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.

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

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

You bet!

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

Excited to be backstage with Bobby Rydell!

Excited to be backstage with Bobby Rydell!

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

And yes, maybe I swooned just a little bit!

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

What are the chances?

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

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

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

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

Then, Rydell took center stage.

Bobby Rydell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fabian 

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

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

Fabian

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

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

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

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

Frankie Avalon 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Good Things Must Come to an End

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating International Book Giving Day: Free Book Giveaway!

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

BookGivingDayBlogBadge

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

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

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

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

What Exactly is International Book Giving Day?

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

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

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

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

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

WIN A FREE BOOK! 

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

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

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

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

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

Carmela Dutra: A Blog for Your Thoughts

Rosie Russell: Kid Lit Blog

Tracy Bryan: Children’s Author

Sandra Bennett: Author

JD Holiday: Writers Blog

James Milson: Writing & Things

Cat Michael: Cat’s Corner

Corrina Holyoake: Venturing Into the Unknown

Image courtesy of anekoho at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

The Enchantment of Snow

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

“Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes,

Silver white winters that melt into springs,

These are a few of my favorite things.”

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

Family Snow Day

Family Snow Day

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

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

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

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

The Magic of Nature

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

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

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

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

Live in the Present

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

Catching snowflakes on their tongues.

Catching snowflakes on their tongues.

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

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

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

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

snow photo bomb

Time with Your Family

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Parents typically want better lives for their children.

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

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

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

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

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

Not in my opinion.

Tackling Student Loan Debt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Money Does Not Equal Happiness

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

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

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

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

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

Then they grew up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Multi-Generational Living

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Women Breaking Through Barriers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You bet!

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

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

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

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

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

Women Breaking Barriers eBook

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

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

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

Five Surefire Ways to Make 2017 Your Best Year Yet

How can you make 2017 your best year yet?

Dump the silly tradition of making a bunch of New Year’s resolutions that make you feel like a failure at the end of the year when things don’t go according to plan. Instead of making an endless list of lofty ambitions, why not take some simple, realistic steps to improve your life in significant ways in 2017?

Are your ready? I certainly am! I’m ready to move forward and make the most of the next 361 days, 8,664 hours of precious time that I can never get back. quote-oprah-year-endI’m ready to continue on my spiritual path. I’m ready to set new goals and create attainable steps to achieve them. I’m ready for new adventures. I’m ready to make my body healthier and stronger.

Want to join me? Here are five simple but effective ways we can all make 2017 an incredible year:

Reflect and Learn

Before jumping into the New Year, take a moment to think about what worked and didn’t work for you last year. What were the highlights? The low points? What were your successes and failures? What made you feel happy and joyful? What made you downright miserable? What life lessons did you learn that you can take into 2017? What changes do you need to make this year even better?

Focus on the Present

Okay, now that you’ve looked over the past year, it’s time to move forward. Forgive and let go of any anger or resentment you’re still carrying over from last year. Resolve to learn from your mistakes and move on. Make the necessary changes to eliminate whatever was making you miserable. Take time to be grateful for all the good things that 2016 granted you. Then, focus on the present. When you wake up in the morning, ask yourself, what would bring me joy and make my day great? Then do your best to make sure it happens. At the end of the day, ask yourself, what could have made my day better? Then make the necessary adjustments. This daily practice will help you create the life you want to live. Another way to live in the present is to savor, appreciate, and revel in seemingly small, ordinary moments that make the day special. Did you feel the warmth of sunshine on your face or enjoy the refreshing smell after a rainstorm today?  Did you hear a bird singing its heart out or enjoy the sound of a child’s laughter? Did you receive a compliment at work or did a stranger say or do something kind? Did your loved one give you a big hug? Take notice and cherish each moment.

write-goalsWrite Down Attainable Goals

According to studies, about half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions but less than 10 percent of people achieve them. I’m not a believer in New Year resolutions which tend to be overwhelming and unrealistic. However, I do think it helps to periodically write down a few specific and realistic goals throughout the year and review them regularly. Doing so will help you remember what you want out of life and set priorities. You can include spiritual goals, health goals, career goals, or personal goals. So you won’t feel overwhelmed, list no more than three at a time in order of importance. Make sure the objectives are attainable. Then write small steps you need to take to achieve those goals. Focus on one goal at a time and give yourself deadlines – as a writer I know this works. Celebrate milestones along the way. Don’t give up too easily and believe in yourself. Start right now. Think of one specific goal you would like to accomplish this year. Okay, now what’s one thing you can do today, right now, to work towards your goal? No excuses – just do it!

