Tag Archives: Boise

Identity Lies

For about five years, in our late 40s, Mark and I tried ‘Pretirement.”Mark on Grand Ronde

Never heard of it?

It’s where you live as if you’d retired, even though it’s not sustainable.

This meant that Mark stopped wearing casual-but-smart slacks and shirts while working as a reasonably well paid hydrogeological consultant with Pacific Groundwater Group, (which he co-founded with 2 friends in our living room in 1987) , and instead  wore whatever he wanted while rafting, playing, hiking, biking and working part-time taking care of a few rental homes we’d managed to buy in Boise, Idaho. 

I stopped working in the trenches at a community mental health center, re-trained as a Life Coach, and took on  painting and gardening at the rentals.

So, we didn’t really put our feet up so much as become totally flexible. Most days we could work to a human rhythm. Breakfast and walks to school with the kids; tea and toast after school for our two, plus any friends of theirs who needed a second home. We could play in the big back-yard wilderness of southern Idaho according to the season’s dictates – biking, rafting, hiking, and skiing. All close by and affordable*.

So – why in the midst of living the “good life” did we lie?

Remember – we were new to Boise, Idaho and had left family, community and professions in the Pacific Northwest. So, here’s how it looked to start with:

  • New friend #1          Hey Mark, so what do you do?
  • Mark Utting               I’m, er, a Hydrogeologist.
  • New friend #1           Oh, with which firm?
  • Mark Utting               I had my own company up in Washington State.
  • New friend #1           So, you’re commuting, or starting Boise branch?
  • Mark Utting               No, right now I’m, well . . . managing some rental  property.

Note – the initial need to identify himself as ~

  1. his profession (Hydrogeologist)
  2. his most recent success (company owner)
  3. the most acceptable form of work he could muster (managing rentals)

We began to notice ourselves not speaking the truth of our new lives in all sorts of ways. 

We were shocked to realize how much we had bought into the status anxiety of our times. We apparently still believed it was somehow preferable to identify ourselves by our professional titles and past successes. We were embarrassed to tell the truth – that we’d had enough of the fast track and had chosen to dramatically simplify, foster our creative sides, work on some rentals, re-tool, downsize – call it what you will. But we were massively guilty of lying-by-omission.

So we took a long hard look at our choices and ourselves and decided to embrace our new life by telling the truth.

  • New friend #2           Hey Mark, so what do you do?
  • Mark Utting                Have fun!
  • New friend #2            Yea, but where do you work?
  • Mark Utting                You know, I don’t identify myself by my work right now. I’m committed to following my own path to see where it leads. I play music in a group, I write songs, I ride my bike, raft and hike in summer, and ski in winter. We swapped out our nice single-family home in Port Townsend for a tiny one and some rentals, which we’re fixing up. We’re long on time and short on cash – but I’m having more fun now than I ever have!
  • New friend #2             [Responses ran the gamut! From pity to envy and lots in between]
  • Mark Utting                And you, what makes you happy?

So – my questions to you today are these:

How do you identify yourself?

  • married
  • doctor
  • divorced
  • sister
  • therapist
  • engineer
  • cancer survivor
  • college graduate
  • high school senior

Are these enough? Is it enough to be defined by what you’ve done (high school or college) or what you do (doctor or therapist) or what you’ve survived (cancer, divorce)?

And is this identity big enough to hold the all of you?  Not just the you who goes to work, but the you who loves, cares, creates, raises kids, walks dogs, grows petunias, feeds wild birds, dreams, grows?

If not – what else might you call yourself?

And, can you tell this truth to anyone, or is this still your closet self?

Rocky Canyon* “Affordable” skiing? Yes, if you back country ski you drive to snow, stick skins on your skis and hike up what you plan to ski down. Mark shot this photo of me about 5 miles from our home in Boise. When you wake up to this it’s wonderful to have a flexible schedule!   Also, if you live in Boise it costs all of $228 USD for an early purchase discount pass to Bogus Basin .

$86,400 ~ A Day

Part 3 of 5 “Emotions 101.” Today we explore  ~

You get $86,400 a day and you’re “Fine?” How about Astounded, Excited or Triumphant

My friend Byron in Boise, Idaho (USA) told me of a way I can access $86,400 a day, for life. He sent me this gift right as I was writing this post about how to inspire folks to live a little. To discover inner states beyond “OK” and “Fine.” To be motivated to wake up and notice (and maybe sniff) the roses. He told me how I can access this gift today, even in the face of another ordinary, cereal-and-toast, off-to-work, home-again-too-late, TV-and-dinner-and-bed sort of day.

What a gift!  So, I thought I’d share it with you.

It’s something to think about.

Imagine you have won the following prize in a contest:

Each morning your bank deposits $86,400.00 in your private account for your personal use. However, this prize has rules, just as any game has certain rules.

  • Rule #1  ~  Everything you didn’t spend during each day would be taken away. You may not simply transfer money into some other account. You may only spend it. Each morning upon awakening, the bank opens your account with another $86,400.00 for that day.
  • Rule #2  ~  The bank can end the game without warning. At any time it can say, “Game over!” It can close the account and you will not receive a new one.

How would you feel?



Or maybe astonished at your luck; relieved at no-more-money-worries; eager to get out and spend; excited about the possibilities; anxious that the game may end without you fully participating; elated at the wanton generosity; longing to make things better for someone else; deeply compassionate for the wider world which now, perhaps, you can help.

Not sure you can find enough good words to describe your inner bliss? Click here ~  Parrott Emotions Tree 2001 ~ for a fabulous list of emotions you can easily sort through.

Wow – what a high!

You can imagine feeling so alive, so vibrant, so present as you take care of yourself, your family and those around you. You’d spend every cent every day since you couldn’t save it. You’d be quivering with the challenge and responsibility for how to make your daily investments of dollars.

What if I told you this was not a game, but reality.

To access your prize, just substitute “Time” for “Dollars”.

Each morning you wake up to another 86,400 seconds as a gift of life.

At the end of the day any unspent seconds will not be credited back to you. You’ll have the memories for how you invested your seconds yesterday. You’ll have the excitement of a whole new 86,400 coming tomorrow – you hope. But the living of these seconds – that’s your own wild and juicy ride.

What to do?

Notice you’re alive! Notice what words you’d use to describe how you feel in these seconds of alive. Are they variations on themes of love, joy, gratitude and surprise? If so, great. Get specific about how great you feel, pay attention to what helps get you to those states, and tomorrow – when you have your next 86,400 second installment – do these things some more.

Start spending!

PS: If you feel bad in the face of your 86,400 seconds see “I Feel So Bad”.

Tomorrow:    “I feel like you should…”  If this is how you’ve been talking about your feelings, it’s time to learn how to be more honest and effective.