Empowering People Through Life’s Transitions

In this episode of Conversations on Wealth, host Sarah Widmeyer speaks with Dr. Amy D’Aprix, author of “Empowering people through life’s transitions. Dr. Amy explains how planning for both financial and life milestones can help us create resilience and prevent crisis during life transitions. To transition smoothly and thrive, we must be proactive and build our resiliency muscle.

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Sarah Widmeyer 00:00

Welcome to Conversations on Wealth, a podcast dedicated to helping Canadians with your total financial picture. I’m Sarah Widmeyer, Director of Wealth Strategies at Richardson Wealth. And I’m pleased to welcome Dr. Amy Dupree. Dr. Amy has both a Master’s Degree and a PhD in social work, and has been providing down to earth, practical and professionally informed guidance on life transitions to individuals and professionals alike for over 30 years. She is also the author of From Surviving to Thriving, Transforming Your Caregiving Journey, and co-author of Building the Bonds of Friendship in Midlife and Beyond. Dr. Amy, thanks for joining me today.

Dr. Amy Dupree 1:01

Thank you, Sara, it’s great to be with you.

Sarah Widmeyer 1:03

If you’ve listened to previous episodes of Conversations on Wealth, or have read some of the outstanding wealth strategies articles on our website, you’ll notice a common message, the importance of planning. Dr. Amy will help us build on this message to discover how planning for both financial and life milestones can help you create resilience and prevent crisis during life transitions. So Dr. Amy, let’s get into it. Tell me about the common life transitions.

Dr. Amy Dupree 1:37

Well, when you think about our lives, change is the constant. It’s one thing we can say. And I talk about life transitions, as the changes of events and life quakes that happened and life quakes are obviously the things that we don’t expect. And they start from the time we’re little. And when we look at our adult years, they’re everything from, you know, graduation, marriage or partnership, having children and buying a home, career changes, caregiving, retirement, the various depth of people, we love, the moves that we make, all of these things are transitions that occur, right. And when I used to do this, Sarah used to show it on a road map. And it looks so nice and neat. And then one day somebody said to me, you know, it’s not really a road map. And they did it more like traffic circles. And I said, You’re right, that’s actually what our lives are like. Because we often get hit by these changes or transitions, in waves. So we have, you know, waves when you’re younger, when we’re kind of launching our lives, midlife often has a wave of transitions could include our kids leaving home, you know, retiring or switching jobs, for some people divorce or widowhood. And then of course, later life, there are more of these. And so although they happen all the time throughout our lives, there are waves of them as well.

Sarah Widmeyer 2:56

And they’re positive and negative, you know, they’re not just negative, it’s positive and positive, can be equally as stressful.

Dr. Amy Dupree 3:05

Yes. That’s so well said reminds me of the quote by Shakespeare, nothing’s neither good nor bad, but thinking makes it so. And one of the things that I like to say when people are going through a change or a transition, the one that pops into my head is if someone’s getting married, or having a baby or retiring, and people will always say congratulations. And I often will say to someone, I know a lot of times, even though this is a happy event, it also can be kind of mixed. How are you doing with it? And people sometimes have this relieved, look to be able to say, yeah, it’s not easy. You know, some of these things are not easy.

Sarah Widmeyer 3:43

Yeah. And they all have practical emotional, family and financial implications for everyone. Why are they more pronounced for women? I feel like they’re more pronounced for women.

Dr. Amy Dupree 3:55

I think a lot of them are, if we look at it, in our society, still, you know, this relates to a news story I heard this morning about the pandemic impacting women so much more, and how that’s impacted our lives in a career sense. And, you know, and I know this, even with friends, and I’m sure you’ve seen this too, Sarah. Often, it’s the women who are dealing with the kids right now who are home and having to be schooled at home and still managing their careers and managing the family. So, although there is much more equality, and I’m always hesitant to make sweeping generalizations. When I heard this new story this morning, it clearly isn’t just a sweeping generalization. There are ways that women get impacted more, especially by some of those transitions that impact families. So we know women do more caregiving than men do. And they tend to do the part of caregiving, that is more stressful. They do the personal care. They do the emotional managing of relationships and family and they tend to do things in caregiving that has to be done on a schedule, where the caregiving that men do, which is significant, by the way, men do quite a bit. But it doesn’t often have to be done on a schedule, it tends to be things like managing finances, or doing the yard work or something like that. So you know, if you’re having a bad day, you can call up and say, Hey, I’ll come over tomorrow and cut the grass. But as a woman, if you’re having a bad day, you see it can’t say, Hey, I’ll come over tomorrow and make you dinner. It has to be done. So when you look at all of those changes, they do impact women, more than men, almost every one of them.