Make Your Body Stronger One Month at a Time

Weight loss and going to the gym are popular New Years resolutions that often fail by time February hits and the excitement wears off. So why not take a different tack? Instead of vowing to lose 20 pounds at the beginning of the year, make it a goal to do one simple thing each month of 2017 to make your body healthier. Need some ideas?  In January, find a workout buddy. In February, walk 100 more steps each day. In March, drink less alcohol and more water. In April, get more sleep. In May, eliminate sugar from your diet. In June, sit less and stand more.  In June, explore a new hiking trail. In July, touch your toes every day. In August, try out one new sport or workout. In September, download a free fitness app. In October, eat less meat and more vegetables. In November, try a new healthy recipe each week. In December, take a daily time out and practice deep breathing. You can use these goals or make up your own list. The idea is to practice each goal for one month to make lifestyle changes that will hopefully stick and become good habits.

try-something-newTry Something New 

While it’s good to break free of your comfortable but boring routine, New Year’s resolutions often include intimidating goals like learning a new language, running a marathon, or skydiving. Why not use the method above and promise yourself to try something new each month. You don’t have to choose something difficult, arduous, or life-threatening. Sign up for a class, visit a new city, try a new cuisine or restaurant, change your hairstyle, make a new friend, learn ten phrases in a different language, listen to a different type of music, write a poem or start a journal. Even the smallest change can inspire more adventure and joy.

There you go – five simple steps to make 2017 your best year yet. In addition to the suggestions above, resolve to take time to nurture your spiritual side, to spend time with your loved ones, to laugh and smile, to be generous and help others, and be kind to yourself. Do so and you’ll feel happier throughout the year.

Images in order of appearance courtesy of nuttakit and Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

My Year End Thoughts

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” Oprah Winfrey.

new-year-2017I like that thought.

This time of year, who can resist looking back to see what we learned along the way?

I deemed 2016 my year of healing. As you can see from the blogs I wrote at the end of last year and at the beginning of this year, I was still trying to process the loss of my mother, who died from Lewy Body dementia (a combination of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s), the death of my mother-in-law who lost her battle to ovarian cancer a few months later, and my son’s awful divorce and custody battle.

As I related before, transferring dates into my new date book was a bit traumatic last year. These trials inspired articles like How to Find Yourself Again , Focusing on Myself,  and Three Simple Things You Should Do Everyday. If you’ve had a rough year, feel free to check these articles out to find out what helped me move forward and rediscover myself.

In the end, I am grateful for the past 12 months that allowed me to heal, nourish myself spiritually, appreciate all my blessings, and move forward. I enjoyed precious time with my husband, children, grandchildren, family and friends, new experiences that included a romantic trip to Chicago and an exhilarating concert extravaganza Desert Trip with Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones, along with some quiet, peaceful moments of introspection.

As I learned, adversity can be a catalyst for making changes. Setbacks and painful experiences can provide motivation to examine your life and ask yourself what will make you feel happy and fulfilled going forward. “A bend in the road is not the end of the road…unless you fail to make the turn,” Helen Keller famously said.

So, I’ve made the turn and move into 2017 with a hopeful spirit, fresh goals, and curiosity as to what lies ahead.

sailing-scott-and-julie

Me and hubby “sailing” into 2017.

A big thank you to the 20,000 people who have visited my blog and taken this journey with me. I am extremely grateful to all of you who have left comments, which always makes my day, and the 5,000 subscribers who follow me on a regular basis. THANK YOU.

As I did last year, I will be taking the next couple of weeks off to spend time with my family and will see you all in 2017. In the meantime, i wish you all the very, very best.

See you next year!

Image courtesy of krishna arts at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. 

 

 

 

 

Are Boomers a Bunch of Old Farts – Literally?

Let’s lighten up things a bit and talk gas. And not the kind you put in your car. Yes, I’m in an ornery mood this morning and isn’t it time for us all to have a good laugh? So, let’s just go there. 

The question of the hour is this: do we actually fart more as we get older? And is all that extra unwanted gas harder to control? Sure seems that way, but is it actually true? Oh, come on, you know you’re curious.

