Category Archives: Baby Boomer

Sleeping Like a Baby Boomer: Insane Insomnia

Maybe you baby boomers have seen the cartoon of a doctor telling a patient, “Insomnia is very common. Try not to lose any sleep over it.”

Ha,ha. I’m not laughing. Instead I’m begging for mercy from the sleep fairy.

Insomnia

During my worse insomnia laden nights, I’m an expert on infomercials. Just ask me anything about nose hair clippers, egg timers, chopper/shredders, and at-home laser hair removal.

When I give in to exhaustion and turn off the TV – even though I know exhaustion doesn’t equal sleep anymore – the minute my head hits the pillow, I start worrying about stupid stuff that seems downright silly in the light of day.

When I finally fall asleep, an hour later my eyes burst open and I’m wide awake, endlessly fascinated with the internal workings of my digital clock and checking to see if anyone else is miserable and awake like me on Facebook.

I’m not alone. Many baby boomers suffer from insomnia. Some have additional problems that mess with their sleep like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and fibromyalgia. Others find that the simple act of sleeping which they took for granted their whole lives just got a whole lot more complicated for no apparent reason.

Oh, remember the delightful days when we baby boomers actually chose to forego sleep? Partying into the wee hours, lacing our shoes for a brisk jog at dawn, or just talking all night on the phone with our best friend? Those were the days. Now that we desperately want to sleep, it’s nowhere to be found.

Which makes us that old stereotypical cranky person the next day. So, if you’re one of those people that still sleeps like a baby – you can just leave now. I’m extremely jealous and we’re not talking. And while I’m on the subject, a note to my hubby who falls asleep the minute his head hits the pillow: I love you, but you better purchase a suit of armor soon so I don’t smack you silly for blissfully sleeping while I’m subtracting how many hours of sleep I can get if I can just fall asleep NOW. My math skills are improving but I’m feeling awfully irritable. By the way, it’s absolutely true. The one who snores always goes to sleep first.

I first shared some of these thoughts about insomnia as a writer for Hot Flash Daily. Because I always slept like a baby until menopausal madness began. The worst part of menopause was not the hot flashes you hear about it all the time. For me, it was the insomnia.

Six years have passed and I’m officially post menopausal. The insomnia isn’t as constant but it still enjoys visiting me occasionally during tortuous nights. Because it turns out menopause isn’t the only cause for insomnia. Just getting older can do the trick as well.

According to a poll by National Sleep Foundation, older people were more likely to wake up a lot during the night. Wow, you needed a survey to come up with that conclusion?

Now that I think about it, I probably should go easier on hubby, Like many older men, he does have to get up in the middle of the night to pee now. Hee, hee. Sorry, but that does make me feel better. It’s true, misery enjoys company.

In addition, to making us insomniacs cranky the next day, the malady comes with many other blessings as well. Studies show that sleep problems contribute to weight gain. Geez, isn’t it bad enough that getting older and being post menopausal are making me fat? This I don’t need. Oh goody, guess I better run out and buy some more stretch pants.

And let’s not even talk about losing the ability to concentrate. Isn’t age making me forgetful enough? As a freelance writer who needs to think straight and meet deadlines…um, where, was I…? Let’s just say insomnia is not helpful to my career.

Worse yet, I read that people with chronic insomnia have an elevated risk of death. I’m visualizing death by insomnia on my tombstone. Could life be any crueler?

Oh, everyone has a solution for me. Don’t nap during the day. Go to bed at the same time each night. Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol before going to bed. Exercise regularly. Don’t you think I’ve already tried all that?

Sure, warm milk works for me – if it’s laced with Ambien.

Oh, I’ve read the horror stories of people having forgetful sex with the mailman down the street, eating a block of cheese, and driving to Vegas in their sleep after taking the drug. Which made taking my first Ambien extremely scary. Thankfully, I just slept. To my knowledge.

But since I only take Ambien on rare occasions because I don’t want to get addicted, this leaves me many loooooong nights as a sleepless sucker, forever grateful for my midnight hour friends, Netflix, Candy Crush, and Facebook.

If you’re like me and suffer from insomnia, please share your misery in the comments below. As I mentioned before, misery loves company. I’d love to hear all about it. If you don’t have insomnia, why are you still here? Oh, I’m just kidding. Please share your secrets to success. We insomniacs would love to know!

Image courtesy of debspoons at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

 

 

Baby Boomer Bliss Receives Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog Award

I’m so proud to announce that my blog, Baby Boomer Bliss, has just been selected by panelists as one of the top 75 baby boomer blogs on the worldwide web.

Top 75 BadgesI started this blog three years ago after discovering that younger baby boomers are statistically the unhappiest age group. I planned to write a book to help boomers find joy and inner peace during what can be a challenging time in life and thought this blog would be a good platform. As I pointed out in a previous blog, the irony is, although it’s in the works, I have yet to finish that book.

But I’m still blogging and loving it. As I’ve poured out my heart and shared some empowering lessons during my journey through my life, my blog has come to mean so much more to me.

My blog has given me wonderful creative freedom to express myself and write about my passions. Writing a blog provides a wonderful opportunity to touch the lives of other people in a positive way. Thanks to all of you who have let me know that I have in some small way inspired you or provided useful information. That always makes my day and brings me such joy.

But as anyone who has tried to blog knows, finding an audience is anything but easy. The competition is downright fierce. At times, especially in the beginning, I’ve been discouraged with the numbers. It’s so easy to become obsessed with how many visitors and subscribers you’ve had on any given day.  But ever so slowly, people are discovering my little blog and that feels very rewarding.

To be perfectly honest, I still haven’t discovered how to draw in those huge numbers or how to get rich from my blog. But the fact that Feedspot included Baby Boomer Bliss on their comprehensive list of best Baby Boomer blogs gave me much needed inspiration and encouragement.

