Changing It Up After 50

Sometimes you need to change things up – especially after you hit the half-century mark.

When I turned 50, I was a bit unsure of what that meant for my life. That number didn’t represent anything exciting – just senior discounts, menopause, and colonoscopies.

ChangeLet’s face it, we women over 50 are often stereotyped as cranky and desperately focused on looking sexier and younger.

The media sometimes makes us feel like our time has passed. That we should just step aside for the younger, more beautiful millennial generation who are busy taking over the work force, shoving us baby boomers aside.

Well, I’m 56 now and saying phooey to all that! I’m proud – and appreciative – to be this age. True, we baby boomers are getting older which is inevitable and out of our control. But we can control how we age.

As Sophia Loren wisely said, “There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”

Well said!

Sure, our 50’s can throw us some curve balls that can knock us down for a bit. But isn’t it far better to get back up, keep moving forward, embrace change, and tackle challenges head-on without fear? To take control of our destinies and maybe even take a few risks while we’re at it. Instead of getting stuck in a rut, create a little excitement by trying something different and unknown.

With that in mind, I’m going to be tacking some new and exciting writing projects. Curious? Although I’m keeping it under wraps for now, readers of Baby Boomer Bliss will be the first to know as I get closer to completion.

As a result, I’ll be posting a bit less on my blog. You’ll still see new blogs, but 1-2 times a month instead of every week. This will give me much needed time to concentrate on my new endeavors.

So stay tuned!

How about you? As you get older, does your view of aging change? Is there something new you are planning to try out for the first time? Are you ready to take your life in a new and different direction? Let me know in the comments below!

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Napping Makes Baby Boomers Happier

Call it a siesta, forty winks, or shut-eye. Or be cool and call it a micro or power nap.

NapWhatever name you use, it turns out a short nap can make baby boomers less cranky and more happy. We knew that all along, right?

I mean, there’s a reason my yoga mat fondly reminds me of the napping mat we had in kindergarten – so I always feel like ditching exercising for a quick snooze.

Recent research shows that taking naps of less than 30 minutes improves our sense of well-being, as well as boosting performance. More than 1,000 people took part in the study, conducted for the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

You don’t have to tell me twice. I’m so good at napping I can do it with my eyes closed!

Says Professor Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire (who truly is a wise man like his name in my opinion): “Previous research has shown that naps of under 30 minutes make you more focused, productive and creative, and these new findings suggest … that you can also become happier by just taking a short nap.”

In other words, combine nap and happier – and let’s all get nappier!

nap businesswomanEmployers take note. Another study by NASA on sleepy military pilots found that taking a 26-minute nap while the co-pilot was in control boosted alertness by more than 50 percent. Doesn’t everyone want more productive and happier employees? So, if you catch us sleeping at the desk – leave us alone!

Actually, a lot of famous people have been known to nap.

Albert Einstein claimed he needed daytime naps to fuel his marvelous brain.

JFK enjoyed afternoon naps with his lovely wife by his side. Jackie even advised his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, to take up the habit.

And Leonardo DaVinci believed in 15 minute naps every four hours. On the other hand, DaVinci didn’t believe in sleeping much at night, claiming we all have lots of time to sleep after we die. Now that’s a depressing thought. Let’s move on.

In fact, there is a downside to this napping study. The research found that those who took longer naps were less happy than those who did not nap at all. Sorry to say, too much napping is associated with an 82 percent increase in the risk of heart disease.

Go ahead, pop my bubble.

As a Minion meme states: “Naps are tricky because you either wake up refreshed and relaxed or you have a headache, dry throat and you are unaware of what year you’re in.”

True, true. But still, I’m sticking with the main message of this study that shows a short power nap will make you happier. I’m a believer!

Images courtesy of FrameAngel and imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Baby Boomers: Embrace Hygge Like Happy Norwegians

Norway was just named the happiest country in the world. Why are they so darn happy and what exactly is hygge? Can we baby boomers adapt some of that into our lives to feel more joyful?

NorwayMy interest in the word was peaked after reading the latest World Happiness Report, a survey of 155 countries, that was released just last week.

Once again, despite frigid arctic temperatures and months of darkness, the happiest people on the planet apparently live in Nordic countries.

As mentioned, Norway jumped up three spots to claim the title of “world’s happiest country” for the first time. Denmark, the previous winner for three years in a row dropped to second. These countries were followed by Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden.

In case you’re wondering, the U.S. came in 14th place, dropping down one spot from last year. Europe didn’t fare so well either. Germany was ranked 16, the United Kingdom 19, France 31 and Italy 48. Not surprisingly, people in the Central African Republic are unhappiest with their lives, according to the survey, followed by Burundi, Tanzania, Syria, and Rwanda.

In the end, as in past years, Norwegian countries took most the top spots. Could the reason they are so darn happy have to do with the Danish term hygge?

