10 Great Gift Ideas for Baby Boomers

Below I’ve listed some great gift ideas for the baby boomer in your life – or a gift for yourself – that range in price from a $370 splurge for a mini iPad to $1.65 for a wool hat with a funny saying for Grandpa.

So, without further ado…

TGIF This Grandma is Fabulous” Coffee Mug: Love this! Need I say more?

amazon larger this grandma is fabulous

They Call Me Nana Because Partner in Crime Sounds Like a Bad Influence T-Shirt: Okay, this one made me laugh. Amazon has a wide variety of these shirts available for Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle, Aunt, etc.

amazon nana partner in crime shirt

I Still Get Carded (When I Ask for my Senior Citizen Discount) Mug: Ha, ha! When I went to a fair last year they asked for ID to prove I qualified for the senior discount. I thanked the lady profusely!

amazon get carded mug

FOR BABY BOOMER TECHIES

Amazon Echo and Echo Dot: Many savvy baby boomers are crazy about this new technology with Smart speakers that feature a voice-activated assistant, Alexa, who hears you from a distance and follows your commands to do a variety of tasks. Instructions can include playing your favorite music, receiving weather and news updates, setting timers, or answering random questions. This technology is also great for those with physical disabilities. The Amazon Echo is normally priced at $99.99, but if you want to try this new technology out for a lot less, the Amazon Echo Dot has many of the same features and benefits for a much lower price – normally 49.99 (at the time of this writing, it was on sale for $29.99!). And the Echo is portable!

amazon echo

Senior-Friendly Fitness Tracker: A recent Brandeis University study notes that an estimated 20 percent of Americans own a fitness tracker, with increasing popularity among older adults. Those who are the least active get the most benefits. Fitness trackers are great for counting steps, measuring your heart rate, estimating your calorie expenditure, ensuring you’re getting enough exercise, and monitoring the quality of your sleep. Combined with online apps, you can also track your food and see how all these factors add up. You may want to check out The Fitbit Charge 2, pictured below, which is one of the bestselling fitness trackers and perfect for seniors since it’s easy to use, lightweight, and has a large easy-to-read screen.

amazon fitness tracker

MORE FUN GIFT IDEAS FOR GRANDMA AND GRANDPA

(I’ve posted some Grandma stuff in honor of myself – LOL – but the first two products can also be ordered for grandpas too.)

Grandpas Are There to Help Children Get into Mischief That They Haven’t Thought of Yet Box: So true and, at the time of this writing, costs under $10, an affordable gift for Grandpa. He’ll love it!

amazon grandpa mischief box

If Papa Can’t Fix It We’re All Screwed Wool Hat: Ain’t it the truth? These are available in mugs and T-shirts but this wool hat is a steal at the time of this writing at $1.65! Your’e welcome.

amazon wood hat grandpa

MADE ESPECIALLY FOR BABY BOOMERS:

Zumba Fitness Gold Live it Up DVD Set for the Baby Boomer Generation: For some fun exercise…at the time of this writing it was on sale for 20% off.

amazon zumba

Trivial Pursuit Master Game for Baby Boomers Edition Complete Game: Just for us!

amazon trivial pursuit bb game

Disclaimer: Product prices and availability are accurate as of November 28, 2017 and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. If you click on any of the links below, as an Amazon affiliate, I will receive a small referral fee. There’s absolutely no difference in price – in fact, I’ve discovered some great bargains for you – it just helps cover the cost of publishing this website.

Baby Boomers Warned About Over-Drinking as Alcohol-Related Deaths Soar

Wine Glass

Don’t shoot the messenger, but baby boomers are hitting the bottle at alarming levels.

Just this week, baby boomers received new warnings about alcohol as people aged 50-plus deaths linked to alcohol soared. The number of deaths attributed solely to alcohol has increased 45% since 2001, according to a report published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Tuesday.

While this study was based in the UK, baby boomers in America don’t fare any better. One out of every eight Americans has an alcohol disorder, according to a study published in August 2017 in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Psychiatry. While the survey showed alcohol disorders increased for the US population in general, some of the sharpest increases were among baby boomers. For example, high risk alcohol use increased 65.2 percent  and alcoholism rose 106.7 percent for the over 65 crowd during the last decade.

By 2020 the number of people receiving treatment for substance misuse problems is expected to double in Europe, and treble in the US, among those aged over 50.

This is bad news for baby boomers since alcohol is linked to more than 60 illnesses and diseases including heart disease, liver disease, cancer, and dementia.

Why Are Baby Boomers Drinking Too Much?

We were the generation famous for drinking a martini or Manhattan after work as often shown on the TV show Madmen. But is there more to this growing problem of alcohol misuse? Probably.

This blog was inspired by reports that baby boomers, especially those in their 50s and 60s, are statistically the unhappiest age group. Many boomers face stressful events such as declining health, raising teenagers, looming college tuitions, adult children moving back home, caring for aging parents, menopause, the loss of a loved one, and social isolation.

Add to that financial stress. According to a poll by AARP, baby boomers are more worried than any other age group about retirement security. Many boomers confess they didn’t put enough money aside for retirement and find themselves heading toward their golden years with mortgage and credit card debt.

All of this worry, stress, and depression can easily trigger the misuse of alcohol if not kept in check.

Another factor may go back to the disappointment of our generation that expected a better world. “What does alcohol mean to our generation?” asks Christina Fraser, a relationship counselor with Coupleworks and herself a baby boomer. “We drink to fill a void. Our parents had a job, retired and dropped dead two years later. They worked hard and had fewer opportunities. The baby boomers were given the promise of a world that was full of possibilities. Instead, we are seeing that world close in.”