Woman Celebrates LaptopThe blogs that made their list were not only ranked on search rankings and their popularity on social media sites but on the quality of the blogs based on their editorial team and expert review. As with all my writing, I aim for excellence and top quality articles, so I’m most proud of this fact. So I’ll be displaying my award proudly in my sidebar!

Because sometimes you have to toot your own horn in this business so WOO HOO! Taking a minute to pat myself on the back (pat, pat) and do a happy dance (wiggle, jiggle).

If you’d like, you can check out their entire list of top baby boomer blogs by clicking here. I’m familiar and proud to be included with many of these excellent blogs such as Next Avenue (who came in at number one), Baby Boomer Café (who I’ve written a few articles for in the past), Gypsy Nesters (who have left a few comments on my blog – and I love to live vicariously through them as they travel the world), and Grandma’s Brief (I’ve joined a few of her link parties to help publicize boomer blogs).

My blog came in at #57, but being the competitive person I am, I’d love to move up the list! I’m beyond grateful to all 28,000 of you who have visited my blog – especially those who have subscribed or taken time from your busy lives to leave comments. And thanks to all my Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest followers as well.

So stick with me and let’s see what the future brings!

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Baby Boomer Cat Michaels Shares Advice for Aspiring Children’s Authors

Do any of you baby boomers dream about becoming a children’s author? Whether you want to write a book for friends or family or make it a profession, baby boomer and author/blogger Cat Michaels is here to help.

Cat Author Photo 3After logging more than two decades supporting students from kindergarten to college with learning disabilities and Asperger’s syndrome, Cat began using her experience to write books for beginning and reluctant readers during retirement.

In my interview with Cat, she shares her wisdom and experience, along with some valuable links for aspiring authors. As a fellow author I can tell you –  her advice is spot on!

As a bonus for my readers, Cat is offering a free chapter download from her latest children’s book, Sweet T and the Turtle Team  (you can read my review of her book here).

Without further ado, here is her interview:

Did you always dream of becoming an author one day? 

I’ve been a reader and scribbler forever, Julie.  I penned my first story in fourth grade, a tale about two girls traveling in a wagon train across the old-timey American west. As a teen, I spilled angst and uncertainty in my journals.  As an adult, I churned out press releases, staff newsletters, and customer magazine articles for a high-tech firm.  Later, I was a writing coach at a community college who supported students with learning disabilities and Asperger’s.   

First Grade Author Q&AWhen did you decide to write specifically for children and why? 

The transition from dreaming to doing hit me three decades ago. I was wracking my brain to find birthday presents for my then-young nieces and nephews.  (We lived states away, so I wanted something special for long-distance bonding.)  I decided to pen kooky stories featuring the birthday child.  

The recent explosion of technology and self-publishing tools provided the nudge I needed. I dusted off a few family stories, and they led to my chapter books and Sweet T Tale series for early and reluctant readers.  I love the freedom and creativity of being an Indie author!

How do you bring back memories of what it feels like to be a child? 

Hmmmm.  It’s a combination of imagination, observation, and exploring what interests kids today.  I search through photos or flip through my journals to recall feelings of the past.  

But it’s not all about writing from memories.   

When I visit schools, I talk to kids and ask for feedback on my writing ideas.  Youngsters today aren’t that different from kids of the Boomer generation.  Both care about siblings, friends, family, school, pets, etc., BUT 21st-century kids have a slew of tech gadgets I never imagined growing up in an age of clunky black phones with wires (gasp!) and TVs looking like giant toasters <winking here>.   

What advice do you have for others who are older but want to write for children? 

WritingHArdWorkMemeThere’s an important distinction between writing for family and writing for a wide audience.  In the former, print on demand (POD) publishers, like Amazon’s Create Space and Lulu, provide low-cost ways to create lovely books for your immediate circle.   

Don’t fret if you aren’t comfortable composing on a computer. You can write your tale long hand and recruit a friend or family member to prepare what your POD publisher requires. (Hint: look for a tech-savvy Millennial!) 

And you needn’t be an illustrator, either.  You and your tech guru can incorporate family photographs, use illustrations drawn by your young artists, or find free and low-cost images or art online at places like Pixabay or Shutterstock.    

On the other hand, if your dream is to publish a book for readers beyond family, I won’t sugarcoat how hard it is to succeed in today’s competitive Kid Lit market.   

Not impossible.  But writing for children isn’t a walk-in-the-park, skipping-along, tra-la kind of fun.  It’s really hard work! 

BlogGraphic_Cat's Book QuadrantsBe ready for a huge learning curve on the long road it takes to establish yourself as a traditionally published or indie author. The Children’s Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is the perfect place to start.  This international professional organization offers helpful advice and tools, and you can meet other kid lit folk at regional conferences.  Most SCBWI chapters also have robust social media communities for ongoing conversation and support. 

I see you grimacing there behind your computer screen! 

Yep.  Today’s authors must have a social media presence PLUS establish authentic connections with readers months (often years) before any book launch.  Not just indie authors.  Agents tell me they will not even consider previously published authors unless writers have established websites and social media platforms. 

Best to start with a single platform where your readers hang out….perhaps Facebook, since that behemoth is where most people are. (btw… since kids under 13-years old shouldn’t be on social media or do financial transactions, I look for platforms reaching those who purchase books for children, like parents, teachers, librarians, grandparents, etc.)   

It was overwhelming at first.  I had nothing, – zero, zip, nada – when I started.   

I slowly assembled an author website and Facebook page. Because I love tech, I taught myself how to create these things.  Many authors recruit family members or hire someone from the huge cottage industry, like Upwork or Fiverr  that supports writers.  (Caveat: please be sure anyone you hire is legit, and you get the quality you pay for.  It shouldn’t cost a fortune, either.)  

