Aging is a Gift

Earlier this month I turned 55.

Five years ago, when I reached the half-century mark, I’m embarrassed to admit that I ranted and raved, pouted and protested, and seethed and sulked.  Fifty felt old and I didn’t want to get old.

Now, I look back on that and think, how stupid was I?

Cheryl with my father-in-law shortly after they married 37 years ago.

Cheryl with my father-in-law shortly after they married 37 years ago.

As readers of my blog know, my mother died on June 13, giving me a painful reminder just how precious and fleeting life can be. And now my step-mother-in-law, Cheryl, who is only 60 and one of the bravest women I know, lost her battle with ovarian cancer. She died last night.

When the cancer was discovered, Cheryl was ready to tackle the challenge with gusto. “Just tell me what to do and we’ll do it,” she courageously stated as a matter-of-fact. And she did. However, after surgery, chemo, and then finally an experimental drug that just about killed her, the aggressive cancer kept spreading and nothing stopped it. Last week, Cheryl decided to stop all treatments and come home to die. Doctors supported that choice and Cheryl told her family that the decision to die gave her peace.

My father-in-law lost his first wife to cancer when she was only 37. It breaks my heart to see him go through this again. And I have to confess, at a time when I am beginning to heal from my own mother’s death, watching my husband’s family go through this excruciating process has brought all those agonizing memories flooding back.

So I write this blog with a gaping wound in my heart. I weep for my Mom, my mother-in-law who never saw her 40s, and for Cheryl who fought courageously to the end. I also write this blog as a reminder to myself and all of you.

Like the popular quote from an unknown source says: “Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.”  Those words are seen everywhere and have become a cliche, but it’s true. Take those words into your heart and deep inside your soul.

Forget the wrinkles. Forget the aching muscles. Forget the fuzzy memory. Forget that you are getting older and you want to rebel against it.

Aging is a gift and a blessing.

If you are lucky enough to get old, the story of your life becomes more meaningful. Your life evolves into a one-of-a-kind, unique journey filled with wisdom and a renewed sense of purpose. You experience the gratitude that comes with every passing day that will enhance your life.

As Frank Lloyd Wright said, “The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes.” That why we all need to embrace and celebrate every day we are alive, giving God thanks for the privilege.

I’ll never complain about a birthday again.




Retired Baby Boomers Experience Boost in Happiness

All of us baby boomers are familiar with the bleak studies about what we’ll face in retirement.

Skimpy savings combined with a decline in health and the emotional changes that come with leaving the workforce could make for some pretty dismal golden years, experts predict.

But hold on a minute.

RetirementA recent study found out that retirees experience an immediate boost in happiness and health actually improves.

And even better, some research suggests you don’t need a huge nest egg to be happy.

Keep reading to learn more…

Happiness and Heath in Retirement

Using data from the University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study, researchers at George Mason University and Utah State University discovered retiring is associated with an immediate increase in happiness and the positive effects last for four years after their last day on the job.

Retirees also experienced improved health. Health, however, took a bit longer to achieve – on average, four years.

“We suspect it’s because health changes slowly,” Sita Slavov, a public policy professor at George Mason University and co-author of the report says. “It takes time for lifestyle changes to show up in the form of improved health.”

“One other interesting thing,” he added, “[is] we didn’t find any evidence of long-term changes in health care utilization – i.e. doctor visits and prescription drug use – after retirement. So the improvements in health do not appear to be associated with increased health care costs.”

More good news! Love it!

Happy Older CoupleMoney Doesn’t Buy Happiness

So, according to these studies if you want to feel better emotionally and physically, you may not want to keep delaying retirement. But what if you have limited savings?

Don’t despair.

Chances are if you are an older boomer who has been retired for a few years, you’re feeling pretty good about your finances – even if you don’t have that million dollar-plus nest egg experts say you need.

That’s what Ameriprise Financial discovered in a survey earlier this year. Turns out 76 percent of boomers with $100,000 in investable assets who retired in the last five years felt “in control” of that decision. Some 57 percent say they are very satisfied with their financial situation in retirement.

“I was pleasantly surprised by how happy they are,” said Marcy Keckler, vice president of financial advice strategy at Ameriprise.

“Happiness is a positive cash flow,” says Ken Moraif, founder and senior advisor of Dallas-based financial firm Money Matters. He argues that people with modest means who keep their expenses low can be happier than those who have more money coming in each month but spend it all. “You can have fancy cars and fancy houses, but you’re going to be miserable all the time,” he says of the latter group.

Andrew Meadows, producer of the documentary, Broken Eggs, says he sees seniors getting creative with figuring out how to stay happy while also making ends meet after leaving their careers.