If you’re from or have visited a Scandinavian country, maybe you know about this funny word that’s hard to pronounce.  To say the word, try puckering your lips and aim for a throaty word somewhere between hoo-gah and hue-guh. The good news is, it’s easier to embrace hygge than to pronounce.

Hygge is also difficult to define, but is translated loosely into the English word coziness and is associated with relaxation, indulgence, and gratitude. However, Norwegians would probably argue there’s much more to the word.

relaxHygge requires being present in a moment – whether it be simple, soothing, or special – that brings you comfort, contentment, or pleasure.

The word refers to the ability to enjoy the good things in life with people you love. Hygge can describe soft candlelight, comfort foods like a pork roast or home-made cinnamon pastries, sitting by the fire on a cold night with fuzzy socks, or simply being kinder to yourself and others. It’s about transforming an afternoon cup of tea into an event with friends. Some people translate the word as coziness of the soul.

So, let’s get back to this year’s happiness report and see what hygge has to do with the results.

The report looks at several happiness indicators, including a nation’s per capita GDP (gross domestic product, often used to measure a country’s economic growth) social programs, life expectancy, freedom, generosity, and corruption.

It should be noted that although people in Nordic countries are comparatively well off financially, the report proved that money does not equal happiness. This is shown by the surprising fact that Costa Ricans are apparently happier than much wealthier Americans. Another economic powerhouse, Japan ranked poorly at 51. Mexicans and Guatemalans scored happier than the Japanese, even though they are much poorer.

Some would argue that Norwegians are better able to appreciate the small but comforting things in life – or hygge – because they already have all their basic necessities in place. That includes free university education, social security, universal health care, efficient infrastructure, paid family leave, and at least a month of vacation a year. Baby boomers struggling to retire and live off social security checks may argue, with their basic needs met, Nordic countries can focus on their well-being and what truly brings them a better quality of life.

Maybe that’s true, but I think we can learn a few lessons from the Norwegians and the way they live.

The idea of practicing hygge is carried over into their work as well as recreational activities. Are you working overtime and on weekends? Unheard of in Nordic countries! Most businesses shut down before 5:00 p.m.

Plus, Norwegians have proven to be less materialistic than other cultures, appreciating low-cost activities and simple things in life. They focus on experiences instead of stuff. If we adapt this attitude we baby boomers may not need as much money for retirement. Instead, a strong emphasis is put on quality time and sharing meals together as a family in a cozy atmosphere. Priority is given to maintaining cherished relationships and supporting communities.

Yes, these countries have harsh weather, but these people are a hearty bunch who show their appreciation for nature and the great outdoors year round. In winter, most Norwegians aren’t sitting in their houses all depressed. They can be found skiing, dog-sledding, snowboarding, snow-shoeing, and enjoying the spectacular northern lights. During summer months, they take advantage of the warmer weather to hike, swim, cycle, and sail.

In the end, I think the report confirms that happiness has less to do with money and success and more to do with spirituality, our relationship with others, gratitude, a giving attitude, and being present and mindful.

And maybe adding a little more hygge to our lives.

So, go ahead. Eat that pastry guilt-free, invite friends over for a glass of wine by the fire, or luxuriate in a candlelit bath. Savor the moment and let the warm, fuzzy feelings flow.

Images courtesy of Maxim Weise and graur razvan ionut at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

 

 

How Baby Boomers Can Find Happiness in Life’s Simple Pleasures

As I write my blog this Monday morning, it just happens to be International Happiness Day and the first day of spring. How often do those two cheerful days coincide?

happy girl umbrellaThat means you baby boomers should have been experiencing bliss to the extreme that day! Since I publish every Thursday, the day has passed. Was it a great day for you? Not so much?

Every year, on March 20, as International Happiness Day is celebrated, I wonder if that means the remaining 364 days of the year are deemed grumpy, gloomy days.

I say we don’t need a special day to find some bliss. Any ordinary day will do.

If you weren’t aware of International Happiness Day, how about we celebrate today? Let’s pause and enjoy all of life’s simple treasures and treats we look forward to throughout the day. Yes, we all have them!

You know, the moment you open up your drapes and sunlight fills your home. The aroma of coffee in the morning. Those delightful blueberries on your cereal. The hot shower in the morning that awakens and refreshes you.

Open the door and walk outside. Feel the brisk air on your skin and the sun on your face. Hear the birds sing out joyfully. Notice the colorful spring flowers exploding in your front yard.

If you are a baby boomer still working, instead of grumbling about it, enjoy your favorite song on the radio as you drive to your job. Don’t just sit there, sing along! Get away from your desk or out of the house and eat lunch in the park. Enjoy the fleeting spring season in its full budding glory.

If you are a retired baby boomer, a 2016 Merrill Lynch Age Wave report indicates that retirees are reporting having loads of fun in retirement, regardless of their income level. Retirees in the study said they found enjoyment from simple activities like watching sunrises and walking to breakfast. Playing piano for the first time at age 71 is another wonderful example. So enjoy some creative leisure time.

