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.

A Baby Boomer’s Ups, Downs, and In-Betweens in 2018

Was 2018 a crazy roller coaster ride for you? Smooth sailing? Milestone events?

My writerly pals and I are remembering the happy moments as well as lessons we learned from challenges this past year in our blog hop: “My Ups, Downs, and In-Betweens and Beyond in 2018.”

Check out our personal reveals, then visit the other #Gr8blogs linked at the end of the post for more shared recollections and lessons learned along the way. We hope you’ll be inspired to dive into your own special memories of 2018!

So, what important life lesson did I learn this past year? What exciting announcement do I have for next year? You’ll have to wait and see at the end of this blog. In the meantime, I’m fortunate that I had a lot of reasons to celebrate this past year. Here are four of them:

Celebrating a New Arrival

If you’re a grandparent, you know the instant connection you feel deep down in your soul when you hold a new grandchild for the first time.

Emily Paige, our fourth and newest member of the family, was born on January 26, 2018.

For the first time, I am a long-distance grandma. My newest grandchild lives about five hours away. Oh, I know it could be much worse. But the distance seems ginormous to me. After all, it robs me of the joy of seeing my new granddaughter on a daily or weekly basis. I’ve been spoiled since my other three grandchildren, now ages 11, 9, and 7, have always lived close by.

Our goal was to see Emily Paige once a month during her first year of life. We met that objective, but still, I’ve missed hearing her first word or watching her take that first tentative step in person (although the kids are great about sending me videos). And yes, at nine months, she is already walking!

But I won’t complain too much. Near or far, grandchildren are a true blessing. On those special occasions, when we’re all together and my grandchildren are sleeping nearby, curled up in little balls, a warm glow of satisfaction permeates my body. I quietly sip my coffee the next morning, eagerly anticipating the soft, sleepy-eyed snuggles soon to come my way.

To be needed and wanted by these delightful creatures is a wonderful treat! The rewards of family life only grow richer and more fulfilling when each new grandchild is born.

Celebrating Family Fun

Speaking of special occasions when our whole family is happily united, all nine of us were fortunate to take a family vacation to New York and Washington DC together this summer.

It was my oldest son and my grandchildren’s first trip to New York and none of us had been to DC before.

To hear the children’s squeals of delight when they saw the bright and gaudy lights of Times Square, viewed the spectacular city from the top of the Empire State Building, or saw the iconic Statue of Liberty from the ferry for the first time was magical.

Between visiting hectic NYC and DC, we rented a tranquil lake house in upstate New York. We paddled in kayaks, fished, and saw fire flies for the first time in our lives.

What beats traveling with the people you love?

 

Celebrating 40 Years of Marriage

Want to put some magic back into your marriage? Write down one reason you love your spouse for every year you’ve been married. Remember why you were first attracted to each other. Then share your list with your loved one.

The list was easy for me. Some of my reasons in my letter to my husband were serious: “Because you put God first in your life, because you gave me two wonderful sons, a great daughter-in-law, and four beautiful grandchildren, because you know what I need before I do, because you have a calm voice that soothes me, because you never leave the house without kissing me good-bye, because you kept proposing until I finally said yes, because you are thoughtful and a romantic at heart.”

Some were humorous: “Because you gave me the best last name ever (Gorges pronounced as ‘gorgeous’), because you still think I’m sexy and my butt looks great, because you make me pumpkin pancakes, because you rock Hawaiian shirts.”

Some were fun: “Because you’re always ready for our next adventure, because you love the ocean and sailing, because you make the best apple martinis, because you love to travel and dance.”

We celebrated our 40th year of marital bliss with a tropical anniversary party. We even performed a flash mob dance with our family to Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy.” Good times!

Celebrating Finishing My Book

On a more serious note, as some of you know, three years ago I lost my Mom. She suffered from Lewy Body dementia (LBD), a a cruel combination of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s symptoms that rendered her helpless both physically and mentally toward the end of her life. During the final years of her life, I was her full-time caregiver.

Sacrificing part of my life to care for a parent with dementia who I loved dearly was one of the best things I’ve ever accomplished. Caregiving was also the most challenging, demanding, and heartbreaking task I’ve ever undertaken – even with the support of my family. Dementia not only changed my mother forever, it changed me in profound ways too.

As I write in my soon-to-be published book, I’m Your Daughter, Julie: Caring for a Parent with Dementia: “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. Grief takes many forms and it isn’t just for mourning someone who has died.”

After my Mom lost her ruthless battle with LBD, many people encouraged me to write a book to share my experiences and offer advice to other caregivers. Although I had shared some of my story in this blog, I couldn’t immediately dive into an entire book on the subject. The agonizing experience of watching my Mom rapidly deteriorate both physically and mentally before my eyes, the difficulty of taking care of her at the end when she began to lose all bodily functions, as well as her death were all too distressful to relive.

Even now, painful memories can take my breath away. Last week, I went to DMV to renew my driver’s license. The last time I was there was with my Mom. The disease was already taking its toll and she could no longer drive. I strongly suggested that she get a non-driver identification card. But Mom insisted on taking the written exam, saying it was a matter of pride. When asked for identification, she wanted to present an actual driver’s license not an “ID card for old people.” She wouldn’t change her mind.

So, Mom took the test and, of course, she didn’t pass. Not even close. But what was most pitiable was the confusion on her face when informed of the failure. Mom truly thought she had aced the exam. “I don’t understand,” she kept saying again and again. Her bewilderment and disappointment broke my heart.