Maybe you’ve heard the joke:

doctorA little old lady goes to the doctor and says, “I have this problem with gas, but it really doesn’t bother me too much. The farts never smell and are always silent. As a matter of fact, I’ve farted at least 20 times since I’ve been here, and I bet you didn’t even notice!”

The doctor says, “I see. Take these pills and come back next week.” The next week the lady goes back. “Doctor,” she says, “I don’t know what the you gave me, but now my farts – although still silent – stink terribly.”

The doctor says, “Good! Now that we’ve cleared up your sinuses, let’s work on your hearing.”

If you read my blog, you must know by now I have a wicked sense of humor. Besides, it’s kind of fun to talk about normal stuff that makes people squirm a bit – like my blog on snot or having to pee all the time as we get older. It brings everyone back to earth and we can all feel united.

I first tackled the subject of unwanted gas in a humorous article, Blast This Bloatiness, written for Hot Flash Daily.

Because, as I pointed out in the article, along with all the other goodies that menopause blesses us with is a bloated stomach that makes us look pregnant – except we’re too old for that. As a result, instead of patting our tummies, people give us puzzled looks while they discreetly try to figure out our age and determine if pregnancy is even a remote possibility.

Just one of the indignities of menopause! But menopause isn’t the only cause for more gas. Simply getting older does the trick too.

Yes, it’s true and give me a break. Don’t get hoity toity on me. If you’re older, you know what I’m talking about.

embarrass-faceAs we age, we have insane gas that can’t be blamed on the dog. Our gas with newfound super human powers would make a trucker blush. In addition to our newly acquired breaking the wind skills, we’re also blessed with the awesome ability to burp like a frat boy.

Bend down to pick something up or tie your shoe and look out! Climb stairs and amazingly you have enough gas stored to poot on each individual step. Lie on the floor at the  gym and lift your legs to exercise in a room full of people and prepare to die of embarrassment.

Not that flatulence and burping is a bad thing. In fact, it’s a normal, natural part of life and a sign that we’re healthy.

The National Institutes of Health tell us that the “average person passes intestinal gas 14 times a day.” How big is a single fart? According to one study, (oh, what fun being on that research team) a fart can range from the size of a bottle of nail polish for the daintiest of poots to a can of coke – the volume of a really big stinker.

Oh yes, that means you too are capable of producing a fart the size of a soda can. In fact, if you’re older, you can probably do better than that.

After all, the term “old fart” is around for good reason. Remember Golden Pond, when Ethel, played by Kathryn Hepburn, constantly calls her cantankerous old husband, Norman, played by Henry Fonda, “You old poop.”

I rest my case.

In case you’re wondering, there’s a logical reason why us older folk have more gas. Like everything else that slows down in our body, our digestion slows down too. That gives our intestinal bacteria more time to turn dinner into delightfully stinky gases that must be expelled at some point. On top of that, prescription drugs – like blood pressure medications and pain relievers – can also cause gas.

Worse yet, farts do not behave as discreetly as they used to when we were younger. As a result, there is a much higher potential for humiliation. This isn’t just your imagination – it’s a fact. As a medical expert succinctly said: “As we age, gas tends to build up in the lower colon before making a sometimes rapid and noisy escape,” says Karen Hall, MD, PhD, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Michigan who specializes in geriatrics and gastroenterology. I kid you not, that is an actual quote.

Oh, isn’t getting old fun sometimes? Once again, referencing Golden Pond, Norman is asked, “How does it feel to turn 80?” “Twice as bad as it did turning forty,” he answered wryly.

So, it turns out that none of this extra farting is our fault. We can’t help it. Which brings me to my next gripe. Why do men get to let ‘em rip and burp with no embarrassment whatsoever? Have you ever noticed that burps and farts are offered up by the opposite sex with a sense of pride, joy, and blissful relief?

embarrassed-womanWe women, on the other hand, are expected to try and hold back what feels like the Hindenburg ready to explode. When we understandably and inevitably fail at the attempt, etiquette dictates that we shamefully leave the room turning five shades of red, hoping desperately and unrealistically that somehow, someway anyone who happened to be nearby didn’t hear the deafening detonation.

Despite popular belief, studies show that men do not have more farts than women, so that’s no excuse for men being more public about it while we women die trying to hold it in.