Find some joy from giving. Take a moment and write, text, or call a friend. Give someone a big smile to brighten their day and perk up yours as well. Make it a point to do something nice for a stranger or give someone a sincere compliment today.

When you get home, give a loved one a big hug. Make your dog’s day with a walk around the neighborhood, a treat, and an extra pat on its head. Relish each bite of dinner. Watch the sunset. Enjoy your favorite comedy and laugh loudly. At the end of the day, remember each blessing and thank God in prayer.

If a gloomy thought dares to enter your head this day, usher it right out and replace it with a happy, positive thought. No groans or gripes allowed. Mentally shout “next” in your head and move right along. Relish this day of simply being alive.

Who needs a special day to celebrate the beauty of bountiful bliss? Use these simple little tricks and happiness will greet you like bright, cheerful tulips and daffodils on a lovely spring day.

Image courtesy of alex_ugalek at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

 

Baby Boomers: Celebrate America’s Top Ten Flower Festivals

The first day of spring is this Monday, on March 20th. As I write this blog from the California desert, with temperatures currently soaring to 90-plus degrees (too soon, too soon!), the northeast is being pummeled with a massive storm and blizzard conditions.

spring flowersBut, as we baby boomers all know from decades of experience, this crazy weather shall soon pass and we all have some gorgeous spring days ahead of us.

So, let’s think spring! What better way to celebrate this wonderful time of year than visiting one of America’s top ten flower festivals?

In Southern California, thanks to this winter’s abundant rain and snow, we’re looking forward to explosive colors as wildflowers begin to spread across our desert, coastline, and foothills. Other parts of the country, from grassland prairies to alpine meadows, are also anticipating nature’s colorful display of flowers, guaranteeing us delightfully longer, warmer days.

With that in mind, I’m sharing 10 popular spring flower festivals from different parts of the country. If you get a chance, don’t miss an opportunity to enjoy nature’s wonders at a festival near you!

DALLAS BLOOMS

Where: Dallas, Texas

When: Now through April 9, 2017

The largest floral festival in the Southwest features 66 acres of gardens at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Enjoy every spring color imaginable as 600,000 tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, Dutch irises, poppies, and other flowers bloom in a spectacular way.

This year’s theme, “Peace, Love and Flower Power” will appeal to you baby boomers as the festival celebrates the headlines, music, TV, fads, and fashion from the 1960’s and includes amazing topiaries built on a classic Volkswagen van and bug.

Click here for more information, a list of events, and to purchase tickets.

EPCOT INTERNATIONAL FLOWER & GARDEN FESTIVAL

Where: Orlando, Florida

When: Now through May 29, 2017

If you have children or grandchildren, this is just the ticket for some whimsical fun. At Epcot, you can enjoy more than 70 Disney-themed topiaries from every era brought to life through flower sculptures and manicured trees.

Flower towers, wildlife habitats, and vibrant gardens add to the beauty. Exhibits, seminars, and how-to demonstrations, outdoor kitchens with pint-sized plates, and outdoor concerts add to the fun.

Disney horticulturists are onsite each weekend to help those interested in learning more about gardening. Admission to Epcot is required. For more information, click here.

cherry blossomsNATIONAL CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL

Where: Washington, D.C.

When: Now through April 17, 2016

One day I’m going to see this famous flourish of pink blooms in the nation’s capital. If you plan to go this year, however, you better hurry! According to its website, the National Park Service has updated its peak bloom prediction from March 19 to March 22 due to recent temperature trends and the weather forecast for the next seven days.

Today, on March 16, the annual Pink Tie Party, a fundraiser benefiting the festival, kicks off the season in style. Several events follow. The opening ceremony will be held on March 25 to celebrate the gift of trees from Japan to the U.S. The Blossom Kite Festival takes place on April 1. The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, featuring lavish floats, giant helium balloons, and marching bands is on April 8. To wrap up the season, Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival will feature live music and entertainment on April 25 with fireworks at 8:30 p.m.

For more information, blooming updates, and/or tickets, click here.

DAFFODIL FESTIVAL AND PARADE 

Where: Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner, and Orting, Washington State

When: The parade begins Saturday, April 8, 2017 in Tacoma at 10:15 AM; Puyallup at 12:45 PM; Sumner at 2:30 PM; Orting at 5:00 PM

Maybe this festival is not quite as famous as the ones I’ve listed above, but it’s one of my sentimental favorites. When I lived in Puyallup, Washington about 20 years ago and worked as a newspaper reporter, I covered this heartwarming traditional, family- and community-oriented parade.

This event features floats decorated with thousands of fresh-cut daffodils as well as high school marching bands in celebration of daffodil flowers that have grown in the Puyallup Valley for the past 80 years. Come on, who doesn’t love cheerful daffodils and parades! For more information, check out their website.

tulipsTULIP TIME

Where: Holland, Michigan

When: May 7 to 14, 2016

When Holland residents brag about tulip time, they’re not kidding! Nearly 5 million tulips are planted throughout the town which awakens in the spring with bright spectacular bursts of color.

