Back From The Blogosphere – BlogHer’14 Recap

I’m back from the blogosphere where I met, mingled and immersed myself among the large community of female (and a few male) bloggers at the BlogHer’14 Conference in San Jose, CA. It’s a bit like going into the clouds and not coming out for two days.

Celebrating 10 Years
This year was BlogHer’s 10th anniversary and the big news was “how times have changed in the past decade.” The blogosphere is much more crowded than it was in 2004. Some feel that blogging is here to stay, while others believe that social media, or micro-blogging  (Facebook and Twitter), visual (Pinterest and Instagram) and vlogging (Vine and Snapchat) are becoming more popular. If you’re a blogger or thinking about becoming a blogger, know that your social media profile is equally, if not more important, than your blog.

BlogHer'14, blogosphere, life after 50, boomer blogger

Traveling to the blogosphere is like going into the clouds.

My Flight Into the Blogosphere
My trip to San Jose was a fun one. On my connector flight from Phoenix, I sat next to a newbie mom and her adorable baby. We chatted awhile and then she said, “By the way, my name is Jacqueline Kennedy.” “No kidding,” I said. “I am a big Jackie fan. “And my daughter’s name is Eleanor, after Eleanor Roosevelt,” she added. Wow-o-wow! Lucky me sitting next to my two favorite First Ladies.

Lunch and Namaste
I met Sharon Hodor Greenthal, from Empty House, Full Mind, for lunch to chat about boomer blogging. Sharon is also editor-in-chief of Midlife Boulevard, a collaborative blog for women 50+.

Next it was off to the The Sangria Sundown Soiree sponsored by Soybu yoga clothes and Eppa Sangria. I was disappointed that there was no yoga class to partake in – but it was 90 degrees and way too hot to do any asanas under the sun. The hosts  gave us swag, including a Soybu yoga top. “I’ll take an XS for my petite frame,” I told the woman who was handling out gift bags.

Later that evening, I went back to my room to try on the top. I stretched it over my head and tugged it down my body. The top includes a built-in bra. It was very, very tight. When I tried to get it off, I had lots of trouble pulling it over my head. Thought I might have to call the front desk for a scissor to cut it apart. I took a deep breathe and bent over. Pull, push, lift, whew, finally got it off my chest with my head still intact. Guess I should have asked for a larger size. The tops are rather nice if you order the correct measure.

Day One – Opening Session
The conference began with a rousing video titled “Why I Blog.” (Watch this video, it is wonderful.) Participants shared their reasons, many I could relate to:

“…because I have words inside that need to get out.”
“…it pushes me to be creative.”
“…I want people to know what it is like to be me.”

Elisa Camahort Page, a founder of BlogHer, told us to “celebrate yourself.” She encouraged the crowd of 2500 bloggers to take selfies.

selfie, life after 50, BlogHer'14, Soybu party

My selfie at The Sangria Soiree Party

“How could you post that terrible picture?” said my daughter A after seeing my selfie on Instagram. I don’t have a lot of followers on the network so I didn’t think anyone would be watching. I was determined to improve my selfiebration and learn how to take a good selfie. Here are some tips:

Hold camera up high at 45 degree angle
Look up but keep chin down, but not too low to avoid a double chin
Keep the light in front of you
Make sure to flip the camera so it is focused on you

10×10 Project
I enjoyed listening to the 10×10 speakers during the general sessions. Ten bloggers were selected to “look back at what the blogosphere built and look ahead to where we’re going.” Each speaker covered 10 years in 10 minutes.


The first two were Danah Boyd, author of It’s Complicated, about the social lives of networked teens, and Shannon Des Roches Rosa, an advocate for helping parents with autistic children. Danah spoke about “how being public forced her to think differently and be held accountable.” She said “there is beauty and pain in being public.” Shannon started blogging “to process her life dealing with her son’s autism.” She no longer has self-pity and has built a community of 87,000 people who are living with the challenges of raising a child with autism.

Applause, applause for these two awesome women!

Have you caught the fever yet? Can you see why this community is amazing?


The morning session closed with Jenny Lawson, from The Bloggess, and best-selling author of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. Jenny deals with depression and mental illness every day. She said that when she turned 30 she hadn’t accomplished anything she had planned. She told the Houston Chronicle she would write for free and described her first BlogHer conference. “I was a nobody looking at somebody doing a keynote. Maybe I’ll be doing a keynote one day. And now I am. You might be that person, ” she told the audience.

