Five Ways to Keep Positive While You’re Sick

How’s my morning going? I just sneezed out a glob of mucus the size of a ping-pong ball. I’m snot feeling so good.

julie-cold-2

Oh, come on! Don’t look so appalled. Like you’ve never coughed up a loogie before. Even you prim and proper folk have snot – I know it!

So, I’ve caught my first cold of the season and it’s not pretty.

Last night was miserable. While I was trying to eke out five minutes of sleep – every time I rolled over, the phlegm flooded from one nostril to the other in a deluge. How does it do that? Is there some kind of secret tunnel between my nostrils? Now that I think about it, I totally took for granted breathing out of both my nostrils at the same time when I was well.

That was a mistake.

Anyhow, I woke up in the middle of the night and my loyal companion, the Kleenex box, was empty. I have fuzzy memories of squinting through blurry watery eyes at the back of my husband’s pajama shirt which suddenly appeared alluring as a solution to my problem. My beloved was snoring blissfully while I suffered alone, waging my war with all this goo and slime. It just seemed like too much work to get out of bed and find another Kleenex box in the dark. To blow or not to blow – that was the question.

I just can’t quite remember what happened next. I blame the cold medication. Well, whatever.

Getting back to my article, since adults get an average of two to four colds a year, typically between September and May, this is just the first and I have a few more snot fests to look forward to – oh goody!

Men have a reputation of being whiners when they’re sick, but I confess, I’ve done my share of complaining this week. I mean, really, how much snot can one person produce?

A lot, it turns out.

Our bodies make about a liter of mucus a day – and that’s when we’re well. That’s 34 whopping ounces, people! To compare, a Big Gulp has 28 ounces. If you’re sick, you produce even more.

Are you properly grossed out?

I had nothing better to do, so I checked out this article by Everyday Health’s article: Seven Facts About Mucus, Phlegm, and Boogers.

kleenixThe first fact was annoying. Snot and phlegm keep your nasal passages moist for protection and are actually full of all sorts of potent antiviral, antibacterial, and other protective chemicals that work to keep you healthy.

Like that’s supposed to cheer me up. Shut up! I don’t care if mucus is good for me. I hate snot!

Even so, that doesn’t keep me from talking about it – so let’s proceed…

Did you know that sneezes travel 30 to 60 miles an hour, and can fly 30 feet through the air? That fact was kind of fun. But, as soon as you sneeze some of the snot out, the body makes more mucus to replenish it. Bummer.

Okay, so I got off the subject. Don’t ask me why I find this stuff oddly fascinating. Maybe my stuffy head along with the cold medicine is making me a bit deranged.

So how do you stay somewhat positive while you’re sick?

Here are a few ways:

  • I’m guilty of this, but don’t grunge around in your three-day old pajamas and figure that there’s no need to bathe if no one is going to see you anyway. Take that long hot steamy shower and slather on your favorite lotion afterwards. Put on some pretty clothes that make you feel better.
  • Look at beautiful things. Venture out into the backyard if the weather permits and look at your garden. Surround yourself with things that soothe your soul – a pretty potted plant, a picture of happy times, or your favorite knick-knack. Keep the area around you tidy – throw those tissues away instead of allowing them to pile up like Mount Everest.
  • Drink lots of water and eat healthy. It’s good for you. Okay, you can indulge in a few comfort foods, you deserve it. But boundaries. After all, you don’t want to add guilt on top of all your miserable symptoms for eating an entire bag of potato chips that only made your stomach feel worse.
  • Don’t isolate yourself. Call a friend or family member who loves and puts up with you no matter what and have some fun whining. Post that you’re sick on Facebook and enjoy all the sympathy and well wishes you get.
  • Stay away from all those depressing tearjerker books and movies. If you’re lucky and have a day off, enjoy reading or watching something so compelling or funny or uplifting that it takes your mind off your misery.

And one more important tip. if you didn’t get this from the beginning of my blog – don’t lose your sense of humor. Remember, it’s always better to laugh than cry.

And if you thought I was through being gross, you were wrong. To help you chuckle, get ready for some good ol’ booger jokes. Share the cornball jokes with your kids and grandkids. They’ll love them!

Q: What do you call a skinny booger?

A: Slim pickins.

Q: How do you make a tissue dance?

A: You put a boogie in it.

Q: Where does your nose go when it gets hungry?

A: Booger King!

Q: If you were a booger…

A: I’d pick you first.

One more. I saw this funny tweet, you may have seen this before, but it still makes me smile:

tombstone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like the joke goes: I used up all my sick days, so I’m calling in dead.

I know, I know, I have one sick sense of humor! Bahaha-ahchoo!

Image courtesy of khumthong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

How the Recession Changed Our Viewpoint of Happiness

During the recession, our family civil engineering business took a nosedive. We went from 12 employees to two. The two remaining – my husband and my brother – both worked part-time.

recessionThis was a huge adjustment to our finances. The previous boom years provided the most income we’ve ever earned. In fact, our income was cut in half.

Instead of moping about it, my husband and I decided to take advantage of the extra time and became full-time ministers, learned sign language, joined a sign language congregation, and started doing volunteer work with the deaf community.

You know what? We were never happier.

That’s why I found an article, Post-recession Americans Don’t Need Money to Find Happiness, written by Courtney E Martin for the New York Post, last week so fascinating. In the article, Martin pointed out that “the American Dream is being remade in the wake of the Great Recession.”

