Category Archives: Gratefulness

How Baby Boomers Can Show Gratitude Every Single Day

Today, in the U.S. and Canada, many people are celebrating Thanksgiving. Have you baby boomers noticed how this holiday has changed over the past few decades?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Five Uplifting Things Baby Boomers Should Tell Themselves Every Day

There is this quote I saw on Pinterest: “What you tell yourself every day will either lift you up or tear you down.”

Depressed ManLike that song, “You Had a Bad Day,” Monday was a terrible day for me. I’ll spare you the details, but no matter what I tried, I felt rattled, my feelings were hurt, and I felt sad and depressed. I cried a bucket of tears and blew my diet by eating tons of Doritos.

Oh, I’m sure you baby boomers been there at different times of your life and know what I’m talking about.

So I woke up the next morning asking myself what I needed to tell myself to turn things around. The following is a list I came up with after some thought. Not that these words were a cure-all, but they did help me to have a better day.

My hope is that you can tell yourself these words when you’re having a bad day – or on any day preferably first thing in the morning – and have a happier day as well.

Here’s my list:

#1 Today is a New Day

New DayWhen you’re feeling down, this is actually a great thought. I woke up the next morning and got a do-over. I resolved to lean on God for strength and gave him thanks for another day of life.

I enjoyed savoring some quiet time with my first cup of coffee, and reminded myself that each day is brimming with opportunities and possibilities. Every new day offers a chance to make necessary changes that will make us happier, nourish ourselves spiritually, be whoever we want to be, improve ourselves, learn something new, eat healthier, take steps to promote healing in our lives, or make someone else’s life better.

If you are looking for ways to start your day on a positive note, check out my blog, Ten Ways To Start Your Morning Right, for some inspiration.

As a famous quote wisely says: “It’s never too late. If you weren’t happy with yesterday, try something different today.”

#2 This Too Shall Pass

My Mom used this phrase a lot with us kids and I use it like a chant sometimes. Coincidentally, a friend who knew I was having a bad day, texted me this great reminder. As I wrote in a previous blog, when we’re in the middle of a crisis, loss, or setback, we may feel like the situation and the emotions that come with it will last forever, yet it inevitably passes.

You baby boomers have lived long enough to know that life goes on and takes us with it. With God’s help, our ability and infinite capacity to endure and bounce back is far greater than we think.

#3 Let It Go

ForgiveLike driving a car, we may glance behind us every once in a while, but we can’t move forward if we’re concentrating on the road behind us. Let go of the past and let go of all those angry feelings, bitterness, and resentment.

Don’t allow someone else’s actions to dominate your life. Choose to embrace forgiveness and move forward. It is only through forgiveness that we find peace, freedom, empowerment, and happiness.

#4 Do Not Allow Anxious Thoughts to Steal Away Joy

This is a hard one of me. I have a tendency to get stressed out, worry excessively, feel overwhelmed, and overthink problems. I’ve written quite a few blogs on this subject, and I’m still working on it.

Being anxious is more than just a waste of time. It makes us suffer, zaps our energy, damages our health, and accomplishes nothing.

So, I got up the next morning and told myself to stop. To use the power of prayer for the peace of God that excels all thought. To notice the small and ordinary things that can make my day special and savor moments with my loved ones. To exercise and breathe deeply whenever I needed to calm myself. To do something that brings me joy. And to replace negative thoughts with more productive ones.

With decades of experience under my belt, I know all this stuff, but I needed reminders. What can I say? It’s a work in progress.

#5 I Can Create Any Feeling I Want

That’s such an empowering thought. While it’s true, we can’t control everything that happens to us and what other people do or say, we are not powerless over our emotions. Other people and situations do not determine our feelings. We do.

Feeling sad, frustrated, stressed, or angry are not our only choices. We can choose to feel peaceful, grateful, and content. Not always an easy process, but doable. (See my previous blog, Happiness is Easy as 1-2-3, for steps on how to do so).

The fact is that only we, and we alone, have the power to create any feeling we desire.

So that was my self-inflicted pep talk today. Please share what phrases you feel are “musts” for a happier day in the comments below!

