- Treasure # 2 You Can Let Your Guard Down & Become the Real You
I think there are times in everyone’s life when you need to go off and become whoever you want to be. Leave behind your safe place at home to activate your own abilities that are within you. It is a time when you can be completely and utterly you. Now, for me this can be either horrifying or refreshing depending on what I am learning about me, but always, always enlightening.
It is easier to let your guard down or be open to sharing you are traveling. You can be in the present moment and let life happen. Since you are out of your environment and have no past with your fellow travelers it is easier to share your life story with them if you chose to, of course, without any fear of judgment.
Have you been on a trip where you were constantly asked “who are you” and “what do you do?” This sure does get boring after awhile and quite frankly I get tired of this type of fluff conversation. It is typical cocktail circuit small talk that I gave up years ago. Obviously it is necessary when you first meet someone but that is where it can possibly end. Be open to the idea of having a more open exchange.
On a past trip to Italy where I escorted 13 other dynamic women, I asked them on the first night to share something that no one else knew about them. The answers were open, honest and began a week of sharing over our other boisterous meals and private parties on the terrace of our hotel off the main square. It was as if we had been friends forever. This is how to make friends the old fashioned way, not the new social media way.
So give it a try whether you are on a trip or meeting someone new in your hometown. You will know when the other person is receptive to being asked these types of more personal questions that then result in a deeper level of conversation. The wisdom received from listening to the interchange of ideas is invaluable. Don’t be afraid to ask.
All kinds of personal treasures can be uncovered when you leave your comfort zone. I’m sure you have heard the saying: Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Let life begin.
Now, I would like to ask you to join me on another one of my treasure hunts to become “real” friends on a trip to Italy that I have been asked to host. We will visit the region of Le Marche and enjoy an authentic Italian experience, the kind of travel that appeals to me now that I am in my dynamic years. Travel needs to be meaningful since I am into making every moment count. Our accommodations are in a private palazzo for 8 nights. Your activities include private cooking classes from a group of 9 Italian men (who can resist that?); creating our own aprons from the traditional art of fabric painting; touring a private palace; learning the old fashioned craft of paper making; sharing in the language program “Italian Express”, a shopping language course that we will use as we buy our ingredients in the local market for our dinner one evening. There are many more special, one of a kind, experiences so please take a look at the full itinerary by clicking here. We will be an intimate group of 8 so let me know if you would like to be included.
- Treasure #1 You Can Experiment With Life and With You
I am a proponent of taking a trip where you are free to be you. When you travel, you can declare it to be your time. Leave your daily routine at home, leave your worries at home, leave your fears at home, and focus on your treasure map. Ask yourself what it is you like to do. Learn to take this time to please you rather than all the others in your life.
Here are some questions to help you find out more about you from travel with some of my own answers:
- Do you like to fine dine or would stopping in a café be more your cup of tea?
I gave up fine dining years ago, as I suspect most of us do as we get older. This doesn’t mean I don’t love to eat, especially when I am traveling. It does mean that I don’t have to spend a lot of my travel budget on an over the top dining experience. I am happy in a small family run restaurant where I can mingle with the locals and partake in an authentic moment.
- Are you openly friendly or more reserved and slow to interact?
I would have to honestly answer this by saying that when I am home and in my own environment, it is easy for me to go about my day to day business without reaching out. Of course, I am friendly to all, but find that my work schedule interferes with having an active social life. But watch out, when I am on a trip, I become another person and will openly meet and greet anyone who steps into my path. No wonder I like to travel as much as I do. It satisfies the social butterfly in me.
- Are you spontaneous and open to new experiences?
Let me share one of my new experience memories. Five years ago, I was with a group of friends on a Star Clipper cruise from Venice to Athens. We sailed on a four masted barquentine along the Dalmatian Coast stopping in different ports and then onto the Greek Islands, ending in Athens. It was hands on sailing where you could help raise the sails and listen to the captain’s daily on deck briefing while also being pampered.
One morning, we were offered the opportunity to climb the ropes to the crow’s nest to pretend to be master of the ship. Not one to pass up a chance to add another unique experience to my list, I immediately accepted the challenge. It was so worth the tension after stepping onto the platform to feel the ocean breezes and gaze off into the distance. A warning: Going up is easier than coming down.
- Do you burn the candle at both ends to see it all or do you stick to a routine?
You may have figured out by now, I am a go, go, go traveler. I want to take every moment of the day and make it count. There is a wide, wide world out there, so repeating is often not in the plan, unless it overlaps with a new destination on the list. Now don’t get me wrong. I stop to smell the roses, I stop to linger longer over a meal to embellish the conversation, and I stop to appreciate the moment to be able to commit it to memory. What I don’t do is think about whether I am getting enough sleep or whether I have had 3 balanced meals a day.
- Do you like to try new foods or will you pass up something unknown?
I had a woman ask me if she had to eat Chinese food on the trip I was offering to China. You can stop laughing now. Isn’t that one of the reasons to travel? Did I get tired of the Lazy Susan fare? Yes but I tried it all and lived to tell you about it. I have also tried game meats in Africa and Brennivan in Iceland, unsweetened schnapps and their unofficial national drink.
- Do you have to stay connected to home or can you stay present to maximize the moment.
Now I will share with you how I feel about watching travelers be attached to their gadgets rather than being in the moment to enjoy the experience. What a waste of your travel budget. Okay, if you are a head honcho of a big corporation, and it can’t run without you, I will give you a pass. The rest of you, place it on vibrate, and put it in your back pocket. Why go away if you’re still back where you came from?
- Do you like cultural events or would you rather take a nature walk?
Yes, yes and yes to cultural events for me. The Bolshoi Ballet in Russia; a Tango Performance in Argentina; the Beijing Opera in China, the Mendoza Wine Festival in Argentina and the list goes on. These have been some of my more memorable moments that have been deposited into my memory bank and can be taken out any time I wish.
There are many more questions to ask and so much more knowledge to gain about you, so pay attention and learn to pack questions in your suitcase.
Next: Treasure # 2 You Can Let Your Guard Down & Become the Real You.
- Treasure #4 You Can Fall in Love Again and Again
Do you remember the feelings you had when falling in love for the first time? Life was good; you were filled with anticipation upon seeing your love interest again; you forgot all your worries; you were ready to be transformed; you were open to new ideas and you were keenly aware of your emotions.
Guess what? This can happen to you every time you enter into a relationship with a new destination. Travel is a way to keep your mind active, and a way to enhance your emotions. It feels like a love affair with the same goose bumps and feeling of exhilaration that come in the first months of romance. With each new destination you can recreate these feelings and fall in love over and over again. So, like any love affair, it should never end.
I am often asked what my favorite destination is. Without a hesitation, I immediately respond: “My next one.” I must be a love junkie having fallen in love with 62 countries so far. You can be sure I am still counting. I fell in love with Africa and my Masai friend, Ole Munke, who came to visit us on Cape Cod. He mesmerized the audience with his life story and his engaging charisma. Subsequently, 15 travelers joined me on a trip to see him again as he welcomed us into his native village.
My goal in life is to become the best person I can be and travel is the way I can accomplish this. Is it yours?
The world is waiting for you to discover your own love affairs. This treasure is available to you on a day trip into the city, on a weekend road trip, or on a longer, more exotic trip. This is actually a way of enhancing your life while also being a healthy addiction which it seems to be for me.
Next Time: Treasure #1 You Can Experiment With Life and With You.
- 21 Inspirational Guidelines for 2014
ONE… Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully..
TWO… Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.
THREE… Don’t believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.
FOUR… When you say, ‘I love you,’ mean it.
FIVE… When you say, ‘I’m sorry,’ look the person in the eye…
SIX… Be engaged at least six months before you get married.
SEVEN… Believe in love at first sight.
EIGHT… Never laugh at anyone’s dream. People who don’t have dreams don’t have much.
NINE… Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it’s the only way to live life completely.
TEN… In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling
ELEVEN… Don’t judge people by their relatives.
TWELVE… Talk slowly but think quickly.
THIRTEEN… When someone asks you a question you don’t want to answer, smile and ask, ‘Why do you want to know?’
FOURTEEN… Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk..
FIFTEEN… Say ‘bless you’ when you hear someone sneeze.
SIXTEEN… When you lose, don’t lose the lesson!
SEVENTEEN… Remember the three R’s: Respect for self; Respect for others; and responsibility for all your actions.
EIGHTEEN… Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship…
NINETEEN… When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
TWENTY… Smile when picking up the phone.. The caller will hear it in your voice.
TWENTY-ONE… Spend some time alone.
- Act: Make your possibilities real by taking action
“Take a first step in a new direction — any direction. See what happens. Then adapt your next steps as things unfold.
It really is that simple: Take action.
You can ask your sounding board to help you weigh alternatives, but ultimately you’ll have to trust your gut. And who knows what surprises will appear? When you act, doors open. New connections click. A planned meeting leads to a chance encounter — someone knows someone who knows someone else — and suddenly an opportunity materializes that you had never anticipated.
For each of the next five days, take one chance per day. Then describe them in your journal.
Stepping outside your comfort zone will feel scary at first. Or exhilarating. Or possibly both.
Taking action, pausing to weigh its impact, tailoring your next step — as you find your rhythm with these phases of reimagining your life, you may just find your bliss.”
- Repack: What’s essential for the road ahead?
Step # 5 Repack: What’s essential for the road ahead?
“Repacking entails removing the obstacles that are keeping you from reaching your goal. Think of it as jettisoning the baggage that no longer fits who you are now and repacking to accommodate the person you want to become. To get started on this step, try the writing exercise below.
1. Create the table of contents that would appear at the front of your memoir. Give each stage of your life story its own summarizing chapter title. Then group the chapters and give each section a title.
2. Now move to the present: How would you label the chapter you’re living through currently? What would you name the chapter coming next? This exercise can give your life story a clear plotline to follow.”
I recently wrote a memoir of my life just for fun. It helped me purge some regrets, and I learned to refocus my thoughts on this time in my life. I now have a list of things I want to do that will help me to place my mark on this world. No one else, and possibly not even my own circle of influence, will know about my small accomplishments but I will. This gives me a sense of purpose and gratitude during this last phase of my life.
- Choose: Whittle down your options
Now it’s time to narrow your choices. This may feel intimidating — What if the path I pick turns out not to suit me? — but your selections at this stage in the journey are not irreversible. Multiple paths lead to the goal of reinvention; there’s no need to worry that you’re swearing all-or-nothing allegiance to a wrong one. Indeed, you can ease your way into this stage by taking deliberately small steps. Here are a few to consider.
Take time out. Carve out a regular block of time when you refuse to be interrupted, especially by technology. Visit this oasis each day to imagine future possibilities.
Say hello. Introduce yourself to organizations engaged in the things you’re curious (and serious) about. Shadow a person doing something you think you might like.
Keep track. Record your reactions to all these investigations in a Possibilities Journal. Revisit prior entries to see if clues emerge that help you pick your best path.
- Explore: Open yourself to the unknown
“This step allows you to begin thinking broadly and honestly about the direction your life can take. You begin to separate what you’ve always done and who you’ve always been from what you’d like to do and who you’d like to become.
At this phase of your voyage, you get to give your curiosity free reign and try new identities and behaviors on for size. The point of these exercises is simply to get a feel for exploring new ideas and activities. Once you become comfortable with small explorations, you’ll be better able to embark on larger journeys of life discovery.
Kick off your exploring with some modest accomplishments:
- Browse a magazine that never appealed to you
- Take a voice or musical-instrument lesson.
- Change your standard route home from work.
- Venture into a tavern that features line dancing.
- Design any other activity to get outside your comfort zone.”
These are their ideas. Here are some of mine:
- Take a road trip with friends even if it is just for one day.
- Audition for a part in a local theater production (This is my secret desire)
- Read a new genre
- Give that new restaurant a try.
- Reconnect with an old friend, male or female.
- Get up the courage to change your hair do or color.
Why don’t you add some of your own.
- Gratitude Quotes
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us”. – Albert Schweitzer
“The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.” – WIlliam James
“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” – Epictetus
“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder
- Reimagine Your Life Step Two: Connect
To continue with the suggestions from Richard J, Leider and Allan M. Webber in their book, Reimagine Your Life, here is the next step that might help you write the next chapter of your life.
Step Two Connect: Convene a feedback panel
“In the early phases of our adult lives, we often make connections and form communities around family and work. As we age, the basis for those connections tends to fade. Forty years later, for example, the parents of your children’s friends are less likely to be your friends. You may have moved to another city or simply drifted apart socially. The same is true for work friends: You may have changed jobs or left the labor force entirely.
At this stage of life, it’s all too easy to end up with a wealth of casual acquaintances and a dearth of real friends. And this occurs just when we all need authentic connections.
1. The cornerstone of connecting is building a sounding board, which is a small group of people who can help you think about what’s next in your life. They may see you more clearly than you see yourself.
2. To convene your sounding board, find one committed listener who can offer you support. Ideally this will be someone willing to hear you out on the questions you’ve been asking yourself, then deepen and magnify them.
3. Once you’ve found your listener, bounce ideas off him or her every few weeks. Then slowly add new sounding board members. Strive to recruit a catalyst, a connector, a taskmaster and a mentor.
4. Don’t forget that connection is a two-way street: Once you’ve asked people to serve on your sounding board, you may be asked to serve on theirs. Say yes; you’re well on your way to being a reimagineer.”
This is their idea while the S in my 4 Step Zest System stands for Stay Connected and Seek Out New Experiences. I firmly believe that having something to look forward to, whether it is going to the movies with friends, playing golf or tennis or taking a road trip, keeps you actively engaged and enthusiastic about life.
Here is an idea to dwell on. Would you like to join me on a Christmas Market River Cruise in early December 2014? Think about all the shopping and running around you have ahead of you for the next month? This could be eliminated as you unpack once, cruise for 7 nights stopping at the charming towns along the river to visit their Christmas Markets. Sip gluhwein while you shop for those special gifts that cannot be found in your local store.
Click below to get a glimpse!
These gifts will come with your own memories of CONNECTING and EXPERIENCING a special time with other like minded Dynamic Senior Women.
Please email me to let me know if you are interested in receiving more information about this opportunity to get to know each other in person and make a real connection.
- What is Real for You?
There are times when I actually read the AARP magazine, and this past week was one of them. Admittedly, it was at my hairdressers, a time every six weeks when I do something for myself. That’s a good reason to keep coloring my hair!
It was an article written by Richard J. Leider and Alan M. Webber, co- authors of the book, Life Reimagined: Discovering Your New Life Possibilities. Of course, this would catch my attention, since I am all about promoting living life with zest… staying energized, engaged and enjoying life.
They identify that we are all participants in a significant social movement where we are creating a new phase of life. I think anyone who is reading this newsletter would agree with this concept since, in my opinion, we are perfect examples of their theory. We are no longer following the old rules of aging. We are living longer, staying healthier, and working past the traditional retirement age, whether by necessity or need. We seem to be searching more than in the past generations to find our purpose in life; to step off the traditional path of life and take the risk to be true to ourselves… finally.
The authors have identified six guideposts or steps we can use to help us answer the question, “What’s next?” I will share the first step this week from the article and the others in the following weeks.
Step One: Reflect: What’s real for you?
To quote the article: “Lasting change often begins by looking inward. This doesn’t mean you must retreat to a monastery or spend hours in the lotus position. Instead, think of reflection as a break: a mini-vacation from the daily business that absorbs so much of our time. It’s a chance to go inward and listen to your own story.
Reflection involves revisiting the narrative in your head about your life up until this time. You don’t have to automatically extend that narrative into your future; you can weave an entirely new story for yourself.
Start the process by asking how you wound up where you are today: What goals and values led you here? Looking forward, what is most important to you? What choices are you likely to face in the years ahead? What possibilities would you most like to pursue? Are you satisfied with how you spend your days? As you ponder these questions, you can begin to say no to the things that clutter your life, and yes to those that give you purpose.”
The above step sounds familiar to me since the Z in my 4 Step Zest System stands for: Zero in to ask yourself some questions. Here are some of my questions:
Who are you today? Are you living your life or someone else’s?
What can you change? If you have identified that you need to make some changes in your life, remember you can start with one that is a baby step and not rock the cradle.
When will you start to fulfill your long lost dreams? To be honest, we are at the age of living by the motto: It’s now or never!
- Wonders of the World
We have had beautifully crisp clear days this past week on Cape Cod. It makes it hard not to marvel at the beauty of the world we live in. I love the seasons!
These pictures below are truly spectacular. While I have traveled to over 60 countries so far, the pictures below make me realize how little of this awesome world I have actually experienced. I am now itching to get on the road again.
Ausangate Mountains, Andes, Peru
An afternoon canal cruise through a
paddy field in Vietnam
Tree House, Philippines
Zhangjiaje Stone Forest in Hunan, China
A stone path across a lake in Poland
Inhabited Volcanic Island of Aogashima, Japan
Guelta d’Archei Oasis, Sahara Desert
Victoria water lily is native to the Amazon river
- 5 Exercises You Can Do At Home
You don’t need a gym membership to melt that unwanted flab and look fit. In fact, you don’t even need equipment. Use this super-simple body-weight workout from The Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises to burn fat, tone every muscle and improve your fitness.
How to do it: Perform this workout as a circuit, completing the prescribed number of repetitions of each exercise without resting. Once you’ve done one set of each exercise, rest for two minutes, then repeat the entire circuit one to two more times.
Exercise 1: Hip Raise
Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your arms out to your sides at a 45-degree angle, your palms facing up. Now try to make your tummy as skinny as possible and hold it that way—this gives you a tight core—while breathing normally. That’s the starting position [A]. Keeping your core tight, squeeze your glutes and raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Pause for five seconds—squeezing your glutes tightly the entire time—then lower body back to the starting position [B]. Do 10 repetitions.
Exercise 2: Bodyweight Squat
Stand as tall as you can with your feet spread slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Hold your arms straight out in front of your body at shoulder level, so that your arms parallel to the floor [A]. Keep your torso as upright as you can for the entire movement, with your lower back slightly arched. Brace your abs, and lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees [B]. Pause, then push yourself back to the starting position. That’s one repetition. Do 15 to 20 repetitions.
Exercise 3: Side Plank
Lie on your right side with your knees straight. Prop your upper body on your right elbow and forearm, which should be directly below your right shoulder. Place your left hand on your left hip. Try to make your tummy as skinny as possible and hold it that way—this gives you a tight core—while breathing normally. Then raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. With your core tight, hold this position for 30 seconds. Roll onto your other side and repeat.
Exercise 4: Incline Push-up
Assume a push-up position, but place your hands placed on a raised surface—such as a box, bench, ottoman or one of the steps of your stairs—instead of the floor. Your body should form a straight line from your ankles to your head [A]. Keeping your body rigid, lower your body until your upper arms dip below your elbows. Pause, and then push yourself back to the starting position as quickly as possible [B]. (The higher the surface on which you place your hands, the easier the exercise becomes—you can even lean against a wall if you need to.) If the incline push-up is too easy, do it the old-fashioned way, with your hands on the floor. Do 12 to 15 repetitions.
Exercise 5: Floor Y-T-I Raises
This is a three-exercise combination move. You’ll simply perform 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise, one after the other without resting. So do 8 to 12 reps of the Floor Y raise, followed immediately by 8 to 12 reps of the Floor T raise, followed immediately by 8 to 12 reps of the Floor I raise.
Floor Y Raise
Lie facedown on the floor with your arms resting on the floor, completely straight and at a 30-degree angle to your body, so they form a “Y.” Your palms should be facing each other, so that the thumb side of your hand points up [A].
Floor T Raise
Perform this like the Y raise, only move your arms so that they’re out to your sides—perpendicular to your body with the thumb side of your hand pointing up [A]—and raise them as high as you comfortably can [B].
Floor I Raise
This time, move your arms so that your body forms a straight line from your feet to your fingertips. Your palms should be facing each other, with the thumb side of your hand pointing up [A]. Raise your arms as high as you comfortably can [B].
- Finally, A Role Model for Young Women
“I am Malala” or “We stand for Malala” could be heard around the world this past week with the excitement of the possibility of her being the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. She was not chosen, but just the nomination was an honor for this 16 year old Pakistan girl who aspires to become the Prime Minister of her country. There were two specials on TV and numerous newspaper and magazine articles that reviewed her progress this past year after being shot last October 9th by the Taliban for going to school. Wise beyond her years, she is an inspirational speaker and role model for all young girls urging them to appreciate the education they are receiving. Her goal: “I’m never going to give up,” Yousafzai said, according to Time. “They only shot a body but they cannot shoot my dreams.” Her dream: Continuing to fight for the right of all girls to receive an education.
For me, Malala is the role model that I would want my granddaughters to read about, and forgive me, not Miley Cyrus. Here are some other young women who are equally as inspiring.
Fatmata, an 18-year-old high school student from rural Sierra Leone, became passionate about issues from child marriage to domestic violence and street children after taking part in Plan International’s Girls Making Media project. She now presents a program on a local community radio station and has given talks at her school on corporal punishment and gender-based violence in schools. Fatmata recently shared her story and ideas at the 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women.
Urmila, 22, comes from a family of bonded farmers in Nepal and was sold as a child servant, known as a Kamalari, at the age of 6. After she was freed 11 years later, Urmila started school with the help of non-governmental organizations and began fighting for the rights of Kalamari girls, a campaign that has taken her to meet Nepal’s president and prime minister. Urmila will be presented with a Youth Courage Award for Education by the U.N. special envoy for global education on Friday, July 12.
Parvati Pujari, 22, grew up in a Mumbai shantytown and saw her eldest sister get married at the age of 12. With the help of a local non-governmental organization, Parvati attended school and resisted her parents’ plans for an early marriage. With a flair for sports, Parvati started working in junior sports development for Magic Bus, an organization that had supported her since she was a child, while studying for a degree in commerce. She also participates in sports such as rugby at national level and for local football teams.
Marcela, 17, is determined to break the cycle of discrimination against girls in her community near El Salvador’s capital, San Salvador. She has joined a project, Cultura de Paz, aiming to raise awareness of social issues and challenges among her community’s youth. Another project close to Marcela’s heart is VOCES, through which she shares information on the rights of children via radio and video.
As a secondary school student in rural Cameroon, Fabiola, 19, became a member of Plan Cameroon’s Youth Empowerment through Technology, Arts and Media project, producing youth media to raise awareness around gender issues and help girls’ access their rights. In 2011, she participated in the 55th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women and was inspired to establish Girls on the Front (G-Front), an association that aims to ensure girls have more opportunities to promote and defend their rights locally, nationally and internationally.
- Do Your Fall or Winter Clothes Still Fit?
Hurry it up!
Learn how to speed up your metabolism and lose more weight
You know the drill: Eat less and exercise more to lose weight. But when the scale seems stuck a few pounds away from your goal weight, your metabolism may need a boost. Little lifestyle tweaks (like not dieting!) may be the ticket. Here are simple suggestions to jumpstart calorie burning from the latest studies and top experts.
1. Keep daily calories above 1,200
It sounds counterintuitive, but eating fewer than 1,200 calories a day can actually slow weight loss, says Keri Gans, RD, a nutrition consultant in New York City and author of The Small Change Diet. “When you eat much less than your body needs, it may go into starvation mode and store fat,” says Gans. A 5’5″ woman who’s moderately active needs approximately 1,400 to 1,700 calories per day, says Gans. And those calories should come from a variety of nutrients consisting of high-fiber carbohydrates (100% whole grains, fruits and veggies), lean protein (fish, skinless poultry and sirloin) and healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil).
2. Pump iron
Your body maintains muscle through protein synthesis, an intense calorie-burning process, says Brad Schoenfeld, CSCS, Director of the Human Performance Lab at CUNY Lehman College, in Bronx, NY, and author of Sculpting Her Body Perfect. Researchers believe just having muscle burns 10 to 20 calories per pound per day, versus burning one to two calories per pound of fat, says Schoenfeld. “If you diet without lifting, about 25% of your weight loss will come from muscle tissue. That suppresses metabolism because you miss the additional calories that having muscle burns.” So incorporate weight training into your workouts two to three times a week, and include all major muscle groups.
3. Keep moving
Staying in motion throughout the day, including run-of-the-mill fidgeting, speeds metabolism substantially, according to studies. “People who engage in non-exercise activity thermogenesis, a fancy term for any daily physical activity, gain less weight than those who sit still,” says James DeLaney, PhD, endocrinologist at the University of Pittsburgh. That’s why you should climb stairs instead of taking the elevator and get up out of your chair at least every hour, suggests Dr. DeLaney. “These little things add up.”
4. Eat seaweed
While green tea’s fat-burning effect is well-known, you may not realize that another emerald-hued plant works similarly. Fucoxanthin, which gives seaweed its green-brown color, has been shown to have an anti-obesity effect in animal studies. See if your doctor recommends fucoxanthin in supplement form. “Patients with a low metabolic rate who cannot tolerate medications can use fucoxanthin in combination with green tea,” says Caroline J. Cederquist, MD, Medical Director of bistroMD and Cederquist Medical Wellness Center in Naples, FL.
5. Dress salads with vinaigrette
Vinegar’s acetic acid flips on genes that stimulate fat burning, says Ann Kulze, MD, author of the Eat Right for Life series. In fact, a 2009 study showed lower body weight, body fat and triglyceride levels in obese subjects who included vinegar in their diets. When you eat salad, toss it with olive oil and 1 Tbsp of any vinegar-based dressing, suggests Dr. Kulze. In addition to the fat-reducing effect of the vinegar, the healthy fat in the olive oil helps you feel full longer and its “oleic acid triggers the release of the appetite suppressive hormone CCK,” says Dr. Kulze.
6. Go fish
Omega-3 fatty acids, the polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) found in fish oil, do wonders for your metabolism. “Fish oil cranks up fat burning by increasing thyroid hormones’ efficiency within your liver cells,” says Jonny Bowden, PhD, nutritionist and co-author of The Great Cholesterol Myth. Fill up on oily fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, lake trout) regularly, suggests Dr. Kulze. “Wild salmon is best because it’s super-high in PUFAs, and you can always find it frozen or canned.” On days you don’t eat oily fish, take a high-quality fish oil supplement with your doctor’s OK.
