Category Archives: Baby Boomer

Baby Boomer Realizes Dream of Visiting Africa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DAY #1: CAPE TOWN

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

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

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

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

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

DAY #2: CAPE PENINSULA TOUR

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

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

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

And finally, the southern most point in Africa.

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

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

DAY #3: SHARK CAGE DIVING

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

DAY #4: GAME VIEWING RIVER CRUISE ON THE ST. LUCIA ESTUARY

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

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

 

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

DAY #5: GAME DRIVE IN HLUHLUWE-IMFOLOZI GAME RESERVE & SCHOOL VISIT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DAY #6: – SWAZILAND (eSwatini) SIGHTSEEING AND VISIT TO MATSAMO VILLAGE

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

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

We also enjoyed traditional dance and song performances.

Day #7: – Kruger National Park Game

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

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

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

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

Zebras were everywhere.

 

 

DAY #8 PANORAMA ROUTE TO JOHANNESBURG

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

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

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

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

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

DAY #9 JOHANNESBURG

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

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU VISIT SOUTH AFRICA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baby Boomers Going Bankrupt on the Rise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Divorce After Age 50 Affects Baby Boomers’ Health and Finances

Just when you’re ready to settle comfortably into old age with your spouse, you’re blindsided by a divorce. Unfortunately, this is a scenario that many baby boomers face. While divorce at any age can be calamitous, studies show that for those over 50, the effects on health and finances are especially brutal.

That’s bad news since the rate of divorce after age 50 has doubled in the U.S. since 1990, according to an article by Bloomberg. This trend has led to the coining of the term “gray divorce.”

So, why are so many baby boomers getting divorced? Factors include a longer life expectancy, popularity of remarriage, greater financial independence for women and evolving views of marriage, Susan Brown, sociology professor and co-director of the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University states in a U.S. News article.

Unfortunately, the damaging effects can be long-lasting.

Physical and Emotional Effects

“What I see among older patients is that divorce can have myriad psychological and physical consequences, especially for those with already existing medical problems,” says Dr. Andreea Seritan, a geriatric psychiatrist and professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of California  San Francisco in the same U.S. News article.

According to one study, people who’ve gone through a gray divorce report higher levels of depression than those whose spouses died. Seritan agrees that she frequently sees newly divorced seniors who develop depression, chronic stress or anxiety.

Once again, that’s not good news for the over 50 crowd. These psychological conditions are linked to physical problems such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, insomnia, obesity and a weakened immune system.

Financial Effects

Not only does divorce after 50 cut wealth in half, Brown and her colleagues determined that the standard of living for women drops 45 percent, according to the Bloomberg article. For older men, it drops only 21 percent.

Because women typically make less money than men and may have taken time out to raise children, these gaps in earnings “sometimes meant they saved less for retirement and had lower Social Security benefits,” says Jocelyn Crowley, author of “Gray Divorce: What We Lose and Gain from Mid-Life Splits” in the U.S. News article.

A recent T. Rowe Price survey found the median 401(k) balance of baby boomer women — $59,000 — is less than half of what it is for baby boomer men, $138,000.

One of the National Center for Family & Marriage Research Center’s previous studies discovered a 27 percent poverty rate for women over 63 who divorced later in life. That statistic is higher than for other seniors – and that even includes widows.

Okay, that’s the bad news. But not all is lost.

Looking Forward

Just because you’re older doesn’t mean your life is over after divorce.

Finding a new partner, which helps both financially and emotionally, can help those who divorce later in life. However, women tend to be less interested than men in finding a new spouse, perhaps enjoying their newfound independence. In addition, older men often partner up with younger women.

So, what else can you do?

Writer Tania Brown makes some good suggestions in an article for Forbes:  “Take some time to re-evaluate your life and consider working with a therapy group, a life divorce coach, or a career coach (some colleges, places of worship, senior centers and community centers offer classes on these topics for little or no cost) to get you back on your feet). Think of your ‘bucket list,’ wish list, hobbies, volunteer service, and prior career for direction on what to do next.”