“Just as necessity is the mother of invention, a recession can be the father of consciousness,” she wrote. “More and more of us are becoming conscious of the ways in which money, and all of the stuff it can buy, doesn’t reliably lead to happiness.”

recession-2Although Martin argues this isn’t a hippie movement, you baby boomers may relate to this concept.

Does it remind you a little bit of the 60s, when many thought society had been corrupted by capitalism and the materialist culture it created? Although a more radical time, during that tumultuous decade it dawned on many young people that while pursuing “success,” people lost sight of the more meaningful experiences life had to offer.

Seems some of those attitudes are with us again after the recession, causing profound changes in the way people work, think, and live.

How so?

Changes in the Workplace

A recent article from Inc. “10 Ways Your Office Will Change in 2016,” pointed out that the top search term in 2015 at Monster.com was “part-time.”

“A growing number of white-collar workers are opting not to return to staff positions in the post-recession economy, working instead as contractors in roles that offer more flexibility but less security and benefits,” Beth Braverman wrote in the article.

And in many cases, less money, I would add.

recession-4In fact, a third of American workers free-lanced last year, with 60 percent of freelancers doing so by choice, according to a study by Upwork.

Once again, I am one of those people. A freelance writer who, in fact, does much of my work through Upwork, I’m apparently part of a growing crowd. In fact, it’s estimated that half of the US workforce will be freelancing by 2020.

I’m not getting rich, but I like the flexibility and the extra time it gives me to concentrate on spiritual matters, volunteer work, the important people in my life, and my health and well-being. Turns out, I’m not alone.

The recession taught many that there is more to life than climbing the ladder, working around the clock, and accumulating things that collect in garages and storage units.

I hope that as the economy recovers we don’t lose that insight.

Changes at Home

recession-3Many bought extravagant homes they could not otherwise afford and lost them during the housing bubble burst.

You know what? Those people learned that life went on. Buying that home they always “dreamed of” turned into a nightmare and many discovered it wasn’t worth all the stress that resulted.

Turns out that owning a fancy home wasn’t the answer to finding contentment, satisfaction, and joy after all.

In fact, home ownership rates are at their lowest since 1995. in the years since the housing bubble burst, many have come to the conclusion that home ownership isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be and are now renting a less expensive apartment instead.

Others opted for home ownership, but decided to downsize. This idea spawned the whole tiny house movement.

These days, more and more people are choosing experiences, adventures, and seeing the world over a big house with a huge mortgage.

recession-4Another popular alternative? Over 50 million Americans are living in multi-generational households and sharing expenses.

Our family fits into that category. For the past year, my husband and I have shared our home with our youngest son and his wife as well as our divorced oldest son and his three children.

Last spring, my youngest son and daughter-in-law moved up north. However, after an extended custody battle that left our oldest son financially devastated,  we still live with him and his three children.

Yes, it was an adjustment after being empty nesters for a couple of years. But you know what? In the end, we liked the arrangement.

After losing my mother as well as my mother-in-law last year, it was nice to have a safe, secure, and loving cocoon of family around us. The grandchildren cheered us up and kept us young.

Three houses down and across the street, my sister and her family live in a main house and my brother and my other sister live in two casitas on the same property. Yup, we got a regular family compound going and you know what? It’s working for us.

We’re not alone.

This multi-generational trend has even reached the White House, with Michelle Obama’s mother living with the President and his wife and often spotted shuttling grandchildren to school. The fact is, studies show that people who live in multi-generational homes actually like it.

Finding Balance

Of course, poverty doesn’t bring happiness either. After analyzing Gallup poll data, the Brookings Institute found that Americans who reported the lowest levels of well-being also made less than $2,000 a month, which coincides closely with the the federal poverty guideline level for a family of four.

However, wealth does not necessarily bring happiness either. An often-cited Princeton study from 2010 found that a salary of $75,000 per year was the level at which security and happiness reached a pinnacle, but that increases beyond that didn’t result in greater happiness.

Experts say being rich brings its own kind of suffering. Wealth can lead to sleepless nights of worrying as well as an unhappy family life and relationship problems. It can lead to comparing yourself to others, jealousy, or, in the language of the tenth commandment, coveting. The love of money can inspire greed and an insatiable appetite for more wealth which results in frustration and a lack of contentment.

Maybe that’s what some of us learned during the recession. Indeed, the old adage that money does not bring happiness turns out to be true.

Now that the economy is beginning to recover, let’s all resolve to remember that fact and I think we’ll all be a lot happier.

Do you agree? Has your attitude about life changed since the recession? Let me know in the comments below.

Images in order of appearancce, courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, scottchan, jk1991,    jscreationzs, and Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How Facebook Can Make Us Happier

Want to spread a little happiness to those you love?

FacebookAccording to a new study, simply leaving a personalized comment on a friend or family’s Facebook post can make them feel like they’re walking on sunshine and brighten their day.

New research conducted by Carnegie Mellon University and Facebook published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication suggests personal interactions on Facebook could make you just as happy as if you got married or had a baby. The study was based on 1,910 Facebook users from 91 countries during a three month period.

Really? I’ll admit a personal message or comment definitely perks me up, but are they saying it can make you as happy as having a baby?

Apparently. Turns out that some Facebook interaction reminding you of the people you care about in your life is good for you. The researchers found that 60 comments a month from close friends were linked to people reporting satisfaction akin to experiencing major life events.

The research debunks former studies that reported social media makes people depressed and lonely. Perhaps checking Facebook obsessively 300 times a day could be isolating and prevent you from having real relationships. As always, balance people! But the study shows that staying in touch with friends with a few positive comments is a positive thing for everyone involved.