7. Change up your caloric intake
If you consistently consume the same amount of calories, your body may adapt by decreasing its metabolic rate, says Dr. Cederquist. Try a low-fat diet for four weeks followed by two weeks of slightly more protein, fat and carbs. “When you return to the lower calorie plan, weight loss takes off instead of plateauing,” says Dr. Cederquist. Just make sure your higher calorie weeks aren’t all-out feasts, Dr. Cederquist warns. Add up to two extra ounces of protein at meals and up to two extra servings of fruit and grains per day.
8. Get more dairy
Nicotinamide riboside (NR) in milk and all other dairy burns fat, says Shawn Talbott, PhD, Research Director of SupplementWatch, Inc. and author of The Metabolic Method. “Having more NR around enables mitochondria, the energy-producing units in cells, to more efficiently metabolize fat into energy.” In animal studies, NR supplements reduced obesity rates in rats, even those on high-fat diets.Try adding milk to smoothies or snacking on Greek yogurt with fruit.
9. Eat more watermelon
Arginine, an amino acid in this summertime favorite, not only burns fat but also prevents fat storage, says Dr. Talbott. “A recent Texas A&M study found that fat gain was 30% lower in rats supplemented with arginine over 12 weeks.” More benefits discovered in that study: better-controlled blood sugar, higher muscle mass, significantly more brown fat, the type that burns calories, and nutrient partitioning, which promotes muscle gain over fat gain. Work watermelon into fruit salads and drinks or cook up these delicious entrees with watermelon (yes, really!).
10. Opt for organic
Chemical food preservatives known as obesogens may have contributed to the rise in obesity rates in recent years, studies suggest. Research has yet to reveal exactly how they work, but scientists believe obesogens affect appetite or metabolism or cause cells to change into fat cells. So eat organic whenever possible, making special effort to avoid the “dirty dozen,” the fruits and vegetables believed to have the most pesticides.
- Are You a Listicle Reader?
Do you know about the magazine, THE WEEK? I have subscribed for the last 3 years and find that it gives me an easy to digest review from both sides of the political perspective on all that has happened in the past week as well as entertaining segments on the arts, people, book reviews, etc. Here is a “Viewpoint” that caught my attention:
“Recently, a close friend sent me an email with the subject line ‘Things I’ve Noticed As I Get Older.’ It wasn’t so much the content of the message that impressed me as its form. It was an email in the shape of a listicle. I couldn’t help feeling that I was seeing an early sign of what could be a shift in the way people communicate. In the not-to-distant future, all human interaction, written or otherwise, might well be conducted in the form of lists-for ease of assimilation, for catchiness, for optimal snap. I imagined myself, some decades from now, nervously perched on the papered leatherette of an examination bed, and my doctor directing her sad, humane eyes at me a moment before clearing her throat and saying, ‘Top Five Signs You Probably have Pancreatic cancer.’”
– Mark O’Connell in the New Yorker
I could identify because I do receive a lot of subject lines that are listicles. However, I will have to say they are successful in getting my attention and the ultimate click to open.
Why? Because it allows me to quickly scan the highlighted numbers and then decide whether I will read the detailed explanation for each one. I either learn something new or get a wake up call.
Here are some recent listicles that have caught my attention with one explanation for one of the subsequent lists:
10 Simple Habits That Can Help You Live to 100
Cut your cravings in half. Yes eat only have half of the chocolate chip cookie or the bag of chips.
5 Foods That Help You Lose Weight
Add grapefruit, watermelon, strawberries or cantaloupe as snacks to help you hydrate. These fruits are all more than 90% water.
6 Things You’ll Never Regret Doing
Reread your second favorite book. We tend to think of “favorite” as singular. A favorite book. A favorite movie. A favorite person. But it’s not as if adding to that group will diminish your feeling for the first selection. Choosing favorites may just be like loving: the more, the more rewarding.
15 Reasons to Accept (and Love!) Exactly Who You Are
“Real beauty isn’t about symmetry or weight or makeup: it’s about looking life right in the face and seeing all its magnificence reflected in your own.”
10 Things You Are Doing That Are Driving People Crazy
Standing in a long line with the menu selections clearly displayed and then still not being ready to order or having to search your purse/wallet for the entry ticket to an event.
7 Things Nobody Ever Tells You about Aging
Your nose and ears seem to be growing. Though our ears are 90 percent grown by age 6, and our noses are almost fully grown by the time we’re teens, both do change shape and appear to enlarge as we age.
Take a look to see how many emails you receive that are listicles. Could Mark’s prediction come true?
- Is This Your Third Act?
Are you familiar with TED Talks? If not, here is a quick explanation
TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, and Design.
TED Talks began as a simple attempt to share what happened at the TED Conference with the world. Believing in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately the world, they started to build a clearing house of free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers as well as creating a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other. Listening to these talks is truly inspirational.
Recently, I had a friend send me a link to this Jane Fonda appearance on TED talks:
Now I have to tell you I am in the “like, not dislike” category for Jane. I know she has been controversial, but what swayed me into complete admiration was reading her autobiography, My Life So Far. She was open, honest and extremely vulnerable in sharing all the highs and really lows of her life. She left nothing to the imagination and presented herself as a woman who I would certainly like to have as a friend.
Her next book, Prime Time was released in 2011, around the same time I was creating my ZEST System and this community. After reading this book, I knew we were speaking the same language and together believing that this time in our life could be so powerful if we focused on the positive and not the negatives of aging. Instead of seeing life as an arch, she wants us to see it as a staircase.
Please try to take the time to listen to this talk. It is short. These 11 minutes out of your day could lead to 11 more years of living life with ZEST.
- Let’s Be Diva’s
I have an itch that needs to be scratched…
I’m sure you have all figured out by now that my day job is being a travel professional and my obsession is going on trips and not buying shoes as most women do. I will reveal that what you don’t know is that due to a mild case of polio when I was younger I have to buy two pairs of shoes! No wonder I turned to travel.
Something came across my desk this week that peaked my interest.
As a self professed “diva wanna be” I couldn’t resist opening the email that read:’A Diva Like No Other”. It was from MSC Cruises announcing the arrival of their new ship, MSC Divina that will cruise from the port of Miami to the Caribbean.
Their enticing cruise fares made me look at the website to see if there was cruise that would fit into my schedule and budget. Yes, a 3 night cruise is being offered out of Miami on November 20. The right amount of time to be on a 3500 passenger ship and the right price as the lead is $229 per person. Granted this is an inside cabin but it gets me on the ship. My theory: If I am in my cabin, I am not living life with zest!
Now the back story about this cruise line is that the parent company is a successful Italian shipping company out of Genoa, Italy.
They decided to tap into the increasing cruise fever and their first ship was introduced to the US market in 2003. I was invited on their inaugural cruise and had the pleasure of meeting Sophia Loren, the Godmother of their fleet. I remember their public rooms as being very warm and inviting with opera music playing in the background. Now I am a lover of all things Italian, so the thought of being on an Italian themed ship to soak up the ambiance of being in Italy, indulging in the cuisine and in the hospitality of the Italian officers was and still is very enticing.
Here is an excerpt from their website:
Benvenuti – Welcome – To True Mediterranean Hospitality
On the ships of MSC Cruises you will discover a perfect blend of European charm and modern elegance. Experience the genuine warmth and hospitality of our Italian officers. Savor a steamy cappuccino or a refreshing gelato with an ever-changing view. And taste the flavors of Italy offered by our signature La Cucina Italiana and New World Mediterranean cuisine.
Relax by The Garden infinity pool overlooking the ship’s wake. Or stroll past the 150 fountains of the Aqua Park with poolside gelato bar. Imagine sipping a mimosa at brunch in the new Galaxy club restaurant with sweeping panoramic views. Or follow the piano music to the Italian piazza for a cocktail, conversation and shopping. And don’t forget the bliss of a Balinese massage in the exotic MSC Aurea Spa, graced with natural stone and wood finishes and floor-to-ceiling ocean views.
Can you resist… I can’t. I plan on taking this very affordable cruise to become Italian for 3 nights with friends or not. I would love to have you join me and share this experience together.
Please email me at email@example.com if you are interested or call me at 800-998-9111.
- Do You or Don’t You?
I want to share an experience that has prompted this newsletter topic.
I went to the post office and said hello to a woman that I had not seen in over a year. I immediately said hello to her by name. We chatted for a brief moment, and then she finally said to me: “Please tell me who you are again.” I immediately complimented her on admitting that she had no idea who I was, because I was so impressed that she would admit this.
This made me realize that I still struggle with the do you or don’t you admit that you have forgotten someone’s name? Here is my internal conversation when I am in this awkward and embarrassing situation.
If I admit to them that I don’t know them, will they think less of me?
Will they think that they weren’t important enough to have me remember them?
If I don’t admit it and fudge the conversation, will I end up saying something that will give me away and make me feel even worse?
I know this has happened to all of us and will only increase as we age. So I did some research on the topic and came up with the following advice. I apologize to the author because I couldn’t find the article again to quote her.
First, try to reintroduce yourself when you meet up with them. Usually people will respond by saying their names too. Second, if someone re-introduces themselves to you, please don’t be offended. They may not remember your name, or they may just be doing it to be polite in case you haven’t seen each other in a while.
If that doesn’t happen, here are the four easy steps I suggest to take if you have forgotten someone’s name:
1) Admit it. – Don’t stumble through the conversation. You are not the only one who forgets names.
2) Apologize. - Say something like, “I am so sorry, I have completely forgotten your name.”
3) “Rebound and Keep Moving.” – Do not keep apologizing. Apologize once and move on with the conversation.
Thanks for this advice whoever you are. I readily admit to you that I forgot your name!
Now an article in Scientific American confirms that as we age and our memory starts to function less well, names are most likely among the first things to escape us. You can use tricks to help remember, such as rhyming the name with an object. What is easiest, however, is to keep in mind that everyone has difficulty with names, so you can be less embarrassed when one eludes you and less critical of others when yours escapes them.
My acquaintance at the post office has me convinced that I will now just admit it! Thank you, Lucy.
- Creating Balance
I read an article in a local Cape Cod magazine that showcased a woman who practiced her own advice and changed her career from a chief financial officer for a large corporation to a life coach at age 50. “I doing what I’m put on this earth to do.”
She suggested you shift your energy from, “Oh, I can’t do that because I’m a 58-year- old woman,” to, “Hell, I can do that.” One of the exercises she uses is entitled Life Assessment. You rate various aspects of your current life, chart your position on the wheel of life, and then understand where to focus your attention. Here is a picture of the wheel of life assessment tool. While I know you can’t read it, I wanted you to have a visual to make your own wheel. Here are the 8 categories that make up your life. The center spoke starts at 1 and goes to 10 at the outer circle.
- Physical Well-Being
- Primary Relationship
- Other Relationships
- Mission: Personal/Spiritual Development
- Physical Surroundings
- Mission: Profession
- Rest, Relaxation and Fun
While not addressed in the article, I think it is safe to say the obvious conclusion is to evaluate the categories that only receive a 1-5 rating. I also think this exercise can be an indicator of the balance in your life.
I bring this up at the end of August because having been a mother of school children; I haven’t broken the habit of thinking the year begins in September. So, it’s a new year and possibly a time for a new you.
- Fashion Faux Pas for the “Senior” Woman
You Haven’t Heard the French Rule for This Accessory
A short silk scarf tied around your neck can draw unwanted attention to the area—not to mention make you look like a ’60s airline stewardess. Instead, for a fun (and very Parisian) look, tie the scarf in a bow (or knot) around the handle of a purse in a contrasting color. One last piece of advice: Wearing a single pin or brooch on a jacket lapel can date you—since this style was trendy years ago. Instead, use the pin or brooch to fasten a cardigan.
You’re Heaviest Below the Knees
Chunky heels and platform shoes add unnecessary heaviness to the bottom portion of your body. “Look for something more sleek and slim,” says Rothman. Stilettos are Rothman’s choice, though she suggests kitten heels for the more walking-inclined among us. Either way, she says, you can’t go wrong with a pointed toe.
You Save Shapewear for Weddings and New Year’s Eve
Slimming garments can cut years off your age by smoothing out lumps and bumps. Heather Thomson, founder of the shapewear brand Yummie by Heather Thomson, says she was horrified by the shapewear she could find after she had kids. “There’s no way my husband is seeing me in these,” she thought to herself. Now she and other designers are making more feminine and flirty pieces. While your shapewear should fit snugly, it’s important that it’s not too tight, to avoid certain health concerns. “Sizing down will not make you look thinner; it will only make you more miserable—I can’t stress this enough,” says Thomson. “You know you have the right fit when you can breathe and you’re not standing in the corner unable to move at a party.”
You Shop with the Person You Love Most
Your 16-year-old may look ridiculously cute in a patterned neon dress—and there’s nothing wrong with you wanting to keep up with current trends, says Allison Berlin, a stylist and the founder of StyleMadeSimple.net. But when it comes to incorporating trendy pieces into your wardrobe, you should look for a classic style that includes some part of the trend: Try soft floral prints on a silk sleeveless blouse, save leather for a motorcycle jacket or embrace colored denim in dark shades such as hunter green and burgundy or muted pastels instead of loud hues
You’re Hiding Your Neck
It seems like the easy fix: Cover as much of the neck as possible with a turtleneck, but a better choice is a V-neck or scoop neck, which draws the eye to your décolletage (so long as it doesn’t show cleavage). Collared shirts draw attention away from the neck area while giving a little more coverage. You might also choose a statement necklace that sits a little longer. “Avoid chokers,” says Rothman. Pick a style that’s at least 22 inches long
You’re Wearing Jersey Fabric
“Jersey fabric doesn’t create the best shape,” says Marjon Carlos, an online personal stylist for Saks.com—in part because it’s as clingy as it is comfortable. If you love-love-love jersey, go for a draped or ruched option that grazes your curves and strategically hides any bulges. Another option: double-knitted jersey, which is a denser quality fabric that still has a bit of stretch for comfort. Or choose a slightly more tailored piece, like a sheath dress, which gives the illusion of structure but is a forgiving cut for most women.
Your Glasses Are Too Geek Chic
Dark, thick frames underscore wrinkles and under-eye shadows. Lawrence Zarian, style expert and spokesman for the Vision Council’s Eyecessorize fashion eyewear campaign, suggests delicate plastic frames that have a bit of sparkle or jewel embellishment. These will reflect light. Another approach? Experiment with neon colors—on the inside of glasses’ arms—which has the same brightening effect. One more thing: “Most women try to camouflage bags under their eyes or wrinkles on their face with bigger frames, but the older you get, the smaller and more delicate your frames should be,” says Zarian. Find the best frames for your
Your Jeans Have Too Much Stretch
Stretch denim is a gift to women who shop for both comfort and style, but erring on the side of too much comfort can lead to lumpiness. “It’s best to look for jeans with 2 percent elastic fiber,” says Rothman. On the care label, you’ll see Lycra, spandex or elastane. The right jeans will follow your silhouette, have enough stretch so that your legs won’t look as if they’re fighting to break free from your pants and, unlike denim with 4 percent or more elastic fiber, won’t sag at the tush.
You’ve Got Your Bra on the Wrong Hook
“The wrong-size bra makes you look shorter, older and heavier,” says Linda “the Bra Lady” Becker, owner of Linda’s Bra Salons. The clasp should be on the loosest hook to begin with and made tighter as the bra stretches over time. “When it is on the tightest hook—that’s when you know you need a new bra,” says Becker. Since breast size fluctuates—due to weight gain, weight loss and hormonal changes—Becker suggests going for a fitting once a year and buying a new bra every six to eight months.
Your Skirt Length Is Moving Down, Down, Down
Just because your age is increasing doesn’t mean your hemline has to as well. A skirt that grazes close to your ankles may hide slightly saggy knees, but it also tends to make women look wider and frumpier. Rothman says to find the most flattering skirt length for your shape, look in the mirror and note the slimmest part of the area around your knee—right above, right below or in the middle—and that’s where your hemline should hit. If you want more coverage, try a form-fitting midiskirt, which comes to the middle of your calf.
You’re Hiding Out
If you’re trying to cover your hips, arms or stomach underneath a shapeless blazer, you’re actually making yourself look heavier, says Anita Kealey, a Custom Tailor & Designers Association master. A well-cut jacket that nips in at the waist and is shorter in length showcases the most flattering parts of your figure and creates a smooth line down your torso.
You Took the Song “Paint It, Black” Literally
Black does wonders for trimming a figure and is appropriate for almost every occasion, but as women get older, their skin tends to become paler—and wearing black can create a harsh contrast that emphasizes wrinkles and calls attention to dark shadows under the chin and around the eyes. Add a bright accessory like a scarf or a statement necklace—any pop of color will lessen the washed-out effect, says Lauren Rothman, the founder of StyleAuteur.com and author of Style Bible: What to Wear to Work. She also suggests shopping for earthy neutrals—like cocoa, olive, camel or gray—which are subdued but still add contrast. Also, jewel tones are a color group that flatters most women.
- Working in Your Golden Years?
Many of us plan on continuing to work long after “retirement” age, whatever that is these days! According to Boston College’s Sloan Center on Aging & Work, many leave their current job for “bridge” jobs that span the period between quitting a career position and leaving the work force for good. The appeal for these jobs is a friendly work environment, a flexible schedule, part time work or even working from home.
Kathy Hannon offers the best 10 categories of jobs for seniors seeking “bridge” opportunities in her book: Great Jobs for Everyone 50+.
Before I get to her list I think we ought to add the job of being a Town Crier. What fun this gentleman had announcing the birth of Prince George.
Now for Kathy’s list:
Dietician and Nutritionist
Skilled health care workers are in huge demand, given the aging population, says Hannon. I think you would have to prepare yourself for this one since you would need degrees to apply for these jobs.
The top-paying job in Hannon’s category of work-at-home jobs requires patience, great listening skills and a bent for peace-making. Most women come already pre programmed with these skills.
Dressing up as Santa Claus may not be the most glamorous job, and it definitely involves managing wriggling kids. “Kids throw up. They cough in your face. . . . Some cry, and others pull your beard,” one person Hannon interviewed told her. I don’t think women have broken this job barrier yet!
In the “ride the age wave” category (jobs that are growing as the older population grows), a retirement coach involves counseling those nearing their golden years on what to do with the rest of their lives. The job is part of the emerging profession of life and career coaching. Women would love telling others what to do.
Snowbird jobs let older workers go south for the winter, and travel nurse is the highest-paying of these, according to Hannon. Registered nurses and licensed practical nurses are in high demand in Florida and Arizona during winter months. For those of you lucky enough to have chosen this job security profession, you’ll get paid for desiring warm weather in the winter.
Nonprofits are hiring, and this job pays the best of those in Hannon’s nonprofit jobs category. Responsibilities can include hosting events, applying for grants and writing fundraising letters. This is a tough job but possibly the rewards outweigh all the hard work knowing you are working for a good case.
Market and survey researcher
In the “great jobs for retired teachers” category, this involves conducting surveys of customers door to door, on the phone, online or through the mail and usually writing detailed reports of the findings. I never aspired to be a fuller brush man or sell encyclopedias door to door, so this is not for me!
The best-paying in the night jobs category, casino work puts you in the middle of the nightlife, though at times it requires more than average walking and standing. If you live near one, why not?
The highest paying job in Hannon’s part-time jobs category, project-based consultants are brought in to solve specific problems or work on specific projects. Small, fast-growing companies are good sources of these jobs, according to Hannon. They’re looking for experienced employees who are flexible and can hit the ground running. I have no quick quip for this one.
The highest paid of Hannon’s seasonal jobs, preparers don’t actually need an accounting degree, though it’s helpful, she says. I know someone who does this. Long hours in the season but she says it’s worth it.
Did you find your bridge job?
- Do You Know How To Be Happy?
Sages going back to Socrates have offered advice on how to be happy, but only now are scientists beginning to address this question with systematic, controlled research. Although many of the new studies reaffirm time-honored wisdom (“Do what you love,” “To thine own self be true”), they also add a number of fresh twists and insights. We canvassed the leading experts on what happy people have in common—and why it’s worth trying to become one of them.
1. They find their most golden self.
Picture happiness. What do you see? A peaceful soul sitting in a field of daisies appreciating the moment? That kind of passive, pleasure – oriented – hedonic – contentment is definitely a component of overall happiness. But researchers now believe that eudaimonic well-being may be more important. Cobbled from the Greek eu (“good”) and daimon (“spirit” or “deity”), eudaimonia means striving toward excellence based on one’s unique talents and potential—Aristotle considered it to be the noblest goal in life. In his time, the Greeks believed that each child was blessed at birth with a personal daimon embodying the highest possible expression of his or her nature. One way they envisioned the daimon was as a golden figurine that would be revealed by cracking away an outer layer of cheap pottery (the person’s baser exterior). The effort to know and realize one’s most golden self—”personal growth,” in today’s lingo—is now the central concept of eudaimonia, which has also come to include continually taking on new challenges and fulfilling one’s sense of purpose in life.
“Eudaimonic well-being is much more robust and satisfying than hedonic happiness, and it engages different parts of the brain,” says Richard J. Davidson, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The positive emotion accompanying thoughts that are directed toward meaningful goals is one of the most enduring components of well-being.” Eudaimonia is also good for the body. Women who scored high on psychological tests for it (they were purposefully engaged in life, pursued self-development) weighed less, slept better, and had fewer stress hormones and markers for heart disease than others—including those reporting hedonic happiness—according to a study led by Carol Ryff, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
2. They design their lives to bring in joy.
It may seem obvious, but “people don’t devote enough time to thinking seriously about how they spend their life and how much of it they actually enjoy,” says David Schkade, PhD, a psychologist and professor of management at the University of California San Diego. In a recent study, Schkade and colleagues asked more than 900 working women to write down everything they’d done the day before. Afterward, they reviewed their diaries and evaluated how they felt at each point. When the women saw how much time they spent on activities they didn’t like, “some people had tears in their eyes,” Schkade says. “They didn’t realize their happiness was something they could design and have control over.”
Analyzing one’s life isn’t necessarily easy and may require questioning long-held assumptions. A high-powered career might, in fact, turn out to be unfulfilling; a committed relationship once longed for could end up being irritating with all the compromising that comes with having a partner. Dreams can be hard to abandon, even when they’ve turned sour.
Fortunately, changes don’t have to be big ones to tip the joy in your favor. Schkade says that if you transfer even an hour of your day from an activity you hate (commuting, scrubbing the bathroom) to one you like (reading, spending time with friends), you should see a significant improvement in your overall happiness. Taking action is key. Another recent study, at the University of Missouri, compared college students who made intentional changes (joining a club, upgrading their study habits) with others who passively experienced positive turns in their circumstances (receiving a scholarship, being relieved of a bad roommate). All the students were happier in the short term, but only the group who made deliberate changes stayed that way.
3. They avoid “if only” fantasies.
If only I get a better job…find a man…lose the weight…life will be perfect. Happy people don’t buy into this kind of thinking.
The latest research shows that we’re surprisingly bad at predicting what will make us happy. People also tend to misjudge their contentment when zeroing in on a single aspect of their life—it’s called the focusing illusion. In one study, single subjects were asked, “How happy are you with your life in general?” and “How many dates did you have last month?” When the dating question was asked first, their romantic life weighed more heavily into how they rated their overall happiness than when the questions were reversed.
The other argument against “if only” fantasies has to do with “hedonic adaptation”—the brain’s natural dimming effect, which guarantees that a new house won’t generate the same pleasure a year after its purchase and the thrill of having a boyfriend will ebb as you get used to being part of a couple. Happy people are wise to this, which is why they keep their lives full of novelty, even if it’s just trying a new activity (diving, yoga) or putting a new spin on an old favorite (kundalini instead of vinyasa).
4. They put best friends first.
It’s no surprise that social engagement is one of the most important contributors to happiness. What’s news is that the nature of the relationship counts. Compared with dashing around chatting with acquaintances, you get more joy from spending longer periods of time with a close friend, according to research by Meliksah Demir, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Northern Arizona University. And the best-friend benefit doesn’t necessarily come from delving into heavy discussions. One of the most essential pleasures of close friendship, Demir found, is simple companionship, “just hanging out,” as he says, hitting the mall or going to the movies together and eating popcorn in the dark.
5. They allow themselves to be happy.
As much as we all think we want it, many of us are convinced, deep down, that it’s wrong to be happy (or too happy). Whether the belief comes from religion, culture, or the family you were raised in, it usually leaves you feeling guilty if you’re having fun.
“Some people would say you shouldn’t strive for personal happiness until you’ve taken care of everyone in the world who is starving or doesn’t have adequate medical care,” says Howard Cutler, MD, coauthor with the Dalai Lama of The Art of Happiness in a Troubled World. “The Dalai Lama believes you should pursue both simultaneously. For one thing, there is clear research showing that happy people tend to be more open to helping others. They also make better spouses and parents.” And in one famous study, nuns whose autobiographies expressed positive emotions (such as gratitude and optimism) lived seven to 10-and-a-half years longer than other nuns. So, for any die-hard pessimist who still needs persuading, just think of how much more you can help the world if you allow a little happiness into your life.
- Summer Reading List
I am so lucky to have a neighbor, an executive at Random House, who feeds my reading habit. Not being in a book club, I look forward to her gift boxes of recent publications in all genres to find out what is “hot” in the book marketplace. Her latest “installment” included:
Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole
“A sweeping story told in letters, spanning two continents and two world wars, Jessica Brockmole’s atmospheric debut novel captures the indelible ways that people fall in love, and celebrates the power of the written word to stir the heart.”
While it took me until page 37 to be hooked, once I was, I finished this very quickly. I like this format in books.
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
“Written with both humor and wisdom, Sandberg’s book is an inspiring call to action and a blueprint for individual growth. Lean In is destined to change the conversation from what women can’t do to what they can.”
I know I am late in reading this, but read it I will, after hearing all the controversy. I am a believer in the power of women, so I will read this book and then make up my own mind!
What’s for Dinner by Curtis Stone
“Celebrity chef Curtis Stone, host of Bravo’s hugely popular series Top Chef Masters, knows life can get a little crazy. But as a new dad, he also believes that sitting down to a home-cooked meal with family and friends is one of life’s greatest gifts. In his fifth cookbook, Curtis offers both novice cooks and seasoned chefs mouthwatering recipes and easy-to-make meals for every night of the week”
My neighbor Denise must be under the misguided illusion that I still cook! Now with that being said, I may start again after seeing the beautiful pictures of food, the charming family pictures, and his intriguing way of organizing the recipes.
