S1-EP7: Four Different Decades on Transition and Reinvention (Modern Elders, Part 2)

May 3, 2019


In Part 2 of our broadcast from Chip Conley’s Modern Elder Academy in Mexico, four compadres from four different decades talk about repurposing their life experience.



Today’s episode is Part 2 of our broadcast from Chip Conley’s Modern Elder Academy, the world’s first wisdom school, located at the southernmost tip of Baja California, Mexico. Debbie spent a week at this magical place recently, along with a group of 17 other compadres. Her cohort ranged in age from 42 to 78. All were there to learn how to become a modern elder – someone who reframes a lifetime of experience in order to repurpose it for something new. A new direction, a new purpose, a reinvention.

In this episode, Debbie interviews four of her compadres, representing four mid-life decades from 40s to 70s.

Jose Beltran, at left; Lori Schwanbeck (our meditation teacher), at right.

Nicolas (photo by Jose)

Photo at topPaul Gilbert, at left; Frances Valesco, at right.

  • Jose Beltran, 42, is an entrepreneur who has just embarked on a gap year after selling his restaurant in Mexico City.
  • Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful Espejo, 52, is a performance artist based in the Bronx who wants a change including a move to another (warmer) part of the country.
  • Paul Gilbert, 64, is a veteran executive producer, creative director and writer in San Francisco with a list of big name clients. He says it’s time for a change.
  • Frances Valesco, 78, is a well-known artist, printmaker and teacher, also based in San Francisco. Recently widowed and with a short runway (her words) ahead of her, she is ready for new adventures.


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Thanks to our media partners

Encore.org, our newest media partner, is an ideas and innovation hub tapping the talent of those 50+ as a force for good. Founder and CEO Marc Freedman is an award-winning social entrepreneur and author, most recently, of How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations. Looking for a great gap-year transition program? Check out Encore Fellowships, which match skilled, seasoned professionals with social-sector organizations in high-impact, paid assignments.


Modern Elder Academy is a program dedicated to navigating mid-life transitions. MEA, based in Baja California, Mexico, provides the place and the tools to start reframing your lifetime of experience. Grow whole, not old. Founder Chip Conley is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning hospitality entrepreneur and a rock star of the mid-life transition movement. His newest book is Wisdom @ Work: the Making of a Modern Elder.


Next For Me is an important new resource for the 50+ crowd focused on rewriting life. Taking a gap year or timeout may be the best way to figure out "what's next" when you're in this stage of life. Founder Jeff Tidwell explains, Next For Me "connects and inspires our generation to evolve our post-50 lives through new work, a new purpose, or a new social contribution."