Facebook LikeInterestingly, Facebook “likes” did not have the same power to alleviate negative feelings.

“We’re not talking about anything that’s particularly labor-intensive,” said co-author Moira Burke. “This can be a comment that’s just a sentence or two. The important thing is that someone such as a close friend takes the time to personalize it. The content may be uplifting, and the mere act of communication reminds recipients of the meaningful relationships in their lives.”

So there’s your assignment for the day. Take just a few moments to make an uplifting comment on one of your friends’ Facebook pages. Not a Facebook user? Pick up the phone or send a text to someone you love. You’ll feel happier for bringing some extra joy into someone’s life.

Images courtesy of arztsamui and Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

Making Your Bladder Gladder

As you get older, do you find that it’s tinkle time all the time?

As I wrote in an article for Hot Flash Daily, thanks to menopause and aging, I now pee more than my father with his enlarged prostate and my five-year-old granddaughter after drinking three glasses of apple juice.

Toilet 3In other words, suddenly I’m the old lady who never turns down a bathroom.

If you’re getting older – whether you’re a man or woman – you may be facing this issue as well.

Remember that line in the funny movie, Paper Moon? Addie (played by a young Tatum O’Neal) is trying to break up the romance between her father (Ryan O’Neal) and good-time gal Trixie Delight (Madeline Kahn) who says, “She always has to go to the bathroom! She must have a bladder the size of a peanut!”

Yup, that’s me. Even so, God forbid I utter that line that made my Mom cringe every time someone said it: Gotta pee.

According to the proper etiquette I was taught – and often shamefully ignore – even saying, “I must use the toilet” is way too vulgar. Toilet and pee should NEVER enter the conversation if you are a true lady. “I gotta tinkle,” is not even allowed.

ToiletEven worse? “Where is the john?” or “Where is the head?” or “I need to take a leak,” or “I’m going to take a whiz.” Any of those phrases may have made my Mom faint.

Or once again to quote the movie, Paper Moon, “This little girl has to winky-tink!” Nope, none of that.

By the way, have you ever wondered why we say, “I gotta pee like a racehorse?”

Turns out that poor racehorses are sometimes given diuretics so they get rid of all their pee and weigh less thus can run faster. That’s why before a race, you may see a bunch of horses peeing their brains out. Which is kind of cruel, right?

So, I say we put some diuretics in the tea of those in charge at the Kentucky Derby and see how THEY like peeing like a racehorse! Tee, hee. Did I mention that menopause makes me feel mean sometimes?

Anyhow, back to the subject at hand. Since the phrase, “peeing like a racehorse,” is not allowed either, the following were my mother’s suggestions for polite ways to say you need to expel urine from your bladder:

Toilet 4Tolerable options: “Can you please tell me where the restrooms are?” “I’m off to the loo.” “Can you direct me to the nearest water closet?” “I must visit the lady’s room.”

Better options: Vague terminology such as “May I ask, where are the facilities?” or “Nature is calling.”

Best options: “Excuse me, I need to wash my hands.” “I must excuse myself for a moment.” “I need to freshen up.” Or the ever-popular polite terminology: “Excuse me while I powder my nose.”

As you can tell, my Mom took after eloquent European women who only talk about Eau de Toilette when they’re referring to perfume they dab on pulse points.

My Mom sadly died a year ago and sometimes I miss hearing her chiding voice in my head, “Didn’t I teach you, it is never polite to refer directly to any excretory function, my dear.” God bless her.

But now that I’m in my 50s and my Mom is no longer here to control my rebellious ways, here are five of my favorite creative and fun ways of saying, “Gotta pee.”

Number One: “I gotta give my pee ration at the urination station.” (Love creative poetry.)

Number Two: “I must go oui oui.” (French style).

Number Three: “I need to squirt the dirt.” (Although this applies more to men, who says we women can’t accomplish it as well?)

Number Four: “Gotta shake the dew off the daffodil.” (Doesn’t hurt to throw some floral imagery in there.)

And drum roll – my favorite phrase I used for the title of this blog: “Gotta make the bladder gladder.”

If we have to pee more as we get older, we may as well have a sense of humor about it. So there you go. Sorry, Mom. A menopausal woman has to do what a menopausal woman has to do.

For more humorous and informational articles, be sure and check out Hot Flash Daily.

Images courtesy of artur84, nuttakit, and SweetCrisis at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

How to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables to Boost Happiness

Your mother told you to eat your veggies. As usual, she was right.

Fruits and VeggiesWe all know that eating more fruits and vegetables makes us healthier, but now a new study from Australia suggests it can make you feel happier as well.

Researchers discovered that people who switched from eating almost no fruit and vegetables to eating eight servings a day felt an increase in life satisfaction similar to how an unemployed person feels after finding a job.

Yippee! I’ll take some of that!

More than 12,000 adults participated in this study and kept food diaries answering questions about their lives and their mental and emotional health. Those that increased their fruit and vegetable portions reported increased happiness within two years of the changes to their diets.

Happy Couple“Eating fruit and vegetables apparently boosts our happiness far more quickly than it improves human health,” study co-author Redzo Mujcic, a health economics research fellow at the University of Queensland in Australia, said in a statement.

The new findings may help doctors convince people to eat more fruits and vegetables, she added. “There is a psychological payoff now from fruit and vegetables, not just a lower health risk decades later,” he said.

Want to get on the happiness train? Here are six easy ways, according to Heather Mangieri, a nutrition consultant and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

#1 Start First Thing in the Morning

Start eating fruits and veggies at breakfast, Mangieri suggests. This is a recommendation I happen to follow already. Super simple. Just toss some frozen blueberries or diced bananas on top of your cereal or add to yogurt. Or add veggies to an omelet.