Sarah Widmeyer 5:33

Yeah. And the emotional impact can be lasting, you know, I was having a conversation with Dr. Nas, Dr. Nasreen Khatri. And we were talking about depression that can be experienced in caregiving and depression, you know, can be for a period of time, it can be for a longer period of time, but certainly, it’s something to think about and be concerned about. And on top up, as women tend to be more of the regular caregiving people. Right?

Dr. Amy Dupree 6:06

Yeah. on both ends of life, right on the kids and, and their aging parents, and then their aging spouses. So it’s actually you know, lots of different caregiving things. And this news report I heard today said, many women have chosen to either drop out of the workforce or look to reduce their work or something. And of course, then we start talking about the financial impacts of that not just today, but for their later retirement years, too. So how do we balance all that, I think is what we’re looking at.

Sarah Widmeyer 6:35

So how do we balance all that? How can we thrive? We’re well aware of the conditions we’re living through right now. How can we thrive and transition to the next phase?

Dr. Amy Dupree 6:47

Right and be more prepared, right? You know, I chuckle because, you know, I, of course, go through my own transitions as well. And sometimes I think, as I’m going through something, mine the gold from this, so you can help other people as they’re going through some of these changes, because they’re tougher all of us. And there are definitely though things we know that work that we can do to thrive. One of them is being proactive. And when I mean being proactive, I mean, doing planning, being educated, having a support network is one of the best things that we can do. And having our financial house in order, those make a big difference in being proactive. And I didn’t mention one of my favorites, which is having essential conversations, I say essential conversations are talking to the most important people about the most important things in our lives. And we all have this tendency to avoid sometimes important conversations. And the truth is that we can delay them, we can rarely avoid them. And in my experience, when we delay them, often the issues that we’re not talking about grow. And I think about things Sarah, like caregiving, or estate planning conversations or things that we don’t want to always talk about, and if we have these conversations earlier, and with caregiving, definitely I feel this way, if people would just have conversations earlier, and more frequently, they would have an easier time in the caregiving journey, and would be less likely to have as many crises both as the care recipient and as the caregiver. I’ve worked a lot with families. And sometimes my experience comes out of how badly I did it in my own life. It’s not always that I did it well, I always say to people, this is one I know because my family was a caregiving family for a decade, and I have four siblings. And it never occurred to us to sit and have conversations about who was going to do what, how did we each feel about what role we were going to take. And you know, it went on for a long time. And it ended up creating a lot of disharmony that we had to heal after my parents passed. And I learned from that and thought, wow, if we had sat down at the beginning of this, even better, before we even got into it and had some conversations, it would have made all the difference. So thinking about the pandemic right now, Sarah and thinking none of us saw this coming, obviously. But if we once we got into it had to have conversations with all the people we love about, Hey, I can’t manage everything, right, I’m gonna need some help. I can do this. We can. Often as women, we take things on. And we have this sort of Superwoman mentality. And the truth is the behaviour that we use in a crisis doesn’t work well, for the long run. So crisis behaviour makes sense in the beginning, but then we need to shift into what is sustainability in our lives. And that’s often the missing piece that we don’t make that shift. And we burn out when we try to maintain that crisis behaviour for the long haul. And that’s what we’ve seen during the pandemic is, you know, in the beginning, everybody was in crisis mode. But we have to shift up and then make what’s our plan to make sure that it’s sustainable for the long term.

Sarah Widmeyer 10:08

Now, one of the expressions we have in our house that we’ve been using a lot through this pandemic is, Be kind to yourself. Because it, you know, we hold ourselves to such standards, right? And, you know, I set out last night on the front, stoop with my daughter, be kind to yourself, be kind to yourself, forgive yourself. And living in the moment, that’s the other thing that I heard when you were talking, and yes, you know, I keep bringing my family into this, but my dad would say, you know, and he came from a family of six that was relatively dysfunctional, the avoidance of a confrontation doesn’t make it go away, it only makes it bigger. So deal with it, deal with it in the present, the here and now. And often, it’s not nearly as bad a conversation as you think it’s going to be.

Dr. Amy Dupree 10:54

That’s right. And I liken it to holding a rubber ball in the water and pushing it down. And you know, the further you push it down, the more likely it is to fly up and hit you in the face. I think have those conversations.

Sarah Widmeyer 11:06

Great analogy. So resiliency is another theme that I’m hearing as you’re talking and it’s certainly something that we’ve all dealt with through this pandemic, but it’s an important thing to also build resilience in what we call, quote, unquote, normal life. So how can people build resiliency?

