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.

Top Ten Sailing Quotes

Is it the feel of brisk sea air in your face, the disconnection from all the stress, noise, and worries, the sounds of the gentle lapping of the water at the helm and the hum of the wind in the sails, or the deep connection with nature, peace, and serenity?

Sailing 1Hard to point to one reason why sailing is so addicting. Add in the spiritual connection, the profound appreciation for God’s creations when you see joyful dolphins or playful sea lions.

My husband would no doubt describe how sailing makes you feel one with the boat, the wind, and the sea. How he loves the sense of control and skill, the elation of trimming the sails perfectly, the speed, the anticipation of adventure, and the freedom. It’s all that and more.

Whatever the case, I blame our addiction on my father who bought a small sailboat from a friend 35 years ago. We’ve been sailing ever since. A few years ago, my husband and I were fortunate to buy a 1972 25-foot MacGregor for a mere $1000 and some trade work. Nothing fancy, and sure, it needed some work, but it was fun fixing it up.

I’d highly recommend trying sailing at least once in your lifetime for some guaranteed bliss. Last weekend we had two perfect days of sailing which has inspired today’s blog. There’s actually a lot of wisdom in some of these quotes.

So here you go – here are 10 of my favorite sailing quotes along with some sailing photos sure to soothe your soul:

Sailing in Chicago

Sailing in Chicago.

Quote One:

“I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it’s because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it’s because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea – whether it is to sail or to watch it – we are going back from whence we came.”

John F. Kennedy’s remarks at the Dinner for the America’s Cup Crews, September 14 1962

 

My friend, Cindy, took this photo sailing in the Outer Banks.

My friend, Cindy, took this photo sailing in the Outer Banks.

Quote Two:

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than those you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

~Mark Twain

IMG_0579

The next generation – my grandson – learning to sail.

Quote Three:

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

— William Arthur Ward

Quote Four:

“hark, now hear the sailors cry,

smell the sea, and feel the sky

let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic…”

― Van Morrison

Sailing EveningQuote Five:

“We clear the harbor and the wind catches her sails and my beautiful ship leans over ever so gracefully, and her elegant bow cuts cleanly into the increasing chop of the waves. I take a deep breath and my chest expands and my heart starts thumping so strongly I fear the others might see it beat through the cloth of my jacket. I face the wind and my lips peel back from my teeth in a grin of pure joy.”

― L.A. Meyer, Under the Jolly Roger: Being an Account of the Further Nautical Adventures of Jacky Faber

Oh, all the elegance in those words. Here are five more famous quotes with some sage sailing advice that applies to life as well:

Quotes Seven Through Ten:

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide

Sailing 3

“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”~Franklin D. Roosevelt

“A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.” — John A. Shedd.

“I can’t control the wind but I can adjust the sail.”~Ricky Skaggs

“On a day when the wind is perfect, the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty. Today is such a day.” Rumi

Yes, today is such a day and always remember that the world is full of beauty. Hope these quotes and photos lifted your spirit a bit. I wish you all a happy day, happy sailing, and a happy life!

My husband, Scott, and I on our boat, the Jules of the Sea, last weekend.

My husband, Scott, and I on our boat, the Jules of the Sea, last weekend.

 

 

Ten Fun Things to Do with Your Grandchildren This Summer

GrandparentsLast summer, we were fortunate enough to take a trip to Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks with our son and his three children. We camped, hiked, and swam with our grandchildren and a good time was had by all.

Unfortunately, this summer we haven’t been able to get away. Plus, we live in the California desert where it’s super hot in the summer, so we’ve been forced to get creative. We can only swim so many hours!

If you’re in a similar situation and the grandkids are getting bored halfway through their summer vacation, what are some simple but fun things you can do with them at home?

Here are 10 fun ideas that will keep them entertained and create some special memories:

Teach the Joy of Gardening

When I finally got around to planting a garden at our new house, the grandchildren had a blast picking out seeds and plants. We made homemade signs and planted away. They are now are enjoying the fruits of their labor. My youngest granddaughter is the first one to run out to see what needs to be harvested when she gets to our house – but they all love it. (Of course, we have to do this in the evening hours here, but it stays light out until 8:00 PM right now.) If you don’t have a garden, take your grandchildren to a pick-your-own farm or your local Farmer’s Market to select some fresh produce for dinner.

Tea Time

Tea Party 2Last weekend, we had an old-fashioned tea party for my granddaughters. We visited the 99 cent store and picked up a very pink table cloth, Shopkin paper plates and napkins, some tiaras and tutus for guests, and princess rings for a treasure hunt. We invited a few guests and I put on an apron and served decaffeinated tea and juice, tiny sandwiches, and small pastries. Afterwards, we had a contest seeing who could throw the most tea bags into a teapot and who could stack sugar cubes the highest in 30 seconds.

Break Out the Board Games

My 7-year-old grandson, Rowan, can’t get enough of board games. We’ve had fun introducing him to some of our childhood favorites like Sorry, Monopoly, Life, and Clue. Did you know they have a Star War edition of Operation? Think we may get Twister next. Card games like Go Fish and Old Maid work as well. For that, all you need is a basic deck of cards.

Photo AlbumsGo Down Memory Lane

Kids love learning about things that are new to them, but were “cool” a long time ago. Share some stories along with a bit of family history. Show your grandchildren their parents’ baby books and photos – complete with tales about their first steps, first words, first foods, and all the mischief they got into as a child. Your grandkids will relish visualizing Mom or Dad as a pint sized peer instead of the person who tells them to clean up their room!