You can also use fruit to make a smoothie. Mangieri recommends using yogurt with no added sugar. “We have this heightened sense of sweetness just from overdoing it on sugars,” Mangieri says. We should try to get back to basics and let fruit be sweet enough for our taste buds, she adds.

#2 Keep Fruit and Veggies in Sight

Make fruits and vegetables visible to encourage everyone in your family, including yourself, to eat them, Mangieri says. Keep a fruit bowl in your kitchen. Put carrot sticks, snap peas, and celery in the refrigerator where you can see them along with some hummus for dipping. Yum!

#3 Frozen is Fine

Frozen vegetables, such as peas, broccoli, and carrots, are a great way to make sure you always have vegetables in the house, Mangieri says. They are easy to prepare and keep for a long time. Mangieri recommends steaming the vegetables and adding them to casserole dishes.

Frozen vegetables are usually just as nutritious as fresh ones , according to Keri Gans, who is a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

Salmon#4 Fill Half Your Plate with Fruits and Veggies

No measuring involved. The new USDA guidelines recommend filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables.

Center your meals on what vegetables you’ll eat and then think of what grains and protein to add, Mangieri suggests. Make fruits and veggies a focal point and you’ll have an easy time meeting the dietary recommendations.

#5 Add Fruit to Desserts

Let’s face it, we’re all going to indulge in some ice cream or cake sometimes. Of course, it pays to remember portion control when it comes to your sweets. But if you’re going to treat yourself, why not add some fresh berries on top?

“Fruits are nature’s natural candy,” Mangieri says. She recommends pureeing berries and adding them as a sauce to desserts.

So there you go! No time like the present to eat a little happiness. Grab a piece of fruit right now and be on your way to a more joyful day!

Images, in order of appearance, courtesy of Suat Eman, photostock, and mrsiraphol at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Baby Boomers and Technology: Five Must-Haves

Charles Bell, a tech enthusiast, is guest blogging today, giving us baby boomers some great practical tips and listing five must-have modern technologies we should all consider. If you feel like you’re having trouble keeping up with all the new devices, systems, gadgets, and apps – like me – his advice will keep you up-to-date on what’s available to make our lives simpler and more efficient with technology.

Without further ado, here’s Charles…. 

Baby Boomers are becoming almost as addicted to technology and the internet as millennials.

senior computerAccording to a Pew report, about 80 percent of younger Baby Boomers (those born between 1955 and 1964) go online. Don’t count out the older Boomers (born between 1946 and 1954) – 75 percent use the internet as well.

Whether it’s laptops, Smartphones, online banking, searching online for health information, shopping, or the latest news, many “silver surfers” are on board!

In fact, people over 50 are 27 percent more likely to research travel destinations and pursue hobbies online than other adults. In addition, Baby Boomers now represent the fastest-growing demographic among social network sites like Facebook.

That being said, technology is advancing so quickly that even some older members of the millennial generation are having trouble keeping up with the latest developments. There are new devices, systems, and applications with each passing week and month, and the progress can be somewhat dizzying.

However, the fundamental idea of technology is that it makes everyday practices simpler and more efficient. And for that reason, it’s important that Boomers never feel left out.

Here are five modern technologies that are ideal and, in some cases, essential for Baby Boomers:

# 1 Fitness Trackers

fitnessThe idea of an electronic bracelet that records physical activity may sound ridiculous to some Boomers, and there are even some arguments out there that inserting a layer of tech is a backwards step in making people more active.

But I’d disagree.

Sure, on the surface it’s a little bit silly to wear a device that tracks the number of steps you take in a day and monitors your sleep patterns and heart rate. But whether or not you like the idea, you might just be motivated by it.

A lot of Boomers are at an age where health becomes a more primary concern and staying in shape is progressively more difficult. Having a daily goal of steps and gaining a more thorough understanding of your hour-to-hour activity level can go a long way in helping you to form healthier habits.

Plus, this isn’t even a complicated technology. The devices literally do all the work for you.

#2 News Aggregator Apps

As pointed out above, plenty in the Baby Boomer generation are perfectly familiar and comfortable with the internet. In fact, many are quite proficient, having taken the time to learn the ropes. But there are also those in this generation who have never quite fully transitioned to consuming news and information online.

If you fall into this category, a news aggregator app can be a wonderful tool. There are numerous outstanding apps in this category, but the basic idea is the same.

You set up the app with your own preferences (for sites, types of stories, or even people of interest), and it does the rest. The app pulls news stories from all over the internet and combines them in one easy place for you to sort through. For a lot of people (not just Boomers), this is more hassle-free than navigating the internet every day.

#3 GPS Shoe Soles

A lot of Baby Boomers are caring for elderly family members which is an extremely demanding responsibility. There’s a lot that goes into it, and of course every family’s situation is unique. But one of the problems a lot of people with aging parents and family members encounter is that they can easily get lost or wander off.

Advanced modern GPS has led to a very specific solution to this problem. The GPS SmartSole uses a connected shoe insole to track the wearer, so you’ll always know – to a very precise degree – where an elderly family member is located.

Learning how to use this type of device can give Boomers a tremendous amount of security in being able to pinpoint the exact locations of elderly family members. For that matter, for Boomers, it can be helpful in keeping tabs on the grandkids as well!

#4 iPads (Or Other Smart Tablets)

computer learningGoing with something simpler, an iPad or other brand of tablet, is a very fun piece of technology for most anyone.