Thank you to Fran for these other two suggestions that she highly recommends:
Defending Jacob by William Landay
“Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis—a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control.”
The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan
A gripping novel set in Belle Époque Paris and inspired by the real-life model for Degas’s Little Dancer Aged Fourteen and a notorious criminal trial of the era.
I will end with a book written by one of our members.
The Winter House: A Season of Sharing by Joan MacCracken
“Please check out my new novel about women deciding to live together in the older years. It is becoming a real alternative. It can be found at www.tiffinpressofmaine.com. Hope will enjoy the book and spread the news.” Let’s support another Dynamic Senior Woman.
Happy Summer Reading!
Have you heard of the idea of having a place in your house to use as your “sanctuary?” This is a designated quiet area where you can relax, meditate or read the book of your choice, with the bible being the most common choice when researching this concept. While I consider myself a spiritual person, I have never been able to buy into this idea of creating this kind of room in my house.
The first reason is when I had a large enough house to have a free room, I was more focused on my children and their busy lives, and the resulting active social life. In hindsight, I probably needed this room more than ever during those crazy years of raising my 3 children and keeping up with the Joneses.
Now that I am in my “intermediate” years, with my children all grown and living their own lives and with my ongoing 30 plus years as a travel advisor, I can now focus on this idea, especially after seeing a sign in an airport. Really, you say?
Yes, after passing through the new tubular screening machine, I saw a sign that I have never seen before in my years of traveling around the world. I burst into laughter as I put back on my clothes that had been removed, shoes, belt, jacket, scarf and jewelry, since I find that my costume travel pieces always make the machines beep.
A sign could make me laugh? Yes, this one did. Please look at this picture, and I hope it brings you a laugh also. When was the last time you read or heard this word?
Now the idea of taking a space in my house to use as a “sanctuary” has some intrigue. I will call this room my “recombobulation area.” At times, this could be a magical place just as the definition of the word seems to be.
1. To put something back the way it was, or into proper working order
2. To gather one’s thoughts or composure
In my imagination, this room could put back the elasticity to my skin, seamlessly take off those extra pounds, or take back all the consequences of mistakes I have made. I could be my own Wizard of Oz!
Now back to reality. I think this is a powerful word and one that just might become a favorite. I began to think about all the times I could recombobulate in my daily life.
I can recombobulate when I recognize my feelings are going from positive to negative.
Instead of cleaning my house, I can recombobulate it.
I can recombobulate after not remembering someone’s name.
I’m sure you can think of many more examples. Have fun recombobulating this week.
- Do You Have a Bucket List?
Have you seen the recent articles on the pluses and minuses of your bucket list dreams?
Last week, Bill Braggs, an NBC News contributor, wrote from the negative point of view and referenced the often life threatening bucket list activities like skydiving, motorcycle riding and even riding a bull. He interviewed an emergency room physician who wants the bucket-listers to tone down their chosen adventures, or at least, to better prepare for such feats. His advice: “If you’re going to build a bucket list, don’t fill it with 18 different versions of Russian Roulette.”
On the positive side, Dr. Alexis Abramson, PhD, a leading industry expert for those over 50, wrote a recent article for the Huffington Post in which she supports the idea of looking at the bonus years of your life as a chance to explore every possible outlet one can imagine. “Aspirations and goals are what make the second half of life empowering—if you don’t fulfill them what’s the point of dreaming in the first place?” Her advice: “If you want to ride a motorcycle, take a motorcycle safety course. Take time to learn the ins-and-outs of a motorcycle, and then join the legions of 50+ safe bikers who have a blast riding on a regular basis.”
Both articles talked about Laverne Everett. You may remember her viral video 2 years ago of her near disastrous tandem sky dive celebrating her 80th birthday. Her latest adventure to celebrate her 82nd birthday was riding shotgun in a NASCAR vehicle for several laps at a California racetrack. Her comment: “I figured we were doing 90 mph, at least. When we got out, I told the driver, I could have gone faster!”
These articles made me start thinking about where I am on this spectrum and the answer is somewhere in the middle. I have tandem para glided off a Swiss Alp; I have climbed to the top of the mast of a tall ship on the Adriatic Sea and white water rafted on the Class IV Riviere Rouge in Canada, all after the age of 50. Would I do these at 67? Probably not!
However, I do firmly believe in having a bucket list, whether it has any thrill seeking entries or not. I don’t have to have a viral video of my adventures, but I do have to have adventures to look forward to. I believe in the: “Geez, I haven’t done this in my life so why not try it now” way of living. This keeps me active, curious and still engaged in life. How about you?
- Worldwide Summer Solstice Celebrations
In Poland, it is traditional for women to throw flower wreaths into the rivers, lakes and the Baltic Sea. In Warsaw, they take it to the extreme and toss a great wreath in the Vistula, the longest river in Poland.
A Bonfire on top of Hohe Salve Mountain in the Austrian Alps.
Midsummer is huge in Latvia, where it is known as Jani and celebrations include drinking, dancing, eating and flower wreaths.
Every year thousands gather at Stonehenge to watch the sunrise during the Summer Solstice.
In Sweden, midsummer is a national holiday celebrated with herrings, schnappa, singing and dancing around a maypole.
In Times Square this year thousands turned out for their morning yoga exercise!
How did you celebrate?
- Signs of Summer
1. Ice cream, ice cream, ice cream
2. Playing miniature golf
3. Reading a juicy novel at the beach in the late afternoon
4. Watching a beautiful sunset
5. Longer days for more time to be spontaneous
6. Connecting more often with friends
7. Feeling footloose and carefree
8. Summer stock theater
9. Cook outs on the deck
10. Giving myself permission to be lazy
Now for 10 quotes that make reference to summer:
1. “Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.”
– Sam Keen
2. “Summer afternoon – Summer afternoon… the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
– Henry James
3. “Love is to the heart what the summer is to the farmer’s year. It brings to harvest all the loveliest flowers of the soul.”
– Billy Graham
4. “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
– Albert Camus
5. “I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June”.
– L.M. Montgomery
6. “Some of the best memories are made in flip flops.”
— Kellie Elmore
7. “Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air and you.”
– Langston Hughes
8. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”
– William Shakespeare
9. “A life without love is like a year without summer.”
– Swedish Proverb
10. “There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart.”
– Celia Thaxter
- The Power of Dreaming
Sadly, too often, we hear phrases that call for us to get our heads out of the clouds and come down to earth and that ask us to stop dreaming dreams because they will never come true.
Sometimes these voices come from others, and sometimes they come from ourselves. For far too long we have underestimated the power and possibility that life is the act of dreaming what can be and that we all have to do the work it takes to make our dreams a reality.
Each human being is a gift, and we each have our own unique dream and purpose for living. We each must mine our imaginations, creativity and souls to uncover our true purposes and passions.
Our dreams are magic, and if respected, nurtured and honored, they ultimately bring an abundance of meaning and purpose to our lives. Dreams guide us as we reach for the stars, follow our heart’s desire and do the things we are passionate about. Dreams help weave the fabric of who we are, and they reveal what matters most to us. They allow our spirits to shine, and they reflect our uniqueness and authenticity.
Although we sometimes hear the call to put our dreams aside, louder, clearer and more powerful voices remind and connect us to the truth, beauty and wealth of our dreams.
Throughout history, poets, songwriters, novelists, politicians, social activists, countries, companies, presidents, moms, dads and people just like you have expressed the importance of the act of dreaming and of reaching toward those dreams. These voices also inspire and remind us that there is a common thread that connects one heart to another. That thread is the belief and optimism in a brighter future when we embrace and pursue our dreams.
When we look around, we see others who have embraced their dreams, and we admire them. We see the great changes that can come from one person’s commitment, perseverance and belief in her dream. We see the power of dreams manifested around us in our neighborhoods, churches, communities, states, the country and the world.
We, too, want to make our own dreams come true. We all want to connect, to speak from our hearts. We yearn to create dreams as well as things and moments that make our lives worthwhile. We want to convey what words alone cannot as we accomplish our dreams.
Yet, not enough of us even acknowledge the desire to create the lives we imagine or try to make our dreams come true. Too often we diminish the importance of our dreams by saying, “I’ll get to it later” or “It can wait.” Our inner critic can be heard saying, “I’ll never get it accomplished,” “My dream doesn’t really matter” or “I probably can’t do it any way, and people will think it’s silly.”
The truth is, we all need more opportunities to dream, to imagine and to play. We long to feel the sensation of being lost in a moment of joy. To laugh, discover, experiment, invent, feel accomplished and live in the moment.
Dreaming is the way we define what matters to us and what we wish to accomplish and do in the world with this one life.
There comes a day when each of us has to decide that today is the day we are going to put our fears and excuses aside, follow our heart’s desire and pursue our dreams.
Let today be that day for you. Get started by taking these ideas to heart:
- Today is the day to heed and acknowledge the importance of your dreams.
- Today is the day to declare that you can and will create the life you imagine.
- Today is the day to stop diminishing your dreams and start believing in them.
- Today is the day to stop putting your dreams aside and stop asking them to wait.
- Today is the day to shut your inner critic up and instead of saying, “No, I can’t,” say, “Yes, I can!”
- Today, nurture and support yourself.
- Today, you are teacher and a student.
- Today and every day is your day.
- Today is the day you let your dreams take flight.
Our dreams come in all sizes and shapes.
Whether it is a dream…
- to hear the voice of a long lost friend
- to make holiday cards by hand
- to learn to bake a cake that people can’t get enough of
- to sing or play the cello
- to get an education
- to climb a mountain
- to help another human being
- to start a business
- to paint a picture
- to find the love of your life
- to teach English in a remote village in India
- to take a trip to Spain
- to be closer to a sister
- to walk in the sand at the beach
- to be a doctor
Some dreams are small but touch lives in a big way; others are big and touch a small group of people in a remote area of the world. But all dreams are important.
I have ordered a copy of the book to receive more inspiration from a fellow believer in making each day count to live life to the fullest.
- The Prayer
I am just going to get right to the point this week. I want to share with you my emotional weekend that had me sad one day and joyous the next with the common denominator being the well known song, “The Prayer”, written by David Foster and Carole Bayer Sager. It is most commonly known as a duet between Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli.
On Saturday, I attended a celebration of life for a friend who passed at the youthful age of 58. It was held in The Watch Hill Chapel in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, a beautiful chapel in a beautiful location. It was a crystal clear sunny day, and as you walked into and out of the chapel, you could see stunning views of the ocean in the distance.
The service had us reading the classic Psalm 23, singing the song Amazing Grace while the words of remembrance brought tears to our eyes.
The minister, instead of trying to pretend he knew Jayne, clearly stated right from the beginning that he did not, but wished he had from all that he heard about her. He then went on to give an erudite interpretation of a reading from the Gospel of John (14: 1-11)
During this talk, he made reference to Dr. Eben Alexander, M.D., author of the New York Times best selling book, “Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife” The point the minister made was if you do believe in an afterlife, it makes the concept of death more able to be accepted and thus less scary. I do believe, so this is a book I will be sure to read.
The service ended with an inspiring rendition of the song, “The Prayer”. I hadn’t heard it in a long time, so I was mesmerized and again brought to tears.
Now as it turns out, I went to church on Sunday morning and was surprised to see the youth of the congregation in charge. They planned the service from the readings to the songs they sang, as well as their personal stories about how attending Sunday school classes had changed and or benefited their lives. It was a powerful morning and so uplifting to see these young people filled with youthful enthusiasm and living their life with a purpose.
What song do you think two of these special young people sang? Yes, “The Prayer”. Twice in a weekend when I had not heard it in years! This made me want to share the words of the song with you (below) or have you click on this link to hear Celine and Andrea perform this song.
I pray you’ll be our eyes
And watch us where we go
And help us to be wise
In times when we don’t know
Let this be our prayer
As we go our way
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your grace
To a place where we’ll be safe
La luce che to dai
I pray we’ll find your light
Nel cuore restero
And hold it in our hearts
A ricordarchi che
When stars go out each night
L’eterna stella sei
Nella mia preghiera
Let this be our prayer
Quanta fede c’e
When shadows fill our day
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we’ll be safe.
Sognamo un mondo senza piu violenza
Un mondo di giustizia e di speranza
Ognuno dia la mano al suo vicino
Simbolo di pace e di fraternita
La forza che ci dai
We ask that life be kind
E’il desiderio che
And watch us from above
Ognuno trovi amore
We hope each soul will find
Intorno e dentro a se
Another soul to love
Let this be our prayer
Let this be our prayer
Just like every child
Just like every child
Needs to find a place,
Guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we’ll be safe
E la fede che
Hai acceso in noi
Sento che ci salvera
So the weekend had me feeling both the sadness and joy of the cycle of life that resulted in my renewed commitment to live each day to the fullest while trying to make a difference.
Go out and live life with zest.
- Viva Sicilia Part Two
To continue this travelogue about our trip to Sicily, we are now in Agrigento to walk the road of the Valley of the Temples. This is a hike so be sure to have good walking shoes! I could feel the history in this walk and our guide made their way of life come alive.
We then had the pleasure of staying at the Azienda Agricola Mandranova (www.mandranova.it), a very special evening spent sipping wine amongst the olive trees. Our evening meal was lovingly prepared by the owner Sylvia with fresh ingredients from the farm. It was outstanding; one of the more memorable meals of the trip.
I think a stop to see the 4th century mosaics in the Villa Romana del Casale at Piazza Armerina is a must see in Sicily. This villa contains the richest, largest and most complex collection of Roman mosaics in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will walk along scaffolding to view the many mosaics of this still impressive villa.
In my humble opinion, at least one of the Baroque towns of Ragusa, Noto and Modica should be visited. These are often overlooked on basic tours since they are not so touristy, which is, of course, the reason to visit for a glimpse into old time Sicily.
Siracusa is always popular for the archeological complex that includes a Greek Theatre, a Roman Amphitheatre and the Paradise Quarry. Be sure to overnight on the island of Ortygia, located just over a small walking bridge from the mainland where you will enjoy walking down the alleyways that lead to the sea.
We saved the crowning jewel of Sicily for our last stop: Taormina. By this time we were ready for some down time, some shopping for gifts to bring home and for some time to take in the breathtaking views of this hilltop resort town with Mt Etna visible on a clear day. Our hotel was The Ashbee Hotel,(www.theashbeehotel.com), a quiet oasis that you entered into through wrought irons gates and located just outside of the town center. A swim in their infinity pool was a welcome treat.
For all the touristy hype of Taormina it still had its own special charm and romance. Yes, the Corso Umberto is lined with shops and restaurants but if you look up you will see beautiful balconies.
Even though you may feel that you are tired of viewing the ancient ruins of Sicily, I must implore you to put on your walking shoes for your last “hike” and be sure to visit the Greek Theater. If not for the well preserved theater and all its history, do it for the magnificent views from the climb to the top.
My overall impressions: One guide told us Sicily is trying very hard to increase the number of tourists that come to visit. I will help in this mission and tell you that it is a warm and welcoming country with its own “Sicilian” flavors that will not disappoint you. If you can, visit in the springtime as we did, when all is green and lush and full of new life.
So I am now home and already thinking about my next destination. It only takes me 3 weeks or so before I get itchy and yearning to be on the road again.
- Viva Sicilia
My recent trip to Sicily enabled me to check off another destination on my travel bucket list. Since I love all things Italian it was important for me to experience the uniqueness of this island which is separated from mainland Italy by the 2 mile wide Strait of Messina. Having once been its own country and only becoming part of Italy since 1860, Sicilians are proud of their multi cultural heritage. Their strong sense of identity has them more readily referring to themselves as “Sicilians” rather than Italians.
Our custom tour allowed us to experience both the breathtaking coastal sea views and the lushly green rolling hills of central Sicily that were dotted with pockets of yellow and purple wild flowers. It was a beautiful time of year to be in Sicily being told by one guide that within a month the countryside would turn to brown, not my favorite color!
We used Palermo as a base to be able to tour the northwest region of the island. One day was devoted to the ancient ruins at Segesta, traveling along “The Salt Road” and having a wine tasting lunch at The Donnafugata Winery.
The term “Donna Fugata” translates as “Fleeing woman” and is a reference to the Bourbon King Ferdinand IV´s Hapsburg wife Queen Maria Carolina who in the early 1800´s had to flee their court at Naples (under Spanish rule at the time) when Napoleon’s troops arrived. They fled for Sicily to the country estates of a local prince. This story inspired the name as well as the image of the women with the flowing hair on their wine labels. The Donnafugata brand was born in the early 1980´s by Giacomo and Gabriella Rallo in the family’s historic cellars and today their children are intregally involved in the daily life of the winery. Even grandchildren pitch in at the winery by posing as adorable Bacchus figures in the ads. Having been on many vineyard tours, this one was particularly memorable for its warm and friendly atmosphere.
Another “treat” in this part of Sicily was a visit to the medieval hilltop town of Erice where we met a dynamic senior woman, Maria Grammatico in her patiscerria. Her life story is the subject of the book, Bitter Almonds by Mary Taylor Simeti. To briefly summarize, Maria and her sister were sent by their impoverished mother to live in a cloistered orphanage in the early 50s. It was here, amongst the many hardships, that she learned the art of making handcrafted pastries which were sold by the nuns to the public from behind a grille in the convent wall. After leaving the convent with no personal possessions and minimal schooling, she became the successful owner of her own pasticerria, just steps away from the convent. The book is her story with recipes told by her friend and long-time customer as a tribute to Sicilian food and culture and a record of an historic and vanishing craft.
Next week I will review the Azienda Agricola, Mandranova and the breathtaking gem of Sicily, Taormina.
- A Dynamic Sicilian Woman
As I mentioned last week, I led a group of 12 on a recent Sicilian discovery. It was a 9 night journey that gave us an extensive view of this multi-dimensional island that has it own clear heritage and identity that separates the residents from the mainland of Italy.
We began in Palermo where we spent 3 nights to be able to sightsee in this city as well as the coastal towns of Cefalu; Segesta for the Greek Theater and Temple; the salt road flats and the medieval town of Erice.
One of the many highlights of the trip was a day spent with Giocchino Lanza Tomasi, the adopted son and heir to the title of Duke of Palma and his wife, Nicoletta Polo, the Duchess of Palma. Have you read the book or seen the movie, The Leopard, by the most famous Sicilian author, Guiseppe di Tomasi of Lampedusa? We were invited into the 18th century Palazzo Lampedusa overlooking the Bay of Palermo where the author spent his last years, to spend the day cooking with the Duchess and then to enjoy the fruits of our labor in the formal dining room, set with the family crest china, silver candelabras and their fine crystal glasses with the adopted son of Guiseppe at the head of the table entertaining us all. To say they were a charming couple would be an understatement.
The duchess, a lively and dynamic Venetian by birth, with a wonderful sense of humor, is an accomplished cook who offers private cooking lessons (cookingwiththeduchess.com). She lovingly guided us in our cooking lesson, and as a bonus, took us to the Capo Market to buy our fresh ingredients, a Palermo experience not to be missed.
Here are pictures of two of our courses that I have recipes for. If you would like them, please email me, and I will send them along to you. Needless to say, the meal we prepared was delicious with the wine freely flowing.
After this memorable luncheon we were treated to a tour of the vast rooms of the palazzo to appreciate the furnishings, pictures and extensive library.
The handwritten original manuscript of The Leopard was on display. Guiseppe di Tomasi never knew his book had been finally published and was only done so due to the efforts of the present Duke of Palma.
I left with a wonderful memory of having spent the day with a new friend and another dynamic senior woman who is living life to the fullest while she is doing what is necessary to maintain the history and future of this palatial home for the generations to follow. The Pallazo Lampedusa offers apartments for rent at the website: www.butera28.it.
Enjoy your week.
- Celebrate Your Uniqueness
Many of us find ourselves going with the flow and living life day to day without giving a voice to our unique, powerful selves. It’s time to end that mundane, boring lifestyle and express the real you!
Wear the clothes, shoes, jewelry, and makeup that make you feel amazing.
I just learned about Carol Tuttle’s Dressing Your Truth (www.dressingyourtruth.com) which helps you determine your type of beauty. Whether you’re a soft and subtle Type 2 or a bold and striking Type 4, you’ll find clothes, accessories, and cosmetics that work for your unique beauty.
While it may seem that you’re being put in a box here, understand that we exhibit all four types to some degree, but we lead primarily with one type. This will be fun to do as I always feel like I need a boost for the summer season.
Do what makes your heart sing.
What do you love to do? What makes you feel fulfilled, happy, and truly alive? You owe it to yourself (and some would argue you owe it to the world) to do that very thing. Not sure what your soul craves? Think of what made you happy when you were a child, a teen, and a young adult. Those are your true gifts and what you love. Jonathan Ellerby, spiritual director for Canyon Ranch, calls this a Lost and Found List. Since I started to travel at the youthful age of 13, my answer is travel and I hope to never stop.
So make a list of those things you used to like to do and pledge to yourself to do at least one a week (though one a day is even better!). You may find that what made you happy at 18 doesn’t do anything for you now, and that’s OK. Find something new and have fun learning something new.
Rid yourself of old hurts, struggles, and grudges.
You can’t be your authentic, unique self if you have some “carry on” baggage from the past. This step is easier said than done, and you may need to enlist the help of a friend, trusted family member, or a professional therapist or counselor.
If you work through old issues you have with family and friends, you’ll find yourself feeling lighter, happier, and in general more in touch with yourself. Grudges, hurts, and problems keep you stuck in a less than happy mindset. It will take time to release your “stuff”, but when you do, you’ll have the freedom you need to fully express your special self.
Happy Self Discovery and enjoy Mother’s Day.
- Ideas for a Happiness Makeover
Nestle in the Right Neighborhood… “Living on the marsh on Cape Cod gives me a score of 100%”.
Where you choose to live is one of the most important determinants of your happiness. If you’re looking for a retirement destination, here are some things to keep in mind: People are generally happiest in sunny areas, in the Pacific Northwest and on the water. Look for neighborhoods with sidewalks, meeting places and other characteristics that nudge you into social interaction. Easy access to green spaces and recreation also favors well-being.
Stop Shopping; Start Saving… “I will finally agree with this but must say that I will never regret having spent money on my travel experiences. They have actually increased my happiness quotient since I can take those memories out on my memory bank anytime I want to relive them”.
Research shows that financial security brings much more happiness over time than buying things does. Why? Within about a year the thrill of a new item wears off, while financial security has no expiration date. Indeed, older people’s less-materialistic spending habits may explain much of their increasing happiness with age.
Make the Most of Your Morning… “I flunk sleep but thankfully I eat breakfast, walk in the morning and one thing not mentioned, read an inspirational passage”.
While a good night’s sleep is critical to long-term happiness — a University of North Texas study found that people with insomnia are 10 times more likely to develop depression and 17 times more likely to have anxiety than are people who sleep well — our morning routine is just as our morning routine is just as important. Eating breakfast every day can boost energy, and 30 minutes of walking or other exercise raises well-being for up to 12 hours.
Trim Your TV Time… “Does watching TV with your family qualify”?
The happiest people watch less than one hour of television a day, according to a study of 40,000 people who took National Geographic’s True Happiness Test. Why? We get more authentic happiness from being with family and friends, reading or engaging in a hobby.
Get a Daily Dose of Friends… “Amen to this, girlfriends”.
Studies show that America’s happiest people get at least six hours a day of interaction with friends or family. And if you proactively choose the right social network, bliss can be contagious. Harvard University research found that with each happy friend we add to our social circle, our own our own happiness grows by 9 percent. For each unhappy friend, our happiness declines by 7 percent. So find people you like, and commit to routines that put you in contact with them regularly.
Create a Sunny Sanctuary… “I have a sun room that is used for 6 months so I guess I am happy half of the year”.
Increase happiness by creating a room at home where you can play an instrument, enjoy a hobby, read a book or spend time with family. Ideally, the room will be full of light, which can increase mood-enhancing serotonin levels.
Gain Peace With a Pooch… “I still have a hard time with this one”
Pet owners have been found to have lower blood pressure and fewer stress hormones circulating in their blood. So if your lifestyle and budget can accommodate a pet, visit your local animal shelter and consider adopting one.
Ignite a Passion for Compassion… “Having been raised in a family who believed in giving back, I couldn’t agree more.”
Giving feels good, and several studies have shown that givers tend to be happier people. In one experiment, one group of people was given money to spend on themselves, and a second group was given money to spend on others. At the end of the day, those who gave their money away reported being happier than those who spent it on themselves. Of course, you don’t have to dole out dollars to reap the benefits. Sign up to help out at your grandchild’s school, or volunteer at the local cancer center.
- The 4 Personality Types: Which Are You?
I’ve found many personality type programs, varying from amazingly simple to astoundingly complicated. One of the simplest is the four-personality table taught by Asher (www.asherstrategies.com). I found it fascinating, and I hope you do too.
According to Asher, everyone’s personality falls into four categories: Driver, Motivator, Thinker, and Supporter. These four types are derived from two major personality factors: ego drive and empathy. Ego drive motivates us, and high-ego-drive people are fast-paced extroverts who tend to be impatient, take risks, and focus on the end result. Low-ego-drive people are slower paced and more introverted, and they focus on the processes and relationships that create the result.
Empathy is the ability to detect and experience others’ needs and feelings. Those with high empathy are concerned with relationships and insight, while those with low empathy are self-disciplined and task oriented.
Combining these two personality components creates a square with four quadrants:
- Drivers: Also known as initiators, these people have low empathy and high ego drive. They are fast-paced and fact oriented, and their goal is to beat the competition.
- Motivators: Also called talkers, they have high empathy and high ego drive. While impatient and extroverted, they’re also people oriented and look for praise and recognition.
- Thinkers: These people are the analytics who want to improve results and processes. They have low empathy and low ego drive, so are slow paced yet task oriented.
- Supporters: These helpers simply want to serve. With high empathy and low ego drive, their focus is supporting others.
In business and personal matters, knowing another’s personality type gives you valuable insight into how to talk to them, motivate them, and honor them. Asher calls this “matching and mirroring”, and the more you match or mirror a personality type, the easier it is to understand them and relate to them.
