I Need To “Sleep Better”

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer wellnessWhen I was in my 20s, I was a great sleeper. I’d hit the pillow after a long day at work and I was out for the count. I remember my roommate W was envious of how quickly I would nod off. Not anymore. These days as a “post menopausal woman,” I rarely fall asleep even after 30 minutes of relaxing music. Some nights I feel like I barely get any shut-eye at all.

I’ve tried many remedies — from warm milk to warm bathes, from Valerian (ooh, ooh, ooh, cannot stomach that herb in any form) to Melatonin — without much success. Most evenings, I usually enjoy a cup of Chamomile tea and douse myself with lavender oil. Yet some nights nothing seems to work.

AARP Life Reimagined, Sleep Better, AARP, sleep, insomnia,

While I do see a sleep doctor about twice a year, I’m always open to any and all sleep experts. That’s why when the team at AARP invited me to interview Life Reimagined Thought Leader and psychiatrist, Dr. Janet Taylor, and try out her new “Sleep Better” activity created for LifeReimagined.org, I said “yes.”

The “Sleep Better” Program
The program was quick to complete at only four steps:
First, I took the quiz to rate my sleep health. My results: “You need more sleep.”
Next, I learned methods to manage my stress and meditate. I liked Dr. Taylor’s evening meditation. Her soothing voice helped me to relax.
Third, I reviewed physical and mental activities that will help me get a better night’s rest. I did well in both areas — with daily yoga, bicycling, walking to activate my body — and reading The New York Times and blogging to stimulate my mind.
Day Four, I went over what was working and where I need to improve. It was recommended to keep a journal, which I currently do.

Life Reimagined "Sleep Better" Program, sleep, AARP

I encourage you to check out the “Sleep Better” activity and let me know how you do.

Q&A With Dr. Janet Taylor
After completing the “Sleep Better” program, I had a few questions for Dr. Taylor.

Dr. Janet Taylor, AARP Sleep Better Program, Life Reimagined, life after 50, sleep

Dr. Janet Taylor created the Life Reimagined “Sleep Better” Program.

Q: Do you have suggestions if I have trouble falling asleep?
Dr. T: “Manage your stress. Practice healthy coping methods to deal with stressors or anxiety. Perhaps try diet supplements, for example the combination of 500 mg of magnesium and 250-300 mg of Calcium Citrate has been shown to ease muscles while trying to fall asleep. Meditate by focusing on the breath, with eyes closed while allowing thoughts to flow in and out and relaxing your muscles.” (I practice relaxing my facial muscles too. Sometimes my face is tense so I put my tongue on the roof of my mouth and let me face relax. I learned this technique in yoga.)

Q: What about getting back to sleep when I awake at 3:00 a.m.?
Dr. T: “Avoid turning on the television or checking any screen including clocks. Don’t watch the clock. Check your room temperature. Most people sleep better in cooler rooms. If you are still awake after 30 minutes, get up and out of bed. Walk around, read a book, avoid overstimulation and try to go back to sleep.” (Guess I better turn my clock around so I cannot constantly check it. I’ve been doing a great deal of night reading. I’m currently reading The Nightingale – it’s very good.)

Q: Are there any natural remedies you would recommend?
Dr. T: “Soothing rituals can aid you before bedtime. The smell of lavender is calming and can help with relaxation. A warm non-caffeinated beverage like Chamomile tea or Valerian tea is also calming and the warm liquid can slightly raise body temperature and aid in feeling sleepy.” (Okay, Dr. Taylor, I’m going to continue to use my lavender oil and drink my hot tea. Maybe it will help. I’m also trying some new pillows. One I received from BackJoy called SleepSound and one my friend R likes called Indulgence by Isotonic.)

Sounds like there is no miracle cure. Regardless, I hope if you do fall asleep tonight that you have “sweet dreams!”

Judi

 

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Forecast For Spring 2015 Fashion Trends

boomer beauty, life after 50, makeup for 50+ women, over 50Happy spring! It’s time for my fashion forecast. After reading a total of 2000+ pages including Vogue, InStyle, MORE, O Oprah magazines, plus countless Nordstrom catalogs, and my favorite T Magazine and weekly Style sections of The New York Times, I’m ready to give you the lowdown on this season’s trends.