What is Considered Over-Drinking?

Baby boomers who love wine o’clock may be shocked to hear what is considered over-drinking.  Moderate drinking is one drink a day for women and two drinks per day for men. So maybe you’re thinking you don’t drink everyday, mostly just on weekends.

Do the math. Women are considered “heavy drinkers” if they have eight or more drinks a week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Men can have 14.

A standard “drink,” by the way, is not that big wine glass filled to the tippy top, a huge frosty mug, or giant Hurricane glass. The CDC says a drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. If you pour more than these standard serving sizes, it counts for more than one drink.

While studies show that moderate alcohol consumption can be part of a healthy lifestyle for many people, those benefits quickly turn into health risks. These dangers include an increased risk of cancer, heart, and liver disease.

In fact, on the heels of the new study warning baby boomers to stop over-drinking, comes another statement from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) that “even light drinking increases your risk of cancer.” ABC News’ chief medical correspondent, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, said that alcohol has been a known human carcinogen, or known to cause cancer, for a long time within the medical community.

Moderate drinkers nearly double their risk for mouth and throat cancer and more than double the risk of esophagus cancer compared to nondrinkers. They also face elevated risks for cancer o the voice box, breast cancer and colorectal cancer.

The risk for heavy drinkers is much higher and downright sobering (excuse the pun). Heavy drinkers face roughly five times the risk of mouth and throat cancers and squamous cell esophageal cancers than nondrinkers, nearly three times the risk of cancers of the voice box, double the risk of liver cancer, as well as increased risks for breast cancer and colorectal cancer.

Ways to Cut Back

So we baby boomers have been put on notice. How can we scale back on alcohol use?

  • Cut down the number of days you drink alcohol. In fact, you may want to abstain for a week or a month to see how you feel physically and emotionally without alcohol in your life.
  • Reduce the amount of alcohol you drink at one sitting. If you normally drink two glasses of wine, make it one instead.
  • If you are drinking too much, avoid people, places, things and certain activities that trigger an urge to drink. For example, baby boomers love to splurge on dining out, but this luxury often prompts people to drink more. If this is the case, consider going out to dinner less often.
  • Find healthy alternatives for coping with stress, loneliness, or anger. For example, if you’re tempted to reach for a drink take a walk, garden, or take a long bubble bath.

Experts say that alcohol misuse among older people isn’t a problem that will simply disappear on its own. This new data should serve as a wake-up call to all baby boomers to examine their drinking habits.

Image courtesy of tiverylucky at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Baby Boomer Ponders Obsession with Body Hair Removal, Eyebrows, and Extensions

What is the obsession these days with removing body hair? I mean, what is it with painting on thick eyebrows, excruciatingly painful waxing, and obviously fake-looking hair extensions?

This baby boomer must be feeling my age because I just don’t get it.

waxed hairYes, I shave my legs, but I can’t help noticing that women are overly preoccupied with hair lately.  Were we women bamboozled into this obsession by marketers?

According to the book, Plucked: A History of Hair Removal, more than 99 percent of American women remove their body hair.

Interestingly, Gillette introduced the first razor for women in 1915 along with the message that body hair was “unsightly” and “objectionable” and thus needed to be removed. And they just so happened to have the perfect tool. The company now earns over 9 billion dollars a year in sales.

The Brazilian bikini wax was created in Manhattan by seven Brazilian sisters in the early 1990s, who now earn six million dollars a year from waxing, hair, and nail treatments.

People are profiting big time from this obsession to remove hair. Not only do women wax their legs and armpits, but suddenly it became imperative and ever-so-fashionable to wax other places as well.  I mean, OUCH! When did ripping hot wax off sensitive areas become empowering?

In fact, women spend about $10,000 and the equivalent of over four months of their lives removing hair. Those who wax once or twice a month will spend an average of $23,000 during their lifetime.

Really ladies?

Does this all seem a bit strange to you baby boomers who fought for the feminist revolution with the conviction that instead of obsessing over physical beauty, women should focus on their intelligence, careers, achievements, and making a difference? During the 60s and 70s, women felt free to make their own decisions about hair removal and many chose to go au natural. These days, women feel ashamed and somehow dirty without a bikini wax. What happened?

Not to sound old-fashioned, but aren’t there more important things to think about and do than obsess and spend time and money on removing body hair? Back in the old days (okay, now I sound ancient) people seemed more focused on spiritual matters and family. They didn’t spend all their time worrying about whether their armpits were properly waxed. And many would have donated that $150 for a full body wax – to remove hair that’s going to grow back real quick – to a good cause.

And while we’re discussing this, just when did women become so helpless? Have you baby boomers noticed that women don’t know how to pluck their own eyebrows, shave their own legs, or paint their own fingernails and toenails anymore? In addition to all the money spent on waxing, women spend about $1,300 a year on manis and pedis alone. Yes, I splurge once in a while to do my nails but it’s not rocket science to apply nail polish. Wouldn’t you rather take a trip with all that money?

We boomers didn’t go to the hair salon for a “blow dry.” Instead, I deftly wielded my own blow dryer like a pro and stuck prongs into hot rollers without burning my fingertips to look like Farrah. If we wanted our hair colored we picked up a bottle of Clairol at the drugstore. We even dared to perm our own hair! Yes, we looked like poodles but who cared? And give me a break. At least we didn’t look like a Dr. Seuss book with multi-colored rainbow hair! What’s with that crazy trend?

