America’s Top Ten Flower Festivals

The first day of spring is this Monday, on March 20th. As I write this blog from the California desert, with temperatures currently soaring to 90-plus degrees (too soon, too soon!), the northeast is being pummeled with a massive storm and blizzard conditions.

spring flowersBut, as we all know, this crazy weather shall soon pass and we all have some gorgeous spring days ahead of us.

So, let’s think spring! What better way to celebrate this wonderful time of year than visiting one of America’s top ten flower festivals?

In Southern California, thanks to this winter’s abundant rain and snow, we’re looking forward to explosive colors as wildflowers begin to spread across our desert, coastline, and foothills. Other parts of the country, from grassland prairies to alpine meadows, are also anticipating nature’s colorful display of flowers, guaranteeing us delightfully longer, warmer days.

With that in mind, I’m sharing 10 popular spring flower festivals from different parts of the country. If you get a chance, don’t miss an opportunity to enjoy nature’s wonders at a festival near you!

DALLAS BLOOMS

Where: Dallas, Texas

When: Now through April 9, 2017

The largest floral festival in the Southwest features 66 acres of gardens at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Enjoy every spring color imaginable as 600,000 tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, Dutch irises, poppies, and other flowers bloom in a spectacular way.

This year’s theme, “Peace, Love and Flower Power” will appeal to you baby boomers as the festival celebrates the headlines, music, TV, fads, and fashion from the 1960’s and includes amazing topiaries built on a classic Volkswagen van and bug.

Click here for more information, a list of events, and to purchase tickets.

EPCOT INTERNATIONAL FLOWER & GARDEN FESTIVAL

Where: Orlando, Florida

When: Now through May 29, 2017

If you have children or grandchildren, this is just the ticket for some whimsical fun. At Epcot, you can enjoy more than 70 Disney-themed topiaries from every era brought to life through flower sculptures and manicured trees.

Flower towers, wildlife habitats, and vibrant gardens add to the beauty. Exhibits, seminars, and how-to demonstrations, outdoor kitchens with pint-sized plates, and outdoor concerts add to the fun.

Disney horticulturists are onsite each weekend to help those interested in learning more about gardening. Admission to Epcot is required. For more information, click here.

cherry blossomsNATIONAL CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL

Where: Washington, D.C.

When: Now through April 17, 2016

One day I’m going to see this famous flourish of pink blooms in the nation’s capital. If you plan to go this year, however, you better hurry! According to its website, the National Park Service has updated its peak bloom prediction from March 19 to March 22 due to recent temperature trends and the weather forecast for the next seven days.

Today, on March 16, the annual Pink Tie Party, a fundraiser benefiting the festival, kicks off the season in style. Several events follow. The opening ceremony will be held on March 25 to celebrate the gift of trees from Japan to the U.S. The Blossom Kite Festival takes place on April 1. The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, featuring lavish floats, giant helium balloons, and marching bands is on April 8. To wrap up the season, Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival will feature live music and entertainment on April 25 with fireworks at 8:30 p.m.

For more information, blooming updates, and/or tickets, click here.

DAFFODIL FESTIVAL AND PARADE 

Where: Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner, and Orting, Washington State

When: The parade begins Saturday, April 8, 2017 in Tacoma at 10:15 AM; Puyallup at 12:45 PM; Sumner at 2:30 PM; Orting at 5:00 PM

Maybe this festival is not quite as famous as the ones I’ve listed above, but it’s one of my sentimental favorites. When I lived in Puyallup, Washington about 20 years ago and worked as a newspaper reporter, I covered this heartwarming traditional, family- and community-oriented parade.

This event features floats decorated with thousands of fresh-cut daffodils as well as high school marching bands in celebration of daffodil flowers that have grown in the Puyallup Valley for the past 80 years. Come on, who doesn’t love cheerful daffodils and parades! For more information, check out their website.

tulipsTULIP TIME

Where: Holland, Michigan

When: May 7 to 14, 2016

When Holland residents brag about tulip time, they’re not kidding! Nearly 5 million tulips are planted throughout the town which awakens in the spring with bright spectacular bursts of color.

Since traditional Dutch dancing is popular in this old-world town, the festival hosts dancing events practically non-stop throughout the weekend. Be sure and take in one of the three parades, where participants brave the pavement with wooden clogs and traditional Dutch outfits.

Their website has posted the following update regarding blooming time: “Tulips are on track for a typical bloom time here in Holland, Michigan (late April to mid-May.) While the weather here has been slightly warmer than usual overall, the forecast has us back to cold weather for the next two weeks. The early blooming varieties have just started to sprout but the cold night temperatures keep their development at bay. We will have a more accurate estimate of bloom timing (which is highly dependent on the weather over the next 2 to 3 weeks) by the first week in April.” For blooming updates, events, and tickets, click here.

DOGWOOD-AZALEA FESTIVAL

Where: Charleston, Missouri

When: April 20 to 23, 2017

Take a stroll along the six-mile Dogwood-Azalea Trail when Charleston glimmers with stunning dogwoods and azaleas at their peak blooms.

You can celebrate the floral spring beauty and enjoy the wholesome hospitality of this community with a candlelight tour, arts and crafts bazaar, one of the area’s largest parades, an old-fashioned ice cream social, art show, piano concerts, and an old-fashioned carriage ride. For more information, see their website.

THE 2017 WILDFLOWER FESTIVAL

Where: Crested Butte, Colorado

When: July 7 to 16, 2017

Surround yourself in the symphony of wildflowers in Crested Butte, dubbed as the wildflower capital of Colorado. The mountains and valleys brim with explosive colors in the late spring and summer as magnificent blue columbines, Red Indian paintbrushes, sunflowers, delphiniums, lupines, and other flowers bloom in full glory.

The week long festival offers over 200 events including hikes, art workshops, jeep tours, and photography classes. For more information, click here.

roses

PORTLAND ROSE FESTIVAL

Where: Portland, Oregon

When: May 27 to June 12, 2016

Portland hosts the largest rose show in the nation, overflowing with more than 4,000 blooms in all their glory and rich fragrances.

Enjoy one of three starlight parades with twinkling floats throughout its three weekends, thrilling rides, fireworks, live music, tasty treats, and much more. For more information, click here.

INTERNATIONAL CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL

Where: Macon, Georgia

When: March 24 to April 2, 2017

Dubbed “the pinkest party on earth,” The International Cherry Blossom Festival in Macon, Georgia celebrates all things pink, including the town’s impressive collection of hundreds of Yoshino cherry trees.