This is the simplest personality type grouping I’ve ever seen. I know I am a motivator, but quite frankly would have to say I am little bit of both a thinker and a supporter. Is this possible? Which type are you?
I am now wondering about these questions:
- Can your personality change over your lifetime without any input from you?
- Do the circumstances of your life play a role in your personality type?
- Does your personality determine the life you will have?
I’m off to try to find the answers to these questions. I’m still amazed by the power of the internet. If I still had to use the Encyclopedia Britannica, I don’t think I would be as curious as I am. It is so easy to type in a question and get so many answers.
- Flowers and Their Meaning
An article on Appleseeds.org tells us that these trumpet-shaped white flowers symbolize purity, virtue, innocence, hope and life—the spiritual essence of Easter.
Often called the “ white-robed apostles of hope,” lilies were found growing in the Garden of Gethsemane after Christ’s agony. Tradition has it that the beautiful white lilies sprung up where drops of Christ’s sweat fell to the ground in his final hours of sorrow and deep distress.
Since the beginning of time, lilies have played significant roles in allegorical tales concerning the sacrament of motherhood. Roman mythology links it to Juno, the queen of the gods. The story goes that while Juno was nursing her son Hercules, excess milk fell from the sky. Although part of it remained above the earth (thus creating the group of stars known as the Milky Way), the remainder fell to the earth, creating lilies. Another tradition has it that the lily sprang from the repentant tears of Eve as she went forth from Paradise.
The pure white lily has long been closely associated with the Virgin Mary. The legend is told that when the Virgin Mary’s tomb was visited three days after her burial, it was found empty save for bunches of majestic white lilies.
All flowers, not just lilies, have long been powerful symbolism in Eastern cultures. In the 18th c, Lady Mary Wortly Montague, wife of the British ambassador to Constantinople learned of a little Turkish book called: The Secret Language of Flowers. Intrigued back in the late 18th century, she had it translated and brought it back to England with her. This was the introduction in Europe of the romantic idea that lovers could send hidden messages to each other via bouquets.
I always knew about the meaning of roses, and here is a reminder:
Rose, Orange: Fascination
Rose, Pink: Perfect happiness, Friendship
Rose, Red: I love you; Passionate Love
Rose, White: Innocence and purity, I am worthy of you, You’re heavenly
Rose, Yellow: Joy; Friendship
It is quite fun to look through this book. Maybe you could plant your garden with some secret messages.
This was the bonus for me not having read anything about this at the time. How that is possible with all the hype, who knows. Kate Middleton’s wedding bouquet was arranged with this language in mind. Her bouquet had Lily of the Valley which means “Return of Happiness”, chosen in memory of Diana; Sweet William, for gallantry; Hyacinth for Constancy of Love; Ivy for Fidelity, Friendship and Affection and Myrtle, the emblem of marriage and love.
Here is my secret message for you.
- When Those You Love Must Leave
It’s been said that the two things we cannot avoid are death and taxes. We can use creative accounting to avoid taxes, for a while anyway, but no amount of inventiveness allows us to escape death. Many of us have already experienced losing cherished family or dear friends. Our society tends to brush death under the carpet or ignore it, hoping it will go away. But it won’t.
It’s not the most pleasant topic to discuss, but here are a few ideas to help you when it hits close to home.
Don’t be afraid to start the discussion.
Discussing death may be uncomfortable or difficult, but it needs to happen. Your family needs to know your wishes as far as medical interventions and final disposition (burial, cremation, body donation), and you need to know theirs. There may be no good time to initiate the talk, so take the initiative, and broach the subject carefully. You may need to approach it a few times before you have all the information you need.
If the discussion stalls, you might consider asking a bereavement counselor or grief coach to help you talk to your family. Involve your lawyer so that you cover all the bases, including medical powers of attorney, living wills, and advance directives.
From my own experience, even though I don’t remember having discussions with my mother about her passing, she had been quietly busy. Upon her death, we found a carefully prepared “death” book. Don’t be horrified, our family looked at it as her last loving gift to us. All of her wishes were documented, from the scriptures to read and songs to sing, to a list of what each child would get as their special memento. It was a sad time, but this book allowed the five of us to stay together with no hard feelings ever expressed over material possessions. We could focus on the joy she had brought us as a mother and grandmother. I have seen other families break down in their communication and connection over money. Don’t let this happen to your family. Having a discussion now will allow your loved ones to be both sad and joyful as they celebrate your life.
Consider hospice when appropriate.
My mother was a hospice volunteer, so I know hospice helps us to live as fully as possible in the time we have left. In many cases, especially in an inpatient hospice unit, the care one receives can improve his or her condition. Hospice treats what is known as “total pain,” which means the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual hurt that the patient experiences. With good nutrition, pain management, counseling, and pastoral visits, patients have an excellent quality of life for their remaining weeks, months, or years. It’s not unusual for someone to enter hospice in poor condition and live for a long time.
For hospice to truly be helpful, they need to be brought in as soon as possible. If you wait until your loved one is very close to the end, hospice may not be able to do much except manage physical pain. However, your family or friend may feel that going to hospice is admitting defeat and not be willing to explore that option until very late in life.
Hospice care can take place anywhere: at home, in a nursing home or assisted living arrangement, or in a separate hospice facility. You can find many resources online, and the National Hospice and Palliative Care website is an excellent place to start: www.nhpco.org.
Don’t put off talking to your family about death. If you wait too long and something happens, the stress and discord will likely be much worse than if you had talked about it ahead of time.
Now let’s celebrate this season of spring, with snow or no snow. It’s a time of renewal, rejuvenation and reconnection with nature and others.
- The Value of a Smile
This picture shows the garden in his hilltop sanctuary where St. Francis spent his time smiling with God.
It costs nothing but creates much. It enriches those who receive it, without impoverishing those who give it.
It happens in a flash and the memory sometimes lasts forever.
It creates happiness in the home, fosters goodwill in business and is the countersign of friends
It is a rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad and nature’s best antidote for trouble.
It cannot be bought, begged, borrowed or stolen, for it is something that is no earthly good to anyone till it is given away.
And if, in a hurry and rush of daily life you meet someone who is too weary to give you a smile…leave one of yours.
For no one needs a smile so much as he who has none left to give.
- A Dozen or So Things I Wish I Had Known When I Was in My 20s and 30s
I have learned the hard way not to dwell on or in the past, but there are things I wish my younger self had known. Many of them make me laugh now, while others I’ve learned from.
Kids grow up so fast. I cannot believe how fast the time flew with my children, so I savor the time I have with my one grandchild and counting! He’ll grow up all too soon. Knowing now that you don’t always remember the funny stories, I am keeping a journal of them.
It’s not going to matter in a year… Really. Most of the things I’ve worried about and spent too much time dealing with simply didn’t matter. Today, I don’t let myself get caught up in the small stuff. There is just not enough time left to focus on the minutia of life.
Marriage may not be forever. And that’s OK after you get over the hurt of knowing you will not have an intact family. This has almost become an old fashioned concept.
If marriage or even remarriage is not in the cards… That’s OK too. You can have a rich, fulfilling life on your own and actually in my opinion, even if you are married, you ought to have your own life.
Take a moment each day to count your blessings. I’ve been fortunate throughout my life, and now I make the time to recognize and appreciate the wonderful things, experiences, and people I have encountered. How about starting a gratitude journal and add 3 things from every day that you are grateful for. If you have more, alleluia!
Mindset is everything. As the old saying goes, whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right. We all have our negative or insecure times, and when we turn those thoughts into positive ones, wonderful things happen.
Regrets will happen. Whether they are regrets of omission or commission, I don’t think you can get through life without some. To have known the power of their effect would have been nice to know and possibly would have caused some more thought before the action was taken.
Who cares about keeping up with the Joneses? They have problems with relationships, money, family, children, etc. just as we do. I’ve found that those who brag the most have the least to brag about.
I am worth it. I have learned to indulge myself… whether it’s an ice cream cone or a trip to Europe. I treat myself, and my loved ones, every chance I get with whatever budget I have.
Death is inevitable. And because we don’t plan or prepare for it as we should, we’re blindsided by it. Help your children and grandchildren know what you want if you are incapacitated, and have your medical power of attorney and living will taken care of. Don’t burden your family with this just because you may not want to talk about it. Take an hour and get it over with.
Don’t hold on to the past or on to grudges. The past is gone, and the future isn’t here yet. All we have is now. If you make an effort to be totally engaged using whatever senses are appropriate, this will help you remain present. Or have a word that you say when you know your thoughts are drifting into the past or present.
Believing in a higher power. It’s easy in your early years to get wrapped up in the worldly routine of life and think that you are omnipotent. For me, it took a divorce to realize the value of having a source of inspiration and influence to turn to. It keeps you grounded and balanced.
“I’m sorry” goes a long way. And it doesn’t matter who says it as long as it’s verbalized. Why not simply say it and mean it? I have learned to immediately address a situation before it gets to fester.
So does “I love you.” These 3 magical words ought to be on the top of your list of daily expressions. And remember, they can also be expressed through actions.
- 3 Unusual Therapies that Make You Feel Happier, Healthier, and Wiser?
As I have said before, I use the winter months to learn or find out about something new. I’ve come across three therapies that help people in different ways. (Note: I am not a doctor, so be sure to clear this with your physician. This is for your information only.)
Sound Therapy is delivered with tuning forks, the same metal rods used to tune instruments. The therapist strikes two tuning forks on a rubber base and holds one to each ear for several seconds, where you’ll hear a sound at a particular frequency, depending on which fork was struck. Frequencies range from very low to very high.
The sound helps the left and right sides of your body become balanced, and it gives you an almost-immediate sense of relaxation. Sound therapists claim that the treatment can aid in brain function and align your nervous system.
I don’t think I need to pay for this. I know that music can affect my mood and already practice this form of therapy when I put on the classical music station or listen to Andrea Bocelli. I am instantly taken away from my surroundings. Have you ever had songs you hear that seem to go right into your soul? Some of mine are Evita or Louis Armstrong’s, It’s a Wonderful World.
Reflexology (you may know it as zone therapy) is the application of pressure on certain points of the body, typically on the hands and feet. Each hand and foot is divided into areas that correspond with other parts of the body. Detailed charts tell the reflexologist which areas to work on to help the client’s specific complaint.
Massaging a particular area of the hand or foot is believed to improve energy flow, increase circulation, and relieve tension in the corresponding part of the body. For example, massaging the arch of the foot will have positive effects on the kidney, pancreas, and liver.
This has some interest to me. Will I run out and try it? To be honest… probably not. I will now admit that I am not so good at taking care of myself. I live with the aches and pains, because it seems more difficult to find the time to research which doctor to go to and what method of treatment to follow.
Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) uses animals, such as dogs or dolphins, as part of the treatment process. This therapy is very popular in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and hospices. The animals serve many purposes, from sitting quietly with patients who may be unresponsive to giving children something to pet and hold when they’re going through trauma.
Several dogs were on scene at the World Trade Center during 9/11 to comfort victims. A llama named Pisco visits the Hospice of Saint John in Colorado once a month, and he will go to each patient’s door hoping someone will feed him carrots.
Now it is reported that allowing dogs at the office can be beneficial to a company’s bottom line. Benefits of dogs in the workplace include increased morale and productivity, happier employees, lower absenteeism rates and even improved relationships among co-workers. A recent study revealed that dogs in the workplace can lead to more trust between co-workers and that leads to more collaboration among team members. Amazon, Google, Ben and Jerry’s are a few companies that allow employees to bring big and little friends with them.
I know this seems un-American to say, but I’m not much of an animal person so this sounds distracting to me. I will take doses of dark chocolate instead.
Many people swear by these unusual therapies and credit them with increased well-being and greater happiness. So if any of these appeal to you, go for it. I will stay open and say each therapy has its place and is certainly worth a try for the right person. To each, his own.
- How to Magnify Your Enjoyment of Life
Ever felt like you’re simply going through the motions and just getting through each day? When you do that, you’re not truly enjoying your life; you’re merely experiencing it. Being a Dynamic Senior Woman means living your life with gusto, and here are a few ways to do that.
Be clear on what you want from life.
Living your life is like anything else—if you know what you want; your joy level will be much higher. Do you want to travel, spend as much time as possible with family and friends, or have the best garden you can?
I wouldn’t say you need to make a written list though having your ideas and dreams in writing will certainly help. I do, however, think you should at least have a clear idea in your head of what you want. You have heard me say this before: “Dust off those youthful dreams, and make them happen now.” Dream big, and don’t settle for less!
Know why you do what you do.
So often, we live our lives by rote. We fall into a habit or rut that kills the joy of what we do. If you know the “why” of everything you do, you can continue with it from a place of joy, or you can decide to let it go from your life and fill that space with something you’ll love. If the everyday tasks you do don’t take you closer to what you want from life, it may be time to rethink them.
Find what makes you happy, and do it.
After you’ve decided what stays in your life and what goes, it’s time to move forward toward happiness. This is the exciting part! In making yourself happy and magnifying your life, not only will you do more of what you hold dear, but you also get to explore the unknown.
Step outside your comfort zone at least once a month and do something that makes you happy. Do you love seafood? Try some fish you’ve never had before. Has it been years since you’ve flown? Plan a trip to see an old friend.
You control your own happiness through your thoughts and actions. Make them happy, and they will make you happy.
- 5 Ways to Make Your Self-Esteem Fly High
Did you know this month is International Boost Self-Esteem Month? Many of us could use a healthy dose of higher self-esteem, and here are some ways to infuse some confidence in you.
Monitor your self-talk.
We often talk to and about ourselves negatively, which hurts our self-esteem whether we realize it or not. Often, we’ve downgraded ourselves so often that we don’t realize we’re doing it. For the next two weeks, try paying close attention to what you’re thinking, especially when your thoughts turn to yourself. When the thoughts turn negative, stop immediately, and change that negative thought to a positive. I have a new technique. Whenever I start the negative self talk, I burst into song. You will remember it. Zip a Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-a Dee, Ay, etc. Believe me you cannot stay negative after singing these lyrics. Don’t lie to yourself, but don’t be too humble. Tell yourself the truth but be as positive as possible.
Go out of your way to find positive parts of yourself.
You’re an amazing, wonderful woman, so treat yourself like one! Dig deep and find out what makes you unique and awesome. It may be that you can plan parties better than the pros. Once you’ve discovered what makes you YOU, embrace it and go for it!
Associate with people who help you see the best in you.
We’ve heard this all our lives, and it’s true—the people we spend time the most time with can have an effect on our self-esteem. Take care to only associate with people who have the personality traits you want. Seek out people who are positive, joyful, and happy. You’ll notice your self-esteem skyrockets, and you’ll notice a tremendous difference in how you feel about yourself. Join a Church group, a book club or form your own club of good friends to have ladies night out every month or go on a road trip together.
The only person you are competing against is yourself.
Don’t compare yourself to other people, because there’s no reason to. You’re a unique, special person, and so are they. The only person you should be worried about is yourself. How have you improved or challenged yourself to move forward? I am always looking to learn something new.
Assume everyone likes you already.
If someone takes the time to pay you a compliment, he or she has stepped outside his or her comfort zone to interact with you. Relax and enjoy yourself!
Each one of these steps will improve your self-esteem, and if you take the time to do all of them, you won’t believe the difference in your life.
- The Language of Love
To honor Valentine’s Day I want to talk about LOVE. Have you read The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman? This book was a New York Times best seller in 2009. He maintains that we all have a primary love language that we respond to. Once this is known for both people, you then have a better chance of maintaining a relationship. Here are his 5 Love languages and an explanation for them:
#1 Words of Affirmation
If this is your primary language, you love to hear spoken words of endearment. Actions are not louder than words for you! Compliments, loving nicknames and quick “love ya” make you feel so good. When you hear the reason behind this love, it puts you over the top.
#2 Quality Time
This means you want the TV turned off, no multi tasking and have your loved one looking at you directly when they are speaking to you. They must give you their full, undivided attention. For this person, don’t ever think of cancelling a special evening unless you have a very good reason.
#3 Receiving Gifts
Don’t mistake this love language for being materialistic. They are not asking for diamonds and luxury trips unless of course you can afford to do so. Someone with this language thrives on the love, thoughtfulness and effort behind the gift. It makes them feel loved, cared for and prized for all the effort that was put into giving them this gift. Don’t miss a birthday or give a thoughtless gift to them.
#4 Acts of Service
Yes, vacuuming can win this person over. Anything you do to help manage the
daily responsibilities will vault you into a higher level of esteem. Memorize this line and say it as often as you can: “Let me do this for you”. If you are lazy, messy and add to the chores, you will be negating this person’s feelings.
#5 Physical Touch
A person with this language appreciates being touched: hugs, pats on the back, holding hands and thoughtful touches. These moments of touch let them feel excitement, concern, care and love. Being physically present and accessible to them is important.
I would like to say that I don’t think this applies to just romantic relationships. I can see all of these languages being used in friendships as well. You can give a friend a compliment; plan a fun evening together; give them a small gift; drive them to an appointment for example of service and give them a welcoming hug when greeting them.
Why don’t you go to this website www.5lovelanguages.com/profile and take the Love Quiz. You will be asked to answer 30 questions to find out your language. I scored the same number on # 1, 2 and 4. With this knowledge I can now alert my loved ones and have them act accordingly. Actually the fact that I have 3 equal languages is maybe a good thing. I can be easily loved!!
Enjoy your Valentine’s Day. Love a mate, partner or significant other; a child; a friend or just treat yourself to something special on the 14th.
- Ask Questions: Part Two
Here are more questions that come to mind in this season of our life.
Where Questions: These are more self reflective.
- Where are you on your ladder of satisfaction in life?
- Where can you make adjustments if they are needed?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- Where would you like to travel to next? (Okay, I had to ask this one)
As mentioned, these are more difficult to answer so do spend some time dwelling on them so that you can make each day count.
When Questions: These can be tough questions since they require a call for action.
- When will you retire?
- When will you decide to do something just for you?
- When will you learn to say no instead of the customary yes?
- When will you start an exercise program?
First, I am never going to retire. Since you all know I flunked domesticity a long time ago, I can’t see myself playing that role again. Going to the movies, often alone, is a treat for me. It takes me out of my thoughts and places me into someone else’s drama or comedy. Saying no is still hard for me, but I am practicing. An exercise program… next year!!!
Will Questions: These questions have their own emotional implications
- Will you stay living where you are now?
- Will you move to a warmer climate?
- Will you relocate closer to one of your children?
- Will you sell your house and downsize?
While I know the theory is to never become attached to a material possession, how many of us can say we don’t love our house. Not me anyway. Knowing that I need time to process my feelings, I have decided to begin to imagine myself leaving my home. The reality is it may have to happen for my overall financial health and well being. If it does then at least I will be prepared if I practice what it will feel like. Sounds crazy but….
I do think we are at an age when we will be faced with all kinds of questions. Being somewhat impulsive, I am trying to learn to evaluate the consequences of my answer to these life’s questions so that the result of my choices will not affect others, if at all possible.
My goal for now is to live life with the right PACE.
- P ositive thoughts are powerful
- A ppreciate your accomplishments
- C arefully evaluate the emotional consequences of your choices
- E ncourage all those in your life to be the best they can be
- Ask Questions: Part One
Start by questioning WHO you are today and ask if you are being true to yourself? Time is now too short to be living a life that someone else has planned for you or that does not feel true to you. Or, to be living a life that is making you feel older than you are or dragging you down. To quote Judy Garland: “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second rate version of somebody else.”
Here are some WHAT questions:
- What makes you happy?
- What makes you fulfilled?
- What stimulates you to think?
- What makes you feel valuable?
- What brings out your creativity?
- What do you want to accomplish out of life?
Yes, even at this late date in the game you can still continue to have dreams and set goals. Let’s be realistic! This could be our last chance so don’t give up on them. Personally, I never want to stop growing and striving to become a better person and continue to learn something new every day. According to Oprah: “The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.”
HOW many hats are you wearing?
I have talked about this before but for me it bears repeating. Take a look at the following list and see how many you identify with.
Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Mother-in-Law, Sister, Friend, Caregiver, Volunteer, Professional, Church Member, Board Member, Housekeeper, Athlete….
The list could go on and on and on. As women, we are notoriously known as the “go to” people for giving help when needed. We are masters at multi tasking and in my humble opinion, more organizations should be run by women. We bring the “warmth” to communication, the key to all success.
I want to ask you to make your own list and then place a 1-10 beside each “hat” in the order of satisfaction that you receive from wearing this particular hat. This might be a wake up call for you.
Now ask yourself these questions for the hats that only received a number from 1-5:
- Is this a hat I could stop wearing?
- What are the consequences if I do stop wearing it?
- How often do I need to wear this hat?
- Can I wear it less often and still get the same satisfaction?
The idea is to reevaluate the hats you wear and then give yourself permission to stop wearing some of them. After you give up some, maybe it is time to try on a new hat.
- Have you always wanted to learn a new skill?
- Have you wanted to go back to school?
- Have you wanted to travel and not had the time?
- Have you wanted to start a new business?
As we move into this season of our life, it is time to step up and shout out our commitment to fulfill our dreams and desires. Now more than ever, we need to give up always saying YES and learn to say that often foreign word, NO. I know this is hard for us but just try to practice it.
Have fun with these questions.
Next week: Where, When and Will questions.
- Willpower: Is This a Nice or Naughty Word?
My answer to that question: It has always been a naughty word for me. I bought into the idea that you either had it or you didn’t, and since I was usually on the didn’t side in most areas of my life, it became a word that was not in my daily vocabulary.
However, I recently came across a book that has given me hope that I might actually have some will power.
The author, Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D is a Stanford University professor who teaches a widely popular course called “The Science of Willpower”. It’s nice to know others have the same concerns about this word as I do. The book explains the new science of self-control: what will power is, how it works, and why it matters.
Her definition: The ability to do whatever it takes to get what you want or want to do.
She proceeds to say that we have the wrong idea of how it works:
- We are all born with it
- It is a muscle that we have to strengthen
- It can become fatigued
- Stress can weaken it
She strongly believes that the brain can be trained for greater will power, it is a mind body response, not a virtue, but it is not an unlimited resource.
She shares some way to improve your will power.
- Get enough sleep. There is truth to the statement “sleep on it”. She suggests getting at least 6 hours of sleep each night.
- Tackle your challenges early on the morning. Just as a battery loses power so do we lose our self control as the day progresses. Maybe that’s why the piece of chocolate tastes so good in the late afternoon.
- Get a willpower role model. Just as you can catch bad habits from. Someone, she believes that you can also catch self control if you stay connected with the right person.
- Reduce your temptation and stress. This is the challenge for all of us.
- Prioritize what you use it for. Too much self control can be bad for your health so, save it for what is most important to you. In other words, use it wisely.
- Partake in daily exercise and meditation. What more needs to be said. We hear this all the time from many other sources.
In the introduction, Kelly shares her hopes that: “If this book did nothing else but help you see that common humanity of your willpower struggles, I would be happy. But I hope that it will do far more, and that the strategies in this book will empower you to make real and lasting changes in your life….By the time you finish this book, you’ll have greater insight into your challenges and a new set of self-control strategies to support you.”
I found this book to be enormously enlightening and effective in changing my perception of the word willpower while giving me practical techniques to incorporate into my daily life.
- A New Way to Look at Goal Setting
I have always dreaded the idea of making resolutions.This comes from the eventual failure that would happen, whether in a short time or a longer time. I would make the obligatory list over New Years:
- I will start to keep a journal
- I will eat healthier
- I will become more organized
- I will clean my house on a more regular basis
Now you know that goal setting must be SMART: specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and timely. This is a habit that I was not brought up with, much to my regret. Oh believe me, I would think about them but never apply the discipline needed to accomplish them, or I would become overwhelmed with the number of goals I was trying to achieve. Starting off the year feeling like a failure is not a good idea.
Now let’s look at a new way of goal setting that I learned about. Since feelings are the driving force in all accomplishments, the advice was to why not start out listing the three or four feelings that you want to experience in 2013? I chose satisfied, secure, rewarded and valued. Here is the best part. By asking yourself how you can achieve these feelings, you will come up with your list of goals. This makes so much more sense. For me, it helps me to clarify the goals and to remember the real reason why I ought to try to accomplish them. I can certainly find something, if not every day, at least every week which will give me these feelings.
To focus on one of my goals, I have set an intention to move into the 21st century and really learn the power of Facebook. I have to admit I have resisted. Many of you already know that I have an issue with the concept of calling someone you have never met a “friend”. I was being literal and old fashioned in the idea that a friend was someone you had personally met, spent time bonding with over shared in person experiences, and someone I had known for longer than a few posts!
The feeling I want to accomplish by learning Facebook is satisfied… satisfied that I didn’t let my age stop me from learning something new, satisfied that I was able to use this social media tool to reach out to others, and most importantly, satisfied that I have conquered a fear. Yes I have a fear of judgment. I am hesitant to post my thoughts, thinking that they might not be accepted by all who read them. Now I know that sounds pretty silly since I am sharing this with all of you, but it is what it is. Some feelings are crazy!!
Actually, what it means is that I am comfortable sharing with you.
Another idea is to choose a word for the year that you will focus on.
Mine would be ACCOMPLISHMENT. What is yours?
Yeah, I have accomplished writing another weekly newsletter. Next week, I will talk about the concept of willpower. There is some new research I will share with you that is very enlightening.
Have a great week, and thanks for being with me on my path in life.
- The Crowning Glory
Our last 2 days were spent in the Trulli area of Puglia. “A trullo (plural, trulli) is a traditional Apulian dry stone hut with a conical roof. Their style of construction is specific to the Itria Valley, in the Murge area of the Italian region of Apulia. Trulli were generally constructed as temporary field shelters and storehouses or as permanent dwellings by small proprietors or agricultural laborers. Their golden age was the 19th century.”
Alberobello is considered the “capital” of this area and is definitely a sight to see.
The white town of Ostuni is also worth a visit, although we saw it as the gray town of Ostuni in the rain. No pictures will do it justice, so you will just have to come with us this October.