I was so pleased to learn that Jenny took 11 years to write her first book. Will I write a memoir/self-help book one day and be a BlogHer keynote? Will I? Will I? Maybe I will!

BlogHer'14, Jenny Lawson, life after 50

Jenny Lawson writes The Bloggess.

Jenny closed by telling us that comments make a difference. “I keep a folder of 24 emails from women who were planning their suicide due to mental illness,” said Jenny. “They each said that it was not only my blog that helped them but the comments on my posts that reminded them that they are not alone. Your words mean so much more than you could ever know.”

Jenny’s words say it all.

Judi

Stay tuned for more updates from BlogHer’14 including:
Highlights from other 10×10 speakers’ remarks
Notes from The Future of The Social Media Web keynote, including Arianna Huffington’s interview with Guy Kawasaki (Note: I’ll be hosting a giveaway for her new book Thrive.)
A review of the new movie, 100 Foot Journey, with Helen Mirren. Boomer girls won’t want to miss this flick in theaters starting August 8. Previewing this movie was one of the best activities at BlogHer’14.

 

 

 

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Free To Be Me At BlogHer’14 Conference

Next week, I will be heading to the BlogHer’14 Conference in San Jose, California. This year BlogHer is celebrating its 10th anniversary. My first conference was in 2007, the year I started blogging my countdown to 50. I remember it well.

The two-day event was in Chicago. I was a newbie. I was blown away by the community spirit among the 400+ bloggers in the room. There were only a few midlife bloggers back then, most were mommy bloggers, as was the trend in the early days of blogging.

No longer a fresh face, I am still ever excited and enthused about networking and mingling with my virtual friends. It’s such fun to meet face-to-face with fellow bloggers.

More Midlife Bloggers In The Blogosphere
Almost 2500 are registered for BlogHer’14. Today, blogging is big business and top bloggers are like celebrities. Many more midlife bloggers attend the conference because there are many more of us in the blogosphere. We’re a proud and properous group and marketers are starting to take notice.

You can sample the writing of a variety of midlife bloggers at several collaborative sites, including:

♥ Midlife Boulevard developed by Sharon Hodor Greenthal from Empty Nest, Full Mind, and Anne Parris from Not A Super Mom. This boulevard is blossoming and growing its niche. Sharon and Anne also run a midlife group on Facebook which includes 800+ bloggers.

 The Huffington Post Huff/Post50, a site that promotes the theme ‘life begins at 50.’

VibrantNation.com, for women who want to stay vibrant during their second act.

HealthyWomen.org, hosts a Midlife Matters blog with helpful information.

This year at BlogHer there is going to be a midlife mini-con led by Patricia Patton from Boomerwizdom and Darryle Pollack from I Never Signed Up For This and a co-founder of the WHOA! Network. Can’t wait to hear the dialogue. I’ll share feedback when I return.

Free To Be Me
I looked back at a post I wrote when I returned from Chicago in July 2007. Here’s an excerpt:

Who would have thought that at 49 years old I would be meeting so many new friends as a result of a virtual community I created? Who would have thought that I would have the opportunity to meet hundreds of “blogging sisters” and form a bond with so many fellow female bloggers during an exhilarating Blogher conference?

For two glorious days in Chicago, two fabulous days in Chicago, I was free to be me: Judi with an i. Or should I say JudI with a capital I. I was strong. I was authentic. I was a blogger. I was 49 approaching 50 and I was free. Not a wife who has a sick husband. Not a mother who is trying to be strong for her kids. Not a full-time corporate executive. I was free. No housework. No homework. No shopping. No cooking. I was free to be whoever I wanted to be and free to say whatever I wanted to say.”

It was amazing. When I arrived I only knew one person but by the time I left on Sunday morning, I had met so many extraordinary women, each unique in their own way. Each making a difference, whether they are blogging about: post-partum depression, cars, mommyisms, politics, fashion, beauty, food, divorce, and a whole lot more.

Do You Know The Way To San Jose?
So you can see how I got the BlogHer bug back in 2007. My feelings about this conference haven’t changed. There is real authenticity, individualism, and diversity in the air at BlogHer. The sharing and acceptance among the women (and a few men) who participate are contagious.

I’m off to the blogosphere in San Jose for a few days. Look forward to catching up with all the new news when I return. Meantime, if you want live updates, follow me on Twitter @judiboomergirl for up-to-date #BlogHer14 happenings.