Yes, it’s still a pretty expensive plaything, and many will ultimately deem it unnecessary. But one article about gadgets and services for Boomers describes it perfectly as “this generation’s must-have digital coffee table book.”

This description captures the nature of tablets: they’re unnecessary, but they’re fun to have around and perfect for sharing. Beyond that, we’re only going to head further down the road to touchscreen devices and highly responsive technological devices, so the iPad is a nice foundation for the future. If you’re new to this technology, your grandchildren will be happy to educate you!

#5 Alexa (Amazon Echo)

The Amazon Echo is basically like Siri for the home. It’s a device from Amazon (which you refer to by name as Alexa) that controls various things within your home.

The device can tell you the weather, play you a song, or even adjust other “smart” features you may have in your home (such as an advanced thermostat), and it does it all by vocal command. There are lots of amazing things you can do with Alexa (from playing music to turning on a humidifier), and while it still seems like a gimmick to a lot of people, it’s probably the way of the future.

Just as the iPad is a strong foundation for the computers and tablets we’ll be seeing in the coming years, the Amazon Echo is likely just the first in a long line of home assistant technologies that Baby Boomers (and everyone else) ought to go ahead and get accustomed to using.

Images (in order of appearance) courtesy of Ambro, everdayplus, and stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Five Ways to Help Your Grandchildren Through a Divorce

I spent most of this week at court with my son finalizing his divorce and custody case. Unfortunately, it was a tumultuous divorce, but it is done and now is the time for everyone to move forward.

DivorceDivorce was foreign territory to me. My husband and I have been fortunate to be married for 38 years. My parents were married for almost 60 years before my Mom died last summer. This, in fact, is the first divorce in our family.

So, questions danced around my head while going through this process.

Should I ask my grandchildren if they want to discuss their feelings about the divorce? If they don’t bring it up, should I? How could I provide a low stress environment for my grandchildren to help them escape the drama? What could I do to help them feel secure and optimistic about the future?

In other words, how could I best help my grandchildren whom I love and adore through this tumultuous time? Here are a few things I researched along with some things I learned along the way:

Don’t Prod

Surprisingly, my grandchildren rarely mentioned the divorce. If this is the case with your grandchildren, does this mean you should bring it up?

Experts say no. A grandparent’s responsibility is to provide a loving, safe, and secure haven, not spend time investigating and delving into the children’s thoughts and feelings about the divorce.

“Don’t try to be your grandchild’s therapist,” advises Lillian Carson, Ph.D., a psychotherapist and grandmother of 10 who wrote The Essential Grandparents’ Guide to Divorce: Making a Difference in the Family. “That’s not your job.”

GrandmotherBe Supportive

What if the children bring up the subject of divorce?

Experts advice to listen attentively, reassure them that the divorce wasn’t their fault, offer lots of love and hugs, and express your sympathy.

But be careful what you say.

“Try not to stir things up,” says Dr. Carson. “A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, ‘What would be the value of passing on this information? Would it be helpful to my grandchild?'”

You may be experiencing some of the same feelings as your grandchildren including stress, disappointment, anger, and disillusionment, so it’s easy to be empathetic. However, resist the temptation to express your own feelings which can make the children feel like they must comfort and support you.

Avoid Being Critical

Do not badmouth the children’s parents. This includes sarcastic remarks that you think are going above the children’s heads. Kids are smarter than you think.

Remember, children are all ears, so avoid discussing the divorce when they are nearby. No matter what your personal opinions are, remember that your grandchildren love both of their parents.

Even if the divorce is not friendly, try to find a few casual positive comments you can make about the other parent. For example, when we moved into our new home, I packed the children’s plastic dishes in lower cabinets like their mother and said, “I’m going to copy her, that’s a good idea your Mom had so you can reach all your dishes.”

Provide a Safe Haven

Strive to make the children’s time with you low-key and relaxing. Instead of focusing on the children’s parents disintegrating relationship, keep the focus on your loving relationship with your grandchildren.

Grandparents PlayingDo activities that you know from experience your grandchildren find calming. Listen to music or read books with them. Find a funny movie and munch on popcorn. Play silly games. Keep things as close to normal as possible.

Exercise is great for stress. My husband and I often swim, play sports, ride bikes, and jump on the trampoline with our grandkids – knowing it’s good for all of us.

Last summer, we went on a relaxing camping vacation with our son and the kids and did a lot of hiking enjoying the peace and tranquility nature offers.

Stay Positive

Try not to be overly sympathetic or even worse, pessimistic. Avoid the attitude, “My grandchildren will never be the same.” Or think, “They will never get over this.” This kind of negative thinking will come through in your interactions.

Rather, think positively: “My grandchildren are resilient. Children have a wonderful ability to adjust. My grandchildren will survive this divorce and develop strength and endurance that will help them later in life.” Let your grandchildren know that things are going to be all right.

Tell your grandchildren about challenges you’ve faced and overcome in your lifetime. I recently lost my mother, but I want my grandchildren to see me as someone who is finding my way through grief, moving forward, and discovering joy and happiness again. I want to help them see they can do the same. Positive attitudes are contagious.

So there’s my top five tips to help you and your grandchildren focus on the positive during a divorce. Try to be a real asset to them during a difficult time. They will thank you later.

Images courtesy of David Castillo Dominici and photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Book Lovers Day: Why I Love Books

It’s summertime – the perfect time for a little book bliss!