There are other strategies you can use to combat potential problems. Seritan recommends the following per the U.S. News article:

  • Avoid isolation.
  • Broaden your social support network.
  • Exercise
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Adopt a pet
  • Get professional help if needed

Barry Gold, author of “Gray Divorce Stories,” who divorced at 54 years of age after 27 years of marriage, wrote an interesting article for HuffPost. He outlines three essential stages:

  • Survive. Grieve your loss. Deal with legal and financial matters.
  • Revive. Let go of the anger and practice forgiveness.
  • Thrive. Follow your path to become “a stronger, more insightful, happier person, ready to enjoy whatever comes next.”

His philosophy: “It wasn’t the plan, and it isn’t ideal. But a divorce over 50 can let you hit the reset button, be the person you want to be, and move forward into a bright, exciting future.”

Summer 2019 Blog Hop: What This Boomer is Up To

Summer is just around the corner! As visions of sailing, road trips, and time at the beach dance around this baby boomer’s head, my writerly pals and I are sharing our summer dreams and inspiration in the C*U*R*R*E*N*T*L*Y – Summer Blog Hop. (For more summertime fun, click over to meet the awesome #Gr8Blogs bloggers listed at the end of this post.)

What have I been up to lately? What have I been writing? What books am I reading? What’s making me proud? What am I anticipating?

And…will I go shark cage diving on our trip to Africa this fall?

Read on to find out…

* What I’m Loving

My family, of course, on an early summer road trip! We went camping on Pismo Beach – a drive-on beach in Central California where the cold wind blew, my daughter-in-law got her car stuck in the sand, and we took an exciting bumpy ride on the sand dunes. But a fun time was had by all! Next summer family trip – Catalina Island!

* What I’m Writing

After promoting my latest book, I’m happy to get back to writing again. Next up, a book to help those over 50 who are struggling to lose weight.

Confession time. After caring for my mother for a few years, I had gained a lot of weight stress-eating. Since I had neglected my health during that time, a check-up was in order. The doctor bluntly informed me that I had gained 20 pounds since my last visit. Okay, I already knew that, but it was still painful to hear!

So began my quest to drop the weight. The pics below show me before and after my weight loss.

Before

After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let me tell you, losing weight is a whole new ballgame as you age. This was a a learning experience as I mastered what worked – and found out what didn’t work anymore now that I’m older.

I’m ready to share my secrets. No dangerous surgeries, expensive weight loss programs, or crazy fad diets involved. I’ll discuss why it’s so hard to lose weight as you age and what you can do about it. I’ll share with you my personal struggles, tips so you never feel hungry, how to stop stress-eating, some of my favorite recipes, and how to keep the weight off. ​I hope to have it finished and ready to publish by the end of the year just in time for 2020 resolutions.

By the way, I’m so grateful that my book, I’m Your Daughter, Julie: Caring for a Parent with Dementia, published a few months ago, has been well-received with several five-star reviews including this one from Readers’ Favorite:

“…It is a caring, heart-filled story of a daughter’s journey with her mother, as they both face the monster of an illness that steals so much.”

The book, as well as other reviews, are available on Amazon.

 

* What I’m Anticipating

This fall, I will fulfill a lifelong dream and visit South Africa with my husband, Scott. I mentioned in one of my previous blogs that he was trying to talk me into going shark cage diving with the great whites in Cape Town.

One of the reasons I think our marriage works so well – even after 40 years – is because we support each other’s dreams and Scott was super excited about this idea. Oh dear! Although I consider myself an adventurer, visions of the scene of a shark attacking the cage in Jaws kept dancing around in my head.

Now, for the big question. Will I do it?

Drum-roll please….yes, we have booked this adventure.

Mind you, this decision was not made lightly. I did plenty of research and watched several videos so I’d know what to expect. I discovered that the companies in South Africa do not chum the waters or feed the sharks and closely follow safety regulations. I couldn’t find any reports of fatalities, but I did see a viral video of a cage dive gone wrong on Guadalupe Island in Mexico when safety precautions were ignored. Horrifically, the shark ended up thrashing around violently inside the cage with a man – who miraculously was unharmed. By the way, even though I am scuba certified, I would never go shark diving without a cage or try to feed the sharks. I have my limits and that just seems dumb and dangerous.

Now, if I could only stop hearing “duun-dun, dun-dun, duun-duun, dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun” every time I think about the cage dive.

Stay tuned, I’ll be blogging all about my experience.

