Author Archives: juliegorges

About juliegorges

Julie A. Gorges is the author of two young adult novels, Just Call Me Goody Two Shoes and Time to Cast Away and co-author of Residential Steel Design and Construction published by McGraw Hill. In addition, hundreds of her articles and short stories have been published in national and regional magazines, and she received three journalism awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association while working as a newspaper reporter. Julie currently lives in southern California with her husband, Scott, and has two grown children and three grandchildren.

Ten Things Baby Boomers Can Do if Self-Quarantined

Day #4 of shelter-in-place here in California where I live, one of the states hardest hit with the coronavirus. As my baby boomer husband said the other day: “Waking up to another day in Coronaville.”

“Coronavirus.” “Pandemic.” “Shelter-in-place.” “COVID-19.” “Social distancing.” “Self-quarantine.” “Stay-at-Home.” “Lockdown.” “Isolation.” To think just a mere month ago these words were not part of our everyday vocabulary. People wearing masks, empty grocery shelves, incessant hand washing, travel bans, closed schools, working from home, and a plummeting stock-market.

This is our new normal.

On Thursday, the governor of California issued a statewide stay at home order in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19. Five other states have done the same. Basically, that means staying at home with the exception of going to the store, checking on relatives, going to the doctor, or exercising outdoors (as long as you stay six feet away from everyone). Schools and all non-essential businesses have been closed. If that news wasn’t dire enough, the governor also warned that 56% of California’s population is at risk of getting the coronavirus. Now, there’s a sobering thought.

Us baby boomers – specifically those ages 60 and older – well, it turns out we’re the susceptible ones likely to become seriously ill from this virus. Although we felt young, tough, and invincible when we first heard about this pandemic, as pointed out in my last blog, it seems like boomers are finally taking note. And that’s a good thing.

Not to be an alarmist, but may I make a suggestion? If you’re a baby boomer over the age of 65 and not in self-quarantine or isolation, you should seriously consider it, even if it’s not currently required where you live. That is most certainly the case if you have underlying health issues. I know, I know. Self-quarantining wasn’t exactly on your bucket list and we boomers are accustomed to active and social lives. But look at what happened in China and what is taking place in Italy and Spain right now at a breathtaking speed.

Transmission of COVID-19 is highly contagious and shockingly easy to transmit. Now, medical experts are telling us that the virus can survive on surfaces for up to three days. Younger ones may not even be symptomatic, so family members or friends can transmit the disease without even realizing it.  Currently, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the incubation period (the time between when you contract the virus and your symptoms start) for the novel coronavirus is between 2 to 14 days after exposure.

The saying, “better safe than sorry” has never been more true. Okay, lecture over, but please take care, my friends.

So, what can you do if you’re like me, stuck at home, to get your mind off all this mayhem? My blogger friends and I are sharing ways to cope during these distressing times as part of the #Gr8Blogs Coping in Coronaville Blog HopBe sure and check out their suggestions by clicking on the links at the end of this blog.

Before I list 10 things you can do if self-quarantined, remember to stay safe, but remain calm and positive. While we need to take this virus seriously, don’t stay glued to the TV watching doom and gloom news reports. Instead, focus on the many reasons we all have to be grateful. At the end of the day, acknowledge that you were given another chance to see the sunrise, recognize something you’ve accomplished, or make note of a person you are thankful to have in your life.

Okay, so here are ten ways to stay sane:

  • Eat well and stay active. This isn’t the time to stress eat and indulge in comfort food. You’ll only feel worse in the end, believe me. Exercise – outdoors if possible. I still take walks, cycle, and hike trails – keeping a safe six feet from everyone else, of course. Literally, I can feel the stress melt away. Nature calms. However, if that’s not possible, there’s a ton of free workout videos on YouTube geared toward the 50-plus crowd. Check them out.
  • Strengthen your connections. Keep in touch with your family and friends. I belong to a small sign language congregation and we started using Zoom for our meetings. Maybe I’m behind the times technically since I had never heard of Zoom before, but this is a great way for a group of people to communicate with each other during these times. It’s so important not to isolate yourself. You can also stay in touch with your loved ones through texts, email, social media, Skype, or Face Time. Hate technology? Write an old-fashioned letter or create cards for your loved ones to cheer up their day.
  • I feel so fortunate to be a writer, which has served as therapy throughout my life. Tap into your muse. Keep a journal, write a poem, or start a blog. Begin the great American novel that’s been dancing around in your head. Start that memoir or family history. You’ll be amazed at how fast time flies by. In fact, if you’ve always dreamed of becoming a writer and want to take up the craft in your golden years, stay tuned. In my new book, which will be released next year, I’ll provide inspiration and motivation while sharing my knowledge and experience to help you begin your writing journey. For updates regarding the book’s release, you can follow my author page on Amazon. What if you hate writing? Try some other creative outlet. Paint, create jewelry, sing, or dance.
  • You know how us baby boomers are always being told to exercise our brains? Now is the perfect time to do so. Why not take an online class? Do a puzzle. Learn a new skill. Want to learn a new language? My son, Chris Gorges, an interpreter for the deaf, offers free educational content for those wishing to learn sign language on YouTube.
  • Take time to savor the small moments. Even during lockdown, you can step outside to enjoy the sound of a bird singing, the smells after a rainstorm, or the beauty of a sunset. Savor simple things like the first spring day in your garden or that first sip of coffee.
  • Read those books that have been gathering dust on your bookshelf or check out the top bestsellers on Amazon. Looking for suggestions? I thought Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout was brilliant. Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane and the quirky Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata were also worthwhile. And if you want creepy, try The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell, or My Lovely Life by Samantha Downing.
  • Resist the temptation to lay in bed or lounge around in your PJs all day. Get up, shower, brush your teeth, and put some nice clothes on. Put structure into your day with some goals to achieve. You’ll feel better and it will help you keep a positive outlook.
  • Now is the perfect time for some spring cleaning. Clear out that junk drawer, get rid of clothes you never wear, and declutter. Do your taxes so you’ll have one less thing to stress about. The chores will distract you and help you feel productive.
  • Do you have an old guitar or saxaphone in the closet? Dust off that old instrument, take lessons, or start practicing.
  • Indulge yourself. Take a long bubble bath. Listen to music from the 60s and dance around the house. Add your favorite songs to your playlist. Give yourself a facial. Sleep in or take a nap. Look through an old photo album. Sit outside in the sun. Feeling stressed? Be sure and read something spiritual and inspirational each day. Pray. Practice deep breathing. Do some Pilates. Try using an app like Calm or Headspace. Need some distraction? Watch an old black and white favorite movie from your childhood or a film that makes you laugh out loud. Get a free trial of a streaming service and binge-watch as much as you can before it expires.

There you go. Ten things that will help you cope during these unprecedented and distressing times. If you need some reading and encouragement during these rough times, please subscribe to my blog and you’ll be the first to receive my updates through email. Remember, you are not alone. We baby boomers are going to get through this together! 