The highlight for me was an afternoon spent at the Masseria Il Frantoio. A masseria is a working farm that also offers accommodations. We were fortunate to be welcomed so warmly by Armondo and given a glimpse of his life with a private tour of his olive farm, his palatial like home, and his lovely and serenely peaceful gardens.
We were treated to a five course meal lovingly prepared from the organic ingredients of his farm.
I will end with the picture below of the exquisitely indulgent dessert that I allow myself when I travel. After all, isn’t that what travel is for? To have some time to let loose, be carefree and allow yourself some treats of your choice.
I can’t wait to go back and hope you will join me this October when I will recreate this fabulous itinerary that awakened all my senses.
- Awakening Your Senses Italian Style: Part Two
To continue my travelogue from a few weeks ago, where I shared my review of the Basilicata region, I will now move onto the Puglia region of Italy. However, before I go there, I must talk about the cooking class we had at Francis Ford Coppolla’s hotel, Palazzo Margherita.
Needless to say, it was an amazing villa tucked behind unobtrusive yet grand doors on the main street of Bernalda. Some features: a black infinity pool, a lush tropical garden and a large upstairs living room where they show his movies in the evening on the large screen.
We learned to make the local pasta, orecchiette, in the villa’s sophisticated kitchen with the assistance of very friendly chefs. I must show you some pictures of our meal. Delizioso!
So being fat and happy, we transferred to the baroque city of Lecce in the Salento Peninsula, the “heel” of the Italian boot. As soon as I walked through the old gate, I knew I would fall in love with this city that is often called “the Florence of the South”.
The shops were very inviting but we had no time for this indulgence…. next visit! Lecce is known for its Paper Mache, so we visited a laboratory, as they call it, to see the artists at work.
If I could have transported this Paper Mache nativity scene home, I would have. It was fun to be there during the beginning of the holiday season. Unlike us, they don’t start to celebrate until December 8th. They must actually still enjoy listening to the carols on Christmas Day.
I was going to try to complete my travelogue in 2 newsletters, but I still have the piece de resistance (I know, wrong language) to show you. It’s hard to consolidate, even though this was a short trip. I took 300 pictures. Can you just imagine the number I take on longer trips. I hope you are enjoying this as much as I am.
Next week: The UNESCO trulli town of Alberobello and a local masseria. Please read this one to learn about this amazing place. It was the highlight of the trip for me.
- Awakening Your Senses Italian Style: Part One
I will start with the Basilicata Region where we stayed in Matera for 3 nights. This town is now well known for their two Sassi districts listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. FYI: The World Heritage List includes 962 properties forming part of the cultural and natural heritage which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value. These include 745 cultural, 188 natural and 29 mixed properties. Matera was the location of Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ.
These cave houses were occupied until the 1950’s when all residents were relocated for sanitary reasons. They are now being used for restaurants, shops, some hotels and homes. You have to be a mountain goat to walk around these districts, but it is so worth it.
Our hotel, the Palazzo Gattini, was a former palace and situated in the historic center of Matera. It was truly a “regal” experience.
When was the last time you had a Jacuzzi like this in your hotel room?
Our first light lunch (ha) was at a restored cave restaurant, Panecotto. I was instantly reminded why I love Italy so much. Their food is made from such fresh ingredients and totally stimulates my taste buds. This is a country where I give myself full permission to over indulge and follow the rule of cleaning your plate! It just kept getting better and better, as you will see.
We had a private dinner at the recently opened cave hotel, Corte San Pietro with a special performance from a violinist whose music echoed throughout from the cistern below.
Wouldn’t this be such a unique hotel stay?
A day trip took us to the Lucanian Dolomites and the mountain town of Castelmezzano. A sleepy town with only 970 residents, it was a visual delight as you can see from the picture.
In the summer time both visiting Italians and tourists come to take the flight of the angels. Now I have paraglided off a Swiss Alp, but you wouldn’t get me to try this.
We had one of our best lunches at Ristorante Al Becco della Civetta with the dessert featuring what the town is now famous for. Can you see the angel? I may skip dessert at home, but who could resist this?
Sorry, I know I have gone on and on, but I do love this country. I will return next week with a review of Puglia.
- Evaluate Your Life Regularly and Be a Giver
Key 6: Evaluate Your Life Regularly
We are all so programmed into getting regular medical and dental checkups, and quite possibly, we get our spiritual check up on Sundays. What about our intellectual and emotional lives? As we transition into our “senior” years, it’s tempting to relax and give up the need to be concerned about growing in these areas. My belief: this is actually the time to fine tune us; to put the icing on the cake; to place the finishing touches on the masterpiece of our lives.
I watched a recent interview with Tony Bennett, who is 86, and he supported this belief and stated that he will never stop learning and growing. He’s a good role model and my kind of person. Do you have someone that you admire for how they are staying involved in life during their “senior” years? How about Betty White?
Key 7: Be A Giver
I was also recently listening into a webinar where they interviewed Bob Burg, a best selling author and motivational speaker, on topics vital to the success of today’s businessperson.
He was speaking about the content of his book, The Go-Giver, a business parable that tells the story of a go-getter who changes his focus from getting to giving by learning the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success:
1. The Law of Value
Your true worth is more about what you give in value than what you get in payment.
2. The Law of Compensation
Your income is determined by how many you serve and how well you do this.
3. The Law of Influence
Your influence is determined by how well you place other people’s interests first.
4. The Law of Authenticity
The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.
5. The Law of Receptivity
The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.
I think these laws are so valuable, whether we are in the business world or not. As you know, we are all in the business of life, so let’s be go-getters as we become go-givers.
This now ends my interpretation, for those of us transitioning into our “senior” years, of Duane Cumming’s 7 Keys for Living a Sensational Life. It was a good reminder that while living a sensational life or successful life you can also move into having a significant life.
- Key 5: Take Action Now
Let’s review the last 4 keys from Duane Cummings:
#1 Think the Life You Want
#2 Understand How Your Surroundings Shape You
#3 Discover Your Gifts
#4 Dream Big
Now that we have these keys we must open some doors with them to take some action. We have to put the pedal to the metal or put up or shut up. It is time to decide how you will live this season of your life. With the status quo, or possibly take a risk and proceed on a road less traveled? Are we going to move forward or move away?
Some parts of our life are not as able to be well managed as other parts. The aging process is going to happen whether we want it to or not. Unexpected medical concerns will occur without us asking for them. Now, the reality is that we can have some say in this aging process by living a healthy lifestyle that will positively affect our lives and our overall well being.
The other parts of a well balanced life: our relationships; our daily activities; our financial situation… these we have more of a say in. How do we want to live our life? Who do we want to have in our life? What do we want to do each day with the gifts we have been given? When should we step up to the plate and take action?
Here is a challenge. Let’s all make a list of some actions we need to take. Now choose the one that resonates the most with you. I will start by sharing my very honest and openly vulnerable list:
Relationships: I will make a more concerted effort to connect on a daily basis with those who are important to me… stop being so focused on work, and say I love you more often.
Activities: I will engage in a volunteer opportunity to satisfy my need to give back to others.
Finances: I will get a better balance between spending and saving. I have had my fun; now it’s time to get serious about managing my expenses.
So I will take action on #3 and have that important talk with my “financial supporters” to develop a plan for transitioning into my “senior” years. Without this piece, I cannot be at peace in the other important areas of my life.
Make your own list and share it with someone if you choose to. The general rule of thumb is that you are more committed to make something happen if you share it and put it out into the universe.
Key #6 – Regularly Evaluate Your Life
Key #7 – Be A Giver
- Key 4: DREAM BIG
Do you remember the dreams you had as a child? Have they come true? Or are you still waiting for them to come true? It might be fun to make a list of these dreams and see how many you can check off. Ask me if I can even remember mine!
Or, to model the movie, The Bucket List, it might be time to make your own bucket list! Sorry to be blunt, but I have to say we aren’t getting any younger! I’m not afraid to accept this and actually find energy in understanding that it is now or never. It’s time to step up to the plate and live the life I want. What base are you on?
In writing this, I think it might be fun to divide the dreams into categories: Travel; Hobbies; Books to Read; Relationships to foster or heal are a few that come to mind.
Here is another idea. Jonathan Ellerby, the spiritual director of Canyon Ranch, suggests you make a lost and found list. List all the things you used to like to do and haven’t done lately. Then make a list of all the things you want to do and take action on both lists.
Now here is a question: Are you a dream supporter or crusher? Do you allow spontaneity into your life? Are you someone who would rather say I did than I didn’t? Or, do you live by the book? Do you always color inside the lines? I suspect the key word here is thoughtful reflection on the consequences of making the dream happen, with the operative word being balance.
Now for a confession of sorts, I am going to DREAM BIG this Thanksgiving and finally, at the age of 66, learn how to cook a turkey! It’s too long a story to explain why I never have, but it’s the truth. My family is willing to put their fate into my hands and support me in this endeavor. Now I know it’s not hard, so what can go wrong other than lumpy mashed potatoes.
I hope you all have a wonderful Turkey Day with whomever you choose to spend it.
Let’s dream big for the rest of our lives.
- Key 3: Discover Your Gifts
Should we even be concerned about discovering our gifts at this time in our life?I will answer that with a resounding YES! This is our time to pay some attention to what makes us fulfilled. It’s now more important than ever to add some time to our daily routine that is devoted to just us.
You would hope that by the time we have arrived into our “senior years”, we would know what our gifts are. Quite possibly some of us do, and I applaud you and hope that you have been offering them to the world, in whatever capacity is comfortable for you. However, this is also a good time to find a new gift that will now excite you and bring more enthusiasm into your life…. Take dancing lessons; learn a foreign language; write a book.
Some of us may have had to postpone using our gifts due to other commitments in our life. Or, we may have been so good at pleasing others that we may not have found that special something that gives us enjoyment.
To aid you in your search for unused or new gifts, here are some ideas on how to find them:
1. Write down all the activities that you really enjoy doing. These may come from parts of your job that you enjoy or from how you choose to spend your leisure time. The goal: to find your passions and then follow through on them.
2. List the names of people you admire and the specific qualities they exhibit that are the reason for this admiration. List as many as you can, and then understand that these same qualities are within you. That’s why these people are on your list. You resonate with them.
3. What comes naturally to you? Are you a singer, an artist, a musician? Are you creative with words? Do you pay attention to detail or have a warm personality that draws others to you? These talents are easy and readily available for you to use. With that being said, I will admit that I am disappointed in God for not giving me a singing voice. I am such a diva wanna be. Maybe He is saving this for next time. I am hoping the saying “Be Careful What You Wish For” comes true.
Remember, a gift can be as simple as a smile that you always give to strangers, a positive daily attitude, or the gift of friendship to someone who needs it. With Thanksgiving arriving, maybe your gift is cooking a traditional meal and bringing your family together.
These gifts, passions, or talents will make you feel alive and exhilarated and ought to be shared with others. Why? You will never be truly happy until you are doing what you love to do. The world is waiting for you to use your natural talents, because someone out there is waiting to benefit from your gift.
An appropriate quote from a very funny lady, Erma Bombeck:
“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything you gave me.”
Let’s take her advice and live life to the fullest.
Our next key is: Dream Big
- Key 2: Your Surroundings Are Important
To continue from last week, Duane Cumming’s key #2 for living a sensational life is to understand how your surroundings shape you. Now I want to clarify something. I am putting my own spin on his 7 keys and as a “senior”, I am writing from the perspective of continuing to live a sensational life. For me, I am now looking to go from success to significance.
I think we all know that the who, how, when and where of “surrounding yourself” is a critical piece in living the life you want.
Let’s start with the WHO. While this sounds harsh, as we advance in age, the reality is that we will lose family members and friends. I have recently lost a good and supportive friend from an unexpected and untimely death. Some may lose friends when they move away to live closer to their children. Some may lose friends because they no longer share the same interests.
Now here’s the message: some friends you may want or need to lose. This is a time in our life when we must surround ourselves with positive, upbeat friends who are staying active, curious and enthused about life. There ought to be no Debbie Downers in our circle of friends.
The HOW …. let’s talk about our homes. Duane Cummings asks the question: Is your home nurturing who you are now?
As a “senior” woman, I started thinking about simplifying a few years ago and often hear this from other friends. It creeps up on you kind of like our age has. We all seem to be in the down sizing mode.
Some of us are getting prepared to move to a smaller place. Some of us are saving our children from doing it later. I am in the category of wanting to simplify to get a jolt of new energy as I return home from a day at work.
I like change, and this urge came over me recently. Having been a good consumer over the years, I have definitely “collected” what I will now call stuff! As a traveler, I like to bring back art work as my souvenir of choice. Having been seriously traveling for the last 30 years, you can just imagine the accumulation of items from all over the world. I am also sentimental and have pieces from my parents and even grandparents. My children declared my house a museum! This redecorating project has now left my home decluttered, refreshed, and simple, with a new reflection of who I am in this season of my life.
The last question to ask yourself about your surroundings is WHEN and WHERE. We are possibly starting to think about when we will move to the smaller place. Do we do it now to get it over with when we have the physical capabilities to complete the hard work a move requires? Do we wait until our children carefully suggest it is time? When we do move, will we own or rent?
This then leads to the question of WHERE will we move…. to a warmer climate, closer to our children and grandchildren, to a retirement community? All options need to be considered.
I have been somewhat impulsive, and now it is more important than ever to change this behavior. So many questions are involved at this time in our life. We all must take some time to give them careful consideration in order to maximize both our financial and personal goals.
Next Week: Key #3 DREAM BIG
- Are You Living the Life you Want?
To continue with the inspiration I received from attending the recent Women’s Prosperity Un-Conference, I want to share from a “senior” women’s perspective, the 7 Keys to Living a Sensational Life from Duane Cummings, www.duanecummings.com.
These are his keys but with my take on them. I will share them with you over the next few weeks.
Think the Life You Want
It wasn’t until my 40’s that I delved into the relationship between my thoughts, my feelings, and my actions that then produced the results in my life. I was at a crossroads and needed to recreate me. I spent my Saturday nights “wishing and hoping and thinking and praying”! (Can you hear Dionne Warwick?) Self help books became my Saturday night dates! I guess the more up to date term for these books is personal growth. No matter what they are called, I love to learn more about who I am with the ultimate goal of self actualization. Maslow would give me an A+ for effort.
Now some “seniors” might say:
- Who cares anyway?
- My life is what it is and will never change.
- I ’m too old to worry about this anymore.
My “senior” opinion on this key is to get off whatever base of life you are on and run, don’t walk, to home plate. Dust off your youthful dreams to make them happen now. It’s time to go from success to significance in your life. These are your years to be the best you can be.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What makes me happy?
- What makes me feel fulfilled?
- What stimulates me to think?
- What makes me feel valuable?
- What brings out my creativity?
- What activities do I like?
Here is another idea which I have done. Draw or scan an empty picture frame and then fill it in with all the parts of your life that are important to you in this season of your life. This will either be a validation or possibly a wake up call to make some changes so that you can be living the life you want.
Next week: Understanding How Your Surroundings Shape You
- The Importance of Having an Identity
I will start with Stedman Graham. With his height of 6”8” it was hard for him not to have a commanding presence. He spoke about identity and the need to know who you are. He encouraged us to amplify our natural talents and abilities to be our best.
Having married at the youthful age of 22, as many of us did also, I can look back and now admit that I was a baby. Back then it was the norm to marry shortly out of college and become a wife and hopefully a mother. This was what was expected of me and would determine my feelings of success.
Fast forward to age 40. After a divorce, it was quite clear to me that I had become a wife, a mother but never a me. I didn’t necessarily focus on my God given gifts that it was my responsibility to nurture and offer the world. I must admit that I have spent some time being mad at God for not giving me a voice. Oh, I guess I ought to clarify… a singing voice since I did find my inner voice at age 40. I am a diva “wanna be” so I am already putting in my request for next time. I hope to look this good……………..
Stedman endorses the idea of becoming a life long learner. He believes empowerment comes from growth, care and development of your talents with the ultimate goal being self actualization.
I took away from this advice that it is never too late to create a vision of who you can be. Possibly you just need a tweak or maybe a real overhaul. You decide but please be sure to act on this.
He ended with telling us he thinks the most powerful word is love and that your success in life comes from self love. You have to disconnect from the past in order to have a good present and future. What a lovely wake-up call for me and possibly for you.
The National Association of Dynamic Senior Women has a vision of bringing together others to fulfill this goal of becoming the best you can be. How? By offering inspiration and encouragement through the four C’s of community, conversation, connection and celebration.
- How Many Hats Do You Wear?
I will start with a list of possible “hats” that you might wear:
Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Mother-in-Law, Sister, Friend, Caregiver, Volunteer, Professional, Church Member, Board Member, Housekeeper, Athlete…
The list could go on and on and on. As women, we are notoriously known as the “go to” people for giving help when needed. We are masters at multi tasking and in my humble opinion more organizations should be run by women. We bring the “warmth” to communication, the key to all success.
I want to ask you to make your own list and then place a 1-10 beside each “hat” in the order of satisfaction that you receive from wearing this particular hat. This might be a wake up call for you.
Now ask yourself these questions for the hats that only received a number from 1-5:
Is this a hat I could stop wearing?
What are the consequences if I do stop wearing it?
How often do I need to wear this hat?
Can I wear it less often and still get the same satisfaction?
The idea is to reevaluate the hats you wear and then give yourself permission to stop wearing some of them. After you give up some, maybe it is time to try on a new hat.
Have you always wanted to learn a new skill?
Have you wanted to go back to school?
Have you wanted to travel and not had the time?
Have you wanted to start a new business?
As we move into this season of our life, it is time to step up and shout out our commitment to fulfill our dreams and desires. Now more than ever, we need to give up always saying YES and learn to say that often foreign word, NO.
Have fun with your hats.
To quote Vogue Italia, Stephen Jones as been described as, “the maker of the most beautiful hats in the world.” He arrived on the London fashion scene in the 1970’s when he opened a millinery salon that was patronized by rock stars & royals. He has since created some of the most memorable runway spectacles of the past quarter century. His “hats” have been collected both as fashion and sculptural works.
The PEM exhibit of over 250 hats created over the last 900 years showcases “the exuberant and varied world of millinery-from wildly plumed bonnets and silk turbans, to embroidered crowns and fanciful fascinators” Stephen Jones selected and arranged the exhibit. Along with the many hats of his own design, he chose to display other designers such as:
My daughter and I had a perfectly delightful time viewing these elegant, experimental and often whimsical hats as well as reading the descriptions about the life cycle of the hat from a milliner’s perspective.
“On a hats journey from inspiration through construction to selection, it is the client who ultimately brings it to life. When the right client meets the right hat, the art of wearing begins.”
To reflect the fanciful feeling you can get from wearing a hat, they had a section where you could “play” at being a milliner. The results:
In leaving the exhibit, you even received some advice about buying a hat:
The French fashion editor, Genevieve Dariaux, says the cardinal rule of hat buying is to “take the one you fall in love with which mysteriously “does something” for you which then magically makes you feel more beautiful.”
Next week, I will talk about the many “hats” that we all wear and discuss the idea of taking some off.
- The How of our NEW VISION
So let’s get into the “how” of this change. Here is the new plan that I whole heartedly endorse and hope you will also. I would love to have other Dynamic Senior Women involved in this mission.
1. The membership will be FREE. Until I get a firm grasp on the technology of a membership organization, I cannot charge a fee and live with the C+ feelings. So thanks to those current members for your support and for being the catalyst that brought me to this conclusion. For those who are members, you can continue to login as usual. For new members, you will find the price as $0.
2. New articles on topics of interest will be posted each Friday under the Community page as well as posted in our private facebook forum.
3. We will continue to have a private facebook forum where we can engage in DYNAMIC DISCUSSIONS. I promise to follow through on starting the week with a topic for us to discuss and then share our life’s wisdom. Let’s learn each other’s secrets to living life longer by living life younger. The more members connecting, the more valuable this will become. Please ask your friends to join us. While it is a private group to protect our conversation, the group is open to all. You can ask them to join us and I will willingly accept them.
4. Become a Featured Dynamic Senior Women! I know you have lived an amazing life and have a story to tell. Share it with us so that we can post it on the website. Share with us your passion for life or how you have stayed youthful before you get a chance to be on a Smucker’s label.
5. Our Love your Life newsletter will continue to be posted every Tuesday.
6. Last, but clearly not the least at all: DYNAMIC DISCOVERIES! This will be our new beginning and the source for creating and developing The National Association for Dynamic Senior Women.
Research has shown that an experience, like traveling, will bring you more lasting happiness because you can recall that memory at any time to elicit the feelings of joy that it brought to you. Let’s fill our memory bank for our later years!!
For me, travel has been my fountain of youth. Having a trip to look forward to keeps me enthused, involved, curious and actively engaged in life. Also remember, I am supporting my local economy when I shop for travel clothes/accessories prior to the trip. And while on the trip… I do great charity work when I purchase that local souvenir or tip my local guide for a job well done.
Our small group cultural discoveries will offer you a necessary release from your daily routine to become footloose and fancy free as you travel in comfort and style with other Dynamic Senior Women.
So now I ask for your help in spreading the word about The National Association of Dynamic Senior Women. Pass this along to your family and friends. Let’s make this a grassroots mission to change the image of a senior and set an example for boomers to come.
- The Mission
To continue from last week when I spoke about why I started the association, it’s time for me to explain the thought and intention that went into it.
The Mission: to bring women together to celebrate their “winter” season and pay attention to the positive aspects of aging. I think we can take this time in our life to focus on achieving new accomplishments and continue to be successful but now…. also significant. This way, for me anyway, I can balance my scale of life by counteracting the regrets that I must admit I do have.
It is well documented that you are the average of the five people you associate with most! Let’s not underestimate the effects of those you surround yourself with. If they are all doom and gloom and the glass is half empty, you can’t help but have this rub off. So, if you want to make the rest of your life the best of your life then you ought to cancel your membership in the “ain’t it awful to get old club” and start making some new friends.
I am blessed to have wonderful sisters and friends. However, what I find is that because they know me so well, I already know all the answers they will give to my burning questions of life.
So in today’s world of technology, I know we can expand our horizons to glean a new perspective and a renewed enthusiasm for not giving up on dreaming. My thought process: If we double, triple or even quadruple those 5 friends then think of the satisfaction in benefiting from the rewards of these added friendships. To be realistic, we may not have much time left, so it’s now or never to act on some of our unfulfilled dreams.
I want to tap into the collective power of women. Having an insatiable thirst for knowledge, my mission is to create a community where we can share our wisdom on the lessons of life and make a difference in each others lives. We can celebrate who we are and laugh ourselves silly into old age to make each day count.
This brings me to the task of how to accomplish this goal. How can I bring these women together? Create local chapters? Good idea but quite a task in the beginning phase, and one that is on the back burner for now. On the front burner was the path of developing a website where we can have online meetings and put together a facebook group for connecting.
Now here is my own critique of this path so far. It has been hard for me because I am not as hip on the latest form of marketing… the new social media where you “meet” in computer land. I am old school and have always made friends through eye to eye contact where you can have deeper conversations than just a quick post or tweet.
So, to be honest, if asked to give myself a grade, it would be a C+ for the execution in this part of the mission. Please be assured it is not due to any lack of interest but mainly due to my own self proclaimed hesitation with the technical process of creating this community.
Again, my intention is to succeed at developing a resource for “senior” women to connect with others in not giving up on life, in not giving up on our dreams and in not giving up on becoming the best we can be just because of the age we are.
Life is a journey with many paths to follow to find your ZEST! Staying open to changing the path you are on is an essential ingredient in being a successful chef who focuses on baking your PIES of life! With that in mind, I will reveal the NEW vision and path for the association next week.
- A New Beginning: The Decision
My first introduction to a new beginning in my life came after a divorce at age 40. It was a real doozey and lasted for 3 years. After the first year, I knew my mother, sisters and friends were tired of hearing me moan and groan through the pain. I needed help and found it in an organization called New Beginnings, a support program for adults who are distressed over being separated, widowed, divorced or never married with a mission of helping them find purpose and wholeness in all dimensions of their lives after experiencing a loss. The problem… it met on Monday evenings in Norwell, Ma, 1 hour drive from my home. The solution…. start my own chapter on Cape Cod.
Through this successful process, I met some amazing men and women who were open and honest, and therefore, willing to share their stories to not only help others but also heal themselves. For 3 years I chaired this chapter, and through it regained the “me” that I had lost. I found that if I talked out loud and then listened to me, I generally came up with the answers I was searching for. This group vaulted me into the next chapter of my life, and for that I am forever grateful.
At age 65, as I entered into another “season” of my life, I knew I wanted to write another chapter. I started hearing these kinds of comments as I casually listened to other “senior” women:
– I’m starting to get old
— I will have to think about that, I am 65 you know.
— I’m afraid of what the future holds.
— My friends seem to be giving up.
— I don’t want to do that on my own.
Stop, stop, and stop! I couldn’t listen to it. It was so negative and depressing. I was being bombarded with the doom and gloom of getting older.
The solution that resulted in the decision: Go back to the principles of the New Beginnings chapter and create an association where women could “gather” to share their life stories, be celebrated for who they are within a comfortable community, be inspired to continue to live with hope and encouraged to make this season of their life count.
The National Association of Dynamic Senior Women
Next: The Mission of the Association
- Putting Some “AWE” into Your Life
The National Geographic recently announced the winners of their 24th annual travelers’ photo contest. To quote the announcement: “Taken in locations ranging from Afghanistan to Vietnam, the winning pictures show everything from peaceful landscapes to unexpected moments. … all of them depict the beauty of the places and people that make traveling memorable.” These photographers made time stop for a moment.1st Place2nd Place3rd Place
At the same time the results of a study from Stanford University psychologists on the correlation between awe and happiness made the news. Was this pre planned? You couldn’t have asked for better timing.
This study states that awe is an emotion we feel when we encounter something so beautiful that it changes our perspective, at least for a moment. They showed the study participants “awe videos” of waterfalls, whales, astronauts in outer space, and “happiness videos”, showing parades of smiling, joyful people or rainbow confetti falling from the air. The result: By fixating on these awe or happy moments, time seemed to slow down, making participants feel like they had more of time to spare.
Study author, Melanie Rudd feels that there is a growing concern that people feel time –starved, which extracts a toll on health and well-being. The study shows that “being in the present moment elongates time perception”, and makes people want to “partake in experiential goods over material ones.” The finding: “ an awe-inspiring experience, or a moment that overwhelms to the point that time seems to stand still can improve our mental state and make us nicer people overall.