Images courtesy of graur codrin, FrameAngel, and Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

How Baby Boomers Can Find Themselves Again After Life-Altering Events

Do you feel like you need to find yourself again? Baby boomers can go through a lot of major life changes that throw off your sense of self. Retirement, caregiving, empty nest syndrome, divorce, or the loss of a loved one can change your life forever. 

After my mother’s death, I got a letter from the hospice bereavement coordinator that helped my family care for my mother in her final days. They acknowledged that family members who have spent most of their time caring for their loved ones for months or perhaps years often ask themselves after their death, “Where do I go?” or “What do I do?” 

Finding Yourself

That’s exactly how I felt after my Mom died.

I was the primary caregiver for my Mom who had Lewy Body dementia, a combination of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s that rendered her helpless both physically and mentally. Being a caregiver was the hardest job I’ve ever had – by far. When she passed away last June, I assumed that while I would grieve for my Mom, I would also feel a sense of relief that my job was finished and my life could get back to normal.

Instead, I felt lethargic, depressed, and yes, lost after she died. My life, my thoughts, and my feelings had revolved around the care of my mother. I discovered that when your roles change drastically, you lose a sense of who you are. Your self-image is shattered.

This uncomfortable feeling can happen whenever you go through a major change in your life.  Perhaps you’ve recently retired or became an empty nester. After dreaming of all the things you’d do when you had more time after child rearing and working 9 to 5, you feel lost instead.

Remember, although you may no longer be a caregiver, part of a couple, an employee, or full-time parent, you are still 100 percent you. You just need to find that person again. 

How?

Allow Yourself Time to Mourn

GrievingIf you have suffered a loss, be kind and patient with yourself. Acknowledge your feelings instead of sweeping them under a rug. Everyone is different. Emotions can range from anger, loss, guilt, sadness, lethargy, regret, confusion, and depression.

Whether you lost a loved one, a spouse in divorce, or a job, you may have lost your lifestyle and identity as well. It’s okay to mourn that loss.

However, be careful not to isolate yourself during this process. You’ll need a network of support. Healing may mean lots of heartfelt prayer, talking out your feelings with a supportive loved one, and/or focusing your energy in a healthy activity you enjoy.

Let it Go

As I wrote in my blog, Moving Forward After Adversity, avoid getting stuck in all the “I should have…” or “I wish…” feelings that often comes with grieving but can interfere with your recovery. Don’t allow sorrow, stress, resentment, or bitterness to become a way of life.  Take all that negative self talk out of your head like, “I’ve lost everything” or “My life is over.” The fact of the matter is that your life isn’t over; it’s just a new beginning for you.

The goal is not to wallow forever in negative feelings but to move on, be there for the people who need you, have a meaningful and productive life, and enjoy living once again. Be grateful for what IS working in your life right now. Live in the present and focus on the positive. Learn from your experiences and prepare yourself for the next exciting chapter of your life.

Moving ForwardRediscover Yourself

It’s easy to get lost in caring for your family and children or elderly parents or nurturing a career. You may have given up a lot of things that you enjoyed. Make time to get to know yourself again.

“To move your life forward, it has to start by focusing on yourself,” wrote Mark Branschick, M.D. in an article, Seven Ways to Thrive After Divorce, for Psychology Today. “Use this precious opportunity to rediscover who you are. Think of this time in your life as an adventure to explore the real you.”

You can lose sight of your unique gifts if you’re focusing on what you don’t like about yourself or your life. Think about your qualities and skills and how you can best use them. What truly makes you happy? What really matters to you? What do you feel is your true purpose in life? What hobbies and activities did you enjoy before becoming a caregiver, a married couple, or a parent? What is it that will make you excited to get out of bed every day? Make a list of what you can do to reach your goals. 

Rediscover what brought you fulfillment, satisfaction, fun, and joy as a way of rebuilding yourself and your life.

Reinvent Yourself

My life changed overnight and that can be disconcerting. Last summer, we moved into a new home we had built to be closer to my Mom (who unfortunately died the week before it was finished). My husband and I went from being empty nesters to a house full of grown children and grandchildren. Plus, I had to find new clients as a freelance writer and begin working again.

It was a tumultuous year in other ways as well. As I’ve shared before, my mother-in-law lost her fight against ovarian cancer and my son began going through a nasty divorce and custody battle.

Let’s get real, between all these events and changes in my life, I was shaken. I felt fragile and fought depression for the first time in my life.

