A Baby Boomer Turns to Quirky, Dark Humor to Heal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Ready, Set, Jump Into Summer: 2017 CURRENTLY Summer Blog Hop

Sun screen. Kids playing “Marco Polo” in the pool. Family road trips. Summer is in the air!

summerThat means it’s time for a CURRRENTLY Summer Blog Hop.

My blogger buddies and I are sharing what we’re up to this summer to inspire you to have the greatest summer ever!

What are we thinking about, reading, watching, writing about, listening to, and anticipating? Please have a read and enjoy! Then visit the other #Gr8Blogs listed at the end of this post for some more summer inspiration.

Reading…

Looking for a couple of page turners to enjoy on the beach or by the pool?

I just finished the novel, I Let You Go, by Clair Mackintosh. The astonishing twist in the middle of the book had me glancing back to see how the author had fooled me! I guessed some of the other surprises toward the end of the book, but not all of them. A cunning psychological thriller that keeps you turning pages.

The other book I recently read, You Will Know Me, by Megan Abbott, features the competitive and, yes, brutal world of gymnasts and their parents on track for the Olympics. The book begs the answer to the question – how well do we really know the people we love best? Let’s just say, they aren’t always worthy of our trust in this fascinating book.

sailingLoving…

Loving our sailboat, Jules of the Sea! Hard to point to one reason why sailing is so addicting.

As I wrote in an earlier blog: Is it the feel of brisk sea air in your face, the disconnection from all the stress, noise, and worries, the sounds of the gentle lapping of the water and the hum of the wind in the sails, or the deep connection with nature, peace, and serenity?

Whatever the reason, we’re hooked and have been sailing for more than 30 years. I’m looking forward to doing plenty more of it this summer!

Watching…

A couple of my blogging buddies raved about Poldark in our last CURRENTLY blog hop, so I decided to give it a try. All I can say is if you haven’t been watching this PBS Masterpiece series – you are missing out! I LOVE, LOVE it! They are filming Season 3 now.

Then, there’s Colony on Netflix. I can’t resist a good sci-fi and besides that, the sexy blonde from Lost, Josh Holloway, stars in it. Just starting Season 2. The otherworldly drones are ominously policing the humans since “the arrival,” the “red hats” are patrolling the street mercilessly, and the Sullivan family are caught in the middle. Pretty good stuff.

writingWriting…

I’ve got several irons in the fire right now.

Still not ready to reveal my latest writing project, but if all goes according to plan, it will include a book, new website, and an online course. Stay tuned…

I’m also putting the final edits in my book tentatively titled, I’m Your Daughter, Julie. The book shares my story about caring for my mother who had a combination of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s along with caregiving tips.

Then there’s a humorous book about getting older and a book on finding your baby boomer bliss (based on this blog) that are in the beginning stages.

I’ve been a busy girl!

Thinking About…

Must be my age, but I’ve been dreaming about future plans. Retirement is probably at least a decade away, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking about it.

Most my life, I’ve been a freelance writer and feel fortunate to have made a living doing something I love. But I’d like to make a few changes. Although I’m captivated by words and can’t imagine not writing at all, like many independent baby boomers, I want to have more creative control over my career. Specifically, what I write and how much time I spend doing it. In other words, instead of writing for other people, I’d like to start writing for myself.

Hopefully, all my new projects will bring me closer to those goals.

concert 2Listening to…

Billy Joel! Check out my blog for details, but I was lucky to attend his concert at Dodger Stadium with surprise guests Pink and Axl Rose.

My favorite moment was when all the flashlights lit up like stars in the sky. We all swayed together joyfully and happily sang along as Billy Joel belted out “Piano Man.” So much fun!

My sister also bought me and hubby tickets to the play, Margaritaville, based on Jimmy Buffett’s music for our upcoming anniversary. The play is so much fun and heading to Broadway. If you are looking for a carefree, funny, and entertaining play, look no further!

Anticipating…

Going to the beach! The ocean has always been my peaceful sanctuary. I’m anticipating magnificent sunsets and the gentle sound of waves lapping on the shore.

My oldest granddaughter is learning to surf and has a natural knack for it. I’ll be merrily riding the waves alongside her on my boogie board. I’m looking forward to the giggles of my grandchildren as they play in the waves, build sand castles, and catch sand crabs in their buckets.

scott and julie gardensMaking Me Happy…

Got to say, it’s my hubby. My safe haven, my best friend, the love of my live, my biggest supporter, and my soothing comforter. Did I mention he cooks too? This month marks our 39th anniversary of wedded bliss.