When women aren’t busy trying to remove every scrap of hair from their bodies, they are clipping or taping on hair extensions to look like a Real Housewife or one of the Kardashians. Some women become addicted to the more permanent type of extensions which leaves natural hair looking like a war zone. Did I mention the pain of ripping out the tape from the more permanent type of extensions? The possibility of bald spots? Does this sound like a good idea to you? Even Jennifer Aniston has admitted that her famous locks had become thin from extensions.

Okay, I must confess that in the 60s it was popular to frost hair. For those of you who don’t remember, this process involved a tight fitting rubber cap with tons of little holes. A small metal crocheting needle was then used to pull pieces of hair through the holes – one at a time. So, it was kinda tortuous and women may have lost some of their hair in the process. And we baby boomers won’t talk about the bristle rollers women somehow slept in or teasing hair until it looked like a bird’s nest. Women back combed their hair until they looked like Marge Simpson and then applied enough sticky hairspray to make hair crunch.

But that was different. Sort of. Why don’t we change the subject?

eyebrowsCan we talk a minute about those wonky eyebrows, deemed the “power brow?” These trendy fuller brows are supposed to look like works of art, but they just look silly to me. Dark brow fillers create these squared off but perfectly arched eyebrows that look anything but natural. I have nothing against eyebrows, but should these two arches on your forehead warrant this much attention, cause so much work, and cost so much money? And why wax off your eyebrows if you’re only going to draw them back on again? I’m so confused.

Okay, maybe I shouldn’t be too critical. My senior picture displays thin, arched eyebrows that are perhaps a tiny bit over-plucked. Actually, I can’t believe I walked around so proudly like that, but that’s beside the point. At least I plucked them proudly all by myself and it didn’t cost me a penny!

Still, this whole cultural phenomenon puzzles me. But wait a minute. Maybe armpit hair is making a comeback. There’s an Instagram account called Lady Pit Hair that features women going against social beauty norms and growing out their armpit hair and dying it bright colors.

“Today’s beauty standards really bum me out as they constantly police women’s bodies,” says Taylor Carpenter, a 23-year-old whose hot pink pits are featured on the page. Besides the issue of rebelling against norms society forces on us women, she has another reason for brightening the color of her body hair: “Honestly, I really like how they look. When I catch a glance of my hot pink pits, it makes me smile.”

Okay, I sorta like the sentiment of standing up against this cloud of disgust over any scrap of non-waxed body hair, but I’m still mystified. Is fluorescent green leg hair the next trend? Maybe I am getting old!

Images courtesy of Ambro and patrisyu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

 

 

 

Sleeping Like a Baby Boomer: Insane Insomnia

Maybe you baby boomers have seen the cartoon of a doctor telling a patient, “Insomnia is very common. Try not to lose any sleep over it.”

Ha,ha. I’m not laughing. Instead I’m begging for mercy from the sleep fairy.

Insomnia

During my worse insomnia laden nights, I’m an expert on infomercials. Just ask me anything about nose hair clippers, egg timers, chopper/shredders, and at-home laser hair removal.

When I give in to exhaustion and turn off the TV – even though I know exhaustion doesn’t equal sleep anymore – the minute my head hits the pillow, I start worrying about stupid stuff that seems downright silly in the light of day.

When I finally fall asleep, an hour later my eyes burst open and I’m wide awake, endlessly fascinated with the internal workings of my digital clock and checking to see if anyone else is miserable and awake like me on Facebook.

I’m not alone. Many baby boomers suffer from insomnia. Some have additional problems that mess with their sleep like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and fibromyalgia. Others find that the simple act of sleeping which they took for granted their whole lives just got a whole lot more complicated for no apparent reason.

Oh, remember the delightful days when we baby boomers actually chose to forego sleep? Partying into the wee hours, lacing our shoes for a brisk jog at dawn, or just talking all night on the phone with our best friend? Those were the days. Now that we desperately want to sleep, it’s nowhere to be found.

Which makes us that old stereotypical cranky person the next day. So, if you’re one of those people that still sleeps like a baby – you can just leave now. I’m extremely jealous and we’re not talking. And while I’m on the subject, a note to my hubby who falls asleep the minute his head hits the pillow: I love you, but you better purchase a suit of armor soon so I don’t smack you silly for blissfully sleeping while I’m subtracting how many hours of sleep I can get if I can just fall asleep NOW. My math skills are improving but I’m feeling awfully irritable. By the way, it’s absolutely true. The one who snores always goes to sleep first.

I first shared some of these thoughts about insomnia as a writer for Hot Flash Daily. Because I always slept like a baby until menopausal madness began. The worst part of menopause was not the hot flashes you hear about it all the time. For me, it was the insomnia.

Six years have passed and I’m officially post menopausal. The insomnia isn’t as constant but it still enjoys visiting me occasionally during tortuous nights. Because it turns out menopause isn’t the only cause for insomnia. Just getting older can do the trick as well.

According to a poll by National Sleep Foundation, older people were more likely to wake up a lot during the night. Wow, you needed a survey to come up with that conclusion?

Now that I think about it, I probably should go easier on hubby, Like many older men, he does have to get up in the middle of the night to pee now. Hee, hee. Sorry, but that does make me feel better. It’s true, misery enjoys company.

In addition, to making us insomniacs cranky the next day, the malady comes with many other blessings as well. Studies show that sleep problems contribute to weight gain. Geez, isn’t it bad enough that getting older and being post menopausal are making me fat? This I don’t need. Oh goody, guess I better run out and buy some more stretch pants.

And let’s not even talk about losing the ability to concentrate. Isn’t age making me forgetful enough? As a freelance writer who needs to think straight and meet deadlines…um, where, was I…? Let’s just say insomnia is not helpful to my career.