Dr. Amy Dupree 11:26

It’s such a great question. And I think it is one of the things that holds us in good stead throughout life through all the transitions coming. I think of this almost like an emotional muscle. You know, you think about you work your muscle, and you’re able to carry more and handle more. Same with this, if you build this emotional muscle of resilience, you will be able to handle future things better. So how do you do that? Well, you mentioned one of them really well, to be kind to yourself, is part of practicing self care. But really having that attitude of self kindness, self compassion is key. There’s an interesting study about people recovering from going through a divorce. And that alone made the difference in how fast they felt that they kind of recovered and got their life back. It wasn’t the length of the marriage or who left or why it ended. It was this idea of self compassion that made all the difference. So I think we can look at that is, you know, I think sometimes we slough that off and think it’s not a big deal, but it is. The other thing is, I always come back to this, but we need our people, we need a safety net. And we were talking about these life transitions impacting women more. As women, one of the things we tend to do well are relationships, and we need to build that safety net, so that we feel like we have people around who are there when we need them. I think sometimes we sacrifice that to careers and other busyness it is worth putting effort into the relationships in our life, it is not the thing you do after everything else is done. It’s the thing that can sustain you through the difficult times matters. And the last part I like to, especially with women focus on is building confidence. You know, we, we know that if we have a greater sense of our competence, we feel competent, that we’re better able to handle things, we’re able to take appropriate risks. And again, we’ll feel better about saying to our safety net, hey, I’m going through a tough time because we don’t feel somehow that means that we’re less than, and you know, I love the work of Brene Brown, on vulnerability and looking at all of these topics we’re talking about today. But as women, I think building confidence is a key issue. And there are very tactical ways that we can do that as well. So I think we need to think about do you have the people you need in your life? Are you being kind to yourself? Are you building your compassion? Those things will help you build your resilience for the future things that we know are going to happen. And again, a lot of them are happy things, but even happy things are kind of stressful.

Sarah Widmeyer 14:14


Dr. Amy Dupree 14:15

Anybody who’s had a baby or gotten married knows that, right? So, you know, when I think about these life transitions, these life quakes we’re talking about, I always like to think of them in terms of the various implications and I think about the non financial and the financial. And there are practical, emotional, family and financial implications to every one of these life transitions. And, you know, I like a lot of times we, we think we can separate out our life in the non financial and financial, yet they’re completely integrated. So as you look at any life transition, whatever it is, and you think about, we’ve been talking about caregiving for example. I’m sure we can all see the practical implications and caregivers have all sorts of different emotions, they go through from grief, to anxiety, to frustration, to love. And then there’s the family implications, many when we’re talking about caregiving, and having to negotiate all those family relationships, and there are financial implications, both to the care recipient, but to the caregiver. And that’s why I think one of the best strategies people can use too when they’re going through a transition, is to list out those four areas practical, emotional, family, and financial, and really look at where are the areas that you’re struggling right now. And then solutions will come out of those. And it’s important to look at it in that integrated type of way.

Sarah Widmeyer 15:48

And of course, working with your Richardson Wealth advisor to help you through that would be so important and so powerful, because of the confidence that you’ll feel, and the answers that you’ll get and the reassurance, that the way forward has a clear path.

Sarah Widmeyer 16:16

Any closing thoughts?

Dr. Amy Dupree 16:18

I think just, if you’re in the midst of a transition now reach out to your people, be gentle with yourself, and don’t try to do everything at once. And I say this again, especially to women, you do not have to do everything, what could you either ask somebody else to do for you, hire somebody to do so that you actually free up a little time for yourself. So if you’re in a difficult time, try that. If you’re not in a particularly difficult time in your life, this is the time to look at those building resilience things and building our proactivity. So, gentleness and kindness to ourselves may be the best key takeaway from this.

Sarah Widmeyer 16:59

Awesome. Okay. So non financial milestones often have financial impacts as we’ve just been discussing. Working with your Richardson Wealth advisor to plan for some of life’s events can help you prepare for transitions and help to build that key resilience. Dr. Amy, where can listeners find out more about your work?

Dr. Amy Dupree 17:23

They can go to my website, which is www.dramy.life, not .com

Sarah Widmeyer 17:32

Okay, so remember to follow Richardson Wealth on LinkedIn for the latest and wealth strategies. And visit our website for articles and videos on several planning topics. Conversations on Wealth is available wherever you get your podcasts. Thank you all for listening. Thank you, Dr. Amy. And please join me again next time.