Have a Scavenger Hunt

When the kids have sleepovers or parties with their friends – this is always a hit! I make rhyming clues for them, but you can keep it simpler if you prefer. For example, turn an ordinary walk around the neighborhood into an exciting treasure hunt by giving your grandchild a list of things to find such as a red rock, a Y-shaped stick, or a bird’s feather.

Turn on the Sprinklers

We did it as kids and your grandkids will still love it! Put on your bathing suits and run through sprinklers in the backyard. Or get creative. We bought a simple octopus sprinkler and put it underneath the trampoline in the backyard for squeals of delight. Or hook up a hose to a slide and put a small inflatable pool at the bottom.

Jewelry BoxOpen Up Your Jewelry Box

My granddaughters love this! I have cherished jewelry my husband gave me, some jewelry I’ve inherited from my Mom, as well as inexpensive trinkets I’ve collected on world travels. Each one has an interesting story behind it and my two granddaughters, ages 9 and 5, love to hear them. Then I let them try on some inexpensive baubles so they feel like royalty.

Look at the Stars

Grandpa, Daddy, and I all have stargazing apps on our phones. We hold our mobile devises toward the sky and the app identifies constellations, stars, and planets. We use StarMap 3D+, but there are many great apps – some are free – available. Some apps will tell you when the Space Shuttle is orbiting by your home or when the next lunar eclipse or meteorite shower will take place. Great stuff!

Learn a New Language Together

Once again, there are tons of apps you can use or you can check out a book from the library. Learn some words and phrases, then travel to a place or nearby community that speaks that language and practice your newfound skills. My husband and I both know how to sign and have had fun teaching our grandchildren. They learn fast! The TV program, Signing Time on Netflix, is a great place to start if you’re interested in ASL. Tween and teens will enjoy the series, Switched at Birth. We’re fortunate to be in a sign language congregation, so the kids can practice with deaf people and learn more about their culture.

YoyoToys of Yesteryear

We had a 60s anniversary party a while ago for my son and his wife. The grandchildren were invited and I got a hold of a Bozo, some Mad Men paper dolls complete with outfits, hula hoops, and a Lite Brite to keep them busy with theme-related toys. That was a few years ago – and they still play with those toys! All those classic toys you remember fondly like Lincoln Logs, Play Doh, Mr. Potato Head, Barbie, Spirograph, Slinky, and Etch-a-Sketch are still around. Purchase one of your favorite toys as a kid and go down Memory Lane with your grandkids. Or teach them how to fold homemade paper airplanes and have a contest to see whose flies the farthest.

There you go! Ten ideas to get you started for some summertime fun with the grandchildren. And if all else fails, introduce the kids to an old-fashioned classic movie like Marry Poppins, Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz, Singing in the Rain, Yellow Submarine, The Black Stallion, or the original Willy Wonda and the Chocolate Factory. Here we are watching Mrs. Doubtfire while chowing down on popcorn.

Grandkids an a movie

Have a great rest-of-the-summer with the grandkids!

Images courtesy of photostock, artur84, Pong, and AKARAKINGDOMS  at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Five Uplifting Things You Should Tell Yourself Every Day

There is this quote I saw on Pinterest: “What you tell yourself every day will either lift you up or tear you down.”

Depressed ManLike that song, “You Had a Bad Day,” Monday was a terrible day for me. I’ll spare you the details, but no matter what I tried, I felt rattled, my feelings were hurt, and I felt sad and depressed. I cried a bucket of tears and blew my diet by eating tons of Doritos.

Oh, I’m sure you’ve been there and know what I’m talking about.

So I woke up the next morning asking myself what I needed to tell myself to turn things around. The following is a list I came up with after some thought. Not that these words were a cure-all, but they did help me to have a better day.

My hope is that you can tell yourself these words when you’re having a bad day – or on any day preferably first thing in the morning – and have a happier day as well.

Here’s my list:

#1 Today is a New Day

New DayWhen you’re feeling down, this is actually a great thought. I woke up the next morning and got a do-over. I resolved to lean on God for strength and gave him thanks for another day of life.

I enjoyed savoring some quiet time with my first cup of coffee, and reminded myself that each day is brimming with opportunities and possibilities. Every new day offers a chance to make necessary changes that will make us happier, nourish ourselves spiritually, be whoever we want to be, improve ourselves, learn something new, eat healthier, take steps to promote healing in our lives, or make someone else’s life better.

If you are looking for ways to start your day on a positive note, check out my blog, Ten Ways To Start Your Morning Right, for some inspiration.

As a famous quote wisely says: “It’s never too late. If you weren’t happy with yesterday, try something different today.”

#2 This Too Shall Pass

My Mom used this phrase a lot with us kids and I use it like a chant sometimes. Coincidentally, a friend who knew I was having a bad day, texted me this great reminder. As I wrote in a previous blog, when we’re in the middle of a crisis, loss, or setback, we may feel like the situation and the emotions that come with it will last forever, yet it inevitably passes.

Life goes on and takes us with it. With God’s help, our ability and infinite capacity to endure and bounce back is far greater than we think.

#3 Let It Go

ForgiveLike driving a car, we may glance behind us every once in a while, but we can’t move forward if we’re concentrating on the road behind us. Let go of the past and let go of all those angry feelings, bitterness, and resentment.

Don’t allow someone else’s actions to dominate your life. Choose to embrace forgiveness and move forward. It is only through forgiveness that we find peace, freedom, empowerment, and happiness.