Worse yet, I read that people with chronic insomnia have an elevated risk of death. I’m visualizing death by insomnia on my tombstone. Could life be any crueler?

Oh, everyone has a solution for me. Don’t nap during the day. Go to bed at the same time each night. Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol before going to bed. Exercise regularly. Don’t you think I’ve already tried all that?

Sure, warm milk works for me – if it’s laced with Ambien.

Oh, I’ve read the horror stories of people having forgetful sex with the mailman down the street, eating a block of cheese, and driving to Vegas in their sleep after taking the drug. Which made taking my first Ambien extremely scary. Thankfully, I just slept. To my knowledge.

But since I only take Ambien on rare occasions because I don’t want to get addicted, this leaves me many loooooong nights as a sleepless sucker, forever grateful for my midnight hour friends, Netflix, Candy Crush, and Facebook.

If you’re like me and suffer from insomnia, please share your misery in the comments below. As I mentioned before, misery loves company. I’d love to hear all about it. If you don’t have insomnia, why are you still here? Oh, I’m just kidding. Please share your secrets to success. We insomniacs would love to know!

Image courtesy of debspoons at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

 

 

Baby Boomer Bliss Receives Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog Award

I’m so proud to announce that my blog, Baby Boomer Bliss, has just been selected by panelists as one of the top 75 baby boomer blogs on the worldwide web.

Top 75 BadgesI started this blog three years ago after discovering that younger baby boomers are statistically the unhappiest age group. I planned to write a book to help boomers find joy and inner peace during what can be a challenging time in life and thought this blog would be a good platform. As I pointed out in a previous blog, the irony is, although it’s in the works, I have yet to finish that book.

But I’m still blogging and loving it. As I’ve poured out my heart and shared some empowering lessons during my journey through my life, my blog has come to mean so much more to me.

My blog has given me wonderful creative freedom to express myself and write about my passions. Writing a blog provides a wonderful opportunity to touch the lives of other people in a positive way. Thanks to all of you who have let me know that I have in some small way inspired you or provided useful information. That always makes my day and brings me such joy.

But as anyone who has tried to blog knows, finding an audience is anything but easy. The competition is downright fierce. At times, especially in the beginning, I’ve been discouraged with the numbers. It’s so easy to become obsessed with how many visitors and subscribers you’ve had on any given day.  But ever so slowly, people are discovering my little blog and that feels very rewarding.

To be perfectly honest, I still haven’t discovered how to draw in those huge numbers or how to get rich from my blog. But the fact that Feedspot included Baby Boomer Bliss on their comprehensive list of best Baby Boomer blogs gave me much needed inspiration and encouragement.

Woman Celebrates LaptopThe blogs that made their list were not only ranked on search rankings and their popularity on social media sites but on the quality of the blogs based on their editorial team and expert review. As with all my writing, I aim for excellence and top quality articles, so I’m most proud of this fact. So I’ll be displaying my award proudly in my sidebar!

Because sometimes you have to toot your own horn in this business so WOO HOO! Taking a minute to pat myself on the back (pat, pat) and do a happy dance (wiggle, jiggle).

If you’d like, you can check out their entire list of top baby boomer blogs by clicking here. I’m familiar and proud to be included with many of these excellent blogs such as Next Avenue (who came in at number one), Baby Boomer Café (who I’ve written a few articles for in the past), Gypsy Nesters (who have left a few comments on my blog – and I love to live vicariously through them as they travel the world), and Grandma’s Brief (I’ve joined a few of her link parties to help publicize boomer blogs).

My blog came in at #57, but being the competitive person I am, I’d love to move up the list! I’m beyond grateful to all 28,000 of you who have visited my blog – especially those who have subscribed or taken time from your busy lives to leave comments. And thanks to all my Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest followers as well.

So stick with me and let’s see what the future brings!

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Baby Boomer Cat Michaels Shares Advice for Aspiring Children’s Authors

Do any of you baby boomers dream about becoming a children’s author? Whether you want to write a book for friends or family or make it a profession, baby boomer and author/blogger Cat Michaels is here to help.

Cat Author Photo 3After logging more than two decades supporting students from kindergarten to college with learning disabilities and Asperger’s syndrome, Cat began using her experience to write books for beginning and reluctant readers during retirement.

In my interview with Cat, she shares her wisdom and experience, along with some valuable links for aspiring authors. As a fellow author I can tell you –  her advice is spot on!

As a bonus for my readers, Cat is offering a free chapter download from her latest children’s book, Sweet T and the Turtle Team  (you can read my review of her book here).

Without further ado, here is her interview:

Did you always dream of becoming an author one day? 

I’ve been a reader and scribbler forever, Julie.  I penned my first story in fourth grade, a tale about two girls traveling in a wagon train across the old-timey American west. As a teen, I spilled angst and uncertainty in my journals.  As an adult, I churned out press releases, staff newsletters, and customer magazine articles for a high-tech firm.  Later, I was a writing coach at a community college who supported students with learning disabilities and Asperger’s.   

First Grade Author Q&AWhen did you decide to write specifically for children and why? 

The transition from dreaming to doing hit me three decades ago. I was wracking my brain to find birthday presents for my then-young nieces and nephews.  (We lived states away, so I wanted something special for long-distance bonding.)  I decided to pen kooky stories featuring the birthday child.  

The recent explosion of technology and self-publishing tools provided the nudge I needed. I dusted off a few family stories, and they led to my chapter books and Sweet T Tale series for early and reluctant readers.  I love the freedom and creativity of being an Indie author!

