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Canning workshop to focus on finding meaning in the third act of life

Carole MacInnis is using her passion to help others discover theirs.
Carole MacInnis is using her passion to help others discover theirs. - Contributed

We’ve all heard of a “mid-life crisis,” but what about a third-act crisis?

If you consider your adolescence to be the first act of your life, and your family life to be the second, it follows that retirement and the senior years are designated as the third term.
For many, the transition into this third act can be difficult, and even scary, at times. Some battle boredom by searching for their new purpose.

For local resident Carole MacInnis, her newfound purpose has been helping others find theirs.

Last spring, MacInnis began her program called The Third Act, a workshop that focuses on inspiring those in retirement to reignite their lives and bring back meaning.

MacInnis has done her research on the rising elderly population and explains that “after about a year and a half of doing retirement the traditional, laid back way, there becomes a lack of purpose and meaning in life. The idea of retirement we used to have is not becoming satisfying enough to live for 30 years. Sometimes people are able to go back into the workplace part time, but they’re just back in an environment that was creating a lot of stress for them in the first place. The third act should be joyful, exciting, and something to look forward to.”

Since starting the program more than a year ago, MacInnis has been slowly dedicating more of her time to helping others.

“I’m really passionate about the program. It’s not an easy journey to redefine what retirement looks like, and these people attempting to make something new for themselves seldom get the support they need.”

MacInnis believes that by strengthening our elders, we can bring communities closer and leave the future in better hands. She says that the fadeaway she is seeing in elderly involvement is really unfortunate for today’s youth, who can learn a lot from their elders.

The program is also making a difference by providing folks in their third act with the tools to employ themselves.

“Certain people in their third act are finding their financial plans are not going to be enough to sustain them, so they need to do some sort of part-time work or stay in the workforce longer. The way to break them out of this is to find out what they’re passionate about, and then try to transform this into a way to make money… not a lot of people have the skills themselves to transform an interest into a way to make money.”

The idea for a workshop like this came from experiences gained while working with those struggling with addictions. MacInnis said that many of the patients were in their third act as well and used substances.

“When I’m working with my clients, I get very excited about my day. It’s an adventure for me.”

MacInnis is holding one of her workshops on July 20 at the Art Can Gallery & Cafe in Canning from 9 a.m. to noon. The workshop fee is $35.

“The first thing I do is get them to look at their own beliefs around the third act, and then do some work to get them to separate themselves from their roles, such as a teacher, a mother, a doctor, and so on. These roles can distract people from who they really are,” she says.

“Once you’re able to get in touch with the essence of yourself, you can reach what makes you the most passionate. Then I get them to look at the future and your intentions with the future. It’s a process and a lot of conversation in order to uncover this essence.”

“In this third phase, many people have tucked away passions because of the responsibilities they’ve had to handle instead, and I want them to get the idea that now is the time.”

Business has slowly been picking up for MacInnis. She has only started to introduce her workshops to the public and will be doing one in Halifax later this year before author Elizabeth Gilbert takes the stage. She also recently gave a presentation at Dalhousie’s retirement seminar.

“The main thing I want people to understand is that it is time to be the author of your own story. Don’t let society decide what aging means and let it influence your life,” she says.

“This is a very different phase of our lives, and we do need some pressure taken off, but we also need this time to bring us joy. “

For more information on the event in Canning, or on MacInnis and her movement, visit:

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