#4 Do Not Allow Anxious Thoughts to Steal Away Joy

This is a hard one of me. I have a tendency to get stressed out, worry excessively, feel overwhelmed, and overthink problems. I’ve written quite a few blogs on this subject, and I’m still working on it.

Being anxious is more than just a waste of time. It makes us suffer, zaps our energy, damages our health, and accomplishes nothing.

So, I got up the next morning and told myself to stop. To use the power of prayer for the peace of God that excels all thought. To notice the small and ordinary things that can make my day special and savor moments with my loved ones. To exercise and breathe deeply whenever I needed to calm myself. To do something that brings me joy. And to replace negative thoughts with more productive ones.

I know all this stuff, but I needed reminders. What can I say? It’s a work in progress.

#5 I Can Create Any Feeling I Want

That’s such an empowering thought. While it’s true, we can’t control everything that happens to us and what other people do or say, we are not powerless over our emotions. Other people and situations do not determine our feelings. We do.

Feeling sad, frustrated, stressed, or angry are not our only choices. We can choose to feel peaceful, grateful, and content. Not always an easy process, but doable. (See my previous blog, Happiness is Easy as 1-2-3, for steps on how to do so).

The fact is that only we, and we alone, have the power to create any feeling we desire.

So that was my self-inflicted pep talk today. Please share what phrases you feel are “musts” for a happier day in the comments below!

Images courtesy of graur codrin, FrameAngel, and Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

What to See and Do in Chicago

The debate was on. It was me and hubby’s 38th anniversary and we had two free domestic airline tickets. Where would we go? Hubby’s top pick was Chicago. I had never been and wasn’t sure what there was to do in the Windy City, but went along with the ride.

Am I glad I did! If you go, what should you do? Where should you stay? Where should you eat? Here is my itinerary along with some tips:

Day One: The Whitehall Hotel and John Hancock Center

The View from the John Hancock Center

The stunning view from the John Hancock Center.

We landed in O’Hare at about 3:00 p.m. and took the “L” train – or Chicago’s version of the subway – into the city. Here’s my personal opinion and first piece of advice. Whether you’re in New York, London, or Chicago, if you want to get a true feeling for the city and its residents, forget the taxis. Ride the subway as much as possible.

Second piece of advice: use Hotwire. Maybe you’ve had a different experience, but they haven’t steered me wrong yet. The disadvantage is you don’t know exactly where you’ll be staying until you book it, but that’s part of the adventure and you usually pay about half price. I typed in a four star hotel and ended up at Whitehall Hotel. An older, remodeled hotel in Magnificent Mile (the swanky area of Chicago with expensive shops and trendy restaurants) with a super friendly doorman. Great stay.

chicago the tilt

The Tilt – and yes, it tilts down to give you that extra sense of vertigo.

We only had a few hours, and the John Hancock Center was a block away, so that’s where we headed. The observatory is now called 360 degree Chicago with spectacular views of the waterfront and Chicago’s famous skyline.

Although there is much debate whether the John Hancock Center or Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) is the better option, we decided to do both. So which one did I think was better? Hard to say. John Hancock had a better view of the waterfront, a bar where we sat and had a drink (there’s no such place at Willis), and The Tilt. For an extra $7 you can lean against a glass wall that actually tilts down so you can have an extra dose of vertigo from 1,000 feet up. Fortunately, it wasn’t crowded the day we went and I didn’t get a chance to see how this worked before I jumped on – and was shocked the wall moved. I’m afraid of heights and am darn proud I did this! Willis Tower (which I write about below) has the famous Skydeck and a better view of the river. It is a bit expensive, but since we didn’t know when we would return to Chicago, we splurged and did both. No regrets.

We had dinner at Fornett Mei. This charming Italian restaurant, conveniently tucked next to Whitehall, has plenty of ambiance, phenomenal service, and great food. We had a specialty thin crust grape and sausage pizza. Sounds like an odd combination, but it was delicious.

Day Two: Willis Tower, Cloud Gate, River Walk, and Sunset Cruise

chicago skydeck

I’m afraid of heights but got up the nerve to sit on the famous Skydeck – over a thousand feet in the air with a glass bottom.

Jumped the subway and started day two at Willis Tower. I figured we’d get my fear of the heights completely out of the way so I could enjoy the town with my feet firmly planted on the ground the rest of the time. The elevator ride itself was exhilarating. Up 103 floors in 90 seconds with a video that lets you know when you are as high as the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower. Freaked me out a bit, but interesting. When you get off the elevator you’re a whopping 1,353 feet in the air with great views 50 miles out and you can actually see four states on a clear day.

Okay, let’s talk the Skydeck. These famous scary glass boxes extend out four feet with views all the way down. As I mentioned before, even though I’m afraid of heights, I was determined to do this. I’ve had a rough few years and I just wanted to start living again. The secret? Don’t look down. Step out, refuse to think of how high up you are, and look straight at the camera thinking of the awesome photo you’ll have to share with family and friends. I only looked down as I was ready to safely step off. The view was terrifying, but I’m still happy I did it.

chicago cloud gate

The view from underneath Chicago’s famous landmark, Cloud Gate, nicknamed The Bean because of its shape.

Next stop. We walked to Cloud Gate in Millennium Park for some cool pictures. Be sure and walk around this beautiful park in the middle of the city.

One interesting sight is the Crown Fountain with two glass block towers at each end of a shallow reflecting pool. The towers project faces of Chicago residents with water flowing through an outlet that makes it look like water is spouting from their mouths.

Then off to the River Walk with spectacular views. We ate at O’Brien’s – great hamburgers, good service, and the perfect spot to relax on the river.

chicago river walk

The gorgeous River Walk where you can catch a boat tour, walk, or rent a kayak.