The good news: my fourth book was way easier to launch than my first because of what I learned in 48 months AND the amazing support from writers and readers I’ve met along the way.  (In fact, Julie was one of my first cyber pals.  We connected through an author-networking event in LinkedIn. I was so impressed with her warm introduction that I reached out to “talk” more, and we’ve been cyberpals ever since!) 

So, be prepared for a long haul as a children’s author.  But that’s the norm.  You’ll get there!  And please add me as one of your kid lit writerly connections on your journey <waving at you here>. 

What inspired you to help students with learning disabilities from kindergarten to college for more than two decades and how was this integrated in your current book?  

I come from a family of three generations of educators, so helping others learn is baked into my DNA. 

I watched children and adults with learning challenges work twice as hard to succeed. They were ostracized for being perceived as slow.  Bullied for riding the ‘short’ bus to school or getting lost on the way to class.  The intelligence is there, but quirky wiring in their brain frustrates and trips them up.  

I admire this determination and want to make learning easier (maybe even fun!) for all kids.  For example, my young protagonist, Sweet T, is on a mission to protect fragile sea turtle nests in Sweet T and the Turtle Team, and she  befriends Billy, a boy with a secret.  T can’t figure out why he’s nice one moment and grumpy the next.  She’s also puzzled when he refuses to read the Turtle Team Guide and help her monitor sea turtle nests Can’t say more — S*P*O*I*L*E*R*S. (If you’d like to preview my book and watch a video trailer on my website, I bet you’ll guess Billy’s secret, too!)

How can boomers who want to write incorporate life experiences in their writing? 

It’s all about writing what you know and what you love, and then looking for that golden intersection where your interests sync up with your readers’.  What do they want to know about? Be entertained by?  How can you bring your experience and passion to the page in a way that captivates your audience?   

For instance, I grew up along coastal Connecticut and love the ocean. Each of my books contains elements plucked from childhood or interaction with wee ones: magical aquariums, the illness of a beloved grandparent, or beachy settings featuring skimboards and sea turtles.  My characters are also a mash up designed for today’s Gen-1 reader, so it’s a mingling of past and present. 

At what age did you publish your first book? 

I published my first book in 2013, leaving the 9-5 grind after more than two decades to become an authorprenuer.  To be honest, Julie, I stopped counting birthdays long ago.  My neighbor turned 49 a while ago.  We both liked that age and decided to hang out there for a spell <chuckling here>.  

What advice would you give other boomers who want to achieve their goals and dreams? 

Ah, this calls for a proper think and soul searching.  How much time and capitol do you want to invest in your dream?  Is it a hobby?  More of a re-careering to generate income?   

Whatever direction you decide, do your research and take baby steps testing the new path, but never go it alone.   

You need friends and family to support you. When you run into roadblocks or want to get better at your new craft, it’s beyond helpful to have others walking with you.  Plus, there’s great joy when you pay it forward to those coming behind.  

It comes down to getting out of your comfort zone and stretching your wings.  Mercy, I laugh now, but I was terrified posting my first blog!  Scared nobody would read it. Scared somebody would read it.  Scared I embarrassed myself.   There’s nothing like the rush knowing you accomplished something that once felt impossible! 

And remember: it’s okay to walk away if you discover different dreams.  Just make sure you have fun along the way and go after them! 

*If you’d like to learn more about Cat, you can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

 

Baby Boomer Parenting – Did We Have it Easier Back in the Day?

I’m a Grandma of three – soon to be four. Like many baby boomers, I’m amazed at how raising children has changed so drastically over the years.

Oh, how I wish we had some of the modern conveniences like iPads that keep children so pleasantly quiet at restaurants and rides in cars with endless games and access to Netflix? After lugging Gameboys with all the games and heavy batteries during our trip to Europe in the early 80s so the kids would be entertained on trains, I’m jealous.

Still, the question begs to be answered. Is it easier or harder these days to raise kids?

Let’s compare.

My boys playing with the filthy pigeons in Venice in the 80s. Did I worry about all the diseases these birds can carry? Good or bad - the answer is: heck no!

My boys playing with the filthy pigeons in Venice in the 80s. Did I worry about all the diseases these birds can carry? Good or bad –
the answer is: heck no!

Meals Were Not As Complicated

Feeding our kids sure seemed simpler. Back in the day, we baby boomers didn’t cater to picky eaters with a kitchen that resembled a 24/7 restaurant devoted to each child’s preference. We didn’t spend endless hours trying to convince our kids to eat foods they may not like. In fact, if our kids didn’t like what we served up, too bad. They ate every bite thinking of those starving kids in Africa and said thank-you after finishing. If not, they could just go to their rooms and be hungry! No child ever starved to my knowledge.

We didn’t spend each waking moment worrying if our food was gluten-free or organic. We blissfully poured Lucky Charms into our kids’ bowls before “sugar” was a nasty word. We nuked TV dinners in our avocado green and harvest gold kitchens and packed their little metal lunchboxes full of Twinkies. If we worried at all about our kids getting enough nutrition, we popped a Flintstones vitamin into their mouths full of glucose syrup and color additives. Somehow our kids survived.

Mom JuicingSome parents today agree that in many ways baby boomers had it easier raising kids. Writer Erica June wrote in her article published by HuffPost, “How Parents in the ‘70s And ‘80s Had It Made:”

“Nowadays, moms know too much. We have to grind our own flax seeds, make our own organic vegetable purees and grow our own lettuce in order to avoid diseases, mutant strains of listeria and arteries so coated with hydrogenated oils that you could bobsled in them. Reading labels and learning all the different words that mean ‘genetically altered corn and soy’ is a full time job in itself.”