So, what are you doing to stay calm? Please share in the comment section. But before you go, click over to more #Gr8Blogs listed below for more inspirational advise:

Cat Michaels: I Refuse to Waste Away in Coronaville

Rebecca Lyndsey – Coping in Coronaville

Rosie Russell – Ideas on How to Cope in a Coronavirus World

Chris Gorges – 7 Ways to Cope with Coronavirus Fatigue

Carmela Dutra – How to Stay Positive in a Coronavirus World

James Milson – It’s Here — Coping With The Coronavirus Challenge Now

Sandra Bennett – Staying Grateful in a Coronavirus World 

Auden Johnson: Quarantine Life: Ways to Cope in a Coronavirus World

Time For Baby Boomers to Take Coronavirus Seriously

I realize many of us baby boomers feel young and invincible, but I urge you to please stay safe during this pandemic of coronavirus. Although anyone can get coronavirus, it’s us baby boomers – specifically those ages 60 and older – who are more likely to become seriously ill from the disease. If you have underlying conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease, you’ll need to be extra careful.

Like many boomers, I feel young and healthy. I wasn’t overly concerned when this whole thing started.

After all, our generation considers ourselves to be extra tough. Aren’t we the generation that survived drinking water out of a hose and cars without seat belts? To think of all the germs we were exposed to as we played in the mud digging for earthworms and ate food dropped on the floor before germaphobia kicked in – and we were just fine.

Besides, look at the age of those running the country. President Trump is 73, Nancy Pelosi is 79, and the two remaining candidates for the Democratic nomination, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, are 77 and 78, respectively. They were all still going strong. My father, 87, was still running around despite all the warnings.

The cruel nickname, “Boomer Remover,” referencing the higher mortality rate among older people infected with coronavirus began trending on Twitter. The Washington Post became associated with the trending term by highlighting boomers who have ignored advice from the CDC and refused to make any changes to their lifestyle. On a Facebook page for “The Villages,” a Florida retirement community, a majority of residents seemed to agree that the pandemic was “being overblown.”

Evidently, our millennial children are at their wits end trying to get us boomer parents to take this virus seriously and stay at home, as evidenced in this hysterically funny article in The New Yorker.

Now, I’m not advising that we boomers start panicking, but I think it’s time for an attitude adjustment for some of us skeptical boomers that have felt invincible to this point.

We’re not.

It’s important to remember that this disease doesn’t care how old you look and feel. Look at boomers Tom Hank and Rita Wilson, both 63, who certainly feel young-at-heart but tested positive for the virus.

Here in California where I live, there have been more than 300 cases of coronavirus. Schools in our area have been shut down. Bars and breweries have been asked to close and restaurants to cut their capacity in half. Trump recommended gatherings be limited to 10 people. As a result, instead of attending religious services in person, my husband and I now watch from home as they are streamed to us. Yesterday, Gov. Gavin Newson urged all residents over the age of 65 to self-quarantine in their homes.

“We recognize that social isolation for millions of Californians is anxiety-inducing,” he said. But, “we need to meet this moment head on, and lean in and own this moment … and take actions we think are commensurate with the need to protect the most vulnerable Californians.”

It feels like I’m living in an episode of Twilight Zone.

So, it’s time to start taking this seriously my fellow boomers. My husband is 60 and I will turn 60 later this year, so I’m paying attention to all the guidelines. Let me be clear, I am not a medical professional, but I’ll share some of my research for specific precautions older adults are advised to take to protect their health. But remember: Recommendations for coronavirus may change as officials learn more, so monitor your local health department and the CDC for updates.

Here are some tips for those over the age of 60 I’ve gathered from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Stock up on supplies including groceries, household items, and over-the-counter medications you’ll need if you become sick. Contact your physician about obtaining extra prescription medications  you need to have on hand if self-quarantined.
  • Social distancing is the new phrase for 2020. Stay six feet away from other people – think of the length of an average dining room table or a pair of skis. Avoid crowds and non-essential travel, especially cruises. 
  • You’ve already heard this but wash your hands often with soap for at least 20 seconds. The health secretary Matt Hancock suggested washing hands while singing Happy Birthday twice, but other songs will work as well. For example, the chorus of Staying Alive will do the trick: “Whether you’re a brother or whether you’re a mother/ You’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive/ Feel the city breakin’ and everybody shakin’/ And we’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive/ Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive/ Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive.” Prefer country? Try the chorus from Dolly Parton’s classic country song Jolene: “Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene / I’m begging of you please don’t take my man / Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene / Please don’t take him just because you can.” If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your face and frequently-touched surfaces in public places – light switches, elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something. At home, clean and disinfect often, especially surfaces that are often touched like counter tops, tables, door handles, light switches, toilets, faucets, sinks – and don’t forget your cell phone.

In addition to these precautions, keep a careful eye out for symptoms that can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, stay home and call your doctor. Be sure and inform them that you have or may have coronavirus (COVID-19) so they can protect others from getting sick. Ask your healthcare provider for medical advice. If you have mild symptoms and are not sick enough to be hospitalized, you can recover at home. If this is the case, follow CDC’s guidelines.

The CDC advises to get medical attention immediately if you develop emergency warning signs such as :

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath 
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

The CDC adds that this list is not all inclusive and advises that you consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are “severe or concerning.”

So my fellow boomers, stay safe but remain calm and positive.

Personally, I’m taking precautions, but still riding my bike and taking hikes outdoors – while keeping my distance from others. Be sure and stay in touch with your loved ones through texts, email, social media, Skype or FaceTime so you don’t feel isolated.

As Tom Hanks said to his followers: “Remember, despite all the current events, there is no crying in baseball.”


Be the first to receive my latest baby boomer blog by clicking the Subscribe button below. To subscribe, simply fill out the form that pops up which helps me avoid automatic spammers. As soon as you press the button, a confirmation e-mail will be delivered. You’ll need to click on a link which will activate your subscription. If you do not get an e-mail, please check your spam folder. Rest assured, your privacy is important to me. I do not spam or sell your e-mail address, this is for informational purposes only. 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.


How Baby Boomers Can Make Leap Day Count!

We baby boomers are aware that the clock is ticking. We’re definitely getting older, making the time we have left all the more precious. This year we’re granted the gift of a whole extra 24 hours on leap day on February 29th. Let’s not waste it! This year, leap day actually falls on a Saturday, giving everyone – including you boomers who are still working – a chance to celebrate.

I’m sharing some ideas originally posted in 2016, the last time we had a leap year, with some extra tidbits thrown in. Although there are countless things you can do on leap day, my only rule is that you don’t spend it like ever other day. Make it special.

By the way, this post is part of the #Gr8Blogs Leap Year 2020 Blog Hop. That means at the bottom of this post, you’ll find more inspiration and smiles from my favorite bloggers about how they’ll celebrate the extra day on February 29. Be sure and check them out.

So let’s get started!

Do Something New and Exciting

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut as you age. Do something different on this special day. Take a quick road trip or hike to somewhere you’ve never visited before. Go zip lining, take a glass blowing class, start singing lessons, try a new sport, or fly in a hot air balloon. Do something that makes you laugh, skip, dance, sing, and feel happy.

If you try something new and it doesn’t work out, just pretend it never happened. February 29 doesn’t really exist anyway, right?