Since traditional Dutch dancing is popular in this old-world town, the festival hosts dancing events practically non-stop throughout the weekend. Be sure and take in one of the three parades, where participants brave the pavement with wooden clogs and traditional Dutch outfits.

Their website has posted the following update regarding blooming time: “Tulips are on track for a typical bloom time here in Holland, Michigan (late April to mid-May.) While the weather here has been slightly warmer than usual overall, the forecast has us back to cold weather for the next two weeks. The early blooming varieties have just started to sprout but the cold night temperatures keep their development at bay. We will have a more accurate estimate of bloom timing (which is highly dependent on the weather over the next 2 to 3 weeks) by the first week in April.” For blooming updates, events, and tickets, click here.

DOGWOOD-AZALEA FESTIVAL

Where: Charleston, Missouri

When: April 20 to 23, 2017

Take a stroll along the six-mile Dogwood-Azalea Trail when Charleston glimmers with stunning dogwoods and azaleas at their peak blooms.

You can celebrate the floral spring beauty and enjoy the wholesome hospitality of this community with a candlelight tour, arts and crafts bazaar, one of the area’s largest parades, an old-fashioned ice cream social, art show, piano concerts, and an old-fashioned carriage ride. For more information, see their website.

THE 2017 WILDFLOWER FESTIVAL

Where: Crested Butte, Colorado

When: July 7 to 16, 2017

Surround yourself in the symphony of wildflowers in Crested Butte, dubbed as the wildflower capital of Colorado. The mountains and valleys brim with explosive colors in the late spring and summer as magnificent blue columbines, Red Indian paintbrushes, sunflowers, delphiniums, lupines, and other flowers bloom in full glory.

The week long festival offers over 200 events including hikes, art workshops, jeep tours, and photography classes. For more information, click here.

roses

PORTLAND ROSE FESTIVAL

Where: Portland, Oregon

When: May 27 to June 12, 2016

Portland hosts the largest rose show in the nation, overflowing with more than 4,000 blooms in all their glory and rich fragrances.

Enjoy one of three starlight parades with twinkling floats throughout its three weekends, thrilling rides, fireworks, live music, tasty treats, and much more. For more information, click here.

INTERNATIONAL CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL

Where: Macon, Georgia

When: March 24 to April 2, 2017

Dubbed “the pinkest party on earth,” The International Cherry Blossom Festival in Macon, Georgia celebrates all things pink, including the town’s impressive collection of hundreds of Yoshino cherry trees.

Festival highlights include a bed race, nightly live concerts, fashion shows, a street party, as well as the Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. For tickets and more information, click here.

THE FLOWER FIELDS AT CARLSBAD RANCH

Where: Carlsbad, California

When:  Now through May 14, 2017

This festival is another one of my personal favorites since my father lives nearby and we visit often. Every spring, 50 acres of rolling hills overlooking the striking coastline are transformed into a dazzling display of blooms from early March through early May.

Wagon rides, live music, dinner tours, arts and crafts shows, exotic plant sale, and photography classes are available throughout the festival dates. For a schedule or to buy tickets, check out their website.

Images, in order of appearance, courtesy of twobee, pazham, criminalatt, and nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Baby Boomers Changing Careers: Happiest Jobs

Are you singing “I can’t get no satisfaction” when it comes to your job? Do you find yourself daydreaming about a career change? Do you feel bored, dissatisfied, or exhausted? Do you have the career burnout blues? Or have you recently lost your job or retired and want to keep working but yearn to change directions?

career changeYou’re not alone. Many baby boomers feel the same way. Nonetheless, a career change can be scary. Fear of failure, financial concerns, and perhaps a less than supportive spouse prevents many from leaving their comfort zones.

On the other hand, the biggest rewards come from taking the biggest risks, says life coach Caroline Adams Miller, author of Creating Your Best Life. “Otherwise, you may be filled with regret at the end of your life—and that prospect helps put steel in your spine,” she says.

Studies show that up to 80 percent of baby boomers plan to do some sort of paid work until age 70 to stay mentally sharp, keep engaged socially, and achieve financial security in retirement. That leaves a couple of decades after 50 to work. Perhaps that’s why more and more boomers are contemplating an “encore career” to pursue their passions and create a fulfilling life they can enjoy.

But is it really possible? Certainly!

The American Institute for Economic Research looked at people who changed or tried to change jobs after age 45 and found that 82% of people aged 47 and older who took up new careers in the last two years were successful, and 50% saw a salary increase.

“Don’t view your age or your experience as a liability. It’s a benefit to companies to have a multi-generational workforce,” says Oriana Vogel, vice president of global talent acquisition at American Express. “One of our goals… is to hire employees that can provide a variety of different perspectives and experiences.” Age doesn’t come into consideration when it comes down to hiring the best people, she says.