You can see why detailing our journey during my Mom’s final years wasn’t easy. While writing the book, some of the memories were so painful, I’d have to set the manuscript aside for a time. Now that the book is finished, however, I know that writing about the heartbreak was a cathartic experience that, in the end, helped me heal and continue to move forward with my life. It is my utmost hope that my experiences, my successes, and my mistakes can help other caregivers. The exciting announcement I promised: This book that was written from my heart will be released early next year. Stay tuned for announcements regarding a publication date and pre-ordering options.

The most important lesson I learned in 2018? After healing from the loss of my mother and celebrating the arrival of a new member of the family, an awesome family vacation, and 40 years of marriage, I wholeheartedly agree with Michael J. Fox, who said simply and eloquently: “Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” I couldn’t have said it better.

How was your year? What was your biggest accomplishment/event? Do you have an important lesson you learned in 2018? Please share in the comment section below!

For more Up, Down, and In-Between 2018 moments, visit the #Gr8blogs below:

Cat Michaels

Cat’s personal and honest blog shares how 2018 closes on a high note after turmoil from rightsizing and writer’s block.

Rosie Russell

Rosie looks back at 2018 fondly with the publication of her first hardback edition of one of her children’s books, a new website, a love for family and baseball, and a crafts fair that includes a special moment.

Rebecca Lyndsey

Author and teacher Rebecca’s busy year included the publication of a new book, an updated website, and read-aloud preview videos.

Carmela Dutra

Carmela shares her journey after she chose to walk away from the publishing house she had always known, publishing a new children’s book from start to finish on her own, winning two literary awards, and reaching her goal of becoming a full-time author.

Sandra Bennett

Sandra’s year included the birth of a new grandchild (I can relate to the joy of that!), her first contract with a traditional publishing house, launching and promoting her new book, along with a writing workshop and festival. Sandra shares four awesome life lessons we can all put to practice.

Auden Johnson

Auden shares her struggles in 2018 along with her many accomplishments: 1000 blogs, the release of a new book, a promo video, and 1 million monthly views on Pinterest. She also looks back fondly on the simple pleasures in life like a relaxing vacation with her dog and a trip to Comic Con.

Corrina Holyoake

In a year spent feeling lost and confused, Corrina’s life lessons include never stop believing, trust your inner voice, and being selfish to become selfless.

Thanks for stopping by! If you’re a blogger and want to join us on this hop, just add the family-friendly link to your blog in the comment section, and we’ll be happy to show you some blog love.

Five 2018 Black Friday Deals Perfect for Seniors

I don’t know about you, but I’m at the age that it’s just not fun to fight crowds to try and get a decent deal on Black Friday. Wouldn’t you rather shop from home? I would! Many Black Friday deals are available right now.

I’ve listed some bargains you baby boomers may want to check out. Click on the links below to find out more.

In the interest of full disclosure, please note that I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which means if you click on a link and decide to buy the product or service, I will receive a small referral fee. There’s no difference in price for you. You get the same great deals. I’ve just done some homework for you and it helps cover the cost of publishing this website.

Fire HD 10

The latest Fire HD 8 has been recognized as the best ultra cheap tablet, delivering faster performance, a larger battery, and more internal storage than the previous version for almost half the price. It offers an 8-inch screen with over 2 million pixels, stereo speakers, Dolby Audio, and dual-band Wi-Fi, perfect for full HD widescreen entertainment, and up to 256 GB of expandable storage. Amazon Prime members can access tons of free video, music, and other content with their subscription. As of the time of this writing, you can save $50.

Fire Stick TV 4K

You can launch and control all your favorite movies and TV shows with the next-generation Alexa Voice Remote. The latest version offers new power, volume, and mute buttons to control your TV, sound bar, and receiver.

Microwave that Works with Alexa

Need a new microwave? Why not get a compact one that doesn’t take up much space and works with Alexa – for only $59.99 at the time of this writing? Defrosting vegetables, making popcorn, cooking potatoes, and reheating food has never been easier. Quick-cook voice presets and a simplified keypad allows you to simply ask Alexa to start microwaving.

Grocery Delivery

Have problems getting around or hate to go to the grocery store? Skip the trip and spend more time doing the things you love with AmazonFresh grocery delivery service. Amazon is offering unlimited grocery delivery for $14.99 a month with a free trial. A wide selection of fresh groceries is delivered right to your home at a time convenient to you. Shop Amazon’s specialty stores to fit your own lifestyle, featuring meals and snacks that are gluten-free, vegan, or organic. With a wide selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, it’s easier than ever to eat healthy.

 

Fire TV Cube

Fire TV Cube is the first hands-free streaming media player with Alexa. From across the room, just ask Alexa to turn on the TV, dim the lights, and play what you want to watch.

 

Baby Boomer Women Wearing Hair Longer

Remember that old-fashioned rule? “Thou shalt not grow your hair past your shoulders after the age of 50.” In the past, if older women dared to hang on to their locks, they swept it into a dowdy granny bun.

No more! Have you noticed that baby boomer women – and I’m not just talking about celebrities – are bucking the idea that you must lop your hair off at a “certain age?”

 

Photo by Anderson Guerra from Pexels

I’m one of those boomers embracing longer locks. Turns out this is a new trend. Which is kind of funny. Usually, by the time I discover something is a fashion trend, it’s already over.

But I can see why times are a-changing. Boomers are discovering that long hair can look flattering. For one thing, it hides some of those unflattering problems that pop up as you age. You know, like a wrinkly turkey neck or a double chin.

Plus, I think women are tired of society telling them how they should look.

After I had my first child, I fell for the myth that you had to cut your hair short to look like a proper mother. Although I was only in my early 20’s, I suddenly felt old with my not-so-stylish pixie cut. Not to mention, a bit naked and awkward without my long hair. For decades afterwards, my hair was cut into a sensible bob and – as was popular at the time – permed like a poodle.