And did you know that constantly holding in gas can cause medical issues for your colon? Farting is actually good for you. But don’t count on a thumbs up for good health if you’re a woman and accidentally poot in an elevator. Sneeze and you get a polite “bless you,” but let a woman fart in public and oh my!

A man, however, just chuckles and all is forgiven. Worse yet, boys, and even grown men, brag about it. They ponder serious, thought-provoking, and deep questions like who is the best master blaster or who can create the deadliest Dutch oven. I’m a woman, but as a wife and mother of two sons and grandmother to one boy, I know this prank well. While lying in bed with someone, you pull the covers over his or her head while simultaneously letting a booty bomb explode, trapping the foul smell, so the other person suffers immensely. The stinkier and louder the better. The male species thinks this activity is endlessly entertaining.

Can you feel my eyeballs rolling? Men have it way too easy.

For example, they also seem to have a scratch-whatever-itches free card. Men shrug their shoulders and proudly snicker while contentedly relieving their itches. They remind me of animals at the zoo who obviously don’t worry about scratching questionably appropriate places in front of big crowds.

But society dictates that we women do not scratch certain things in public. The problem is they itch in public. And as we age, we feel even itchier. But we women have two choices. Either we try to discreetly sneak in a scratch when no one is looking – and prepare for looks of disgust if caught – or just grin and bear it.

Which isn’t fair, but fine. Whatever. I got off a bit on the subject.

Back to unwanted gas. Another super annoying thing is that men never think their own farts stink. “It’s not that bad,” they say as they efficiently clear the room. I guess we women don’t think our gas stinks either, but that’s besides the point.

Well, I have some good news for you. Turns out they have stylish fart filtering underwear to help with this smelly problem. Yes, I’m dead serious. These are the valuable things we can learn on the Internet. Look it up for yourself if you don’t believe me. The underwear doesn’t come with a muffler but they supposedly reduce the smell.

But come on people. Wouldn’t it be much easier if we all just accepted that women fart too and that we all have more flatulence as we age?

Why can’t we be more like some cultures that not only approve of letting them fly in public, but actually seem to enjoy it? The Yanomami tribe, one of the aboriginal people of Venezuela, fart as a greeting. In ancient Rome, Emperor Claudius, passed a law giving the people liberty to “vent” at a banquet table any “distension occasioned by flatulence” after hearing about a modest person restraining from breaking wind and almost dying. Honest, I’m not making this stuff up!

With that in mind, I’m going to rebel right now and eat a humongous burrito, drink a couple of beers, and blissfully and unashamedly pretend I’m a man. I’ve duly warned my hubby so he can leave the room if he so desires. (Chicken!) OR, even better, maybe I’ll get really wild and run into an elevator full of people to do the deed and make the excellent point that we women have a right to fart too!

Yes, let’s start a movement to quit chastising farters – especially us women and older folk who can’t help it. Let’s all just give in and join the symphony! Are you with me? Toot, toot!

Images courtesy of (in order of appearance) iosphere, Graphics Mouse, and Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

A Spa Day at Home for Granddaughters

Since a lot of you will be spending extra time with your grandchildren over the holidays, why not create a special spa day with your granddaughters right at home?

We did this with a Barbie theme over the Thanksgiving week that the kids had off school. My granddaughters, ages 9 and 5,  along with my niece and their friend, both 10, loved it!

My two granddaughters, niece, and friend before the Barbie spa party began.

My two granddaughters, niece, and friend before the Barbie spa party began.

Another perk: This idea works well if you’re on a budget. Many of the party decorations we used were purchased at the dollar store.

I have to confess, their Daddy did most of the planning and shopping for the party. And yes, my son is an amazing father and a good sport!

He took the girls to the dollar store where they purchased $3 pink fluffy robes that were super soft and cozy, very pink paper plates, plastic silverware, and napkins, a table cloth, balloons, and some gift wrapping. We decorated the table with those items along with some pink roses and cookies my sister provided for the event and special cupcakes a mother of one of the guests kindly brought.

Most the decorations for the table came from the dollar store.

Most the decorations for the table came from the dollar store.

spa-party-cupcakes

Cookies and cupcakes my sister and a mother of one of the guests provided.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children and their father created a photo booth from a cardboard box. They decorated it with wrapping paper, pink napkins, and free online printables. We added a basket full of funny party glasses, feather boas, princess crowns, and plastic jewelry the kids already had in a costume drawer and viola! The girls were ready to start posing.

