Season 3
46 Minutes

103 | Doe Hentschel, Ph.D. | What I Have Learned In My Third Age!

Doe Hentschel, Ph.D. is a former professional child actress who has had a sweeping career in Adult and Continuing Education, with tenures as the Dean of Adult and Continuing Education at SUNY Brockport and Dean of Extended and Continuing Education at the University of Connecticut.

For the last 20 years, Doe has been the Director of the Third Age Initiative at Leadership Greater Hartford, a program that develops, inspires, and engages older adults in meaningful ways in the community. Doe recently turned 80 and just published her first book Look, Ma! No Hands!


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Doe Hentschel  00:00

I started dramatic lessons and I was in a church play at Christmas time, probably being a shepherd or an angel or something I don’t know. And somebody turned to my mother and said, you know, you should take the Loris down to KSD, which was a radio station, because they’re auditioning children for television. And my mother said, What is television?

Achim Nowak  00:27

Hey, this is Achim Nowak, executive coach and host of the MY FOURTH ACT podcast. If life is a five act play, how will you spend your FOURTH ACT? I have conversations with exceptional humans who have created bold and unexpected FOURTH ACTS, listen, and to be inspired. And please rate us and subscribe on whatever platform you are listening on. Let’s get started. I am so delighted to welcome Doe Hentschel to the my fourth act podcast. Those first career as a professional child actress began in St. Louis in 1947. Before doe turned five, much of her early career took place in the time of life radio and live television. What followed in the decades afterwards was a sweeping grownup career in adult and continuing education. With 10 years as the dean of adult and continuing education at SUNY Brockport, and extended and Continuing Education at the University of Connecticut. for over 20 years, dough has also been involved in various capacities with leadership Greater Hartford, one of the truly exceptional civic leadership organizations in the United States. At leadership Greater Hartford dou directs the third stage Initiative, a program that develops, inspires and engages older adults in meaningful ways in the community. So just turned 80 And also just published her first book called look, ma, no hands. Hello, DOE.

Doe Hentschel  02:15

Hello, Achim How are you today?

Achim Nowak  02:17

I’m good. I’m just so delighted to have this conversation with you. I knew a little bit about you, as we prepared but I had not known that you had been a child actress and I have a theatre background. I had a professional career. So I’m itching to know how does one become a child actress at a very, very young age. How did that happen?

Doe Hentschel  02:40

Well, it was kind of an accident alternative for what the school district wanted to do. My birthday was in late October. And when it was time, we lived in a suburb of St. Louis at the time. I am the oldest child in my parents family. I have an older half brother, but I was headed off to kindergarten just before I turned five. The school district wanted to put me in first grade. And my mother who had also graduated from high school early at the age of 16. wanted no part of that. It had not been a good experience for her. She did not go further in her education. And she said nope. Dolores, that’s my real name. Dolores, I was a little girl I was petite. And she was she said there’s no way I’m not. We’re not doing that. So the school district said, well, then you need to find something to occupy her mind. She will be bored in school. This is long before the time of gifted education and things like that. I’m sure I would have been in such a program. And they suggested dramatic school because they said I was very verbal people who know me now if I tell this story, they laugh, because they can’t imagine that I was verbal at that age. Of course I was. So my mom went to the phonebook. You remember what those are, and looked up children’s dramatic schools. And it happened that she found the good one in St. Louis. It was at a half an hour away. I want you to go back to think well, you won’t wouldn’t remember but some of your listeners will in the mid 1940s. It wasn’t even common for women to drive yet. But we managed to call this junior Theatre in University City, Missouri. We lived in Kirkwood, and asked if she could bring me it could start lessons and Miss Epstein. The woman who owned it said well I don’t take children under six. So my mother explained the situation she said well bring her down and let me meet you and Dolores and maybe I’ll have some suggestions. And the family lore is this story. We went to junior theater I vividly have a visual memory of the storefront that this little dramatic school was in Miss Epstein’s desk was in the front and we sat down by her desk and we talked for a while And then she asked me if I knew any poems and I said, Yes. And she said, Well, would you walk down the to the stage, there was a stage at the end of this room go up on the stage. I’d like to hear you recite that poem, I recited Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem, my shadow. Out of that goes in and out with me more of what can be the use that I can see. I don’t know why I knew it. But I did. And I do not have a personal memory of this because I was down on the stage. But my mother always said, Miss Epstein looked at me and said, it’s not a question of well, I take her but may I have her? I started dramatic lessons. And I was in a church play at Christmas time, probably being a shepherd or an angel or something I don’t know. And somebody turned to my mother and said, you know, you should take the Loris down to KSD, which was a radio station, because they’re auditioning children for television. And my mother said, What is television? What is television? She took me to, she found out what was television, Miss Epstein helped prepare me for an audition. My audition was that I recited a children’s book called Mr. Do and Mr. Don’t it was about manners. And the again, story family story is that in the middle of this Mr. Severan, Russ seven, who was the producer and was going to be the star of Uncle Ross’s family. It turned to my mother and he said, How long does this take? I don’t know. And he said, Dolores, please stop. We want to start from the beginning and time it because you were going to use this on the first show. And that is how I became not only a child actress, but the only child actress in St. Louis at that time.