 

My sister, Joanie, booked us a sunset cruise for an anniversary present which included an architectural tour of the city’s famous buildings at dusk, then a cruise ride on Lake Michigan for views of Chicago’s magnificent skyline after dark. Very romantic!

If you take one of the sunset cruises you can see Chicago's skyline during daylight, sunset, and at night.

If you take one of the sunset cruises you can see Chicago’s skyline during daylight, sunset, and at night.

Day Three: Sailing Lake Michigan

Me and hubby own a sailboat and have been sailing for 30 years. We rented a boat and took a relaxing sail on Lake Michigan, the second largest Great Lake, with Chicago’s skyline in the background. The wind was great! You can rent a captained boat if you don’t know how to sail.

Sailing from Belmont Harbor.

Sailing from Belmont Harbor.

Another transportation hint: Taking the subway to Belmont Harbor, located in Lincoln Park, seemed a bit complicated, so we called Uber. I personally prefer Uber over taxis. The drivers seemed more relaxed and friendly. In fact, as a writer, I enjoyed getting their life stories.

As a bonus, most, but not all, had lived in Chicago their entire lives and were happy to make recommendations.

We just happened to be there when the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Chicago at Navy Pier was taking place which put my husband in seventh heaven. After watching the trials, our Uber driver and other locals recommended the very casual Al’s Italian Beef for a typical Chicago meal. We ate their award-winning steak sandwich with sweet peppers. Yum. If you visit Chicago, also try their specialty popcorn – a delectable combination of sweet caramel and savory cheese.

Of course, you can’t visit Chicago without trying their signature deep dish pizza. Lou Mainati’s Pizzeria on Rush Street was recommended by a local and within walking distance of our hotel. Tried their famous recipe that has been handed down through generations and considered one of the oldest family names in Chicago and fell in love!

Day Four: The Art Institute of Chicago

chicago art museum

The famous American Gothic at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Okay, this is going to make me sound terrible and uncultured, but museums are not normally at the top of my list of things to do when visiting a new place. I’d rather be outside having new experiences.

Except in big cities with museums brimming with impressive and stunning collections. In New York, you must see the Met and when you visit Paris you’d be remiss not to see the Louvre. Chicago has many world-acclaimed museum, but perhaps most famous is it’s Art Institute. With more than 300,000 artworks and artifacts from all over the world and every era, famous modern and contemporary art, and fabulous views of Millennium Park, it’s a must-see. Bonus for me – the miniature rooms – which I’ve been fascinated with since I was a kid. Even Ferris Bueller visited the museum. He had the right idea.

One of my sister’s friends, a former Chicago resident, recommended Carmine’s on Rush Street for dinner. On Magnificent Mile, it was fun watching the Lamborghini’s pull up with the happening crowds dressed to the nines. Affordable for downtown Chicago, the food was fabulous. We had baked clams as an appetizer – to die for!

Ah, alas, time to go home. After watching the news recently about three hour waits at O’Hare, we got there nice and early. We got through security in about 10 minutes and then had a lot of time to kill. We were the first ones at our gate. Guess everyone else knew better and somehow I didn’t get the memo!

As you can tell, I fell in love with Chicago. It ranks right up there with my other favorite cities: Sydney, Seattle, London, and Paris. If you ever get the chance, don’t miss visiting this welcoming, clean, exciting, and fun city!

CURRENTLY: How I’m Finding my Bliss the Summer of 2016

One of my fellow bloggers asked me to join a blog hop to share where we are currently in life. Our dreams and what we’re reading, watching, listening to, and loving in the CURRENTLY Summer 2016 Blog Hop.

In other words, how am I finding my bliss this summer? Sounded like a fun idea and I’m game. So sit back, have a read, and enjoy.  Then visit the other #Gr8Blogs  listed at the end of this post  for more Summer 2016 CURRENTLY inspiration.

Here we go…

Scott and Julie Skydeck*Loving…

My hubby. We celebrate our 38th anniversary on the 17th of this month and I’m beyond grateful for every moment I’ve had with the love of my life.

I’m also loving Chicago, where we went on our anniversary trip (which I’ll be writing about in my next blog). Here’s a picture of us 1,353 feet up on the famous Skydeck. First time visiting this fabulous city and it ranks right up there with my other favorite cities: Seattle, Sydney, London, and Paris.

*Reading…

If you read my blog, you know I just finished reading a copy of legendary teen idol Bobby Rydell’s autobiography for a book review. I’m excited that this man, famous for hits like Volare and starring in Bye Bye Birdie, did an interview for me as well. His answers to my questions were brutally honest – which is so refreshing.

Book at BeachI just started reading a new book, Descent, by Tim Johnston. The publisher calls the novel a “literary thriller.” As a review by the Washington Post notes, “It’s a thriller because it concerns a girl of 18 who is abducted during a family vacation in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. It’s literary because Johnston’s prose is lyrical, even poetic, to a degree rarely found in fiction, literary or otherwise.” Sounds like the perfect summer read and I’m on board!

*Watching…

10 Cloverfield Lane. Man, I haven’t seen a movie this good in a long time. If you haven’t seen it yet, the less you know, the better. Don’t read any reviews. Here’s what you need to know: This movie captures your attention immediately and keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. The acting is phenomenal. John Goodman defines the word creepy. The tense, chilling thriller reminds me a bit of Hitchcock and will keep you guessing to the end. Oh, and the ending! Just spectacular and guaranteed to knock you off your feet. A must-see. It just debuted on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and On Demand on June 14, 2016. Check it out!