It’s been a journey, but I am beginning to recover and heal. In the process, I’m learning to embrace all the new changes in my life. My new job writing magazine articles does require meeting strict deadlines, but the subjects are fun and it’s exciting work. We are a multi-generational family living together, but I’ve come to enjoy having the cocoon of family love around me during this difficult time. My oldest son is going through many of the same emotions as I am as he finds his way after divorce and we’ve connected on a whole new level. When our three grandchildren are with us, they bring us joy and keep us young.

My friend, Cindy (left), me, and my husband getting ready to zip line for the first time.

My friend, Cindy (left), me, and my husband getting ready to zip line for the first time.

So, don’t be afraid of change. Get out of your comfort zone and discover a new side of yourself. Maybe that means a new career, trying a new sport, traveling to a new place, changing your hair, or taking classes. Shake things up a little.

A few years ago, I reconnected with a childhood friend, Cindy, who was also a caregiver. In the last few years, she lost her husband and both her parents.

Cindy is my inspiration. Talk about embracing change. She is traveling around the world, went back to school, and moved to North Carolina to be near her daughter and three grandchildren. We went zip lining together for the first time and are making plans to go up, up, and away in a balloon next time she visits.

Embrace Your New Role

You will go through several stages before this step can happen. However, the time comes when you make a choice. You can move on and discover possibilities that a life change presents you or get stuck in negative emotions.

Find a way to put one foot in front of the other. If you can move forward, eventually you’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know this from experience.

In time, you’ll reconnect with old friends or make new friends, go to work, back to school, or volunteer, rediscover what once brought you joy, enjoy new adventures, and find your way. You’ll look at the changes in your life in a positive way, feel more confident and in control, and become more productive and optimistic about your future.

The time will come when you will find yourself again, embrace your new role in life, and feel like your new shoes are a good fit. You will breathe a sigh of relief. Life will never be perfect, but eventually, you won’t have to struggle so hard to “make it work.” It just will.

Images courtesy of surasakiStock, Ambro, and renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

My Personal Review of 2015

I am taking the next couple of weeks off, so this will be my last blog of the year. Hard to believe that only two weeks remain of 2015. So what are my final thoughts about this year?

My husband, Scott, and I on a recent trip to San Francisco.

My husband, Scott, and I on a recent trip to San Francisco.

There’s a certain irony that after starting a blog called Baby Boomer Bliss, I had the worst year so far in my life. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean that every day was terrible.

That’s the thing, when things aren’t going according to plan, we encounter challenges, or even when we suffer from tragic events, we cannot afford to squander priceless moments of our lives. We simply don’t have the luxury to spend what little time we have on earth worried about the future or stuck in the past.

For example, this last weekend, my husband, two sons, and daughter-in-law enjoyed a quick but delightful getaway to Monterey and San Francisco. The beauty of these two places with all the breathtaking views, dramatic coastline, and pristine forests along with the terrific company made this a trip to remember.

Our family also enjoyed a fabulous vacation together camping in Sequoia and Yosemite this last summer with many treasured moments.

Our family in Yosemite this past summer.

Our family in Yosemite this past summer.

Along with these cherished memories, there are certainly important things I’ve learned this year that I wouldn’t have otherwise appreciated as fully.

I learned that with God’s help, I am stronger than I thought. Losing my mother and mother-in-law helped me understand that you cannot put off until tomorrow what you need and want to do today – tomorrow is not guaranteed. It’s given me perspective as to what’s important in my life and what is trivial.

As I’ve pulled closer to my family through the stressful events this year, my love has grown deeper for my loved ones. After 37 years of marriage, I was reminded that my husband and biggest supporter rocks! I am so fortunate that my children – including my youngest son’s wife — are also my best friends. My older son’s divorce and custody battle was awful beyond words but drew my son and I closer than ever and made me even more grateful for my grandchildren and the precious time I have with them. This year also made me thankful for all the love and kindness shown by friends and members of my congregation.

In memory of my Mom who died in June. Our family has enjoyed sailing for more than 30 years - Mom loved it too. People at the dock admired her for walking down the plank to get on the boat with her walker.

In memory of my Mom who died in June. Our family has enjoyed sailing for more than 30 years – Mom loved it too. People at the dock admired her for walking down the plank to get on the boat with her walker.