The good news is that I just de-cluttered my closet so there’s plenty of empty space waiting to be filled. It’s been two years since leaving my full-time job — out went all my tailored suits, skirts, dresses, and heels. While I’m still a fashionista, my semi-retired lifestyle demands more casual attire. As for the corporate gig – I now enjoy helping my daughter A establish her career-building wardrobe.

Fashion mags

Spring 2015 Fashion Trends To Rock The Season
Here are highlights along with pix from my recent purchases and some candid commentary. There are so many trends that it sometimes feels like anything goes: Continue reading

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My Post 50 Yoga Journey – The First Step

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer wellnessIn January I started training to become a yoga instructor. I thought I would share my transformative journey as it unfolds. For fellow yogis – my stories will remind you of why you practice. For non-yogis – come along for the ride – maybe I’ll entice you to try a class or two.

Why Do I Love Yoga
I began my yoga practice about seven years ago, shortly after losing my husband. It was a way to physically and mentally focus and relax. Yoga and mindfulness meditation helped me heal through stages of grief. According to Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as interpreted by Mukunda Stiles, “Yoga is experienced in that mind which has ceased to identify itself with its vacillating waves of perception. When this happens, then the Seer is revealed resting in its own essential nature, and one realizes the true Self.”

In some ways you could say I lost my soulmate and found my “soulmat”. Yoga was my ticket to wellness after many months of dealing with my husband’s progressive illness and eventual death. It helped me to stop, to breathe, and to be in the moment.

During the past two years since leaving my full-time job, I’ve grown to love going to my weekly yoga classes. Instead of resisting, I am more open to change. Yoga has shown me how to slow down and find greater balance. I have developed a sense of gratitude for all that I can do.

I am growing and improving each day. An inspiring quote touches my heart. A fellow yogi strikes up a conversation. A perfect pose or an imperfect pose invigorates my body.  Plus, I’m starting to take the goodness of yoga off the mat and bring yogic philosophy into my overall lifestyle. (My friend W says I’ve become very “zen.”)

Last fall, I decided to take a big leap. I went to an open house at Lourdes Institute of Wholistic Studies and signed up for their 200 Hour Yoga Training Program.

Welcome to Anatomy + Physiology

yoga, transformation, boomer wellness, anatomy + physiology

I learned a lot from yoga instructor N and her companion Raja.

I’m proud to say that I just finished my first 20 hours of anatomy and physiology. I learned a whole lot from my amazing instructor N and her skeleton companion Raja. It was much better than any high school or college biology class. Perhaps I am a more eager student during my life after 50. Continue reading

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9 Things People Who Retire Early Do

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomersThis week, I’m pleased to highlight a blog post that originally appeared in WiseBread, all about living large on a small budget. The piece was written by  Mikey Rox, an award-winning writer/journalist from New York City. Mikey writes about the “9 Things People Who Retire Early Do.” Take a read, you might find someone you know who retired early and is now enjoying her passions – like blogging and yoga. Moi, moi, moi!

Take it away Mikey: 

wisebread.com, Mikey Rox

Mikey Rox is an award-winning writer/journalist.

We all dream of retiring early (at least I do), but for most of us that’s all it is — a dream. It doesn’t necessarily have to be, however, and you don’t need to strike it rich to start enjoying the finer things in life well before age 67. (Yep, that’s the government-acknowledged age for full retirement — and it stinks.) To provide some much-needed motivation to kick your hustle into high gear, here are nine things people who retire early do — and you should, too.

1. Live Relatively Modestly and Save, Save, Save
If you weren’t born into one of those famous family dynasties that provided you a trust fund at birth or otherwise have won some sort of lottery, you’ve got to work hard for your money. If you want to retire early, live modestly and save like your life depends on it. The truth is your life does depend on it — at least the one you want, anyway. Continue reading

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New Additions To Timeless Breakfast Cereals

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer womenI’m a breakfast eater. I never miss my morning meal. So when the team at Kellogg Company asked me if I wanted to sample their new Kellogg’s® Raisin Bran with Cranberries® cereal, I agreed to do a taste test. They sent a package my way. Inside was a box of the new cereal, a shiny red cereal bowl, a pedometer, and a small gift card.*

 

Raisins and Cranberries In One Cereal

Kellogg's Raisin Bran with Cranberries Cereal; boomer wellness, nutritious breakfast, life after 50I’ve been trying to be gluten-free, but since I don’t have celiac disease I gave in to my raisin and cranberry cravings. My mom used to pack individual-sized boxes of SunMaid raisins in my school lunch. As for cranberries, I enjoy these tart berries whether they are served fresh in Thanksgiving cranberry orange relish or dried as a garnish atop salads.