A Cornell University study also concluded that people get more lasting happiness from an experience rather than the temporary happiness from purchasing a material possession.
Now, they didn’t have to conduct a study as far as I’m concerned. I have known this since age 13 when I first crossed the ocean by myself to take a grand tour of Europe with my cousin and her family. Now my journal reminds me that I was more in awe of the cute waiters in our hotel dining rooms than the sights my parents sent me to see!
After seeing these travel photos, it brings to mind that the world is so vast. One could think that you have seen so many destinations until the photo contest appears each year. Then you are in AWE of the scope of the world we live in.
I know I am at my best when I travel. I can be in the moment and let time stand still having left all the concerns of daily living at home. These days I leave my age home too!
I certainly have an appreciation for all the places I have seen and must announce to the world my renewed enthusiasm and commitment to keep on traveling. Please join me in my quest to see it all.
In between our travels, let’s be sure to remember to find some AWE in our daily lives.
- The Green Thing
Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.”
She was right – our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.
Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.
Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things. Most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.
Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.
Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us.
When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.
We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the green thing back then.
Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.
But isn’t it sad that the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?
So I send these thoughts to you to dwell upon. I have fiond memories of most of these: the milkman, one TV, the schoolbooks wrapped in brown grocery bags, the liquid ink pens, and lots of riding the bus down East Avenue into the city.
Enjoy your trip down memory lane.
- As a Senior, Is the Internet Driving You Mad?
So I have to stay on the topic of social media. This was not my plan until I read an article in a magazine called THE WEEK, an easy, concise and unbiased review of the happenings each week. Check it out at www.theweek.com. (No, I am not on their payroll!)
The article was titled: Technology: Is it making addicts of us all? I must try to give you a synopsis, since I found the content so fascinating.
There is a growing concern that technology is taking over people’s lives. Matt Richtel, stated in a New York Times article that next year ‘Internet use disorder’ will be listed in the appendix of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. I was so shocked that I had to reread that sentence.
It went on to say that research shows that constant use of these devices is actually rewiring the physical structure of people’s brains. “Every time your phone, tablet, or computer pings with a new text, tweet, or email, it triggers a sense of expectation, and the reward center in your brain receives a pleasurable squirt of dopamine. The result? Over time, the brain shrinks the structures used for concentration, empathy and impulse control while growing new neurons receptive to speedy processing and instant gratification.
The Silicon Valley response: “Wow, what have we done?” The internet is “driving us mad.” The good news for those of us in the senior generation: I’m pretty sure we can eliminate this disorder from our list of concerns.
A cure, according to Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times: It’s called nature. “To escape our ‘post industrial self absorption,’ all we need is to leave our iPhones at home, at least once a week, and go to take a walk in the woods.”
Being in the travel industry for the last 30 years, my cure would be: Take a vacation from your iphone, and give yourself an opportunity to fill up your brain with the pleasure of viewing some of the memorable wonders of the world!
With a chuckle, I will now say use the internet to research where in the world you would like to go; plan your trip with a travel consultant, of course; pack your bags, but not your phone or computer; and have an old fashioned holiday away from it all. You and your brain deserve a rest.
I would love to hear any and all comments you might have about the newsletter content or, any and all topics of interest for “seniors”. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- More Senior Thoughts on Social Media
So I have to make a comment on a recent TV commercial from Toyota. It shows a young girl behind a computer talking about getting her parents to become involved on Facebook. She sarcastically mentions that they are up to 19 friends while she states proudly that she has 647. The commercial then flashes to her parents who are out having fun in their Toyota Venza. She, of course, remains behind the computer with her “friends.”
So what does this say about those of us in the baby boomer generation? My interpretation is that while we may understand the concept of social media, we are not going to spend the day behind a computer when we can be out and about and involved in life.
Is there a place for it in our lives? Absolutely! For those of us in the over 60 age bracket, w may have more of a challenge with it. It appears to be the “hip” way of staying connected to the grandchildren; even “hip”er… Skype, a way to “see” your loved ones, and the “hip”est…Texting.
There are 2 You Tube videos that address this topic. Maybe you were one of the 10,210,982 viewers of: Webcam 101 for Seniors. If not, become the 10, 210, 983 viewer. It is quite funny since it was an unintended video!
The other one is Texting Harry. This has a more important message to convey: learn to engage or become isolated from your loved ones. Those of you who have teenage grandchildren (who am I kidding, 2 year olds are going to know more than I do) can possibly relate more to this video.
Social Media (Facebook, Emailing, Texting, Pinterest) is now the 21st century communication tool. It is as important an invention as the telephone was in the late 19th century. I bet learning to use the phone was a whole lot easier though. After all, the operator at the end of the line did the connection for you. I just had a thought: on party lines you had to be careful about what you said because others could be listening in, just as you have to be careful about what you post on Facebook.
There is a lot of debate about social media amongst seniors. Should we just give up and say: “I’m too old” or should we make the effort to stay “hip”?
I am learning that it is an absolutely necessary tool for seniors who are either choosing to remain in business past the traditional retirement age or possibly starting a new career as so many are. Also, as mentioned above, it seems to be a mandatory means of staying connected with the world.
So, I am ready, willing and able to step up to the plate but would like to offer a suggestion to the younger generation that will honor and value our generation and the form of communications that we were brought up with.
“If I learn how to Email, will you still send me a handwritten note every so often?
“If I learn how to Facebook and /or Skype, will you still come for a visit where I can give you a real hug?
“If I learn how to Text you, will you please give me a call once in awhile so that I can hear your voice.”?
That seems only fair to me. What do you think? Let’s attempt to keep the “our soon to be old fashioned” communication skills alive and well while we still are also.
I would love to hear any and all comments you might have about the newsletter content or, any and all topics of interest for “seniors”. Email me at email@example.com.
- The Story of Your Life
On a recent road trip with my daughter who is completing her masters in elementary education and, having my own masters in reading and learning disabilities, we took the time to visit some museums dedicated to children’s literature.
It took me down memory lane, and maybe it will for you also.
We started our weekend at the Springfield Museums where they have a tribute to their famous resident Dr. Seuss. They have honored him with 5 bronze sculptures located in the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden. Who didn’t love these books.
As an aside they also had a temporary exhibition of over 40 Tiffany Lamps, one more gorgeous than the next. I didn’t see the small “no pictures” sign, so I was able to capture these photos before I was very nicely advised of the policy. If you are anywhere close by, don’t miss this.
We then had an opportunity to spend some time at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.
Do you remember reading The Hungry Caterpillar to your children? I do, and it was one our favorite books. I actually have saved it along with some others to read to my grandchildren.
During the time that we were at the museum, they had a special exhibit of the drawings by Ezra Jack Keats (1916-1983). This is the first major exhibition in this country to pay tribute to this award-winning author and illustrator, whose beloved children’s books include Whistle for Willie, Peter’s Chair, and The Snowy Day.
I was enthralled with the written comments that made me realize that Keat’s illustrations and the coordinating content of his picture books were telling the story of his life.
After the feeling of fascination and awe, I moved into being so envious of his talent in being able to share his memorable life moments through the mediums of both art and words.
However, I decided to then practice what I preach and be grateful for the talents that God had given me. I realized that, while I do not have the ability to illustrate a picture book, I had used my own creativity in producing The Legacy Journal. By answering the questions in this book, I will be leaving my future generations a glimpse into the story of my life. I will be leaving behind my personality, not just a saying on my tombstone. I just now decided that I can add my own “pictures” in the form of photographs to embellish this journal.
If you would like to document your life in an easier way than writing a memoir, a daunting and never acted on task for me, then visit this page here on the site – www.dynamicseniorwomen.com/legacy. You can get your own copy there.
Enjoy each day. Remember they make up the story of your life.
- Texting For Seniors
You know the saying: If you can’t fight ‘em, join ‘em! Well I decided to adopt this mindset and tackle text abbreviations that have now become popular. I took the ones that I am familiar with (not that I often use them!) and have listed below the “normal” meaning and then developed my own for the National Association of Dynamic Senior Women.
NORMAL VERSION DYNAMIC SENIOR WOMEN VERSION FYI: For Your Information Follow Your Instincts CYA: Cover Your *** Check Your Attitude TOY: Thinking Of You Travel Offers Youthfulness DIY: Do It Yourself Don’t Ignore Yourself BFF: Best Friend Forever Belonging For Friendship TLC: Tender Loving Care Take Little Chances TMI: Too Much Information Treasure Moments Immediately LOL: Laughing Out Loud Laughing Over Life BTW: By The Way Becoming Thoroughly Wise IMO: In My Opinion Imagine More Options KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid Kick It Soul Sisters TGIF: Thank Goodness It’s Friday Thank Goodness It’s Functioning
I then decided to have some fun with it and made up a few abbreviations of my own relating to my “senior” years.
SITN: Stay In The Now
LED: Laugh Every Day
WDIDY: What Did I Do Yesterday
HBHD: Having Bad Hair Day
WIMW: Where is My Waistline
TCMH: Time to Color My Hair
LISLN: Life is Short.. Live Now
WWYN: What Was Your Name?
Now admittedly texting is not something that I am proficient at or spend a lot of time doing. I have an IPhone and have just learned that Siri can type my message for me. How brilliant is that.
I would love to have you add to this list so email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s have our own lingo that reflects where we are in this “season’ of our life.
- Why DOUBT Can Be Positive….
I heard a great sermon at church and was immediately grabbed by the title: When Life Causes Us To Doubt…. Then What?
The dictionary gives us the definition of doubt as: to be uncertain.
As women entering into our “senior” years there are times when we may experience doubt:
- Possibly you have suffered the loss of a loved one and now doubt what life will be like alone.
- Possibly, as you are entering into your “senior” years, you doubt whether you will be able to make the difficult decisions that lay ahead of you.
- Possibly, in reviewing your life, you may doubt whether you have made an impact and lived your life and not someone else’s.
No matter what the reason is for the doubt, so many of us immediately associate this word with a negative connotation and think of it as a bad thing. “There is doubt that is negative, corrosive, and leads to fear and mistrust and the inability to act or decide. This type of doubt is related to fear and worry…not something we want to cultivate or encourage.”
However, my pastor opened us up to the idea of focusing on the positive aspects of this word. He implored us to use it as a catalyst for continued opportunities to think, search, explore, question and reflect.
Let’s take my Pastor’s advice and turn doubt into a positive in our “senior” years.
- Let’s continue to learn something new everyday.
- Let’s think about others and take the time to give back but also recognize that it’s okay to treat ourselves.
- Let’s search out new experiences that will keep us active, curious and still engaged in life.
- Let’s explore the world together and benefit from all there is to learn when traveling.
- Let’s question who we are and be sure we are living our life and fulfilling our dreams.
- Let’s reflect on the positives in our life and be grateful for all that we have been given.
So embrace any doubt you may have, and remember to use it to vault you into making positive changes.
- Pausing For Seniors
I had the opportunity to listen to the commencement speech given by Maria Shriver at USC Annenberg School of Communication for her daughter’s graduating class. I was immediately grabbed by the brilliance of the message.
She suggested to the graduating class that there will be times in their life when they ought to turn off the fast forward button and press the pause button. The speech is on You Tube and you may want to listen to it. Maria is a dynamic senior woman!
So, I then gave some thought to her message and realized that there are so many times in our lives that we ought to apply these wise words of wisdom…. For example, as we enter into our senior years or another “season” of our life ,as I like to say, and have to make the necessary adjustments; as we may have to change our life’s course resulting from an unexpected event; as we learn to finally take charge of our life and possibly have to make some difficult decisions.
We all know that rule of pausing to think before we speak or act. However how many of us follow it? I will admit that I don’t always follow this guidance so I then suffer the consequences of having more regrets than gratitude.
So here is a list of ways you can pause during your day that I will print out myself and place on my bathroom mirror.
10 Suggestions for Seniors to Pause on a Daily Basis:
- Pause in the morning to welcome the day and set the right intentions.
- Pause as you choose your wardrobe and remember to choose your attitude as well.
- Pause to take a deep breath when you find yourself stressing… you know that feeling.
- Pause when you notice your thoughts are negative and then turn on your positive switch by thinking of a moment that made you happy.
- Pause when you pick up the phone to be sure you have a smile on your face.
- Pause during your busy schedule to call or email someone special to just say you are thinking of them.
- Pause before you pick up that high calorie food and remember: A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.
- Pause to take the time to walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator.
- Pause to give yourself a treat each day… you deserve it.
- Pause in the evening to be grateful for at least one happening in your day…3-5 is better!
Now, just for fun, here are some humorous reminders for me to pause that I should do but don’t always do:
- Pause before I purchase that outfit that I think makes me look young and seek a second opinion!
- Pause for strength before I look in the mirror in the morning to see that new wrinkle.
- Pause before I purchase that infomercial product that promises to takes off 10 pounds in a week or take 10 years off of my life
Now pause to make your own list and then consider joining our association if you are not already a member. We now have a private facebook forum where we are engaging in conversation around the topic of the month. Related questions are posted every Monday. We will be traveling together soon so stay tuned.
- Geography of a Woman
Between 18 and 22, a woman is like Africa. Half discovered, half wild, fertile and naturally Beautiful!
Between 23 and 30, a woman is like Europe. Well developed and open to trade, especially for someone of real value.
Between 31 and 35, a woman is like Spain, very hot, relaxed and convinced of her own beauty.
Between 36 and 40, a woman is like Greece, gently aging but still a warm and desirable place to visit.
Between 41 and 50, a woman is like Great Britain, with a glorious and all conquering past.
Between 51 and 60, a woman is like Israel, has been through war,doesn’t make the same mistakes twice, takes care of business.
Between 61 and 70, a woman is like Canada, self-preserving, but open to meeting new people.
After 70, she becomes Tibet. Wildly beautiful, with a mysterious past and the wisdom of the ages. An adventurous spirit and a thirst for spiritual knowledge.
- My Life According to the Color of My Hair
I began my life as a brunette 65 years ago and never did any touch ups. In thinking about this I was being prim and proper for the role I was playing as a suburban housewife. In my late 30’s the strands of gray appeared but with not enough effect for me to do anything about it.
Then at age 40, during a three year divorce period, I began to experiment. Why not? I had no one to answer to but myself. I started with the classic “divorce” perm that seemed to be a way of releasing all the negative emotions into my wired head of hair. Unfortunately I think it also announced to the world that I was in crisis. However, it was a way to temporarily hide the grays at the roots. Who could see them through those tight tufts?
I gave up perms and then moved to streaking my hair but eventually found this was really difficult to maintain. I would end up with gray roots brown hair and blond streaks. Now all I had was a multi colored mop of hair.
Being single at the time I then decided to test the theory that blondes have more fun. From my experience…yes they do! I loved being a blond and found it helped me get back my fun loving personality. It put the pizzazz and zest back into my life. I started to wear new colors for me, red and black, that seemed to make the blonde pop. It was a great excuse to enhance my wardrobe not that I ever need one. I even met my present husband as a blonde.
Now at 65, I am experimenting again. I think the blond bimbo look is over and it’s now time to settle down. I will not consider going fully gray until 70, at the very earliest, so I am back having a brunette base with highlights. it has taken 6 months to acquire the correct tones so no wonder someone recently said, “You have changed the color of your hair again.” If you are wondering, yes my husband is still with me even as a brunette!
Now I have realized that the only color I will not have tried is red. Well who knows, I have 5 more years until I evaluate whether I will go gray or not!
If you have “played” with the color of your hair, do you have a favorite?
If you’re curious and want to see the pictures of the real me with the different hair colors, you can look at the About Mary Jo page.
- Family Reunions
I spent last weekend attending a family reunion in Rochester, New York where I grew up and 2 of my sisters still live.
There were five in my family and each of my siblings have grown children; some married, some not; some with children of their own and some now thinking about it!
There were a total of 29 who gathered from Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Virginia, Kentucky, Connecticut and Cape Cod. To get this number all together is a real effort and a real tribute to our Mother. All of us remarked at different times during the weekend festivities that Mom would be smiling down from heaven with such pride and pleasure to see us carrying on her love of family that she spent so much time instilling in us.
As a member now of the senior generation it is a joy to see my nieces and nephews starting out on their own life paths and hearing about what a different world they live in.
While some stay connected via facebook, I still like the in person connection. I like to see the twinkle in the eyes of the newlyweds, the pride and joy on the faces of the newest parents as they present their baby to the family; ( my new grandson, Trevor);to hear the laughter from a good joke amongst the cousins, to congratulate those who have received job promotions, to encourage those that need a little pep talk and most of all to give a kiss and a hug to all.
I believe that for all the friends you may have, it is your family that will be there for you to the very end. I have already started thinking about moving back “home” to be able to share my older years with my sisters. They are the only ones who will drive me to doctor appointments, nurse me back to health if needed, point out the spots on my clothes or tell the truth about an outfit and laugh at my aging idiosyncrasies!
I have concluded that the key word for “seniors” living in the 21st century is adaptability. You have to learn to role with the punches, go with the flow, stay open to all sorts of ideas and ways of living and take each day and make it count.
The last thought and the most critical comment for me: pictures don’t lie! It is time to start pumping iron for the upper arms and get a new hair color!
- Becoming a Life Long Learner
I was recently listening to a tape from Brian Tracy, well known author and motivational speaker, on the topic of learning. I found it both fascinating and frustrating. Let me explain.
He talked about the difference between the old model of learning that I was brought with versus the new model. In the past our lives were divided into 3 stages:
Learning Years: Ages 1 – 21
We traditionally went to school through college and then got a job, settled down and lived our life in a traditional way.
Earning Years: Ages 21 – 65
We more than likely stayed with the same company who took care of us and became like a second family
Yearning Years: Ages 65 plus
We retired at age 65 if we hadn’t done so prior and lived on our pensions, retirement savings and social security. We travelled, played golf, bought a second home…or did whatever pleased us and generally lived a very satisfying life in retirement.
So, according to Brain Tracy the only years we actually spent time learning was in our youth or possibly we did some learning of new on the job skills.
Now for the new model… We have moved into recognizing that our most powerful asset is our brain not our brawn. Brian Tracy urges us to become life long learners so that we can keep up with the fast paced world we are living in.
This is where my frustration comes in. I am running as fast as I can to keep up with the newest form of communication, with the latest gadget, with the new meaning of old words … It’s a daily task to stay on top of all the latest and greatest information… I can see why some of us after a certain age just say …enough already.
Here are some examples:
A Phone: I started with a rotary dial in my youth, then onto an ordinary cell phone and now a “smart” phone… Do I have to remain smart myself or does the phone nowdo it for me and I no longer have to think!
Letters and Phone Calls: While I know how to email and skype, is this the only means for connecting with my family? I still believe in letters, a visit in person or a phone call to hear the voice of a loved one?
Text… What I would read in a schoolbook. Now everyone is looking down instead of looking at people or not listening to a conversation because they are all “texting”! I do this on occasion and generally it’s to send a quick reply to a received text. I find those buttons really small and difficult to use. I would never win a texting contest.
Twitter: Used to mean chirping sounds of birds or a giggle amongst friends. Now we send ‘tweets” to each other explaining what we are doing every minute of the day. I suspect this is sometimes more information than we need or want to know. This I can’t bring myself to do… yet!
Cloud: Those fluffy white forms in the sky that I used to look at to find images in on a lazy summer day. Now, “cloud” computing refers to the delivery of computing and storage capacity as a service to a heterogeneous community of end-recipients. What????
So as you can see I am videoing this newsletter to show you that I am not a complete dinosaur and I am trying to stay hip and up to date with the latest technology. This is a challenge but one that I will not give up on due to any age restrictions. I won’t let myself get into the “I’m too old” way of thinking! I am striving to be a life long learner and hope you will join me in this mission in stay connected in this fast paced, whirlwind world we live in.
Let’s be supportive of each other and keep learning together.
- 60 Facts about The Queen
After watching The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, I must join in the celebration for Queen Elizabeth. What an understatement for sure to say that she is a dynamic senior woman. She has reigned for 60 years starting her service to her country at the age of 26 and this year at the age of 86, she is still performing her duties with great presence and regalness with the love and respect of her family and her countrymen.
I have copied the below article from the official website for the Diamond Jubilee Celebration. I found these facts fascinating and fun to read. If you are an Anglophile, go to the site and see how much you know about the British Monarchy.
God Save the Queen!
As of 1 January 2012:
1. The Queen is the second longest serving monarch. Only five other kings and queens in British history have reigned for 50 years or more. They are:
- Victoria (63 years)
- George III (59 years)
- Henry III (56 years)
- Edward III (50 years)
- James VI of Scotland (James I of England) (58 years)
2. The Queen is the fortieth monarch since William the Conqueror obtained the crown of England.
3. Since 1952 The Queen has given Royal Assent to more than 3,500 Acts of Parliament.
4. Over the reign, Her Majesty has given regular audiences to 12 Prime Ministers. They are:
- Winston Churchill 1951-55
- Sir Anthony Eden 1955-57
- Harold Macmillan 1957-63
- Sir Alec Douglas-Home 1963-64
- Harold Wilson 1964-70 and 1974-76
- Edward Heath 1970-74
- James Callaghan 1976-79
- Margaret Thatcher 1979-90
- John Major 1990-97
- Tony Blair 1997-2007
- Gordon Brown 2007-2010
- David Cameron 2010 – present
5. Tony Blair was the first Prime Minister to have been born during The Queen’s reign. He was born in early May, 1953 – a month before the Coronation.
6. The Queen has attended every opening of Parliament except those in 1959 and 1963, when she was expecting Prince Andrew and Prince Edward respectively.
7. There have been six Archbishops of Canterbury during The Queen’s reign (Archbishops Geoffrey Fisher, Michael Ramsey, Donald Coggan, Robert Runcie, George Carey and Rowan Williams).
8. There have been six Roman Catholic Popes during The Queen’s reign (Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI).
9. The Queen has received two Popes on visits to the UK (Pope John Paul II in 1982 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2010). Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1982 was the first Papal visit to the United Kingdom for over 450 years. Her Majesty has officially visited the Vatican three times in her reign – in 1961 visiting Pope John XXIII and in 1980 and 2000 visiting Pope John Paul II.
10. The Queen is currently patron of over 600 charities and organisations, over 400 of which she has held since 1952.
11. Since 1952, The Queen has conferred over 404,500 honours and awards.
12. The Queen has personally held over 610 Investitures.
13. The first Investiture of the Queen’s reign took place at Buckingham Palace on 27th February 1952. The first person to be presented was Private William Speakman, of The King’s Own Scottish Borderers, who received the Victoria Cross for his actions during the Korean War.
14. The Queen has answered around three and a half million items of correspondence.
15. The Queen has sent over 175,000 telegrams to centenarians in the UK and the Commonwealth.
16. The Queen has sent almost 540,000 telegrams to couples in the UK and the Commonwealth celebrating their diamond wedding (60 years) anniversary.
17. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have sent approximately 45,000 Christmas cards during The Queen’s reign.
18. The Queen has given out approximately 90,000 Christmas puddings to staff continuing the custom of King George V and King George VI
19. In 60 years, The Queen has undertaken 261 official overseas visits, including 96 State Visits, to 116 different countries.
20. Many of The Queen’s official tours were undertaken on the Royal Yacht Britannia. It was launched by Her Majesty on 16th April 1953 and was commissioned for service on 7th January 1954. It was de-commissioned in December, 1997. During this time, Britannia travelled more than a million miles on Royal and official duties.
21. The Royal Yacht Britannia was first used by The Queen when Her Majesty embarked with the Duke of Edinburgh on the 1st May 1954 at Tobruk for the final stage of their Commonwealth Tour returning to the Pool of London. The last time The Queen was on board Britannia for an official visit was on the 9th August 1997 for a visit to Arran in Scotland.
22. In 60 years, The Queen has often travelled to her major Realms. Her Majesty has visited Australia 16 times, Canada 22 times, Jamaica 6 times and New Zealand 10 times.
23. The Queen’s official visits have ranged from the Cocos Islands, 5.4 square miles with a population of 596, to The Peoples’ Republic of China, 3.7 million square miles with a population of 1.34 billion.
24. Unusual live gifts given to The Queen on foreign tours include: two tortoises given to The Queen in the Seychelles in 1972; a seven-year-old bull elephant called “Jumbo” given to Her Majesty by the President of Cameroon in 1972 to mark The Queen’s Silver Wedding, and two black beavers given to The Queen after a Royal visit to Canada.
25. The only time The Queen has had to interrupt an overseas tour was in 1974 during a tour of Australia and Indonesia. The Queen was called back to the UK from Australia when a general election in the UK was suddenly called. The Duke of Edinburgh continued the programme in Australia, and The Queen re-joined the tour in Indonesia.
26. Her Majesty’s first Commonwealth tour, as Queen, began on 24 November 1953, and included visits to Canada, Bermuda, Jamaica, Panama, Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand, Australia, the Cocos Islands, Ceylon, Aden, Uganda, Libya, Malta and Gibraltar. The total distance covered was 43,618 miles.
27. The Queen made an historic visit to the Republic of Ireland in May 2011, the first visit by a British Monarch since Irish independence (King George V’s had visited in 1911).
28. There have been 102 inward State Visits from 1952 to the end of 2011 (up to and including Turkey in November 2011).
29. The first football match The Queen attended was the 1953 FA Cup Final.
30. The Queen has laid her wreath at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday every year of her reign, except in 1959, 1961, 1963, 1968, 1983 and 1999 when she was either pregnant or overseas on an official visit.
31. The Queen has attended 56 Royal Maundy services in 43 Cathedrals during her reign. A total of 6,710 people have received Maundy Money in recognition of their service to the Church and their communities.
32. The Queen has been at the saluting base of her troops in every Trooping the Colour ceremony since the start of her reign, with the exception of 1955, when a national rail strike forced the cancellation of the parade.
33. The Queen has attended 35 Royal Variety performances.
34. The Queen has launched 21 ships during her reign.
35. Since it was launched to mark The Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002, The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service has been awarded to over 750 voluntary organisations across all four countries in the UK. Winners of the award have included local scout groups, community radio stations, groups who care for the elderly and environmental charities.