Judi

AARP Life Reimagined, life after 50, over 50, retirement

If you are looking to “discover your new life possibilities,” come join the Life Reimagined book club chat on Facebook next Monday, July 21, at noon. You don’t have to read the book to join the conversation I’ll be there. It’s free and it’s fun. You can jump in on last Monday’s discussion from July 14 – when you get to the page scroll down to the date.

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Beautiful Flowers Brighten My Day

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer women“We would like to offer you free flowers and have you join our ambassador program,” said A, the nice representative from The Bouqs Company, an online flower shop. I quickly went on the website to check out the bouquets. One was prettier than the next. Beautiful flowers always brighten my day, so I said absolutely “yes, yes, yes” to the offer.

Simple to order, I chose the Dawn collection which retails for $40. According to thebouqs.com, these “orange premium roses are a magical sight when fully bloomed. Grown on a Volcano and cut-to-order, this flower bunch will blow you away like a breathtaking sunrise.” The flowers were shipped straight from their eco-friendly, sustainable farms on the Volcano to my door, with free delivery! What could be easier?

The Bouqs Company, thebouqs.com, flower bouquet websites, life after 50

I was so excited when the FedEx lady rang my doorbell this morning. “Flowers for you,” she said as she handed me a long black box. “So glad you’re home.” I couldn’t wait to open it. Inside were 14 perfect orange roses. (They gave me two extra – how lucky is that?)

The Bouqs Company, thebouqs.com, flower bouquet website, life after 50

I read the pictorial instructions and did exactly as was shown. I carefully opened the packaging as not to damage any of the flowers. I cut the stems on a diagonal so the water will penetrate better. Then I added the flower food to the water and put the flowers in my Waterford vase. I had two extras for my small bud vase.

The Bouqs Company, thebouqs.com, flower bouquets, life after 50

Ooh, ooh, ooh, such pretty roses on my dining room table. Ooh, ooh, ooh, and there are two roses sitting right next to my computer on my desk in my office. I can look at these flowers all day long. How cool is that?

The Bouqs Company, thebouqs.com, life after 50, flower bouquets

A Bouqs Bouquet For You
With more than 75 colorful bouquets to choose from, thebouqs.com offers a wide array of choices for all flower-giving occasions. I better let my boyfriend L know about this website. Or perhaps, I’ll just treat myself to a bouquet when I think I deserve one. Guess it is better than buying dark chocolate – no calories! (Okay, I deserve dark chocolate and flowers too during my life after 50.)

So, boomergirls, if you’re feeling low and want a perk, send some flowers to yourself. Or if you want to give a nice gift to a favorite friend, send some flowers. (Or tell your hubby or boyfriend about this site.)  If you click on thebouqs.com links in this post (or on my sidebar on my blog) and order flowers, I do receive a small compensation. These funds support my blogging. Please know that I only affiliate with high-quality products I love and that I hope you’ll love too.


Keeping Your Flowers Fresh
Did I ever tell you that one of my dreams is to work in a flower shop? Maybe I will become a florist during my life after 50. (Note to self: Explore flower arranging school in the future.) Meantime, thebouqs.com provided these helpful tips for keeping your flowers fresh:

♥ Heat/Cool the water – If you’d like to open flowers faster use hot (not boiling) water. The heat allows for faster absorption of the H2O through the stems, causing the bloom to open faster. It’s kind of like taking a warm bath, your muscles relax. Once open, use cool water (or simply add some ice cubes to the vase) in order to keep the blooms lasting longer. Though water still absorbs into the stem, colder water slows any decay, bacteria or mold from breaking down the organic matter. (Interesting information.)

♥ Change water regularly – Clean, fresh water not only guarantees bacteria and mold do not build in the water, but also allows you the opportunity to feed the flowers regularly. For the longest lasting blooms change the water everyday, but every few days is also fine.  (I promise to nourish my flowers with water. I will. I will.)

♥ Add Pennies or Soda – It seems strange, but adding a few pennies and a teaspoon of sugar to the water in the vase increases the pH of the water slightly. This will prevent any small bacteria or microbes from growing in the water and deteriorating the flowers. Similarly, soda can do the same thing. The sugar in clear sodas such as Sprite or 7Up nourishes the plants and keeps blooms bright and lasting longer. Add no more than a quarter cup to the water in the vase. (Good thing I’m saving my pennies now that I’m retired from my full-time corporate job.)

♥ Trim the stems ¼ inch per day – Simple and regular trimming allows for absorption and hydration. Always cut stems at an angle, and trimming a quarter inch off each stem per day will keep the blooms strong, nourished and beautiful. (I want to keep my roses looking good for a long time.)