(For the perfect feel-good, funny, and inspiring movie, watch Eddie the Eagle. Just watched last night and loved! Hugh Jackman is just perfect in his role.)

As far as TV, love Big Bang Theory to make me laugh. And I’m oh so ashamed to admit I’m hooked on the trashy but entertaining Bachelorette. Don’t ask me to explain why.

Music*Listening…

Paul McCartney is releasing his latest album this month, Pure McCartney, a collection of 67 of his hits starting in 1970. It includes songs like “Maybe I’m Amazed” and “Live and Let Die.” Sounds cool, but recently, I discovered this laid back solo from his debut album: “That Would be Something.” Unfortunately, the song didn’t make the final cut for his album, but I’m obsessed with it. Click here to check out a live performance of this simple but oh-so-groovy song.

*Thinking About…

Oh my, many, many things are rattling about in this brain of mine. June 13th was the first anniversary of my Mom’s death, so she is definitely on my mind. I’m trying to focus on all the good memories we shared instead of the awful memories of her death – and succeeding fairly well. I’m attending a sign language Bible convention this month, so I’m having good spiritual vibes. And I’m kicking around ideas for an eBook (it would be my first) and whether I actually want to write one or not. It would be a ton of work writing and promoting it. Then again, maybe I’ll just keep freelancing for magazines writing fun lifestyle and travel articles and enjoy the simple pleasures of summer. Then, I’ll do this debate in the fall. Yeah, that sounds better. 

*Anticipating…

This may explain my fascination I mentioned above with Paul McCartney, but I’m going to see him live at Desert Trip in October along with the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and the Who. Can’t wait!

*Wishing…

I’m a lucky girl and many of my wishes have already come true. But at the top of my bucket list is a trip to Africa.

*Making Me Happy…

Life. Grateful for each and every day. My faith. My husband, my children, my grandchildren, the rest of my family and friends. My writing. Good memories. Sailing. My many blessings.

grandkids and puppy*Seeing in My Camera Lens…

No brainer. My adorable three grandchildren, of course! Here they are happy with their new puppy.

So there you go. Thanks for stopping by! For more Currently -Summer 2016 inspiration, visit the #Gr8blogs below. And hey, if you’re pumped about writing your own Currently – Summer 2016 post, just add your family-friendly Currently link to your blog post in the comment section. We’ll visit your blog and give you some blog love!

JD’s Writer Blog

C*U*R*R*E*N*T*L*Y What I’m Up To!

Cat Michaels, Cat’s Corner

CURRENTLY Blog Hop Summer 2016: Dreams, Inspiration of a Writerly Life

Corrina Holyoake, Venturing Into the Unknown

CURRENTLY Blog Hop – Summer Dreaming

Carmela Dutra, A Blog for your Thoughts

CURRENTLY: A Blog Hop of What I’m Up To

Auden Johnson, Dark Treasury

CURRENTLY Blog Hop – Summer 2016

 

Images courtesy of marcolm and imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Julie Gorges’ Interview with Bobby Rydell: Baby Boomer Bliss

The media has deemed Bobby Rydell the “Justin Bieber of the Camelot Era.”

You baby boomers may balk at the idea of comparing Bobby with the Bieber, but no doubt you recall the teen heart throb for his boyishly All-American good looks with his pompadour hair and his famous hits including ”Wild One” and “Volare” with fond memories. You may also remember him for his acting and comedic skills when he appeared on The Perry Como Show, The Red Skelton Hour, The Jack Benny Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Joey Bishop Show, and as a regular on The Milton Berle Show.

And who could forget his role in Bye Bye Birdie with Ann-Margret, Dick Van Dyke and Janet Leigh – which he revealed to me in an interview was one of his proudest accomplishments.

PHOTO CREDIT: Bobby Bank/WireImage

PHOTO CREDIT: Bobby Bank/WireImage

But what a lot of you may not know is the deeply personal, inspiring, and extraordinary back story behind this fascinating man. Rydell has shared his story in his new autobiography, Teen Idol on the Rocks. You can click here to read my review of the book.

Rydell shares some of those personal and sometimes painful memories with me in the following interview.

His humble honesty knocked my socks off. For example, in the interview Rydell admits his beloved wife handled every aspect of their lives. After she died, he didn’t know how to pay a bill or schedule a doctor’s appointment. Calling himself “a pampered star for years,” Rydell confesses he was terrified. Or when asked what he felt what was his biggest accomplishment, after mentioning Bye Bye Birdie, he stated, “In hindsight, maybe my greatest achievement is still being here at the age of 74 after all the destructive behavior of my earlier years.”

Those brutally honest personal memories is what makes his book so great and what makes you want to give this man a hug! This legendary star is scheduled to be interviewed by Rolling Stone’s contributing editor and Grammy-winning essayist, Anthony DeCurtis, next month. So, I feel super honored he took the time out from his hectic schedule to answer my questions via email. Thank you, Bobby!

Without further ado, here’s the interview. Enjoy!

What made you decide to write an autobiography?

For years I’d sit around with musicians and other friends after my concerts telling old war stories and everyone would say, “You gotta be crazy not to write all this stuff down.  You should put a book out.” I’ve led a pretty colorful life to say the least, so I finally decided to do it. The first thing I did was contact my friend Allan Slutsky who was a guitarist and an arranger who I’d worked with off and on since 1992. Allan won the Rolling Stone “Ralph J. Gleason Award” for music book of the year in 1989 when he wrote Standing In The Shadows of Motown. A few years later, he won a few Grammys and a dozen film awards when he produced a film version of the book.  So it was a pretty logical choice to want to hook up with him on this project.