Festival highlights include a bed race, nightly live concerts, fashion shows, a street party, as well as the Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. For tickets and more information, click here.

THE FLOWER FIELDS AT CARLSBAD RANCH

Where: Carlsbad, California

When:  Now through May 14, 2017

This festival is another one of my personal favorites since my father lives nearby and we visit often. Every spring, 50 acres of rolling hills overlooking the striking coastline are transformed into a dazzling display of blooms from early March through early May.

Wagon rides, live music, dinner tours, arts and crafts shows, exotic plant sale, and photography classes are available throughout the festival dates. For a schedule or to buy tickets, check out their website.

Images, in order of appearance, courtesy of twobee, pazham, criminalatt, and nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Baby Boomers Changing Careers: Happiest Jobs

Are you singing “I can’t get no satisfaction” when it comes to your job? Do you find yourself daydreaming about a career change? Do you feel bored, dissatisfied, or exhausted? Do you have the career burnout blues? Or have you recently lost your job or retired and want to keep working but yearn to change directions?

career changeYou’re not alone. Many baby boomers feel the same way. Nonetheless, a career change can be scary. Fear of failure, financial concerns, and perhaps a less than supportive spouse prevents many from leaving their comfort zones.

On the other hand, the biggest rewards come from taking the biggest risks, says life coach Caroline Adams Miller, author of Creating Your Best Life. “Otherwise, you may be filled with regret at the end of your life—and that prospect helps put steel in your spine,” she says.

Studies show that up to 80 percent of baby boomers plan to do some sort of paid work until age 70 to stay mentally sharp, keep engaged socially, and achieve financial security in retirement. That leaves a couple of decades after 50 to work. Perhaps that’s why more and more boomers are contemplating an “encore career” to pursue their passions and create a fulfilling life they can enjoy.

But is it really possible? Certainly!

The American Institute for Economic Research looked at people who changed or tried to change jobs after age 45 and found that 82% of people aged 47 and older who took up new careers in the last two years were successful, and 50% saw a salary increase.

“Don’t view your age or your experience as a liability. It’s a benefit to companies to have a multi-generational workforce,” says Oriana Vogel, vice president of global talent acquisition at American Express. “One of our goals… is to hire employees that can provide a variety of different perspectives and experiences.” Age doesn’t come into consideration when it comes down to hiring the best people, she says.

A report from the Bankers Life Center for a Secure Retirement found that “boomers are just as likely or more likely to be engaged in their work than are the younger Generation X or Millennial generations.”

So, yes, it’s possible to find a different career you love after the age of 50. But which job will make you the happiest? To help you decide and perhaps narrow your choices, I did a bit of research on America’s happiest and unhappiest jobs:

THE HAPPIEST JOBS

Kununu created a “Career Happiness Index,” looking at nearly 200,000 employee reviews from 2016 to name three of the nation’s happiest industries of 2016.

Public administration topped the list, perhaps because government employees enjoy great benefits, hours, vacation policies, job stability, and support from management. In addition, employees felt that they were working for the common good, serving the public.

Consulting is a booming industry with a projected growth rate of 18%. Workers found their work challenging and enjoyed collaborating with others.

ARtistInterestingly to me, since I work as a writer, the arts and entertainment industry made the top three. Creative pursuits may not make you rich but could help you be happier.

CareerBliss created a ranking of the Happiest and Unhappiest Jobs in 2016. At the top of their list were recruiters.

“Finding great jobs for other people creates a happy work environment for recruiters…many recruiters find joy in helping others find jobs and earning bonuses for doing so,” said CareerBliss CEO Heidi Golledge.

A USA Today article summarized job satisfaction as jobs involving caring for, teaching, and protecting others as well as creative pursuits. Research published by NORC at the University of Chicago listed the top five positions for job satisfaction, in ascending order, clergy, physical therapists, firefighters, educational administrators, and artists.

THE UNHAPPIEST JOBS

unhappy womanAccording to kununu’s data, professionals in healthcare/pharmaceutical, legal advice and real estate/facility management score the lowest. CareerBliss listed sales account manager as Unhappiest Job. Rounding out the bottom five are security officer, merchandiser, cashier, and driver.

TIPS FOR CHOOSING A NEW CAREER 

A word of caution. Remember, an encore career that brings you happiness isn’t all about pursuing your passions. As the research above proves, when considering your choices, don’t forget to consider practical work issues such as job security, pay, benefits, work-life balance, and office environment. For example, just because you love a hobby doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy it once you add the stress of making a living. Take it from me, I chose to write professionally – and no regrets – but it wasn’t near as fun and carefree as when writing was something I did for my own pleasure.

Another option to think about? As I wrote in a previous blog, many boomers approaching retirement are choosing to become entrepreneurs and starting their own businesses. They want to continue working – but on their own terms.

In fact, a new Gallop study showed adults over the age of 50 are one of the fastest-growing groups of entrepreneurs in the U.S.  An overwhelming majority — 83% — say their main reason for launching a venture was a lifestyle choice or to increase their income. This poll suggests that boomers are searching for independence, a flexible schedule that leaves room for volunteering and traveling. And they want to pursue their interests and passions before it’s too late.

Keep your mind open and be creative. Consider wearing more than one hat and find a customized solution that puts you in control of your life. For example, you could combine writing, public speaking, teaching, and consulting. The Internet has opened up new freelancing opportunities.

The good news? Despite the hard work and dedication required to start and run a small business, 94 percent of U.S. entrepreneurs are happy being small business owners, according to a new survey by the online small business community, Manta.

POSSIBLE PITFALLS

Don’t rush into any decisions or immediately quit your job. Prepare and take it one step at a time.

Depending on your financial situation, “you might have to do it [a career change] incrementally,” says Kerry Hannon, author of Great Jobs for Everyone 50-Plus. “You need a job that pays the bills now. Then, on the side, take the classes you need, build those skills you need,” she suggests.

Do the necessary research. Learn about the new career you’re interested in, including pay, job satisfaction, and trends in the industry as well as the skills, qualifications, certifications, and credentials you’ll need. Strategically network with people in the field. Keep your skills up-to-date and utilize LinkedIn and other social media sites.

Internships and volunteer work can help you gain hands-on experience and test-drive a new career path before quitting a job.

Keep these tips in mind and you can move forward with confidence to reinvent your life and start that new career!