A little bunny nibbled on the pink flowers on my outdoor patio last week. He was so cute that I forgave him and told him not to do it again. Yesterday, when I went to water my plants I noticed that half of the plant and many of the pink flowers were missing. I think my little bunny must have brought his entire family for a July 4th bbq flower bash. Good thing I’m keeping my rose bouquet inside. No rose petals for you little bunny, these flowers are all mine.

Judi

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Retiring the Art of Perfection

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomersNow that I’m embarking on year two of reimagining my life after a 30+ year corporate career I realize that it’s time to retire the art of perfection. (Am I ready? Is this the most challenging task I have ever tried to achieve? Yes, yes, and yes.)

Being Perfect
This week, I reread Anna Quindlen’s book, Being Perfect. I had read Anna’s essay almost 10 years ago when I was in my mid-forties. At the time, I was at my peak of perfection. I was the perfect mom to my two teenage children. My career was on a perfect executive track. I was a perfect wife to my husband and a perfect breadwinner for my family.

Anna says that “Trying to be perfect may be inevitable for people who are smart and ambitious and interested in the world and its good opinion…What is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.”

Being Perfect, Anna Quindlen, life reimagined, AARP, retirement, life after 50
Anna says that during her college days at Barnard, a place she describes “populated largely by terrifyingly well-read women who all seemed to be elevating intellectual perfection to a high art”  that “eventually being perfect became like carrying a backpack filled with bricks every single day.” (Anna, that’s exactly how I felt during my college days at Cornell when I was climbing the hills in Ithaca, N.Y. Being a perfectionist, I always felt inferior to the brainiacs throughout my four years at this great Ivy League institution.)

Anna says that “today is the day to put down that backpack before you develop permanent curvature of the spirit.” She says perfection is “hard” but it’s also “too cheap and easy. Because all it really requires of you, mainly, is to read the zeitgeist of wherever and whatever you happen to be and to assume the masks necessary to be the best at whatever the zeitgeist dictates or requires.” (Have I let my entire life be driven by the zeitgeist? How can I change? For me it was always easier to adapt to please others’ expectations and demands than to please myself.)

Okay, okay, okay. Today, I’m officially declaring that my top goal for my life after 50 is to retire the art of perfection.  (But, but, but how am I going to achieve this goal?)

A “Clean Slate”
Anna says “Begin with that most frightening of all things, a clean slate. And then look, every day, at the choices you are making, and when you ask yourself why you are making them, find this answer: Because they are what I want, or wish for. Because they reflect who and what I am.”

I was looking for a challenge during my second act and now I’ve found a big one. This goal may take me several years to achieve, but I’m going to accomplish it.

Today, I’m feeling more confident and relaxed as the load on my back lessens and the fears begin to subside.

 I want to wear just sunscreen on my face today and no makeup. (Ah that feels good.)
 I want to write a memoir, but not sure I want to write it right now. (That’s okay.  There is a book inside of me. It is my own story and in time it will come out.)
 Can I live on a budget that I’ve set for myself using my savings? (This is the scary part of retiring the art of perfection. I haven’t lived without a paycheck for the past 30+ years. I’m talented. I can do this. If it doesn’t work I’ll just have to find a way to supplement my savings.)
 I’m going to yoga today, tomorrow and whenever I want to go to yoga. I enjoy yoga because it is an hour in the day where I can settle my mind and body. There is no one judging my moves including myself. (I never had the freedom to practice yoga during the day before. It’s a wonderful feeling.)

Anna says that “Much of what we were at five or six is what we wind up wishing we could be at fifty or sixty.” (I’m as curious as I was when I was a child. Ready to conquer all the possibilities that lie ahead. Can’t wait to see ‘what’s next?’)

AARP Life Reimagined, life after 50, over 50, retirement

If you want to join me in the journey of reimagining your life, there is no time like the here and now. Another book I’ve been reading on the subject is  Life Reimagined – Discovering Your New Life Possibilities by Richard Leider and Alan Webber. In fact, there’s going to be a book club starting on July 14th on the Life Reimagined Facebook page and some of my midlife blogger friends and I will be hosting dialogues. I hope you will join us.

So how are you when it comes to retiring the art of perfection..or are you not a perfectionist? Let me know what you find helpful on your self journey.

Judi

Disclaimer: This post is supported by Life Reimagined (www.lifereimagined.org): your guide to rethinking what’s possible and seizing your “what’s next” in work, relationships, health, personal finance and more. All opinions are my own.