My niece posing in the Barbie photo booth.

My niece posing in the Barbie photo booth.

The fluffy pink robes purchased for only $3 at the dollar store.

The fluffy pink robes purchased for only $3 at the dollar store.

After taking their photos, the girls strutted down the runway in a fashion show.

Then it was off to the “spa” we created in the entryway with the pink robes, pink balloons tied with black ribbons, a foot spa machine, plenty of nail polish, a pink stool from the girl’s bedroom, and a couple of white fluffy towels.

We also put a Barbie styling head doll the girls already owned on a table so they could have fun putting makeup and styling Barbie’s hair while they waited for their turn. Daddy happens to be a great manicurist, so he did the honors.

 

The girls decked out in their pink robes.

The girls decked out in their pink robes.

spa-party-barbie-headspa-party-manicures

We played some fun upbeat music and let the beauty fest begin! I brought out some of my makeup and they had fun putting it on each other as well as styling each other’s hair.

They even did my makeup. Grandpa didn’t get a manicure, but he made the girls laugh with a 70’s style dance.

 

After the pampering, the girls ate pizza and then it was movie time.

We provided the girls with popcorn and pink lemonade with fancy straws and black ribbons tied around the glasses.

The popcorn holders were super simple to make. I bought a large white cardboard sheet and cut it into five pieces. Then I twisted each one and stapled them at the bottom. We used some more free printables for decoration and added the girls’ names. My granddaughters had fun helping me make them.

The girls watched (what else?) a Barbie movie. A good time was had by all. If you want to have a Barbie spa party, check out this site where I got some of my ideas. If you want, you could add facials, masks, shoulder massages with aromatherapy oils, or even learn about reflexology together and practice on your feet.

The best part is being able to spend some quality time with your granddaughters. So try it out. Create a luxurious spa day at home and enjoy!

spa-party-popcorn

Showing Gratitude Every Single Day

Today, in the U.S. and Canada, many people are celebrating Thanksgiving. Although it is considered a day designated for “giving thanks,” the focus seems to have shifted to eating copious amounts of turkey and stuffing, watching football games, Black Friday shopping, and enjoying time off work at large family gatherings.

What if we treated every day as an opportunity to give thanks?

What if we treated every day as an opportunity to give thanks?

Some are more serious about expressing thanks on this holiday, but, here’s the real question. Why is there only one day out of the year elected as time to be grateful and give thanks? What if we treated every day as an opportunity to give thanks?

I know a lot of us try to take time each day to be grateful. Nonetheless, it’s all too easy to get lost in our busy lives as the other 364 days of the year zip by in a blur. If we’re not careful, we’ll collapse into bed at the end of the day without a single utterance of thanks.

Why not strive to feel appreciative for at least one thing, one person, or one experience each and every day?

As I asked in a previous blog, Savor the Day, how many days do you only notice the negative, stressful events in your life? Why not start taking note of what went right during the day. Did your husband give you a loving kiss before he left for work? Did a friend give you a sincere compliment? Did you experience a small victory at work or a small gesture of support? Savor those moments, appreciate each one, and express your gratitude – yes, each and every day.

Be like Piglet in Winnie the Pooh, who A.A. Milne noted: “Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”

Make it a goal to take a moment every single day to tell your spouse, children, and grandchildren how thankful you are to have them in your life. Mentally make a list of your blessings before praying and thank God each and every day. Call a friend and tell them how fortunate you are to have their support and love. Thank strangers for an act of kindness – not the automatic way we often do without thought, feeling, or real meaning – but with genuineness and sincerity.

For the next 364 days of the year, stop and notice the beauty in simple, ordinary moments that make a day special. Use all your senses to enjoy the beauty of a sunset, the laugh of a child, a hug from a friend, the sound of a bird singing, the smells after a rainstorm, or that first sip of coffee in the morning. Write down three things you are grateful for every day in a gratitude journal.

Imagine if we made every day a day of giving thanks. We will shift our perspective, draw closer to God, deepen our relationships, improve our lives, and make the world a better place to live.

As Zig Ziglar said, “Of all the attitudes we can acquire, surely the attitude of gratitude is the most important and by far the most life changing.”

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.