Achim Nowak  06:47

I love so many things about this story. But clearly you were meant to be an actress. And you’re taking us back to a time of the late 40s early 50s television which is starting. There were lots of movies but lots of radio. If you had to share with us a story that you remember yourself, not that somebody in your family told you where you go, where you went, Wow, this is cool. This is fun. I love doing this as a child activists. What’s it? What’s a moment that says,

Doe Hentschel  07:18

I do not have those memories? Really? Oh, yeah, I’ve never looked at it as something that was fun or cool. It was just something I did. And I will tell you that my peers in school did not think it was all that cool either. Hmm. I have a vivid memory of being pushed down in third grade, being pushed down on the playground surface, which in those days, they weren’t as careful about as they are now and scraping the side of my face. And my first thought was, oh, my gosh, I have a show tomorrow. And I had a scraped face. I do not remember thinking it was cool at all. It was just something that I did.

Achim Nowak  07:59

Did you enjoy any of it? Or was it not enjoyable?

Doe Hentschel  08:04

I wouldn’t say it was not not enjoyable. But if I if you asked me what kind of fun did I have as a child? It wouldn’t include. I don’t think it would include anything related to the professional work that I did. I mean, I remember practicing I remember lessons. I had dancing lessons. I only danced once on television. And Uncle Russ told me that I should not ask to do so again. I had I was told I was tone deaf. And we sang on television. Once there’s a story about that in my book. It was just something I did. It was a part of my life. I’m very conscious of the fact that I had a different childhood than any of my friends. And there’s some irony in that my parents, they really wanted to do good by me. And they decided that they didn’t want me to go to Professional Children’s School, because they wanted me to have a normal childhood. Which of course was impossible. Because nobody in my world did what I did. We did move. We moved to New York when I was the summer before I turned eight. We had gone to visit relatives, both my parents were from the east, bother from Boston mother from Long Island. We went to visit family and my mother thought it would be interesting to see if I could get a job in New York. So she got a copy of variety found an ad for a little girl for a commercial. That was the tryout and the actual performance. We’re going to be while we were there. So she said Well, let’s go see what happens. And I had my first New York audition. It was only the second audition in my life. The first one being Mr. Do and Mr. Don’t. Hundreds a my my little childhood memory remembers 100 Girls lined up lined up in the hallway. The problem was a lot and we came back to my aunt’s house and my mother announced that I had the job. And we had to go back two days later for me to eat some cereal on TV that propelled my parents to decide to move to New York because my father. In fact, the following day, he went over to Republic aircraft and got a job as a general foreman, he was a foreman at McDonnell aircraft in St. Louis. He is he was Jewish. And he was well aware of the fact that as a Jewish man, he would not ever be promoted beyond a form at McDonnell aircraft. So I got this little job as a to do eat some cereal. He went the next day to Republic aircraft got a job as a general foreman, and we moved to New York where we lived for two and a half years. In New York, I left school almost every day, my mother would pick me up at lunchtime, and we would drive to someplace on Long Island and take the subway to the city. And I would either have some rehearsals or some tryouts, or some performances or whatever, almost every day.