AlexandAni.com

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Time for a Mammogram Checkup

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer wellness“There is an area of interest on your last mammogram that warrants a closer follow up,” said the note I received from the imaging center. “A surgical consultation was advised. We recommend to have your next imaging study in June.”

Had six months passed since I had my mammogram in December? I remember going for the exam and hearing the radiologist say there was a benign area on my left breast. I was nervous back then. As the date drew closer for my second round, I grew anxious.

“What if there is something wrong with my left breast?” I thought as I entered the exam room. In a moment – my life and possibly my body – would be forever changed.

What Is Your Risk Of Breast Cancer?
“We’ll be with you in a minute,” said the receptionist. As I sat in the waiting area I read through a Women and Breast Health brochure. There was a quiz to assess “your risk of breast cancer.” According to the research, “the more ‘yes’ answers you have, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer.” Hmm, hmm, hmm, let’s see where I rank:

* Yes – I am a woman.
* Yes – I am more than 50 years of age.
* No – I have had breast cancer or a precancerous condition.
* No – I have a family history of breast cancer.
* No – I began my periods before age 12 or reached menopause after age 55.
* No – I never had a child or had my first child after age 30.
* No – I weigh 40% more than my ideal weight.
* No – I drink alcohol. (Okay this one is a yes/no as I do drink some wine.)
* No – More than 30% of my daily calories come from fat↑
* No – I am using or have used hormone replacement therapy.

↑Note casual rule for dietary factors not firmly established.

Yeah! Only two ‘yes’ answers out of 10, that’s great! While this quiz does not ensure that I will not get breast cancer, I am grateful to know that my risk factors are lower.

Time For My Mammogram
I put on the gown with the opening in the front. (The new gowns are so short that they almost look like midriff tops.)

“We’re just checking the left side today,” said the nice technician as she removed my left breast and flattened it down between the plastic clamps. “Just need to get this left side really down pat,” she said as she continued to squish my teeny-tiny left breast into the imaging machine. “We need to do three views,” said the technician. Click, I held my breath. Click, I held my breath again. Click, I held my breath for the third and final time.

I closed my eyes and meditated as I sat in the dressing room in my midriff gown until the radiologist reviewed my slides. Will it be a happy day or a sad day, I wondered as I waited .

“It’s all good,” said the nice technician. “Everything is okay with your left breast.”

life after 50, over 50, mammogram, boomer wellness

As the artist Henri Matisse said, "There are always flowers for those who want to see them."

Ooh, ah! Ooh, ah! I jumped out of my chair, put my bra and tee back on, and scurried out the door. It was a very, very, very happy day. I celebrated each and every moment of the day. (Note to self: I need to enjoy every moment more often during my life after 50, not just when I get good health news.)

This week, I was upset to learn that TV newscaster Joan Lunden had been diagnosed with breast cancer following her routine mammogram. It’s not easy hearing such news. I’m sending good wishes her way and hope that she will have a full recovery because the cancer was discovered early.

So dear boomer girls, have you had your annual mammogram this year? Don’t delay. Schedule it today. As Joan Lunden said in her recent blog post, “protect your health.”

Judi

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Setting Goals For My Life After 50

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomersNow that I’ve been retired from my full-time job for about a year, I’m settling into a new lifestyle — sleeping later, exercising more, cooking and eating healthier, seeing my friends and meeting new friends, traveling to new places and working on my blog. I’m excited about the changes I’ve made in the past 12 months.

I think I’ll always be a work in progress. I still want to slow down more and gain greater focus and balance in my life.

“What are your goals for the next six months, one year, five years?” asked my coach Dr. F as I told her about my current challenges during my life after 50. “You should write down goals for all areas of your life – personal, health & wellness, work, financial. Having goals will help you achieve greater balance. You’ll know when to say ‘no’ to certain things and ‘yes’ to others.”

I thought about the goals I’ve achieved during the past six years since losing my spouse and how I’ve adapted to all the changes. I never wrote down my goals, I was too busy executing them. It was a high-stress period, but I did accomplish a great deal in a short amount of time.

♦ I bought my “condo on the corner” at the shore. I do love the beach.
♦ I met a new man online and now I have a great boyfriend L.
♦ I sold my house and moved into a townhouse.
♦ I helped launch my two adult children into their adult lives.
♦ I launched a new career as a blogger and retired from my 30 year corporate career.