A report from the Bankers Life Center for a Secure Retirement found that “boomers are just as likely or more likely to be engaged in their work than are the younger Generation X or Millennial generations.”

So, yes, it’s possible to find a different career you love after the age of 50. But which job will make you the happiest? To help you decide and perhaps narrow your choices, I did a bit of research on America’s happiest and unhappiest jobs:

THE HAPPIEST JOBS

Kununu created a “Career Happiness Index,” looking at nearly 200,000 employee reviews from 2016 to name three of the nation’s happiest industries of 2016.

Public administration topped the list, perhaps because government employees enjoy great benefits, hours, vacation policies, job stability, and support from management. In addition, employees felt that they were working for the common good, serving the public.

Consulting is a booming industry with a projected growth rate of 18%. Workers found their work challenging and enjoyed collaborating with others.

ARtistInterestingly to me, since I work as a writer, the arts and entertainment industry made the top three. Creative pursuits may not make you rich but could help you be happier.

CareerBliss created a ranking of the Happiest and Unhappiest Jobs in 2016. At the top of their list were recruiters.

“Finding great jobs for other people creates a happy work environment for recruiters…many recruiters find joy in helping others find jobs and earning bonuses for doing so,” said CareerBliss CEO Heidi Golledge.

A USA Today article summarized job satisfaction as jobs involving caring for, teaching, and protecting others as well as creative pursuits. Research published by NORC at the University of Chicago listed the top five positions for job satisfaction, in ascending order, clergy, physical therapists, firefighters, educational administrators, and artists.

THE UNHAPPIEST JOBS

unhappy womanAccording to kununu’s data, professionals in healthcare/pharmaceutical, legal advice and real estate/facility management score the lowest. CareerBliss listed sales account manager as Unhappiest Job. Rounding out the bottom five are security officer, merchandiser, cashier, and driver.

TIPS FOR CHOOSING A NEW CAREER 

A word of caution. Remember, an encore career that brings you happiness isn’t all about pursuing your passions. As the research above proves, when considering your choices, don’t forget to consider practical work issues such as job security, pay, benefits, work-life balance, and office environment. For example, just because you love a hobby doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy it once you add the stress of making a living. Take it from me, I chose to write professionally – and no regrets – but it wasn’t near as fun and carefree as when writing was something I did for my own pleasure.

Another option to think about? As I wrote in a previous blog, many boomers approaching retirement are choosing to become entrepreneurs and starting their own businesses. They want to continue working – but on their own terms.

In fact, a new Gallop study showed adults over the age of 50 are one of the fastest-growing groups of entrepreneurs in the U.S.  An overwhelming majority — 83% — say their main reason for launching a venture was a lifestyle choice or to increase their income. This poll suggests that boomers are searching for independence, a flexible schedule that leaves room for volunteering and traveling. And they want to pursue their interests and passions before it’s too late.

Keep your mind open and be creative. Consider wearing more than one hat and find a customized solution that puts you in control of your life. For example, you could combine writing, public speaking, teaching, and consulting. The Internet has opened up new freelancing opportunities.

The good news? Despite the hard work and dedication required to start and run a small business, 94 percent of U.S. entrepreneurs are happy being small business owners, according to a new survey by the online small business community, Manta.

POSSIBLE PITFALLS

Don’t rush into any decisions or immediately quit your job. Prepare and take it one step at a time.

Depending on your financial situation, “you might have to do it [a career change] incrementally,” says Kerry Hannon, author of Great Jobs for Everyone 50-Plus. “You need a job that pays the bills now. Then, on the side, take the classes you need, build those skills you need,” she suggests.

Do the necessary research. Learn about the new career you’re interested in, including pay, job satisfaction, and trends in the industry as well as the skills, qualifications, certifications, and credentials you’ll need. Strategically network with people in the field. Keep your skills up-to-date and utilize LinkedIn and other social media sites.

Internships and volunteer work can help you gain hands-on experience and test-drive a new career path before quitting a job.

Keep these tips in mind and you can move forward with confidence to reinvent your life and start that new career!

Images courtesy of Stuart Miles and David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Oscar Mix-Up Proves Ageism Still Alive

Unless you’re on Mars, you’ve no doubt heard about the mix-up at the 2017 Academy Award show last night. Warren Beatty, 79, and Faye Dunaway, 76, accidentally announced the wrong movie for Best Picture.

oscarTwitter was immediately on fire, calling Beatty stupid, dim-witted, brain dead, senile, and blind. People completely blamed him – and his age – for the screw up and cruel and degrading name-calling ensued.

Later, it was announced that the incident wasn’t his fault after all. The Academy mistakenly gave him the wrong card for Best Actress. Apparently, Beatty saw La La Land’s name on the card and was confused as to why Emma Stone’s name was on it.

As Beatty explained on the show, probably sensing people were going to call him senile: “I want to tell you what happened. I opened the envelope and it said, ‘Emma Stone, ‘La La Land.’ That’s why I took such a long look at Faye, and at you. I wasn’t trying to be funny.”