Caregiving for my mother who had Lewy Body dementia full-time before her death has given me a new-found appreciation and empathy for all of you out there who are in the same boat. Losing my mother drew me closer to my father and siblings. It also helped me learn the importance of consoling others who have lost loved ones through this most difficult time.

While I wouldn’t want to repeat this year, as hard as it was, I wouldn’t want to trade it away either. 

However, I am at heart an optimist, and am hopeful that 2016 will be a year for fresh beginnings and a time to refocus and recharge after a challenging year.

I hope the same for all of you. A big thank-you to the 13,000 people who have visited my blog and a big hug to those of you who took the time to leave wonderful comments that always make my day.

See you next year!

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.

 

 

 

Five Ways to Celebrate Make a Difference Day

Want to be happy?

Make a difference in someone’s life.

For more than two decades, on the fourth Saturday of October of every year – which falls on October 24th this year – millions of volunteers unite to prove the universal truth found in the Bible: there is more happiness in giving than in receiving.

Can you reach out to an elderly person and make a difference in their lives?

Can you reach out to an elderly person and make a difference in their lives?

Of course, I’m talking about Make a Difference Day. It is a day to celebrate the power of people to make a difference.

If you’re looking for ideas, suggestions proliferate on the Internet this time of year.

Since I was a caregiver for my Mom who had dementia until she recently died, my thoughts are with the elderly this year. With that in mind, here are five ideas to help you make a difference in an elderly person’s life:

  1. Visit senior citizens at a nursing home. Offer to read the Bible or their favorite book to them. Decorate their rooms with homemade art that your children or grandchildren make. Offer your pet for therapy.
  2. Pick up groceries or medicine for an elderly person who is unable to drive.
  3. Offer to help with heavy-duty housework or yard work. Clean gutters, wash windows, shovel snow, or rake leaves.
  4. Go for a walk with an elderly person. If they are in a wheelchair, offer to push them around a beautiful park.
  5. Teach a senior friend how to use a computer or the Internet.

Of course, you need not limit yourself to the elderly. This is the perfect day to show a bit of kindness and gratitude to all the people in your life.

Thank those who make a difference in your life.

Thank those who make a difference in your life.

Why not write thank-you notes to those who serve you such as the mailman, teachers, grocery clerks, and waitresses? Bake cookies for your local fire department. Or simply compliment those who make your life better and thank them for all that they do.

Donate school supplies to a classroom, give books, crayons, or toys to a children’s hospital, donate a bike to a homeless person, or give clothes to a family in need. Volunteer at a local animal shelter. Plant a garden and share the produce.

Don’t forget to show love to people in your own family. Take turns making a special meal or treat for each other and celebrate each member of the family. Thank them for always being there for you.

Pray as a family for the people in your life on a regular basis. Make a difference in your children and grandchildren’s life by reading the Bible as a family every day.

In other words, let your light shine. Of course, don’t limit your acts of kindness to the fourth Saturday of October. Make a concentrated effort to make a difference in someone’s life every day.

Because here’s the basic truth: Bring a bit of bliss into someone’s life and you will find bliss yourself.

Image courtesy of worradmu and Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Residents of Australia’s Small Towns Happiest According to New Survey

I recently posted a photo of a sign on my Facebook author’s page: “You can’t say good eye might without sounding Australian.”

AustraliaHa, ha. Very true. I just love an Australian accent.

I’ve visited Australia in the past and absolutely loved the place. I even do some writing for Property Women, a group of powerhouse Aussie women who invest in property, and it’s an absolute pleasure to work with them.

I must say, people in general seem incredibly relaxed and happy in the land down under. However, it seems that some people there are happier than others. They just happen to live in the tiniest towns, according to a comprehensive survey by the University of Melbourne.

They interviewed 17,000 people and found that Australians who lived in towns with fewer than 1,000 people are significantly happier and enjoy higher levels of life satisfaction than those who lived in big cities.

Why is that?