How do you bring back memories of what it feels like to be a child? 

Hmmmm.  It’s a combination of imagination, observation, and exploring what interests kids today.  I search through photos or flip through my journals to recall feelings of the past.  

But it’s not all about writing from memories.   

When I visit schools, I talk to kids and ask for feedback on my writing ideas.  Youngsters today aren’t that different from kids of the Boomer generation.  Both care about siblings, friends, family, school, pets, etc., BUT 21st-century kids have a slew of tech gadgets I never imagined growing up in an age of clunky black phones with wires (gasp!) and TVs looking like giant toasters <winking here>.   

What advice do you have for others who are older but want to write for children? 

WritingHArdWorkMemeThere’s an important distinction between writing for family and writing for a wide audience.  In the former, print on demand (POD) publishers, like Amazon’s Create Space and Lulu, provide low-cost ways to create lovely books for your immediate circle.   

Don’t fret if you aren’t comfortable composing on a computer. You can write your tale long hand and recruit a friend or family member to prepare what your POD publisher requires. (Hint: look for a tech-savvy Millennial!) 

And you needn’t be an illustrator, either.  You and your tech guru can incorporate family photographs, use illustrations drawn by your young artists, or find free and low-cost images or art online at places like Pixabay or Shutterstock.    

On the other hand, if your dream is to publish a book for readers beyond family, I won’t sugarcoat how hard it is to succeed in today’s competitive Kid Lit market.   

Not impossible.  But writing for children isn’t a walk-in-the-park, skipping-along, tra-la kind of fun.  It’s really hard work! 

BlogGraphic_Cat's Book QuadrantsBe ready for a huge learning curve on the long road it takes to establish yourself as a traditionally published or indie author. The Children’s Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is the perfect place to start.  This international professional organization offers helpful advice and tools, and you can meet other kid lit folk at regional conferences.  Most SCBWI chapters also have robust social media communities for ongoing conversation and support. 

I see you grimacing there behind your computer screen! 

Yep.  Today’s authors must have a social media presence PLUS establish authentic connections with readers months (often years) before any book launch.  Not just indie authors.  Agents tell me they will not even consider previously published authors unless writers have established websites and social media platforms. 

Best to start with a single platform where your readers hang out….perhaps Facebook, since that behemoth is where most people are. (btw… since kids under 13-years old shouldn’t be on social media or do financial transactions, I look for platforms reaching those who purchase books for children, like parents, teachers, librarians, grandparents, etc.)   

It was overwhelming at first.  I had nothing, – zero, zip, nada – when I started.   

I slowly assembled an author website and Facebook page. Because I love tech, I taught myself how to create these things.  Many authors recruit family members or hire someone from the huge cottage industry, like Upwork or Fiverr  that supports writers.  (Caveat: please be sure anyone you hire is legit, and you get the quality you pay for.  It shouldn’t cost a fortune, either.)  

The good news: my fourth book was way easier to launch than my first because of what I learned in 48 months AND the amazing support from writers and readers I’ve met along the way.  (In fact, Julie was one of my first cyber pals.  We connected through an author-networking event in LinkedIn. I was so impressed with her warm introduction that I reached out to “talk” more, and we’ve been cyberpals ever since!) 

So, be prepared for a long haul as a children’s author.  But that’s the norm.  You’ll get there!  And please add me as one of your kid lit writerly connections on your journey <waving at you here>. 

What inspired you to help students with learning disabilities from kindergarten to college for more than two decades and how was this integrated in your current book?  

I come from a family of three generations of educators, so helping others learn is baked into my DNA. 

I watched children and adults with learning challenges work twice as hard to succeed. They were ostracized for being perceived as slow.  Bullied for riding the ‘short’ bus to school or getting lost on the way to class.  The intelligence is there, but quirky wiring in their brain frustrates and trips them up.  

I admire this determination and want to make learning easier (maybe even fun!) for all kids.  For example, my young protagonist, Sweet T, is on a mission to protect fragile sea turtle nests in Sweet T and the Turtle Team, and she  befriends Billy, a boy with a secret.  T can’t figure out why he’s nice one moment and grumpy the next.  She’s also puzzled when he refuses to read the Turtle Team Guide and help her monitor sea turtle nests Can’t say more — S*P*O*I*L*E*R*S. (If you’d like to preview my book and watch a video trailer on my website, I bet you’ll guess Billy’s secret, too!)

How can boomers who want to write incorporate life experiences in their writing? 

It’s all about writing what you know and what you love, and then looking for that golden intersection where your interests sync up with your readers’.  What do they want to know about? Be entertained by?  How can you bring your experience and passion to the page in a way that captivates your audience?   

For instance, I grew up along coastal Connecticut and love the ocean. Each of my books contains elements plucked from childhood or interaction with wee ones: magical aquariums, the illness of a beloved grandparent, or beachy settings featuring skimboards and sea turtles.  My characters are also a mash up designed for today’s Gen-1 reader, so it’s a mingling of past and present. 

At what age did you publish your first book? 

I published my first book in 2013, leaving the 9-5 grind after more than two decades to become an authorprenuer.  To be honest, Julie, I stopped counting birthdays long ago.  My neighbor turned 49 a while ago.  We both liked that age and decided to hang out there for a spell <chuckling here>.  

What advice would you give other boomers who want to achieve their goals and dreams? 

Ah, this calls for a proper think and soul searching.  How much time and capitol do you want to invest in your dream?  Is it a hobby?  More of a re-careering to generate income?   

Whatever direction you decide, do your research and take baby steps testing the new path, but never go it alone.   

