“I read about Neal in an article titled ‘Zentimental’ and that term really resonated with me,” says John Craig, one Griebling’s clients. “He really is half therapist, half business coach.”
Craig is the owner of a photography business; he also has multiple sclerosis. “I have been very quiet about my MS,” he says. While he currently is in good health, the 42-year-old photographer wanted to start making a plan B for the second half of his life. That’s why he contacted Griebling.
Neal led Craig through a series of exercises, including personality tests, stream of consciousness, therapy sessions, and networking guidance. “He gave me the courage to be more authentic,” says Craig, who recently started a blog about having MS (craig-photography.blogspot.com). “It’s been very cathartic to me to tell people about my MS; I’ve gotten no negative feedback.” In fact, his blogpost on “Living Life with the Heart of a Servant & the Strength of a Fighter” went global!
Susan Coen was at a crossroads in her life when she learned about Neal. She recently retired and saw it as an opportunity to get some help figuring out what the next step might be.
“I’m 68 years old and am excited to meet other people who are at this same crossroads,” she says. “There are a tremendous number of people who are sitting around waiting to die and it makes me sad.”
Susan admits that she always has 100 million ideas and has trouble reigning them in. “Neal is extremely good at getting me to hone in on what makes sense. He asks me a couple of questions and then the answer is clear!” she says. Susan adds that Neal is calm, quiet, thoughtful, accepting, and non-judgmental. “He’s been through a lot of his own changes and that gives validity to his business.”
Susan was strongly attracted to giving back and that’s what led her to volunteering as a counselor and mentor for women. “It’s fulfilling to me and feeds my soul,” she says.
Her advice to others facing the crossroads of retirement is to “get moving, make a list and set goals.”
Tim and Jackie Apone
Tim and Jackie Apone joined the Encores! program together. They had retired fairly recently and were exploring volunteer options when they learned about the program. “I liked the fact that we could talk candidly with someone to build on this part of our lives. I could share this experience with my husband and also meet other older adults in this same phase of life,” says Jackie.
“Retirement was a big change,” says Tim. “I was on auto-pilot when I was working. Our finances were different too. I wanted to talk to someone about what I wanted to do with my life.” Neal connected Tim and Jackie with a financial advisor on the Encores! resource team.
He also helped Tim set specific goals for different areas of his life. Tim realized he wanted to do hands-on work; he had done paperwork for the State of Pennsylvania for 31 years. He recently started a handyman business. Tim also decided he needed a creative outlet, “It’s clear that’s an area where I feel starved, so I’m starting art classes.” He’s also working on his fitness regime. “Neal very specifically asked me what I intend to do to reach this goal and he helped me set those goals. He’s not pushy – the ideas come from you, not him.”
“You don’t have to lead the same kind of life you had before. You’re in a different stage now,” Jackie says. “Take your time to figure out what you want to do.”
Susan was in a career transition and had been considering a complete about-face, but after hearing about Neal from a friend, she decided to work with him for guidance in exploring ideas and options.
She came to a realization after several sessions. “Although I have always wanted to have my own business, after careful consideration at this point in my life, I now realize I do not want to take the risks, especially alone.”
“Neal taught me to believe and get out of my own way,” she says. “I am now more confident and kinder to myself.”
Susan has some sound advice for others who are facing some decision making as they plan for the second half of their lives. “If your life is already diverse and satisfying, change for the sake of change may not be the answer. Careful consideration and exploration with Neal may help you find meaning.”
She also adds that Encores! offers “exciting opportunities for members to take time to analyze and explore a variety of options, and to network with other like-minded individuals to find deeper satisfaction in the later years of life.”
A non-traditional approach
“Neal’s gentle, respectful counseling looks at the essential questions: why am I here? What am I meant to be doing? He is convinced that it is not only possible, but also essential, to find work that is aligned with our deepest values and that allows us to express our essence. Neal taught me to trust my “specialness,” as he put it, and to believe in myself and my unique offering to the world.
“Emily Dickinson wrote of her poetry, ‘This is my letter to the world.’ Neal Griebling knows that each of us has our own very special letter to write and he offers a service that makes that possible. I encourage you to call Neal for more information about the Life-Work Discovery model so that you too can live your life ‘on purpose,’ and experience the exquisite personal fulfillment that this brings.” – N.K.