Achim Nowak  10:54

The theater person who just loves all these stories, you chose to not become a professional actress in your adult life. And I want to I want to get us in the conversation to the work you’ve done in adult and continuing education. And there’s different language use around it. You have a doctorate in that field. So you’ve applied yourself and studied, let us know, like, how is adult learning, maybe different from somebody going to high school or a young person doing college? What’s the difference in adult learning, based on what you know?

Doe Hentschel  11:36

It’s a huge difference. I got into the field, almost accidentally, I was ready to I was determined to that I had to go back to work for my own spiritual and emotional and intellectual health and well being at a time when women were not doing that. This was 1972 when I made that decision. But I wound up getting my first job as coordinator of women’s programs that William Rainey Harper College, which was a very large and progressive community college in a suburb of Chicago, where my husband and I were living. And I was hired to develop a women’s program for women like myself, well educated suburban women who were probably somewhat depressed, because there was no way to use your knowledge and your information. Because at that time, women who were married, at least stayed home and took care of the kids. About 1415 months later, I was promoted to be the Director of Community Services. At that time, my husband and I separated for a while, got back together. And I realized that I was possibly working not just for my emotional health, for a career, or at least to earn money so that I could support myself and contribute to the support of our two children. And I went back to school to get a doctorate. And that’s when I learned how to be an adult educator. At the time, there was a word that was widely used called andragogy. You may know that word I know very well. And you may even have known at some point in time, Malcolm Knowles,

Achim Nowak  13:14

I have read his book. Yes.

Doe Hentschel  13:17

Well, what was our Bible? Yeah, and I will tell you, in 2013, I was inducted into the International adult continuing education Hall of Fame. And all I could do was gape at that whole idea. It just shocked me because Malcolm Knowles is one of the people in the Hall of Fame. All the people whose books I read are in the Hall of Fame. And and now so am I. The difference is, in a nutshell, traditional pedagogues teachers of children. I was trained that way. In college, I did get my teacher certification in drama, speech and English, I didn’t give up the drama completely. We were taught to give information to teach people how to do what we knew how to do. And I’ve always summarize that by saying the pedagogue says to the child, stem, you need to learn this. I’m going to teach you and someday you will be glad that I taught it to you. Yeah. The andragogy the teacher of the adult, recognizes that this is a collaborative experience, a collaborative activity that both of us are going to learn. And the focus is going to be on what do you need to learn as a student and I instead of saying, This is what you need to learn, I ask, what is it you need to learn at this time in your life? And how can I help you learn it? So the learner is actively engaged? My role as an educator of adults is to create the environment and the situation and provide the resources that enable the person to learn what it is they want and need to learn at that moment.

Achim Nowak  14:59

Where From your sponsor, that’s me. I invite you to go to the website associated with this podcast Fourth, you will find other equally inspiring conversation with great humans. And you will also learn more about the my fourth act mastermind groups where cool people figure out how to chart their own fourth acts. Please check it out. And now back to the conversation. What a beautiful and to me very clear distinction. So fast forward to leadership, Greater Hartford, which is an extraordinary every city in United States has their own version of leadership, Greater Hartford, but there’s so much I’ve been blessed to know a few people there, there’s a certain special sauce at leadership, Greater Hartford, in my opinion, and the work you do in communities. And you’re a part of so redefining how to work with older populations was a third age initiative. So let’s begin with for listeners who don’t know leadership, Greater Hartford, do you see as the special sauce and leadership were to Hartford