Did you have any objectives in mind that you wanted to achieve by sharing your story?

That whole Bobby-Soxer, Cameo-Parkway era happened a long time ago.  My old fans still remember everything, but I’m hoping the story of guys like me and Chubby Checker, the Dovells, Frankie Avalon, Fabian and other musical stars from that era can get documented and reach a new audience. And then, since my life was saved by double transplant surgery (a new liver and kidney) after drinking myself to within an inch of death, it gives me an opportunity to urge people to consider being organ donors in the event of a premature death. I wouldn’t be here today if someone hadn’t made that same decision. Her name was Julia, and she’ll always be my angel.

How long did it take you to write the book? Tell me a little bit about the process. Any quirky writing habits?

About, eighteen months.  Allan would come over my house, turn on the tape recorder (he was actually using old fashioned cassettes), and he’d start firing questions at me while he took notes. At first we did general topics chronologically and then he’d return at a later date and go into detail about specific things.  Then he’d take the material home and return with a chapter and we’d go over it together. I might see something like a story he didn’t quite get right and make a correction, or I might say something like, “That’s not what I was feeling at the time,” or, “I’d never say something like that.” The funniest moments came when we went back and forth trying to get all the Italian slang words and Philly-isms to lay right.

You list many achievements in your book, but what do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

Starring in Bye Bye Birdie with Ann-Margret, Dick Van Dyke and Janet Leigh would definitely be one of them. Before that, I was just a good looking kid with a great pompadour who could sing, tell a joke, and do imitations. But I had to become an actor and a dancer for Birdie. I really grew as an artist in that film. And evolving into someone who can really do justice to songs from the Great American Songbook means a lot to me. When I was a teen idol, I sang simple pop songs, but in my ‘60s and ‘70s, I really got comfortable being an old fashioned saloon singer on songs like “All of Me,” “You and the Night and the Music,” and other great standards. In hindsight, maybe my greatest achievement is still being here at the age of 74 after all the destructive behavior of my earlier years.

You share some intimate and personal stories in your book. What were the hardest life stories to write about and why?

Definitely the stuff about my wife’s dying of cancer and my overbearing, stage-mother. The stage-mother thing was a much needed chance to vent and get stuff off my chest after decades of arguments and fights with my Mom. She was bi-polar with a little bit of evil mixed in. It’s hard for people to believe some of the things she did because she always showed a different face to outsiders who knew her. As for my wife—she’d been my childhood sweetheart since I was a young teenager, and we were married for more than three decades.  Her loss and my struggles with the bottle that followed couldn’t be anything but agony to talk about.  But I was also terrified because she’d handled every aspect of my life from the time we got married.  I didn’t know how to pay a bill, write a check, or schedule a doctors appointment.  She did all that stuff.  I’d been a pampered star for years, but now I was on my own and it terrified me.

What do you want readers to take away from your book?

I’d like people to look at me as not just a singer, or an actor, or comedian, but also as a survivor. I could have packed it in many times but I was always bailed out by the kindness of other people and by the music. I wanted to live to sing another day.

You are 74 years old, yet I see from your website you have many upcoming events planned. What keeps you motivated?

I’m the kind of guy who’ll sing and perform until I die. It’s all I’ve ever known. I still get antsy when I haven’t hit a stage for a while. I still love what I do. When I can’t do it anymore, you might as well start shoveling the dirt on top of me.

If you want to read more about Rydell’s incredible story, TEEN IDOL ON THE ROCKS is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and book stores throughout America. Autographed copies and books with customized personal messages can be ordered exclusively at www.bobbyrydellbook.com.

For a list of his ongoing concert performances, both solo and alongside fellow South Philly “Golden Boys” Frankie Avalon and Fabian, you can check out the dates on his site. Also keep an eye out for his role next year in movie, The Comedian, with Robert De Niro.

Here is a schedule of special events and book signings:

TEEN IDOL ON THE ROCKS ON TOUR

Bobby Rydell: Intimate Guest Performance & Book Signing: Thursday, June 30, 2016, 8 p.m. 

Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, 7719 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814. Tickets & Info: 240.330.4500. For more information, visit www.bethesdabluesjazz.com

Bobby Rydell In Conversation with Rolling Stone senior editor, Anthony DeCurtis, followed by a book signing: Wednesday, July 27, 2016, 8 p.m.

Buttenwieser Hall, 1395 Lexington Avenue at 92nd St., New York, NY 10128, Tickets & Info: 212-415-5500. For more information, visit www.92y.org

An Intimate Evening with Bobby Rydell – The Original Teen Idol
“Concert Conversation and Book Signing”: 
Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Tim McLoone’s Supper Club, 1200 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ 07712
Dinner/Doors: 6:00pm – Show: 8:00pm
Tickets & Info: 732-774-1155

Includes an intimate evenings of musical performances including Rydell’s hits songs like “Volare,” “Wild One,” “Sway,” and others, but Rydell will also share stories from his incredible life.  For more information visit www.umtpresents.com.

Book Signings

Tuesday, June 21, 2016, 7-9 p.m.

B&N – Rittenhouse Square, 1805 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA

Sunday, June 26, 2016, 2-4 p.m.

B&N – Clifton, 395 NJ Rt. 3, Clifton, NJ

Saturday, July 23, 2016, 1-3 p.m.