It had been a long while since I had eaten Kellogg’s® Raisin Bran® cereal. I rather remember the flakes being soggy in milk when I was a kid. Not anymore. These bran flakes with whole grain wheat were crisp after a few minutes soaking in almond milk. Plus, I like the extra kick of sweet and tart flavors.

Is it nutritious as well as a delicious? I asked my BFF L, who is a registered dietitian, for her opinion: “Overall, it’s a good choice for breakfast. It tastes great. The flakes are light with a crunchy texture. The cranberries are tender – I like them in the cereal. It’s a larger portion (1-1/4 cups per serving) than most cereals. It contains antioxidants and potassium and is an excellent source of fiber. However, those who are diabetic and watching their carbs should be aware that this cereal does contain added sugar.”

Now that my BFF L had given the cereal her stamp of approval, I asked my boyfriend L (BFL) to try some. “I haven’t had Kellogg’s® Raisin Bran® cereal in a really long time,”  he said as he munched on the flakes. “It’s really good. The cranberries add a nice texture. I like it.”

Verdict complete! Kellogg’s® Raisin Bran with Cranberries® cereal gets a thumbs up. Continue reading

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The Power of Friendship In The Midlife Blogosphere

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomersI attended my first blogger conference eight years ago. I was a newbie blogger and one of only a dozen or so bloggers in the audience who was nearly 50. I was welcomed among crowds of “mommy bloggers” with  babies in tow. Despite our age difference, I was smitten with the blogosphere. There was an energy, a vibe, a camaraderie. The only thing that was missing was my boomer tribe.

 Bloggers At Midlife Conference
Bloggers At Midlife Conference, Midlife Boulevard, life after 50, over 50, midlifeFast forward to March 2015, where now I’m excited to say that the blogosphere is filled with thousands of female boomer voices who are reinventing their life after 50 and sharing their journey online. I joined up with 100 of these super talented women last weekend at the first-ever “BAM: Bloggers At Midlife” Conference at The Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. The conference was organized by Sharon Greenthal and Anne Parris from Midlife Boulevard, and their co-horts Teresa Kindred, of NanaHood, and Beth Rosen from ChicagonistaLIVE.

Rockin’ Older Girls Network
After spending the past few years growing friendships on social media (the Facebook group includes 1100 midlife bloggers, thanks to the efforts of Sharon and Anne) — it felt like a class reunion when 100 of us got together in Nashville.

#BAMC15

So many great BAMC15 moments: (l. to r.) BAM Organizer Anne Parris; Elisa Camahort Page and Danyelle Little; Wendy Walker Cushing; Elaine Ambrose and me.

We chatted about our second careers as writers. Several spoke of books they had published, agents they had signed with, and novels being edited. We showed great compassion for those who suffered through loss or illness: breast cancer, divorce, widowhood, parents with dementia and Alzheimers, and other disabilities. We celebrated our midlife successes: children off to college and work, children getting married, grandparenthood, 25+ wedding anniversaries, travel adventures, and many individual transformations. Continue reading

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Love Blooms At “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer women“Richard Gere joins the cast of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” said the nice PR representative when she asked me if I wanted to preview and promote the new movie.* “Say no more,” I quickly responded. “Count me in. I’ve had a crush on Richard Gere since I saw him in Pretty Woman several decades ago.”

I so enjoyed The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel when it premiered in 2012 and was excited to learn that there would be a sequel. If you haven’t seen the first movie, it was about a group of British retirees who go to India after reading about a restored Marigold Hotel. When they arrive the hotel is not as advertised and it’s proprietor Sonny, not as polished. Despite the lack of amenities and poor conditions, they are forever transformed by their shared experiences, discoveries, and love affairs during their stay.