Setting SMART Goals
As I head toward 60, perhaps it’s a good time to revisit my goals for the second half of my life. I should write down my goals like Dr. F says.

“Create SMART goals,” said Dr. F. “SMART goals are specific, measurable, reasonable, and have a timeframe. SMART goals help you move forward and are about what you want rather than what you don’t want.”

“Allow yourself guilt-free play each day,” said Dr. F. What’s that you say? Have fun each day? I can do that. Yes, I can. Yes, I can.

I liked what Dr. F suggested. It sounded positive and practical. Now I just have to do it. Can I do it? Can I? Can I? Ooh, ooh, ooh, I’m going to give it a shot. Here goes. Here are some of my SMART goals. One for each area of my life for the next year. I don’t want to go too far into the future.

♦ Personal: I want to travel to a new place. I can do this. Yes I can. I am going to San Jose, CA in July to the BlogHer conference. I’m going a day early to explore the city since I’ve never visited San Jose. Wow-o-wow, this goal is coming up next month! Can’t wait to see all my midlife blogger friends at BlogHer.

San Jose

Do you know the way to San Jose? I'm going there in July.

♦ Health & Wellness: I want to practice yoga each weekday. I love yoga. It’s a great way to de-stress and focus my mind, body and spirit. I’ve studied mindfulness too, so on days when I cannot get to my yoga class I can meditate at home to calm my mind.

Yoga, life after 50, boomer women, health and wellness

Practicing yoga keeps me grounded.

♦ Work:I am going to write one chapter of my book each month. Is this achievable and realistic in addition to writing my blog? I’m going to keep close track of this goal and check on my progress in three months. That’s good. I included a timeframe.

life after 50

I want to write a book during my life after 50.

♦ Financial:I will live on a monthly budget that I have established for my expenses during my life after 50. This is a BIG goal. I’ll have to watch my spending. If I go over one month, I’ll have to be more careful the next. It’s easy to measure because the numbers in my checkbook will be my guide.

retirement, finances, life after 50

Can I manage my pennies and live on a budget?

Ooh, ooh, ooh, I forgot to add my “guilt-free play for each day.” Ah yes, I am going to spend an hour each day reading The New York Times,a chick-lit novel, a magazine or anything I want to read. I’m going to have fun reading my fashion magazines.

magazines, life after 50

I am going to have fun reading my fashion magazines.

I like this goal-setting idea. What about you? Do you have goals for your life after 50?

Judi

Speaking of setting goals, here’s a great opportunity if your plans include pursuing new passions during your life after 50:

Merck Consumer Care, the makers of OXYTROL FOR WOMEN – the first and only over-the-counter treatment for overactive bladder – and MORE magazine are launching the “Open A New Door” program to help women 50 and over overcome barriers when pursing their passions.1,857 women 50 and over on MORE’s reader panel were surveyed to reveal what dreams they want to pursue in their second stage of life and what barriers they would face trying to reinvent themselves. In a perfect world, 97% of the women surveyed would choose a variety of ways to reinvent themselves in the near future. However, nearly 9 out of 10 (89%) of these women admit they would face obstacles in their quest for reinvention.

One woman who enters the “Open a New Door” contest will be awarded $10,000 to help her realize her reinvention goals in the areas of professional development, volunteerism or travel, in addition to a personal coaching session with Pamela Mitchell, founder and CEO of The Reinvention Institute. Women 50 and over can visit MoreOpenDoors.com to enter. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN IN THE OPEN A NEW DOOR CONTEST. A PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE THE CHANCE OF WINNING. Starts 8:00:00 am ET on 5/20/14, ends 11:59:59 pm ET on 6/30/14 (“Promotion Period”). Open to women who are legal residents of 50 United States and District of Columbia and 50+ years. Void where prohibited. Subject to the Official Rules, inclusive of the entry judging criteria, available by visiting MoreOpenDoors.com during the Promotion Period or by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope for receipt by 8/4/14 to: Open A New Door Contest RULES, P.O. Box 13106, Bridgeport, CT, 06673-3106. Sponsor:  MSD Consumer Care, Inc.

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Tres Señoritas Travel To Spain – Beautiful Barcelona

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50Last week I shared the first half of my trip to Spain, where the tres señoritas – my daughter A, my sister N, and I – explored Madrid. Are you ready to travel around another Spanish city? Hold on tight, as I take you on a fast-paced tour of beautiful Barcelona. If you plan to go once you’re done reading, be sure to get a copy of Frommer’s EasyGuide To Madrid and Barcelona before you leave!