The stressed out mom and author of the book Toddlers Are A**holes: It’s Not Your Fault, Bunmi Laditan, took to Facebook to vent her frustrations. “Being a modern parent is terrible,” she wrote. “I’d give my left kneecap to have parented in the 70s or 80s when all you had to do to be considered a good mom is to remember to wind down the windows when you smoke in the car. I’m not cut out for this. Do you know what I’ve been doing this morning? VITAMIN SHOPPING. For 45 minutes I’ve been comparing children’s vitamins, reading online reviews, and, inflammatory blog posts backed by no science that I both fear and respect.”

She also wrote about the fearsome and judgmental attitude these days about parenting. “I’ve seen the way some parents look at me when I give my son a juice box at the park. It’s juice, not Red Bull or margarita mix so calm down.”

Her Facebook post went viral so apparently a lot of parents today can relate. She makes a good point. I mean, God forbid you spank a child in public or even yell at your children at the grocery store these days. Big Brother might report you.

Modern Conveniences and Technology – Good or Bad?

Yes, modern conveniences are nice. But has it gone too far? I watch young Moms hoisting their industrial-sized car seats and hauling strollers the size of golf carts around. Their homes are so full of ginormous high chairs, exersaucers, gliders, pack and plays, bouncy seats, and God knows what else, they can hardly move around. Their houses are full of ‘stuff’ while their wallets are empty.

StrollerWe baby boomers were happy with rickety but light car seats that doubled as carriers – before we knew of the dangers – and simple wooden highchairs did the trick. I bought my kids’ play clothes and toys at garage sales.

If we were really lucky we had one of those doorway jumpers. As June noted in her article: “The contraption girded up the baby’s crotch…induced bowlegged-ness and sterility, but it was unobtrusive. As long as no one forgot the baby was dangling there and decided to slam the door, that thing was world class.”

And yes, iPads, Smart phones, and computers are helpful – but just try and get kids off of them for two minutes. Then, there’s all the worries and concerns about the dangers of the Internet, social media, and child predators.

Catering to Children

Back in the day, we didn’t waste endless hours arguing with our children. “The look” did the trick most the time. If that didn’t work, we waved a wooden spoon in front of their faces. Today, parents seems to hang on every word their children utter while striving to accommodate their every wish.

Play dates? What was that? If our kids needed to find a playmate we sent them out into the neighborhood to see who was home. Of course, we reminded them that when the street lights came on to be sure and come home for dinner. Today, anxious Moms and Dads have these complicated, color-coated calendars on their iPhones that would confuse a rocket scientist chuck full of sport practices, music lessons, play dates, and private tutors.

Germs? Who cared? Our babies happily crawled and thrived in dusty shag carpets which were impossible to vacuum so the five-inch long strands were simply raked. Our kids would come home full of germs from playing in the mud digging for worms, but we didn’t blink an eye. If food dropped on the floor – hey, haven’t you heard about the five-second – or maybe even the five-day rule? We knew our kids would live to see another day and besides all those germs would build up their immune system.

Nowadays, germ-phobic parents bathe their kids in hand sanitizer. Everyone must take their shoes off when they enter the house. Shopping cart covers are suddenly a necessity. One cough in an enclosed room and mothers are ready to hook up their kid to an IV filled with the latest vitamins and supplements.

Did Baby Boomers Have it Easier Child-Rearing?

We certainly didn’t have to worry about school shootings back in the day. So maybe parents these days have a right to be more stressed. But, as I watch today’s anxious, striving-to-be-perfect parents, I want to tell them to loosen up a little.

I’m not alone. A self-confessed neurotic mother, Jancee Dunn, wrote in a Parents article that her mother tried to convince her to relax and enjoy the short period of parenthood that passes by way too fast. At first Jancee was a bit sarcastic. “Certainly, I had survived my mother’s more laissez-faire style of 1970s parenting,” she wrote. “Her idea of being protective was to throw her arm across me when we roared to a stop in the car, which would have been slightly more effective if I had been in the backseat or wearing a seat belt. But I have to give her credit: at least she glanced over to make sure the lighted cigarette she was holding didn’t set my hair on fire.”

But then she was forced to admit: “Still, my mother was right. There’s a fine line between vigilant and nuts, between besotted and berserk.”

Okay, okay. So we could have been a bit more vigilant in the day. By the way, not all us baby boomer parents smoked despite what the Millennials observe on Mad Men. I certainly didn’t! On the other hand, I do think young parents today can relax a bit.

But back to the question – easier or harder to raise children today? In the end, perhaps we can agree that raising children isn’t easy, no matter the decade.

We baby boomers certainly didn’t do everything right. Spam, really? Just because it was FDA approved didn’t mean it was actually meant to be consumed. And thank-goodness quality car seats and helmets make the world safer for our grandchildren.

But in a lot of ways, it was simpler to raise children back in the day. I sure worried a lot less and my two sons grew up just fine. So, I would say to you young parents, go easier on yourself. Quit trying to make your children’s lives perfect. They are going to be okay and so are you.

So, what are your thoughts on this issue? Was it easier to raise children as baby boomers? What lessons can we boomers share with the younger generation? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Images courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat and Vlado at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

 

 

Baby Boomer Cat Michaels Releases New Children’s Book

One fun thing about blogging is the awesome people you meet along the way. I connected with fellow baby boomer and children’s author, Cat Michaels, on LinkedIn and we’ve been cyber buddies ever since.

Cat Author Photo 3I love her story. Cat earned her master’s degree in special education and went on to support students with learning disabilities and Asperger’s Syndrome from kindergarten to college for more than two decades. Living in lovely North Carolina, she now uses her knowledge and skills to write chapter books for early and reluctant readers. Her books encourage children to use their imagination and solve kid-sized dilemmas with a twist of magic and mischief.

In a future blog, I’ll be interviewing Cat about living out her dreams as a children’s author later in life.

