Category Archives: Baby Boomer

Baby Boomer Travel Trends

“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands,” said Sir Richard Burton.

TravelOh, how I love to travel. Turns out I’m not alone. According to a new study by AARP, America’s 76 million baby boomers spend over $120 billion annually on travel.

No surprise. Baby boomers have the numbers, the influence, and the money to travel.

Our generation spreads over many years with “leading boomers” (born between 1946 and 1957) and “shadow boomers (like me, born between 1946 and 1957). As a result, we look at things differently sometimes. However, we have some things in common when it comes to traveling.

What are some of those baby boomer trends?

Baby Boomers Want Unique and Adventurous Vacations

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world,” Mary Anne Radmacher wrote.

africaI’m passionate about traveling. To me, it is pure joy to experience another world outside my own, enjoy new experiences, explore a different culture, discover new foods, and meet different people. My family and I were always looking for new adventures.

And we found them – including white water rafting down a wild five-plus river in New Zealand, sprinting down a beach in Mexico to soar into the sky on a parasail, climbing the Great Wall, swimming with dolphins, and riding a boat underneath a roaring waterfall in Brazil. I’m a bit more cautious these days, but I still like a good adventure.

True to our roots, we baby boomers tend to rebel against overly structured vacations and want some freedom to explore on our own. We aren’t like the previous generation who waited until retirement to travel. While Europe and tropical locations are still popular with baby boomers, many of us have already visited these places and are looking for more exotic and unconventional destinations. In other words, we’re looking to cross some items off our bucket lists.

The old-fashioned travel group vacations some of our parents seemed to love with labels like “Senior Travel” and crowded tour buses full of grey-haired people visiting popular touristy spots – not so much.

Of course, we think of ourselves as forever young and are always up for a challenge. After all, aren’t we the generation of the fitness craze who took up jogging, were inspired by Jack LaLanne, and sculpted our bodies with Jane Fonda videos? Many boomers still try to stay in shape. As a result, active adventure travel including kayaking, cycling, trekking through the wilderness, scuba diving, paddle boarding, and skiing is especially popular with the 50-plus crowd. The travel industry has taken note and are adding more categories every year targeted at the more daring baby boomers.

Baby Boomers Love to Travel with Family

family vacationFollowing my parents’ example, when my kids were younger, I took them on all our foreign vacations. We were willing to live with hand-me-down furniture and older cars to do so.

Now, I love going places with my grandchildren. Perhaps that’s because as we age, we appreciate our personal relationships with family and cherish the time with them even more.

Once again, I’m in good company with other baby boomers. According to a recent survey conducted by AAA Travel, an increasing number of travelers choose to book trips with extended family members.

“It is proven psychologically that we make stronger family bonds when we travel than any other time of the year when we are home,” says AARP Travel Ambassador Samantha Brown. “It really is an investment in your life.”

The survey showed multi-generational family vacations were becoming more popular. In fact, 36 percent of families interviewed planned to take a multi-generational family trip the following year. One in five grandparents reported going on a Disney vacation with their grandchildren.

Of course, Disneyland isn’t the only place we’re traveling with our families. As mentioned before, we love adventure and are interested in taking our grandchildren on safaris in Africa, snorkeling and zip lining expeditions in Costa Rica, or scenic and adventurous Alaskan cruises.

Baby Boomers like a Bit of Luxury

Okay, okay, maybe the days of sleeping in tents, on shaky cots, and hostels are over. We may be an adventurous bunch, but we hesitantly have to admit we are getting just a little bit older and need some creature comforts.

massageFour and five star hotels and cabins with an ocean view on cruises become more important as we age.

After all, many baby boomers are retired or at a period in our lives when we can take more time off after climbing the corporate ladder and have more income – which puts us in a position to demand better accommodations.

Plus, we’re not too proud to take advantage of perks and reduced senior rates to get those more luxurious hotels. For example, Marriott slashes rates by 15 percent or more for seniors 62 and older staying at any of their 4,000-plus properties across the globe. Why not?

After exploring the wilderness, give us soothing massages, good wine and food, a comfortable bed, and some rest and relaxation.

Yeah, baby!

Baby Boomers are More Relaxed Travelers

airportBoomers enjoy the whole travel experience for the most part. Of course, we’re not fond of the increased difficulty of clearing security, flight delays, and the lack of legroom on planes. However, we are more likely to go with the flow.

Younger generations report higher levels of travel stress and nervous feelings compared to baby boomers. According to the research by AARP, millennials are the most stressed generation while flying and baby boomers are the most relaxed.

We keep ourselves connected and busy, which may help. A whopping 90% of boomers travel with some type of electronic device, primarily a smartphone and 56% of boomers use airport Wi-Fi, if it’s free.

Baby boomers also take advantage of airport amenities. We arrive, at least, two hours before our flight compared to our millennial counterparts, who typically arrive with just enough time to board their flight. That may, in part, explain why we’re less stressed. Boomers are not dashing frantically across the airport to catch our plane. Instead, we can often be found enjoying a meal or a glass of wine while waiting for our flights. Nearly 49% of boomers bought food and drinks and 28% sat down and ate at a restaurant before their flight.

Baby Boomers are Traveling Close to Home

usaMaybe those living in the United States are not seeing the USA in a Chevrolet, but baby boomers are traveling more domestically.

In fact, more than 75% of the baby boomers surveyed by AARP say they took their last flight to a domestic destination.

My husband and I certainly fit into those statistics. The last trips we took were to Chicago, San Francisco, Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks, and the Florida Keys. There’s plenty of adventure to be had in our own countries – and I must admit those long 18 hour flights are getting harder.

Maybe that’s why baby boomers like summer vacations in our home countries and weekend getaways so much.

Of course, while I enjoy seeing the sights close to my home, I have to admit, Africa is still calling my name with its dramatic landscapes, glorious wildlife, and  exotic cultures. It’s the only continent I haven’t seen yet (except for Antarctica – which is waaaay too cold for me).