Girl Reading BookIn honor of Book Lovers Day on August 9th, my writerly pals and I are having fun by sharing all the ways we adore reading. Please join me and the awesome bloggers listed at the end of this post who also share their libre love.

There are so many reasons I love books, but I’ve narrowed it down to five:

A Way to Escape Reality

“Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life,” wrote Fernando Pessoa in The Book of Disquiet.

Oh, the luxury of getting caught up in a good story that takes you away!  Especially when life gets a bit tough. Much better than watching TV. Books allow us to stretch our imaginations and immerse ourselves in another world. Let’s be honest, books can save our sanity sometimes.

Some Spiritual Inspiration

This is one of the greatest things about reading. I’ve been reading the lyrical book of Psalms this summer and it is positively uplifting and strengthening. I write a lot about finding happiness, but the Bible wisely tells us the secret: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need.”

Read something spiritual and inspirational every day and reap the benefits!

A Chance to Cuddle with Our Kids and Grandkids

Book with ChildWhen my children were small, I loved snuggling and sharing my favorite books with them.

Some of the classic books they loved were Goodnight Moon, Are You My Mother?, Dr. Seuss books, Where the Wild Things Are, Bernstein Bear books, The Boxcar Children, Runaway Ralph, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and Charlotte’s Web.

Now, lucky me, there are grandchildren!

An Opportunity to Learn and Explore

“The world was hers for the reading,” Betty Smith wrote in A tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Since I was a child, I’ve always loved reading nonfiction books to learn more about the world. In fact, books inspired me to want to see more the world – which I’ve been fortunate to do over the years.

At a writer’s conference years ago, Ray Bradbury told us aspiring writers to read one short story, one poem, and one essay on a variety of topics each night for a great intellectual foundation. Great advice!

Stack of BooksThe Feel and Smell of Books

My Mom and I used to spend hours scouring old bookstores.

As a result, I’ve got quite the book collection including some cherished first editions from the 1800’s. I absolutely adore looking at, feeling, and smelling these old books.

A library gives me the same warm, fuzzy feeling.

Ways to Celebrate National Book Lovers Day

My writer friends and I are obviously in love with words and we’ll use any excuse to celebrate our love of books. 

National Book Lovers Day encourages you to find your favorite reading spot, a good book, and read the day away.

So revisit a favorite novel, learn something new from a non-fiction book, explore a place you’ve never visited in a travel book, dive into something motivational or inspirational, visit your library or a used bookstore, read a book to a child, or discover a new author. 

Thanks for stopping by! For more book love, please visit these awesome bloggers next. Then, please share all the reasons you love reading in the comment section below!

Cat Michaels, Cat’s Corner

Ode to Books: Check out this fun poem that celebrates books from this wonderful children’s author!

Auden Johnson, Dark Treasury

Celebrating Books Through Photography: Auden creatively combines her love of books and photography in her blog.

Carmela Dutra, A Blog for Your Thoughts

Book Lover’s Day: A heartwarming article that reinforces the importance of reading to our children.

JD Holiday, JD’s Writer’s Blog

Celebrating Book Lover’s Day on 9 August: Enjoy these pics that demonstrate the joy of reading anywhere!

Corrina Holyoake, Venturing into the Unknown

Book Lovers Day: Corrina shares ways she will be celebrating Book Lovers Day!

Leigh Shearin, Writer

Paging Mr. Jonathan Seagull: “Books will love you through it all, tolerant of scorn and neglect, they remain faithful even while the hours of your life whirl and lash around you,” she writes. Elegantly written!

Söndra N. Rymer, Fairy Tales Imagery

Book Lovers Day: Sondra asks you to go back in time and look at that one special book in your childhood or as a teenager that laid a brick to your path as a future artist.

Rhonda Paglia, Children’s Author 

Book Lover’s Day Blog Hop Fun! Fellow baby boomer and Grandma Rhonda shares her memories of her favorite books as a child as well as her favorites today that you may want to check out.

Sandra Bennett, Sandy’s Story Chair

Seven Signs You are a Bookahollic: No. 1 sign you are a bookaholic – your bookcases are overflowing with books in every room and it would break your heart to throw even one away. Oh dear…that’s me!

Author K. Lamb

A Book Lover’s Birthday : Book Lovers Day just happens to be the day this author gave birth to her daughter – and in sense the birth of her protagonist Dani as well.

Maurice Chuka, David Chuka, Children’s Book Author

Book Lover’s Day: This author traces his love of books back to his childhood growing up in Nigeria and power outages.

Rosie Russell, Rosie’s KidLit Blog

What Books Mean to Me: Books are treasure chests, full of imagination, inspirations, characters, and tales of the unexpected.

 

Images, in order of appearance, courtesy of khunaspix, Ambro, and Paul at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

The Happiest Words in the English Language

“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine,” Emily Dickinson wrote.

As a writer, I am in love, captivated, and addicted to words. And with good reason. Words are powerful and sometimes even magical.

Cruel words can cause pain or anger, make us cry, and bring disharmony to the world. On the other hand, inspiring words can lift us up, bring joy, motivate us to do good, offer hope, heal, and excite us.

That brings me to the subject of this article: What are the happiest words in the English language?

I ran into an interesting article in The Atlantic, The 200 Happiest Words in Literature.

WriterAs a writer, I was fascinated by this subject. If you take a writing class, one of the first things you learn is that every story known to man can be reduced to a handful of plot lines.