* What I’m Reading

Ready to hit the beach or sit by the lakeside with a good book this summer? Here are a few books I’ve read lately that you may want to check out:

I was impressed with Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. The protagonist is a 30-year-old isolated, socially-awkward woman. Her unrequited crush on a musician, the way her workmates make fun of her, and her first experiences getting a manicure and a bikini wax – made me want to laugh and cry. Mostly cry. Despite Eleanor’s initial resistance, a man she works with befriends her. The book eventually reveals the mysterious event that left her so physically and emotionally scarred. This character touched my heart and reminds everyone that a bit of kindness and empathy goes a long way.

If you’re looking for a good thriller, a book that I couldn’t put down is The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn. Sort of a combination of Rear Window, Wait Until Dark, and Gaslight. I don’t want to give anything away, so that’s all I’ll say. But take my word, this is a gripping story that will keep you guessing.

I just finished reading Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and have mixed feelings about it. I was impressed with the lyrical, hauntingly beautiful writing as the author describes the desolate marshlands of the North Carolina coastline. The murder mystery combined with a coming-of-age story drew me in. But some of the book didn’t make sense and although some people loved the controversial ending, without any spoiler alerts, let’s just say I didn’t.

* What’s Making Me Burst with Pride

So proud of my oldest son, Jonathan, who graduated last month with high honors. He earned his degree while working full-time and with three kids – who were delighted to decorate his graduation cap with their names!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* What’s In My Camera Lens

I don’t claim to be a photographer (sadly, writing is my one and only creative talent), but with the “super bloom” we had this year, how could I resist snapping lots of pics? They say it never rains in Southern California – but this year, it did in a big way with record-setting rainfall. The result? An eye-popping explosion of flowers on hillsides.

These first photos were taken at Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore where a poppy paradise drew massive crowds. Tourists from around the world could be seen on the trails enjoying the spectacular sight. The last two were taken near Hemet where I grew up – and yes, that’s my adorable youngest granddaughter posing in the flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What else this summer will bring remains to be seen. Hope you enjoyed sharing my life and a big thanks for stopping by! For more Summer 2019 C*U*R*R*E*N*T*L*Y moments, please visit the #Gr8blogs below:

Cat Michaels on Cat’s Corner

Rebecca Lyndsey

KidLit Blog by Rosie

James Milson “Writing & Things”

Sandra Bennett

Carmela Dutra

Auden Johnson

Mackenzie Flohr

 

Baby Boomers: How to Avoid Top Four Retirement Mistakes

What do you baby boomers think of when you hear the word “retirement”? If you’re prepared, you may have blissful thoughts about life without the need for an alarm or days spent with the grandkids. In contrast, if you aren’t financially prepared for it, the word itself can inflict apprehension about what the future will bring.

Too often, boomers don’t realize until they hit retirement that they weren’t ready. My guest blogger, Danielle K. Roberts, co-founder of Boomer Benefits and a member of the Forbes Finance Council, lists four of the top mistakes boomers can avoid, to be one step ahead in your retirement planning.

Mistake #1: Taking Social Security benefits too early

First, it is important to know that Social Security was not designed to sustain your lifestyle without another source of income. The majority of seniors need 70% or more of their pre-retirement income to maintain their lifestyle in retirement.

How to Avoid:

The longer you can delay Social Security, the easier it will be to supplement your other savings in retirement, leaving you a comfortable amount to live on.

Full retirement age is 66 or 67 depending upon your birth date. For every year that you delay taking your benefits (beyond full retirement age), you will increase your benefits by eight percent.

If at age 67 you are set to receive a benefit of $1,600 a month but delay taking your benefits until you are 70, you would instead get $1,984 a month for the rest of your life. A few years can equate to a large sum of money over time.

Mistake #2: Having debt entering retirement

The sad reality is that over 70% of baby boomers in the U.S. (60 and older) are in debt. Debt alone can wreak havoc on your retirement.

How to Avoid:

Before you quit your job and head off into the sunset, pay off as much debt as you can.

Interest rates have a bad habit of increasing and your income is likely going to be fixed. Having a fixed income makes it a lot more difficult to put a dent in your debt. Eradicating debt before you retire will be both a financial and mental relief as you head into your Golden Years.

Mistake #3: Underestimating the full cost of health care in retirement

Medical costs in retirement are staggering, even if you’re healthy! In a widely publicized study, Fidelity estimates that a healthy couple retiring in 2019 would need $285,000 set aside for health care costs. This number will only grow over the coming years.