One day…

As a famous quotes states: “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”

Images (in order of their appearance) courtesy of Graphics Mouse, Hal Brindley, photostock, stockimages, artur84, and porbital at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Ten Fun Things to Do with Your Grandchildren This Summer

GrandparentsLast summer, we were fortunate enough to take a trip to Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks with our son and his three children. We camped, hiked, and swam with our grandchildren and a good time was had by all.

Unfortunately, this summer we haven’t been able to get away. Plus, we live in the California desert where it’s super hot in the summer, so we’ve been forced to get creative. We can only swim so many hours!

If you’re in a similar situation and the grandkids are getting bored halfway through their summer vacation, what are some simple but fun things you can do with them at home?

Here are 10 fun ideas that will keep them entertained and create some special memories:

Teach the Joy of Gardening

When I finally got around to planting a garden at our new house, the grandchildren had a blast picking out seeds and plants. We made homemade signs and planted away. They are now are enjoying the fruits of their labor. My youngest granddaughter is the first one to run out to see what needs to be harvested when she gets to our house – but they all love it. (Of course, we have to do this in the evening hours here, but it stays light out until 8:00 PM right now.) If you don’t have a garden, take your grandchildren to a pick-your-own farm or your local Farmer’s Market to select some fresh produce for dinner.

Tea Time

Tea Party 2Last weekend, we had an old-fashioned tea party for my granddaughters. We visited the 99 cent store and picked up a very pink table cloth, Shopkin paper plates and napkins, some tiaras and tutus for guests, and princess rings for a treasure hunt. We invited a few guests and I put on an apron and served decaffeinated tea and juice, tiny sandwiches, and small pastries. Afterwards, we had a contest seeing who could throw the most tea bags into a teapot and who could stack sugar cubes the highest in 30 seconds.

Break Out the Board Games

My 7-year-old grandson, Rowan, can’t get enough of board games. We’ve had fun introducing him to some of our childhood favorites like Sorry, Monopoly, Life, and Clue. Did you know they have a Star War edition of Operation? Think we may get Twister next. Card games like Go Fish and Old Maid work as well. For that, all you need is a basic deck of cards.

Photo AlbumsGo Down Memory Lane

Kids love learning about things that are new to them, but were “cool” a long time ago. Share some stories along with a bit of family history. Show your grandchildren their parents’ baby books and photos – complete with tales about their first steps, first words, first foods, and all the mischief they got into as a child. Your grandkids will relish visualizing Mom or Dad as a pint sized peer instead of the person who tells them to clean up their room!

Have a Scavenger Hunt

When the kids have sleepovers or parties with their friends – this is always a hit! I make rhyming clues for them, but you can keep it simpler if you prefer. For example, turn an ordinary walk around the neighborhood into an exciting treasure hunt by giving your grandchild a list of things to find such as a red rock, a Y-shaped stick, or a bird’s feather.

Turn on the Sprinklers

We did it as kids and your grandkids will still love it! Put on your bathing suits and run through sprinklers in the backyard. Or get creative. We bought a simple octopus sprinkler and put it underneath the trampoline in the backyard for squeals of delight. Or hook up a hose to a slide and put a small inflatable pool at the bottom.

Jewelry BoxOpen Up Your Jewelry Box

My granddaughters love this! I have cherished jewelry my husband gave me, some jewelry I’ve inherited from my Mom, as well as inexpensive trinkets I’ve collected on world travels. Each one has an interesting story behind it and my two granddaughters, ages 9 and 5, love to hear them. Then I let them try on some inexpensive baubles so they feel like royalty.

Look at the Stars

Grandpa, Daddy, and I all have stargazing apps on our phones. We hold our mobile devises toward the sky and the app identifies constellations, stars, and planets. We use StarMap 3D+, but there are many great apps – some are free – available. Some apps will tell you when the Space Shuttle is orbiting by your home or when the next lunar eclipse or meteorite shower will take place. Great stuff!

Learn a New Language Together

Once again, there are tons of apps you can use or you can check out a book from the library. Learn some words and phrases, then travel to a place or nearby community that speaks that language and practice your newfound skills. My husband and I both know how to sign and have had fun teaching our grandchildren. They learn fast! The TV program, Signing Time on Netflix, is a great place to start if you’re interested in ASL. Tween and teens will enjoy the series, Switched at Birth. We’re fortunate to be in a sign language congregation, so the kids can practice with deaf people and learn more about their culture.

YoyoToys of Yesteryear

We had a 60s anniversary party a while ago for my son and his wife. The grandchildren were invited and I got a hold of a Bozo, some Mad Men paper dolls complete with outfits, hula hoops, and a Lite Brite to keep them busy with theme-related toys. That was a few years ago – and they still play with those toys! All those classic toys you remember fondly like Lincoln Logs, Play Doh, Mr. Potato Head, Barbie, Spirograph, Slinky, and Etch-a-Sketch are still around. Purchase one of your favorite toys as a kid and go down Memory Lane with your grandkids. Or teach them how to fold homemade paper airplanes and have a contest to see whose flies the farthest.

There you go! Ten ideas to get you started for some summertime fun with the grandchildren. And if all else fails, introduce the kids to an old-fashioned classic movie like Marry Poppins, Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz, Singing in the Rain, Yellow Submarine, The Black Stallion, or the original Willy Wonda and the Chocolate Factory. Here we are watching Mrs. Doubtfire while chowing down on popcorn.

Grandkids an a movie

Have a great rest-of-the-summer with the grandkids!

Images courtesy of photostock, artur84, Pong, and AKARAKINGDOMS  at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

CURRENTLY: How I’m Finding my Bliss the Summer of 2016

One of my fellow bloggers asked me to join a blog hop to share where we are currently in life. Our dreams and what we’re reading, watching, listening to, and loving in the CURRENTLY Summer 2016 Blog Hop.

In other words, how am I finding my bliss this summer? Sounded like a fun idea and I’m game. So sit back, have a read, and enjoy.  Then visit the other #Gr8Blogs  listed at the end of this post  for more Summer 2016 CURRENTLY inspiration.