“When I worked on ‘Broken Eggs,’ I found so many people living in their RVs in semi-permanent spots,” he says. While living out of an RV saved money, Meadows says it wasn’t a desperate move for the retirees he met. “It never seemed like [they] were forced out of their homes. It seems like people planned on that life in retirement.”

Planning for a Happy Retirement

I love these studies, but it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t expect retirement to magically improve your life.

Taking steps now can help boost happiness and health when the time comes. Save as much as possible while you’re still working, make plans to stay active and engaged in a wide variety of activities, and take care of your health.

If you do so, for many of you baby boomers, the golden years can be just that.

Images courtesy of bplanet and photostock at


Happiness Easy as 1-2-3

I want my day to feel like there is boundless beauty and possibilities and joy to be felt, discovered, explored, and expressed.

JoyfulI want to burst – burst with excitement, burst with joy, burst into song, burst into laughter. It occurs to me that’s it’s been awhile since I’ve burst and perhaps now is the time.

I want to feel peaceful like a gentle babbling river or like the sound of sails in the wind.

And you know what?

I can. And so can you. Here’s what we all seem to forget. We have the power to create any feeling we desire. Now, that’s a powerful thought.

This blog is inspired by an article by motivational expert Tim Shurr who has a super simple strategy for increasing your happiness. It’s as easy as 1-2-3. Here’s his advice:

123Step One: Ask yourself, “What do I want to feel in this moment?”

Step Two: Be intentional. Ask yourself purposeful and deliberate questions like, “What do I need to think, believe, or do in order to feel fulfilled, joyful, peaceful, content, or blissful?” Don’t limit yourself by saying you don’t know the answer to that question. With a bit of introspection you can find the answer. And don’t say there’s nothing you can do to feel a certain way. Remember, you have the power to create any feeling you want. Everything is possible.

Step Three: Stay mindful. Once you’ve made up your mind how you want to feel in this moment and you’ve gained insight on what you need to do, DO IT!

There you go.

I don’t mean to be glib. I’m not saying that if you sing “everything is awesome,” suddenly you’ll feel just fine. Believe me when I tell you that this year has been my most challenging so far. I was paralyzed by my negative emotions there for awhile. I had to make a conscientious decision to begin living again. Even though I couldn’t control much of what was happening, I realized that doesn’t mean that I’m powerless over my emotions. Feeling sad, frustrated, stressed, or angry are not my only choices.

So, next time you’re feeling negative emotions because of someone’s thoughtless words or because of a challenging situation, keep in mind that how you feel is in your own hands. Other people and circumstances do not determine or cause your feelings. You do.

Perhaps you automatically react in a negative way to certain situations or people. If this is the case, make the necessary changes and establish boundaries in your life for your own sanity. If you cannot completely eliminate negative people or stressful circumstances, then you will need to work on how you think and react. Not an easy process, but entirely doable. As Shurr points out, the secret to success is recognizing and shifting self-limiting beliefs and habits. Utilizing the three steps listed above could help you start on the path to more healthy thought patterns.

You can put this information to use in other ways in your life as well. As Danielle LaPorte, author of The Desire Map, advises, maybe your goals should not be based on what you want to accomplish or achieve, but on how you want to feel.

I like that thought.

So what do I want to feel at this particular moment? Please excuse me while I go do some sort of bursting…

What do you want to feel right at this moment? Please share in the comments below!

Images courtesy of Chaiwat and Stuart Miles at

Dealing with Dementia: Free Screenings

As regular readers of my blog know, my Mom suffered from Lewy Body dementia – a cruel combination of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. I was her primary caregiver until her death in June and have written several blogs on the subject in the past.

Alzheimer'sThe Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is launching its first annual National Memory Screening week, scheduled for November 1-7. The screenings will be free and confidential, and if deemed necessary, refer people to appropriate follow-up services.

To raise awareness of this event, I am happy to feature a guest blog from Vicki Tapia who cared for her father who had Parkinson’s-related dementia and her mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Her courageous story as she faced challenges, turbulent emotions, and painful decisions is inspiring and heart-touching:


It was the weekend of our family reunion and almost everyone was gathered together at my parent’s condo to celebrate a milestone. Our patriarch, my dad, was turning 90. When the front doorbell rang, Mom opened the door, took one look at her oldest granddaughter and asked in a perplexed tone of voice, “Who are you?” After a moment of silence, we all laughed a little uncomfortably, but brushed it off, rationalizing the comment as a manifestation of Mom’s stress in caring for Dad, who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It was not mentioned again.

Our family continued to somehow normalize or overlook the ever-increasing signs that something was not quite right with Mom’s behavior. Another two years passed before she finally agreed to be evaluated by her health care provider, around the same time Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s-related dementia.  Although by this time our family wasn’t completely surprised by Mom’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, we were alarmed to hear she was already considered to be in the “moderate” stage of the disease. I later learned this scenario is typical.