By the time I hit my 50’s, I was getting tired of the term “age-appropriate” and ready for a change.

Mind you, I’m not talking about clinging to the 60’s or 70’s with straight hair parted down the middle reaching my butt. But, as you can see in the photo below, my hair is a few inches past my shoulders.

 

A pic of my hair from the back.

If this is your preference, and you want long hair, I say go for it! Have you gone gray? No matter. Personally, I’ve seen some women look like gorgeous silver foxes with their long tresses. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a hairstyle:

  • A good haircut with a few layers around your face is flattering and can give some extra lift to your hair, making it look more modern and healthy.
  • Long, side-swept soft bangs can be a boomer’s best friend, drawing attention to your lovely eyes and away from a wrinkled forehead.
  • Avoid a formal coifed look and go for a more relaxed style – that goes for whatever length of hair you choose. According to hair stylist Sally Hershberger, best known for creating Meg Ryan’s iconic blond shag, “Once you get older, you have to get messier or you look like a newscaster or a real estate lady,” she says in an interview with Zoomer. “Conservative hairdos are aging. Hair needs movement.”

And, since hair grows slower, thins, and becomes more fragile as you age, here are a few hair care tips for longer locks:

  • Experts say you don’t need to wash your hair every single day, which can strip your scalp of essential oils. When you do jump in the shower, use quality shampoos and conditioners specially formulated to encourage growth and keep hair strong and healthy,
  • Use a wide tooth comb to minimize breakage.
  • Reduce drying time by allowing your hair to dry naturally for the most part. Use the coolest setting on your blow dryer. Avoid curling irons whenever possible.
  • Keep your hair healthy from the inside out by staying hydrated and eating a healthy diet.

One more thought: If you prefer short and sassy, more power to you. After all, how you wear your hair shouldn’t have anything to do with rules, what your husband, kids, or grandkids thinks looks best, or what’s trendy at the moment.

Instead, your hairstyle should make you feel beautiful, confident, match your personality and fit your lifestyle. Girls, it’s all about you!

What’s your verdict? Do you like long hair on women past the age of 50? Do you love your long or short hair?  Why or why not? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

 

 

More Baby Boomers Trying to Find Bliss with Marijuana

Recently, when I’ve attended concerts that tend to attract baby boomers, such as Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones, I’ve noticed a lot of boomers lighting up joints.

Turns out that’s no coincidence.

According to a recent report in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, more baby boomers are using weed and other cannabis products.

Nine percent of people aged 50 to 64 said they’ve used marijuana in the past year, doubling in the past decade, while three percent of those over 65 have done so, the research found.

Perhaps that’s not a big surprise, since the baby boomer generation has had more experience than other generations with marijuana, which surged in popularity during the 1960s and 1970s. More than half (almost 55%) of middle-age adults have used marijuana at some point in their lives, while over a fifth (about 22%) of older adults have done so, according to the study.

Those who used marijuana as teens were more likely to say they were still fans of the herb, the team at New York University found.

What accounts for marijuana’s big comeback with the older crowd?

Certainly, the stigma of using marijuana has decreased. I never used but, admittedly, weed was considered cool when I was in high school during the 70s. However, we made fun of “potheads” who smoked constantly and came to school fumbling around like fools in a fog bank. That seems to have changed in recent years with some boomers considering it cool to act like teenagers again and claiming the title, pothead, with pride, as if smoking marijuana was some kind of accomplishment.

Access has certainly been made easier with the legalization of marijuana for medical use in 29 states and D.C. and for recreational use in eight states and D.C., including here in California where I live. Pot farms are springing up everywhere including one of the nearby desert towns, Desert Hot Springs, which has been nicknamed Desert Pot Springs.

Some baby boomers use weed to ease aching joints or other ailments or to help them sleep.

Whatever the reasons for boomers lighting up, beware, there are some definite pitfalls. The survey indicated that users think marijuana is harmless. But the researchers were quick to point out that is clearly not the case.

“Acute adverse effects of marijuana use can include anxiety, dry mouth, tachycardia (racing heart rate), high blood pressure, palpitations, wheezing, confusion, and dizziness,” they warned. “Chronic use can lead to chronic respiratory conditions, depression, impaired memory, and reduced bone density.”

Researchers also reported that baby boomers using cannabis were more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, and abuse drugs. Marijuana users were also more likely to misuse prescription drugs such as opioids, sedatives, and tranquilizers than their peers.

Mixing substances is particularly dangerous for older adults with chronic diseases, the team advised. Marijuana may intensify symptoms and interact with prescribed medications.

In fact, physicians should ask older patients about whether they use marijuana because it can interact with prescription drugs, the team recommended, and it may point to substance abuse problems.

In other words, baby boomers would do well to find true bliss in healthier ways.

 

 

Baby Boomers Going Back to School

It’s that exciting time of year. Kids are heading off to school in their new duds with backpacks full of notebooks and lunch pails. But it turns out not only the young will be cracking books.
Plenty of baby boomers are going back to school as well. Some are enrolling to college for the first time.

“At 78 million strong, the baby boomer generation is bringing a surge of older students to campus,” states the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) in its report “Plus 50 Students: Tapping Into a Growing Market.

What are the reasons for this trend? Unlike younger college students, trail-blazing baby boomers aren’t driven by anyone’s expectations other than their own, according to a survey by Schools.com. And, perhaps surprisingly, regret doesn’t seem to be a big factor either. Only about 15 percent of students aged 50 to 59 said they went back to school to complete a degree they previously started.

So, just why are baby boomers heading back to school?

To Update Skills

Many boomers are working longer. 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.