Doe Hentschel  16:13

with this special sauce, we really believe that leadership is a collaborative, much like adult learning, I said is a collaborative effort. think leadership is a collaborative effort. And I’m not sure that all leadership organizations would agree with that. Yeah. And and we practice what we preach. Significant staff changes since you first became acquainted with in 2014. Ted Carroll was was our president for 35 years. And he retired three years ago, he brought an understanding as a community organizer, and a trained, he has a master’s in social work. He came into community leadership, when he was hired as as the executive director 38 years ago now, he brought with him a sense, that really is a lot like adult education, you got to involve people he created. And I instead of just telling people about what the issues are in the community and how they need to be fixed, he designed an approach of forming teams or task forces, each of which take on an issue that they then learn about in a self directed way, and create initiatives or projects that will make a difference in the community. And this is seen as a way to help them learn how to be engaged in the community in ways that they will then do for the rest of their lives. FGH has one of those task forces was formed in 1997, around the issue of enhancing the quality of life for older people. And they did their thing that year, which turned out to be a conference for people about learning about services and things that were available for adult older adults. And when they debriefed at the end of their year, they recognize that they had they themselves had that made much of a change. And they said, we really think that older adults are undervalued in our community, they have so much talent and wisdom and experience and they’re not welcomed. You know, nobody wants to hear what they think nobody wants to give them an opportunity to do what they how they can contribute. And so they said we really want to have an add a program kind of like our other program for people to get them engaged in the community. One other community leadership organization in the country had done that. But they did it in a more traditional way where people came once a week and learned about the school board. And once a week came about the police department, public safety and so on. But this class, this team said, we’re going to stay together and we’re going to find the funding to create a program for older adults that looks a lot like our program for us in mid career. And my angels were at work, because they had trouble finding the funding. And it took them three years to find the funding. Because I hadn’t retired yet. And I retired at the age of 58. Because I could do that. Not easily but I could do it and I wanted to be a hands on grandma, I had a two year old grandson. I was working at the time and Virginia as a consultant with Thomas Nelson Community College, the largest single family, single campus community college in Virginia at the time, they were on the verge of becoming a multi campus college and I was there working For two years to help them reorganize and restructure all of their outreach, continuing education, workforce development, alumni activity, and so on. And I had this little baby back in Connecticut who I was driving to Connecticut once a month to see him. And the stock market went crazy in the winter of 2000. And I decided there was a way I could retire early. And I came home in July, knowing that I was going to have to do something part time, wasn’t ready to retire, I was just ready to be home. And figured I would wait till my son got married in January, to begin to think about anything. And the angels had another plan because in October, I was a friend from Boston, I had was visiting, we went out to the casino, which is way out in the boonies in Connecticut. And coming home, my car dashboard lit up looked like it was about ready to explode. Turns out I had no fluid in the radiator. We got home by snapping and pouring water in every so often Monday morning, I took the car to the dealer, and they told me it was going to be a $4,000 repair. And I said I don’t think so this car has 200,000 miles on it. I’ve been driving back and forth from Virginia every month, I came home with a new car and a $425 car payment in my budget that was not in my budget. I picked up the Sunday paper to throw away and the classified ads were on the top. And I thought well, I’m not going to find a job in the classified ads. I was not interested in higher education anymore. But I was a big deal in higher education. My last job had been a vice president said I’m just going to go through here and write down anything that sounds interesting. And that is the only day I came in 48 years that leadership Greater Hartford has ever put an ad in the Hartford current. And it was a little tiny ad that was looking for a part time program director to develop a new program for senior citizens they use the word senior citizens. Seniors are older than I am no matter how old I am. And but they were looking for someone to direct develop the curriculum for a program of leadership program for senior citizens who would be able to facilitate that program and who could recruit a class and it would be helpful if this person knew something about evaluation. Because this was a grant funded program. My dissertation title was program evaluation for adult education administrator. I had started the Center for Learning and retirement at the University of Connecticut where I did serve as Dean for nine years, I had started another Center for Leadership learning in later life in LaSalle, college and Boston, where I had served as a consultant to help them develop a program to make it reasonable, possible and attractive for everyone who lived in a senior continuing care retirement community that they were building on their campus. by court order, they were allowed to build that building if in fact the people who live there would spend 450 hours a year learning and I was hired as a consultant to help them figure out how in the world they were going to do that. I told them, it would be easy because we know that adult learner adults, in all societies, in all socio economic levels, in all countries, will spend an average of six to 700 hours a year learning in stuff, most of it in a self directed way, but purposeful, I want to learn about this, therefore, I’m going to read this book, I’m going to take a class, maybe I’m going to go and visit and see what happens. I’m going to talk to someone else who does it. But the research is unequivocally clear that 450 hours a year is not a lot for people to learn. That is the fact they that number comes from the fact that that’s how many hours of full time students sits in a college classroom. So I had done all that work with older adults and I had taught leadership when I was a professor, I had taught leadership programs. I had taught group dynamics programs, core courses, I had done so many things that related to what would become the curriculum of the Third Age initiative, that it was kind of a natural. We have all been convinced that was 23 years ago, 23 and a half years ago, we’ve all been convinced that the angels were waiting for all those pieces to come together. Had I not been looking that morning. I never would have known about it.