Throw a Leap Year Party

Why not embrace the leap day theme with a fun party? Here are a few ideas:

  • If a big party sounds like too much work, keep it simple. Since leap year only comes every four years, you could have a small, intimate party just for four, with marinated chicken quarters, and four-cheese macaroni to fit in with the theme.
  • Serve Leap Year Cocktails developed in 1928 at the Savoy Hotel in London. Here are the ingredients:  2 ounces gin, 1/2 ounce Grand Marnier, 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth, and 1 dash fresh lemon juice. Just pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake well for 10 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist a piece of lemon peel over the drink and use for garnish.
  • Play classic songs about time like Time In a Bottle by Jim Croce, Time Is On My Side by The Rolling Stones, The Times They Are-a Changin’ by Bob Dylan, or As Time Goes By by Jimmy Durante. Or how about some songs from the Leap Year movie soundtrack? Songs could include Randy Edelman’s score, A Leap Year Promise, Nat ‘King’ Cole’s More and More Of Your Amor, and The Mamas and the Papas’ Dream A Little Dream Of Me.
  • Give out blank cards and ask guests to write where they would like to be in four years when leap day arrives again in 2024 and read them aloud.
  • If you and your guests are young at heart, play a game of leap frog or pretend to be leaping lizards. Or simply leap for joy! If you have grandchildren at your leap day party, they’ll love joining you.

Watch a Movie

An obvious choice for this special day is the movie, Leap Year. It’s a romantic comedy about a young woman played by Amy Adams who hears about an Irish leap day tradition encouraging women to propose to men. Of course, she decides to make a proposal, but you’ll have to watch the movie to find out what happens next.

I’m getting sidetracked, but did you know that there are all kinds of bizarre rules centered around this proposal tradition, which became popular around Europe? In Scotland, tradition dictated that a man who refused a proposal on leap day could be issued a fine. According to Lonely Planet, “In Scotland women intending to propose are advised to wear a red petticoat visible to their love – perhaps to give them fair warning.” Really? So the men could run for their lives? Defeats the whole purpose of making a tradition about empowering women to propose, if you ask me. Makes you wonder how many Scots made themselves scarce on leap day. Maybe a hunting trip with the boys became a leap day tradition? In Denmark, men refusing a proposal had to present the woman with 12 gloves to give her several options to hide her ring-less finger. Thankfully, these traditions have become an amusing historical tidbit at this point. Women aren’t afraid to propose themselves anymore – no red petticoat involved.

Okay, back to movies. To be honest, Leap Year didn’t get the best reviews. So, you could enjoy your other favorite movies about time like Groundhog Day or Back to the Future. Or watch the funny 30 Rock’s “Leap Day” episode with cameos by Jim Carrey and Andie MacDowell on Hulu.

Pay it Forward

Use the extra 24 hours to make this day better for others.

Find something you’re passionate about and dive in to help out your community. Drop donations off at a food bank, help beautify your neighborhood, run an errand for an elderly person, or simply buy the person behind you in line a cup of coffee. Any random act of kindness will do.

Rediscover an Old Passion 

Take a creative leap. Maybe you let an old hobby or interest fall to the wayside because you never had enough time to pursue it. Perhaps you always wanted to write a book, learn a new language, or take up painting, photography, or gardening.

Here’s your chance to dive in with an extra 24 hours and get started on that project you never began or finished. Who knows, maybe you’ll keep it up after the day is done. If you happen to be retired, you’ll have time to do so.

Learn all about Leap Year

It may seem boring, but it’s kind of interesting to learn about how leap year originated and how  leap days keep our modern-day Gregorian calendar in alignment with Earth’s revolutions around the Sun.

There would be no need for leap years if Earth’s orbit took exactly 365 days. But the solar year is messy and inconvenient with 365.2422 days. That difference of 0.2422 per day may seem insignificant but, in time, adds up. For example, after three centuries, New Years Day would be in autumn. After six centuries, it would land in summer.

And wait, it gets even more complicated than that. Century years are not leap years unless they can be evenly divided by 400. The years 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not leap years, but 1600 and 2000 were. I know we boomers are supposed to exercise our brains but, admittedly, all this gives me a bit of a headache.

Here are some fun facts that take a little less brain power. Your chances of being born on a leap day are approximately 1 in 1500. People born on leap day are called leaplings. In most states, leaplings must wait until March 1st to be eligible for any age-specific privileges (ages 16, 18, 21). Two women have given birth to three leap day babies, according to the New York Daily News. Even more rare, the eighth premier of Tasmania, James Milne Wilson, was born on a leap day and died on a leap day in the 1800s, according to the World Heritage Encyclopedia.

Oh, I could go on and on. Maybe I’m weird, but the inner nerd in me finds this stuff kind of fascinating.

Chill and Relax

Maybe you’ll want to focus on you this leap day. We baby boomers can always use a massage for those aching muscles. And isn’t it hard to get enough sleep as you age? How about sleeping in or taking a luxurious mid-afternoon nap on leap day? Delightful.

Do whatever helps you relax. Write in a journal, take a bubble bath, read a book, or meet a friend for lunch.

Make a Four-Year Plan

Kick off the next four years with positive, forward-thinking. Leap days offer you the perfect chance to sit down and think about the four years ahead. Where do you want to be on the next leap day? What are your hopes for the next four years? What new things would you like to try?

Just for fun, make a list of things you’d like to accomplish by the time the next leap day arrives. Pull it out in 2024 and see how you did.

So, there you go. Try any one or more of these fun ideas and have an enjoyable, memorable, and inspirational leap day. Perhaps the most important thing to remember when planning activities is to make sure that you spend this special day with the people you love.

What will you do with your extra day? Please share in the comment section. But before you go… click over to more #Gr8Blogs for smiles and inspiration on ways to spend this precious gift of time.

Baby Boomer 2020 Oscar Nominees

Turns out 2019 was a good year at the movies for baby boomers. In fact, half of the actors receiving Oscar nominations in 2020, which was announced last week, are over the age 50.

Baby boomer nominees include, my favorite, Tom Hanks, 63, in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, as well as Joe Pesci, 76, in The Irishman, Brad Pitt, 56, in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Jonathan Pryce, 72, in The Two Popes, Antonio Banderas, 59 in Pain and Glory, and Kathy Bates, 71, in Richard Jewell.

Add to those oldsters like Oscar nominated Anthony Hopkins, 82, in The Two Popes and Al Pacino, 79, in The Irishman as well as 50-plus actresses Renée Zellweger, 50, in Judy and Laura Dern, 52, in Marriage Story.

All of the nominated directors are also over the age of 50, with the exception of Todd Phillips, 49, director of Joker. The nominees include Martin Scorsese, 77, for The Irishman, Bong Joon Ho, 50, for Parasite, Sam Mendes, 54, for 1917, and Quentin Tarantino, 56, for Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood. 

The movie Knives Out was nominated for best original screenplay and featured an older cast that included Jame Lee Curtis, 61, Don Johnson, 70, Daniel Craig, 51, and Christopher Plummer, 90.