Images courtesy of Stuart Miles and David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Oscar Mix-Up Proves Ageism Still Alive

Unless you’re on Mars, you’ve no doubt heard about the mix-up at the 2017 Academy Award show last night. Warren Beatty, 79, and Faye Dunaway, 76, accidentally announced the wrong movie for Best Picture.

oscarTwitter was immediately on fire, calling Beatty stupid, dim-witted, brain dead, senile, and blind. People completely blamed him – and his age – for the screw up and cruel and degrading name-calling ensued.

Later, it was announced that the incident wasn’t his fault after all. The Academy mistakenly gave him the wrong card for Best Actress. Apparently, Beatty saw La La Land’s name on the card and was confused as to why Emma Stone’s name was on it.

As Beatty explained on the show, probably sensing people were going to call him senile: “I want to tell you what happened. I opened the envelope and it said, ‘Emma Stone, ‘La La Land.’ That’s why I took such a long look at Faye, and at you. I wasn’t trying to be funny.”

Some people still blamed Beatty for passing the card to Dunaway to read, supposedly letting her take the fall. But, my reaction was different. I think he handed her the card looking for a second opinion. Dunaway thought he was joking (“You’re impossible, come on,” she said) and read the card.

This morning, some of the press, and people on social media, claimed that Beatty should have asked for help when he noticed there was a problem. Maybe, but I say, give the man a break. Could you think calmly with 37 million people watching? I would venture a guess that a lot of younger people would have done the same thing.

Besides, even the Academy admitted this whole thing wasn’t Beatty’s – or Dunaway’s – fault! And their age had nothing to do with the flub either. (By the way, even if Beatty was totally to blame, it wouldn’t justify all the mean-spirited mocking and name-calling that, in my opinion, was sadly based on people’s lack of respect for the elderly.)

Recently Humana invited me to watch and participate online in a panel discussion they sponsored, Over Sixty, Under Estimated: A Healthy Look at the “Silver” Screen at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles that included baby boomer actress Francis Fisher. During the discussion, the panel made a good point:

These days, if Hollywood ridiculed an ethnic group, the LGBT community, or the disabled in movies, people would be in an uproar. So why do people quietly tolerate the way movies make fun of older people? Older characters in movies have often been stereotyped as irritable, depressed, slow-witted, lonely, sickly, whiny, rude, horny, and foul-mouthed – as if that’s all they had to offer.

In a previous blog, I pointed out that several actors aged 50-plus were nominated in prestigious categories this year in strong roles (it should be noted, however, none of them won last night). I wrote that perhaps we, as active, vibrant baby boomers who have valuable knowledge, experience, and insight that only comes with age, were paving the way for a change in the way people view aging.

However, this faux pas at the Oscar Show and all the ridicule obviously based on Beatty’s and Dunaway’s age makes me think I was wrong. While some cultures honor the elderly, in general, Hollywood seems to be reflecting society’s ongoing disrespectful, negative view of aging.

I realize that during this divisive time in America, many of you stayed away from the Academy Award show because of its political viewpoints. But the one thing we all have in common is that we’re getting older. In fact, we living in a time when the population of people ages 65 and older is expected to triple to 1.5 billion by mid century.

This is a politically neutral blog, but I’d love to hear your opinion. Was Beatty unjustly called stupid because of his age? Do you think the increase in the aging population will change people’s opinions of the elderly? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Why I Love Blogging

People blog for many reasons. Originally, I started my blog the end of 2013 as a platform for a book I wanted to write to help baby boomers find happiness.

Blog ButtonThe irony is, although it’s in the works, I have yet to finish that book! But I’m still blogging – and loving it.

In fact, I’m writing this article to celebrate my 200th blog! (You can take a look at my top ten blogs below.)

It’s so easy to get frustrated when you first start a blog. As a technically-challenged person, I had to learn WordPress. Then, I spent a lot of time promoting my blog and trying to find an audience. As with most bloggers, I quickly became obsessed – and depressed – with the numbers – how many visitors, subscribers, and Facebook followers I had on any given day.  Turns out building up readership for a blog takes a LOT of time, effort, and patience.

But as time passed, I realized my blog provided much more than an author platform and it wasn’t all about the numbers. Blogging served a different and more profound purpose. I would even say that it’s changed the way I look at and live my life.

That’s why if you’re thinking about starting a blog, I’d highly recommend it. That is, if you’re blogging for the right reasons.

If you’re starting a blog to get rich or even to eke out a living, well, don’t count on it. Monetizing a blog is super hard these days. In fact, after three years, I’m still not making money from my blog. By the way, don’t believe all the hype from people selling online courses that try to convince you blogging is a great way to make passive income. Make no mistake, writing and promoting a blog is a ton of work. There is nothing passive about it.

So Why Blog?

Some people may disagree with me, but I think blogging shouldn’t only be about making money, drumming up business, gathering a huge following, chasing fame, or trying to sell books.

Blogging can serve as a creative outlet to voice ideas, thoughts, and feelings. On top of that, writing a blog provides a wonderful opportunity to inspire and touch the lives of other people in a positive way.

How Blogging Changed My Life

My blog has certainly seen me through many ups and downs these past few years.  I’ve written about joyful moments like a trip to Chicago with my husband to celebrate our anniversary, a day spent playing in the snow with my grandchildren, watching Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones at Desert Trip, and a quick weekend trip with my kids to San Francisco.

I’ve also poured my heart out while caregiving for my Mom who suffered from Lewy Body dementia and wrote about her eventual death. I shared my angst when my mother-in-law died from ovarian cancer and my son went through a painful divorce and custody battle that same year. (Ironically, shortly after I started writing a blog about happiness, I had the worst year of my life.)

Yes, I love reading, which provides a welcome respite from my troubles, but writing is my real escape, outlet, and passion. When I write, I become so focused, my problems fade away for awhile, giving me a much needed break. In fact, if you’re truly a writer, believe me, it is a life-long addiction!

The process of putting my thoughts and feelings into writing has brought me comfort as well as help me relive happy moments.writer

As I’ve written about my life, my blog helped me think about what’s important to me and determine if my life is headed in the right direction.

Since I can’t write about every event, idea, thought, and feeling, blogging provides a sort of filter, clarifying my life. My blogs have helped me understand what is most meaningful to me. I’ve discovered along the way that sometimes it’s the simplest moments that make me the happiest.

Embracing Creativity

As a professional writer, my blog gives me wonderful creative freedom to express myself. Not to pop anyone’s balloon, but writing sounds more glamorous than it is in reality. For most of the past 25 years, I’ve written articles on subjects that magazines, newspapers, publishers, and clients choose for me.