Whether boomers are working because of financial needs or personal choice, many go back to college for additional training so they can stay marketable in the workforce or advance their careers. Some are laid off and having difficulty finding employment. Updating their skills by going back to school seems like a step in the right direction.

Aside from motivation, baby boomers stand out from younger students in other ways. For example, most don’t care about social activities, campus life, and extracurricular activities. Many enroll in online or hybrid degree programs because of the lower cost and flexibility.

Many colleges have taken note of older students’ unique needs as they search for fast and efficient ways to further their education and careers. In fact, The American Association of Community Colleges introduced the Plus 50 Initiative in 2008 to help colleges learn how to provide what older students want. As a result, those over 50 usually can find plenty of flexibility in terms of degree programs, online and weekend courses and accelerated classes.

To Change Careers

Some baby boomers are pursuing an “encore career” and go back to school to prepare for a new direction in life. Whether boomers are retired and want to try out another career part-time or are still working and want to change jobs, many want to pursue their interests and passions before it’s too late.

In addition, as people age, they tend to want a career that’s fulfilling and meaningful to help others. “Sometimes people may have been very successful in a career that they had and now they are retiring but they knew all along it wasn’t what they really wanted to be doing,” says Dawn Jones of the Office of Career and Transfer Services at Schenectady County Community College. “They want to be doing things that are more important to them.”

To Focus on Themselves

For those 50-59, the decision to return to school was often about finally having the freedom to explore a subject they love. Thirty-one percent of those surveyed in that age range said they enrolled in college to explore their passions. Compare that to those between 18 and 29 who were three times less likely to give that answer; they were more likely to say they enrolled in college as a logical next step in their lives.

The fact is that baby boomers are changing the way people age and many want to continue to grow and learn. Some become part of the continuing education department, taking classes to learn a new language or about astronomy. The idea is to learn for themselves rather than earn a degree. And why not? Many now have the freedom with less responsibilities to take advantage of opportunities.

Are you a baby boomer thinking about going back to college? Don’t let age stop you. It’s never too late to go back to school or try out a new career.

“It’s not about a number, it’s about a mindset,” Jones says. “If it’s something you want to do and have the energy to do and you’re passionate about it. We’ve had students in their 60s and 70s, and I think we’ve even had a few older than that, taking classes and enrolled in degree programs. There’s no age limit, there’s no limit to what you can do if you want to be doing it.”

“What I say often to my returning adults is ‘you’re never too old to decide what you want to be when you grow up.’” Jones adds.

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels

Summer Road Trip: Hidden Gems in Southern California

Summer is the perfect time for gorgeous scenic drives and road trips. With that in mind, join our blog hop for virtual road trips, weekend getaways, and day trips along with some insider tips for visiting exciting places in North America as far away as Australia.

I’m excited to share some hidden gems in my neck of the woods, Southern California.  Join me, then pop about the globe for more inspiring road trip ideas from other great bloggers, who are linked at the bottom of this page.

 

(By the way, I actually live in the California desert which I do NOT recommend visiting during the summer months. It is 121 degrees as I write this blog. No, I’m not kidding – or exaggerating. Unless you like feeling your eyes burn as if someone has a blow dryer an inch from your face and burning your hands on the steering wheel, save a trip to Palm Springs for the winter when you’re buried in snow and we’re having perfectly fabulous weather.)

During the summer months here in Southern California, many tourists flock to well-known destinations like San Diego, Disneyland, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara. These are all great places to visit, but if you’re looking for somewhere different that’s a bit off the radar, check out the following incredible destinations:

The Channell Islands

My husband and I have lived in California most our lives, but somehow missed these spectacular islands that are classified as one of the U.S. National Parks. After seeing some stunning photos on the Internet, we took a short boat ride to Anacapa Island from Oxnard as part of a weekend anniversary trip.

If you decide to go, be prepared and bring supplies. This trip is for adventurous people in good physical shape. You will need to climb 157 stairs to the top of this rugged little island where there is no food, services, water, or flushing toilets. Now, I HATE outhouses, but I’m telling you – the views of the rocky shoreline, massive cliffs, and jagged peaks were worth it. You can easily hike around the rim of the island in just hours with Inspiration Point a grand reward for your efforts.

We visited in June when bursts of bright wildflowers covered the small island and thousands of adorable baby sea gulls were to be found around every corner. Just beware of their protective mamas who will swoop at your head if you get too close.

We returned a couple of years later and visited the larger Santa Cruz Island for an exciting kayak tour of the historic sea caves. On the boat ride there we saw a whale and two large schools of dolphins. The waters can be rough at certain points, but the caves were amazing. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Some people consider these islands desolate, but if you have an adventurous spirit and love nature, the Channell Islands are considered the Galápagos of North America.

The Huntington Botanical Gardens 

This is yet another stunning place that we failed to visit for decades. Located in Pasadena, the magnificent estate is home to more than a dozen spectacular gardens spread across 120 acres. Hard to say which garden is the most dazzling, but the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden, and the California Garden are a few of my favorites.

We didn’t even get a chance to check out the art galleries. The Huntington Art Gallery, houses 18th- and 19th-century British paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts, and includes the famous Blue Boy. And to my shame as a writer, we did not visit The Huntington Library itself, one of the largest and most complete research libraries in the United States.

Next time.

Ventura County Wine Trail

Napa may get all the attention as wine country in California, but my husband and I enjoyed sipping our way through the coastal rolling hills near the seaside town of Ventura. We visited two of the nearly 20 wineries and tasting rooms.

You can book one of the many wine tours offered. However, we decided to get a map and explore on our own. Beginning in Ventura at the junction of Highway 1 and Highway 101, we drove up Highway 33 toward Ojai.