Here we go…

Scott and Julie Skydeck*Loving…

My hubby. We celebrate our 38th anniversary on the 17th of this month and I’m beyond grateful for every moment I’ve had with the love of my life.

I’m also loving Chicago, where we went on our anniversary trip (which I’ll be writing about in my next blog). Here’s a picture of us 1,353 feet up on the famous Skydeck. First time visiting this fabulous city and it ranks right up there with my other favorite cities: Seattle, Sydney, London, and Paris.

*Reading…

If you read my blog, you know I just finished reading a copy of legendary teen idol Bobby Rydell’s autobiography for a book review. I’m excited that this man, famous for hits like Volare and starring in Bye Bye Birdie, did an interview for me as well. His answers to my questions were brutally honest – which is so refreshing.

Book at BeachI just started reading a new book, Descent, by Tim Johnston. The publisher calls the novel a “literary thriller.” As a review by the Washington Post notes, “It’s a thriller because it concerns a girl of 18 who is abducted during a family vacation in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. It’s literary because Johnston’s prose is lyrical, even poetic, to a degree rarely found in fiction, literary or otherwise.” Sounds like the perfect summer read and I’m on board!

*Watching…

10 Cloverfield Lane. Man, I haven’t seen a movie this good in a long time. If you haven’t seen it yet, the less you know, the better. Don’t read any reviews. Here’s what you need to know: This movie captures your attention immediately and keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. The acting is phenomenal. John Goodman defines the word creepy. The tense, chilling thriller reminds me a bit of Hitchcock and will keep you guessing to the end. Oh, and the ending! Just spectacular and guaranteed to knock you off your feet. A must-see. It just debuted on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and On Demand on June 14, 2016. Check it out!

(For the perfect feel-good, funny, and inspiring movie, watch Eddie the Eagle. Just watched last night and loved! Hugh Jackman is just perfect in his role.)

As far as TV, love Big Bang Theory to make me laugh. And I’m oh so ashamed to admit I’m hooked on the trashy but entertaining Bachelorette. Don’t ask me to explain why.

Music*Listening…

Paul McCartney is releasing his latest album this month, Pure McCartney, a collection of 67 of his hits starting in 1970. It includes songs like “Maybe I’m Amazed” and “Live and Let Die.” Sounds cool, but recently, I discovered this laid back solo from his debut album: “That Would be Something.” Unfortunately, the song didn’t make the final cut for his album, but I’m obsessed with it. Click here to check out a live performance of this simple but oh-so-groovy song.

*Thinking About…

Oh my, many, many things are rattling about in this brain of mine. June 13th was the first anniversary of my Mom’s death, so she is definitely on my mind. I’m trying to focus on all the good memories we shared instead of the awful memories of her death – and succeeding fairly well. I’m attending a sign language Bible convention this month, so I’m having good spiritual vibes. And I’m kicking around ideas for an eBook (it would be my first) and whether I actually want to write one or not. It would be a ton of work writing and promoting it. Then again, maybe I’ll just keep freelancing for magazines writing fun lifestyle and travel articles and enjoy the simple pleasures of summer. Then, I’ll do this debate in the fall. Yeah, that sounds better. 

*Anticipating…

This may explain my fascination I mentioned above with Paul McCartney, but I’m going to see him live at Desert Trip in October along with the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and the Who. Can’t wait!

*Wishing…

I’m a lucky girl and many of my wishes have already come true. But at the top of my bucket list is a trip to Africa.

*Making Me Happy…

Life. Grateful for each and every day. My faith. My husband, my children, my grandchildren, the rest of my family and friends. My writing. Good memories. Sailing. My many blessings.

grandkids and puppy*Seeing in My Camera Lens…

No brainer. My adorable three grandchildren, of course! Here they are happy with their new puppy.

So there you go. Thanks for stopping by! For more Currently -Summer 2016 inspiration, visit the #Gr8blogs below. And hey, if you’re pumped about writing your own Currently – Summer 2016 post, just add your family-friendly Currently link to your blog post in the comment section. We’ll visit your blog and give you some blog love!

JD’s Writer Blog

C*U*R*R*E*N*T*L*Y What I’m Up To!

Cat Michaels, Cat’s Corner

CURRENTLY Blog Hop Summer 2016: Dreams, Inspiration of a Writerly Life

Corrina Holyoake, Venturing Into the Unknown

CURRENTLY Blog Hop – Summer Dreaming

Carmela Dutra, A Blog for your Thoughts

CURRENTLY: A Blog Hop of What I’m Up To

Auden Johnson, Dark Treasury

CURRENTLY Blog Hop – Summer 2016

 

Images courtesy of marcolm and imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Interview with Bobby Rydell

The media has deemed Bobby Rydell the “Justin Bieber of the Camelot Era.”

You baby boomers may balk at the idea of comparing Bobby with the Bieber, but no doubt you recall the teen heartthrob for his boyishly All-American good looks with his pompadour hair and his famous hits including “Wild One” and “Volare” with fond memories. You may also remember him for his acting and comedic skills when he appeared on The Perry Como Show, The Red Skelton Hour, The Jack Benny Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Joey Bishop Show, and as a regular on The Milton Berle Show.

And who could forget his role in Bye Bye Birdie with Ann-Margret, Dick Van Dyke and Janet Leigh – which he revealed to me in an interview was one of his proudest accomplishments.

PHOTO CREDIT: Bobby Bank/WireImage

PHOTO CREDIT: Bobby Bank/WireImage

But what a lot of you may not know is the deeply personal, inspiring, and extraordinary back story behind this fascinating man. Rydell has shared his story in his new autobiography, Teen Idol on the Rocks. You can click here to read my review of the book.

Rydell shares some of those personal and sometimes painful memories with me in the following interview.

His humble honesty knocked my socks off. For example, in the interview Rydell admits his beloved wife handled every aspect of their lives. After she died, he didn’t know how to pay a bill or schedule a doctor’s appointment. Calling himself “a pampered star for years,” Rydell confesses he was terrified. Or when asked what he felt what was his biggest accomplishment, after mentioning Bye Bye Birdie, he stated, “In hindsight, maybe my greatest achievement is still being here at the age of 74 after all the destructive behavior of my earlier years.”