How to Avoid:

Don’t assume that having Medicare will mean no out-of-pocket expenses. In fact, you could potentially have hefty bills that you are responsible for. Of course, Medicare will help cover a large portion of your health care costs, but you will still have monthly premiums, deductibles and coinsurance.

The best thing you can do is prepare ahead of time with a tool like a Health Savings Account (HSA). An HSA can be a vehicle for setting aside money for health care costs, but it can also act as a triple tax advantage for you.

Last, don’t forget about long-term care. Long-term care is one of the costliest expenditures a senior can face. Whether you choose a long-term care insurance policy or set aside a portion of your HSA savings for this substantial expense, don’t let it become an afterthought.

Mistake #4: Assuming your money will outlive you

Most of us want to get as much out of life as we can. Too often, our optimism overshadows our savings accounts. Data from the Federal Reserve shows that the median amount Americans have saved for retirement in total is $120,000; a fraction of the recommended $1 million nest-egg.

How to Avoid:

It is never too late to start stockpiling money into a 401k or IRA. These types of savings accounts will propel your money much further than storing it in a traditional savings account.

Whether you need to cut down on your grocery expenditures, downsize your home, or find a way to boost your income – getting more money into one of these accounts will make life easier for you in retirement.

It’s Never Too Late

The best thing you can do is have a plan. Whether you find yourself in the middle of retirement without enough to live on or you are a pre-retiree realizing the monster expenses you’ll face, devising a plan to build up a nest-egg is still in reach.

Start today, your retired-self will thank you later.

Danielle K. Roberts is the co-founder of Boomer Benefits where she and her team help baby boomers navigate their Medicare insurance options. She is a member of the Forbes Finance Council and writes frequently about Medicare, retirement and personal finance.

Author Barry Silverstein Reminisces with Baby Boomer Brands

Did you imagine yourself part of Howdy Doody’s Peanut Gallery? Before the age of technology, did View-Masters, Polaroid cameras, and colored TVs absolutely blow your mind? Do you remember family road trips with no seat belts, car seats, or air-conditioning in a Woodie? On Sunday nights, did you gather in front of a small TV set with rabbit ears to watch The Wonderful World of Disney eating Swanson TV dinners?

Recently, I meandered down memory lane with Barry Silverstein’s new book, Boomer Brands: Iconic Brands that Shaped Our Childhood. As Bob Hope famously sang, “Thanks for the memories.”

With a warm fuzzy feeling, the book helped me remember  watching iconic shows like Bozo the Clown (I loved that show so much that I named my imaginary friend after this clown), Beany & Cecil, Romper Room, H.R. Pufnstuf, and Mighty Mouse. I recalled fondly all the sugary cereals we boomers ate and snacks we feasted on like Twinkies and Ding Dongs without gaining a pound.

Little Golden books, Jiffy Pop, Tang, Silly Putty, Bazooka bubble gum, Schwinn bikes, Hush Puppies, MAD, and Ovaltine. It’s all in Silverstein’s book along with popular beauty products, automobiles, restaurants, and music that we adored. We baby boomers are a sentimental bunch and this book is sure to bring a smile to those who grew up in the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

Of course, I had to interview this boomer who “retired” from his career running a marketing agency and went on to reinvent himself as a freelance writer, consultant, author, and blogger in a quest for a productive and fulfilling second half of life. Here’s his thoughts on being a baby boomer and becoming an author later in life:

What’s your personal favorite baby boomer childhood memory?

Without a doubt, it was watching Saturday morning television. In particular, I loved eating my bowl of cereal and milk in front of the TV and imagining I was Rusty, the human pal of Rin Tin Tin on the television program, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin.

What do you think is the best part about being a baby boomer?

The best part is being able to have a realistic perspective on the past. It is looking back with gratitude for a life well lived, accepting the challenges, failures and pain, while cherishing the successes and love-filled memories.

How old were you when you wrote your first book?

Many writers have a “novel in the desk drawer” that never goes anywhere. Mine was a coming-of-age novel that I wrote right after graduating from college at age 21. My first real book, however, was non-fiction. It was titled Business-to-Business Internet Marketing, and it was the first book to be published on the subject. It became a business bestseller. I wrote the book in 1998, when I was 50 years old.

What inspired you to write that book?