Studies tell us that the delay in diagnosis can be attributed to the family’s own denial in not wanting to face the fact that something is wrong. In retrospect, this probably applied to our family. Sometimes a fear of diagnosis can result in reluctance on the part of the affected person to agree to an evaluation, particularly if it involves an adult child prodding an intractable parent. Healthcare costs may also be a factor in avoiding an assessment by a qualified health care provider (HCP). The oft-perceived stigma associated with a potential diagnosis of dementia/Alzheimer’s can be a barrier to evaluation for the entire family.

National Memory Screening Week

In an effort to promote the importance of early detection of memory problems, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) has launched the first annual National Memory Screening week, scheduled for November 1-7.

The screenings will be free and confidential, and if deemed necessary, refer people on to appropriate follow-up services. One of the goals of the screening is to work toward eliminating the stigma and fears associated with dementia. The AFA also hopes to alleviate fears for the people who do participate in the memory screening, but do not show a concerning memory problem.

For more information about the screening (date, time) and a list of participating sites, visit:

Who should consider having a memory screening?

  • Anyone concerned about memory loss or experiencing any of the warning signs of dementia.

  • Anyone who feels they’re at risk because of a family history of Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.

  • Anyone who wants a baseline evaluation of their memory for future comparisons, even though they don’t have a current concern.

If you or a loved one answer “yes” to any of the following questions provided by the AFA, it may be prudent to participate in the free memory screening.

  • Are you becoming more forgetful?

  • Do you have any trouble concentrating?

  • Do you have difficulty when performing familiar tasks?

  • Do you have trouble recalling names or words during conversation?

  • Do you sometimes forget where you’re going or where you are?

  • Have friends or family told you that you’re saying the same thing over and over or repeating questions?

  • Do you often misplace things?

  • Have you become lost when driving to a familiar place or walking in your neighborhood?

  • Have your family or friends told you they’ve noticed changes in your behavior, moods, personality, or desire to engage socially?

For more info:

The scene described in the opening paragraph of this blog is based on an excerpt from my memoir, Somebody Stole My Iron, which details the daily challenges, turbulent emotions, and the many painful decisions involved in caring for my parents. Laced with humor and pathos, reviewers describe my book as “brave,” “honest,” “raw,” “unvarnished,” as well as a “must-read for every Alzheimer’s/dementia patient’s family.” I wrote this story to offer hope to others whose lives have been intimately affected by this dreadful disease, to reassure them that they’re not alone.    

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Four other engaging books about dementia/Alzheimer’s disease I’m pleased to recommend include:

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On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s by Greg O’Brien

Greg O’Brien’s story isn’t about losing someone else to Alzheimer’s, it is about losing himself. Acting on long-term memory and skill, coupled with well-developed journalistic grit, O’Brien decided to tackle the disease and his imminent decline by writing frankly about the journey. “On Pluto is a book about living with Alzheimer’s, not dying with it.” 

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Alzheimer’s Daughter by Jean Lee

Jean’s memoir details her journey caring for both parents who were diagnosed on the same day. It is written with wincing honesty about the cruel affects of the disease, but a WWII love story held together by faith and family is contained within the pages.


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Blue Hydrangeas by Marianne Sciucco

Marianne describes herself as a writer who happens to be a nurse. She writes this work of fiction based upon her care for the elderly. It’s a tenderly told love story about Jack and Sara, owners of a New England bed and breakfast. Sara is stricken with Alzheimer’s and Jack becomes her caregiver.

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What Flowers Remember by Shannon Wiersbitzky

Shannon writes this work of fiction through the eyes of a young girl, not surprising perhaps, as her author bio notes that her own grandfather had Alzheimer’s. In the story, when thirteen-year-old Delia Burns realizes that her elderly neighbor is beginning to forget, she involves the entire town in saving his memories.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at


Five Ways to Celebrate Make a Difference Day

Want to be happy?

Make a difference in someone’s life.

For more than two decades, on the fourth Saturday of October of every year – which falls on October 24th this year – millions of volunteers unite to prove the universal truth found in the Bible: there is more happiness in giving than in receiving.

Can you reach out to an elderly person and make a difference in their lives?

Can you reach out to an elderly person and make a difference in their lives?

Of course, I’m talking about Make a Difference Day. It is a day to celebrate the power of people to make a difference.

If you’re looking for ideas, suggestions proliferate on the Internet this time of year.