You need friends and family to support you. When you run into roadblocks or want to get better at your new craft, it’s beyond helpful to have others walking with you.  Plus, there’s great joy when you pay it forward to those coming behind.  

It comes down to getting out of your comfort zone and stretching your wings.  Mercy, I laugh now, but I was terrified posting my first blog!  Scared nobody would read it. Scared somebody would read it.  Scared I embarrassed myself.   There’s nothing like the rush knowing you accomplished something that once felt impossible! 

And remember: it’s okay to walk away if you discover different dreams.  Just make sure you have fun along the way and go after them! 

*If you’d like to learn more about Cat, you can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

 

Baby Boomer Parenting – Did We Have it Easier Back in the Day?

I’m a Grandma of three – soon to be four. Like many baby boomers, I’m amazed at how raising children has changed so drastically over the years.

Oh, how I wish we had some of the modern conveniences like iPads that keep children so pleasantly quiet at restaurants and rides in cars with endless games and access to Netflix? After lugging Gameboys with all the games and heavy batteries during our trip to Europe in the early 80s so the kids would be entertained on trains, I’m jealous.

Still, the question begs to be answered. Is it easier or harder these days to raise kids?

Let’s compare.

My boys playing with the filthy pigeons in Venice in the 80s. Did I worry about all the diseases these birds can carry? Good or bad - the answer is: heck no!

My boys playing with the filthy pigeons in Venice in the 80s. Did I worry about all the diseases these birds can carry? Good or bad –
the answer is: heck no!

Meals Were Not As Complicated

Feeding our kids sure seemed simpler. Back in the day, we baby boomers didn’t cater to picky eaters with a kitchen that resembled a 24/7 restaurant devoted to each child’s preference. We didn’t spend endless hours trying to convince our kids to eat foods they may not like. In fact, if our kids didn’t like what we served up, too bad. They ate every bite thinking of those starving kids in Africa and said thank-you after finishing. If not, they could just go to their rooms and be hungry! No child ever starved to my knowledge.

We didn’t spend each waking moment worrying if our food was gluten-free or organic. We blissfully poured Lucky Charms into our kids’ bowls before “sugar” was a nasty word. We nuked TV dinners in our avocado green and harvest gold kitchens and packed their little metal lunchboxes full of Twinkies. If we worried at all about our kids getting enough nutrition, we popped a Flintstones vitamin into their mouths full of glucose syrup and color additives. Somehow our kids survived.

Mom JuicingSome parents today agree that in many ways baby boomers had it easier raising kids. Writer Erica June wrote in her article published by HuffPost, “How Parents in the ‘70s And ‘80s Had It Made:”

“Nowadays, moms know too much. We have to grind our own flax seeds, make our own organic vegetable purees and grow our own lettuce in order to avoid diseases, mutant strains of listeria and arteries so coated with hydrogenated oils that you could bobsled in them. Reading labels and learning all the different words that mean ‘genetically altered corn and soy’ is a full time job in itself.”

The stressed out mom and author of the book Toddlers Are A**holes: It’s Not Your Fault, Bunmi Laditan, took to Facebook to vent her frustrations. “Being a modern parent is terrible,” she wrote. “I’d give my left kneecap to have parented in the 70s or 80s when all you had to do to be considered a good mom is to remember to wind down the windows when you smoke in the car. I’m not cut out for this. Do you know what I’ve been doing this morning? VITAMIN SHOPPING. For 45 minutes I’ve been comparing children’s vitamins, reading online reviews, and, inflammatory blog posts backed by no science that I both fear and respect.”

She also wrote about the fearsome and judgmental attitude these days about parenting. “I’ve seen the way some parents look at me when I give my son a juice box at the park. It’s juice, not Red Bull or margarita mix so calm down.”

Her Facebook post went viral so apparently a lot of parents today can relate. She makes a good point. I mean, God forbid you spank a child in public or even yell at your children at the grocery store these days. Big Brother might report you.

Modern Conveniences and Technology – Good or Bad?

Yes, modern conveniences are nice. But has it gone too far? I watch young Moms hoisting their industrial-sized car seats and hauling strollers the size of golf carts around. Their homes are so full of ginormous high chairs, exersaucers, gliders, pack and plays, bouncy seats, and God knows what else, they can hardly move around. Their houses are full of ‘stuff’ while their wallets are empty.

StrollerWe baby boomers were happy with rickety but light car seats that doubled as carriers – before we knew of the dangers – and simple wooden highchairs did the trick. I bought my kids’ play clothes and toys at garage sales.

If we were really lucky we had one of those doorway jumpers. As June noted in her article: “The contraption girded up the baby’s crotch…induced bowlegged-ness and sterility, but it was unobtrusive. As long as no one forgot the baby was dangling there and decided to slam the door, that thing was world class.”

And yes, iPads, Smart phones, and computers are helpful – but just try and get kids off of them for two minutes. Then, there’s all the worries and concerns about the dangers of the Internet, social media, and child predators.

Catering to Children

Back in the day, we didn’t waste endless hours arguing with our children. “The look” did the trick most the time. If that didn’t work, we waved a wooden spoon in front of their faces. Today, parents seems to hang on every word their children utter while striving to accommodate their every wish.

Play dates? What was that? If our kids needed to find a playmate we sent them out into the neighborhood to see who was home. Of course, we reminded them that when the street lights came on to be sure and come home for dinner. Today, anxious Moms and Dads have these complicated, color-coated calendars on their iPhones that would confuse a rocket scientist chuck full of sport practices, music lessons, play dates, and private tutors.