I keep hoping that Hollywood, and society at large, haven’t completely forgotten the value of the older crowd with their knowledge, life experience, and insight. Maybe this is a step in the right direction.

Of course, there is controversy that none of the directors were women this year and there are far more older men nominated in the acting categories than older women. While the median age of men nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor is 61.3, the median age of the women nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress is 39.8. Apparently, there is more progress to made.

The 92nd Oscars will be televised live on February 9, 2020 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time and 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time on ABC.



Book Announcement: Ten Secrets to Losing Weight After 50

Are you over the age of 50 and struggling to lose weight? Have you tried countless diets to no avail? Do diet methods you used in the past no longer work? If so, I’m here to help. My new book, Ten Secrets to Losing Weight After 50, is available on Amazon now – just in time for those New Year’s Resolutions .

It’s not your imagination. As you age, you tend to gain weight and it’s harder to lose than when you were younger.

A year ago, I weighed 174 pounds – more than I’ve ever weighed before. For the first time, I was at the top of the “overweight” category and creeping ever closer to the “obese” level.

Widening hips, a Buddha belly, and other parts of my body that rolled, jiggled, and sagged added to my dismay. Let’s just say, I wasn’t happy. Not only was I getting fat, but my muscles were noticeably weakening. I could no longer stand up from a squatting position.  Painting my toenails was almost impossible as I lost flexibility.

In a panic, I started dieting and exercising. But as an older, post-menopausal woman, methods that succeeded in the past no longer worked. On top of that, I had developed the bad habit of stress eating while caring for my mother and consoled myself with comfort food after her death. Needless to say, my attempts at losing weight failed dismally.

I felt frustrated, hopeless, and ready to give up. Does any of this sound familiar?

Through extensive research and trial and error, I finally unlocked the secret of losing weight after the mid-century mark. I’m ready to spill my secrets. No dangerous surgeries, diet pills, expensive weight loss programs, pricey supplements, crazy fad diets, expensive gym membership fees, or personal trainers involved.

After explaining why it’s so hard to lose weight after 50, I share 10 things I was doing wrong and what I changed to finally succeed. Want a sneak peak? To show my appreciation for readers of my blog, I’m providing an excerpt of the first chapter of my new book below. Enjoy!



What I Was Doing Wrong: Thinking life wasn’t fair and I’d never lose weight after 50.

 What I Changed: Accepted the facts of life and changed my outlook.

Oh, I had a million reasons why I couldn’t lose weight. In fact, if making excuses were an Olympic event, I could have won a medal. I used the standard excuses. I’m too busy. I’m too stressed. I’m too tired. For good measure, I also added some justifications related to my age. Maybe you’ve used some of these reasons:

  • Losing weight is SO hard as you get older – impossible – in fact.
  • I’m eating the same way I did when I was younger and somehow packing on the pounds.
  • When I dieted before, I’d drop four pounds the first week and two to three pounds a week after that. Now? Forget it! I’m lucky to lose half to one pound a week – if anything at all. Sometimes I even gain weight for no reason at all.
  • The methods I used to lose weight when I was younger don’t work anymore.
  • I’m never going to have that flat belly or small waistline again, so why bother? Isn’t it natural to be shaped like an apple as you age? I give up. It’s not fair!

Notice a recurring theme? Losing weight was just too hard and life wasn’t fair, so I was throwing in the towel and accepting my fatter self. Sound familiar? If you’ve been singing this same song, you need a serious attitude adjustment – just like I did.

Let’s face it. Losing weight is mostly a mental struggle. What you think about your ability to lose weight is crucial to your success. So, don’t get stuck in a negative state of mind convinced that it’s impossible to lose weight after 50. If you allow yourself to think this way, you’re doomed before you start.

So, let’s look at those complaints again:

  • Yes, your metabolism slows down and you lose muscle mass as you age, making it more difficult to lose weight and keep it off. That just means losing weight is more challenging and will likely take more time. But, trust me, it’s by no means impossible. And well worth the extra effort!
  • True, you can’t eat the same way you did when you were younger without gaining weight. As a result, you’ll need to change the way you eat and exercise – permanently. The good news is that you’ll feel much better by doing so. Drinking tons of soda and eating tubs of ice cream just makes you feel sick anyway.
  • You aren’t going to drop weight the way you used to. You’ll need to lower your expectations and practice patience. Be happy with losing a pound or two a week. You’re headed in the right direction and more likely to keep the weight off if pounds drop off slowly. What if you go weeks without losing anything? Later, I’ll share a few ways to get past those stubborn plateaus.
  • Your body has changed. You’ll need to change your dieting and exercising strategies to lose weight and keep it off. I’ll share some tips to help you do just that.
  • And no, it isn’t natural to be shaped like an apple at any age! Perhaps you won’t have the perfect perky butt, tiny waist, and a six-pack after you lose weight. So, change your objective. You’re older and wiser now. Losing weight should be about staying healthy so you can travel, chase your grandchildren, and live a longer and happier life. Exercising should be about maintaining muscle mass to stay strong and increase flexibility, balance, and endurance.

So, no pouting allowed. Don’t use aging as an excuse to eat whatever you want or become a couch potato. If you give up now and sit around feeling sorry for yourself, you’ll just keep gaining weight and suffer the accompanying health risks.

Now that you’ve accepted the fact that losing weight is more challenging as you age – but not impossible – here are some encouraging facts to live by:

  • By eating healthy and making a commitment to becoming more active, experts assure that you can be healthier at 65 than you were at 45. Isn’t that a worthwhile goal?
  • Food choices and fitness strategies really do work – even in your 50s, 60s, and beyond.
  • Every day you make choices about what you eat and how active you will be that day. Those decisions make a difference. It’s never too late to adopt new lifestyle habits and make a big difference in your health.

How Many Calories Do You Need?

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s time to accept facts. You burn fewer calories as you age. So, just how many calories should you eat to lose weight?

You can use a complicated math formula to figure it out or try an online calculator. Since math gives me a headache, I’m going to keep things simple and look at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines to give you a general idea of how many calories you should eat each day.

As mentioned earlier, according to the guideline, sedentary women over 50 burn about 1,600 calories a day. Sedentary men over 50 burn between 2,000 to 2,200 calories a day.

These calorie breakdowns are just to maintain – not lose – weight. If you’re reading this book, most likely you want to drop some pounds. Experts say that to lose one pound a week, you’ll need about a 500-calorie deficit each day.

Let’s crunch some numbers. As a rule of thumb, that means if you’re a sedentary man over 50, you’ll want to shoot for about 1,600 to 1,800 calories a day and burn at least 100 calories a day with exercise. If you’re a sedentary woman over 50, aim for 1,200 calories a day and burn an extra 100 calories. Keep in mind, these numbers are just an estimate.

Maybe you’re thinking “sedentary” doesn’t describe you. In fact, I considered myself an active person. However, if you sit most the day at work or home – even if you perform normal daily activities like cooking, cleaning, shopping, and taking your dog for an evening walk – you are considered “sedentary.” Since, as a writer, this described me, I had to reluctantly accept that I was in this category.