36. Over the course of the reign, almost a one and a half million people have attended garden parties at Buckingham Palace or the Palace of Holyroodhouse (The Queen ended Debutante Presentation Parties in 1958).
37. The Queen has sat for 129 portraits during her reign.
38. The first ‘Royal walkabout’ took place during the visit by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh to Australia and New Zealand in 1970. The practice was introduced to allow them to meet as many people as possible, not simply officials and dignitaries.
39. In 1969 the first television film about the family life of the Royal Family was made, and shown on the eve of the Investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales.
40. An important innovation during The Queen’s reign was the opening in 1962 of a new gallery at Buckingham Palace to display items from the Royal Collection. The brainchild of The Duke of Edinburgh, the new Queen’s Gallery occupied the space of the Palace’s bomb-damaged private chapel. It was the first time that parts of the Palace had been opened to the general public. The new Queen’s Gallery was redeveloped and re-opened in 2002 for the Golden Jubilee.
41. The Queen has made a Christmas Broadcast to the Commonwealth every year of her reign except 1969, when a repeat of the film ‘Royal Family’ was shown and a written message from The Queen issued. In 2002 The Queen made her 50th Christmas Broadcast and in 2004 The Queen issued her first separate broadcast for members of the British Armed Forces.
42. In 1953, The Queen made the first Christmas Broadcast from overseas, (rather than from the UK), broadcasting live from New Zealand. The first televised broadcast was in 1957, made live. The first pre-recorded broadcast took place in 1960 to allow transmission around the world. In 2006 the Christmas Broadcast was first made available to download as a podcast.
43. The Queen launched the British Monarchy’s official website in 1997. In 2007 the official British Monarchy YouTube channel was unveiled, swiftly followed by a Royal Twitter site (2009), Flickr page (2010) and Facebook page (also 2010).
44. The Queen hosts “theme days” and Receptions to promote and celebrate aspects of British culture. Recent examples from 2011 include a reception for Young People and the Performing Arts and for Explorers. Other themes have included Publishing, Broadcasting, Tourism, Emergency Services, Maritime Day, Music, Young Achievers, British Design, and Pioneers.
45. In an average year, The Queen will host more than 50,000 people at banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace. The Queen also hosts more than 8,000 people each year at garden parties and investitures at Holyroodhouse, during Holyrood Week.
46. The Queen was born at 17 Bruton St, London W1 on the 21st April, 1926, was christened on the 29th May, 1926 in the Private Chapel at Buckingham Palace and was confirmed on the 28th March, 1942 in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle.
47. The Queen learnt to drive in 1945.
48. With the birth of Prince Andrew in 1960, The Queen became the first reigning Sovereign to have a child since Queen Victoria, who had her youngest child, Princess Beatrice, in 1857.
49. The Queen’s real birthday is on 21st April, but it is celebrated officially in June.
50. During the Silver Jubilee year, The Queen toured 36 counties in the UK and Northern Ireland, starting in Glasgow on the 17th May. During her Golden Jubilee year The Queen toured 35 counties beginning in Cornwall on 1st May.
51. The Queen’s first foreign tour of the Silver Jubilee year was a visit to Western Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea. The first foreign tour of The Queen’s Golden Jubilee year was to Jamaica, New Zealand and Australia.
52. The Queen has 30 godchildren.
53. The Queen has owned more than 30 corgis during her reign, starting with Susan who was a present for her 18th birthday in 1944. A good proportion of these have been direct descendants from Susan. Her Majesty currently has three corgis – Monty, Willow and Holly.
54. The Queen also introduced a new breed of dog known as the “dorgi” when one of Her Majesty’s corgis was mated with a dachshund named Pipkin which belonged to Princess Margaret. There have been 11 dorgis – Tinker, Pickles, Chipper, Piper, Harris, Brandy, Berry, Cider, Candy and Vulcan.
55. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have been married for 64 years. They were married on 20th November, 1947 in Westminster Abbey. The Queen’s wedding dress was designed by Norman Hartnell and was woven at Winterthur Silks Limited, Dunfermline, in the Canmore factory, using silk that had come from Chinese silkworms at Lullingstone Castle.
56. The Queen’s wedding ring was made from a nugget of Welsh gold which came from the Clogau St David’s mine near Dolgellau. The official wedding cake was made by McVitie and Price Ltd, using ingredients given as a wedding gift by Australian Girl Guides.
57. The wedding of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh was the first and so far the only time in British history that the heir presumptive to the throne had been married.
58. The Queen’s racing colours are a purple body with gold braid, scarlet sleeves and black velvet cap with gold fringe. They were adopted from those used by King Edward VII; one of his most successful horses was called Diamond Jubilee.
59. Queen Victoria was the last and to date the only British Monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. The Queen, who was aged 85 on Accession Day in 2012, is the oldest monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. Queen Victoria was 77 when she celebrated hers in 1897.
60. There have been only three Diamond Jubilees of Heads of State celebrated throughout the world during The Queen’s reign. King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand celebrated 60 years on the throne in 2006; the former Sultan of Johor (now a part of Malaysia) celebrated his in 1955; and the late Emperor Hirohito of Japan celebrated his in 1986.
The Queen has made a Christmas Broadcast to the Commonwealth every year of her reign except 1969 © PA
- Memorial Day
It’s official! We can now wear white pants and white shoes but of course only till Labor Day. That is what the fashion police stated very clearly as the rule to follow back when I and maybe you also were growing up. Nowadays white is generally accepted as a year round color in the appropriate fabric for the season, of course. A winter white wool suit or a white leather handbag with accents of other seasonal colors will not make you be laughed at behind your back!
1. Combining the Metals in Jewelry
This trend has become more fashionable than not. While I do have some pieces that are a mix of metals, I must admit that I have a tendency to still wear all gold or all silver together. This is just a personal preference for me. I won’t win the trendy award in this category
2. Match, Match, Match
Boring, boring, and boring! However, my name is Mary Jo and I am a match junkie! I’ll have to blame this on my Mother! Wherever it came from I am guilty of trying to match my colors in outfits, in my necklace and earrings but gratefully never in my purse and shoes. There is hope for me.
3. Never Wear Suede or Leather in Summer
There is nothing hotter right now than sexy leather sandals that go up to your ankles and have 5 inch wedges or heals. Do I wear them? What do you think? I look at the young women of today with great envy as my back immediately aches!
4. Always Wear Stockings!
Did Katie Couric start this trend? Or was it the tanning salon industry? I sure wish this rule had been broken earlier when I had legs that would tan easily and still looked good. Now I just pretend that they are tan!
5. Stay Up To Date with the Latest Fashion Trends
Sometimes yes and sometimes no for this 65 year old. I have found that I have reached the age where classic has come back into my wardrobe and never should have left according to my sisters! I like to be a little out there and dress with some fun and flair. This is now being done with accessories!
Enjoy your summer wardrobe that is filled with white items and have fun breaking the rules!
Living with Zest,
- MILESTONE: An action or event making a significant change in life.
Here are some milestone birthdays and what was happening in my life that made a change and some quotes associated with age.
In my 7th birthday year, I made my first communion.
In my 13th birthday year I became an official teenager.
“A teenager is always too tired to hold a dishcloth, but never too tired to hold a phone.”
In my 16th birthday year, yes I had been kissed!
“The old believe everything; the middle-aged suspect everything; the young know everything.”
– Oscar Wilde, who comically sums up the know-it-all attitude that many teenagers portray.
“From birth to age eighteen, a girl needs good parents. From eighteen to thirty-five, she needs good looks. From thirty-five to fifty-five, she needs a good personality. From fifty-five on, she needs good cash.”
– Sophie Tucker
In my 21st birthday year, I met my future husband while working onCape Cod for the summer.
“Finally 21, and legally able to do everything I’ve been doing since 15.”
– Anonymous (Honest, I didn’t make this up)
In my 27th birthday year I gave birth to my first child
In my 30th birthday year I had given birth to my second child.
In my 33rd birthday year I gave birth to my third child….
Now I am a “crazy” mother and life has definitely changed!
In my 40th birthday year, I was getting a divorce.
“When I passed forty I dropped pretense, ’cause men like women who got some sense.”
– Maya Angelou.
My divorce was a hard way for me to learn some sense!
“At the age of twenty, we don’t care what the world thinks of us; at thirty, we worry about what it is thinking of us; at forty, we discover that it wasn’t thinking of us at all.”
In my 50th birthday year I was dating a “transitional” guy. In hindsight, I realized he was a total mismatch!
“I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming… suddenly you find – at the age of 50, say – that a whole new life has opened before you.”
– Agatha Christie
This happened at 54!
In my 54th birthday year I remarried a real gentleman who loved me and my children.
50 years: here’s a time when you have to separate yourself from what other people expect of you, and do what you love. Because if you find yourself 50 years old and you aren’t doing what you love, then what’s the point?
– Jim Carrey
In my 60th birthday year having crossed several milestones I gave myself a special birthday party with close family and friends to relive the magical moments of yesteryear and toast to many, many more to come.
“One starts to get young at the age of sixty and then it is too late.”
– Pablo Picasso
“Looking fifty is great… if you’re sixty.”
– Joan Rivers
In my 65th birthday year, I traveled to Italy with a group of 15 women, some old friends and all new friends by the end of this memorable adventure.
“Just remember, once you’re over the hill you begin to pick up speed.”
– Charles Schultz
I am planning on still running as fast as I can as I go over the hill.
That’s it for my milestone birthdays until I reach 70. My husband turned 80 last week so I have a taste of this age and hope to be as alive, healthy and surrounded by those I love as he was for his big celebration.
“The advantage of being eighty years old is that one has many people to love.”
– Jean Renoir
Today you are about 29,332 days old. Now 80 doesn’t sound so bad does it?
– Unknown Author
- Tribute to Mothers Continued
To continue my tribute to all mothers I will have some fun with it this week and use my Mom as an example of a mother raising a baby boomer generation child. While she passed away in 1994, I have to say that I often hear her in my thoughts and the expressions that I use.
Some background first. My mother was a stay at home mom as most were back then. Her first child was born in 1942, her last in 1952. She was a classic mother of the time: she managed all the details involved in raising 5 children; she volunteered in her church and local community; she gave elaborate dinner parties to maintain friendships and welcomed home our father in the evening with a family meal that was served in the dining room.
Some idiosyncrasies of this era in my family anyway: The girls (there were 4 of us with the oldest of 5 siblings being a boy) were not allowed to wear pants until it finally became so fashionable that we begged for this privilege. We had good clothes that we saved and wore only on special occasions. We were only allowed to watch TV and have a soda on Friday night. We watched I Remember Mama and the Life of Reilly and the soda was a grape juice and ginger ale combo.
My lasting memory…Mom was always there for us and for her subsequent 11 grandchildren. She gave and gave and gave to all those she loved. She was the epitome of a selfless giver…. thank you Mom for being in my life.
Motherhood: All love begins and ends there. Robert Browning
Now let’s have some fun with the sayings that were passed down to me and possibly for you also. Here are some classics that you may have heard:
- If you have nothing nice to say then don’t say anything at all.
- Eat your vegetables, there are starving people in China.
- Money doesn’t grow on trees.
- A marriage isn’t 50/50, it’s 80/80.
- Always wear clean underwear; you never know when you will be in an accident.
- I don’t care what the “Joneses” are doing, I care about you.
- Everyone has a cross to bear. (Mom was a devout Catholic!)
- Close the door, do you think we live in a barn.
- …Because I’m your mother.
- Just you wait until you have kids of your own.
- A minute on the lips, a year on your hips.
- Be careful what you wish for, it may come true.
- Ladies don’t chew gum.
- Just wait until your father comes home.
- FHB… family hold back…said during parties when the guests always got first choice.
- Oh Jiminy Cricket… a nice replacement for a less lady like expletive. P.S. this expletive was nowhere near the ones that are used today!
Have you recognized yourself saying any of these? Please add yours to our facebook fan page. It would be fun to learn some new ones that I can now use with my new grandson as he grows up.
Living with zest,
- Happy Mother’s Day
With Mothers Day approaching I thought it would be fun to explore the history of this annual celebration having had no prior interest in it other than to pay tribute to my own mother while she was alive and then receive the yearly obligatory accolades from my own children. While I am assured they love me it’s nice to know that I will actually hear it from them every year!
So here we go… The first celebrations were held in ancient Greece during the annual spring festival dedicated to Rhea, the mother of many deities of Greek mythology.
The Romans celebrated a festival dedicated to Cybele, a mother Goddess that was held on the Ides of March. There were parades, games and masquerades with the participants becoming quite notorious.
The early Christians celebrated a Mothers day of sorts during the festival on the fourth Sunday of Lent in honor of the Virgin Mary.
Fast forward to the 1600’s. The celebration of Mothers Day began in England and was called Mothering Sunday. After a proper service in Church to honor the Virgin Mary, children brought gifts and flowers to pay tribute to their own mothers. This custom died out until after World War II when American servicemen brought the custom back and the eventual commercialization of the holiday sustained its popularity.
In the United States, the idea of an official celebration of Mothers Day was first suggested in 1872 by activist, poet and writer, Julia Ward Howe
She wanted June 2 to be annually celebrated as Mothers Day and dedicated to peace.
Despite her efforts, the recognized founder of Mothers Day belongs to Anna Jarvis who was inspired by her own mother who always expressed her desire to honor all mothers, living and dead. After her mothers passing she was determined to fulfill her mothers wish.
She began by asking members of her local congregation to wear carnations, her mother’s favorite flower, on a special sunday as a tribute to their own mothers. This idea gained popularity and in 1910, West Virginia became the first state to recognize a Mothers Day holiday. On May 8, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a joint resolution designating the second Sunday in May a holiday in honor of “that tender, gentle army, mothers of America.
May I just add that while the idea of devoting a day to Fathers was started in 1910, it did not become an official federal holiday until 1972.
Next week I will share thoughts about my own mother and have some fun listing some of the classic sayings that I think all mothers use.
Happy Mothers Day to you all,
- HAPPY MAY DAY
According to an article written on catholicweb.com, the month of May is traditionally dedicated to Mary in many cultures. May is considered the season of the beginning of new life. In Greek culture, May was dedicated to Artemis, the goddess of fecundity. In Roman culture, May was dedicated to Flora, the goddess of blossoms. . The Romans celebrated ludi florales (literally: floral games) at the end of April, asking the intercession of Flora for all that blooms. This is also related to the medieval practice of expelling winter. May 1 was considered the beginning of growth.
Having been raised in the Catholic faith and attending a private Catholic school for girls, the month of May has many memories for me.
At school, we would have a May Day procession where we would bring lilies of the valley to the statue and recite: “Oh Mary I give you the lily of my heart be thou its guardian forever.” Believe me, there were many hours of practice to speak this recitation with the proper inflection!
The month of May is one of my favorites since it does represent a season of the beginning of a new life. In the northeast where I live it usually takes until May to see all the newly budding trees, the “host of daffodils” and the warmer weather that heralds the lazy days to come.
Spring is my favorite season since I am excited to “expel” winter and hopefully present to the world a new and better me. I take the winter months to reflect, to dwell, and be quiet to learn more about who I am. On a recent CBS Morning Show, Oprah expressed her belief that we are all silently searching for the deeper meaning in our lives to be able to live the highest expression of ourselves.
I would have to say that there is no age limitation to this need. And, quite possibly it is more important than ever to those of us who are in the so called winter season of our lives. For me, I am in my now or never years so the desire to go from success to significance in my life is a daily quest. I am on the search.
Please join me in this mission to live life to the fullest, dusting off those youthful dreams and making each day count. Join our community and let the collective power of our wisdom make a difference in your life.
Until my next journal entry, remember go out and live life with ZEST.
Happy May Day,
- To Hat or Not To Hat… Part Two
My last journal entry was about hats, the literal meaning of this word. This time I want to address the figurative meaning.
How many hats do you wear?
Do you remember the children’s book, Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina? It was published in the 1940’s and has sold over 2 million copies. It tells the story of a peddler who sells caps by carrying the entire “inventory” piled on his head and carefully balancing all 16 of them. He calls – “Caps! Caps for Sale! Fifty cents a cap! The Peddler has to walk straight so as not to spill his hats.
As women I know we can relate to this story as we often wear many “hats” ourselves balancing them carefully just as the peddler had to and walking along the straight line of societal expectations.
Here are some hats that I have worn over the years that I’m sure you have also. Daughter, Sister, Friend, Wife, Mother, newly a Grandmother Volunteer, Teacher, Businesswomen, Church Member, Caretaker, Household Manager, Chairwoman., Athlete, Co-worker. That’s 16 so far. I have no doubt there will be more to come.
Now the reality is we don’t have to wear all 16 at once and definitely shouldn’t for our over all health, especially in this winter season of our life
It’s now appropriate to make an assessment of all the hats we wear.
This is a time in our life when we can choose which hats to wear, and which hats to give up. At the very least we should prioritize them according to the fulfillment they give us. If you can’t totally give up wearing hat, maybe you change the number of times you wear a hat each month … maybe more time maybe less time depending on the fulfillment.
Here is the most important mission… we must give ourselves permission to stop wearing some of these hats. That can be hard to do but I think it is necessary for our overall enjoyment of this time in our life. We have given and given for many, many years and it’s okay to enjoy time just for us, to enjoy treating ourselves, to enjoy pursuing our own interests and dreams. It’s okay if it feels better to you to take baby steps but please start thinking about your own wishes and desires before it’s too late. Walk down that divergent path within your own comfort zone, of course.
Make this season of your life count and live life with zest.
- To Hat or Not to Hat
Celebrating Easter Sunday has made me think of childhood Sunday traditions and hats.
I LOVE HATS and should have been born in the Untied Kingdom. To watch the televised official functions and see the women express themselves in an additional form of fashion other than shoes, jewelry or designer dresses is so refreshing!
For example, I’m sure we all watched the Royal Wedding last year and saw the successes and the well noted failures of the attendees. No names will be mentioned.
In my childhood, playing dress up in my Grandmother’s attic was a favorite Sunday afternoon pastime before our traditional formal dinner with Nana and Pop-Pop. One of the most important ingredients for a proper dress up outfit was the hat and gloves. Of course, on Easter Sunday, I would proudly wear my straw hat with flowers around the brim and then go off to an Easter egg hunt on the lawn of a local club. I felt so pretty!
Then I became a teenager. The vanity and peer pressure barometer kicked in. Yes, I wore the latest casual summer or winter hats, ski hats and hats that would complete a costume. But never, never a fancy hat! It wasn’t di rigueur.
In my era, it was Jackie Kennedy who brought hats back into my focus as she wore her pill box hat for the inauguration. She brought hope to this 17 year old that the fashion statement of hats might catch on in this country.
Alas, that would not happen for me anyway. I continued to let the need to fit in and not stick out in my circle of friends rule my thoughts about wearing hats.
Over the years it took courage and confidence to wear hats and on several occasions I managed to do so. I have worn hats to weddings, wearing one for my own 12 years ago; I wore a hat to embark on the Queen Elizabeth for a transatlantic cruise to London. I have brought back hats from my travels. I have worn hats to garden parties. I have purchased hats that I thought I would wear but never seem to.
I know at this age I shouldn’t care what other people think and just go out and wear them. I’ll let you know when this happens. In the meantime, this collection of hats may have to go into the dress up trunk for the grandchildren and I’ll start lobbying to come back in my next life as a member of high society in England.
My next journal entry is going to be about the figurative meaning of hats and will be a little more serious.
Remember, go out and live life with ZEST.
- Thoughts on Returning from a Trip
Coming home from a trip is always bittersweet for me. I hate leaving the indulgent carefree ways of daily vacation living but love being back with my family.
While I know I am having a good time on the trip, I always need to come home to find out that all is well before I can totally process this good time. I know it’s weird but what can I say.
Do you jump right back into your routine? When I arrive home I always try to spend the first few days laying low to gradually step back into my life. The good news… I am self employed so I am in charge of this process…the bad news…I am the only one in charge. This idea of laying low is usually wishful thinking on my part but I do try…Returning from long flights in different time zones, I know I need more time to get back on track so my calendar remains free of any mandatory appointments for at least a week.
Do you procrastinate about unpacking? Packing a suitcase is certainly much more fun than unpacking so I always bring home gifts for loved ones as a reason to unpack more quickly. Some gifts, of course, are more appreciated than others. My nieces and nephews could create a comedy routine about some of the Christmas gifts they have received from their Aunt Jo-Jo that I suspect have become a source of white elephant gifts.
Do you bring home a memento from the trip? For me, this is always a piece of artwork and/or jewelry. Why would I not want to add to the “museum” as my children call my house? Remember, my house is small so I rotate my artwork according to the seasons of the year. My travels are always fondly remembered as I pass through each room. I am now lobbying for an addition to the house to have more wall space.
Do you take notes or write in a journal while on the trip? I try to, not always with great success but at least I return with some of the highlights of the daily events. This allows me to make notations in the photo album. Yes, I still like to put together an old fashioned album. It’s a great way to relive the trip and these albums are on my list to bring with me to the nursing home. Be careful to not wait too long to do this exercise… remember, our memories are fleeting these days.
Do you think about another trip? The most important activity upon my return is planning my next trip or at least definitely thinking about it. I am such a believer in the healthy benefits resulting from having something to look forward to. I know it can’t always be a trip so I try to have a small treat on my calendar each week until I can be off again. I am certainly more aware of taking those longer trips now and have placed them higher on my bucket list. I am often asked what my favorite destination is. The answer is easy… my next one.
Travel is my fountain of youth so I hope to be on the road for many more years to come.
I like to share these experiences with others so I am presently creating more unique small group cultural immersion adventures that will offer many memorable moments. The website has one to Provence for this September and I will let you know when more are posted. Stay tuned
Let’s travel together and until we do, remember to live life with zest.
- Preparing for a Trip
A FEW TIPS FOR PREPARING FOR A TRIP
1. PLAN YOUR WARDROBE
I usually start 1 month prior to plan the clothes that I will bring with me. This is fun for me and I spend time driving in the car thinking about different outfits and ways to mix and match. I always purchase one or two new items to make it special. I then review the daily itinerary and play around with which outfit to wear each daytime and evening. No I am not a fanatic and I don’t stick to this plan. It just helps me to bring the right clothes and not so many of them. You have heard the theory: pack your suitcase and then take out half of it. That doesn’t work for me and to be honest I am usually adding a last minute item the morning of departure! Hey, what can I say, I like clothes, jewelry and looking nice.
2. LEARN SOME COMMON FOREIGN LANGUAGE PHRASES
It is very important for me to know how to say the following:
I’m sorry; I don’t speak French, Spanish, Italian, whatever the language is for your destination
For Chile and Argentina I will say Lo siento, no hablo espanol
Then I will say, Do you speak English: Hablas Ingles
Please note I am honoring them by identifying that I do not speak their language first rather than the typical rudeness and arrogance of spouting out a request for them to speak my language. My way makes for friendly communication.
3. USE THE PLANE RIDE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
We all know that traveling is not as much fun as it used to be. However, I try to fly with the right attitude and use it as a transition time to prepare myself to enter my destination ready to begin my cultural immersion. I now always travel with a Bose headset to allow me to enter into my own zone of thoughts. I release the concerns of home and focus on the anticipation of the trip ahead of me. I travel with 2 types of books: one for pure entertainment and one for personal or professional growth. On very long trips I have traveled with a First Class Sleeper Seat Cushion. It rescued me on a 17 hour plane ride to China.
4. IMPORTANT INGREDIENTS FOR A SUCCESSFUL TRIP… PACK
A CUP OF COMPROMISE
A DASH OF DARING
A SPRINKLE OF SPONTANEITY
A PINCH OF PATIENCE
AND YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR!
These are only a few hints… I have some for being “present” on your trip that I will give to you another time. Remember our monthly meeting is on March 14th at 7PM. I will show pictures and share our cultural experiences from Chile and Argentina.
SAFE TRAVELS TO ALL AND LIVE LIFE WITH ZEST
- BECOMING A GRANDMOTHER
BECOMING A GRANDMOTHER
At the age of 65, the first wave of baby boomers. I have finally experienced the joy of welcoming a first grandchild into our family. My son and daughter-in-law had their first child on Friday, February 10th. After a very long 24 hour labor, a C section was ordered and within the next hour, a healthy and big 9lb 12oz baby boy was born. What a relief for all but most especially for his Mom.
For me, in addition to seeing our newborn baby, was also seeing the glow on my son’s face as he entered into the nursery with Trevor. His obvious joy, the tenderness and beaming smile he gave his son was heartwarming for me to watch. I couldn’t help but think back to my own birth experience having this son who is now 36 and beginning a whole new chapter of his life.
It’s also a new chapter in my life. I went out and bought a CD of nursery songs to spark my memory. As I have clearly stated, I have no voice so the only reason why I will sing to this baby is that he can’t comment yet although I guess he could burst into tears. When he gets old enough to talk I will give him a choice as to whether we sing together or not. Until then, I will have fun remembering these songs like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or Mary Had A Little Lamb.
I will be a Nana as my Mother was called by my 3 children. She was the best Nana to them and I hope to follow in her footsteps.
Now, I do understand that I am the Mother-in-law so I will tip toe and take the advice to never, never, never express any opinions about their child rearing practices! I suspect most of you have been grandmothers many times over so please feel free to send along any and all advice. I will welcome it.
I can now cross off being a grandmother from my bucket list and wait for him to be old enough to cross off another one, taking a special trip with my grandchild.
Thanks for sharing in my joy.
- Pageants and Beauty Queens
Today’s journal entry is a continuation from last week’s entry titled: An East Coast Gal Becomes a Cowgirl. The subtitle of that for this week is
Pageants and Beauty Queens
I arrived in Laughlin, Nevada, a mini like Las Vegas with a strip of 4 to 6 casino’s situated along the banks of the Colorado River.
After checking into Harrah’s, a huge multi- building complex, I decided to get my bearings and check out all that the resort had to offer. The most obvious was a casino off both sides of the main lobby…Ching ching and ding ding was heard all around. There were restaurants and bars but the sign directing me to the beach drew the attention of this Cape Cod beach goer. I found a small strip of sand with a small roped off area for swimming in the river. Not exactly what I am used to.