Since I was a caregiver for my Mom who had dementia until she recently died, my thoughts are with the elderly this year. With that in mind, here are five ideas to help you make a difference in an elderly person’s life:

  1. Visit senior citizens at a nursing home. Offer to read the Bible or their favorite book to them. Decorate their rooms with homemade art that your children or grandchildren make. Offer your pet for therapy.
  2. Pick up groceries or medicine for an elderly person who is unable to drive.
  3. Offer to help with heavy-duty housework or yard work. Clean gutters, wash windows, shovel snow, or rake leaves.
  4. Go for a walk with an elderly person. If they are in a wheelchair, offer to push them around a beautiful park.
  5. Teach a senior friend how to use a computer or the Internet.

Of course, you need not limit yourself to the elderly. This is the perfect day to show a bit of kindness and gratitude to all the people in your life.

Thank those who make a difference in your life.

Thank those who make a difference in your life.

Why not write thank-you notes to those who serve you such as the mailman, teachers, grocery clerks, and waitresses? Bake cookies for your local fire department. Or simply compliment those who make your life better and thank them for all that they do.

Donate school supplies to a classroom, give books, crayons, or toys to a children’s hospital, donate a bike to a homeless person, or give clothes to a family in need. Volunteer at a local animal shelter. Plant a garden and share the produce.

Don’t forget to show love to people in your own family. Take turns making a special meal or treat for each other and celebrate each member of the family. Thank them for always being there for you.

Pray as a family for the people in your life on a regular basis. Make a difference in your children and grandchildren’s life by reading the Bible as a family every day.

In other words, let your light shine. Of course, don’t limit your acts of kindness to the fourth Saturday of October. Make a concentrated effort to make a difference in someone’s life every day.

Because here’s the basic truth: Bring a bit of bliss into someone’s life and you will find bliss yourself.

Image courtesy of worradmu and Stuart Miles at

Kathy Buckley: A Deaf Woman’s Inspiring Story

When Kathy Buckley was 20 years old, she was peacefully sunbathing on the beach when a 3,500-pound lifeguard jeep ran over her. Being hearing impaired, she couldn’t hear it coming.

You wouldn’t think Buckley could find humor in that traumatic event. But you’d be wrong.

“Talk about not knowing what your job description is,” Buckley now jokes about the lifeguards driving the jeep in one of her comedy acts. Forever being teased for being “flat,” Buckley jokes that she relishes telling people she used to be a 44D before the jeep crushed her chest. She was in a wheelchair for two and a half years and doctors told her that she may never walk again. Buckley jokes that she couldn’t hear the doctors, so she walked right out of there.

That gives you an idea of how this powerhouse deaf comedienne and inspiring motivational speaker can poke fun at herself, her hearing loss, and the tragic events in her life.

kathy buckley book photoAnd there were many traumatic events in this woman’s life, including a misdiagnosis of mental retardation, being sexually abused as a child, poverty and homelessness, and being stricken with cancer – all before the age of 30. And no, this is not a novel with unbelieving plot twists, but a true story as Buckley shares in her New York Times bestselling autobiography, “If You Could Hear What I See.”

To be honest, even though Buckley has appeared on The Tonight Show, Good Morning America, HBO, and Entertainment Tonight, I had never heard of her. My oldest son, who works at a local college as an instructional computer support specialist for disabled students, attended a workshop where Buckley was a featured speaker. He enthusiastically shared her remarkable experiences with me. After doing a bit of research, I was so inspired by this woman.

Just so you know, this story has a happy ending. Not one to wallow in her misery, Buckley went on to become a female comic, wrote an award-winning and critically acclaimed one-woman show based on her life, guest starred in Touched by An Angel, and became a beloved motivational speaker in demand throughout the country.

In other words, she overcame adversity with a capital ‘A.’ She did so with such resilience, hope, courage, dignity – and a wonderful sense of humor – that I felt impelled to share her story with you. It will make you laugh and cry.

As Suze Orman says about Buckley: “Her courage will empower you.”

challenges aheadKathy’s Childhood and Life as a Young Adult

When Buckley was a child, her family noticed her inability to communicate but thought she was “slow” and would outgrow the problem. She remembers feeling frustrated trying to play games like hide and seek and musical chairs with children whose hearing was normal.

“By the time I’d hear someone say, ‘Hey, Kathy, come and get us,’ the game would be over,” she recalls on her website. “And musical chairs? There’s a game for a deaf kid.”

In second grade, it was finally determined that Buckley had a hearing loss. “And they call me slow?” she jokes now. Even with the diagnosis, teachers showed little patience and understanding and she was eventually transferred to a school for mentally and physically impaired children.

Her youth was filled with misunderstanding and misery. Buckley was sexually abused as a child and contemplated suicide during her teens. If all that weren’t enough, then she was run over by a lifeguard jeep as I mentioned at the beginning of the article. The jeep broke bones and crushed her chest. She experienced intermittent paralysis in her legs. In fact, it took Buckley almost five years to recover.