B&N – Plymouth Meeting, 2300 Chemical Road, Plymouth Mtg., PA

Tuesday, August 16, 2016, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Doylestown Bookshop, 16 S. Main Street, Doylestown, PA

Saturday, October 8, 2016, 3-5 p.m.

Main Point Book Store, 116 North Wayne Avenue, Wayne, PA

Friday, October 14, 2016, 2-4 p.m.

Wildwood Crest Library, 6300 Atlantic Avenue, Wildwood Crest, NJ

Saturday, October 22, 2016, 1-3 p.m.

Books & Greetings, 271 Livingston Street, Northvale, NJ

Saturday, November 19, 2016, 1-3 p.m.

B&N – Broomall, 1991 Sproul Road, Broomall, PA

 

The Story of Bobby Rydell

If you’re a baby boomer, you’ll remember Bobby Rydell. This teen idol heartthrob – and what a cutie he was – exploded on the scene in the 1960s with hits like Kissin’ Time, Wild One, and my personal favorite, Volare.

Rydell appeared on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand in 1959, and went on to sell more than 25 million records during his career.

Bobby Rydell book coverNow 74 years old, Rydell has written an honest and compelling autobiography: TEEN IDOL ON THE ROCKS: A Tale of Second Chances. I was privileged to receive a review copy and gave the book a read over the weekend.

Baby boomers will enjoy Rydell’s memories of his childhood in South Philly back in the day when no one locked their door and the best places to meet girls was at the local ice cream parlor.

The stories about his rise to stardom at the tender age of 17 and the famous people he met along the way are also fascinating. For example, Sammy Davis Jr. wanted a homemade Italian meal and Rydell’s grandma offered to cook for them. Eager to impress, Rydell was relieved when the dinner went well, but you can feel his horror when his grandmother brings out watermelon for dessert because that’s what she thought “they liked.” Sammy couldn’t quit laughing but Rydell was mortified beyond words.

There are also fascinating stories about Dick Clark, Red Skeleton, Frankie Avalon, Fabrian, and Ann Margaret.

But what touched me the most were Rydell’s personal, brutally honest stories. He describes his relationship with his bipolar, manic depressive stage mother back in the day when little was understood about mental illness.  Rydell pours out his heart telling the story of his first love, Camille, to whom he was married for 35 years. She later suffered from breast cancer and your heart will break as you read how he felt “sheer terror” at the thought of losing her.

However, Rydell doesn’t offer these events as an excuse for his slide into alcoholism. In this day and age when stars, and people in general, play the blame game, it was so refreshing to read how Rydell takes full personal responsibility for his drinking and the dire consequences.

Readers will cheer as they read how he faced a double organ transplant and later double heart bypass surgery with admirable courage and gratitude for his second chances in life. He eloquently expresses his gratefulness to his donor, a young 21-year-old girl named Julia, who was tragically hit by a car and killed.

Rydell manages to come through all his fame and trials shining with optimism and heart as he finds a new love and makes a successful comeback. Yes, this man is still touring and you can still catch his act. If you want to purchase his book (autographed books are available), attend a book signing, or check out his tour dates, be sure and visit Rydell’s site.

 

How I Lost a Pound a Day

I know, I know. Losing a pound a day may not sound like a healthy way to lose weight, but stay with me.

And in case you’re wondering, I’m not getting paid to promote some crazy diet. Not a penny. This blog is completely unbiased and just a helpful hint for those of you who may be dealing with weight issues like me.

I’ve shared my struggles with losing weight in previous blogs like My Menopausal Middle. In my 50′s as a post-menopausal woman, the weight just wouldn’t quit creeping up on my body. And losing weight seemed impossible.

Diet AdviceWe all know health and happiness are directly related. So, after a doctor’s visit with a polite warning that I had gained 10 pounds since my last visit, I was ready to take action.

In the past, I had used Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig to lose weight, but those diets didn’t seem to work for me anymore. I’d lose weight the first couple of weeks and then my body seemed to catch on that I was up to something and put a screeching halt to the whole process.

It’s still early on, but I think I found a new diet that actually works for me. I’ve lost five pounds in five days eating foods I actually like – and I don’t feel like I’m starving.

Before I reveal the name of the diet, however, let’s play a game of 20 questions – except we’ll only use five.

Who am I? Here are your hints:

  • I used to be a fat guy.
  • I am 49 years old and an award-winning chef.
  • I had my own cooking reality show.
  • I have written 11 cookbooks, including five New York Times best sellers.
  • I was named People magazine’s “Sexiest Chef.”

Did you guess? If not, the answer is the very cute Rocco Dispirito.

As Rocco said in a recent New York Times interview, his doctor half-jokingly told him 10 years ago, “You might want to start writing your will because I don’t like what I see in your numbers.” With his parents’ history of heart disease, the doctor predicted a bad outcome 20 years down the road.

The doctor’s visit was a wake-up call. That and his inability to wear a regular chef’s jacket anymore, which he says was totally humiliating.

Diet Getting ThinThus began his journey toward discovering the secrets of fast and effective, but not tortuous, weight loss.

Two years ago, after watching Rocco on a TV show discuss his weight loss program, I went out and bought his book, The Pound a Day Diet.

I hated the name of the book, because it sounded like another Hollywood extreme fad diet. In fact, this diet has its share of critics because of the rapid weight loss and possible side effects.

For example, although a diet designed for quick weight loss can help keep dieters on track, ABC News’ Dr. Jennifer Ashton noted, she added that in some cases these types of diets can be associated with risks. Those risks include electrolyte abnormalities, cardiac consequences, and multiple other medical issues. So, with that in mind, clear this diet with your doctor before beginning.