For now, I’m so excited to announce the release of her latest book, Sweet T and the Turtle Team, this month. If you have grandchildren, this delightful book is aimed at children ages 6 to 11. The book is available for pre-order now.

Sweet T and the Turtle Team is the third book of the Sweet T Tale Series. With a glossary, comprehension quiz, sea turtle hatch photo gallery, and discussion questions, the book delivers a powerful message about protecting marine life while helping readers empathize with children who struggle to read.

In celebration of the release of this book written by Cat and beautifully illustrated by Irene A. Johns, I am pleased to be part of a blog tour coordinated by BeachBoundBooks. The tour runs from July 12 to August 9, 2017.

Cat's Book Cover with Blog Dates

Curious for a glimpse of the book? Here’s a quick summary and a peek inside:

It’s nesting season for loggerhead sea turtles on North Carolina’s Gull Island. Nine-year-old Tara (or Sweet T as her family calls her) is determined to see hatchlings make it safely from their nests to their ocean home.

Summering on Gull Island with Great Aunt Mae could be tons of fun, but T is having a hard time making new friends, let alone finding kids to help monitor a sea turtle nest. A lonely Tara finally befriends Billy, a moody island child with a secret, but he stomps away when she asks him to join her in saving baby sea turtles.

When a tropical storm threatens the island, just as the sea turtle nest is ready to hatch, T is forced to abandon the nest and seek shelter.

Will Sweet T stay safe in the storm? Will the sea turtles survive the angry ocean waves? And what’s up with Billy anyway? Will he ever reveal his secret? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Cat Michaels Sample Page

I was pleased to be sent a review copy of Cat’s book. A story about saving sea turtles caught my eye right away since I’ve scuba dived with these magical creatures and immediately fell in love with them.

When you add in the combination of a tranquil island setting, the gentle message about empathy and compassion, all the enchanting illustrations, along with the clever inclusion of modern technology such as texting and iPads that kids will relate to – I was an instant fan.

The book will be released tomorrow, July 21, 2017, and is available today for pre-order at Amazon or iTunes. You can visit Cat’s blog to learn more about her and other books she has published.

Baby Boomers Downsizing: Millennial Children Don’t Want Family Heirlooms

Whether we’ve become empty nesters or are following the latest trend of decluttering, many of us baby boomers are downsizing.

SlidesThat means less space for all those sentimental family heirlooms passed down through the generations and stuff we’ve carefully collected over our lifetime. We may assume our children will be thrilled when we give them our most prized possessions.

Think again. Turns out the Millennials aren’t so hip on family heirlooms. Maybe this is what they mean by generation gap these days.

Do our children want all those photo albums we gingerly created over the years? Nah, our kids don’t know half the people in them anyway. You’re likely to get a request to scan the important photos and email them. And who uses photo albums anymore? Our grown-up children are busy capturing their own life moments digitally through Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

That gorgeous formal dining room set and china passed down through the generations? Where would our kids put it? Besides, Millennials entertain much less formally than we did back in the day. They prefer a more minimal lifestyle instead of the fussy, bulky, and formal furnishings we grew up on. You may very well get a polite no thank-you.

How about all those old report cards, trophies, and artwork you carefully tucked away for your children? All those sweet homemade cards they lovingly made for you? Surely, they’ll want their own sentimental treasures. Not so much. It seems Millennials aren’t as nostalgic as us boomers.

Odds are our grown children are following the current trend to live minimally themselves and don’t own a home with an attic or basement to store stuff. They may travel or move a lot.

Several articles have been written lately regarding this phenomenon and the resulting clash between the generations.

Should this cause hurt feelings on our part? Should we try laying a little guilt to knock some sense into our children’s heads? “This means so much to me.” “I paid a lot of money for this.” “This is part of our family history.”

Heck no! There’s a fine line between bestow and burden. I say we should listen to and respect our children’s wishes. Furthermore, we should be proud of them.

Our grown-up children refuse to be defined by their possessions. Isn’t that a good thing? Didn’t we snub our noses during the 60’s at people for being too attached to material possessions? Our children have become independent adults now, making their own decisions and creating their own lifestyle – not copying ours. Isn’t that what we raised them to do?

So what should baby boomers do with all our heirlooms and possessions?

Save those items that you can’t bear to lose. Use your china everyday instead of storing it. But don’t hang on to items year after year because you can’t bother to sort through your belongings.

Remember, all those heirlooms and possessions served their practical purpose. You used and enjoyed them through the years. If you think these things are still useful, sell or donate them to someone who really wants and will appreciate them.

With love in their hearts, your children made homemade gifts and cards for you. You relished them through the years and the gifts brought you joy. The gift-giving cycles is now complete. Keep a few items and let the rest go.

Whatever you do, don’t force your children to deal with all the clutter after you’ve passed away. Do your children a favor and have an honest discussion. Allow your children to take items they truly love and that work for their lifestyle.

Then go through the sorting process now while you’re still healthy. And take heart. Your children don’t need that ancient massive armoire to remember you fondly and keep you in their heart.

Image courtesy of varandah at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. 

 

 

 

 

A Baby Boomer Turns to Quirky, Dark Humor to Heal

“There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt,” Erma Bombeck wrote.

richard bell photoAuthor Richard Bell is proof of that as evidenced in his quirky book full of dark humor, Life Seemed Good, But…

Take his story about a huge mutant potato named Spud who takes over a man’s life, controlling all his thoughts and actions. Growing in the backyard, he demands to be fertilized and watered for hours at a time and to be addressed as “King Potato-Pants.”

The man loses his job and has to beg money from family and friends. He is instructed to install a widescreen TV on the side of the house so the mutant potato can learn more about humans with the ultimate goal of world domination.