True, I’ve written two young adult books, travel articles, humorous pieces, and feature stories on fascinating people that were fun. On the other hand, in order to make a living, I’ve also written articles that bored me to tears. I’ve tackled technical articles – and one technical book – that gave me an Excedrin headache and drove me nuts . I’ve written on demand, meeting other people’s deadlines, writing late into the night as my brain is desperately trying to call it quits.

Don’t get me wrong. I may sound whiny, but I fully realize that I’m darn lucky to have made a living at something I love. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

The point is, my blog is my baby. I write on subjects I’m interested in and feel passionate about and hope my audience will enjoy as well. My blog allows me to stretch as a writer, explore, experiment, and try new things whenever the muse hits. Writing professionally has given me the discipline to publish a blog every week, but I write my blogs when I choose. And believe me, that’s not at the crack of dawn or 10:00 at night! That is luxurious.

Thank You for Joining Me on My Journey!

So, those are some of the ways blogging has changed my life. But, as I mentioned earlier, the huge bonus is that blogging can change other people’s lives as well.

Some of you have left comments letting me know that I have in some small way inspired you or provided useful information and that always brings me such joy. Writing a blog has provided an opportunity to connect with readers and other bloggers, which has been so rewarding.

I’m beyond grateful for the 23,000 people who have visited my blog, for my 5,000 subscribers (click here if you’d like to join them and receive your copy of a free eBook), 5,000 Twitter followers, and 1,200 Facebook followers who have shared this journey with me. A HUGE THANK YOU!

When I hit milestones, I like to review which blogs have been most popular with an eye to giving my readers more of what they enjoy. It’s always interesting to see what resonates and hits home.

My Top Ten Blogs

So, without further ado, here are my top ten blogs in order of popularity. Feel free to click on any of the links of blogs you’d like to check out:

happy go lucky

Five Ways to Become a Happy-Go-Lucky Person

Every year, this is my top-performing blog by far. Merriam-Webster defines happy-go-lucky as blithely unconcerned and carefree. Synonyms include affable, laid-back, low-pressure, and mellow. I guess we all want some of that!

 

Bobby Rydell and meGolden Boys in Concert: Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, and Fabian

I was asked to do a book review of Bobby Rydell’s autobiography. This led to an interview, free tickets to his Golden Boys concert with Frankie Avalon and Fabian, and a backstage pass to meet Rydell in person. This was a nice perk that came from blogging! The day they posted my concert review on Rydell’s Facebook page, my visitors increased by 3000% for the day. No joke!

menopause dwarfsKeep Laughing with the Seven Dwarfs of Menopause

This blog has held a top-three spot since I began blogging. Hey, it’s either laugh or cry through menopause, and wouldn’t we all prefer to laugh?

 

happy despite problemsStaying Positive Despite Problems

Everyone has problems that make us feel powerless and defeated, so I’m not surprised this blog made the top ten. I offer three simple tips on how we can control our outlook and still choose to be happy despite our troubles.

 

happiest momentsWhat Are Your Life’s Happiest Moments?

If you look back on your life, which moments would you count as your happiest? What would be your biggest regrets? That’s the question one study asked participants aged 70 and older. I share the results of their insightful answers in this blog.

 

happy old coupleWhy Older People Are Happier Than Baby Boomers

Aww, my very first blog that got Baby Boomer Bliss off the ground. The idea for this blog was based on studies that show, in general, older people – and even the younger generation – are happier than us baby boomers. One study confirmed there is a U-shaped happiness curve with the early 50’s as the lowest point of well-being.

happy 1 2 3Happy as 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. And you know what? I can and so can you,” I wrote. This article got discovered on Stumble Upon, bringing me my second (after the Rydell concert review) all-time record high number of visitors for one day to my site.

menopauseStaying Happy Through Menopause

I wrote this article after Hot Flash Daily hired me to write humorous articles about menopause to launch their new website. I had never written humor before, but had a blast doing it for them!  I happily shared it all – the scorching hot flashes, insane insomnia, annoying forgetfulness, and crazy panic attacks that ensued for years. Yes, YEARS!

happiness grandchilddrenFinding Happiness with Grandchildren

This blog was an easy one to write. To be needed and wanted by these delightful little beings is a wonderful treat and privilege. Like many people, I find that the rewards of family life only grew richer and more fulfilling as each new grandchild was born.

 

snoopyFive Happy Snoopy Quotes

Okay, this one surprised me a little bit. But hey, don’t we all still love Snoopy? Now that I write a happiness blog, I’m impressed with how much wisdom Charles M. Schultz cartoons contain on the subject.

 

So, those are my top ten blogs so far. What will my next 100 blogs bring to the table? Stay tuned to find out! And if you have any ideas or subjects you’d like to see on Baby Boomer Bliss, please share in the comments below. I’d LOVE to hear!

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

Baby Boomers in 2017 Oscar Nominated Movies

Older characters in movies have often been stereotyped in insulting and degrading ways. The elderly have been shown as irritable, depressed, slow-witted, lonely, sickly, whiny, rude, horny, and foul-mouthed – as if that’s all they had to offer. Cinema has often reflected society’s attitudes toward the 50-plus crowd who in real life were often ridiculed or ignored.

oscarBut hopefully the times are a-changin’, as Bob Dylan famously sang.

This year, the Academy’s Oscar nominees include a notable number of people over 50, including Mel Gibson, for directing Hacksaw Ridge; Jeff Bridges, for Best Supporting Actor in Hell or High Water; Viggo Mortensen, for Best Actor in a Leading Role in Captain Fantastic; Meryl Streep for Best Actress in a Leading Role in Florence Foster Jenkins, and Isabelle Huppert for Best Actress in a Leading Role in Elle.

And they don’t happen to fit into the typical stereotypes. Jeff Bridges, 67, stars as a Texas Ranger tracking down a pair of bank-robbing brothers. Viggo Mortensen, 58, plays a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous education that challenges his philosophy about life. Meryl Streep, 67, once again proves older women can still steal scenes front and center. And Isabelle Huppert, 63, plays a woman who turns the tables on her attacker.

Maybe that’s a start. Perhaps Hollywood, and society at large, haven’t completely forgotten the value of the elderly with their knowledge, life experience, and insight.

As an article in the San Diego Tribune pointed out, we baby boomers “are reinventing society’s idea of what it means to grow old. Seniors today carry cell phones, not walkers. They sit on bicycles, not rocking chairs. Arts and crafts, bingo and checkers have been replaced with jogging, white-water rafting and skiing. Seniors are healthy, vibrant, influential members of our society.”