Here is what a few people from those small towns had to say in an article written by Jennifer King for Australia Broadcasting Corporation:

  • Mission Beach Tourism chairman Chris Jahnke lives in the small tropical town, Mission Beach Village, Queensland, which boasts a population of 765. He has been a local since 2003, after moving there from Melbourne. It is the sense of community which makes him happy to live there. “Just driving down the road and waving to people, you know,” he says.
  • A sleepy hamlet in the Southern Highlands, Burrawang has a whopping population of 238. Quaint country lanes meander through peaceful, flower-filled gardens with cows grazing nearby. Artist Susan Buret moved from Brisbane to the village in 2009, and loves the solitude and quiet. “There are no street lights so you can see the night sky, the air is fresh and there’s a sense of safety because we all know one another,” she says. “There are no parking hassles, kids can walk to school, there’s more space for your buck so you can have a great studio or a big veggie garden and chooks (that’s Aussie for chickens by the way).”
  • Mataranka has a population of 244 people. Irish nurse Leona Hannigan, moved from London to the center of Australia and feels that it has been one of the best things she has ever done. ‘From my experience in Australia, I notice people in Mataranka are happier,” she says. “They are very welcoming and, because it’s such a small community, you get to know people in the area.”

Australia 2It’s easy to see the attraction. A tranquil and slower way of life, a true sense of community, and lots of nature and fresh air. What’s not to love? I feel calmer just visualizing these places.

The other thing I noticed from the interviews was an appreciation for the most basic, simple, and joyful things in life that we often take for granted. For example, they mentioned a beautiful night sky, a veggie garden, or the pleasure of just waving to other friendly people.

No matter where we live, we can try to slow down and incorporate some of that gratefulness into our lives. Check out my blog, Savor the Day, if you could use some tips on how to do so. 

Eddie Cantor, a vaudeville, film, and radio star famous for his song Makin’ Whoopee, said it well. “Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”

Images courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn and Jennifer Ellison at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

What Are Your Life’s Happiest Moments?

If you look back on your life, which moments would you count as your happiest? What would be your biggest regrets?

time to evaluateThat’s the intriguing question online insurance company Beagle Street asked 1000 “life experts” aged 70 or older to mark the release of a new heartwarming, short four-minute film called “Happiest Moment.”

The film is produced by BAFTA-nominated Gary Tarn and features some of UK’s oldest couples – including Maurice and Helen Kaye from Bournemouth, who are 102 and 101 and have been married for 80 years.

Fascinating stuff, right? What did the older generation say and would you agree with their answers?

The Happiest Moments in Life

Happiest momentsPerhaps not surprisingly, the top three best moments in life the participants listed were the birth of their first child, their wedding day, and the birth of their grandchildren.

Other happiest moments included the day of retirement, moving into a new home, meeting the man or woman of their dreams, the first kiss with the person they love, and watching their child’s first steps and hearing their first words.

By the way, in case you’re wondering, the subsequent births of siblings rated number four on the list of happiest moments. As the oldest of four, maybe I feel just a bit smug about that.

One woman described the joy she felt seeing her wounded husband in a hospital during World War II as one of her happiest moments in one of the touching interviews that might have you dabbing your eyes.

What noticeably did not make the top ten on their list were any career-related achievements or anything to do with material gains. Obviously, job promotions and buying a fancy car were not as important as loving relationships.

We can learn from that, folks.

Regrets in Life

Interestingly, more than half the people questioned said they had absolutely no regrets in life.

The most common regret of those that had them was choosing the wrong career and not pursuing lifelong dreams.

Also in the top five were getting divorced and getting married too soon. One in ten of those with regrets wished they had worked harder in school and seven per cent regretted not traveling the world more.

old manAdvice from Life Experts

The short film, Happiest Moment, includes advice from the older generation aimed at the younger ones. What wisdom from their experience in life did they want to pass on to the generation following them?

The number one piece of advice was to never take the people you love for granted.

Other top pearls of wisdom were “believe in yourself,” “nothing worth having comes easy,” and
“don’t hold grudges.”

What Can We Learn?

Since it’s scientifically proven that happier people live longer, we should take some notes.

What makes life matter when you look back?

Me – I would agree with most of their choices. The primary difference is that I would include the day I got baptized and dedicated my life to God on my list of happiest moments. After that, I would definitely include the day I met and married my husband, our first kiss, and the births of my children and grandchildren at the top of my list.

Clearly, relationships with those we love are more important than money and the key to contentment according to this study of older people in Britain who were looking back at the high points in their lives.