Achim Nowak  24:41

So what is you have done cert agent nifty to do for a long time now and I’m going to ask an impossible question. But if you if you had to think of a moment or an event or an individual where you go yeah, this is why I love doing the three DeGeneres motive. This is what I want this work to be. What comes to mind?

Doe Hentschel  25:05

Well, it’s hard to come up with one. But I’m gonna bow tie it into my other thing I said in in higher education, it was the the joy that I got. And it and it truly was joy was when I saw the impact that going back to college had on adults changed their lives, I said, graduation reminds me of why I do this work with LTCH. And we have now served over 400 people in that program, I’m gearing up to start the 17th program in the fall. With the Third Age initiative, in some ways, the participants are like that adult who says I need to go back to school to learn something new, my life needs to go in a different direction. What the Third Age initiative does is help people who are retired who, unfortunately many times feel that they have nothing else to offer. They feel like you know they’ve lost their position. Later life is a time of loss, there is no question, you get old, and you give up your your job. And you probably identified yourself as a teacher and engineer, a bus driver, a whatever we are our work is in this society, you give that up when you retire, your children have grown up. And while you may have a wonderful relationship with them, we don’t always but if even if you have a relation, a good relationship with them, it’s different than the role you played as a parent. Brands move away, people begin to get sick and people die, you’re losing a lot in your life. And, and then we have all these jokes in the community about how old people don’t remember where they’re going and can’t remember anything. And for most of us, that is not the case. And if that isn’t the case, it’s not a joke. It’s not funny, it’s difficult, and it’s painful. We find we attract in a third age initiative, many, many people who know that their life needs to be different in later life, but they’re not sure what to do. Not sure what they need to do to even define that. So what we do in the Third Age initiative is, first of all, help them recognize the strengths and the values and the gifts that they are and that they have, then help them identify what they care about. And what makes them passionate what they it’s often something that you absolutely love or something that you’re really upset about. That’s where you’re going to put your energies and then we give them an opportunity to practice putting their energies together with that passion and, and what needs to be done and learn how to work together with other people in a way that I was asked how to define leadership in my interview, and I said, I don’t think it’s about being in charge. Leadership is giving the best you have to the work of the group and helping others do the same. So when I think about that, it’s a lot like adult reentry only. It’s not going toward a career. It’s going toward a full life. I think of a story about individuals for whom that was the case. And then the work they do has transformed society as well. I’ll give you a story about a woman who I’m debating here, I’ve got a man story and a woman’s story. And they’re very different woman’s story. She was an executive, retired, she had been on our board. And she came to me and said what I’ve actually been chair of the board at one time. And she said, Well, I’m retiring, though, I guess that means I should come into the Third Age initiative. And I said, Well, you that’s what that’s what the deal is that you really should think about it. She said I don’t know what I want to do in retirement. When it came time to, for the teams to form. We were it was getting narrowed down to three teams. One of the teams was interested in working with little children to get them off on the right start. Another team, interestingly, was interested in raising money to provide funding over the long term for third age initiative projects. And the third team wanted to work with hunger and food insecurity. And Betty was not finding any either of any of those teams of interest to her. And the teams are starting to form. They’re formed and she’s the only one not on a team. And I said what’s happening? She said I don’t I don’t want to do any of those things. I have grandchildren. That’s enough little kids for me. I raise money for other other organizations. I don’t want to do that. And hunger. What a downer. I can’t imagine spending a year even thinking about hunger. Turns out that is the team she went with. I said maybe you need to drop out of class. She said I’m not a quitter. She went with that team. She told me later because she thought she had something to bring to the table. She had some skills and some perspectives. That team created a project that was recognized a few years ago as the most impactful project of leadership Greater Hartford in 15 years. They work to create a volunteer system to help people apply for food stamps. And then they created a training manual. And they also Betty herself, updated the system for taking those people in through the Department of Social Services, so that they could do it electronically. There was a 900 family backlog when this team started their work. And when they were recognized, several years later, they had the organization that institutionalize this approach. He’s still runs, it actually hired a full time staff member to manage the 25 to 30 volunteers, they have all the time working with people. And they could account for 4.5 million meals that had been provided because people going out now eligible. Betty herself was recognized several years later by AARP as the outstanding volunteer of the year, not through an A or P program. But for the work she did and continued to do long after that team finished its work. Betty herself worked until quite frankly, the day she died. It became a part of her life. And it was something she never saw. When she came into the program. She just knew she wanted to do something. I have at least 250 of those kinds of stories. Yeah, beautiful. And that’s why I get up. And that’s why I come to work everyday. I