Surprises await on this somewhat lonely but charming road – from the “USA’s Smallest Post Office” to the last place anyone saw James Dean alive. Our favorite find was Old Creek Winery which felt like returning to a simpler place and time where friendly folk and dogs welcomed us. We enjoyed our purchased bottle of wine and a picnic outside on tables enjoying the Americana view.

By the way, both Ojai and Ventura are worthwhile stops with charming inns, luxurious spas, and bed & breakfasts along with a wide array of outdoor activities. In the summer time, the Ventura Harbor Village is a hubbub of activity with festivals and live music on the weekends.

Laguna Beach

This charming beach town is located halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. With over 20 different scenic coves, this beach area offers everything from surfing, paddle-boarding, snorkeling, kayaking, and whale watching excursions.

Just beware, the surf can be rough in places. As a teenager, I decided to body surf despite the churning waters and wiped out on a massive wave (think Beach Boys’ song: Heheheheheheee wipe oooout!). You can read more about that delightful experience here. Actually, I blame the Beach Boys for this entire mishap since they went and romanticized this whole surfer chick thing with songs I grew up on like Surfer Girl. SO their fault.

However, the scenery can’t be beat. Add ultra-chic restaurants and shops and one-of-a-kind art galleries and you get the picture. There’s even a Baby Boomer Club with Saturday Night dances. Every summer, they host the Laguna Woodstock where baby boomers party like its 1969.

Heisler Park is a good place to start, located just north of the main beach, with an easy half-mile stroll along a paved path with spectacular views of the coastline and the soothing sound of crashing waves. You can take one of the paths to the beaches and tide pools. Benches, picnic tables, and barbecues abound where you can enjoy the magnificent views. Hubby and I had a picnic on one of the grass areas and it was perfect!

Treasure Island Park is another great spot, located on the grounds of the five-star Montage Laguna Beach, where the truly rich stay. Exquisitely landscaped, several lookout benches line the easy-to-walk winding path. Stairways and ramps lead you down to the beach, where you can walk through a beautiful rock archway during low tide, find a spot in the sand for sunbathing, and a large tide pool. In addition, there is plenty of grass areas for a picnic. I’d suggest bringing some wine and cheese to catch a romantic sunset.

Big Bear Lake

I live in the desert, so nearby Big Bear is a great mountain escape with its gorgeous lake and pristine forests. Boating, fishing, and hiking are just some of the activities in this small, laid-back village.

Last summer, my husband and I cycled around the lake, enjoyed a picnic, zipped down an alpine slide, drove go-karts with speeds up to 30 m.p.h., and took a ride on the scenic sky chair for terrific views. After watching people take the chair lifts to mountain bike down the trails, we put this on our to-do list for next time.

For the adventurous at heart, parasailing and ziplining are also available.

El Matador Beach

Looking for a spectacular shoreline with white sands, towering cliffs, crashing waves, and craggy rock formations in a semi-hidden location?

Look no further than El Matador, located north of Malibu off the winding Pacific Coast Highway. It’s easy to miss the small, brown sign pointing toward the small parking lot at the trail-head, so watch carefully between Broad Beach and Decker Canyon Roads. Once you find it, be prepared to hike down a 150-foot bluff with the help of some steep stairs.

Not for small children or those who are physically challenged, but if you can make it down the steps you’ll be treated with breathtaking views. The locals know about this beach and you may see some photo shoots taking place – we did!

There is blissfully little to do on this small but glorious stretch of beach, so bring a picnic lunch or some wine and find a hidden nook to enjoy an incredibly romantic setting.

Redondo Beach

By now, you’ve probably noticed that my husband and I are beach bums. We found this beach on accident while looking for a nearby place to stay the night before flying out of LAX the next morning.

The Redondo Pier is a landmark with panoramic ocean views and water activities that include harbor cruises, seasonal whale watching, kayaks, paddleboards, and pedal boats. Truth be known, we didn’t try any of these out, but we loved the views from Tony’s on the Pier where we enjoyed Happy Hour!

The pier is also home to a 16-foot great white shark affectionately known as Georgette, on display in a large tank at Shark Attack on the Pier.  If you have grandchildren with you or are young at heart, you may enjoy the semi-submersible yellow submarine (darn, now I’ve got the Beatles song stuck in my head) for underwater viewing of the local sea life.

Sure beats staying at an airport hotel if you’re flying to or from Los Angeles.

Catalina Island

This island is more well-known than some of my previous recommendations, but a sentimental favorite. My husband and I spent our honeymoon there 40 years ago and have returned several times. This is a small, quaint island, with no stoplights or fast food restaurants. A typical traffic jam involves two golf carts and a bicycle built for two.

On our honeymoon, we blissfully rode bikes around Avalon, went horseback riding, toured the famous casino, and sunbathed on the small beach. We also took a bus to Two Harbors, the only other village on Catalina Island. Snorkeling, parasailing, fishing, glass bottom boat rides, paddleboarding, Segway tours, golfing, and hiking are other popular activities.

Decades later, we sailed our boat to the island from Long Beach – which turned out to be one wild ride. My husband and grown children returned again for our open-water dives to become scuba-certified amid the famous kelp forests surrounded by the bright orange Garibaldi fish. Next time we visit, I want to try the new zip-line that’s 600 feet above sea level with one run that is 1,100 feet long with speeds up to 30 m.p.h. Wheee!

As you can tell, Southern California has so many great places to visit, it’s impossible to list them all. But hopefully I’ve given you some ideas to get started.

Thanks for your company!  What are favorite road trip must-sees in your corner of the world? Please share in the comments section. 

There’s more more fun and inspirational Summer Road Trips ahead!  Click over to your next destination with my blogger pals below.:

United States

Rosie Russell: Dust off your maps as Rosie guides you through her home state – Missouri.