Matthew Gledhill, managing director of Beagle Street, put it well when he said: “The overwhelming message from those with the most life experience is that the key to happiness is to worry less and live in the moment with the people you care about most.”

Still living in the moment, one 80-year-old woman said, “I’m happier now than I’ve ever been.”

True, this study is not exactly scientific and gives us a limited snapshot of happiness, but it supports countless research that suggests family relationships and social connections overrides career or monetary success when it comes to happiness and life satisfaction.

In other words, counting your blessings instead of your material gains will definitely give more meaning to your life at the end of the day.

How about you? Do you agree with their list of life’s most fulfilling and joyful moments? I’d love to know. If you’re so inclined, tell me what you would include on your list in the comments below.

Images courtesy of Stuart Miles, kangshutters, and taoty at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Why You Can Celebrate Turning 50

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This year the youngest of the baby boomers turns 50.

Here’s my confession: Although I didn’t blink an eye when I turned 30 or 40, three years ago when it was time to turn the big 5-0, I rallied against it.

Reaching the half-century mark felt like I was moving into the final phase of life and, well, like I was OLD. Menopause had arrived, it was time for a colonoscopy, and my bank offered me the dreaded senior discount. To add insult to injury, I had to have a dental implant and shoulder surgery.

Once I moved past the birthday, however, I soon changed my mind.

Fifty was actually a great time in my life. I had recently become a full-time minister, learned sign language, and did volunteer work with the deaf. I was still able to fulfill my lifelong dream of writing professionally and had taken on some new, interesting writing projects. I had a great marriage, kids, and grandkids.

On top of that, I came to value the experience and wisdom that only comes with age. I’ve learned to forgive more easily, to live more simply and in the present, to let go of perfection, to be more grateful, to value the people I love, and to laugh at myself. I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff anymore – and learned that nearly everything is ‘small stuff.’

A lifelong people-pleaser, I learned to say no and to let go of people that only bring negativity to my life. I don’t have the energy, interest, or patience for drama anymore. Thanks to menopause, no more periods, PMS, threat of a late life pregnancy, or worries about cysts and fibroids. What freedom! And thank-goodness, achieving that perfect bikini body is no longer on my list of things to do, which is incredibly liberating.

In other words, fifty doesn’t mean you become the stereotypical frumpy, wrinkled menopausal witch or the over-sexed, botoxed cougar with fake boobs trying to nab that young guy.

 Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s true, 50 can be freaking fabulous!

Look at Katie Couric who became the first female solo anchor of a national evening news show right before she turned 50.  Or Laura Ingalls Wilder, who saw the first of her Little House books published when she was in her 60s. Colonel Sanders didn’t come up with the secrete recipe until he was 50. Or how about the fab Diane Keaton who produced her seventh movie and realistically played the heartthrob of 39-year-old Keanu Reeves in the funny movie, Something’s Gotta Give, at the age of 57?

Michelle Obama, who dances and wears classy clothes, just turned 50. She told Parade magazine, “I have never felt more confident in myself, more clear on who I am as a woman.”

Personally, this has been true for me. I wouldn’t go back to my 20s with all its insecurities and angst if you paid me a million dollars. I finally know what makes me happy – what I want personally, spiritually, and professionally and how to get it.

“A seasoned woman is spicy,” writes Gail Sheehy, the over-50 author of Passages and founder of the Seasoned Women’s Network online. “She has been marinated in life experience. She is at the peak of her influence and power. She is committed to living fully and passionately in the second half of life, despite failures and false starts.”

I agree with Gail. We are seasoned, sassy, and spicy. Most of us are still physically strong at this age and ready to tackle new challenges. As an extra perk, it turns out we are smarter. Older folks performed better on four of six cognitive tests compared to when they were younger, according to the Seattle Longitudinal Study, which tracked the brain function of adults over the past 50 years. We’re also a lot better at abstract and spatial reasoning, verbal acumen, and even simple math, the study found. Maybe all that brain power is why mature women seem to control a lot of wealth in the U.S., with those age 50 and older controlling net worth of some $19 trillion.

In fact, more people over 50 are taking on “encore” careers, reinventing themselves in professions that follow their passions. Nonprofit group Encore.org, dedicated to helping professionals find their “second act,” notes that as many as 9 million people age 44 to 70 are getting paid for work that combines their personal passion with a social purpose.