My inspiration for writing it was driven by business: I had my own direct marketing agency, and the Internet was just coming on the scene and revolutionizing the way we had to do business. I knew if we didn’t change we wouldn’t survive, so I researched the topic. When I realized there was no single source available, I wrote a book about it.

Did you always dream about becoming a writer?

Even in grade school, writing came naturally to me and I loved writing essays and stories. My love of writing continued into college, where I wrote for a university newspaper and also started a satire magazine with some other students. Writing was always a key part of my career.

What advice do you have for other baby boomers who want to write a book in their later years?

Writing is a wonderful form of expression, but it can be time-consuming. Thankfully, many boomers have the luxury of time, so it is quite possible to write a book. I would suggest doing a few things that will help make it a more productive pursuit. Read a lot of books, particularly in the genre that interests you. Writing fiction is very different from writing non-fiction, so think about what story you want to tell or what topic you want to cover. Find your own personal comfort zone and writing style. Write every day. Decide if your book is a personal project or if you want to try to get it published. Getting published is easier than ever, since you can self-publish, but producing and marketing a book, and attracting readers, can be daunting tasks. Seek out advice from other writers and from writing consultants — lots of free information is available by doing Internet searches.

About the Author

Barry Silverstein is a baby boomer, freelance writer, and retired direct marketing/brand marketing professional. He is the author of the new book, Boomer Brands: Iconic Brands that Shaped Our Childhood. Silverstein has written numerous marketing and small business books, including Branding 123 and The Breakaway Brand. He also writes Happily Rewired, a blog for boomers. Visit his website for more information.

Baby Boomers Don’t Want to be Called Senior Citizens

Call me professional, call me nice, or call me the life of the party, but don’t you dare call me elderly. Call me a “sweet old lady” and you’re in even bigger trouble! Call me a “senior citizen” and I’m irritated. After all, we don’t refer to people under 50 as “junior citizens.”

There’s a lot of debate these days on what to call us aging baby boomers. Seniors? Elderly or elders? Mature? Or simply older people?

Words matter.

According to one report, 80 percent of older Americans have been subjected to ageist stereotypes. No wonder we baby boomers want words that describe us in a way that bears a sense of dignity, which isn’t always easy to come by in later years.

In fact, some boomers have become so sensitive to negative words that they don’t want to be called Grandma and Grandpa anymore, preferring something a bit hipper like “Nana” or “Papa” befitting a more youthful attitude toward life.

After all, think of some of the words used to describe older people – derogatory terms like old codger, geezer, biddy, coot, fossil, hag, fart, and fogey.

And don’t you hate it when a waitress or sales clerk calls you “dear” or “dearie” which is supposed to sound endearing but just sounds downright demeaning? Next Avenue readers reacted strongly to an article “The Negative Effects of Elderspeak,  emphasizing that they find words such as “honey,” “sweetie” and “young lady” to be at best, rude, and at worst, disrespectful.

Consider all the insulting terms like “a senior moment,” which suggests that normal forgetfulness that can happen at any age is somehow tied only to getting older. Or the phrase “still driving” as if this is some kind of a miraculous accomplishment for older adults.

Even the term “seniors” seems aimed at creating barriers, especially in the workplace.

So, the search for better words continues.

A survey by The Journalists Exchange on Aging interviewed journalists who write about retirement and aging to find out which words they prefer to use when describing those over 50. The top choice was “older,” followed by “seniors,” (but only to describe those older than 65). Age-specific references such as “those over 50” or “people 65 and up” also won approval among the journalists.

“Senior citizen” was on the list of “mostly disliked” terms which some considered dehumanizing. “Elderly” was the word that grated the most, coming under criticism for its “impersonal and stigmatizing manner” of grouping older people with images of frailty and decline.

The term “boomers” was fine with survey participants, but not “baby boomers.” “They’re not babies anymore,” one respondent noted. Some journalists in the survey criticized “mature” as one of those words so deliberately, self-consciously “correct” – striving for linguistic neutrality – that they seem silly.

Another media guide on reporting issued by The International Longevity Center and ageism campaign group Aging Services of California suggested using terms like “older people” or simply “man” or “woman” followed by his or her age if relevant to the story. The guide added that using positive terms was “an important step in overcoming ageist language and beliefs.”

Alex Juarez, Communications Director for AARP Arizona agreed that we need to get rid of the negative stigma attached to getting older. “In reality, aging gives us experience,” he said. “At AARP, we don’t think we should be defined by age. For a couple of years, we have been using the term 50 plus. That’s important because we don’t want people to be identified as seniors.”

