Last week I entered my 7th decade. WOW!
In taking stock of the past 60 years, I am humbled by all that has contributed. No road is smooth and mine has been bumpy as any. Shifts in career, income, relationship and marital status, spirituality, and psychology have been part and parcel.
I have been fortunate to enjoy consistently good health and a stable home, redefining family with my ex-wife, Jennifer. We have crafted a working partnership that has born a loving family and thriving winery. I continue to enjoy my parents, who travel to visit and join us on our Halleck Vineyard excursions. My sons are healthy, smart and active in very individual lives. They are all artists, gifted with keen intellect and strong life skills.
I am blessed beyond measure, filled with gratitude and awe. I say with conviction that the 50s were the happiest decade of my life. Something shifted during that decade which redefined my relationship with myself. Jung described it as a "Middle Passage", and I felt a textbook example.
In my early adulthood, I was excited by the accomplishments I accrued. Be it my career, financial status, physical exploits, family, or even the car I drove, I found meaning in identifying with these. In defining myself by what the world saw about me, I was buoyed by recognition and achievement. This is typical of many at this phase of life.
Something shifted at the end of my 5th decade, or late 40s. The "stuff" I described stopped working. My career was fine, but not fulfilling. My family faltered and I began to derail. I bought a fancy car as therapy, but it didn’t help. I was healthy on the outside, but I was unhappy on the inside. There were no charts for navigating these waters.
After several years of exploration and experimentation, I pieced together a revised world-view and set of practices that redirected my course. Something opened up within that aligned me with myself. What the world expected was no longer my operative. For the first time in my life, I truly understood the meaning of "integrity". I came to realize it as something very personal. When in concert with one’s integrity and humility, the world generally responds harmoniously.
So my 50s were an expression of this liberation. I stopped striving for financial gains and followed my heart in almost everything. I explored my dreams (literally). Rather than travel around the world as I had done for decades, I began adventuring within. My inner reaches were my new frontier. I still hopped on planes across the US and to Italy, Kenya, Honduras, Peru, Paraguay and Brazil, but these journeys were simply new settings, not the end-game. I realized with delight rather than chagrin that “wherever you go, there you are”.
There was a price for this apparent disengagement from common culture. I had created a thriving career in my early adulthood that progressively became less productive. I was not motivated to sell my consulting services and devoted myself more to making wine and a spiritual path; neither pay many bills. While I maintained ultimate faith in myself, I could tell that those around me who cared were concerned. I was going the wrong direction financially for someone looking at retirement just a short distance away.
But at the year’s turn, the onset of this next decade, the world shifted again. Something clicked inside. Inspiration struck.
In January, I wrote a business plan and 30-page marketing plan for the winery. I realized that I could not do it myself, so I reached out to people I admired to assemble a Board. Every person I invited agreed to participate. Jennifer and I hired counsel based on recommendations from the Board and rewrote our operating agreement. Then we raised capital to grow the winery. The “ask” went out to a few wine club members and friends; we hit our first target in a week.
Last week I celebrated my 60th birthday at Lake Tahoe. I was surrounded by love, including my parents, my sons, my ex-wife, a sweet lady, Sharon, and my dearest friends. Most are also wine club members. Mike, Patti, Kevin and Karen threw a party for me at a gorgeous home on Carnelian Bay. I blew out 60 candles in one breath and almost passed out ;-).
We enjoyed a BIG bottle of bubbly from Iron Horse and shared the first bottle of wine from our vineyard with our group: 2001 Tandem Winery, Halleck Vineyard, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. The wine was STUNNING, still shining after all these years. This is the wine that put Halleck Vineyard on the map, winning the prestigious Pinot Noir Summit, rendering it the #1 Pinot Noir in the US in 2002.
We spent the following day on the exquisite Wild Goose II, plying the waters of Lake Tahoe for 3 hours, successfully dodging local showers breaking across the lake. The panorama of threat, dappled with shifting spots of sunshine, were breathtaking. The waters remained calm, allowing us a swim in a sheltered cove. We ended our water excursion at Sand Harbor, Nevada, where we had a catered meal awaiting under the trees of the Shakespeare Village. Charlie Fee, Creative Director for the Festival, graced our party with a prelude to the show, “As You Like it”. When dinner was done, we carried our wine glasses to the front section to enjoy the three-hour performance under a starlit sky.
I awoke early the next morning after a late wine-filled night, a bit the worse for wear. I cycled 40 miles around a portion of the lake with a local friend, Sam Padden. Heading out of Northstar, we climbed 3000 feet during the ride, starting already at over a mile of altitude. Though I was depleted slowly pumping through the last mile into Northstar, it felt a fitting way to launch into my 60s: healthy and fit.
Punctuated by these experiences, I enter this new decade with great optimism. Each ten year cycle has had its own character. My 50s were about alignment and joy. I anticipate the 60s will be about integration and preparation.
I intend to integrate my skills, knowledge, and wisdom to prepare a foundation for a secure future. I am supported by an engaged community of family, friends, and business colleagues. And I have the life experience and integrity to guide a ship through troubled times into safe harbor.
The economy seems to be in a sustainable upturn. The global cost of labor is keeping costs down and contributing to an increase in profit. This bodes well for a luxury product like fine wine. Further, our focus on building community seems to strike a chord of resonance that is encouraging for business as in life.
So I have great reason to be optimistic. And excited! Thank you for sharing this road.