Those brutally honest personal memories is what makes his book so great and what makes you want to give this man a hug! This legendary star is scheduled to be interviewed by Rolling Stone’s contributing editor and Grammy-winning essayist, Anthony DeCurtis, next month. So, I feel super honored he took the time out from his hectic schedule to answer my questions via email. Thank you, Bobby!

Without further ado, here’s the interview. Enjoy!

What made you decide to write an autobiography?

For years I’d sit around with musicians and other friends after my concerts telling old war stories and everyone would say, “You gotta be crazy not to write all this stuff down.  You should put a book out.” I’ve led a pretty colorful life to say the least, so I finally decided to do it. The first thing I did was contact my friend Allan Slutsky who was a guitarist and an arranger who I’d worked with off and on since 1992. Allan won the Rolling Stone “Ralph J. Gleason Award” for music book of the year in 1989 when he wrote Standing In The Shadows of Motown. A few years later, he won a few Grammys and a dozen film awards when he produced a film version of the book.  So it was a pretty logical choice to want to hook up with him on this project.

Did you have any objectives in mind that you wanted to achieve by sharing your story?

That whole Bobby-Soxer, Cameo-Parkway era happened a long time ago.  My old fans still remember everything, but I’m hoping the story of guys like me and Chubby Checker, the Dovells, Frankie Avalon, Fabian and other musical stars from that era can get documented and reach a new audience. And then, since my life was saved by double transplant surgery (a new liver and kidney) after drinking myself to within an inch of death, it gives me an opportunity to urge people to consider being organ donors in the event of a premature death. I wouldn’t be here today if someone hadn’t made that same decision. Her name was Julia, and she’ll always be my angel.

How long did it take you to write the book? Tell me a little bit about the process. Any quirky writing habits?

About, eighteen months.  Allan would come over my house, turn on the tape recorder (he was actually using old-fashioned cassettes), and he’d start firing questions at me while he took notes. At first we did general topics chronologically and then he’d return at a later date and go into detail about specific things.  Then he’d take the material home and return with a chapter and we’d go over it together. I might see something like a story he didn’t quite get right and make a correction, or I might say something like, “That’s not what I was feeling at the time,” or, “I’d never say something like that.” The funniest moments came when we went back and forth trying to get all the Italian slang words and Philly-isms to lay right.

You list many achievements in your book, but what do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

Starring in Bye Bye Birdie with Ann-Margret, Dick Van Dyke and Janet Leigh would definitely be one of them. Before that, I was just a good looking kid with a great pompadour who could sing, tell a joke, and do imitations. But I had to become an actor and a dancer for Birdie. I really grew as an artist in that film. And evolving into someone who can really do justice to songs from the Great American Songbook means a lot to me. When I was a teen idol, I sang simple pop songs, but in my ‘60s and ‘70s, I really got comfortable being an old-fashioned saloon singer on songs like “All of Me,” “You and the Night and the Music,” and other great standards. In hindsight, maybe my greatest achievement is still being here at the age of 74 after all the destructive behavior of my earlier years.

You share some intimate and personal stories in your book. What were the hardest life stories to write about and why?

Definitely the stuff about my wife’s dying of cancer and my overbearing, stage-mother. The stage-mother thing was a much needed chance to vent and get stuff off my chest after decades of arguments and fights with my Mom. She was bi-polar with a little bit of evil mixed in. It’s hard for people to believe some of the things she did because she always showed a different face to outsiders who knew her. As for my wife—she’d been my childhood sweetheart since I was a young teenager, and we were married for more than three decades.  Her loss and my struggles with the bottle that followed couldn’t be anything but agony to talk about.  But I was also terrified because she’d handled every aspect of my life from the time we got married.  I didn’t know how to pay a bill, write a check, or schedule a doctor’s appointment.  She did all that stuff.  I’d been a pampered star for years, but now I was on my own and it terrified me.

What do you want readers to take away from your book?

I’d like people to look at me as not just a singer, or an actor, or comedian, but also as a survivor. I could have packed it in many times but I was always bailed out by the kindness of other people and by the music. I wanted to live to sing another day.

You are 74 years old, yet I see from your website you have many upcoming events planned. What keeps you motivated?

I’m the kind of guy who’ll sing and perform until I die. It’s all I’ve ever known. I still get antsy when I haven’t hit a stage for a while. I still love what I do. When I can’t do it anymore, you might as well start shoveling the dirt on top of me.

If you want to read more about Rydell’s incredible story, TEEN IDOL ON THE ROCKS is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and book stores throughout America. Autographed copies and books with customized personal messages can be ordered exclusively at www.bobbyrydellbook.com.

For a list of his ongoing concert performances, both solo and alongside fellow South Philly “Golden Boys” Frankie Avalon and Fabian, you can check out the dates on his site. Also keep an eye out for his role next year in movie, The Comedian, with Robert De Niro.

Here is a schedule of special events and book signings:

TEEN IDOL ON THE ROCKS ON TOUR

Bobby Rydell: Intimate Guest Performance & Book Signing: Thursday, June 30, 2016, 8 p.m. 

Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, 7719 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814. Tickets & Info: 240.330.4500. For more information, visit www.bethesdabluesjazz.com

Bobby Rydell In Conversation with Rolling Stone senior editor, Anthony DeCurtis, followed by a book signing: Wednesday, July 27, 2016, 8 p.m.

Buttenwieser Hall, 1395 Lexington Avenue at 92nd St., New York, NY 10128, Tickets & Info: 212-415-5500. For more information, visit www.92y.org

An Intimate Evening with Bobby Rydell – The Original Teen Idol
“Concert Conversation and Book Signing”: 
Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Tim McLoone’s Supper Club, 1200 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ 07712
Dinner/Doors: 6:00pm – Show: 8:00pm
Tickets & Info: 732-774-1155

Includes an intimate evenings of musical performances including Rydell’s hits songs like “Volare,” “Wild One,” “Sway,” and others, but Rydell will also share stories from his incredible life.  For more information visit www.umtpresents.com.