As the oldest of the 77 million baby boomers approach their 70s, the elderly and their concerns will inevitably be given more attention. As to whether ageism will worsen or get better is a matter of debate.

Erdman Palmore, a professor emeritus at Duke University who has written or edited more than a dozen books on aging, remains fairly optimistic. “One can say unequivocally that older people are getting smarter, richer and healthier as time goes on,” Palmore said. “I’ve dedicated most of my life to combating ageism, and it’s tempting for me to see it everywhere. … But I have faith that as science progresses, and reasonable people get educated about it, we will come to recognize ageism as the evil it is.”

Is Hollywood slowly adapting to reflect these changes as we baby boomers forge ahead refining the landscape of aging?

Hopefully. The movie industry has been complaining about ageism in Hollywood for a long time. According to AARP CEO JoAnn Jenkins at a movie industry roundtable discussion hosted by Variety, ageism is another diversity issue that Hollywood needs to consider more. “The truth is that 70 percent of the disposable income in this country is in the possession of people 50 and older,” Jenkins said. “And 25 percent of people who are moviegoers are people over the age of 50. They are actually putting butts in the seats in the movie theaters. Yet we see across the board that the marketing industry is spending 75 to 80 percent of their dollars focusing on people who are under the age of 30, and mostly young males.”

Jenkin’s opinion corresponds with two academic studies that showed 30-somethings were heavily over-represented in movies, 40-somethings did all right, while 50-somethings were significantly under-represented and the over-60s severely so.

Recently Humana invited me to watch and participate online in a panel discussion they sponsored, Over Sixty, Under Estimated: A Healthy Look at the “Silver” Screen at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles that included baby boomer actress Francis Fisher. During the discussion, the panel made a good point. These days, if Hollywood ridiculed an ethnic group, the LGBT community, or the disabled in movies, people would be in an uproar. So why do people quietly tolerate the way movies make fun of older people?

We’re not grumpy old codgers cussing up a storm. I’m over 50 and still consider myself an active, vibrant member of society. Let’s hope this year’s Academy nominees proves that Hollywood is catching up with the times.

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Golden Boys in Concert: Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, and Fabian

Can three former teen heartthrobs from the late 1950’s and 1960’s still make an audience swoon?

You bet!

I had interviewed Bobby Rydell via email last year for my blog. So, I was thrilled when his wife, Linda Hoffman (Rydell), was kind enough to send me two complimentary tickets and backstage passes for a Golden Boys concert starring former teen idols Rydell, Frankie Avalon, and Fabian on February 4, 2017 at Spotlight 29 Casino in Coachella.

Excited to be backstage with Bobby Rydell!

Excited to be backstage with Bobby Rydell!

I was excited to finally meet Rydell in person and take a photo with him.

And yes, maybe I swooned just a little bit!

The story of how Rydell, Avalon, and Fabian rose to fame is better than any novel. Three Italian boys grow up in the same South Philadelphia neighborhood at the same time – within blocks of each other. Then, stranger than fiction, all three boys go on to rise to stardom as teenage heartthrobs.

What are the chances?

The three friends, now in their 70’s, have been touring together since 1985, packing venues throughout the country.  Countless television appearances, a special performance for the President of U.S. and a Golden Boys PBS special followed.

Golden BoysIf you get a chance, be sure and catch their show. Click here for upcoming dates.  If that’s not possible, I’ll share a review of the concert along with some photos.

At the concert, I sang along, swayed, laughed (yes, these guys are super funny), and listened to the three reminisce about their days as teen idols and all the famous people they met along the way. The three also shared bits of their personal lives.

The show began with old clips of the three singers during their heyday. Then, the trio of stars came on stage to sing the theme from the Dick Clark show, American Bandstand, on which all three appeared in their youth. Afterward, they feigned exhaustion and heavy breathing while making jokes about their old age.

Then, Rydell took center stage.

Bobby Rydell

You baby boomers will remember that Rydell became famous with hits like Wild One, Kissin’ Time, and Volare, as well as for his role in Bye Bye Birdie with Ann Margaret and Dick Van Dyke. Younger people may remember that the high school in the movie Grease was named after him, Rydell High.

Bobby Rydell“It’s real nice to be here,” he said to the audience. “It’s real nice to be anywhere.”

The audience laughed, but Rydell was only half-joking. After all, he has faced a double organ transplant and double heart bypass surgery. Rydell expressed gratitude for his second chance at life and thanked his donor, a young 21-year-old girl named Julia, who was able to save, not only Rydell, but six other people as an organ donor.

Once again, I was impressed with this man’s thoughtful words, honesty, and kind face, just as I was in our interview and while reading his autobiography, Teen Idol on the Rocks: A Tale of Second Chances.

You may think that after all his health problems and his self-admitted former problems with alcohol, Rydell’s voice and spirit would have diminished over the years. He even confessed that he and his wife were just getting over bronchitis. Nonetheless, I’m happy to report Rydell’s voice was still strong, smooth, and velvety as he delivered his many hits. Rydell’s joy of performing and optimistic heart came shining through.

Noting that although Michael Buble’ and Dean Martin both recorded the famous song, Sway, Rydell admitted with a smile, “I am happy to say that I had the bigger hit with it.” He went on to prove why, belting out the song, his voice still impressive as he hit the climatic end high-note.

Rydell treated us to a few more songs and closed his set with my favorite, Volare, proving once again, his voice could meet the demanding challenge of the classic song.

Fabian 

While all three of the stars were funny, Fabian was clearly the jokester of the bunch. He has an amazingly quick wit and refreshing self-depreciating humor.

“Welcome to Rolling Bones Tour,” he said wryly. “What the hell are we doing here so late?”

Fabian

Perhaps his voice hasn’t held up quite as well as his friend, Rydell, but Fabian could joke about it. “I tried to sing like Bobby and I was in traction for two months,” he teased. “I got a book too (referring to Rydell’s recent autobiography) – oh no – I got booked. There’s a difference there.”

He sang “I’m a Man,” confessing that he was only 15 years old when he performed the song on Dick Clark’s show. “I had a lot of nerve singing those lyrics,” he quipped. Fabian also included a song “a lot of people were strolling to” in the late 50’s, Turn Me Loose, adding that he went to high school with Chubby Checkers.