Richard Gere, THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, life after 50, over 50,

Richard Gere joins the cast as “Guy Chambers.”

So what is the gang up to this time?
With so many of my favorites returning for the second adventure, including Judi (my namesake) Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, and Dev Patel to name a few, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. Continue reading

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Pursuing Your Passion In Your Next Act

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomersThis week, I’m pleased to feature an interview with Hélène Tragos Stelian, creator of the blog Next Act For Women. In her blog, Hélène shares real-life stories about women who are reinventing themselves in midlife. You’ll read about women like Madalyn, who became a model at 50; Tina, who left corporate life to become a college admissions consultant; and one of my favorites Susie, who left her editorial job to harvest her own food on Martha’s Vineyard.

I asked Hélène about her work/life experiences and about what she’s learned from talking with post40 and post50 females:

Tell me a little about your background.

Next Act For Women, boomer women, baby boomer women, life after 50, over 50

Hélène Tragos Stelian is creator of the Next Act For Women blog.

H: “I’m 51 and live in Chicago with my husband of 20 years, my 17-year old twin daughters, and our cockapoo Rocky. I have gone through some big transitions in my life: Moving from France to the U.S. at the age of 13; changing careers from fashion retail to marketing after getting my MBA; deciding to stay at home when my girls were born; becoming an author with the publication of my book Getting Ready for Baby (now in its second edition); volunteering in nonprofit positions after our move to the suburbs; moving back to Chicago after 13 years; and now starting a blog!” Continue reading

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Finding Spectacular Specs At Online Eyewear Shops

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer womenLupita Nyongo put on bold black specs at the Golden Globe Awards (@LupitaGlasses), Carrie Fisher wore 3-D red frames and Oscar nominee Patricia Arquette donned purple readers to see the teleprompter at the SAG Awards. These days eyewear is a trending fashion topic.

Eyewear is one of my most important accessories — I have to wear my eyeglasses every day. I’ve been known to shop the streets of Paris for my frames, swoon and spend a lot on Italian shades at my local South Jersey boutique, and shell out extra dollars for stylish computer specs which greatly improve my worklife.

Felix + Iris = Smart Style + Sharp Vision 

eyewear, online eyewear shop, Felix+Iris eyewear, life after 50, over 50

Felix + Iris is a new online eyewear shop.

As a boomer blogger, I’m often approached to try out online eyewear shops. I was always a little leery of purchasing progressives from a website. It wasn’t until I went to a press event for Felix+Iris that I warmed to the idea. “See the beauty that is around you,” said the invitation. I brought my son D along. We were both treated to a new pair of specs. D chose a black frame. I copied his look with a black pair too. The glasses came with a magnetic sunglass attachment. The only negative is the tiny magnetic dot on the edge of the glass.

The most important part of ordering online is to make sure that you have your correct prescription and measurements. The online shops provide tools to help you take your measurements — however I highly recommend that you ask your optician to provide your proper sizing. (I had the Felix+Iris optician measure my face and wrote down the measurements for future orders.) Continue reading

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How To Plan Romantic Vacations During Your Life After 50

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50According to Dr. Pepper Schwartz,  co-author of Frommer’s Places for Passion, and AARP’s ambassador for Love & Relationships: “Long-term relationships are strongest when romantic trips are part of their history, present, and future.” (Hear that L, that’s my boyfriend L I’m referring to. We need to plan more romantic vacations. When are you retiring?)

I spoke to Dr. Schwartz to learn more about her new book.

Frommer's Places For Passion, Dr. Pepper Schwartz, life after 50, over 50, boomer travel, romantic vacations

Dr. Pepper Schwartz is co-author of “Frommer’s Places For Passion.”

“I’ve been a relationship expert for a long time and travel is a passion. I wanted to pair the two together with my writing so couples could have a book to depend on to plan accessible and reliable escapes — it can get sparks flying and create lasting memories,” said Dr. Schwartz.

Romantic Destinations
While 75-destinations are featured in Frommer’s Places For Passion, I asked Dr. Schwartz to name a few of her favorites. She categorized the destinations into four groupings: Continue reading

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