Book Signings

Tuesday, June 21, 2016, 7-9 p.m.

B&N – Rittenhouse Square, 1805 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA

Sunday, June 26, 2016, 2-4 p.m.

B&N – Clifton, 395 NJ Rt. 3, Clifton, NJ

Saturday, July 23, 2016, 1-3 p.m.

B&N – Plymouth Meeting, 2300 Chemical Road, Plymouth Mtg., PA

Tuesday, August 16, 2016, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Doylestown Bookshop, 16 S. Main Street, Doylestown, PA

Saturday, October 8, 2016, 3-5 p.m.

Main Point Book Store, 116 North Wayne Avenue, Wayne, PA

Friday, October 14, 2016, 2-4 p.m.

Wildwood Crest Library, 6300 Atlantic Avenue, Wildwood Crest, NJ

Saturday, October 22, 2016, 1-3 p.m.

Books & Greetings, 271 Livingston Street, Northvale, NJ

Saturday, November 19, 2016, 1-3 p.m.

B&N – Broomall, 1991 Sproul Road, Broomall, PA

 

The Story of Bobby Rydell

If you’re a baby boomer, you’ll remember Bobby Rydell. This teen idol heartthrob – and what a cutie he was – exploded on the scene in the 1960s with hits like Kissin’ Time, Wild One, and my personal favorite, Volare.

Rydell appeared on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand in 1959, and went on to sell more than 25 million records during his career.

Bobby Rydell book coverNow 74 years old, Rydell has written an honest and compelling autobiography: TEEN IDOL ON THE ROCKS: A Tale of Second Chances. I was privileged to receive a review copy and gave the book a read over the weekend.

Baby boomers will enjoy Rydell’s memories of his childhood in South Philly back in the day when no one locked their door and the best places to meet girls was at the local ice cream parlor.

The stories about his rise to stardom at the tender age of 17 and the famous people he met along the way are also fascinating. For example, Sammy Davis Jr. wanted a homemade Italian meal and Rydell’s grandma offered to cook for them. Eager to impress, Rydell was relieved when the dinner went well, but you can feel his horror when his grandmother brings out watermelon for dessert because that’s what she thought “they liked.” Sammy couldn’t quit laughing but Rydell was mortified beyond words.

There are also fascinating stories about Dick Clark, Red Skeleton, Frankie Avalon, Fabrian, and Ann Margaret.

But what touched me the most were Rydell’s personal, brutally honest stories. He describes his relationship with his bipolar, manic depressive stage mother back in the day when little was understood about mental illness.  Rydell pours out his heart telling the story of his first love, Camille, to whom he was married for 35 years. She later suffered from breast cancer and your heart will break as you read how he felt “sheer terror” at the thought of losing her.

However, Rydell doesn’t offer these events as an excuse for his slide into alcoholism. In this day and age when stars, and people in general, play the blame game, it was so refreshing to read how Rydell takes full personal responsibility for his drinking and the dire consequences.

Readers will cheer as they read how he faced a double organ transplant and later double heart bypass surgery with admirable courage and gratitude for his second chances in life. He eloquently expresses his gratefulness to his donor, a young 21-year-old girl named Julia, who was tragically hit by a car and killed.

Rydell manages to come through all his fame and trials shining with optimism and heart as he finds a new love and makes a successful comeback. Yes, this man is still touring and you can still catch his act. If you want to purchase his book (autographed books are available), attend a book signing, or check out his tour dates, be sure and visit Rydell’s site.

 

Focusing on Myself

This is the year I’m hitting the pause button on what has been a stressful few years, taking a deep breath, and focusing on myself.

The future is looking brighter.

The future is looking brighter.

I’m done dwelling on what I can’t change or control. I refuse to let stress interfere with living life to the fullest.

That’s my pep talk to myself. And you know what? I’m making progress.

As I shared in a previous blog, I am taking time each and every day to do three things for myself during my year of healing. You can click on the link above to find out what those three things are.

Here are three more steps I’ve taken this week toward a happier me. I hope these tips will give all of you some inspiration to take time to focus on yourself as well.

Spend on Experiences

focusing me concertWe splurged on tickets to Desert Trip – a three-day music extravaganza in October held on the same polo grounds where Coachella Fest plays – nicknamed Oldchella.

Hahaha. Make fun of us, I don’t care. This is every baby boomer’s ultimate dream!

After all, we’re the generation that refuses to grow old or grow up. Okay, we are getting older. I got my first senior discounted breakfast at I-Hop last weekend. Of course, the restaurant knows better than to call it that – it is simply named “The 55+ Menu.” Hey, I saved four dollars even though it hurt my pride. But my point is, we’re young at heart.

And ready to relive the 60s. We are talking Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Bob Dylan performing. We’re in the lawn section and will need binoculars, but I’m still stoked. Can’t wait!

Do something that makes you excited. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. Science proves you’ll be happier spending money on experiences instead of things. New things make us happy, but only temporarily until we get used to having them. Then, the joy wears off.

However, the memories of experiences such as traveling, going to an art exhibit, learning a new skill – or rocking out to the Rolling Stones – will last forever. So forget that new iPhone or new pair of designer shoes. Cross something off your bucket list and live!

Take Care of Your Health

focusing me doctorOkay, this one isn’t as exciting, but nevertheless, it’s an important step. After caregiving for a few years, I had neglected to care for my own health. Confession time: it had been four years since I had a check-up. At 55, that’s not good.

So, off to the doctor I dutifully went. Unfortunately, I have been stress eating and weighed in at 170. The doctor informed me that I’ve gained 10 pounds since I last visited four years ago. Thank you very much for sharing that bit of depressing news. “Weight can sneak up on you after menopause and start adding up fast,” he advised.

Really? I never would have guessed. Actually, I wrote a whole blog, My Menopausal Middle, on this very subject.

But, all right, all right. So, I’m concentrating on eating healthy and have lost four pounds so far. Trying to focus on eating lots of veggies from the garden, fruit, lean proteins, whole wheat. I feel better already.