Fabian got a lot of laughs from the audience when he joked about three wine glasses on stage. “This one is Bobby’s,” he noted. “Look, he forgot to take his little blue pill. You know why you need the little blue pill. So you won’t fall out of bed at night.” (Okay, that was a bit naughty!). “This is Frankie’s glass, it has his teeth in it. Mine has my old pompadour in it. I miss my buddy.”

When he invited several women on stage to do the Twist with him while he sang his biggest hit of all, Tiger, one woman fell on the stairs. After he made sure she was okay, he joked, “It’s been a long time since someone fell for me.” In a sweet moment, one of the women told Fabian she had danced the Twist with him at one of his concerts 30 years ago and still had a photo of them together in her purse. Fabian graciously gave her a big hug.

Frankie Avalon 

Frankie Avalon is a well-known name, featured in numerous movies and TV shows over the years. He had one of the biggest selling hits of the late 50’s and 60’s era, Venus. Boomers will also remember him for the popular Beach Party film series with Annette Funicello. Later generations came to know him from his role as Teen Angel when he famously sang, Beauty School Drop-Out, in Grease.

Frankie Avalon singing a duet with one of the Everly Brother's sons.

Frankie Avalon singing a duet with one of the Everly Brother’s sons.

Along with singing his many hits from the old days, Avalon shared some of his personal life with the audience, noting that he had eight children in 10 years with his wife (they are still married after more than half a century). “Yes, we were busy,” he joked. “My oldest is 53 now. Isn’t that amazing? We’re the same age.” His oldest son, Frank Jr., in fact, was the band’s drummer in the show.

Avalon was quick to dispel any false rumors that he wears a toupee. “I am proud to say, this is my hair, although with a few drops of water I look like a Chia Pet,” he joked.

The audience, full of older baby boomers, happily sang along as Avalon performed the theme to the movie, Beach Blanket Bingo. His set also included duets with his guitarist, Edan Everly, son of Don Everly of the Everly Brothers that included Bye Bye Love, Dream, and Wake Up Little Susie. Clips from the movie, Grease, played while Avalon sang his famous single, Beauty School Dropout.

He strolled into the crowd for a couple of his songs, before returning to the stage for his biggest hit of all and my personal favorite, Venus. “Hey Venus, oh Venus, make my wish come true!”  I was in heaven!

All Good Things Must Come to an End

The three friends then reunited to offer tributes to their musical heroes. Avalon sang a Ricky Nelson song, Fabian offered up an Elvis hit, and finally, Rydell killed it with Bobby Darin’s Mack the Knife.

In conclusion, the trio sang Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock and Roll and closed with the theme from The Mickey Mouse Club.

We all sang along merrily, proving that these three guys can still make our hearts melt a little.

A big thanks to Bobby Rydell and his wife, Linda Hoffman, for the fabulous seats and backstage passes. A thank-you also goes to my husband, Scott Gorges, for contributing his photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating International Book Giving Day: Free Book Giveaway!

Did you know that February 14th is not only Valentine’s Day? It also happens to be International Book Giving Day.

BookGivingDayBlogBadge

What better way to say, “I love you” than giving a child a book they can cherish and read over and over again?

So, let’s all show a little book love!

In the spirit of this special day, my author pals and I are dedicating this blog hop to the love of books and offering a fabulous Book Giveaway Extravaganza.

Please have a read and then enter our free giveaway for a chance to win autographed books by some awesome authors.

What Exactly is International Book Giving Day?

The goal of this wonderful day celebrated worldwide is to give as many children as possible the delightful gift of a free book.

The special day provides an opportunity to help a child learn about the joy of reading, offer an exciting journey to another place or time, and provide educational and inspirational opportunities.

After all, the magic of a book can inspire, educate, and entertain children – sometimes all at the same time.

International Book Giving Day encourages all of us to give a book to a friend or family member or donate a gently used book to a local library, hospital or shelter, or to an organization that distributes used books to children in need internationally.

For more information and a list of non-profit organizations that give away books to children year-round, click here.

WIN A FREE BOOK! 

girl reading bookIn honor of this wonderful day, my fellow author friends and I are participating in a book giveaway. We are giving away 14 signed copies of our children and young adult books as well as four free eBooks from February 1 to 15, 2017.

Click here for your chance to win a FREE autographed book for your child, grandchild, niece, nephew, or win a book to donate to a library or organization of your choice.

Terms and Conditions: There is NO purchase necessary to enter or win. Winners will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget within 48 hours and notified by email once the giveaway ends. The winners will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner(s) do not respond within 72 hours, a new winner(s) will be chosen. This giveaway is open to all who live in and outside of the US. However, there are several sponsors of this giveaway who live both domestic and international. Print books are available only for domestic country of author origin; eBooks offered outside author’s country of origin at their discretion.

Another Freebie: Click here for free download printable bookmarks that winners can use with books you win from our giveaway or to tuck into books you plan to give away in celebration of International Book Giving Day.

A big thank-you for stopping by! For more International Book Giving Day reading, visit the #Gr8blogs below. And don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win autographed copies by some amazing authors!

Carmela Dutra: A Blog for Your Thoughts

Rosie Russell: Kid Lit Blog

Tracy Bryan: Children’s Author

Sandra Bennett: Author

JD Holiday: Writers Blog

James Milson: Writing & Things

Cat Michael: Cat’s Corner

Corrina Holyoake: Venturing Into the Unknown

Image courtesy of anekoho at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

The Enchantment of Snow

Why does snow falling have the ability to make us feel so entranced and enchanted?

“Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes,

Silver white winters that melt into springs,

These are a few of my favorite things.”

Aw, I still love those famous lyrics from my favorite movie as a child, Sound of Music.

Family Snow Day

Family Snow Day

Although we live in the California desert, we’re only an hour drive away from the mountains. This weekend my husband, son, grandchildren, and I went up to Idyllwild to play in the snow.

The trip got me to thinking about why snow can make us feel so darn happy.

(And yes, I am aware that I was only visiting the snow and didn’t have to live, shovel, or deal with the slush afterward. But don’t rain – or snow – on my parade!)

Here are my top three reasons snow brings us such unadulterated joy:

The Magic of Nature

snow gate “Silently, like thoughts that come and go, the snowflakes fall, each one a gem.” — William Hamilton Gibson

Actually, I lived in northern California as a child, Idyllwild as a teen, and Washington State for a few years as an adult. I remember well the pure excitement of waking up to a white winter wonderland where the snow gently kisses meadows and trees in a breathtaking way.

I know some of my friends up north and back east may be sick of the snow by now, but let’s not lose that childlike wonderment and genuine delight. No matter how old we are, we can still appreciate the way snow beautifies everything it touches, creating a still and stunning landscape.