Achim Nowak  31:41

totally get it. Now, we need to talk about you having turned 80. And having written a book called look ma no hands. That’s a longer title. But that’s a short. And I know that there are so connected you wanted to get the book out by the time around your 80th birthday. And you did. What’s the meaning of the title? Look ma no hands?

Doe Hentschel  32:06

Well, it was it relates to a very real incident in my life. In 1985, at SUNY Brockport that we have talked about, where they had asked me to change the institution, it was decided that we’ve been so successful at getting more adult students into the institution that the dean of content of adult education should report to the vice president responsible for marketing. And I said, That’s not right. This is an academic program. And it were successful in getting students here because we have the academic programs. This Dean, me needs to report to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. I was losing that argument. So in 1985, I resigned effective, effective July 119 86, and I started looking for another job, everybody knew this was very open. And in on July 10, I was I was unemployed for 10 days before the job offer came from University of Connecticut, which was the job I wanted. And 10 days after I accepted that job. I was on a bicycle. For the first time in many years with a friend who was running, I was trying to strengthen my legs so that I might get into running as well. And I ran my bicycle right into a moving automobile smashed both my elbows and spent six months with my arms and cast crossed across my chest and afford it within 45 degree angles. Lots of complications with my treatment resulted in that the length of that time. And after that six months, I spent two years with both arms and very complicated splints to get the mobility back. So I moved to Connecticut with no hands. Living alone, my daughter had gone to college that fall and starting a job that was 10 times bigger than anything I’ve ever had. And I learned a lot I learned in that in that six months with no hands, I learned how to do things differently, how to think differently, how to live differently. And so the subtitle of the book is life’s lessons learned the hard way. Yeah. It’s I think it’s a funny book. That stories are funny each chapter is a is a reflects on a story, something that really happened during that time. And then the lessons that I I drew from that. And so that’s the book. What motivated me to write it is another health issue that I have in 2009 I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. I had been misdiagnosed in 2004. So I’ve been living with the symptoms of Parkinson’s for about 20 years. And I took a memoir writing class is with a friend who had also been dealing with a very serious cancer diagnosis. And she got the idea that she might want to write a memoir and asked me if I’d like to go to the class with her. I did. And the preface of my book actually was the first assignment in that class, I wrote a couple of more chapters, and then I put it aside because I didn’t know that anybody else would ever have any interest in reading it. But then, I was invited to participate in a patient and family advisory council for the chase family movement disorder Center, which is a wonderful specialty practice within the Hartford healthcare system. And my neurologist is the medical director of the movement disorder center, and the advisory committee asked us what should they be doing that they shouldn’t, that they haven’t been doing already. They have support groups, they have exercise classes, you know, they have all kinds of stuff. And I thought about that, and I literally got up one morning, and I said, I know what they should be doing that they’ve never done before. And my doctor, Tony