Cat Michaels: Power up your GPS as Cat lists her top five family-friendly places to visit in North Carolina.

Kristen Lamb:  Buckle up as Kristen takes you through historical sites in California.

Rebecca Lyndsey: Check your tire pressure and take off on a virtual road trip through West Virginia.

Carmela Dutra:  Take a tour of family-friendly places in the San Jose Bay Area in California.

Rhonda Paglia: Rhonda is excited to guide you around her part of the world, Western Pennsylvania.

Lynn from An Encore Voyage shares a recent road trip in her beautiful home state of Idaho.

Australia

Sandra Bennett: It’s winter down under now, so Sandra takes us on a winter road trip to lovely Canberra.

 

 

Baby Boomer Orphan Goes Gray Gracefully

We baby boomers were ready to change the world in our youth and now we’re busy reinventing retirement. But we’re forced to do something entirely ordinary and conventional.

No getting around it. We are getting older. That means we all have to face some inevitable changes.

My guest blogger, Cat Michaels, faced these changes head-on as she became a baby boomer orphan after losing her father this year, “right-sized” to a one-story home and decluttered, altered her writing goals after penning her first non-fiction piece, and ditched the dye to gray gracefully.

Here is her engaging story:


My first year as a baby boomer orphan has been one of emotional ups downs. I took time to grieve and learned to deal with sadness. Then two huge personal challenges clicked into place to alter my personal space.

Adios, Old Friend

My first change reflected new realities of ascending into my family’s senior-member orbit after my parent’s passing: My husband, JM, and I are right-sizing. After watching my parent’s failing health and slowing mobility, we decided to find a home where we could age in place and not wait until poor health forced us to transition.

Yep. We’re leaving our cherished home along the greenway and neighbors of 20 years to build a residence three miles away. Still near the ‘hood and close to all we love, it’s not a retirement community (see next section). Instead, it’s a wonderful mix of generations and families in all life stages. JM and I hope our new neighbors will be as wonderful as the ones we were blessed with for two decades.

Right-sizing was a head decision. not a heart decision. Our new home will be mostly on one level, so if we’re unable to climb stairs in the future, no problem. Its square footage is nearly what we have now, redistributed minus a formal living room and one bedroom. I still have my office, and JM can’t wait to build his O-scale model train layout in his ginormous new game room.

We never had hordes of possessions, but I still dreaded skinnying down our household. Armed with boxes, packing tape and bubble wrap, I started sorting.  Keep. Toss. Donate. I trekked to Goodwill with carloads of donations and filled a rented storage room with books, linens, and other “non-essentials” to make our home look more spacious when staged for sale this spring.

I was surprised at how unburdened and downright buoyant I felt passing along my belongings for others to enjoy. Like that young worker helping us spruce up the front entry, who received a small rug and an end table. His huge smile told me the vintage pieces I purchased at an estate sale years ago found a happy home.

Dad’s old morning mugs

I even unearthed forgotten treasures in a box in the attic, unopened from our last move 20 years ago: Dad’s 1970s-era McDonald’s morning mugs he left after visiting us from Connecticut. These reminders of his sunny disposition and coffee addiction will be featured in our new home.

Hardest has been parting with the 100-year-old pump organ that was connected to JM’s family since it was made by Weaver Organ and Piano in York, PA in 1906. I will miss its beautiful walnut case and Victorian charm, but there’s no room for it in the new house.  I hope we can find someone who will cherish it just as much as we have.

It’s also tough leaving lush woodlands in our established neighborhood.  But we’ll have a wee hill and teeny green copse of trees, leftovers from construction bulldozers razing the old pine forests that once stood where our new community is being built. It will be a tough transition from miles of greenway right outside door to a single, short walking path to our new place.

BUT … we say adios to constant leaf raking, yard work, and copperheads in the adjacent woods (Hooray!). And yes, I’ll take a carload of favorite plants for new garden beds, but most specimens stay for the next family.  Plus, I get to create a whole new outdoor garden space in addition to interior design.  Sad/happy times.

Finding My Roots

Finding a new home hasn’t been the only thing on my radar. I’m piling on another major life transition most women of a certain age face.  Yep. Letting my natural hair color take root, so to speak [winking here].

I resisted going natural for the longest time. I adore my sassy reddish-brown tresses and am over the moon when people under-estimate my age. But it’s time to embrace my baby-boomer status. Spouse JM supports my decision. We’re looking forward to seeing what color (colors?) emerge. Already, a few grays at the temple and salt-and-pepper shades at the neckline give us clues.

New Catly gray peeks at temple and crown.

My biggest fear: this new look could stereotype me as a slow, forgetful senior-citizen luddite. Sigh. I’m not a member of AARP and don’t expect to play bingo at the community center any time soon.

I was offended when a Millennial recently once assumed I didn’t know several cool apps or have a presence on social media. And this was with my sassy brunette look!  Grrr.

I format my own digital and print books, maintain a website and two blogs, plus manage three email accounts and just as many cloud storage platforms, and moderate multiple Facebook groups.

Like any journey, it’s what you make of it along the way. I feel sad as I let go of the past, but I’m ready for my dance with tomorrow.

Author and blogger CAT MICHAELS, M.S., Ed., has more than two decades of experience helping students from kindergarten to college with learning disabilities and Asperger’s syndrome reach their potential. Her chapter books and Sweet T Tales series for beginning readers tell of everyday life with a twist of magic and mischief.  Cat lives in North Carolina with her family, where she enjoys digital photography, graphic design, writing, and designing pocket gardens. Click on the following links to learn more:    Website/Blog FacebookTwitter   |  Instagram

Your Turn  

Have you found it hard or easy to make a major life change? What helps you find energy/courage to move in new directions? Please share in the comment section.