A moderately active lifestyle refers to working a job that requires you to be on your feet like a nurse, teacher, waitress, or surveyor plus daily physical activity equivalent to walking about 1.5 to 3 miles per day at 3-4 miles per hour. That leisurely evening stroll around the block doesn’t count. I’m talking about a form of exercise that makes you breathe harder and break a sweat for about 30 minutes each day. If that describes your lifestyle, you can adjust your caloric intake accordingly by adding about 200 calories (or more if you are extremely active) to your diet each day.

Since these numbers can vary, a little experimentation will help you determine the exact number of calories you can consume and still lose weight.

Most experts caution against eating less than 1,200 calories a day for a woman and 1,600 calories for a man. Doing so can decrease muscle mass and lower your metabolic rate as well as cause malnutrition.

Small Changes Can Reduce Calories

Before you get discouraged, eliminating 500 calories a day isn’t as hard as it sounds. The right diet, which I’ll address in the next chapter, can help you do so. However, even making a few small changes in your diet and lifestyle alone can make a big difference.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Drink an iced tea instead of a 12-ounce can of soda and switch a large serving of French fries for a side salad and you’ll save more than 500 calories.
  • Ask your waiter to box up half your meal before it gets to the table and you’ll save 750 calories on average, according to a new study. Or simply share an entrée when eating out. Researchers found that a typical meal at an American, Italian, or Chinese restaurant contains about 1,500 calories—far more than anyone needs at one meal.
  • Switch a large popcorn without butter at the movie theater concession, which packs a whopping 1,030 calories, for a small popcorn without butter for 225 calories and you’ll save 805 calories.

Burning Calories in Record Time

Later, I’ll discuss which type of exercises are most beneficial if you’re 50-plus. I want you to keep in mind, however, that you can burn 100 calories painlessly and, in most cases, in under a half-hour.

Of course, always consult with your physician before starting any activity, but running for just five to seven minutes will do the trick. If you hate running or your lower back and knees can’t take it, walk briskly or cycle for 20 minutes. Try a cardio dance class for just 15 minutes, use an elliptical for 15 minutes, walk up and down stairs for 10 minutes, lift weights for 15 minutes, or do some Pilates for about 20 minutes.

Not happy losing only one pound a week?

Work up to it and burn 500 calories each day for a two-pound-per-week sustainable weight loss. Perform an hour of Zumba, garden for an hour and a half, play an hour of basketball, go horseback riding for an hour and 45 minutes, spring clean your house for three hours, or my favorite – play an hour of competitive racquetball.

There you go. Not so bad. By the way, the more you weigh, the more calories you’ll burn during these activities.

Stay Tuned for More Tips

So, what other tricks do I have up my sleeve? Which diet should you choose? What can you do to avoid feeling hungry? How can you control stress eating? Which kind of exercises produce the best results? How can you get past those stubborn plateaus?

I’ll share all my secrets with you. But remember, the first step is to change your mindset and you too can succeed. You can lose weight and be healthy after 50. I’m living proof it’s possible. Make a lifelong commitment to eat better, exercise more, and live the second half of your life to the fullest.

You Can Do It!

So, there you go. Like many people, my 50s were a time to take stock and I was not going to surrender to middle-age spread and cross the line into obesity without a fight. If I – someone who battled with weight most of my life – can win the weight war, you can too!

Food choices and fitness strategies really do work – even in your 50s, 60s, and beyond. It’s never too late to adopt new healthy lifestyle habits and make a big difference in your health.

Want to lose those stubborn pounds? Click here to purchase your own copy of my latest book.






Baby Boomer Writer’s Ups, Downs & In-Betweens in 2019

“Life has its ups and downs. When you are up, enjoy the scenery. When you are down, touch the soul of your being and feel the beauty.”
― Debasish Mridha

This year was certainly full of ups and downs for me. How about you? Was 2019 a crazy roller coaster ride? Smooth sailing? Full of milestone events? 

My #Gr8Blogs writerly pals and I are diving deep into a special year-end blog hop, to look back at the ecstasy and agony of our year on the writing road and in our lives. Stay tuned as I remember the happy moments as well as lessons learned from challenges this past year.

My Book, I’m Your Daughter, Julie, Wins Grand Prize!

It was a definite high last month when my book, I’m Your Daughter, Julie: Caring for a Parent with Dementia, won grand prize from Royal Dragonfly Book Awards , an international competition that “honors excellence in all types of literature.” According to their site, the grand prize winning book “must be outstanding in content, readability, entertainment value and overall production.” I’m truly honored. My book not only earned this year’s $500 grand prize but also won first place in the aging/senior living, how-to, and self-help/inspirational categories.

This book was written from the depths of my soul during one of the lowest periods of my life. As I write in the book, “Sometimes you lose a parent in death suddenly. What you don’t realize until you have a parent with dementia is that sometimes you lose a parent excruciatingly – a little bit at a time.” I’m so thrilled that this book, dedicated to my mother who bravely fought Lewy Body dementia, was recognized.

The book has received several five star reviews on Amazon and many people have sent me notes, emails, and messages telling me that my book helped them through a difficult time. I received even more messages after Next Avenue published an article based on a chapter from the book. If I have helped even a few people cope with the many challenges of caregiving and provided a bit of comfort to those losing their loved one a little bit at a time like I did, then I am fulfilled.

Losing Weight – And Writing About It

After indulging in a lot of stress eating while caring for my Mom and then consoling myself with comfort food after her death, I found myself at the top of the “overweight” category and creeping ever closer to the “obese” level. I weighed 174 pounds to be exact. Of course, everything was rolling and sagging. At my check-up, my doctor informed me that I had put on 10 pounds since my last visit. Like I didn’t already know that.

Let’s just say, I wasn’t happy. Not only was I getting fat, but my muscles were noticeably weakening. I couldn’t stand up from a squatting position without holding onto something. Painting my toenails was becoming a challenge as I lost flexibility.

In a panic, I started dieting and exercising. But as a post-menopausal woman in her 50s, methods that succeeded in the past no longer worked. My attempts at losing weight failed dismally. I felt frustrated, hopeless, and ready to give up. Does this sound familiar to you?

Through extensive research and trial and error, I finally unlocked the secret of losing weight after the mid-century mark. No dangerous surgeries, diet pills, expensive weight loss programs, pricey supplements, crazy fad diets, expensive gym membership fees, or personal trainers involved. You can lose weight after the age of 50. I’m proof it’s possible and I’m ready to spill my secrets.

My new book, Ten Secrets to Losing Weight After 50, will be released on January 1rst, 2020, just in time for New Year’s Resolutions. Have you tried countless diets, but nothing seems to work anymore? If so, this book is for you and available for preorder on Amazon now.

The photos below show me before and after my weight loss. You can do it too!












An Amazing Trip to Africa – But Not a Great Homecoming

Another high point last year: I fulfilled a lifelong dream and finally visited South Africa.  I was moved and inspired in a way that is hard to describe by this untamed, beautiful land. I went on two safaris, a river cruise, and even went shark cage diving. You can read all about it in my blog.

