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.

 

 

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.