Oh well, back to my reason for being there. I was scheduled to give my talk, Zest for the Best or a funnier title, Get a Life Lift not a Face Lift, to the baby boomer attendees of this Winter Break Celebration. Some of the events for this 4 day conference included a sock hop and a homecoming queen pageant! Now I understood why I was seeing women wearing crowns.
The beauty pageant was a first for me and actually fun to watch. Eight talented 60 plus women strolled out onto the stage in their ball gowns, waving their queen wave to the delighted audience and panel of judges. One of the mandatory requirements of the competition is service so each one talked about what they had contributed to their community. The talent portion had them singing, dancing or doing a dramatic reading. Several were former Ms Senior America contestants and actual winners so the competition was quite impressive.
Now I have to be honest and say that I was so envious of their talent. I am a diva wanna be with no God given talent for singing, dancing or playing a musical instrument. I ended up having a serious case of crown envy so I went out and bought myself a ten gallon hat and became a cowgirl instead. Now, I was feeling like Dale Evans in Southwest Nevada.
My talk went well with lots of compliments at the end and some urgings to join the Ms Senior America Pageant doing a monologue for talent. I think I will save this for my next life when I return as a taller Madonna like singer!! My lesson learned however… these women were living their passion and enjoying life to the fullest and therefore most inspirational to me and true dynamic senior women.
Please join our community of women who are going to fulfill their long lost dreams before it’s too late… remember to go out and live life with ZEST.
- An East Coast Gal Becomes a Cowgirl
I was asked to be a speaker at the Winter Break gathering in Laughlin, Nevada.
I had a brief indication that it would be attended by baby boomers with a quick reference being made to Ms. Senior America. I didn’t think anything of it at the time and agreed to the gig.
So let me explain… I flew into Las Vegas and then drove to Laughlin, a 90 minute drive south. On my way out of town I took the obligatory drive along the strip to marvel at the recent architectural additions and soak up the energy.
I then proceeded to 95 south and had to pull over and stop as I entered the highway. In front of me was a 4 lane highway, 2 each way, that stretched into what I will call la la land. It appeared to go forever nowhere and was bordered by expansive open land populated by nothing but scrubby low cactus bushes. It was desolate and for a moment I thought I has somehow ended up in Roswell New Mexico and was soon to be beamed up by UFO’s. I immediately called my office to let them know my route just in case I was never seen or heard from again and then set out on what felt like a Thelma and Louise adventure without a Thelma! Please note I took on the character that Susan Sarandon played. Susan is my same age.
It only took me 15 minutes to realize that I was not going to find my mandatory pit stop along the route. This was a big concern that you will understand if you are over 60. I immediately put this thought out of my mind since it would only make it worse if I dwelled on it if you know what I mean. Half an hour later it was again on my mind after passing a sign that read, Area of Critical Environmental Concern. This should have read Area of Critical Female Concern. I instantly came up with an idea that I will have to pass along to mapquest: a mapquest page for women identifying where all the bathrooms can be found on your route.
Suddenly the golden arches appeared in the distance in the town of Searchlight, Nevada; population 800 and speed limit 25 that was strictly adhered to according to the posted signs.
Gratefully relieved, I continued onto Laughlin reached by descending steeply down into the valley on curving roads. At the end, Laughlin was a mini Vegas like town situated on the Colorado River.
Stay tuned and watch for next week’s journal entry entitled: Pageants and Beauty Queens.
- Unspoken Indications of Aging
I had an experience this week with a young 30 something-female who called me a mean woman along with other expletives because I innocently blocked her from going down a one way drive the wrong way when I backed out of the bank parking space going the right way. It was all my fault that she couldn’t go out the wrong way. She was having a case of road rage that put me into such utter disbelief that we have given credence to rude behavior by even putting a name to it. Where did this come from and what does it say about the society we are living in? Now, I’m sounding like my mother!
You want to talk about rage with a women over 60! Let’s talk about etiquette and grammar rage.
How did we allow the word have to become got? We got this and we got that. Our TV personalities even use this word so no wonder.
How did we allow the loss of “ing”? We are now gonna, goin’, lookin’, etc. Poor “ing” is floating up in outer space waiting to be attached to a word again.
How did we allow our children to wear short shorts or ripped jeans to school?
How did we allow teenagers to be disrespectful to their teachers and elders?
How did we allow no hand-written thank you notes and just quick emails instead? Or, actually none at all.
The list could go on and on so this is how I know I am right where my mother was at this age. Her concerns about where society was going at the time seemed so minor compared to mine in today’s world but for her they were just as important. Her idea of proper etiquette and grammar vaulted her into the older generation who would remember the good old times when all was proper.
I haven’t even touched on technology. I remember my mother trying to figure out how to use a toaster oven! Can you imagine that? I will admit I am a 65-year old woman who is running as fast as I can to keep up with the techy world we are living in. This is definitively my issue since I travel with an 85-year old who brings her iPad with her.
Lastly you know you are getting older when you don’t know the latest top ten singers or you start to complain about not understanding any of the words or how loud the music is.
All of the above are just indications that I am entering into the time in my life when I have to make a concerted effort to stay hip. It doesn’t mean, however, that I have to buy into the concept of rage. Someone has to maintain a sense of old school etiquette and manners so I will take on this task. Where is Emily Post? Oh yes, she is now online at the Emily Post Institute. Get with it Mary Jo!
I recently underwent a day surgery for acute sinusitis. How weird it is to have to explain that I was having my nose “worked on.” Better a natural cause at 65 than having to explain a nose job!
Why am I announcing this to the world? Because it forced me to put into place some of the necessary documentation that we all ought to have at our age. My will was done…my living will and healthcare proxy was not. I was able to complete this very easily and the hospital now has it on record for the next time.
What I did next in preparation is my own idiosyncrasy:
I cleaned the house.
I threw out all incriminating evidence that I have not always been a perfect person.
I told everyone in my life that I loved them.
The surgery went well. I walked into the operating room, laid down on the table, told the doctors to do a good job and woke up one hour later in post op. For this I am grateful.
Here is what is really weird though. I have been in very good health all my life so at the age of 65 when I had to choose a supplemental healthcare plan, I naturally enrolled in the less expensive one. Wrong choice as it turns out! I seem to have more health-related issues lately so I am now going to use reverse psychology and change my plan to the high test version. I’m hoping that the consequence of doing this will result in me not having anymore health concerns for a while at least.
I spent New Year’s with a close friend who shared that a friend of hers was diagnosed and two weeks later she had passed. This prompted my friend to have an open and honest talk with her family about her wishes that she had been putting off.
My mother who suddenly died had what she called her death book. Sounds morbid, doesn’t it, but it was truly a gift to her five children. She prepared us to handle her loss with much more comfort and confidence that we were carrying out her wishes and not ours.
It’s a New Year so take some time this month to have your conversation and give your family the gift of knowing your wishes.
I wish you all a happy and HEALTHY New Year.
I’d love for you to join our community of dynamic senior women! Click here to learn more.
- Why You Won’t Achieve True Personal Growth with New Year’s Resolutions
It’s New Year’s Day! How exciting to be entering into another year of infinite possibilities to celebrate life. What we celebrate, we love, what we love, we focus on, and what we focus on grows.
In my youth, I would have started this day by sleeping in after a late and indulgent New Year’s Eve party with friends. Now, at this age, it is not a mandatory event to party in order to feel popular. While still celebrating with friends, it is more sedate and actually more meaningful since I am choosing how I will enjoy it.
90% of the time it is a quiet dinner with special people in my life. 10% maybe I just stay home and do nothing. Actually, one of the most memorable New Year’s Eves, was being with our best friends—one of which had an imminent passing. How grateful we were to have had this time to say goodbye.
So the New Year also brings with it the tradition of making resolutions. Who thought of this? I gave these up years ago since they created so much pressure to be a perfect person. I admit to you that I never seemed to accomplish them so this failure was a step back in my quest for self acceptance. What I have learned to do, however, is to ask myself questions:
Who am I at this time in my life?
Am I living the life I dreamed of?
Am I being true to myself?
Am I living my life or someone else’s?
What do I want to accomplish this year?
Do I have a need to change something in my life?
Do I have an unfulfilled dream?
Do I have a bucket list entry that seems to be speaking to me?
How can I make these changes?
Can I do this on my own?
Can I ask someone for help?
Can I accept the consequences of making this change?
When will I say yes?
Will I spend some time each day making baby steps?
Will I make a plan and stick to it?
Will I take a leap of faith and just do it?
These questions, for me, are easier and less demanding than making resolutions. There is a give and take, an ebb and flow to this process and, most importantly, an inherent forgiveness rather than the musts of making resolutions that need to be adhered to with the fear of failure associated with this process.
I will be discussing this topic in our January online meeting on Tuesday, January 10th at 7 p.m. EST, titled Stop Making Resolutions, Start Asking Questions. We will have a thoughtful conversation that will begin this New Year on the right course for making each day of this year count.
*More details on the call will be appearing on the Dynamic Senior Women site, so stay tuned.
Sign up now to be a member and join this welcoming and trusted community.
- Merry Christmas to All
Merry Christmas to those reading this post today. Yes I am saying Merry Christmas even though it may be politically incorrect to do so. I have to stay true to myself since this is what I know and believe in. I have traveled the world and am open and welcoming to all cultures and beliefs but if this time of year means Christmas to me then why do I have to give this up?
That’s enough on that subject . . .
It is a happy day for some and not for others. I have had it both ways so I know the feelings associated with the high and lows of the season . . . I recently spoke with an elderly neighbor, who had lost his wife, about what he was going to do for Christmas. He replied very lethargically that he would probably drive to his daughter’s. He mentioned that he believes Christmas is for children and without his wife here to create the spirit, the holiday just doesn’t mean so much to him anymore.
There have been years when I just tolerated all the “joy” of the season and tried very hard to not inflict my bah humbug attitude on others. It is probably the second loneliest time of the year after Valentine’s Day for those who do not have a special loved one to share it with. However, I found great joy in giving to others and made sure that I did something special to make someone else feel good.
This year, I am into the spirit, mainly to honor my husband and children who love this holiday. As you read this, I am having a family gathering with small gifts for all and a lovely meal to follow. I have been to Church to sing the seasonal songs, especially my favorite, Oh Holy Night. What is your favorite song?
So it is now over and you can spend the week enjoying your gifts, returning your gifts, or putting some away for a White Elephant swap next year.
It’s countdown time ‘til the end of the year, so enjoy these last few days of 2011.
And don’t forget that you can register to become a member of the National Association of Dynamic Senior Women for only $12 a year, IF you sign up before midnight on December 31. After December 31, the price goes back up to $49 for a year membership.
- Why I’m Grateful to Be a Multitasker
As I have mentioned in a previous post, I have been caring for my husband who underwent a recent back operation. While doing this willingly, it has certainly been a time consuming project and a challenge to be everything to everyone.
I have visits to make back and forth to the hospital and rehab. I have family and friends to call with updates on his recovery. I work full time so I have responsibilities with deadlines that have no wiggle room. My daughter is in a master’s program and has a big paper due soon (I am her official proof reader and editor). I have a baby shower in a few weeks to plan for with my first grandchild due in February. I have the holidays to prepare for. And the list goes on and on.
Now here is a bold statement for some and the truth for others. I know why God created women! Our multitasking skills are unparalleled and so necessary to keep the flow of life progressing for all who are in our circle. These skills seem to be innate and are there to tap into when needed during any season of life. I like to think that while I have no real talent I am a master juggler and conductor of life.
So it is with gratitude that I can say I am glad to be a woman who can handle the many challenges that appear before us. Onward and upward!
Are you grateful to be a multitasker?
- 6 Ways to Make a Vacation Beneficial to Your Health
This is a busy time of year—a month that has all of us moving at the speed of light. This New Year, many of you might be thinking about giving yourself and / or your loved ones the gift of travel. Those of us who live in the cold states (such as myself!) definitely think very seriously about leaving for some fun in the sun to cure our winter doldrums.
Here are my tips for making sure that your vacation is extremely enjoyable, as well as just what the doctor ordered:
Vacations can be beneficial to your health if you:
Turn off the TV and all negative news shows while on vacation.
Remove yourself from your daily routine and stress. Do something new with your day or nothing at all. The beauty of travel is that you don’t have to always be doing something with your time. Relaxation is enough.
Avoid using your iPhone and computer to check your emails daily. How can you be away if you are still attached back at home. Being in the moment and enjoying the elements around you makes your memories more vibrant.
Verify that you are planning the type of vacation that you need at that time. Are you in need of a do-nothing-at-all vacation? Or would you rather enjoy an easy cruising combination of culture & relaxation? Perhaps you are looking for an adventuresome and active experience? Or maybe you would rather a go-go, do it all in one trip?
Encourage those traveling with you to pack their sense of humor and go-with-the-flow attitude! Unexpected situations can arise so it’s important that all members of your party understand that and can embrace the unexpected.
Leave the newspapers at the door of your hotel room. You can catch up later after you have given your brain time to rest.
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take
But by the number of moments that take our breath away.
My advice to you is to go out and have lots of those moments!
- My Life According to the Color of My Hair!
As promised in one of my previous blog posts, I am now writing about the color of my hair and what it has meant for each “season” of my life. This was prompted by a comment at a recent high school reunion: “You have changed the color of your hair again!” It got me thinking.
So I began life 65 years ago as a brunette and did no touch ups until late in my 30s when the grays appeared!! I was being prim and proper for the role I was playing as a suburban housewife. Oh, I had a stray strand here or there but nothing that really bothered me.
Then at age 40 during a three year divorce period I began to experiment. Why not? I had no one to answer to but myself. I started with the classic “divorce” perm that seemed to be a way of releasing all those negative emotions into my wired head of hair. Unfortunately, I think it also announced to the world that I was in crisis. However, it was a way to temporarily hide the grays at the roots. Who could see them through those tight tufts?
I gave up perms and then moved into streaking my hair but eventually found this was really difficult to maintain. I would end up with gray roots, brown hair, and blond streaks. Now, all I had was a multicolored mop of hair.
Being single at the time I then decided to test the theory that blonds have more fun and yes they do—from my perspective anyway. I loved being a blond and found that it helped me get back my fun-loving personality. It put the pizazz and zest back into my life. I started wearing more red and black that seemed to make the blond pop. It was a great excuse to enhance my wardrobe. I even met my present husband as a blond!
Now, at 65, I am experimenting again. I think the blond bimbo look is over and it’s now time to settle down. I will not consider going fully gray until age 70 at the very earliest so I am back to a brunette base with highlights. It has taken 6 months to acquire the correct tones so no wonder someone said “you have changed your hair color again.”
Since I know I will eventually give up coloring my hair and become a natural gray, the only color I will not have tried is becoming a red head. Well who knows, I have 5 more years until 70 to experiment!
All you red heads out there in the Internet world let me know what it’s like! Email me at email@example.com.
- Losing a Friend
This will be a hard article to write but write it I must because there are lessons that I have learned from this sudden loss. I want to share these with you in hopes that you will listen and learn.
I have known this friend for over 25 years. She came into my life during my divorce years when I needed a realtor to protect me in the appraisal of the marital home and subsequently assist me in selling this 1690 antique home where my children spent the majority of their childhood years. It was an emotional transaction and she held my hand through it. She then found me a temporary rental and then a condo to own. A word of caution…do not ever move into a small 8-unit converted condo with a teenage daughter!
Needless to say I only lasted 2 years before I called my friend to find me a new home. I remember so vividly looking in the rain at a small and architecturally boring Cape Cod style house with a marsh as my neighbor on the right. It only took me a quick walk through to make an offer. This is the home I live in today; a home that my finances could never afford today, a home that I often thanked my friend for finding. Even though she is now gone I will continue this ritual in my own thoughts.
Both of us continued to work full time over these 25 years so it was easy to get caught up in our lives and work, it was easy to get in the habit of not answering the phone call at night or easy to lay low on the weekends.
Okay, I now have set the stage for the personal growth life lessons I have learned.
So having not connected with this friend in awhile, I thought of calling her to check in and set up a time to get together just 2 days before she so suddenly passed. Needless to say I am now shocked, devastated and feeling guilty about not having followed through on making that phone call.
1. Follow through on those intuitive thoughts. You just never know what life is going to hand you.
2. During these senior years it is especially important to take the extra time to remain connected with those who are important to you…. A quick email or phone call, the seemingly old-fashioned concept of a handwritten note or card or a quick stop in at their home or office, if appropriate.
I honor my friend with this article and the life of giving she lived!
What lessons have you learned in your life?
- A Dinner with Traveling Friends
I spent last night reminiscing over dinner about a trip to Umbria, Italy with 2 of the 15 women that I escorted last June.
The group spent 8 nights in a small family-run hotel located off the main square of Assisi. We all had rooms that presented us with views of the town and the magnificent countryside out of our shuttered windows. The bonus was a second floor terrace where we had a gathering one evening enjoying our wine, cheese, and bread. Our guide was American born, but living in Italy with her Italian husband since 1975. Anne Robichaud, AnnesItaly.com, shared her personal love of the “hidden gem” of Italy on our day trips to the classic hill towns of the area. She soon became a friend to all of us.
So our dinner that night was filled with laughter as we reminisced about the truly warm and loving trip we had experienced together. Margaret finally shared her initial hesitancy about traveling with just women, thinking that they may not embrace her. As it turned out, that was never a concern. We all instantly bonded the first night when we shared something about ourselves that no one else would know. The open and honest replies brought laughter, admiration, and appreciation for our life experiences. We never stopped talking for the rest of the trip.
Now it is important for you to know that we ranged in age from 59 to 85, some married, some not! A highlight for us was watching our 85 year old become “30 something” during this seasoned adventure. What a role model. You would never have known how old she was if she hadn’t admitted to us that she was celebrating her 85th birthday. Talk about a dynamic senior woman.
What was exciting for me about last night was the conversation that the three of us had where we could instantly place ourselves back in the trip with our memories. We laughed about being totally mesmerized by a smooth good looking Italian who gave us a wine tasting. He was so engaging that we came home with very expensive bottles of wine. We all agreed that while we spent too much money we would never trade in that memory. However, we are saving our bottles for special occasions.
It is important for me to tell you that I did not know these women prior to this trip. They are now friends with whom I can share my joys and concerns and know that my thoughts will be accepted and honored for what they are.
The evening was very special and one that I will cherish. We are planning on going to Provence together next September with some old friends and new friends that will expand our world.
For additional information on some of the trips that I plan, visit our Seasoned Adventures page.
- Attending My 47th High School Reunion
A few weekends ago I drove 7 hours to be able to attend my high school reunion. Would you drive that distance? For me a long drive is an opportunity to spend uninterrupted hours away from the outside world since I choose to turn off my cell phone. I have only my thoughts, music, or a book on tape as my form of entertainment.
This time it was a book on tape, Burnt Mountain by Anne Rivers Siddons. While the story grabbed me instantly I was more taken with the beautiful descriptions and the many analogies she penned. I even came away with 5 new vocabulary words.
The school I attended was The Academy of the Sacred Heart, Prince Street in Rochester New York. It was a small (12 in my graduating class), women-only, very Catholic school with a long history for my family. My two grandmothers, my mother and her sister and many of her cousins all attended. I started in third grade so clearly it played a big role in my formative years. The school closed its doors in 1970 and, despite this fact, 84 graduates from 23 classes gathered together 41 years later!
It was a room filled with women who appreciated the quality of the education they had received, all of whom had excelled in the careers of their choice from motherhood to international development and every other career path in between that you could possibly think of. Most of us were in the generation where women became wives, secretaries, or teachers, so it was exciting to see how far removed from these traditional careers we had gone.
In preparing for a reunion do you:
1. Try to lose 5 pounds? YES for me! I am on a Nutrisystem plan already to try to lose the extra 10 pounds that I enjoyed eating at the time but now regret as the pounds have accumulated . . .
2. Shop for new clothes? YES for me! I splurged on my 65th birthday this past August and went shopping with a stylist for a new look. I wore my new dress and loved the feeling it gave me.
3. Get your hair colored? YES for me! Someone at the reunion said to me: “You have changed your hair color again!” Speaking of, stay tuned for a blog entitled: My Life According to the Color of my Hair!
4. Review and evaluate the life choices you have made so far? YES for me! This is something that I do periodically since I can only learn from my life experiences by reflecting on them.
5. Take your yearbook out to refresh your memory? NO and I should have! The result of not being able to identify everyone was the classic eyes first to the name tag and then to their face with a big smiley hello as if you actually remembered her.
My only regret for the evening was the formality of cocktails and dinner. It was not as conducive to the real talk that I like to have: the “how” and “why” kinds of conversations that get to the heart of the matter and can possibly give you a new perspective on life, a new appreciation for life, and a renewed enthusiasm for making the most of yours.
Will I go to another one? Next year . . . probably not! In 5 years, absolutely, so that I have a reason to stay as fit as a fiddle!
What was your last high school reunion like?
- Changing of the Seasons for a Small House
We have had beautiful weather on Cape Cod and all of us are relishing in these last few autumn days of crispness and sunshine.
As you know, if you have read my previous blog on the seasons, I live in a small, one level, Cape Cod style, three-bedroom house that has a marsh as my neighbor. My focus at all times is my view from the windows that overlook this beauty. It brings me such peace and contentment that I also try to bring this feeling inside through my limited decorating skills.
I have lived in this home for 15 years and I must say that I have never tired of it despite the size. Why? Now, you may think I am nuts but I change the decorating according to the season. My winter look and my three-season (spring, summer, and fall) look are different.
In the winter I close the French doors to the sunroom, even though I could put heat out there. I opt not to so that the plants from the summer can have a happy home and I can get the joy of opening it up in the spring to begin, yet again.
My living room for winter has black velvet drapes (it really is neat looking, honest), the artwork gets switched and the area rugs changed to warmer colors. In the summer, light-weight pale yellow drapes, a floral area rug, and new pillows for the couch and chairs.
My bedroom has a similar facelift; new drapes, bedspread and shams, along with new art for each of these switches.
Now, to be truly open with you, this all started because I love to travel and bring back a special piece of art from each trip. Many, many, many trips later I was running out of wall space and couldn’t talk myself into building a new room for my gallery. Hence, the idea of creating a new look for these two seasons was the best solution. I can add little enhancements each year to keep it fresh and interesting.
It will be November 1 in 2 days and thanks to this beautiful weather I have yet to make the switch . . . no heat yet either, which is good for the pocket book.
Halloween is tomorrow so enjoy those trick or treaters if you have little visitors. They bring back memories of the fun I used to have and the full bags of candy that I could indulge in without the resulting weight gain! Now at age 65, it is just one little piece and a walk later to counteract this indulgence. Oh well, life is still good.
Do you do anything different to your home in terms of decorating for the seasons?
- The Four Seasons & What They Mean To Me
After spending a beautiful summer like Columbus Day weekend, it made me think about the seasons of the year. I am fortunate to live on Cape Cod in a home that has a full marsh view so the changes of all four seasons are a part of my life.
Now to be perfectly honest, the spring season, my favorite overall, is pretty questionable on the Cape. However, those new buds on the trees and the crocus and daffodils begin their new life no matter what the weather or the temperature! I like the freshness, the new beginning, the anticipation of the nicer months ahead. Many restaurants and shops reopen to begin their next season. Twenty five years ago, the opening of Baxter’s, a local bar / restaurant on Hyannis Harbor used to be my harbinger of spring! Now it is Captain Frosty’s, a famous seafood place on my way to work that has great ice cream.
Summer on Cape Cod . . . crazy, crazy, crazy . . . lots of traffic with tourist cars in front of you stopping abruptly, no more dining easily in your favorite restaurant, crowds at your favorite beach . . . Despite all of this, life is easy in the summer. There is a laissez faire that comes over me, which is a very good thing since the word relax is not generally in my vocabulary.
Fall on Cape Cod is a magnificent time with lots of color and cool crisp days. It’s as if the trees are paying homage to the God of nature. I try to take this vibrancy and incorporate it into my being to prepare for the upcoming winter season.
I like winter . . . I know that I am more than likely in the minority but you have to know that I grew up in Rochester, New York with lots of snow and gray days. As long as there is sunshine I don’t mind the cold, so living on the Cape gives me this necessary light. This is a season where I like to hunker down and hibernate within myself. I like getting cozy and settling in for a long winter’s nap. I use this season as a time to reflect, to learn something new, and to come out fresh and motivated for another spring.
I would love to know what your favorite season is and why, so email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or, if you want to learn more about how to become a member of The National Association of Dynamic Senior women, click here.
- Introducing the Savorings from a Senior Blog
WHY… am I starting this blog called Savorings from a Senior? First, let me review the meaning of Savor. According to the dictionary, the third meaning is: to appreciate fully, to enjoy or relish. The example they give is: I want to savor in this great moment of accomplishment. Exactly! I want to savor in the fact that I am alive and well at 65!
NOW… I will tell you that I would like to offer “real” thoughts from a “real” senior. I am not a famous movie star, a famous author, a wealthy socialite, etc, etc, etc. (I loved the movie King and I with Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner). What I think I am at 65 is the soon to be norm for a “senior” of today. I am still working first and foremost because I NEED to and gratefully for me because I still WANT to. I have a modest retirement account and definitely wonder about my financial future. I have raised three children and will experience the joy of being a grandmother in the next few months (Okay, I am behind most seniors in this category). I own my house but have started to think about selling it five years from now as part of my planning and preparing for my future years. I am now on Medicare and a supplemental insurance…what a nice 65th birthday gift from the government. I still have my health but think more about this than I ever did before. I have my “5 friends” that I love for their acceptance of me and the support we give each other.
BUT… today there seems to be so much negativity and status quo in all that we read and watch. I have to turn off the TV so often that I wonder why I pay the monthly cable bill. I have to listen to the moans and groans of so many who only focus on the doom and gloom of aging–the impending problems of getting older.
STOP… I want to focus on the positive aspects of this “season” of my life. I’m not denying my age, I am just deciding to live it according to an attitude of gratitude. I want to focus on the enormous possibilities that are still available to us as seniors. We can still dream and have goals. We can still live life to the fullest. We can still make the footprint of our life for generations to follow.
SO… please follow this blog and stay tuned with me as I share my “real” thoughts from a “real” Senior.
What do you think of my new blog!? I’d love to hear your feedback in my comments section.
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