Buckley eventually packed up her car and drove out west. She parked on the ocean and lived out of her car for two months contemplating what her next step would be. However, before she could figure it out, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Some might say she has been cursed, but Buckley feels blessed.

Overcome Adversity

Kathy Turns Her Life Around

After all the hurdles in her young life, Buckley learned that a sense of humor could get her through the darkest of days. Turning that ability into a career, however, was pure happenstance.

Buckley never considered becoming a comedienne due to her speech impediment. But fate had other plans.

She met actress Geri Jewell, who has cerebral palsy and encouraged Kathy to be part of a contest called “Stand-up Comics Take a Stand” to raise money for the disease. Buckley took first place that night and placed fourth in the entire contest. “I got money for the kids and a career for me,” she says, laughing. “Two birds with one stone.”

She began touring the country playing in major comedy venues. Buckley’s hearing aids were eventually properly adjusted so she could hear the audience laugh at her jokes for the first time. When she stepped off stage, she wept with joy.

The rest is history. Now cancer-free, her zest for life and ability to buck the odds led to her career as a popular motivational speaker. In addition, she is the national spokesperson for No Limits, a non-profit organization which provides an after-school theater group and educational program for deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

If you want to learn more about Buckley, you can visit her website or watch part of her motivational and very funny speech on YouTube.

What We Can Learn

Buckley’s story touched me for a lot of reasons.

One of my former daughter-in-law’s relatives, Long, is deaf. We hired Long to do some work remodeling our house and were frustrated with our attempts to communicate with him. Shortly afterward, an opportunity came up through our religion to take an American Sign Language (ASL) course to do volunteer work with the deaf and hard-of-hearing, help the deaf learn about the Bible, and join a sign language congregation. My husband and I immediately signed up.

We were finally able to talk to Long and discover what a great guy and cool dude he is as we got to know him better. In the course of these events, we have been privileged to become friends with several deaf people. Many of their stories of overcoming challenges is inspiring.

On top of that, as mentioned at the beginning of this blog, my oldest son works with disabled college students including the deaf and hard-of-hearing. My youngest son and his wife both work as interpreters for the deaf at the same local college. So, our family feels a special connection to this inspiring story. But even if you don’t know anyone who is deaf, Buckley’s story teaches us so much.

How many of us will face such overwhelming odds?  Yet, Buckley considers herself blessed since all of her challenges taught her so much about life and have served as a tool to help others.

Taking personal responsibility for her life was another key to happiness. “I was pissed off at the world because they deserved it after everything they had done to me,” she recalls in an interview for The Examiner. She was living a life filled with loneliness, rejection, bitterness and resentment. Then, a realization hit her. The negativity that filled her life “was of my own making,” she says. “My thoughts and words had become my enemy, my limitation, my disability.”

“Life is quite simple, I learned,” she continues, noting that we all have the gift of choice which is unlimited. “It was me who was making it so much more difficult. I could choose to be happy or sad. And happy seems to bring more elements to my life.”

She learned to refuse the negative labels people had put on her during her lifetime. The basic message she received from others was: “You can’t, you won’t, you’re ugly, you’re broken, you’re retarded, you’re unlovable, you’re too tall, you’re flat.”

“The best gift given to me was my hearing loss. God gave me this gift so I don’t have to listen to half of the bull****,” she says. Joking aside, Buckley has learned to love herself as the beautiful, intelligent survivor she is – although she confesses that she is flat as she points to her chest with mock horror.

Gotta love this woman!

“You have to change your life,” she says passionately in one of her speeches. “Don’t get comfortable with what you already know. Get comfortable with what you can learn, what you can challenge, how you can grow…it is up to you to make your own transformation, it’s up to you to make your contribution, it is up to you to fill your heart with joy, it is up to you to find your bliss.”

Love that! No matter what obstacles, setbacks, or heartbreaks you may encounter on your life journey, keep Buckley’s story and words of wisdom in mind, then just watch doors of possibilities open.

Images courtesy of Stuart Miles at

How Happiness Changes as We Age

Have you noticed that your definition of happiness has changed over the years?

Mine sure has and I would venture that the way you view happiness has changed too. Think about it.

Happy BoyHappiness in Youth

What made you happy when you were young?

When I was a child, it actually took very little to make me happy. A family trip to the beach, my Mom’s smile, or a new toy made me giddy. As a teen, going to a party with my friends or buying a new dress had me stoked. If a boy I liked just looked my way, I was skipping the rest of the day. You get the idea.

When you’re young, you typically experience a high-energy, totally-psyched type of happiness. Everything is new and exciting.

Happy Young AdultsHappiness as Young Adults

How did you feel in your 20′s and 30′s?

In my 20′s, I was finding my way as a young mother and as a writer. Giving birth to my two sons brought me unbounded joy, seeing my first byline sent me to the moon, and traveling was exhilarating.