Opinions vary on exactly which plot lines those are; however, researchers from the University of Vermont and the University of Adelaide collected computer-generated story arcs for nearly 2,000 works of fiction and classified each into six types of narratives based on what happens to the protagonist:

(1) Rags to Riches (rise), (2) Riches to Rags (fall), (3) Man in a Hole (fall then rise), (4) Icarus (rise then fall), (5) Cinderella (rise then fall then rise), and (6) Oedipus (fall then rise then fall)

The study focused on the emotional highs and lows of each story type. Then, the computer analyzed which emotional structure writers used most and which ones the readers liked best.

Using 10,000 of the most frequently used English words, researchers then asked people to rate the happiness quotient of the words they encountered. In the end, they had this massive list of words ranked by happiness. The results?

The happiest word: Laughter – followed by happiness, love, happy, laughed, laugh, laughing, excellent, laughs, and joy.

The least happy: Terrorist – followed by suicide, rape, terrorism, murder, death, cancer, killed, kill, and die.

In the middle of the pack you’ll find dull words like particularly, list, brown, expectations, equation, index, and explain.

That gives you a glimpse, but if you’re curious what made the top 100, I’m including a more detailed list below.

Sad EmoticonSo we can end on a high note, we’ll start with the 100 words that were at the bottom of the heap as least happy. These words are truly awful:

Terrorist, suicide, rape, terrorism, murder, death, cancer, killed, kill, died, torture, raped, deaths, arrested, killing, die, terror, jail, kills, war, murdered, killings, fatal, tortured, abused, sickness, failed, cry, cruel, violence, sadness, diseases, abuse, wars, evil, earthquake, depressing, poison, fail, disaster, bomb, tumors, poverty, headache, depression, criminal, punishment, killers, illness, disease, dead, slavery, sick, (curse word), rejection, injury, destroyed, crying, violent, tragedy, slaves, slave, prison, hates, failure, fails, bankruptcy, virus, suffer, robbery, rejected, racist, dies, worst, pain, funeral, dying, heartbreak, unhappy, unemployment, sorrow, painful, hurts, hated, crimes, corruption, pollution, homeless, drowned, agony, tsunami, robbed, hurt, divorced, depressed, loser, crime, cried, suffering, injured.

That was dismal and depressing, so let’s move on to the happy words.

Before we begin, however, I’d like to note that some of the words wouldn’t make my list. For example, materialistic words like rich, diamonds, profit, millionaire, promotion, earnings, and profits. Really, people?

In my opinion, other words have more merit. Happy words like laughter, joy, peaceful, sunlight, weekend, honesty, hugs, exciting, optimistic, song, goodness, humor, smiles, kisses, celebrate, moonlight, fun, and friendship. I was also happy to see a few spiritual words like praise, faithful, honor, blessings, heavens, angels, and glory make the list.

I also agreed with the participants that chocolate is one of the happiest words. And you’ll notice grandmother and grandma made the top 200. Love that!

Happy EmoticonSo here’s the complete list, beginning with the happiest. I am giving you twice as many happy words to make up for all the brutal words listed above – 200 in all. See what you think:

Laughter, happiness, love, happy, laughed, laugh, laughing, excellent, laughs, joy, successful, win, rainbow, smile, won, pleasure, smiled, rainbows, winning, celebration, enjoyed, healthy, music, celebrating, congratulations, weekend, celebrate, comedy, jokes, rich, victory, Christmas, free, friendship, fun, holidays, loved, loves, loving, beach, hahaha, kissing, sunshine, delicious, friends, funny, outstanding, paradise, sweetest, vacation, butterflies, freedom, flower, great, sunlight, sweetheart, sweetness, award, chocolate, hahahaha, heaven, peace, splendid, success, enjoying, kissed, attraction, celebrated, hero, hugs, positive, sun, birthday, blessed, fantastic, winner, delight, beauty, butterfly, entertainment, funniest, honesty, sky, smiles, succeed, wonderful, glorious, kisses, promotion, family, gift, humor, romantic, cupcakes, festival, hahahahaha, honor, relax, weekends, angel, b-day, bonus, brilliant, diamonds, holiday, lucky, mother, super, amazing, angels, enjoy, friend, friendly, mother’s, profit, finest, bday, champion, grandmother, haha, kiss, kitten, miracle, mom, sweet, blessings, bright, cutest, entertaining, excited, excitement, joke, millionaire, prize, succeeded, successfully, winners, shines, awesome, genius, achievement, cake, cheers, exciting, goodness, hug, income, party, puppy, smiling, song, succeeding, tasty, victories, achieved, billion, cakes, easier, flowers, gifts, gold, merry, families, handsome, lovers, affection, candy, cute, diamond, earnings, interesting, peacefully, praise, relaxing, roses, Saturdays, faithful, heavens, cherish, comfort, congrats, cupcake, earn, extraordinary, glory, hilarious, moonlight, optimistic, peaceful, romance, feast, attractive, glad, grandma, internet, pleasant, profits, smart.

Ah, that was much better than all those totally heartless words, right?

So, now you know what other people thought. What’s your favorite happy words? Please share in the comments below!

Images courtesy of punsayaporn and emoticons by farconville at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Baby Boomer Travel Trends

“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands,” said Sir Richard Burton.

TravelOh, how I love to travel. Turns out I’m not alone. According to a new study by AARP, America’s 76 million baby boomers spend over $120 billion annually on travel.

No surprise. Baby boomers have the numbers, the influence, and the money to travel.

Our generation spreads over many years with “leading boomers” (born between 1946 and 1957) and “shadow boomers (like me, born between 1946 and 1957). As a result, we look at things differently sometimes. However, we have some things in common when it comes to traveling.

What are some of those baby boomer trends?