Although a 2012 AARP study showed there is a U-shaped happiness curve with the early 50s as the lowest point of well-being, that’s not a self-fulfilling prophecy. Why not embrace our age? That’s what I’m learning to do as I try to stay healthy and continue to try and learn new things – like blogging, paddle boarding, and zip lining.

There’s no reason to dread turning 60 either. Research shows that the oldest Americans (age 65 and up) are the happiest. In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that in general we feel happier as we age.

So to those of you who are part of the over-50 crowd like me – let’s celebrate the fact that we’re alive and vibrant. Rejoice that we’re still young enough to live life to its fullest. Sure, we face problems and issues that are part of growing older, but the alternative is much, much worse. We should all be grateful that we get to be in our 50’s. Let’s not forget, not everyone gets that honor and privilege.

So if that big birthday is coming up, don’t be like me and mourn the fact that we’re getting older. Instead, go out there and make your fifties rock!

Why Baby Boomers Can Be Grateful

Boomers, as you enter your 50s, 60s or 70s, do you find yourself feeling more grateful? As a 53-year-old woman, I do.

We’re at a point in our lives when we can be thankful for all our accomplishments that may include a happy marriage, fulfilling career, raising a family, or simply being a loving, decent human being that has brought joy and happiness to our friends and family. As we look back on all our experiences and the places we’ve seen, we can feel grateful.

Because we now realize that time passes quickly, we can appreciate simple things like a bird’s song, the brilliant color of fall leaves, or the feel of sunshine on our faces.Why Boomers Can Feel Grateful

If our parents are still alive, we realize our time with them is limited and feel grateful for all the sacrifices they’ve made for us. If family members have passed on – even if we may not have told them enough while they were still alive – we are now grateful for the time we had with them.

This is a time in our lives that we have more wisdom and better judgment. Aren’t we grateful not to be a teen or young adult anymore?

As we look back, we can surely appreciate all that life has given each of us to this point in our lives.

In addition, we can feel grateful that we are baby boomers. Why?

I ran into an interesting article on Boomer Café about the late Peter Barton, Baby Boomer Grateful for the Gift of Life . A baby boomer, he pioneered the Discovery Channel, Fox Sports, The Learning Channel, and STARZ. After he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he listed some of the things we boomers can be grateful for and in part wrote:

“I’ve been lucky, and that luck began on the day I was born – because that day was right in the heart of the baby boom. Let me say this straight out, because it’s the big context in which my own life has been just a tiny part: Our generation is the luckiest that ever lived. Way luckier than we did anything to deserve. We were born into a time of prosperity and peace. The world seemed safe and was ours to explore. No one talked about limits and boundaries. No one ever used the word impossible. We were encouraged to pursue our dreams, in a world that only got better.

“Perhaps the luckiest part of all was that we were the generation that wasn’t rushed and bullied into becoming grown-ups too soon. We could take time – in the parlance of the day – to find ourselves. That phrase, I realize, has become one of ridicule, a way of deriding the navel-gazing of the Sixties and Seventies. But maybe it’s time to reexamine that. What’s unworthy about working to understand who you truly are and what you really want from life? Younger people today seem more passive, less hopeful than we were. That’s a waste.

“Unlike our parents’ generation, we weren’t pressured into marrying in our early twenties and starting families right away. Unlike the young people who’ve come along in less confident economic times, we didn’t feel a desperate need to hurl ourselves too quickly into the hamster cage of commerce. We had the great luxury of picking our moments. We could take our time growing up.”

He went on to explain how he got his MBA at age 31, a few years later proposed marriage in a hot air balloon above the Rocky Mountains, and became a father. “Of all the things I can’t imagine just suddenly stopping, is my thankfulness and wonder for the life I’ve had.”

Peter died in 2002. At a time when he had every reason for feeling self-pity instead of thankfulness, he left us with words that encourage us to count our blessings and treasure each moment. To be grateful we were born boomers. To live in the present and appreciate every experience, place, and person that crosses our path.

Oh sure, there are reasons to complain at this stage of our lives. Some of us may have health problems, lost our parents or are caring for aging parents, raising teens or paying college tuition fees, or holding down stressful jobs wondering if we’ll ever get to retire. But as Agatha Christie wrote in her autobiography when she was 70 years old, “I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”