Even though I was put off by the title, Rocco said in the TV interview that the diet was based on a Mediterranean diet with lots of veggies, fruits, and lean protein which were put into use in fast and easy-to-cook, tasty recipes. That part made sense to me.

Alas, my life got really crazy after that care giving for my Mom and I never got around to using the book. But last week, I pulled it off the bookshelf and decided to give it a try.

Now, the first phase of the diet is super strict – with six small protein-packed meals equaling only about 850 calories a day during the week and 1,200 calories on the weekend. This phase, with virtually no carbs, is meant only to be used for the short term to help motivate people with its quick results. Phase 2, shows you how to re-balance portion size, eat less meat, and add more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Phase 1 seemed too extreme to me, so I’m not being quite that strict. I’m eating more like 1,000 calories a day. Even so, for the first five days, I lost five pounds.

Diet Breakfast One of the staples of his plan is a morning chocolate shake packed with protein made up of just six ingredients. I used it a couple of times, but since I prefer real food over shakes for my meals, I usually stick with my typical oatmeal or cereal with fruit on top, half a glass of orange juice, and coffee for breakfast. Without the cereal, I was starting to crave some carbs and this breakfast fulfills that need so I don’t feel deprived.

The only recipe I can’t endorse is what Rocco calls “The Green Monkey” – a vegetable drink I just couldn’t tolerate. So I skipped that and chose a different snack. Everything else I’ve tried has been great and the diet has been pretty easy for me so far.

Here’s another tip. Rocco recommends drinking green tea. I’ve never liked it before, but I found one I love – Bigelow’s Green Tea with Wild Blueberry and Acai. Yum!

What I like best about the diet is that the recipes are healthy, easy, and fast – and the unique but simple combinations Rocco suggests are delicious.

Yesterday, I made the miso soup with shrimp for lunch – fabulous! For dinner, my husband and I used the Salisbury steak recipe and he loved it. (By the way, hubby has lost 11 pounds so far.) These are recipes I will continue to use even after I’ve lost my goal weight.

Now I hear Rocco has a new book out, Cook Your Butt Off! Lose Up To A Pound A Day With Fat-Burning Foods and Gluten-Free Recipes. According to reviews, the book looks at ways that people can slice calories from their favorite meals and turn their kitchens into home gyms. Ummm, that’s an interesting concept!

So, stay tuned. I’ll let you know in a few weeks if I keep losing weight and manage to keep the pounds off on Phase 2 of the diet.

If you have tried this diet or have any diet tips you’d like to share, please comment below. In the meantime, stay healthy and happy everyone!

Images courtesy of Stuart Miles and Serge Bertasius at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Life Is Good

When Bert and John Jacobs were kids, their mother would look around the dinner table and say, “Tell me something good that happened today.”

Life Is GoodSo simple, but that became the inspiration behind the $100 million apparel company, Life is Good.

“We didn’t realize until long after starting Life Is Good, but she was really the inspiration for the whole thing,” Bert says in an interview for People. “She taught us that in the most difficult times, that’s when optimism is needed the most.”

When they were first starting out, the brothers needed a bit of that optimism.

After college, they wanted to start a business that would enable them to sell their artwork. Rather than trying to break into the intimidating world of fine art, they decided to sell T-shirts. In 1990, they traveled the east coast visiting colleges with duffle bags full of shirts with little success, sleeping in their van and living on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Until they designed their first “Life Is Good” T-shirt with the now famous smiling beret-wearing stick figure named Jake. “We wanted to come up with a rallying cry for optimists,” Bert says of the concept.

It was a good one. On the streets of Boston, they sold 48 of the original “Life Is Good” shirts in 45 minutes. Soon after, companies were contacting the duo. As the brand’s popularity began to snowball, Bert and John connected with more and more people who wrote to them with their stories of optimism.

That led to their book, Life is Good: How to Live with Purpose and Enjoy the Ride, published by National Geographic last year. The brothers share tales of against-all-odds scrappiness that illustrate the superpowers that make up the book’s 10 chapters: courage, openness, simplicity, humor, gratitude, compassion, fun, creativity, authenticity, and love. The book is about overcoming obstacles and embracing opportunities. It’s about simplifying your life to focus on what’s most important and letting your imagination run free.

Children, the Jacobs point out, are the ultimate optimists: they possess the superpowers in abundance until experience and maturity take their toll. The challenge, then, is not learning to live well but rather re-learning it.

River SunflowerSo true, right? As I look at my grandchildren, this becomes abundantly clear. As I’ve shared in this blog, my son is going through a terrible divorce. But what impresses me most about the grandchildren is their resilience. Children have a wonderful ability to adjust and stay optimistic.

This weekend they camped with their father and then Sunday night we had a family barbecue. Despite a turbulent year, it struck me that they were so carefree and happy.

Forget the divorce. What were they thinking about? Cutting a big sunflower for me and their Daddy and putting it on the dinner table along with a big pine cone they found in the mountains. Playing with their new puppy. Jumping on the trampoline. Learning to play chess.

One of the customer letters the Jacob brothers include in their book is from a 10-year-old boy who had a leg amputated at birth and whose twin brother is blind. “Me and Nicky have all of your shirts with the things we like doing best…. You’re lucky to have a brother too. I hope you do fun things together!”

Yes, we need to re-learn that bright optimism, cheerfulness, and hopefulness as adults.

“Optimism is a lot more than a philosophical viewpoint,” John says. “We see it as a pragmatic strategy for accomplishing goals and living a happy and fulfilling life.”