demark, Haida has frequently said she wishes she could give a dose of Dota other people. She said, You never lost your identity to your Parkinson’s, and you have a full life. She said, You are functioning even better than when you came in here in 2009. And I diagnosed you I said, well, as long as I take my medicine, I do. But without the medicine, of course, I would not. I said to her, I called her and I said, we could develop a program very similar to the Third Age initiative for Parkinson’s patients and their spouses to help them recognize that in order to live a full life, in later life, we need to not focus on ourselves. Many, many, many years ago Erik Erikson develop the stages of living in in in life 40 to 65, you either develop a sense of responsibility and commitment to make a better world for those that follow you. They call that gender diversity, or you get stuck on your own needs ego stagnation, okay, you get a diagnosis of Parkinson’s or some other thing that happens when you get old. And we all get things, get a diagnosis of Parkinson’s and all of a sudden, oh, I’ve got to go to a support group, I’ve got to take this medication, I’ve got to change my lifestyle. Maybe I need to retire, maybe this is too much stress for me. What do I have to do in order to live with Parkinson’s because it’s going to be with me for the rest of my life. I said, we can do the Third Age initiative aversion of the Third Age initiative with people who’ve been diagnosed, and help them recognize that they can restructure and reframe their life in a way that the Astra the Parkinson’s becomes an asterisk. That was my decision that I made within hours of my diagnosis, this is going to be an asterisk in my life, it is not who I am. She was all over it. And so I would put together a contract with leadership, Greater Hartford, for me to develop that program and pilot it, it took a while, of course, for the attorneys to get the contract together. Because I said to her, you need to own the time, the kind of the curriculum, so that you’re not dependent on leadership, Greater Hartford to teach it will teach it the first time we’ll pilot it, and then you own it, and you decide what you want to do with it afterwards. As we were waiting for that contract to be developed, it occurred to me that my book, if I would finish, it might turn out to be helpful to people with Parkinson’s or other situations. How do you reframe this bad news? That’s gonna get in the way of almost anything and everything you thought you wanted to do? Yeah. 60 or 70? Or 80? How do you reframe your life in a way that enables you to feel that you’re living fully? So I finished the book, about a week before we signed the contract. And I, through I have another connection, it’s the story is actually in the book, I was connected to a company that has helped me publish it. And when they got the manuscript, they said, doesn’t need much work. And if everything comes together, we could we could get this out in the in the fall. That’s what I said in the fall, like maybe October 20, my 80th birthday. So it all felt that way. And so that’s why I wrote the book. That’s, that’s what it’s about. It is about the lessons I learned when I had this severe handicap. Yeah. And people are telling me that they’re learning from it.

Achim Nowak  39:51

I have such a sense from everything you’re saying that part of what what fuels your engine is your interest in continuous learning, lifelong learning, you’re a lifelong learner. So as we wrap up, and I know you’re going to be at one next October, you’re marching along in your 80s. What are what are some things that you go look forward to, maybe you want to do more of what I do less of you think about how you want to create the next few years, what would you like to create for yourself?