Some staff members at AARP The Magazine, favor a more playful approach to language. “We use the word grown-ups a lot,” said editor and vice president of AARP Steven Slon. He points to  a feature called “Movies for Grownups” as an example. He adds that those who are older “don’t want to be marginalized and put off in a category of people who simply get discounts but are not to be taken seriously.”

Of course, the question of what to call those over 50 isn’t simply one for the media. The words that people in general use to describe us help define and shape attitudes about growing older. So, the debate continues.

What word do you prefer to describe us baby boomers? What word do you find insulting? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Six Ways Baby Boomers Can Improve Heart Health

Many people are focused on candy hearts with romantic messages and heart-shaped boxes of candy in February, but this month also happens to be American Heart Month. What better time for baby boomers to think about their hearts in a literal way, focusing on ways to prevent heart disease and develop heart-healthy habits?

Of course, we boomers are already focused on our health to some extent. In fact, nearly four times as many baby boomers worry about health than finances or outliving their money in retirement.

Our worries aren’t unfounded. Consider these sobering facts about heart disease, the most prevalent fatal chronic disease afflicting older Americans, according to a report by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI):

  • Heart disease accounts for 32 percent of all deaths and is the leading cause of death for both men and women age 65 and older.
  • Although many Americans do not perceive heart disease as a woman’s health issue, estimates indicate that from 40 to 50 percent of postmenopausal women will develop heart disease.
  • The American Heart Association estimates that 81% of people who die of coronary heart disease are 65 years old or older.

The good news is that even modest changes to your diet and lifestyle can improve your heart health and lower your risk by as much as 80 percent. Since February happens to be American Heart Month, let’s celebrate by taking a quick look at six ways to improve your heart health:

Here’s how to get started:

Control Your Risk Factors

Be proactive and know your numbers when it comes to your health. Regular check-ups are essential as we age. Type 2 Diabetes is at its highest level for those over 65. And baby boomers are more likely to have high cholesterol and high blood pressure than the previous generation. All three of these conditions increase the risk of heart disease. If you have any of these risk factors, talk to your doctor about implementing an effective treatment plan.

Break Out Those Sneakers

Step away from the TV and get your heart rate up. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise. In other words, aim for about 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Not so bad, right? Moderate exercise is classified as walking, riding a bike, going for a swim, gardening, a game of basketball, or even washing the car. Pick an activity you love so you’ll stick with it.

Avoid Smoking

The good news is that baby boomers are less likely to smoke than previous generations. However, if you’re an exception to the rule, February is the perfect time to quit. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, smoking is a risk factor for heart disease, and causes one in five deaths each year in the United States. Need help? The American Lung Association offers tips and tools including a counselor-staffed phone line you can call for support. Get started!

Eat a Heart Healthy Diet

Ditch the processed and fast foods and eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and healthy fats and oils. We boomers love to eat out, but try and eat more home-cooked meals to have more control over your diet. Make it fun and have a potluck inviting your friends and family to bring a heart-healthy dish and share their recipes. Eat healthier and control portion size. And not just for February. Shoot for the long run. Maintain a healthy body weight and your heart will thank you.

Reduce Stress

Baby boomers often face stressful situations including caring for aging parents, retirement worries, loss of a loved one, and declining health. Nonetheless, as we age, it becomes imperative to find ways to reduce this silent killer that is a leading contributor to heart disease. Find healthy ways to relax whether it’s listening to soothing music, an evening stroll, deep breathing, or watching a funny movie.

Control Drinking

Last year, baby boomers received new warnings about alcohol as people aged 50-plus deaths linked to alcohol soared. Although studies have shown that moderate drinking – one drink a day for women and two drinks per day for men – can reduce heart disease risk, those benefits quickly turn into health risks when you drink more than that amount. If you’re over-drinking, cut down the number of days you drink alcohol, reduce the amount of alcohol you drink at one sitting, and avoid people, places, things and activities that may trigger a drinking binge.

By making some small changes in your everyday life, you can make a big difference for your long-term health. Choose to make yourself a priority and ask your friends and family to join you in your efforts to become heart-healthy so you can have a long, fulfilling life – not only during American Heart Month, but every month of the year!