So where did we go? What did we do? 

High Speed Travel

Madrid train station, Barcelona beaches, life after 50, over 50

Madrid Atocha train station to Barcelona takes about three hours.

We packed our bags in Madrid and headed to the Atocha train station for our trip to Barcelona. About three hours later we were on the ground in Barcelona. A taxi took us to our loft-style apartment in the Barceloneta area near the beach. (Just love booking via airbnb.com.) We all agreed that we had picked a great location for our five day stay and were excited to have more time to spend in this hip and cool city.

 

Best Sites To See
There were so many fabulous sites to see in Barcelona. We stopped at a souvenir shop to purchase a detailed street map. Walking around the neighborhoods to view all the amazing architecture was pure delight.

Museu Picasso:  We bought tickets online to skip the long wait. As Frommer’s says “This terrific museum celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 by rehanging many of the works. So even if you visited before, a return will likely feel fresh.” It was interesting to see Picasso’s contemporary version of “Las Meninas” (especially after seeing the original painting at the Museo de Prado in Madrid) and learning about how Picasso was influenced by the art of Velazquez. The museum is housed in a series of brownstones in the La Ribera area which is also home to unique boutiques, gelaterias, and tapas bars.

Picasso Museum in Barcelona, life after 50, over 50, boomer travel

Museu Picasso is located in the La Ribera area.

Parc Guell: This pretty parc sits on a hilltop and was designed by the renowned Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. It’s a lovely spot to take pictures and see Gaudi’s famous “mosaic-encrusted pagoda and lizard fountain spitting water.” Just don’t visit on a rainy day as we did!

“Sorry, but you cannot enter the parc until 2:00 p.m.,” said the attendant. Her words were not welcomed after we had walked several miles in the pouring rain to get there. Since the parc was far from where we were staying, we bought our tickets and waited an hour. Splish, splash – it felt like we had taken a bath by the time the afternoon was over.

Parc Guell in Barcelona, Spain, life after 50, over 50, boomer travel

Parc Guell is located near the Gracia section.

Basilica de la Sagrada Familia: Our first trip to the mammoth Basilica designed by Gaudi was unsuccessful due to the long lines. We went back the next day and walked right in after buying our tickets online. OMG! OMG! is all I can say about this cathedral – it is breathtaking. I’m so glad we returned and went inside.

According to Frommer’s “Gaudi was a profoundly religious man, and from 1912 forward he made the design of this soaring basilica his life’s work. If it is not the grandest church in all of Spain, it is certainly the grandest constructed within living memory.” The church is still under construction and scheduled to be completed in 2026 for the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death. (Let’s see, how old will I be in 2026? I think I may need to schedule another visit to Barcelona. Si, si, si!)

Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, life after 50, over 50, boomer travel

The grand Basilica de la Sagrada Familia.

Museu de la Xocolata: When I found out there was a chocolate museum in Barcelona, I had to go buy some dark chocolate bars for my chocoholic BFF L and boyfriend L! Ooh, ooh, ooh, everything looked so good I wanted to sip the thick hot cocoa and dip my fingers in the chocolate fountain.

Museu de la Xocolata, Barcelona, life after 50, over 50

Frommer's says "Barcelona claims to have been the entry port of chocolate in Europe, based on the arrival of a 1520 shipment of cacao from Mexico."

Buen Provecho!
Food, glorious food – that’s how I would describe Barcelona’s bustling La Boqueria market. Wow-o-wow! The colors of the fruits and fruit smoothies, the smells of empanadas, hams, sausages and the flavorful and fragrant spices made my senses go wild.

La Boqueria in Barcelona, life after 50, over 50, boomer travel

La Boqueria market is a feast for the senses.

After walking miles each day, we stopped by the market near our apartment for wine, cheese, ham, and olives for after-siesta snacks. Late evenings, we ventured out to dine on tapas at places such as Barceloneta’s Jai-ca tapas bar and Origens, an organic restaurant near the Picasso museum. We also stopped at Brunch and Cake cafe for lunch on our way back from Parc Guell. With a more American style menu, their food is quite tasty and the scrumptious dessert-sharing cakes worth sampling.

Barcelona restaurants, life after 50, over 50, boomer travel

There are many good restaurants in Barcelona.

(Note: Skip the restaurants on the beach. Just have a drink at one if you want to take in the view and sunset over the water. We tried a few spots and found the food to be poor quality and the prices expensive.)