Also did my blood work and got a mammogram today – where I learned that my once dense breasts are deflated now that I’m post menopausal. More cheerful news. My ego deflated a bit along with my boobs, but that does mean it makes the mammogram easier to read and more accurate.

Even with all the humiliating news, I feel better that I’m taking care of my health.

You already know that if you remain healthy and physically strong, you’ll be happier, right? So quit procrastinating and get started today to a healthier you!

Get a Pet

Focusing me puppyWe got a new puppy. Technically, my son and his three kids got a new puppy, but while they are away, I’m puppy sitting.

Her name is Rey Anne ( the first name is Star Wars related since my son picked her up on May the Fourth be with You; the second name is for the girls’ favorite movie). She is a German Shepherd, seven weeks old, and we’re all in love.

Yes, puppies are a ton of work, but she makes me laugh with her awkward puppy clumsiness that causes her to slide across my wood floor. This morning, when I couldn’t find her, she was in the kids’ room snuggled up into my oldest granddaughter’s pajama top. That warmed my heart and made me smile.

Studies show pet owners tend to be less depressed, lonely, and stressed. They exhibit greater self-esteem and are usually more physically fit. If you’re a baby boomer like me, you may want to skip the puppy part and adopt a grown dog – it is exhausting! However, let’s face it, these furry creatures make us happier.

So there you go. Those are my three steps towards happiness I took this last week.

What did you do this week to bring more joy into your life? I’d love to hear! Please share in the comments below.

Images courtesy of graur razvan, ionut ponsuwan, and photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Baby Boomer Fulfills Dream of Creating a Winery

One of the things I love best about being a writer is all the interesting people I’m privileged to meet. That and the fact that I get to work at home in my pajamas as a freelancer. But back to the subject at hand.

During my two years as a newspaper reporter in Washington State several years ago, I loved writing feature stories. I wrote articles about adults who were adopted and later reunited with their birth parents (the outcomes were not always positive), a man’s vivid memories of World War II, an 83-year-old widow who had traveled to 183 countries after losing her husband, and a local doctor who visited Albania to help refugees with their countless horror stories. The stories and the people behind them all touched my heart in different ways.

WineOne of my jobs now is writing magazine articles for Century 21’s Life at Home Magazine based in Canada. I was given the assignment to write about a winery and the man, George Hanson, who runs it.

(The marketing company that produces the magazine had a wine tasting contest to choose which winery would be featured in the magazine. The Legend from George’s winery, The Seven Stones, won hands down. Man, wish I could have been there to participate, but no such luck!)

So I gave George a call.

He begins by telling me about how he moved from the wild and mountainous Whitehorse, Yukon, well-known for its dog sledding and viewing of the Northern Lights, to British Columbia to fulfill his lifelong dream of creating a vineyard and winery from the ground up.

I ask about the name of his winery, Seven Stones, and he tells me of the legend behind the seven rock formations scattered throughout the Similkameen Valley. The native people believe the rocks were there to remind them of what’s important in life. The rocks represent relationships, love, food, water, fire, magic, and home.

“I planted the vineyard, but it was a bit lonely,” George admits.

I wasn’t expecting an enchanting love story, but George starts telling me about how he met a woman online named Vivianne. “We fell in love and I convinced her to marry me,” he says. “She moved here and together we started to build the wine business.”

It was all going well, until George wanted to fulfill his ultimate dream to build an elaborate underground cave to store the wine. His wife had other priorities. Vivianne wanted to build a home and get out of the double-wide trailer she called, “the ugliest house in the world.” She offered to pay for it and the building commenced.

After their charming home was finished, George still wanted to build the cave, but his wife was resistant. Clever George suggested visiting some wineries in Napa, California – just to get some ideas for their own winery. Vivianne was game. George made sure every single winery they saw had a cave.

“That did the trick,” he chuckles on the phone. “We came home and she said, ‘why don’t we build a cave?’ As if it were her idea.”

I laugh, amused by the charming love story. They agreed that Vivianne’s son, Colin, would tackle the project and began making plans for the massive caves.

“And then she died,” George says.

WHAT? Nothing prepared me for this somber moment. My editor had sent me a link to George’s website, which I checked out before the interview for background information, but it didn’t say anything about his late wife. “Oh no,” I say quietly.

George explains that Vivianne had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer a year after they got married. They thought they had beat the disease, but then the cancer returned with a vengeance.

After Vivianne died, her son moved in as previously planned. George and Colin began building the underground caves. Halfway through the project, George was leafing through a book on caves and by fluke discovered instructions that his wife had painstakingly written regarding the final details.

“Colin and I changed our plans,” George says. “The little French Canadian girl always got the last word,” he adds with an affectionate chuckle.

Now, I’m wiping a tear away.

Four years have passed since George’s tragic loss. Vivianne didn’t live to see their dream of a world-class underground cave built, but they were finished in her honor about two years after her death.

Mind you, these are no ordinary caves. We’re talking about an Old World-style cave with a spiral staircase, a commercial kitchen, a cave for events that sits 80 people, and even a waterfall to provide just the right amount of humidity. And of course, a man-cave entrance from George’s home.

George then describes the music that resonates through the acoustically-perfect caves every day. Baroque-style classical music with such a pure sound visitors often shiver and some even shed a few tears. The music plays around the clock to help the wine ferment. George firmly believes the vibration helps produce better wine.

Maybe he has something, since the 2013 vintage produced the award-winning Legend wine, which is George’s all-time favorite and the winery’s most popular wine.

I love George’s story, not only because it’s so darn romantic, but also because it shows the reliance of the human spirit. Even though George never remarried, his story does not have a sad ending.

“I have a good life,” George says. “I’ve had my ups and downs with Vivianne passing, but overall it’s been wonderful.”

As he makes plans to build more warehouses on top of the caves, George says joyfully that he is living his lifelong dream with no regrets. “I wouldn’t change a thing.”

He enjoys hosting special events in his caves, the breathtaking views from the winery’s patio, and personally supervising the wine-making every step of the way with an extraordinary passion for what he does best. In other words, to quote the title of my blog, George has found his baby boomer bliss!