King Potato Pants watches TV constantly with inquisitive eyes poking up through the ground. Daytime talk shows are his favorites. One summer, to the man’s dismay, Spud lifts himself free of the ground and walks unsteadily on his giant root feet. The man tries to call 911, but the potato punishes every hint of rebellion with severe headaches followed by an irrational urge to move to Alaska.

King Potato-Pants begins a path of destruction through several counties. No one dares to get close enough to read him his rights or thump him to see how ripe he is. While attempting to conquer the world, the mutant potato suddenly dies. The cause is unknown. Was it germs, pollution, or potato bugs? Or perhaps more likely, was he slowly poisoned by television from which his mind had no natural immunity?

PotatoAt any rate, the alien-like potato is cut up and made into chips and fries and sold to distribution centers across the country.

“Unfortunately, Spud got his final revenge. Everyone who ate of him turned into a permanent couch potato with an overwhelming appetite for daytime talk shows,” Richard writes in his humorously clever book.

I only quoted part of this quirky short story. You would have to read the fable in its entirety to appreciate Rich’s imaginative, funny, and insightful tale more fully. The short story is just one of many in his book that sprung from a dark place in Richard’s life. In fact, be forewarned. Spud is one of the more light-hearted characters in this book.

“You’re never too old to try to follow your dream, but make sure your dream is somewhat realistic,” says Richard. “Just because you wish upon a star doesn’t mean the star can hear you.”

Sage advice coming from a baby boomer who learned some tough lessons later in life. After searching for decades to find his true love, Richard finally married for the first time when he was almost 40. Happy at last, life suddenly took some strange and sad twists.

The mortgage company where Richard and his wife, Lorianne, worked began to downsize and they both lost their jobs. But that was nothing compared to the next blow that was delivered when the couple discovered Lorianne had leukemia. The thought of losing his wife after waiting so long to find her was terrifying.

Richard relied on his faith in God and turned to a lifelong love of writing and a warped, dark sense of humor to relieve some of the pain.

“I wrote a little story about a cow and a tiger and a rabbit, where the cow liked to eat rabbits,” Richard says. “All my stories are a bit on the tragic side. Only years later did I realize my first story was not as funny as I supposed, but rather was my mind’s way of relieving some of my stress without falling apart. It was mostly successful in that regard.”

More stories poured out of Richard’s soul as his wife almost died twice from chemo-caused pneumonia. If some of his stories seem outright mean and sad, Rich explains that cancer does that to a person. “I don’t know if it’s worse to have cancer or watch a loved one have it,” he says.

Nonetheless, his bizarre and colorful stories are also funny at the same time. “I also like to make people laugh,” says Richard, who describes himself as an average eccentric recluse with a warped sense of humor. “It’s just my personality.

To support them, Richard was forced to take on temp jobs to pay the bills in between unemployment. Influenced by some of his favorite comics like Jonathan Winters and Bob Hope, Richard continued writing short stories for his own therapy and amusement.

When he was almost 50, Richard saw a magazine, Wassup Local, with an ad looking for writers. As a lark, he answered the ad. The editor was impressed with his stories and Richard began writing a monthly column entitled Modern Fables.

life seemed good but cover artEventually, the collection of short stories evolved into his book, “Life Seemed Good, But… “I was originally going to title the book ‘Stupid Stories for Depressed People,’” Richard jokes. “But since I’m not a doctor or therapist, I didn’t want to be sued if someone read the book and then got worse.”

A percentage of the sales from his book are donated to cancer research.

Bizarre characters pop up in Richard’s humorous stories like the mutant potato I mentioned, a smelly and bald porcupine, and a mean clown.

But if you dig deeper, you’ll find the stories are based on Richard’s life experiences, frustrations, and fears. The fables, some of which are interrelated, include hidden life lessons, trivia references – and even allusions to song lyrics by Paul Simon and Frank Zappa along with a bit of Shakespeare thrown in.

Despite the cover art, Richard warns that this book is not meant for young children. This is a book of quirky and sometimes dark humor filled with deeper meaning.

For example, a short story entitled, “Laugh, Clown!” is an allegory for finding one’s identity during youth. “I was not a popular kid and never socialized well,” Richard admits. “School was like going to hell.” “Revenge” is about the temptations that come with freedom as a young adult. “Bed-Bears” represents a child’s fear of losing his parents which is followed by the story, “Going to the Airport” which symbolizes the fear of losing one’s self.

In another story, “Making New Friends,” a balloon thinks she’s a giraffe and is named after the Kayan tribe with women who elongate their necks. Aluminum foil which appears in several of Richard’s stories represents wishful thinking for a better life.

“Just think, if you buy my little eBook, you are in essence getting my life story for around four bucks, which is pretty cheap for a life nowadays,” Richard jokes. “And yet I am pretty sure that you will see some of your life in here as well.” A paperback edition is available as well.

Since the stories helped Richard deal with the enormous stress he was under, he hopes his quirky humor can help others in similar situations. “Sometimes humor is a healthy outlet when you feel that life’s problems are crushing you,” he says. “If life seems crazy, a short story that is even crazier helps bring one back down to earth and give perspective.”

Thankfully, Richard’s personal story has a happy ending. Lorraine recovered and is now in remission. Although Richard had difficulty finding another full time job for over a decade, he now has a career he loves, preparing class materials and exams at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science.

His advice for other baby boomers who may be hitting some bumps in the road?

“Do something to brighten your little corner of the world and stay away from people who are negative,” he advises.

“If you’re going to write, keep editing until you have exactly what you want no matter how long it takes,” he continues. “Sometimes an idea will present itself from out of nowhere. Be open to these. Keep writing, if only for yourself. I wrote mainly to make myself laugh and if others find it funny also, more power to them!”

Good advise from a guy who writes in the “About the Author” section of his book: “He has not won any awards but used to be fairly good at table tennis.”