Forming those first footprints in a vast white pristine field while breathing in the invigorating fresh cold air allows us to connect with our natural surroundings in a profound way.

Live in the Present

“A snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky – unbidden – and seems like a thing of wonder.”   Susan Orlean

Catching snowflakes on their tongues.

Catching snowflakes on their tongues.

A fleeting snowfall forces us to pause and take note of the entrancing beauty. No matter what’s happening in our lives, peaceful falling snow has the serene power to calm us down.

Who can dwell on the past or worry about the future while we’re watching snowflakes gently float soundlessly from the sky?

Who can frown while creating a funny, fat snowman, playfully catching snowflakes on our tongues, or enjoying the thrill of a sled ride? Who can resist screaming with delight during a snowball fight?

And who can stop laughing when you discover your granddaughter is photobombing you in the snowstorm? Not me, as evidenced in the photo below!

snow photo bomb

Time with Your Family

“We build statues out of snow, and weep to see them melt.” — Walter Scott

Ah, so true. Whether you’re skiing, snowboarding, sledding, or creating snow angels, snow forts, or snowmen, or having a raucous snowball fight, snow naturally brings families together. But as the poem notes, all good things have to come to an end. Well, sort of.

Eventually my granddaughter cried because her fingers were painfully cold and it was time to head for the warmth of our home. Luckily, the joy of a snow day continues after you go inside to warm up by a roaring fire with a mug of hot chocolate.  It’s a wonderful chance to snuggle with your loved ones and reminisce about the glory of the day.

So all of you snow haters out there, excuse this Californian’s enthusiasm for the white stuff, but I can’t help feeling the same way as American novelist Candace Bushnell, who eloquently wrote:

“Thank goodness for the first snow. It was a reminder — no matter how old you became and how much you’d seen, things could still be new if you were willing to believe they still mattered.”

 

Baby Boomers: Are Your Millennial Children Worse Off Than You?

Parents typically want better lives for their children.

So, some baby boomers may be a bit dismayed by the latest study last week from the Federal Reserve data reporting that millennials actually make less money than we did at the same age.

ResearchThe research shows that our millennial children earn 20 percent less than we did at the same stage of life with a median household income of $40, 581, despite being better educated. In fact, the median college-educated millennial with student debt is only earning slightly more than a baby boomer without a degree did in 1989.

There’s more. When we baby boomers were young, we owned more homes and had amassed assets worth twice as much as young people today.

The report spawned many articles claiming these figures presented a dire picture for the 75 million millennials struggling for a piece of the American Dream. No wonder so many millennials still live with their baby boomer parents, they pointed out.

So what can we take away from all this? Should we be depressed and worried for our children by this doom and gloom report?

Not in my opinion.

Tackling Student Loan Debt

According to this study, a good part of the reason millennials are worse off than we were at their age is crippling student loan debt.

Americans owe nearly $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, spread out among about 44 million borrowers. In fact, the average Class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt, up six percent from last year.

debtTo make matters worse, this debt is not dischargeable in bankruptcy. As an article from Time states so well: “If you’re struggling to pay credit card debt, car loans or even gambling debt, you can wipe the slate clean in bankruptcy. Struggling to pay your student loans? Sorry, you’ll just have to figure that one out on your own.”

This was not always the case. Older baby boomers will remember that before 1976, all education loans were dischargeable in bankruptcy. Along with much lower college costs back in the day, this is one reason we boomers were better off financially when we were young adults than our children.

Nonetheless, not all is lost. If your millennial children are saddled with this heavy load, there’s some great information out there on how to pay off student loan debt faster. For example, there’s some good information in this article from BankRate you can check out.

In addition, I propose that in light of the times, perhaps it’s time we change our thinking about the value of an elite private institution. If we’re truly honest with ourselves, isn’t the motivation for attending expensive, elite schools often prestige? But is it worth it? The sluggish economy and rising costs of college have intensified questions about whether that fancy education is worth it. Are graduates more satisfied with their lives afterward or are they stressed out over the massive student debt they’ll carry for years?

If our children are thinking about taking out loans or co-signing student loans for their own children’s college education, these are questions they should consider. Parents need to make sure that this financial investment is indeed worthwhile and not made to the detriment of their own future well being.

An article from Wall Street Journal pointed out that “as student-loan default rates climb and college graduates fail to land jobs, an increasing number of students are betting they can get just as far with a degree from a less-expensive school as they can with a diploma from an elite school—without having to take on debt.”

Perhaps that’s why more students are choosing lower-cost public colleges, state schools, commuting to schools from home to save on housing expenses, as well as choosing a more practical career-oriented education.

Food for thought for our grandchildren as they approach college age.

Money Does Not Equal Happiness

So, maybe our children are earning less, haven’t purchased a home yet, and don’t have as much money as we did when we were their age.

MoneyDoes that mean they’re doomed to misery? Heck no!

As I wrote about in a previous blog, How the Recession Changed Our Viewpoint of Happiness, if this recession taught us anything, it’s that money, expensive houses, and things doesn’t equal happiness.

Maybe the American Dream has changed since we were young – and that’s not a bad thing.

Remember the 60’s, when many young people thought society had been corrupted by capitalism and the materialist atmosphere it created? They looked down on their parents, children of the Depression era who sought security in cookie-cutter houses in the suburbs, enjoying an economic boom after World War II ended. Their parents were “square” and “materialistic” in their youthful eyes, and had lost sight of the more meaningful experiences life had to offer.

Then they grew up.

Let’s get real. Many of those ideals were left behind. Ironically, many “hippies” became “yuppies.” Despite all the talk and protests, a lot of baby boomers began working around the clock at burgeoning careers, bought nice homes, enjoyed fancy vacations, chased success, and accumulated credit card debt. In the end, many boomers became much more materialistic than their parents.

Well, it seems the pendulum has swung once again. After the recession, many young people are feeling the same way we boomers did in the 60’s.

After all, many people bought extravagant homes they could not otherwise afford and lost them during the housing bubble burst. You know what? They learned life went on. Buying that home they always “dreamed of” turned into a nightmare and many discovered it wasn’t worth all the stress that resulted.

Turns out that dedicating yourself to a career and owning a fancy home wasn’t the answer to finding contentment, satisfaction, and joy after all. Many of our children took note.

In fact, home ownership rates are at their lowest since 1995. In the years since the housing bubble burst, many have come to the conclusion that home ownership isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be and are now renting a less expensive apartment instead. Others opted for home ownership, but decided to downsize. This idea spawned the whole tiny house movement.