But by the time I hit my 30′s, I wanted more balance. McGraw Hill published a book I co-authored and I went whitewater rafting on a 5-plus river in New Zealand. But the thrill of the moment wasn’t everything. Sometimes happiness was a quiet evening with a glass of wine and a book at the end of the day.

You may have had similar experiences. Young adults are usually busy chasing success and starting a family. Then they try to find happiness by pursuing balance and stability.

The practical side of life – being able to pay the mortgage and finding enough time to juggle responsibilities – often becomes important to your state of mind as you move into middle age.

Happy Middle AgeHappiness in Midlife

Midlife crisis, anyone? Feel like life is passing you by and leaving you in the dust? You’re not alone.

My 40s were a mixed bag. In my early 40′s, I moved back to my home state, California, and felt a bit restless and trapped working for the family business as our family reestablished ourselves. I started a publishing company with my father which never really went anywhere. However, my first book signing at Barnes and Nobles for my young adult novel was super exciting. I learned sign language and became a full-time minister doing volunteer work with the deaf, which was fulfilling.

If you’re like me, you’re older and wiser by the time you hit 50. Perhaps you feel more content because you’ve learned to put less pressure on yourself – both personally and professionally.

The late writer Donald described it well: “Midlife crisis begins somewhere in your 40s, when you look at your life and say, ‘Is this all?’ And it ends about 10 years later when you look at your life again and think, ‘Actually, this is pretty good.’”

Happy OldHappiness in Old Age

As I wrote about in my very first blog, Why Older People are Happier than Baby Boomers, ironically people become more happy as they get old.

I’m 54 right now. My mother was diagnosed with Lewy Body dementia and I became her primary caregiver a few years ago. She died in June and now I am examining my next chapter in life.

The latest ups and downs in my life have made me more aware that what and who we love can be taken away in the blink of an eye. That I need to appreciate my loved ones and be grateful for every day of life I am granted.

No doubt, that’s why people tend to become more content and appreciative as they move into old age. And if you believe all the studies, happier.

So is my experience typical?

A Revealing Study of Bloggers

In an interesting study, social psychologist Jennifer Aaker—with her colleagues Cassie Mogilner and Sep Kamvar - analyzed 12 million personal blogs. Specifically, they were interested in seeing what kinds of emotions bloggers of various ages mentioned when they talked about feeling “happy.”

What did they discover?

“We found that younger bloggers described experiences of happiness as being times when they felt excited, ecstatic, or elated — the way you feel when you’re anticipating the joys the future will bring — like finding love, getting ahead at work, or moving to a new town,” Aaker explained.

“Older bloggers were more inclined to describe happy experiences as moments of feeling peaceful, relaxed, calm, or relieved — the way you feel when you’re getting along with your spouse, staying healthy and able to make your mortgage payments,” she added. “This kind of happiness is less about what lies ahead, and more about being content in your current circumstances.”

Evidently, as you age, you seek out a more tranquil, peaceful, and relaxed kind of happiness compared to the excitement you found so gratifying in your youth. Happiness becomes more about contentment.

What Has Been your Happiest Age So Far?

So do you agree or disagree with their findings? Was your experience with happiness through the decades different than mine? How has your definition of happiness changed as you’ve gotten older? What age were you the happiest and why?

I’d love to know! Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Images courtesy of photostock and imagerymajestic at

Three Og Mandino Quotes to Inspire You

Don’t look at the title of this article.

What do the following three motivational quotes have in common?


“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.”

“Remind thyself, in the darkest moments, that every failure is only a step toward success, every detection of what is false directs you toward what is true, every trial exhausts some tempting form of error, and every adversity will only hide, for a time, your path to peace and fulfillment. ”

“Count your blessings. Once you realize how valuable you are and how much you have going for you, the smiles will return, the sun will break out, the music will play, and you will finally be able to move forward the life that God intended for you with grace, strength, courage, and confidence.”

Did you guess? If not, time’s up. Or did you automatically cheat and look at the title of this blog? Oh, fine. I don’t blame you. Either way, if you haven’t figured it out yet, what these quotes have in common is their author: Augustine “Og” Mandino.

Let’s just say, this has been a tough year and these quotes speak to me. My Mom recently died, my mother-in-law’s ovarian cancer has spread to her liver, and we’re going through a terrible divorce with our son.

The point is – I may feel a bit down but I’m certainly not defeated. So I march forward, knowing there are lessons to be learned along this journey – in every heartbreak, failure, and loss. I know that people eventually reap what they sow, that I still can count many blessings, and that these trials are meant to be endured. I know I will see the “stars” again.

Og Mandino knew this from experience. If you’re not familiar with his life story, it’s a pretty fascinating one.

