFO of a major automotive electronics company, but hated my work and most of the people I worked with. Of course it really wasn’t about the people or the work (it was about me), so I was very lucky when my wife dragged me kicking and screaming into psychotherapy in 1985. Luckily I had a medical plan that paid for it at the time. This was clearly a turning point in my life. Until I began to look at myself more objectively, I just acted out my feelings and conditioning without any real understanding of what I was doing. Psychotherapy began for me what many Eastern spiritual traditions refer to as the “awakening” process.
But what actually knocked me out of my deep sleep was coming down with cancer, and going through two surgeries and five months of the most difficult chemotherapy a person could endure. Following my recovery (and I am completely recovered and cancer-free today), I made a plan to quit my toxic job, start a consulting company, and go back to school. Once re-established, we moved to Colorado, and then again to where we live today.
I have been teaching for the last twelve years in a learning in retirement program located at Furman University in Greenville SC – now called OLLI at Furman – with almost 2000 students. I have taught many classes at this institution over the years: Self-Actualization, Successful Aging, Creative Aging, multiple courses in Psychology, The Differences Between Men and Women, Introversion, Relationships, Developmental Psychology, Personality Theory, Psycho-Spiritual Development, Elder Wisdom Circle, Emotional Intelligence, Multiple Intelligences, and more.
I always taught what I was interested in learning myself. I am an intrepid self-directed learner, so I would eagerly study what I was teaching – usually staying only a couple of weeks ahead of my students. Little did I know there was an unconscious plan in my choice of classes, and that one day it would coalesce into the Dynamic Aging Program (DAP) I began teaching in the Fall of 2014.
During the time I have been teaching and coming up with the ideas for this program, I have also had total replacement surgeries for both knees and one hip – all three surgeries occurring within a two-year span. I have worked very hard at re-habilitating my body following these surgeries, and Chris and I actively engage in ongoing psycho-spiritual developmental programs and practices – which have led to improvements in just about all other aspects of my life. I have been applying aspects of dynamic aging to my own life during this recovery and growth process, and trying to ‘walk the talk” as best I can.
The bottom line of this discussion is that I am NOT an expert on dynamic aging, nor a guru of any sort – but I have learned a lot about optimal aging over the years, and especially during these past three years while teaching the DAP. It was always my intention to learn as much or more from our interactions in the classroom and on this website as those of you who participate in my classes. This has certainly been the case, and I am grateful to have such a wonderful and intelligent core group of students.
Enough for now. I think you will get to know me better over time by reading my blog – if you are inclined to so do. I am not trying to make any money off this website or the ideas behind the dynamic aging process, so I have nothing to lose by being as open and honest as I can be.