One more prudent piece of advice, as part of Richard’s words of wisdom from a turtle at the end of his book: “Always keep your mouth closed when cleaning the toilet.”

To purchase a copy of Richard’s book, click here.

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Technology Leaves Baby Boomers’ Groovy Talents Behind

As a teen, I could play a mean game of pong. My handwriting was absolutely gorgeous and I wrote the best letters. I drove my Pinto with a stick shift like a pro. No one was faster at shorthand than me in high school.

Is writing letters an obsolete talent?

Is writing letters an obsolete talent?

I perfected licking stamps without swallowing them, surviving while riding a bike without a helmet, providing loving care for my pet rock, and finding a book at the library using a card catalog and the decimal system.

Cradling a phone for hours in the crook of my neck while I talked to friends? No problem. I created beautiful photo albums that included funny sayings I carefully cut out of magazines. I used a Polaroid camera, picked the right film, and reduced exposure time like an expert.

Forget Quicken, spellcheck, and a calculator. I balanced a checkbook beautifully in minutes, my spelling was impeccable, and I made change from cash in my head.

Alas, all these talents have gone to waste. Technology has sadly left me in the dust.

I’m not alone in grieving discarded past skills no longer needed. In Michael’s Kaplan’s article, Technology is Making Baby Boomers Total Losers published in the New York Post, he laments the invention of Telsa cars.

“A few weeks ago, I rode in a friend’s Tesla…my pal couldn’t wait to show me the sedan’s most mind-blowing feature: It parallel parks by itself — perfectly,” Kaplan writes. “I feigned amazement, but thought something else: This is one more skill of mine that has just become obsolete. I’m a below-average driver but an awesome parallel parker…Grown men stand curbside and marvel over my bumper-to-bumper artistry.”

He goes on to list other talents we boomers had that are no longer needed such as reading a map or remembering phone numbers. Oh, I hear you, Kaplan!

Remember sewing classes in Home-Ec ? I painfully learned how to make my own clothes pricking my fingers with those stupid sewing pins. And for what? Suddenly, it became cheaper to buy clothes than make your own. Who makes dresses from patterns, mends their clothes, or sews on a button anymore?

Have all my secretarial talents gone to waste?

Have all my secretarial talents gone to waste?

During my first job as a secretary at a bank, I developed an uncanny skill for using carbon copies (by the way, youngsters, where do you think the initials CC comes from when you send an email – yes, from this archaic tool) without making a smudgy mess. I also used typewriter erasers without tearing the paper.

And get this –  most impressive of all – I could paint precisely with whiteout to fix a typo, let it dry the exact right amount of time, and then realign the paper perfectly so the type was not too high or too low. It was genius!

All useless.

I made the cutest paper dolls from the Montgomery Ward catalog. My embroidered cutoffs and artful doodles of Snoopy on my Pee Chee folder made my schoolmates pee green with envy. I could skip a song on an album by picking up the needle and placing it at the exact spot of my favorite song without scratching the vinyl.

No one cares.

Doesn’t it make you yearn for public pay phones, grinding gears, and the sound of a dial up modem? Adjusting rabbit ears? Cleaning the head of a VCR? Lining up paper on a dot matrix paper? Fixing an 8-track by putting Vaseline on a Q-tip to lubricate the rubber wheel? Floppy disks?

Well, maybe not. But we can still mourn for all our awesome skills that are now useless. And who knows?

Maybe you’ll be in an old Jeep driving alongside a cliff when the driver has a heart attack. Yeah, and you must jump on his lap and take over before you plunge hundreds of feet below. I mean, you just never know. Good thing you know how to drive a stick shift!

Perhaps our expired skills aren’t so useless after all!

Images courtesy of Pixomar and Praisaeng at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Baby Boomer Bucket List Travel Destinations

Do you have a bucket list? What’s on it? Does it include an exotic travel destination?

TravelIt’s no secret that I love to travel, so a new survey from AARP that lists baby boomers choices for top bucket list travel destinations caught my eye.

Interestingly, it turns out that only about half of baby boomers even have a bucket list. In fact, Millennials and Generation Xers are more likely to have a bucket list than us boomers.

That was surprising, but maybe that’s because we boomers are getting older and the term “bucket list” conjures up the phrase “kicking the bucket.” Bucket lists seem to be made with the idea that death is just around the corner so we better hurry to check off the boxes on our list. Like the movie, The Bucket List, with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, about two terminally ill men on a road trip checking off a list of must-dos before they die. Was anyone else depressed by this movie?

However, bucket lists don’t have to be about dying, evidenced by the fact that younger people keep a bucket list more often than us older folk. A bucket list can inspire us to make the most of life and motivate us to experience new things. It can be a chance to write down our dreams to help remember what’s important to us. A way to bring more excitement and fulfillment to our lives. According to the survey, those baby boomers who had bucket lists said it also gives them something to look forward to which is always a good thing.

So let’s get back to that AARP survey. Are you curious what made the list of top travel destinations? Where do you dream about visiting? Does it agree with the survey’s findings?

According to the survey from AARP, half of boomers have domestic destinations on their bucket lists while the other half lists domestic locations.

Hawaii tops the list for a dream domestic destination followed by Alaska, California, Arizona, and Nevada. The top international destinations are Australia, followed by Italy, the United Kingdom/Ireland, France, and the Caribbean.

About 12,000 baby boomers were included in the survey.