I love that. And if I ever venture his way, I am visiting those caves!

Image courtesy of mrsiraphol at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Aging is a Gift

Earlier this month I turned 55.

Five years ago, when I reached the half-century mark, I’m embarrassed to admit that I ranted and raved, pouted and protested, and seethed and sulked.  Fifty felt old and I didn’t want to get old.

Now, I look back on that and think, how stupid was I?

Cheryl with my father-in-law shortly after they married 37 years ago.

Cheryl with my father-in-law shortly after they married 37 years ago.

As readers of my blog know, my mother died on June 13, giving me a painful reminder just how precious and fleeting life can be. And now my step-mother-in-law, Cheryl, who is only 60 and one of the bravest women I know, lost her battle with ovarian cancer. She died last night.

When the cancer was discovered, Cheryl was ready to tackle the challenge with gusto. “Just tell me what to do and we’ll do it,” she courageously stated as a matter-of-fact. And she did. However, after surgery, chemo, and then finally an experimental drug that just about killed her, the aggressive cancer kept spreading and nothing stopped it. Last week, Cheryl decided to stop all treatments and come home to die. Doctors supported that choice and Cheryl told her family that the decision to die gave her peace.

My father-in-law lost his first wife to cancer when she was only 37. It breaks my heart to see him go through this again. And I have to confess, at a time when I am beginning to heal from my own mother’s death, watching my husband’s family go through this excruciating process has brought all those agonizing memories flooding back.

So I write this blog with a gaping wound in my heart. I weep for my Mom, my mother-in-law who never saw her 40s, and for Cheryl who fought courageously to the end. I also write this blog as a reminder to myself and all of you.

Like the popular quote from an unknown source says: “Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.”  Those words are seen everywhere and have become a cliche, but it’s true. Take those words into your heart and deep inside your soul.

Forget the wrinkles. Forget the aching muscles. Forget the fuzzy memory. Forget that you are getting older and you want to rebel against it.

Aging is a gift and a blessing.

If you are lucky enough to get old, the story of your life becomes more meaningful. Your life evolves into a one-of-a-kind, unique journey filled with wisdom and a renewed sense of purpose. You experience the gratitude that comes with every passing day that will enhance your life.

As Frank Lloyd Wright said, “The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes.” That why we all need to embrace and celebrate every day we are alive, giving God thanks for the privilege.

I’ll never complain about a birthday again.

 

 

 

Dealing with Dementia: Free Screenings

As regular readers of my blog know, my Mom suffered from Lewy Body dementia – a cruel combination of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. I was her primary caregiver until her death in June and have written several blogs on the subject in the past.

Alzheimer'sThe Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is launching its first annual National Memory Screening week, scheduled for November 1-7. The screenings will be free and confidential, and if deemed necessary, refer people to appropriate follow-up services.

To raise awareness of this event, I am happy to feature a guest blog from Vicki Tapia who cared for her father who had Parkinson’s-related dementia and her mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Her courageous story as she faced challenges, turbulent emotions, and painful decisions is inspiring and heart-touching:

WHO ARE YOU? WHERE AM I?

It was the weekend of our family reunion and almost everyone was gathered together at my parent’s condo to celebrate a milestone. Our patriarch, my dad, was turning 90. When the front doorbell rang, Mom opened the door, took one look at her oldest granddaughter and asked in a perplexed tone of voice, “Who are you?” After a moment of silence, we all laughed a little uncomfortably, but brushed it off, rationalizing the comment as a manifestation of Mom’s stress in caring for Dad, who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It was not mentioned again.

Our family continued to somehow normalize or overlook the ever-increasing signs that something was not quite right with Mom’s behavior. Another two years passed before she finally agreed to be evaluated by her health care provider, around the same time Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s-related dementia.  Although by this time our family wasn’t completely surprised by Mom’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, we were alarmed to hear she was already considered to be in the “moderate” stage of the disease. I later learned this scenario is typical.

Studies tell us that the delay in diagnosis can be attributed to the family’s own denial in not wanting to face the fact that something is wrong. In retrospect, this probably applied to our family. Sometimes a fear of diagnosis can result in reluctance on the part of the affected person to agree to an evaluation, particularly if it involves an adult child prodding an intractable parent. Healthcare costs may also be a factor in avoiding an assessment by a qualified health care provider (HCP). The oft-perceived stigma associated with a potential diagnosis of dementia/Alzheimer’s can be a barrier to evaluation for the entire family.

National Memory Screening Week

In an effort to promote the importance of early detection of memory problems, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) has launched the first annual National Memory Screening week, scheduled for November 1-7.

The screenings will be free and confidential, and if deemed necessary, refer people on to appropriate follow-up services. One of the goals of the screening is to work toward eliminating the stigma and fears associated with dementia. The AFA also hopes to alleviate fears for the people who do participate in the memory screening, but do not show a concerning memory problem.

For more information about the screening (date, time) and a list of participating sites, visit: www.nationalmemoryscreening.org.

Who should consider having a memory screening?

  • Anyone concerned about memory loss or experiencing any of the warning signs of dementia.

  • Anyone who feels they’re at risk because of a family history of Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.

  • Anyone who wants a baseline evaluation of their memory for future comparisons, even though they don’t have a current concern.

If you or a loved one answer “yes” to any of the following questions provided by the AFA, it may be prudent to participate in the free memory screening.

  • Are you becoming more forgetful?

  • Do you have any trouble concentrating?

  • Do you have difficulty when performing familiar tasks?

  • Do you have trouble recalling names or words during conversation?

  • Do you sometimes forget where you’re going or where you are?

  • Have friends or family told you that you’re saying the same thing over and over or repeating questions?

  • Do you often misplace things?

  • Have you become lost when driving to a familiar place or walking in your neighborhood?

  • Have your family or friends told you they’ve noticed changes in your behavior, moods, personality, or desire to engage socially?