Germs? Who cared? Our babies happily crawled and thrived in dusty shag carpets which were impossible to vacuum so the five-inch long strands were simply raked. Our kids would come home full of germs from playing in the mud digging for worms, but we didn’t blink an eye. If food dropped on the floor – hey, haven’t you heard about the five-second – or maybe even the five-day rule? We knew our kids would live to see another day and besides all those germs would build up their immune system.

Nowadays, germ-phobic parents bathe their kids in hand sanitizer. Everyone must take their shoes off when they enter the house. Shopping cart covers are suddenly a necessity. One cough in an enclosed room and mothers are ready to hook up their kid to an IV filled with the latest vitamins and supplements.

Did Baby Boomers Have it Easier Child-Rearing?

We certainly didn’t have to worry about school shootings back in the day. So maybe parents these days have a right to be more stressed. But, as I watch today’s anxious, striving-to-be-perfect parents, I want to tell them to loosen up a little.

I’m not alone. A self-confessed neurotic mother, Jancee Dunn, wrote in a Parents article that her mother tried to convince her to relax and enjoy the short period of parenthood that passes by way too fast. At first Jancee was a bit sarcastic. “Certainly, I had survived my mother’s more laissez-faire style of 1970s parenting,” she wrote. “Her idea of being protective was to throw her arm across me when we roared to a stop in the car, which would have been slightly more effective if I had been in the backseat or wearing a seat belt. But I have to give her credit: at least she glanced over to make sure the lighted cigarette she was holding didn’t set my hair on fire.”

But then she was forced to admit: “Still, my mother was right. There’s a fine line between vigilant and nuts, between besotted and berserk.”

Okay, okay. So we could have been a bit more vigilant in the day. By the way, not all us baby boomer parents smoked despite what the Millennials observe on Mad Men. I certainly didn’t! On the other hand, I do think young parents today can relax a bit.

But back to the question – easier or harder to raise children today? In the end, perhaps we can agree that raising children isn’t easy, no matter the decade.

We baby boomers certainly didn’t do everything right. Spam, really? Just because it was FDA approved didn’t mean it was actually meant to be consumed. And thank-goodness quality car seats and helmets make the world safer for our grandchildren.

But in a lot of ways, it was simpler to raise children back in the day. I sure worried a lot less and my two sons grew up just fine. So, I would say to you young parents, go easier on yourself. Quit trying to make your children’s lives perfect. They are going to be okay and so are you.

So, what are your thoughts on this issue? Was it easier to raise children as baby boomers? What lessons can we boomers share with the younger generation? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Images courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat and Vlado at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

 

 

20 Best Reading Quotes to Inspire Baby Boomer Book Lovers

Summer is the perfect time for some relaxation and reading. All you baby boomer book lovers out there, it’s time to break out your Kindle, dust off your favorite book, or head for your local library. It just so happens that August 9th marks National Book Lovers Day and it’s time to celebrate!

Reading on BeachIn honor of the day, my writer pals are sharing all the ways we adore reading with a #BookLuvHop. You can visit the awesome bloggers listed at the end of this post who share their libre passion.

To mark the occasion – and simply because I absolutely treasure books of all kinds – I’m sharing 20 inspiring quotes that will remind you of the power and pleasure of books.

Enjoy!

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.” – William Styron

“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.” – Anna Quindlen

“A good book is the purest essence of a human soul.” – Thomas Carlyle

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” – Charles William Eliot

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” -Cicero

“I never feel lonely if I’ve got a book – they’re like old friends. Even if you’re not reading them over and over again, you know they are there. And they’re part of your history. They sort of tell a story about your journey through life.” – Emilia Fox

Books Coffee“I love the smell of book ink in the morning.” – Umberto Eco

“The habit of reading is the only enjoyment I know in which there is no alloy. It lasts when all other pleasures fade. It will be there to support you when all other resources are gone. It will be present to you when the energies of your body have fallen away from you. It will last you until your death. It will make your hours pleasant to you as long as you live.” – Anthony Trollope

“A first book has some of the sweetness of a first love.” – Robert Aris Willmott

“What I see in the Bible, especially in the book of Psalms, which is a book of gratitude for the created world, is a recognition that all good things on Earth are God’s, every good gift is from above. They are good if we recognize where they came from and if we treat them the way the Designer intended them to be treated.” – Philip Yancey

“The world was hers for the reading.” – Betty Smith

“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.” – Dr. Seuss

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” – James Baldwin

Books Travel“Reading one book is like eating one potato chip.” – Diane Duane

“When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.” – Erasmus

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King

“I love books. I adore everything about them. I love the feel of the pages on my fingertips. They are light enough to carry, yet so heavy with worlds and ideas. I love the sound of the pages flicking against my fingers. Print against fingerprints. Books make people quiet, yet they are so loud.” – Nnedi Okorafor 

“If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” – Toni Morrison

“She sounds like someone who spends a lot of time in libraries, which are the best sorts of people.” – Catherynne M. Valente

Don’t you love these quotes that expresses our love of books so eloquently? So, thanks for visiting and I wish you a great summer as you delve into other worlds through the wonder of books.

Please visit these awesome bloggers next, who will inspire you and make you smile with more book loving in the #BookLuvHop:

Carmela Dutra

Rebecca Lyndsey

James Miller

Cat Michaels

Rosie Russell

Images courtesy of marcolm, amenic181, and jannoon028 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

 

Baby Boomer Cat Michaels Releases New Children’s Book

One fun thing about blogging is the awesome people you meet along the way. I connected with fellow baby boomer and children’s author, Cat Michaels, on LinkedIn and we’ve been cyber buddies ever since.