Now for the downside. Unfortunately, I got sick the last couple of days of my trip and thought my eardrums would burst on the 25-hour flight home. The next day, I broke out in a rash all over my stomach. My doctor thought I may have parasites from Africa. Eeeew! Now, I was definitely creeped out. He ordered a blood test and prescribed antibiotics along with an anti-fungal creme. Thankfully, the blood test came back negative for major diseases transmitted by mosquitoes like malaria. And the topical creme seemed to work, which led my doctor to think it was a typical skin infection. But two weeks later, the rash came back with three enormous, bright red welts on my right leg that were not only itchy but extremely painful. Another two welts developed on my left arm. Now. my doctor was puzzled and sent me to a dermatologist who told me the rash was a “mystery,” Oh well, maybe the mystery will be solved in 2020. I still don’t regret going to Africa and refuse to give up my passion for traveling to exotic places and experiencing exciting new cultures!

Now that I’ve shared my memories of 2019, if you’re so inclined, I’d love to hear about your ups and downs in 2019 in the comments below. But before you go, find more smiles and inspirational recollections at these #Gr8blogs below:

Cat Michaels

Rosie Russell

Julie Schooler

Sandra Bennett



10 Inspirational Mr. Rogers Quotes Baby Boomers Will Love

After watching, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, with the ever-so-lovable Tom Hanks, I walked away feeling inspired. We should all be a little more like Mr. Rogers.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood first made its way to television sets on February 19, 1968.  I was seven years old then and hate to admit that I didn’t fully appreciate the PBS show.

However, as an adult, I can see how Mr. Rogers’ compassion and empathy taught us baby boomers as children that we are special just for being ourselves.

And he helped calm us during a tumultuous time. As you boomers will remember, watching the news was scary in 1968 with the Vietnam War raging and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. As Fred Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”

Mr. Rogers’ sense of innocence, calmness, curiosity, and playfulness helped us baby boomers see the sometimes frightening world as a place to experience love and kindness, a place to create and invent, a place to live a positive and meaningful life.

It seems the show resonated with a lot of people since it ran on PBS until 2001. What is so wonderful is that it turns out Fred Rogers was just as calm, kind, wise, and empathetic in real life as he was on his iconic children’s show.

In honor of the movie, which I absolutely loved, here are 10 quotes that are sure to brighten your day, encourage you to be kinder and more thoughtful, and reach out to your neighbor.

  • “If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
  • “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”
  • “Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.”
  • “Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.”
  • “There is no normal life that is free of pain. It’s the very wrestling with our problems that can be the impetus for our growth.”
  • “There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.”
  • “Nobody else can live the life you live. And even though no human being is perfect, we always have the chance to bring what’s unique about us to live in a redeeming way.”
  • “Forgiveness is a strange thing. It can sometimes be easier to forgive our enemies than our friends. It can be hardest of all to forgive people we love. Like all of life’s important coping skills, the ability to forgive and the capacity to let go of resentments most likely take root very early in our lives.”
  • “It’s not so much what we have in this life that matters. It’s what we do with what we have.”
  • “Everyone longs to be loved. And the greatest thing we can do is to let people know that they are loved and capable of loving.”

Fred Rogers died in 2003, but his words live on to inspire us all. As Mr. Rogers sings in the theme song, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?: “So, let’s make the most of this beautiful day.”



OK Boomer – OK Millennial – Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Have you heard or seen the two words that seem to be everywhere these days: “OK Boomer?”

This catch phrase has gained traction quickly this fall on the Internet with memes, jokes, and merchandise featuring the “OK Boomer” logo. In fact, a number of trademark applications have been filed for its use – most notably one by Fox for a TV show last week.

Supposedly, this whole “OK Boomer” thing took on a life of its own after a viral clip on TikTok featured a white-haired man in a baseball cap and polo shirt declaring, “The millennials and Generation Z have the Peter Pan syndrome, they don’t ever want to grow up.”

Of course, the younger crowd was outraged and many responded with YouTube videos, memes, and tweets featuring two simple words, “OK Boomer.”

What exactly does this expression mean? Depends who you ask.

According to Wikipedia, “OK Boomer is an ageist catchphrase and internet meme that gained popularity throughout 2019, used to dismiss or mock attitudes stereotypically attributed to the baby boomer generation.”

If you ask the younger generation what they mean by “OK Boomer,” they will probably tell you that they feel misunderstood by the older generation and are tired of their condescending attitude. Facing rising student loan debt, financial instability, and environmental concerns, they are wary of patronizing advice from baby boomers who didn’t face the same issues at their age. The younger generation is tired of being called “snowflakes,” insinuating they can’t keep a job, are non-resilient, and overly-emotional when it comes to challenging viewpoints.

Baby boomers have a different take on the phrase. Many are quick to point out that the catch phrase, “OK Boomer,” smacks of ageism. One conservative radio host, Bob Lonsberry, went as far as labeling the word “boomer” as  “the n-word of ageism” in a controversial tweet.

Making things even worse, Myrna Blyth, a senior vice president of AARP, recently said in an interview with Axios, “Okay, millennials, but we’re the people that actually have the money.” The quote resulted in thousands of tweets from the younger crowd, calling Blyth tone deaf and arrogant. According to AARP, this quote was taken out of context and was referring to how older people, in particular older women, were overlooked in ads. And the war goes on.

The New York Times headlined an article on the subject: “OK Boomer Marks the End of Friendly Generational Relations.”

Say it isn’t so.

Okay, I don’t like the phrase, “OK Boomer.” The catchall phrase seems dismissive, sarcastic, mocking, and sadly decisive during a time when this country is already being torn apart by differing views on politics. And it does seem ageist, insinuating baby boomers are old-fashioned, resistant to change, behind on technology, and out of touch. As a boomer myself, I certainly take issue with those assumptions.

But, in all fairness, I can see why the younger generation is upset by some of the insulting jabs aimed their way. They have felt silenced when older people claim their opinion doesn’t count because they lack experience. Many millennials are in their 30s now and tired of being told to “grow up.” The younger generation deserves to be acknowledged and heard. Unfortunately, while defending themselves, this generation is using the same belittling age-oriented stereotypes that they don’t want to be labeled by.

So, let’s just stop it. All of us. Let’s quit using insulting and dismissive catchphrases purely based on what generation people happen to be born in – which is completely out of our control, by the way.

Let’s bridge the gap. After all, we have many of the same problems. For example, true, much of the younger generation is buried by student loan debt. But as I pointed out in an earlier blog, many boomers are in debt as well, going bankrupt in record numbers as they face rising medical costs, loss of jobs, and disappearing pensions. We’re all in the same boat. Can’t both generations show compassion and empathy for each other?

Let’s take it a step further. Perhaps we boomers can admire – and even mimic – some of the traits young people have such as a sense of adventure, spontaneity, and curiosity. Maybe the younger generations can learn from older people who have lived through tragedies and triumphs and learned to overcome adversities.

After all, what benefits come from hurling insults at each other? Let’s respect and learn from each other instead.




Baby Boomer Realizes Dream of Visiting Africa

I had wanted to travel to Africa for a couple of decades. The trip was finally scheduled. My expectations were high. Could South Africa live up to this baby boomer’s vision?