For more info:

http://nationalmemoryscreening.org/screening-sites-info.php

The scene described in the opening paragraph of this blog is based on an excerpt from my memoir, Somebody Stole My Iron, which details the daily challenges, turbulent emotions, and the many painful decisions involved in caring for my parents. Laced with humor and pathos, reviewers describe my book as “brave,” “honest,” “raw,” “unvarnished,” as well as a “must-read for every Alzheimer’s/dementia patient’s family.” I wrote this story to offer hope to others whose lives have been intimately affected by this dreadful disease, to reassure them that they’re not alone.    

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Four other engaging books about dementia/Alzheimer’s disease I’m pleased to recommend include:

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On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s by Greg O’Brien

Greg O’Brien’s story isn’t about losing someone else to Alzheimer’s, it is about losing himself. Acting on long-term memory and skill, coupled with well-developed journalistic grit, O’Brien decided to tackle the disease and his imminent decline by writing frankly about the journey. “On Pluto is a book about living with Alzheimer’s, not dying with it.” 

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Alzheimer’s Daughter by Jean Lee

Jean’s memoir details her journey caring for both parents who were diagnosed on the same day. It is written with wincing honesty about the cruel affects of the disease, but a WWII love story held together by faith and family is contained within the pages.

 

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Blue Hydrangeas by Marianne Sciucco

Marianne describes herself as a writer who happens to be a nurse. She writes this work of fiction based upon her care for the elderly. It’s a tenderly told love story about Jack and Sara, owners of a New England bed and breakfast. Sara is stricken with Alzheimer’s and Jack becomes her caregiver.

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What Flowers Remember by Shannon Wiersbitzky

Shannon writes this work of fiction through the eyes of a young girl, not surprising perhaps, as her author bio notes that her own grandfather had Alzheimer’s. In the story, when thirteen-year-old Delia Burns realizes that her elderly neighbor is beginning to forget, she involves the entire town in saving his memories.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Baby Boomers Cause a Boom in Wellness Industry

We all know that health and happiness are connected. Perhaps no one knows that better than us baby boomers as we age.

Turns out that our interest in longevity and living well into old age is giving the wellness industry quite a boost. Organic foods, yoga studios, fitness clubs, and natural beauty products are experiencing substantial growth, according to new industry reports. You might think it’s the millennials who are pushing these trends. However, we baby boomers are doing our share to bolster these holistic markets.

We want to improve our health and delay the physical effect of aging – but true to our hippy roots – we want to do it naturally.

How can you jump on the bandwagon to take advantage of some of latest offerings from the wellness industry? Here are a few ways:

Organic FoodsHealthier Foods

Boomers have been reading food-product labels for years, but we’ve become even more conscious of our diets as we age. The fact is that boomers are paying more attention than previous generations to food choices.

A survey by Whole Foods indicated that four in five boomers are more food conscious, more attentive to food labels, and know more about the origins of their food products than they did in the past.

Evidently, we’re jumping on the trend to buy organic foods as well. Sales of organic food have soared in the last decade – from $3 billion in 1997 to more than $10 billion in 2003, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. No doubt, this is due to the controversial use of synthetic pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, additives, and insecticides, as well as a concern about environmental practices.

Even boomers like me, who don’t always buy organic, are interested in healthier options. I’m steering away from processed food and definitely into eating more fruits and vegetables. As part of that goal, I’m planning to plant a garden in my new backyard this year. 

If you’re not in this category and still driving through McDonald’s, why not start taking advantage of all the new options out there and start eating healthier today? 

Baby Boomer ExerciseTrendy Exercise

Compared to older generations, fitness is more culturally ingrained in baby boomers. For many of us, exercise is part of our daily routine. However, although we want a good workout, boomers also want to have fun.

Forget low-impact aerobics. We’re signing up for Zumba, yoga, and kick boxing classes. Stroll around the park? Heck no! Give us a mountain bike or kayak instead. Or we’re out jumping on the trampoline with our grandkids.

As a result, fitness programs geared to boomers are popping up around the country. People ages 55 and older are one of the fastest growing segments of gym membership, according to research firm IBISWorld. In fact, the study predicts the boomer generation will help push the fitness category to nearly $30 billion by 2018.

“Baby boomers have changed every market they have passed through, starting with baby food and diapers through education and right up to the automotive industry,” said Lori Bitter, president of consulting firm the Business of Aging in Alameda. “Now it’s fitness.”

Once again, that’s good news.

New research just published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that those of us who sit for long hours raise our average risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and early death. Yikes! 

So boomers, we need to get moving. Take advantage of some of those trendy exercise classes designed just for us or try aqua cycling or indoor surfing. Whatever rocks your boat – even if it’s simply walking  – just get off your butt!

Natural Beauty Products

Our generation’s approach to getting older is a bit of denial. That’s why we’re always on the hunt for beauty products that are good for our skin and help us look as young as we feel.

I personally have no interest in plastic surgery. My wrinkles tell my life story and I’m keeping them. And of course, there are more important things to focus on than our looks. That being said, I have my share of anti-aging beauty products.  I’m grateful for improved technology and an increased availability of skin care treatments and products. And if they’re all-natural – bonus points.

“Making them [baby boomers] look vibrant and sexy as they get older is huge,” says Mary Furlong, a professor of entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University in California and author of Turning Silver Into Gold. A higher divorce rate among boomers than previous generations also means an renewed interest in beauty and body services. “When you are 60 and dating again, it takes a good week to look good,” says Furlong, who is nearly 60 herself.

So, if you’re so inclined, why not have some fun and embrace this natural beauty trend as well? There are a lot of interesting products out there like lemon honey moisturizer, organic rose hip oil serum, or a cleaning oil made from tea tree and lavender.

We boomers are getting older but evidently we’re still influencing industry specialists who are scrambling to understand our wants and needs as part of the lucrative boomer market. Of course, their primary goal is to make money off of us, but we boomers can take advantage of some of the new options becoming available.

Or not. Totally up to you. You certainly don’t need to try all the new trends to stay healthy and happy. Simple common sense will get you there.

Whatever you choose to do, as Spock would say: Live long and prosper, boomers!

Images courtesy of Stoonn and stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.