Coming Out of Your Shell

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help baby boomers, seniors, retirees, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and purpose in life after they retire. Her public lecture on this subject is titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement Years.” Her memoir, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available on Click here for her website:

CHITCHAT: My new book on the topic of senior reinvention will be published soon. The title is the same as this blog and my public lecture: Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement Years: Find Joy, Excitement, and Purpose after You Retire. The book will contain all the material from my public talk as well as my blog posts of more than six years. I will announce in this forum when it is published and available for purchase.

Now, on to my blog:

Shells are not just for turtles, mollusks, and their brethren to inhabit. Conversely, not only birds, reptiles, and their kin break out of shells. Humans do both, although not with the tangible kind as in the aforementioned examples.

Many people plaster on a false face to conceal their feelings or absence of them. That’s right, we hide in our invisible shells. Fortunately, we can alight from them, also.

When life becomes too much to bear, we find solace in retreating behind a barrier to protect ourselves from further onslaught, pressure, and the other stresses we experience. However, if we continue in that mode for too long, it becomes a lifestyle. In so many cases, we drag such behavior along from childhood when we hadn’t developed the ability to cope with rejection, humiliation, disappointment, distress, and the other pain caused by life’s hardships or fellow humans.

The problem is that once we enter the protective housing created in our minds, it can take years to emerge. Shy, inhibited individuals dream of being able to be forthcoming and take on all challengers rather than slinking away as has been their modus operandi for years. Those who go along to get along struggle to find their voice. Even those who seem so confident and in control strive to let go of that facade and be themselves, if they can figure out what that is.

Shells are neither good nor bad, but they can be constructive or destructive. Make your shell work for you. Be aware of it, and use it in a manner to your benefit. Retreat into it when you need protection and a breather. Cast it off when you feel stronger and can face what life throws your way. The trick is to store your shell in a safe place to pick up or lay down as the need arises.


Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at: If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

Photo credit James St. John on CC BY


Filed under active seniors, Baby boomers, gerontology, healthy aging, longevity, reinvention, retirement, senior citizens, seniors, successful aging

3 responses to “Coming Out of Your Shell

  1. Patricia Spiegel

    Good–you got me to thinking.

  2. Patricia Spiegel

    Oh, and can barely wait to see your book!

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