 

 

Baby Boomers Over 50 Pushed Out of Jobs

New data released last month was disturbing for the 85% of baby boomers still working. Many don’t have enough saved for retirement or simply aren’t ready to leave the working world behind. Some say they plan to continue working into their 70’s and even 80s, according to a 2017 report, America’s Aging Workforce.

Older workers being pushed out of jobs.

Unfortunately, new analysis by ProPublica and the Urban Institute published last month shows that the decision may not be up to them. Dismally, more than half of employees over the age of 50 are being pushed out of longtime jobs before they choose to retire. Most suffer financially and only one in 10 of these workers ever earns as much as they did before their employment setbacks.

Apparently, 50 is the new 65.

The analysis was based on data from the Health and Retirement Study that began tracking 20,000 people in 1992, from the time the participants turned 50 through the rest of their lives. The study focused on workers who entered their 50s with stable, full-time jobs, and who have been with the same employer for at least five years.

The results are sobering. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are currently 40 million Americans age 50 and older who are working. That means, according to this study, that as many as 22 million of these people have or will suffer a layoff, forced retirement, or other involuntary job separation. Of these, only a little over 2 million have recovered financially – or ever will.

Unfortunately, this problem could be worse than we think. Jeffrey Wenger, a senior labor economist with the RAND Corp., claims some older people are likely laid off, but cover it up by saying they retired. “There’s so much social stigma around being separated from work,” he says, “even people who are fired or let go will say they retired to save face.”

As a result, the steady earnings that many boomers count on in their 50s, 60s, and beyond to build up their retirement savings and ensure financial security often disappears.

“This isn’t how most people think they’re going to finish out their work lives,” said Richard Johnson, an Urban Institute economist and veteran scholar of the older labor force who worked on the analysis. “For the majority of older Americans, working after 50 is considerably riskier and more turbulent than we previously thought.”

What can older workers do?

You may be thinking, wait a minute. Isn’t it illegal under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act for employers to treat older workers differently than younger ones? Yes, but employers can be sneaky about the way they fire older employees, Often phrases like “layoff” and “job elimination” are used as an excuse for age discrimination. No matter. You may have legal recourse and an age discrimination claim if:

  • you experience a layoff and notice that less-qualified, younger employees at the same level are not being laid off.
  • your company claims to be eliminating a job, but simply changes the title and puts someone younger in the same position.
  • you’re being targeted for poor performance while younger employees doing the same things aren’t suffering any consequences.

In addition, there are some steps you can take to prevent being laid off. Although there are no guarantees, experts recommend the following strategies to enhance job security:

  • A common myth concerning older workers is that people over 50 are rigid. You can prove this disparaging idea wrong by remaining flexible, resilient, and adaptable.
  • Understand your company’s objectives and your boss’s priorities, and then align your work performance with them. In other words, find ways to make your boss’s job easier and make yourself indispensable.
  • Do not contribute to the false belief that all old people are cranky and difficult. Be friendly, cooperative, and helpful. Makes sure management likes you and be the kind of person others enjoy working with and hanging around.
  • Brag a little. Ensure that your boss knows about any improvements you’ve implemented, challenges you’ve overcome, and projects and goals you’ve completely successfully.
  • Be careful not to give the impression that you lack initiative and are simply coasting along until retirement, which can make you vulnerable during a layoff. Make a point of continuously updating your skills and expanding your knowledge. Read journals, take courses, attend conferences, or attain additional certifications in your field.

Finally, while it’s important for everyone to have emergency savings, if you’re 50 or older, it’s even more critical to have a strong financial safety net. Have enough savings on hand to ride out a potentially lengthy period of unemployment.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrating a New Arrival

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

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrating Family Fun

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

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

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

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

What beats traveling with the people you love?

 

Celebrating 40 Years of Marriage

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrating Finishing My Book

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

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

As I write in my soon-to-be published book, I’m Your Daughter, Julie: Caring for a Parent with Dementia: “Sometimes you lose a parent in death suddenly. What you don’t realize until you have a parent with dementia is that sometimes you lose a parent excruciatingly – a little bit at a time. Grief takes many forms and it isn’t just for mourning someone who has died.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cat Michaels

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

Rosie Russell

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

Rebecca Lyndsey

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

Carmela Dutra

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

Sandra Bennett

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

Auden Johnson

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

Corrina Holyoake

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

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