Og’s Story

As a senior in high school, Mandino was the editor of his school newspaper and planned to attend the University of Missouri’s journalism school. In 1940, his mother died suddenly from a massive heart attack while she was in the kitchen making his lunch.

The trauma of losing his mother and World War II changed his plans. Mandino worked in a paper factory for a couple of years and then joined the army where he flew thirty bombing missions. When he returned to civilian life, Mandino’s life took a downward spiral into poverty and despair.

hopeHe spent six months in a New York flat with aspirations to become a writer. However, when his first efforts to sell his work failed, Mandino gave up. Companies weren’t exactly clamoring to hire former bomber pilots and he was forced to become an insurance salesman. Mandino was miserable.

“The treadmill I soon found myself on was torture. Never was I more than a few paces ahead of several bill collectors,” he wrote in his autobiography.

While on the road, Mandino often visited bars at night and became a hopeless alcoholic. For the next two years, he wondered around the country aimlessly working odd jobs and never staying anywhere for long. His wife took their daughter and left him. At Mandino’s lowest point, he even considered buying a gun at a pawn shop and committing suicide.

But something made him keep on walking and Mandino ended up in a public library which became his refuge. He began reading self-help, success, and motivation books which helped turn his life around. Renewed and determined to succeed, Mandino applied for a job in insurance sales and within a year was promoted to sales manager and started breaking sales records. He re-married a woman who, he admits, had a lot more faith in him than he had in himself.

Inspired by the Bible, W. Clement Stone, Napoleon Hill, and Emmet Fox, Mandino eventually became a successful writer and the author of the bestselling book, The Greatest Salesman in the World. In fact, his books went on to sell over 50 million copies. Mandino died in 1996. At his death, he was among the most sought-after speakers in the world.

Open doorsSo it goes.

Opening New Doors

With the help from our God above, we all have the resilience and strength to endure. Instead of giving up, we can bravely find our way. We have the ability to choose to go down new and different paths we never considered before that may lead to happiness, contentment, and fulfillment.

Nothing stays the same. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes bad. Right now, I’m thinking that’s a good thing. After caregiving for my Mom these past few years, which was all-consuming, I’m a bit lost still. But it’s time to decide which direction I want my life to take. I’m an optimist at heart, so I’m going to take Mandino’s words to heart:

“Today will never happen again. Don’t waste it with a false start or no start at all.”

Or perhaps even more to the point, “Cherish each hour of this day for it can NEVER return.”

So time to re-evaluate my life and look at things from a different viewpoint. Time for a few changes that may be big or small. I haven’t decided exactly what those changes will be but I do know that life is full of open doors.

Which one will you choose?

Images courtesy of nuttakit, Stuart Miles, and Master isolated images at

Free Snacks at Work Ticket to Happiness

It’s the little things in life that make us happy.

Want proof?

Working Woman EatingAccording to a new study by grocery-delivery service, Peapod, companies that provide free food and fun snacks have happier employees.

The survey of more than 1000 full-time office workers found that 56% employees are “extremely” or “very happy” with their current job; however, that number jumped to 67% among those who had access to free food.

You might say, well, yeah, duh!

But I find this study interesting. Oh sure, you can say, of course these employees were happy because as humans we like to pig out. However, I think there’s more to it.

First of all, having treats like popcorn, cookies, granola, yogurt, and chips would make work feel like an edible playground and bring a sense of fun to the office. We could all use some more of that.

After a seltzer machine was installed at the public relations firm, InkHouse, employees told co-founder Beth Monaghan that the machine was “life changing.” And while she says they were slightly kidding, still, “people just love it.”

Happy WorkerIt helps employees be more excited about coming to work,” says Monaghan, whose company, in addition to the seltzer machine, also gets weekly deliveries of organic fruit and has soda, chips, cookies and a popcorn machine on hand.

I think the other reason the free snacks work so well is because everyone wants to feel valued. Some free food helps businesses show their appreciation, a personal interest in their employees, and a collaborative spirit.

“It shows a personal investment and that need to make sure that they’re happy here and they have everything they need to do a good job,” says Danielle Mahoney, director of human resources for software company Appeagle in an interview for USA Today. The business provides free breakfast and lunch plus has an internal communication system where employees can request specific snacks which are always available in the office kitchen.

Just goes to show just a little bit of daily joy in our lives goes a long way.

The study showed that only 16% of employees said they get free snacks and treats at work. Let’s take note and jump on board businesses! Happy employees are productive employees. And if you’re one of those 84% who works for a business that wouldn’t dream of providing free food – or you work at home or are retired – don’t despair.

There are plenty of ways to use treats to bring yourself a bit of enjoyment every day.