Some people still blamed Beatty for passing the card to Dunaway to read, supposedly letting her take the fall. But, my reaction was different. I think he handed her the card looking for a second opinion. Dunaway thought he was joking (“You’re impossible, come on,” she said) and read the card.

This morning, some of the press, and people on social media, claimed that Beatty should have asked for help when he noticed there was a problem. Maybe, but I say, give the man a break. Could you think calmly with 37 million people watching? I would venture a guess that a lot of younger people would have done the same thing.

Besides, even the Academy admitted this whole thing wasn’t Beatty’s – or Dunaway’s – fault! And their age had nothing to do with the flub either. (By the way, even if Beatty was totally to blame, it wouldn’t justify all the mean-spirited mocking and name-calling that, in my opinion, was sadly based on people’s lack of respect for the elderly.)

Recently Humana invited me to watch and participate online in a panel discussion they sponsored, Over Sixty, Under Estimated: A Healthy Look at the “Silver” Screen at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles that included baby boomer actress Francis Fisher. During the discussion, the panel made a good point:

These days, if Hollywood ridiculed an ethnic group, the LGBT community, or the disabled in movies, people would be in an uproar. So why do people quietly tolerate the way movies make fun of older people? Older characters in movies have often been stereotyped as irritable, depressed, slow-witted, lonely, sickly, whiny, rude, horny, and foul-mouthed – as if that’s all they had to offer.

In a previous blog, I pointed out that several actors aged 50-plus were nominated in prestigious categories this year in strong roles (it should be noted, however, none of them won last night). I wrote that perhaps we, as active, vibrant baby boomers who have valuable knowledge, experience, and insight that only comes with age, were paving the way for a change in the way people view aging.

However, this faux pas at the Oscar Show and all the ridicule obviously based on Beatty’s and Dunaway’s age makes me think I was wrong. While some cultures honor the elderly, in general, Hollywood seems to be reflecting society’s ongoing disrespectful, negative view of aging.

I realize that during this divisive time in America, many of you stayed away from the Academy Award show because of its political viewpoints. But the one thing we all have in common is that we’re getting older. In fact, we living in a time when the population of people ages 65 and older is expected to triple to 1.5 billion by mid century.

This is a politically neutral blog, but I’d love to hear your opinion. Was Beatty unjustly called stupid because of his age? Do you think the increase in the aging population will change people’s opinions of the elderly? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Why I Love Baby Boomer Blogging

People blog for many reasons. Originally, I started my blog the end of 2013 as a platform for a book I wanted to write to help baby boomers find happiness.

Blog ButtonThe irony is, although it’s in the works, I have yet to finish that book! But I’m still blogging – and loving it.

In fact, I’m writing this article to celebrate my 200th blog! (You can take a look at my top ten blogs below.)

It’s so easy to get frustrated when you first start a blog. As a technically-challenged person, I had to learn WordPress. Then, I spent a lot of time promoting my blog and trying to find my baby boomer audience.

As with most bloggers, I quickly became obsessed – and depressed – with the numbers – how many visitors, subscribers, and Facebook followers I had on any given day.  Turns out building up readership for a blog takes a LOT of time, effort, and patience.

But as time passed, I realized my blog provided much more than an author platform and it wasn’t all about the numbers. Blogging served a different and more profound purpose. I would even say that it’s changed the way I look at and live my life.

That’s why if you’re a baby boomer thinking about starting a blog, I’d highly recommend it. That is, if you’re blogging for the right reasons.

If you’re starting a blog to get rich or even to eke out a living, well, don’t count on it. Monetizing a blog is super hard these days. In fact, after three years, I’m still not making money from my blog. By the way, don’t believe all the hype from people selling online courses that try to convince you blogging is a great way to make passive income or get rich in retirement. Make no mistake, writing and promoting a blog is a ton of work. There is nothing passive about it.

So Why Blog?

Some people may disagree with me, but I think blogging shouldn’t only be about making money, drumming up business, gathering a huge following, chasing fame, or trying to sell books.

Blogging can serve as a creative outlet to voice ideas, thoughts, and feelings. On top of that, writing a blog provides a wonderful opportunity to inspire and touch the lives of other people in a positive way.

How Blogging Changed My Life

My blog has certainly seen me through many ups and downs these past few years.  I’ve written about joyful moments like a trip to Chicago with my husband to celebrate our anniversary, a day spent playing in the snow with my grandchildren, watching Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones at Desert Trip, and a quick weekend trip with my kids to San Francisco.

I’ve also poured my heart out while caregiving for my Mom who suffered from Lewy Body dementia and wrote about her eventual death. I shared my angst when my mother-in-law died from ovarian cancer and my son went through a painful divorce and custody battle that same year. (Ironically, shortly after I started writing a blog about happiness, I had the worst year of my life.)

Yes, I love reading, which provides a welcome respite from my troubles, but writing is my real escape, outlet, and passion. When I write, I become so focused, my problems fade away for awhile, giving me a much needed break. In fact, if you’re truly a writer, believe me, it is a life-long addiction!