So, maybe our millennial children don’t own a home and are renting an apartment instead. Is that such a tragedy? Without a huge mortgage debt hanging over their heads, they’ll have more time to concentrate on spiritual matters, their family and friends, volunteer work, and their health and well-being. Maybe our children don’t have a demanding cooperate job earning big bucks. Perhaps they’ll have more freedom for new experiences, adventures, and seeing the world.

Whose to say they can’t be happier without all the materialistic entrapment that the so-called American Dream entails?

Multi-Generational Living

Do you have millennial children living with you? You’re not alone. Statistics show that 21 percent of millennials live with their parents.

However, that doesn’t have to be a negative thing.

Multi generational livingShortly after my youngest son got married, he was forced to move back home. He was laid off during the recession and his wife was working at a dental facility that closed down. They lived with us for a few years until they got back on their feet and recently moved up north.

My oldest son doesn’t match the data from the Federal Reserve used for this latest study. He actually earns more than my husband and I. However, because of child support for his three children and substantial legal debt from from his recent divorce and custody battle, he is currently living in a casita on our property. This works well for us as well, since we share living expenses.

This is not an uncommon scenario in this recovering economy. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, three in 10 parents of adult children report that the economy forced their grown child to move back in with them in the past few years.

Because of this phenomena, the term “boomerang kids” has been coined. To be clear, I’m not talking about kids who move back home and take advantage of you. Adult children who are lackadaisical about finding work, view your house as a permanent vacation spot, and use their earnings as disposable income to be used for going out, expensive trips, or sports cars. That’s a totally different situation.

However, if your children are living at home to pay off some student loan debt, are saving to buy a house, temporally out of work, or recovering financially from a divorce like my son, moving back home doesn’t have to be a negative experience. Helping your children regroup so they can live an independent life once again, if handled correctly, can be a rewarding experience. The fact is, studies show that people who live in multi-generational homes actually like it. Check out my blog, When Adult Children Move Back Home, for tips on how to make multi-generational living work.

In conclusion, baby boomers, let’s not cry a bucket of tears for our millennial children. Yes, they face some challenging times. But I have faith that, all in all, they’ll find their way and do just fine.

Images, in order of appearance, courtesy of jannoon028, renjith krishnan, Stuart Miles, and photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Women Breaking Through Barriers

Lesly Federici suddenly lost her mother at the age of 40 while coping with the news that she had a genetic disorder that would result in blindness. Suzie Cheel was given three choices: life, death, or dialysis. Beverley Golden, only 89 pounds and suffering from a mysterious health problem, listened as a doctor told her there was little hope for recovery.

hurdlesThese are just three of 14 inspirational stories in the book, Women Breaking through Barriers, by Marquita A. Herald. The women describe how they conquered tremendous hurdles to move forward and live fulfilling and successful lives.

The book shares what helped them find the courage and inner strength to create a life they love with tips on how you can do so as well.

I was touched that the author of the book asked me to share my own story about how I pushed through my fears and self-limiting beliefs.

My own story is not as dramatic as some of the others in the book. I write about how I overcame my fears and doubts to pursue my dreams of becoming an author and writer. Oh, I put a lot of self-imposed barriers on myself. I was afraid that people would laugh at me because I didn’t have a college degree. That my submissions would sit in a huge pile and be ignored by literary agents and editors since I didn’t know anyone in the publishing business. That friends and family would roll their eyeballs if I dared to express my dreams of becoming a writer out loud. That I would become so discouraged by the countless rejections sure to come my way, I would give up and watch my precious dreams slowly fade away. Doesn’t everyone want to be a writer, but how many actually make it?

dreaming-of-being-a-writerInstead of taking action, I was comfortable just dreaming about becoming an author one day. It was fun envisioning my novel on the shelves of Barnes and Noble and my first book signing. It was so easy to tell myself that I needed to learn more about the craft of writing before submitting my work.

Until a woman at a writer’s conference asked me a simple but profound question. What are you waiting for?

Oh, I had a million excuses why I wasn’t pursing my passion. But she forced me to ask myself some important questions. Did I want to go to my grave with regrets that I never followed my dreams? That I never even tried? Would I wonder what I could have accomplished if only I had mustered up enough courage to break through my self-imposed barriers?

With the woman’s words echoing in my head, I took the first step and began submitting my short story to magazines. Of course, I received the standard rejection letter which stung, but I continued on my journey, taking writing classes and submitting my work. The road wasn’t easy. Many of my fears came true during that time. I gathered enough rejection letters to wallpaper a room. Plenty of people gave me cynical looks when I dared to share my dreams of becoming a published writer. Many times, I became discouraged and swore off writing. But I tenaciously pressed forward. Six long years passed before my first short story was published. Am I happy that I persevered and finally faced down all those nagging self-doubts and fears?

You bet!

Yup, that’s me, looking happy I broke through my barriers to live out my dreams of seeing my book on the shelves of Barnes and Noble along with a book signing!

I’ve been writing professionally for over 25 years now. Over the years, I’ve been published in national magazines, authored three books (one of which was published by big time publisher McGraw Hill), landed an agent, won three journalism awards, and even had a book signing at Barnes and Noble.

What helped me accomplish my goals? How did the other 13 courageous women overcome their fears, persevere, and find the power to become the driver of their own lives and personal journeys?  You’ll have to check out the book to find out! Each tale will give you hope and encourage you to reflect on who you are and what matters most to you in life.

For a limited time, I’m offering a free copy of the book, Women Breaking Barriers, to all new subscribers of my blog. As a subscriber, every Thursday you’ll be the first to receive my latest blog on how to find your bliss. Please use the subscribe button on the upper right corner of this page. Rest assured, your privacy is important to me. Your email address will not be given away or sold at any time. If you decide you no longer wish to subscribe, you need only scroll to the bottom of any blog sent to you and click on the “unsubscribe” link.

When you are finished, click on the link below to receive your free copy of the book. If you are already one of my 5,000 subscribers, feel free to click on the link below and receive a copy of this inspiring book compliments of Baby Boomer Bliss.

Women Breaking Barriers eBook

Enjoy the book and in the meantime, remember that there is nothing magical that happens to people who choose to take responsibility for their own life. They choose to commit to taking a risk, doing the necessary work, and taking action. And most importantly, they choose to be true to themselves.

As John Quincy Adams eloquently said, “Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”

Images courtesy of Sira Anamwong and iconmac at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.