Some other interesting findings:

  • On average, of those boomers who had travel bucket lists, they have already completed 25% of their trips. I like that! No time like the present.
  • Although only 11% of the trips have been booked, meaning boomers are still in the planning phase, almost 69% of boomers are optimistic their next bucket list trip will happen – most say within the next two to five years. Only 3% of boomers say their list is simply for dreaming.
  • Although many boomers continue to indicate a desire to travel more in 2017 than they did in 2016, a handful of barriers remain in the way; cost (43%), health (34%), and security concerns (28%) top the list.
  • That being said, 99% of boomers said they will take at least one leisure trip in 2017, with an average of five or more trips expected throughout the year. Most (51%) expect to only travel domestically, but a significant portion are hoping to travel both domestically and internationally (43%).
  • For boomers, bucket list trips are the most popular motivation for an international trip, while domestic trips are a combination of summer vacations, multi-generational trips, weekend getaways, and holiday travel.
  • Most boomers are looking for a laid back and relaxing trip to give them the opportunity to spend quality time with friends and family.
  • Boomers enjoy dreaming about the trip almost as much as experiencing the trip itself. Part of the fun is planning!

If you’re interested in learning more about baby boomer travel trends, you can check out a past blog I wrote on this subject.

Where do I want to travel? While I don’t have a written bucket list, I do dream a lot about seeing the world. Although I’m not traveling as much as I’d like these days, in the past I’ve been lucky enough to visit most of the top places listed on the survey. For inquiring minds, Africa (which came in 6th on the survey) and sailing the Caribbean (number 5) are my top picks.

So, where do you want to visit? What’s your top three picks for domestic and international destinations and why? Please share in the comments below!

Image courtesy of digital art at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ten Ways to Manage Baby Boomer Back Pain

As a famous Aunty Acid cartoon says: “It’s bad news when you get to the age where your back goes out more than you do.”

Back PainThat’s for sure. Fortunately, I haven’t had a lot of back issues during my lifetime, but recently that’s changed. My lower back pain has become chronic and can’t be ignored any longer.

Of course, I’m far from alone. According to statistics, four-fifths of Americans have back pain.

My back problems probably have something to do with my age. But I don’t want to accept that. Isn’t it cooler to think my lower back hurts because of my vicious racquetball games with hubby? Yeah, that’s it! (I swear, old age creeps up on you like underwear.)

If you’re in the same boat, what should you do?

According to research, people who don’t pursue extreme treatment have fewer complications. So before you rush out to get an MRI or x-ray, ask for epidural or cortisone shots, start popping pain pills, or thinking about surgery, try the following recommendations:

Be Patient

At this point, I’m not hopeful my back pain will resolve itself without taking some kind of action and I’m not very good at being patient. However, according to Prevention’s website, as many as 90% of back-pain episodes resolve within six weeks, whether they’re the result of an injury or due to a structural or nerve problem. It doesn’t hurt to give it some time to see if the back pain gets better on its own.

Use Anti-inflammatory Drugs

Oh, I hate to admit it, but me and hubby are both popping Aleve pills like Pez candy lately. We keep a huge bottle in our nightstand. But the fact is, ibuprofen (such as Motrin or Advil) or a naproxen (like Aleve) can help ease the pain. Research shows these types of drugs usually give you better relief than acetaminophen (Tylenol). The downside: Over long periods, NSAIDs can cause gastrointestinal problems, so don’t take them for more than 10 days without consulting your doctor.

Stay Active

You may just want to give in to the pain and lie down, but the general advice is to keep moving. Studies show that people with short-term low-back pain who use bed rest to try and solve the problem may feel even more pain. Simple, low-impact exercises like walking, cycling, and swimming can be helpful. If you sit for long periods of time at a desk like me, experts suggest getting up every 20 minutes or so to walk around and stretch a bit. I just started trying some exercises I found on Mayo Clinic’s website to help gently stretch and strengthen my back and supporting muscles. I’ll let you know if it helps.

Improve Your Posture

Research shows that most people with poor posture put unnecessary strain on their backs. That means no slumping at your desk (guilty as charged) which makes it harder for your back to support your weight. Makes sense. I should have listened to my mother when she told me to stand up straight. Never too late to change, right? Also, be careful of your posture when lifting heavy objects. Never bend over from the waist. Instead, bend and straighten from the knees.

Use Ice and Heating Pads

You probably already know this, but it’s a good reminder. If your back hurts due to an injury or strain, use ice the first 48 hours for 20 minute sessions several times a day. This can reduce swelling and relieve pain. Then switch to 20 minutes with a heating pad which loosens tight muscles and increases circulation.

Focus On Your Feet

This was interesting to me. Women whose feet roll inward when they walk might be particularly susceptible to lower-back pain, according to a recent study in the journal Rheumatology. Inserts may help if this is a problem. Hey, honey, watch me walk. Am I strolling a bit wonky?

Get a Massage

See, it’s not all bad news. You now have a great excuse to get that relaxing massage. One study showed that people who had regular messages had substantially less pain and disability after 10 weeks. Osteopathic and chiropractic therapies have been shown to work too.

Try Acupuncture

I’m a bit of a scaredy-cat about the needles, but studies have shown many patients with low back pain found more pain relief with acupuncture than those receiving conventional care. I’ve heard from several people that this can help. Maybe one day I’ll get desperate enough to brave the needles!

Watch Your Weight

Oh, it had to be said. We all know it’s true. Being overweight puts excess stress on your spine and joints. So, try and keep your weight within a healthy range for your age and height. Okay, lecture over.

Stay Calm

Back pain becomes worse if you start stressing about it. Accept that you have pain and try taking some of the steps I’ve outlined above to help manage it. Deep breathing may help calm you. Resist delving into a sea of negativity and hopelessness. To make the pain more tolerable, try doing three things that make you feel good each day. In other words, find a bit of baby boomer bliss! Enjoy a soothing cup of tea or coffee, write in a journal, call an old friend, or enjoy a candlelit bath.

And take some comfort from a quote I saw from Joe Morgan: “If you don’t have a bad back by the time you’re 60, then you haven’t done anything in your life.”

Image courtesy of saphatthachat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.