The process of putting my thoughts and feelings into writing has brought me comfort as well as help me relive happy moments.writer

As I’ve written about my life, my blog helped me think about what’s important to me and determine if my life is headed in the right direction.

Since I can’t write about every event, idea, thought, and feeling, blogging provides a sort of filter, clarifying my life. My blogs have helped me understand what is most meaningful to me. I’ve discovered along the way that sometimes it’s the simplest moments that make me the happiest.

Embracing Creativity

As a professional writer, my blog gives me wonderful creative freedom to express myself. Not to pop anyone’s balloon, but writing sounds more glamorous than it is in reality. For most of the past 25 years, I’ve written articles on subjects that magazines, newspapers, publishers, and clients choose for me.

True, I’ve written two young adult books, travel articles, humorous pieces, and feature stories on fascinating people that were fun. On the other hand, in order to make a living, I’ve also written articles that bored me to tears. I’ve tackled technical articles – and one technical book – that gave me an Excedrin headache and drove me nuts . I’ve written on demand, meeting other people’s deadlines, writing late into the night as my brain is desperately trying to call it quits.

Don’t get me wrong. I may sound whiny, but I fully realize that I’m darn lucky to have made a living at something I love. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

The point is, my blog is my baby. I write on subjects I’m interested in and feel passionate about and hope my audience will enjoy as well. My blog allows me to stretch as a writer, explore, experiment, and try new things whenever the muse hits. Writing professionally has given me the discipline to publish a blog every week, but I write my blogs when I choose. And believe me, that’s not at the crack of dawn or 10:00 at night! That is luxurious.

Thank You for Joining Me on My Journey!

So, those are some of the ways blogging has changed my life. But, as I mentioned earlier, the huge bonus is that blogging can change other people’s lives as well.

Some of you have left comments letting me know that I have in some small way inspired you or provided useful information and that always brings me such joy. Writing a blog has provided an opportunity to connect with readers and other bloggers, which has been so rewarding.

I’m beyond grateful for the 23,000 people who have visited my blog, for my 5,000 subscribers (click here if you’d like to join them), 5,000 Twitter followers, and 1,300 Facebook followers who have shared this journey with me. A HUGE THANK YOU!

When I hit milestones, I like to review which blogs have been most popular with an eye to giving my readers more of what they enjoy. It’s always interesting to see what resonates and hits home.

My Top Ten Blogs

So, without further ado, here are my top ten blogs in order of popularity. Feel free to click on any of the links of blogs you’d like to check out:

happy go lucky

Five Ways to Become a Happy-Go-Lucky Person

Every year, this is my top-performing blog by far. Merriam-Webster defines happy-go-lucky as blithely unconcerned and carefree. Synonyms include affable, laid-back, low-pressure, and mellow. I guess we all want some of that!

 

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

I was asked to do a book review of Bobby Rydell’s autobiography. This led to an interview, free tickets to his Golden Boys concert with Frankie Avalon and Fabian, and a backstage pass to meet Rydell in person. This was a nice perk that came from blogging! The day they posted my concert review on Rydell’s Facebook page, my visitors increased by 3000% for the day. No joke!

menopause dwarfsKeep Laughing with the Seven Dwarfs of Menopause

This blog has held a top-three spot since I began blogging. Hey, it’s either laugh or cry through menopause, and wouldn’t we all prefer to laugh?

 

happy despite problemsStaying Positive Despite Problems

Everyone has problems that make us feel powerless and defeated, so I’m not surprised this blog made the top ten. I offer three simple tips on how we can control our outlook and still choose to be happy despite our troubles.

 

happiest momentsWhat 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? That’s the question one study asked participants aged 70 and older. I share the results of their insightful answers in this blog.

 

happy old coupleWhy Older People Are Happier Than Baby Boomers

Aww, my very first blog that got Baby Boomer Bliss off the ground. The idea for this blog was based on studies that show, in general, older people – and even the younger generation – are happier than us baby boomers. One study confirmed there is a U-shaped happiness curve with the early 50’s as the lowest point of well-being.

happy 1 2 3Happy as Easy as 1-2-3

“I want my day to feel like there is boundless beauty and possibilities and joy to be felt, discovered, explored, and expressed. And you know what? I can and so can you,” I wrote. This article got discovered on Stumble Upon, bringing me my second (after the Rydell concert review) all-time record high number of visitors for one day to my site.

menopauseStaying Happy Through Menopause

I wrote this article after Hot Flash Daily hired me to write humorous articles about menopause to launch their new website. I had never written humor before, but had a blast doing it for them!  I happily shared it all – the scorching hot flashes, insane insomnia, annoying forgetfulness, and crazy panic attacks that ensued for years. Yes, YEARS!

happiness grandchilddrenFinding Happiness with Grandchildren

This blog was an easy one to write. To be needed and wanted by these delightful little beings is a wonderful treat and privilege. Like many people, I find that the rewards of family life only grew richer and more fulfilling as each new grandchild was born.