So, there you go. That’s what I’ll be up to this summer. What are your summer plans? What are you reading, watching, listening to, or looking forward to? Please share in the comments below!

For more Summer 2017 CURRENTLY moments, visit the #Gr8blogs below. Thanks for stopping by!

Tracy Bryan: Tracy Bryan, Children’s Author

Cat Michaels: Cat’s Corner

Sandra Bennett: Sandra Bennett, Author

Auden Johnson: Dark Treasury

Carmela Dutra: Carmela Dutra, Children’s Author

James Milson: Writing & Things

Images courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, think4photop, surasakiStock and ponsuwan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Technology Leaves Baby Boomers’ Groovy Talents Behind

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

Is writing letters an obsolete talent?

Is writing letters an obsolete talent?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have all my secretarial talents gone to waste?

Have all my secretarial talents gone to waste?

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

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

All useless.

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

No one cares.

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

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

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

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

Images courtesy of Pixomar and Praisaeng at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Baby Boomer Billy Joel Rocks Dodger Stadium

Billy Joel with PinkThe flashlights lit up like stars in the sky, swaying joyfully as Billy Joel belted out “Piano Man” at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 13, 2017.

The enamored audience filled with baby boomers sang along and, yes, I was fortunate to be one of them.

“It’s a pretty good crowd for a Saturday,” Billy Joel sang in the middle of the performance and we roared for the acknowledgement.

The concert included many of the classic Billy Joel songs baby boomers will remember. The two-and-a-half hour concert began with “Movin’ Out” from Joel’s 1977’s “The Stranger” album and went on to include “My Life,” “She’s Always a Woman,” “The Longest Time,” and “Vienna.” The 68-year-old can still hit and hold every high note, never wavering.

If that wasn’t enough, surprise guests Pink and Axl Rose showed up much to our delight.  Pink was up first, adding her powerful vocals in  a duet of  “New York State of Mind” and then belted out her own stirring song, “Try,”

Billy Joel with AxlLater, much to the audience’s shock, Joel introduced Rose for a rowdy rendition of  “Highway to Hell ” and “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” Rose also sneaked onstage one last time during Joel’s encore performance to sing “Big Shot,” with Joel chiming in during the choruses.

In some easygoing banter, Billy Joel reminisced about his days in LA early in his career struggling to find success at the piano bar that would be the inspiration for his signature song, Piano Man.

“So this is where the Dodgers ended up?” he asked, looking around Dodger Stadium. “They used to play at Ebbets Field. Then they left and I became a freakin’ Yankees fan.”

The crowd booed and Joel grinned. He acknowledged how different it was to playing a massive stadium after those early days when he played at bars around Hollywood Hills, Studio City and eventually the Troubadour.

Billy Joel ConcertHumbly, with self-depreciation, Joel confessed the many geographical and historical mistakes in “The Ballad of Billy the Kid” and called “Allentown” an “authentic rock and roll” error. “I was still living here when I wrote this song,” he said introducing “The Entertainer.” “I was wrong when I wrote it, I was cynical. But I like to do this one because it reminds me what an annoying person I was.”

Joel paid tribute to artists singing “Take It Easy” by the Eagles and Randy Newman’s “The Natural.” Each member of the band was also given a moment to shine, including Carl Fischer on the trumpet, saxophonist and backing vocalist Mark Rivera, and the magnificent vocals of Mike DelGuidice whose voice soared on the Puccini aria “Nessun dorma.”

The encore included well-known hits like  “Uptown Girl,” “Only the Good Die Young,” and “You May Be Right” which had all of us on our feet dancing and belting out the choruses.

We were “all in the mood for a melody” and Joel delivered as our piano man. “You’ve got us feeling’ alright.”

Thanks to my son, Jonathan Gorges, for the photos.

 

 

 

 

 

Baby Boomer Bucket List Travel Destinations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some other interesting findings:

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

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

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

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

Image courtesy of digital art at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ten Ways to Manage Baby Boomer Back Pain

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Patient

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

Use Anti-inflammatory Drugs

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

Stay Active

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

Improve Your Posture

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

Use Ice and Heating Pads

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

Focus On Your Feet

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

Get a Massage

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

Try Acupuncture

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

Watch Your Weight

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

Stay Calm

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

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

Image courtesy of saphatthachat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

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.