Whatever I imagined was exceeded by far when my husband and I visited this magical place. I was moved and inspired in a way that is hard to describe.

The rugged and breathtaking beauty of this untamed land enthralled me.

I was enchanted by the smiles of friendly South Africans eager to share the wonders of their country.

As elephants, lions, zebras, and giraffes casually roamed by our jeep (the photo above was taken without a zoom lens), I had to pinch myself. When we watched hippos floating lazily down a river with a spectacular African sunset in the background, I felt like the luckiest girl alive. Not to mention the the surreal experience of seeing adorable African penguins waddling along the rocky coastline.

And my heart raced as sharks thrashed closely to our cage – oh yeah, did I mention my husband talked me into shark cage diving? (More on that later!)

The natural splendor of Africa is impossible to describe. The stunning views from Table Mountain in Cape Town, the spectacular waves crashing in treacherous waters surrounding the Cape of Good Hope, and the beauty and majesty of animals wandering the dry savanna grasses are priceless moments that cannot be quantified.

Yet, Africa is still a complicated country in tumult. Much like many cities around the world, parts of Africa are corrupt and dangerous. However, with some safety precautions, visiting South Africa can be an amazing experience. We traveled with a tour company and if you’re considering a trip there, I’d highly recommend you do the same. (You’ll also save money – this trip cost us much less than you would imagine – more details on how to find a good deal later.)

Stay tuned and I’ll share tips, photos, videos, along with my personal thoughts and experiences. Without further ado, prepare to be amazed.


From the towering Table Mountain down to the brilliant blue waters of the bay, Cape Town is simply stunning. We started with a cable car to the top of Table Mountain with its spectacular views of the city and its beaches.

We were delighted while admiring the Colonial architecture and strolling through the city center to come upon these singers in the park. Be sure to put your sound on to enjoy their beautiful voices.

We ended the day by a visit to Cape Town’s famous V & A Waterfront.

To end a perfect day, we had a wonderful dinner at Belugas. The beef tips and martini dessert were sumptuous!

Note: Cape Town is absolutely gorgeous, but also known for its crime. You should avoid certain areas and take normal safety precautions as you would in any major city. Always use the hotel safe and do not leave valuables in your room. Do not walk outside after dark. Use purses that strap across your body or, better yet, leave them behind and put some cash in your pocket. When visiting Table Mountain, do not hike alone and stay in groups. Your tour guide can advice you about areas where you may be targeted.


We had spectacular views of the rugged coastline and sweeping beaches on our drive to Cape Point at the southwestern tip of the Cape Peninsula.

Visiting Cape Point, the extreme southern tip of Africa, was a special moment. Watching the waves crash around the Cape of Good Hope, where thousands have died in the treacherous waters was moving.

Hiking to the top of Cape Point, we were warned about clever baboons that become aggressive when searching for food. Beware, if you have food in your purse or backpack. These monkeys are not too proud to pull your hair – hard – to get what they want, our guide instructed us. We listened to the advice and fortunately didn’t not run into any. But the views were stunning!

And finally, the southern most point in Africa.

The following video is our visit to the penguin colonies at Boulders Beach.

On our last stop, we visited the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, resting at the foot of Table Mountain. And yes, it was a long, action-packed day!


When my husband said he wanted to go shark cage diving with me, my first reaction was, “No way!” But after some research and watching videos, I was reassured this was a fairly safe adventure.

To be honest, I’m so glad he talked me into it.  Seeing these majestic, powerful predators up close was an unforgettable experience.

The staff used fish heads to lure the sharks close to the cage – but thankfully didn’t chum the water with blood causing a frenzy. The sharks were so busy chasing the lures, they didn’t even seem interested in us.

My husband and I are scuba certified; however, you don’t need to be to participate. You’re not totally submersed in the water, in fact, the water only comes up to your shoulders. Yes, the water is cold, but you are in a full wet suit with a hood and booties. You feel a jolt when you first get into the water but, believe me, you don’t even notice once the sharks start swimming by. Using a snorkel mask you can grab a lower bar to go under the water to watch the sharks whenever desired. The cage stays attached closely to the boat. We mostly saw copper sharks (also known as “bronzies”) but one great white swam by while we were in the cage.








Here’s a complete video of our experience for those of you interested:


As a bonus, on the way back we stopped at a place famous for whale watching along the rugged, gorgeous coastline and saw a whale in the distance breaching and two whales closer by mating.


After a flight to Durban, we were privileged to experience a river cruise complete with plenty of hippos – including cute hippo babies – crocodiles, and our first zebra sighting.

While it’s true hippopotamuses are dangerous and territorial creatures, we always felt safe in the boat. It should be noted that hippos are nocturnal by nature so, as you can see in the photos, they are mostly resting in the water during the daytime.


Watching a large pod of hippos with a stunning African sunset – who could ask for more?


The first of two safaris, this game reserve is known for its rhinos. One advantage of visiting Africa in the spring (the seasons are opposite from here in the U.S.) is you get to see tons of babies. A wonderful bonus!

By the way, I never felt in danger while on safari. Our guide said that you’re more likely to die driving back to your hotel than while on safari and I tend to believe him. Although viral videos look terrifying, keep in mind, mIllions of people visit Africa and go on safari without incident – myself included. Deaths are so rare, it’s hard to find statistics. 

On the other hand, I don’t want to sugar coat the experience. Of course, there’s always an element of risk because of the unpredictability of wild animals. But many of the viral videos are the result of ignorant tourists or guides that took unnecessary risks. Most animals give a warning charge to give humans an opportunity to back off. if you have an experienced safari guide that can “read” an animals behavior and avoid dangerous situations by keeping a respectful distance, you don’t need to allow fear or anxiety keep you from an amazing and surreal experience.

Be patient while watching the video below and you’ll see the zebras cross the road right in front of our jeep.

We saw tons of other animals on our safari, like the warthog pictured below, but not any of the big cats. That came later on safari in Kruger Park.

By the way, much is made of seeing the “big five,” which includes the African lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and Cape buffalo. Between both of our safaris, I was fortunate to see all of these animals (I briefly saw the elusive leopard from a distance as it ran into the brush – the hardest to find of the big five – but wasn’t fast enough to get a photo.) If there is a sighting of a leopard or lion, guides let each other know and you’ll find yourself suddenly racing down dirt roads with much excitement to the spot. But I was just as thrilled to see beautiful animals like the Nyasaland big horned deer pictured below.

One of the special moments on our trip was visiting a rural school. We had the option of donating school supplies we brought from home, which we were happy to do. The children were so excited to see us, full of hugs and smiles, and curious about us (for example, they kept touching my hair which was different from theirs).


After visiting a glass factory, where we watched talented glass blowers create African animals and glassware made from recycled glass collected by local children, we visited a cultural village to learn more about their traditions and customs.

Note in the video below how grandparents rule in a traditional village. Awesome!

We also enjoyed traditional dance and song performances.

Day #7: – Kruger National Park Game

Pictures speak louder than words when it comes to the wonder of a safari in this famous game reserve.