 

A Baby Boomer’s Disappointment: “Just Getting Started” Movie Review

Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones, Jane Seymour, Johnny Mathis, and Rene Russo – all starring together in the movie “Just Getting Started” set in my hometown – Palm Springs. A baby boomer’s delight, right?

Of course, I was excited to see this movie. The premise had some possibilities. Freeman plays Duke Diver, the manager of a luxury Palm Springs retirement community packed with retirees, who has some mysterious secrets from his past.

Some sight gags in the beginning of the movie, like Christmas carolers dressed in Dickensian clothes wearing flip-flops, made me smile a bit. But then “Just Getting Started” went terribly wrong. This movie was not just boring and unfunny, it slammed us boomers.  Pun intended, I’m just getting started!

Is anyone else tired of the elderly portrayed as horny, desperate, and lonely? The women in this movie are dismally portrayed as dejected, just waiting around for the attention of their male counterparts. Don’t they have anything else better to do?

There was a creepy scene in the beginning of the movie with Glenne Headly (who I remember from Lonesome Dove and sadly discovered died this year at the young age of 62) standing on a ladder with Freeman ogling her and making inappropriate comments.

This is especially sad since it was announced today that Oscar-winning Freeman, who starred in some of my favorite movies like “Shawshank Redemption,” has been accused of inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment by eight women. Freeman apologized to anyone “who felt uncomfortable or disrespected.”

Another disappointment: Although the opening scenes were shot in my California desert, the rest of “Just Getting Started” was clearly not filmed here. I found out later that most of the movie was shot in New Mexico. They even ripped off the name of the famous atmospheric Melvyn’s restaurant here, once a magnet for Hollywood’s elite like the Rat Pack, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Marlon Brando, Rita Hayworth, and Jerry Lewis, and slapped it on a building that obviously was not the original restaurant.

Aside from my local umbrage, this movies was just sad. I couldn’t keep watching it. But I hear it only got worse. As a review on Roger Ebert’s website said, the movie “awkwardly evolves from being a horny oldsters on the loose caper to a macho one-upmanship contest and, finally, a crime film about foiling a mob hit beset with dreary car chases, a literal snooze-fest stakeout, a rather tame cobra stuck in a golf bag and perhaps one of the least-exciting bomb explosions ever captured on film.”

In a year that produced Oscar-winning performances of boomers that didn’t fit into the typical stereotypes, “Just Getting Started” is especially disappointing. Last year, Jeff Bridges, 67, starred as a Texas Ranger tracking down a pair of bank-robbing brothers. Viggo Mortensen, 58, played a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous education that challenged his philosophy about life. And Isabelle Huppert, 63, played a woman who turned the tables on her attacker. That seemed like a nice change since we baby boomers are not grumpy, over-sexed, old codgers cussing up a storm like we are often portrayed in Hollywood. We are active, productive, and vibrant members of society.

As I pointed out in a previous blog, “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?”

“Just Getting Started” is streaming now online, but my advice? Skip this one.

 

Spring Allergy Tips for Baby Boomers

It’s been a long, brutal winter and spring has finally arrived. You baby boomers are more than ready to enjoy the glorious weather and ACHOO! Unfortunately, spring allergies are here as well. Suddenly, your nose is constantly running or stuffed up, your eyes are itchy and watery, and the sneezing fits won’t stop.

allergiesAs a matter of fact, it is estimated that more than 50 million people in the U.S. suffer from allergies each year and we baby boomers are certainly not immune. However, spring allergies and commonly used drugs such as decongestants and antihistamines affect us differently as we age.

Here is what you need to know:

Baby Boomer Allergy Complications 

The bad news first. Maybe you’re mystified because you’re suddenly suffering from allergies when you’ve never had hay fever before in your life. Guess what? Allergies sometimes make their first appearance in our golden years.

Wait, there’s more. The supporting cartilage around the nose often weakens as we age, leading to narrowing airways and a a stuffed nose. This annoying problem has a name, “geriatric rhinitis.” In addition, less blood flow can lead to more nasal dryness. These issues that arise as we get older can make allergies feel even worse.

But there’s plenty of drugs to help us out, right?

Hold on a second. Before you start popping over-the-counter decongestants and antihistamines, know that these drugs can be hazardous for those with cardiovascular problems or lung disease. In addition, these commonly used medications can have dangerous side effects like raising blood pressure, drowsiness, confusion, dizziness, and urinary tract symptoms. Allergy medications can also interact with drugs commonly prescribed to baby boomers, causing mood swings, changes in behavior, and insomnia. On top of that, decongestants and antihistamines can dry the nasal passages making symptoms worse.

Okay, that’s the bad news, but not all is hopeless. What can we baby boomers suffering from hay fever do?

Try Natural Solutions

Head off spring allergies by starting to treat them before you feel anything, advises Nathanael Horne, MD, of New York Medical College. One step is to spritz a saline rinse into your nose daily to wash away pollen, an article in Reader’s Digest suggests. This method won’t necessarily take the place of medication, but it could reduce your need for drugs. In one study, participants who rinsed their sinuses twice a day for three to six weeks reported less nasal congestion than those who didn’t.

Neti pots, small plastic pots that look like a miniature tea pot or perhaps an enchanted genie lamp, have been used since ancient times in India. I’ll admit, leaning forward and putting the pot in one nostril so a salt and water solution runs through your nasal passages and comes out your other nostril, feels a bit weird – and gross – at first. However, studies show that it thins mucus and helps flush out the nasal passages of pollen. In general, it is recommended you use the nasal irrigation system daily at first, and once symptoms have subsided, three times a week.