Doe Hentschel  40:32

That’s not the way I say, my life has not been one of setting a goal and saying, that’s what I want to do next. It’s recognizing that what has come my way gives me an opportunity to learn and do something new. I actually, you know, I really do believe that this work we’re doing with the Parkinson’s, the pilot has been extremely successful. And what we’re looking now for is the funding to scale this up in a way so that we can also do the research to find out whether this approach does in fact make a difference in the Welby sense of well being purposeful engagement, we know contributes to a sense of well being is this an intervention that could really get us to rethink how we approach supporting and helping people live with these kinds of age related disabilities. I don’t feel like I’m 80 years old. And most of the time, I don’t think I look 80 years old, either. And I feel like I’m a contemporary of my colleagues at at leadership, Greater Hartford, I’m old enough to be their mother or grandmother. There’s not another one. Well, there’s one other We recently hired a fellow who means that that means I’m not the only one over 40. Everybody else is under 40. Tony’s in his 50s. And then there’s me at 80 now, but I feel like I’m appear, you know, I don’t, I just I we just had a graduation of the Third Age initiative. And the youngest person in the class is also the first person to come through the program who was younger than the baby boomers. And I realized that he’s six months older than my son. But I don’t feel like his mother. I don’t feel like his mother. So what’s next for me? I don’t know, I because I don’t know what this is going to lead to. But I think that’s the new avenue that I will be in professionally. Personally, I am currently in the middle of a new learning mode on Friday. This is Thursday. On last Friday, I was in an automobile accident that quite frankly, was my fault. Nobody else was hurt, I wasn’t hurt badly. It appears that my car might be totaled. I’m waiting to hear. Even if it’s repairable, I’m not going to have it for at least three or four weeks. So my new learning experiences, how am I going to live without a car. And maybe this is my angel signaling me that this was indeed the time for me to stop typing. And I have reframed this challenge in that way. Instead of moaning and groaning about how complicated my life is, I don’t sit home all the time, I’m working full time. I’m working full time in the job that I started with. And LDH added to it all the consulting and training that I do. When I joined out GH I brought things that enable LDH to go in directions that are that are more than most other community leadership or leadership organizations. We have a robust portfolio of consulting and training and I do a lot of ad training myself. For a long time I was vice president at MGH and then turn that over to a young man we had hired 16 years ago who told me one day he wanted my job. And I said Well, then let’s prepare your for it. He’s been my boss since that since 2020. But I don’t know what’s gonna come my way. But I think I think it’s just important to be open to what’s what’s there. I’ve never been driven by ambition. I’ve made decisions that have led to salary cuts more than once in my life. Because that looked like an interesting opportunity to learn something new and to give back in ways that I never had the opportunity to do before. I don’t ever imagine retiring again. They will carry me out of the box. I hope it will be soon.

Achim Nowak  44:24

Where can find where can folks find your book? Where would you like to direct them if they’re curious about look ma no hands?

Doe Hentschel  44:32

Yeah, they I have a website. It’s www look ma no Net. And if they go there, they will find a bunch of things. So of course have a link to Amazon where the book is available right now. They will find videos of me doing some teaching and some some learning myself. We’ll certainly put a link to this podcast that’ll be a circle as we go around, but I think that’s Probably the easiest way to find the book for sure. Look ma no Or if if they go to Amazon and put in my name dou Hentschel. Or look man, there are other books called the model hands I found out but right now if you put it look ma no hands. Mine is the first one that pops up. And I’m lovingly learning to be an author. That’s I forgot about that. That’s the other learning thing. I’m already starting to think about the next book and I got a couple of ideas. Yeah, that would be the next one. I forgot about that. I care a lot about what I do. Fortunately, I’m somebody that can care about a lot of things at once.

Achim Nowak  45:37

Well, best of luck with summon in creating and writing your next book. It was a pleasure to speak with you though,

Doe Hentschel  45:46

by so thank you. Okay, bye bye. Like what you heard,

Achim Nowak  45:51

please go to my fourth And subscribe to receive my updates on upcoming episodes. Please also subscribe to us on the platform of your choice. Rate us give us a review and let us all create some magical fourth acts together. Ciao


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