 

snoopyFive Happy Snoopy Quotes

Okay, this one surprised me a little bit. But hey, don’t we all still love Snoopy? Now that I write a happiness blog, I’m impressed with how much wisdom Charles M. Schultz cartoons contain on the subject.

 

So, those are my top ten blogs so far. What will my next 100 blogs bring to the table? Stay tuned to find out! And if you have any ideas or subjects you’d like to see on Baby Boomer Bliss, please share in the comments below. I’d LOVE to hear!

Images courtesy of Stuart Miles and khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Baby Boomers in 2017 Oscar Nominated Movies

Older characters in movies have often been stereotyped in insulting and degrading ways. The elderly have been shown as irritable, depressed, slow-witted, lonely, sickly, whiny, rude, horny, and foul-mouthed – as if that’s all they had to offer. Cinema has often reflected society’s attitudes toward the 50-plus crowd who in real life were often ridiculed or ignored.

oscarBut hopefully the times are a-changin’, as Bob Dylan famously sang.

This year, the Academy’s Oscar nominees include a notable number of people over 50, including Mel Gibson, for directing Hacksaw Ridge; Jeff Bridges, for Best Supporting Actor in Hell or High Water; Viggo Mortensen, for Best Actor in a Leading Role in Captain Fantastic; Meryl Streep for Best Actress in a Leading Role in Florence Foster Jenkins, and Isabelle Huppert for Best Actress in a Leading Role in Elle.

And they don’t happen to fit into the typical stereotypes. Jeff Bridges, 67, stars as a Texas Ranger tracking down a pair of bank-robbing brothers. Viggo Mortensen, 58, plays a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous education that challenges his philosophy about life. Meryl Streep, 67, once again proves older women can still steal scenes front and center. And Isabelle Huppert, 63, plays a woman who turns the tables on her attacker.

Maybe that’s a start. Perhaps Hollywood, and society at large, haven’t completely forgotten the value of the elderly with their knowledge, life experience, and insight.

As an article in the San Diego Tribune pointed out, we baby boomers “are reinventing society’s idea of what it means to grow old. Seniors today carry cell phones, not walkers. They sit on bicycles, not rocking chairs. Arts and crafts, bingo and checkers have been replaced with jogging, white-water rafting and skiing. Seniors are healthy, vibrant, influential members of our society.”

As the oldest of the 77 million baby boomers approach their 70s, the elderly and their concerns will inevitably be given more attention. As to whether ageism will worsen or get better is a matter of debate.

Erdman Palmore, a professor emeritus at Duke University who has written or edited more than a dozen books on aging, remains fairly optimistic. “One can say unequivocally that older people are getting smarter, richer and healthier as time goes on,” Palmore said. “I’ve dedicated most of my life to combating ageism, and it’s tempting for me to see it everywhere. … But I have faith that as science progresses, and reasonable people get educated about it, we will come to recognize ageism as the evil it is.”

Is Hollywood slowly adapting to reflect these changes as we baby boomers forge ahead refining the landscape of aging?

Hopefully. The movie industry has been complaining about ageism in Hollywood for a long time. According to AARP CEO JoAnn Jenkins at a movie industry roundtable discussion hosted by Variety, ageism is another diversity issue that Hollywood needs to consider more. “The truth is that 70 percent of the disposable income in this country is in the possession of people 50 and older,” Jenkins said. “And 25 percent of people who are moviegoers are people over the age of 50. They are actually putting butts in the seats in the movie theaters. Yet we see across the board that the marketing industry is spending 75 to 80 percent of their dollars focusing on people who are under the age of 30, and mostly young males.”

Jenkin’s opinion corresponds with two academic studies that showed 30-somethings were heavily over-represented in movies, 40-somethings did all right, while 50-somethings were significantly under-represented and the over-60s severely so.

Recently Humana invited me to watch and participate online in a panel discussion they sponsored, Over Sixty, Under Estimated: A Healthy Look at the “Silver” Screen at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles that included baby boomer actress Francis Fisher. During the discussion, the panel made a good point. These days, if Hollywood ridiculed an ethnic group, the LGBT community, or the disabled in movies, people would be in an uproar. So why do people quietly tolerate the way movies make fun of older people?

We’re not grumpy old codgers cussing up a storm. I’m over 50 and still consider myself an active, vibrant member of society. Let’s hope this year’s Academy nominees proves that Hollywood is catching up with the times.

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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

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

You bet!

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

Excited to be backstage with Bobby Rydell!

Excited to be backstage with Bobby Rydell!

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

And yes, maybe I swooned just a little bit!

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

What are the chances?

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

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

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

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

Then, Rydell took center stage.

Bobby Rydell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fabian 

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

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

Fabian

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

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

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

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

Frankie Avalon 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Good Things Must Come to an End

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

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

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

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