Acupuncture may also help relieve hay fever, according to new research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. In the study, allergy sufferers who were randomly assigned to a dozen acupuncture sessions had more symptom relief and used less antihistamine medication.

Avoid Allergens

Okay, this may be a “no duh” but if you’re allergic to flowers or freshly mowed grass, avoid these allergens. Keep an eye on the pollen count in your area and avoid going outdoors when the numbers are high. Also, on these days, keep windows closed and use air conditioning when possible.

Remember, pollen sticks to you. So, if you can’t resist going outdoors, when you return home, remove your shoes and clothes, take a shower and wash your hair, and put on some fresh clothes. Do not dry your clothes outside on a clothesline this time of year; use a dryer.

Consider using a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your air conditioner or heating system which can help ease allergy symptoms. And also having frequent  to make sure your A/C is working right. Freestanding air purifiers with HEPA filters are also available. If you don’t have a HEPA filter in your cleaner, you may be making your symptoms worse by stirring up pollen that has settled on your floor and furniture, says Selina Gierer, an allergy expert at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

 

If Allergies are Severe Talk to Your Doctor as Soon as Possible

If none of these suggestions help, you may need to nip those allergies in the bud with drugs. If you have other serious health issues, your doctor may not be focused on allergies. But if you’re having problems, it’s better to start treating symptoms before they get out of hand.

Because traditional decongestants and antihistamines have so many side effects, talk with your doctor about alternative treatments like a nasal steroid.

You may also want to consider allergy shots. In a study of people between the ages of 65 and 75 with hay fever published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, allergy shots reduced symptoms by 55 percent after three years of therapy and decreased the amount of medication needed by 64 percent.

“Hay fever is often ignored in older patients as a less significant health problem because of diseases such as asthma, coronary heart disease, depression, and high blood pressure,” Dr. Ira Finegold, past president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, says in a news release. “Also, some baby boomers might not realize they have allergies, and their physicians might not suggest allergy shots. The research indicated that allergy shots were extremely effective for this group.”

So, there you go my fellow baby boomers. Try these tips so you can curb your spring allergies and enjoy the spring season!

Baby Boomers: Turn Back the Clock on Your Heart 20 Years with Exercise

I’m loving this latest report. According to a small study, even if you’ve been pretty much a couch potato for most your life, it’s not too late. You can still get in shape now in late middle-age and help your heart function as if it were 20 years younger.

exercise late middle ageThe study published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation, looked at healthy but sedentary people between the ages of 45 and 64.

Individuals were put into two different groups. The first group participated in a program of non-aerobic exercise such as yoga, balance training, and weight training three times a week. The second group, did moderate- to high-intensity aerobic exercise for four or more days a week.

After two years, the group engaging in the higher-intensity exercise saw a dramatic improvement in the function of their hearts.

“We took these 50-year-old hearts and turned the clock back to 30- or 35-year-old hearts,” said Dr. Ben Levine, a sports cardiologist at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and director of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. “Their hearts processed oxygen more efficiently and were notably less stiff.”

Sorry, but walking the dog around the block a couple days a week doesn’t seem to do the trick. Of course, any kind of exercise is better than nothing at all, but if you want to turn the clock back on your heart, a bit more is needed.  A key part of the effective exercise regimen was interval training — short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by a few minutes of recovery.

The researchers eased the exercise group into its routine with three, 30-minute, moderate exercise sessions a week for the first three months and built up to a regular set of workouts that peaked at 10 months and included:

  • Two days of high-intensity intervals: four minutes at 95 percent of a person’s maximum ability (for example, running at a brisk pace or pedaling fast against resistance), followed by three minutes of active recovery (jogging slower, walking briskly, or pedaling slower), repeated four times.
  • One day of an hour-long moderate-intensity exercise that raised the heart rate and the participant enjoyed like dancing, tennis, swimming, cycling, or a brisk walk.
  • One or two days of 30-minute sessions of moderate-intensity exercise, meaning the participant would break a sweat, be a little short of breath, but still be able to carry on a conversation.
  • One or two weekly strength training sessions using weights or exercise machines either on a separate day or after an exercise session.

The participants were encouraged to use diversification with lots of different exercise equipment (stationary bikes, treadmills, elliptical trainers) and engage in outdoor exercises (jogging and cycling) to keep themselves motivated and interested, Levine said.

The intense workout was important, Levine emphasized, even if it was just once a week. Pushing as hard as you can for four minutes stresses the heart, he explained, and forces it to function more efficiently. Repeating the intervals helps strengthen both the heart and the circulatory system.

Another benefit? “It breaks up the monotony of just the walking,” he said. “Most people really enjoy the high intensity work. You would think that they wouldn’t but they like the fact that it’s short and they like the fact that they feel stronger afterwards.”

The participants tracked their heart rate, which is ideal. But as an alternative, use the simple talk test. During the high-intensity intervals, you should be working hard enough and breathing heavy enough that you can’t talk comfortably in long sentences.

Don’t wait too long, Levine warned. “The sweet spot in life to get off the couch and start exercising is in late middle-age when the heart still has plasticity,” Levine said. You may not be able to reverse the aging of your heart if you wait until after 70 to begin.

But you’ll still see benefits from exercising. A research team at Tufts University found that frail people as old as 89 could tolerate an exercise regime that included walking, leg lifts, and stretching. The participants may not have turned back the clock on their hearts, but they improved in ways that could make a big difference. Exercising helped them maintain their mobility and decreased their chances of becoming physically disabled.

“You are never too old, or never too weak, or never too impaired [to benefit from a physical activity program],” said Roger Fielding of Tufts, who led the study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Of course, before starting any strenuous exercise program, be sure and check with your doctor. Then get off that couch and start moving!