People ask if we used a zoom lens with the lion pictured below, and the answer is we really didn’t need one. Sure, we zoomed up a bit with our cameras, but in reality the lion was only about 15 feet from our jeep. Once again, we did not feel endangered. Our guide explained that the lion was injured, apparently from fighting over a female. On top of that, it was mating season. Did you know that a lion can mate up to 100 times in one day? Neither did I! Naturally, the lion was very tired and was actually asleep when we first arrived. After waiting for about 10 minutes, he awoke and lazily strolled off to lay down near a female. 

Check out the cute baby baboons on their parents’ backs in the video below. Adorable!

These monkeys were cute, but super aggressive when trying to steal your lunch.

Zebras were everywhere.




This was our charming breakfast view from Hazyview before we started our long drive to Johannesburg (fondly referred to by Africans as Joburg).

We stopped at Bourke’s Luck Potholes, a series of waterfalls and distinctive rock formations. If you enjoy photography, like my husband in the photo below, Africa is paradise!

My sister, who knows me well, asked if I crossed this bridge. Yes, I’m afraid of heights, but this was a trip of facing down my fears. The only way to see the waterfalls was to cross the bridge. I did so, but very quickly, snapping photos along the way!

This waterfall was one of my rewards for braving the bridge.

Our last stop on the way to Johannesburg and what a view! Reminded me a little bit of Grand Canyon.


Ah, all good things must come to an end. Johannesburg was our last stop. Known for its glamorous boutique hotels, this is a photo of a sitting area near the bar.


Do these photos and videos tempt you to take a trip to South Africa? If so, here are some things you should know.

Like I mentioned in the beginning, we got a great deal for this once-in-a-lifetime trip. We paid $2,687.00 per person including airfare from New York to Africa, all our hotel rooms, two safaris, one river cruise, transportation, a flight from Cape Town to Durban, and most of our meals. (Only the optional shark cage dive was not included in the price.)

We subscribe to Travelzoo’s newsletter and saw the deal with Gate 1 Travel. This was the second time we’ve traveled with this tour company – the first time was while visiting China – and we were impressed both times. Just know, as you can tell from my photos, this was an action-packed trip with quite a few early morning wake-up calls. There wasn’t a lot of downtime. However, most of our group was aged 50-plus and all managed to keep up with the pace. By the way, I should mention that we were fortunate to have wonderful people, most of which were well-seasoned travelers, to share this awesome experience and compare notes. If you’re interested, keep an eye out for sales. We received an additional $400 off per person if we signed up by a certain date.

Everyone asks me how many shots I had before my trip. You may be surprised to learn that vaccines and malaria pills are not required if you are visiting South Africa from the United States.

The CDC recommends being up to date on routine vaccinations along with hepatitis A and typhoid vaccines for most travelers (which you can get through contaminated food or water). You can use this link to see all of their recommendations. Since we trusted our tour company to take us to safe places to eat (we were careful not to eat at any roadside stands) and alert us when it wasn’t safe to drink the water, we personally chose not to get these vaccinations.

You may choose to take prescription medicine before, during, and after your trip to prevent malaria, depending on your travel plans. Be aware, malaria pills can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and fever. Because of these risks, my husband and I chose not to take these drugs and instead took other recommended precautions such as wearing long pants, long sleeved shirts, socks, and using mosquito repellent on any exposed skin. This is a personal choice that can be discussed with your doctor.

So, the answer is that other than a tetanus booster and flu shot, I didn’t have any other immunizations before visiting Africa. In full disclosure, I’m a worrier and this choice caused me some anxiety. For example, I panicked after seeing mosquitoes in one of our rooms and practically drowned myself with mosquito repellent. A small insect bite also caused some worry. Then, the day after arriving home, I broke out in a rash. At first, my doctor thought the cause might be a parasitic infection. Of course, I was freaked out by the thought; however, my blood test came back normal. Apparently, the rash was caused by a fungal skin infection (a common type around the world including here in the U.S.) that was easily treated with a topical creme.

Of course, none of these things happened to my husband who skipped through Africa with nary a concern.

At any rate, yes, you always take a chance when you’re traveling. But the way I look at it, I could get bit by a mosquito right here at home in the California desert and get the West Nile virus – which has killed people.

In other words, I’m not going to let any of this stop me from traveling again. Seeing new places and experiencing exotic cultures is a passion of mine that luckily my husband shares. In fact, we’ve visited over 20 countries in six continents. People ask us which trip is our favorite. Our answer? Without question, Africa wins the prize. There is no other place in the world like it.

Baby Boomers Going Bankrupt on the Rise

Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it turns out many baby boomers are going bust.

An increasing number of baby boomers— who have more debt than previous generations — are filing for bankruptcy, reported Patti Waldmeir for The Financial Times, citing a 2018 report called “Graying of US Bankruptcy.”

To be more specific, the number of older Americans filing for bankruptcy has surged by up to 300% in the last 25 years. The average senior files for bankruptcy more than $17,390 in debt.

Why is that the case? Here are a few reasons:

  • Rising medical costs definitely plays a role. In fact, 66.5% of all bankruptcies, regardless of age, are related to medical issues, either because of expensive medical bills or time away from work, reported Lorie Konish for CNBC, citing a study by the American Journal of Public Health.
  • Unlike their frugal parents who lived through the Depression, baby boomers are more inclined to get into credit card debt. Many still have student loan debt.
  • Pensions are disappearing and boomers, who are living longer, often have scant savings to fall back on.
  • According to the study, many boomers experience a decline in income.
  • Delayed full Social Security benefits and increased out-of-pocket spending with Medicare add to the problem.

Unfortunately, bankruptcy is not a cure-all since many baby boomers don’t have enough years to get back on their feet financially. “Bankruptcy is not and never has been a panacea, especially for older people,” the study points out adding that those who were older and filed Chapter 7 were significantly more likely to continue to experience financial struggles post-bankruptcy.

Although bankruptcy can’t always be prevented, there are some steps boomers can take to avoid this outcome.

Obviously, it’s important to pay off debt and save more while you’re still working. To accomplish this, you may need to put off retirement. The good news is that studies of healthy aging suggest that working longer can have a number of positive physical and psychological effects. Experts say that engaging in productive and social activities at work can help maintain meaning and a sense of purpose in life.

Already retired? Lots of retirees have embraced a second career, usually part-time, to supplement social security benefits. Why not look for ways to create new opportunities and seek experiences that broaden your horizon while making some extra money?

If needed, stop financially supporting adult children. About 40% of people in their early 20s get financial help from their parents, to the tune of $3,000 per year on average. If this describes you and it’s causing a financial strain, meet with your kids to discuss how to scale back. Do not co-sign loans for your children or grandchildren either – especially student loans – which leaves you on the hook if they don’t service the debt.

Pay off your mortgage before retiring. Many mortgages allow you to make additional payments toward the principal. Consider downsizing and simplifying your life to help achieve this goal.

Take control of your spending. Limit eating out. Get rid of cable and watch your favorite shows online. Avoid pricey hobbies. Look for free community events like concerts in the park. Cut up credit cards. Quit expensive habits like smoking and drinking. Rediscover the library. In other words, be tough with yourself now so your Golden Years aren’t tarnished with debt and bankruptcy.