Baby Boomers Want Unique and Adventurous Vacations

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world,” Mary Anne Radmacher wrote.

africaI’m passionate about traveling. To me, it is pure joy to experience another world outside my own, enjoy new experiences, explore a different culture, discover new foods, and meet different people. My family and I were always looking for new adventures.

And we found them – including white water rafting down a wild five-plus river in New Zealand, sprinting down a beach in Mexico to soar into the sky on a parasail, climbing the Great Wall, swimming with dolphins, and riding a boat underneath a roaring waterfall in Brazil. I’m a bit more cautious these days, but I still like a good adventure.

True to our roots, we baby boomers tend to rebel against overly structured vacations and want some freedom to explore on our own. We aren’t like the previous generation who waited until retirement to travel. While Europe and tropical locations are still popular with baby boomers, many of us have already visited these places and are looking for more exotic and unconventional destinations. In other words, we’re looking to cross some items off our bucket lists.

The old-fashioned travel group vacations some of our parents seemed to love with labels like “Senior Travel” and crowded tour buses full of grey-haired people visiting popular touristy spots – not so much.

Of course, we think of ourselves as forever young and are always up for a challenge. After all, aren’t we the generation of the fitness craze who took up jogging, were inspired by Jack LaLanne, and sculpted our bodies with Jane Fonda videos? Many boomers still try to stay in shape. As a result, active adventure travel including kayaking, cycling, trekking through the wilderness, scuba diving, paddle boarding, and skiing is especially popular with the 50-plus crowd. The travel industry has taken note and are adding more categories every year targeted at the more daring baby boomers.

Baby Boomers Love to Travel with Family

family vacationFollowing my parents’ example, when my kids were younger, I took them on all our foreign vacations. We were willing to live with hand-me-down furniture and older cars to do so.

Now, I love going places with my grandchildren. Perhaps that’s because as we age, we appreciate our personal relationships with family and cherish the time with them even more.

Once again, I’m in good company with other baby boomers. According to a recent survey conducted by AAA Travel, an increasing number of travelers choose to book trips with extended family members.

“It is proven psychologically that we make stronger family bonds when we travel than any other time of the year when we are home,” says AARP Travel Ambassador Samantha Brown. “It really is an investment in your life.”

The survey showed multi-generational family vacations were becoming more popular. In fact, 36 percent of families interviewed planned to take a multi-generational family trip the following year. One in five grandparents reported going on a Disney vacation with their grandchildren.

Of course, Disneyland isn’t the only place we’re traveling with our families. As mentioned before, we love adventure and are interested in taking our grandchildren on safaris in Africa, snorkeling and zip lining expeditions in Costa Rica, or scenic and adventurous Alaskan cruises.

Baby Boomers like a Bit of Luxury

Okay, okay, maybe the days of sleeping in tents, on shaky cots, and hostels are over. We may be an adventurous bunch, but we hesitantly have to admit we are getting just a little bit older and need some creature comforts.

massageFour and five star hotels and cabins with an ocean view on cruises become more important as we age.

After all, many baby boomers are retired or at a period in our lives when we can take more time off after climbing the corporate ladder and have more income – which puts us in a position to demand better accommodations.

Plus, we’re not too proud to take advantage of perks and reduced senior rates to get those more luxurious hotels. For example, Marriott slashes rates by 15 percent or more for seniors 62 and older staying at any of their 4,000-plus properties across the globe. Why not?

After exploring the wilderness, give us soothing massages, good wine and food, a comfortable bed, and some rest and relaxation.

Yeah, baby!

Baby Boomers are More Relaxed Travelers

airportBoomers enjoy the whole travel experience for the most part. Of course, we’re not fond of the increased difficulty of clearing security, flight delays, and the lack of legroom on planes. However, we are more likely to go with the flow.

Younger generations report higher levels of travel stress and nervous feelings compared to baby boomers. According to the research by AARP, millennials are the most stressed generation while flying and baby boomers are the most relaxed.

We keep ourselves connected and busy, which may help. A whopping 90% of boomers travel with some type of electronic device, primarily a smartphone and 56% of boomers use airport Wi-Fi, if it’s free.

Baby boomers also take advantage of airport amenities. We arrive, at least, two hours before our flight compared to our millennial counterparts, who typically arrive with just enough time to board their flight. That may, in part, explain why we’re less stressed. Boomers are not dashing frantically across the airport to catch our plane. Instead, we can often be found enjoying a meal or a glass of wine while waiting for our flights. Nearly 49% of boomers bought food and drinks and 28% sat down and ate at a restaurant before their flight.

Baby Boomers are Traveling Close to Home

usaMaybe those living in the United States are not seeing the USA in a Chevrolet, but baby boomers are traveling more domestically.

In fact, more than 75% of the baby boomers surveyed by AARP say they took their last flight to a domestic destination.

My husband and I certainly fit into those statistics. The last trips we took were to Chicago, San Francisco, Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks, and the Florida Keys. There’s plenty of adventure to be had in our own countries – and I must admit those long 18 hour flights are getting harder.

Maybe that’s why baby boomers like summer vacations in our home countries and weekend getaways so much.

Of course, while I enjoy seeing the sights close to my home, I have to admit, Africa is still calling my name with its dramatic landscapes, glorious wildlife, and  exotic cultures. It’s the only continent I haven’t seen yet (except for Antarctica – which is waaaay too cold for me).

One day…

As a famous quotes states: “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”

Images (in order of their appearance) courtesy of Graphics Mouse, Hal Brindley, photostock, stockimages, artur84, and porbital at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.