Make your favorite breakfast, eat it outside on the patio, and listen to calm music to start your day right. Buy lunch for a co-worker or a friend and enjoy their look of pleasure. Try baking some cookies and bringing them to the office to spread the joy. There’s nothing stopping you from bringing your own fun snack to work or fixing up some delectable treat at home.  Or simply treat yourself to a delightful scoop of Ben and Jerry’s Boom Chocolatta in the middle of the afternoon.

The point is to find ways to bring a daily dose of delight in your life. Then do it!

Images courtesy of Ambro and stockimages at

Baby Boomers Cause a Boom in Wellness Industry

We all know that health and happiness are connected. Perhaps no one knows that better than us baby boomers as we age.

Turns out that our interest in longevity and living well into old age is giving the wellness industry quite a boost. Organic foods, yoga studios, fitness clubs, and natural beauty products are experiencing substantial growth, according to new industry reports. You might think it’s the millennials who are pushing these trends. However, we baby boomers are doing our share to bolster these holistic markets.

We want to improve our health and delay the physical effect of aging – but true to our hippy roots – we want to do it naturally.

How can you jump on the bandwagon to take advantage of some of latest offerings from the wellness industry? Here are a few ways:

Organic FoodsHealthier Foods

Boomers have been reading food-product labels for years, but we’ve become even more conscious of our diets as we age. The fact is that boomers are paying more attention than previous generations to food choices.

A survey by Whole Foods indicated that four in five boomers are more food conscious, more attentive to food labels, and know more about the origins of their food products than they did in the past.

Evidently, we’re jumping on the trend to buy organic foods as well. Sales of organic food have soared in the last decade – from $3 billion in 1997 to more than $10 billion in 2003, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. No doubt, this is due to the controversial use of synthetic pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, additives, and insecticides, as well as a concern about environmental practices.

Even boomers like me, who don’t always buy organic, are interested in healthier options. I’m steering away from processed food and definitely into eating more fruits and vegetables. As part of that goal, I’m planning to plant a garden in my new backyard this year. 

If you’re not in this category and still driving through McDonald’s, why not start taking advantage of all the new options out there and start eating healthier today? 

Baby Boomer ExerciseTrendy Exercise

Compared to older generations, fitness is more culturally ingrained in baby boomers. For many of us, exercise is part of our daily routine. However, although we want a good workout, boomers also want to have fun.

Forget low-impact aerobics. We’re signing up for Zumba, yoga, and kick boxing classes. Stroll around the park? Heck no! Give us a mountain bike or kayak instead. Or we’re out jumping on the trampoline with our grandkids.

As a result, fitness programs geared to boomers are popping up around the country. People ages 55 and older are one of the fastest growing segments of gym membership, according to research firm IBISWorld. In fact, the study predicts the boomer generation will help push the fitness category to nearly $30 billion by 2018.

“Baby boomers have changed every market they have passed through, starting with baby food and diapers through education and right up to the automotive industry,” said Lori Bitter, president of consulting firm the Business of Aging in Alameda. “Now it’s fitness.”

Once again, that’s good news.

New research just published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that those of us who sit for long hours raise our average risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and early death. Yikes! 

So boomers, we need to get moving. Take advantage of some of those trendy exercise classes designed just for us or try aqua cycling or indoor surfing. Whatever rocks your boat – even if it’s simply walking  – just get off your butt!

Natural Beauty Products

Our generation’s approach to getting older is a bit of denial. That’s why we’re always on the hunt for beauty products that are good for our skin and help us look as young as we feel.

I personally have no interest in plastic surgery. My wrinkles tell my life story and I’m keeping them. And of course, there are more important things to focus on than our looks. That being said, I have my share of anti-aging beauty products.  I’m grateful for improved technology and an increased availability of skin care treatments and products. And if they’re all-natural – bonus points.

“Making them [baby boomers] look vibrant and sexy as they get older is huge,” says Mary Furlong, a professor of entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University in California and author of Turning Silver Into Gold. A higher divorce rate among boomers than previous generations also means an renewed interest in beauty and body services. “When you are 60 and dating again, it takes a good week to look good,” says Furlong, who is nearly 60 herself.

So, if you’re so inclined, why not have some fun and embrace this natural beauty trend as well? There are a lot of interesting products out there like lemon honey moisturizer, organic rose hip oil serum, or a cleaning oil made from tea tree and lavender.

We boomers are getting older but evidently we’re still influencing industry specialists who are scrambling to understand our wants and needs as part of the lucrative boomer market. Of course, their primary goal is to make money off of us, but we boomers can take advantage of some of the new options becoming available.

Or not. Totally up to you. You certainly don’t need to try all the new trends to stay healthy and happy. Simple common sense will get you there.

Whatever you choose to do, as Spock would say: Live long and prosper, boomers!

Images courtesy of Stoonn and stockimages at