Cat Author Photo 3I love her story. Cat earned her master’s degree in special education and went on to support students with learning disabilities and Asperger’s Syndrome from kindergarten to college for more than two decades. Living in lovely North Carolina, she now uses her knowledge and skills to write chapter books for early and reluctant readers. Her books encourage children to use their imagination and solve kid-sized dilemmas with a twist of magic and mischief.

In a future blog, I’ll be interviewing Cat about living out her dreams as a children’s author later in life.

For now, I’m so excited to announce the release of her latest book, Sweet T and the Turtle Team, this month. If you have grandchildren, this delightful book is aimed at children ages 6 to 11. The book is available for pre-order now.

Sweet T and the Turtle Team is the third book of the Sweet T Tale Series. With a glossary, comprehension quiz, sea turtle hatch photo gallery, and discussion questions, the book delivers a powerful message about protecting marine life while helping readers empathize with children who struggle to read.

In celebration of the release of this book written by Cat and beautifully illustrated by Irene A. Johns, I am pleased to be part of a blog tour coordinated by BeachBoundBooks. The tour runs from July 12 to August 9, 2017.

Cat's Book Cover with Blog Dates

Curious for a glimpse of the book? Here’s a quick summary and a peek inside:

It’s nesting season for loggerhead sea turtles on North Carolina’s Gull Island. Nine-year-old Tara (or Sweet T as her family calls her) is determined to see hatchlings make it safely from their nests to their ocean home.

Summering on Gull Island with Great Aunt Mae could be tons of fun, but T is having a hard time making new friends, let alone finding kids to help monitor a sea turtle nest. A lonely Tara finally befriends Billy, a moody island child with a secret, but he stomps away when she asks him to join her in saving baby sea turtles.

When a tropical storm threatens the island, just as the sea turtle nest is ready to hatch, T is forced to abandon the nest and seek shelter.

Will Sweet T stay safe in the storm? Will the sea turtles survive the angry ocean waves? And what’s up with Billy anyway? Will he ever reveal his secret? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Cat Michaels Sample Page

I was pleased to be sent a review copy of Cat’s book. A story about saving sea turtles caught my eye right away since I’ve scuba dived with these magical creatures and immediately fell in love with them.

When you add in the combination of a tranquil island setting, the gentle message about empathy and compassion, all the enchanting illustrations, along with the clever inclusion of modern technology such as texting and iPads that kids will relate to – I was an instant fan.

The book will be released tomorrow, July 21, 2017, and is available today for pre-order at Amazon or iTunes. You can visit Cat’s blog to learn more about her and other books she has published.

Baby Boomers Downsizing: Millennial Children Don’t Want Family Heirlooms

Whether we’ve become empty nesters or are following the latest trend of decluttering, many of us baby boomers are downsizing.

SlidesThat means less space for all those sentimental family heirlooms passed down through the generations and stuff we’ve carefully collected over our lifetime. We may assume our children will be thrilled when we give them our most prized possessions.

Think again. Turns out the Millennials aren’t so hip on family heirlooms. Maybe this is what they mean by generation gap these days.

Do our children want all those photo albums we gingerly created over the years? Nah, our kids don’t know half the people in them anyway. You’re likely to get a request to scan the important photos and email them. And who uses photo albums anymore? Our grown-up children are busy capturing their own life moments digitally through Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

That gorgeous formal dining room set and china passed down through the generations? Where would our kids put it? Besides, Millennials entertain much less formally than we did back in the day. They prefer a more minimal lifestyle instead of the fussy, bulky, and formal furnishings we grew up on. You may very well get a polite no thank-you.

How about all those old report cards, trophies, and artwork you carefully tucked away for your children? All those sweet homemade cards they lovingly made for you? Surely, they’ll want their own sentimental treasures. Not so much. It seems Millennials aren’t as nostalgic as us boomers.

Odds are our grown children are following the current trend to live minimally themselves and don’t own a home with an attic or basement to store stuff. They may travel or move a lot.

Several articles have been written lately regarding this phenomenon and the resulting clash between the generations.

Should this cause hurt feelings on our part? Should we try laying a little guilt to knock some sense into our children’s heads? “This means so much to me.” “I paid a lot of money for this.” “This is part of our family history.”

Heck no! There’s a fine line between bestow and burden. I say we should listen to and respect our children’s wishes. Furthermore, we should be proud of them.

Our grown-up children refuse to be defined by their possessions. Isn’t that a good thing? Didn’t we snub our noses during the 60’s at people for being too attached to material possessions? Our children have become independent adults now, making their own decisions and creating their own lifestyle – not copying ours. Isn’t that what we raised them to do?

So what should baby boomers do with all our heirlooms and possessions?

Save those items that you can’t bear to lose. Use your china everyday instead of storing it. But don’t hang on to items year after year because you can’t bother to sort through your belongings.

Remember, all those heirlooms and possessions served their practical purpose. You used and enjoyed them through the years. If you think these things are still useful, sell or donate them to someone who really wants and will appreciate them.

With love in their hearts, your children made homemade gifts and cards for you. You relished them through the years and the gifts brought you joy. The gift-giving cycles is now complete. Keep a few items and let the rest go.

Whatever you do, don’t force your children to deal with all the clutter after you’ve passed away. Do your children a favor and have an honest discussion. Allow your children to take items they truly love and that work for their lifestyle.

Then go through the sorting process now while you’re still healthy. And take heart. Your children don’t need that ancient massive armoire to remember you fondly and keep you in their heart.

Image courtesy of varandah at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.