Tres Señoritas Shop
No trip would be complete without a little shopping. “Si, si, si,” said the tres señoritas. We walked from one end of La Rambla to the other, then off to the more upscale shops on Passeig de Gracia, and back to the boutiques around the Picasso museum.

My favorites: Zara Home on the Passeig de Gracia and pottery at 174B near the Picasso museum. (Did I mention that we stopped by Louis Vuitton so A could purchase a wallet for my son D’s girlfriend J? Yes, we always seem to find our way to LV wherever we roam – Paris, Nice, Madrid, Barcelona – Louis is a popular guy. Absolutely, if you want to buy a LV do it when in Europe. According to A, LV is much cheaper with the euro and you save lots on tax. A should know as she has two LV handbags, which will be handed down to my future granddaughters. Yes, I said granddaughters. I foresee multiple mini-fashionistas for me to shop for and with in the years to come. )

Barcelona shops, Zara Home, Louis Vuitton, Spanish pottery, life after 50, boomer travel

Espadrilles for son D at Zara Home, A's future wedding dress, Louis Vuitton, and pottery at 174B.

Home Sweet Home
Sunday came all too soon and it was time to leave beautiful Barcelona. I bid my daughter A and my sister N goodbye with hugs and kisses, then boarded the plane for Philadelphia. After eight hours, two movies, a nice talk with my seatmate K  (a college student who was returning to Illinois after a year studying abroad), I arrived home safe and sound.

Barcelona, life after 50, over 50, boomer travel

The tres señoritas!

“How was your trip?” asked my boyfriend L as he lifted my bags into the car. “Simplemente maravilloso! Simplemente maravilloso señor!”

Judi 

 

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Tres Senoritas Travel To Spain – First Stop Madrid

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50I just arrived back from my first-ever trip to Spain and there is so much to share. If you haven’t visited Madrid and Barcelona, once I tell you about these fabulous cities you’ll want to hop on the next plane. Be sure to get a copy of Frommer’s EasyGuide To Madrid and Barcelona before you leave!

One of the best parts of this year’s vacation was having a chance to travel with my daughter A and my sister N. We were tres senoritas on an adventure and it was so much fun.

So where did we go? What did we do? 

First Stop Madrid

life after 50, Madrid, boomer travel, boomer women

Our Madrid apartment was in the La Latina area.

We rented an apartment via airbnb.com in the La Latina area which was convenient to most major sites. It was a large three bedroom on a quiet side street. The owners Marta and Adolfo were friendly and recommended restaurants to try during our stay.

Madrid is a very manageable city to navigate and after a few days of walking around town we were pros at finding our way. (Okay, okay, I admit it was nice to have my daughter A with us who was especially good with a map.) Our feet took us everywhere, we never once used the metro, although the La Latina station was right nearby. Taxis were equally easy to find and they take credit cards, similar to NYC.

Tapping Out On Tapas and Perfect Paella
Madrid, Spanish tapas, boomer travel, life after 50, retirementMost evenings we ate dinner very late past 9:00 p.m., as is typical in Spain. The food of choice was tapas. We dined on a variety of Spanish cheeses, including manchego from the milk of sheep. We sampled Jamon Iberico, cured ham from black Iberian pigs. We devoured dozens of Spanish olives, which appeared whenever we sat down and if they didn’t appear we ordered a bowl. No meal was complete without a pitcher of sangria.

One night we took home tapas from Txakolina, not too far from our apartment. There were so many choices – crab salad, sliced eggplant and smoked salmon with a drizzle of balsamic. Delicioso!

La Barraca paella, Madrid, life after 50, boomer travel, retirement, “You have to enjoy paella at La Barraca,” said Adolfo. We made a reservation for lunch on Sunday. The restaurant is located in the Chueca section and is on a side street behind  Grand Via. We ordered a tuna salad, olives and mixed paella, made with shrimp, pork, calamari and chicken. We agreed that La Barraca’s paella was the best meal of our trip. (Note 1: I bought some paella spices in one of the markets and promise to make a batch for my boyfriend L. Have to find a recipe. Will let you know how it turns out.) (Note 2: Ooh, ooh, ooh, do you know who ate paella at La Barraca years ago? Princess Grace and Prince Rainier of Monaco. So excited to see their picture on the wall at the restaurant.)

Magnificent Sites To See In Madrid
There are many magnificent sites to see in Madrid and we tried to see as many as possible in our few days there:

Plaza Mayor: We walked around the historic cobblestone square and sat and enjoyed a drink and tapas at one of the outdoor dining spots. It felt like we had stepped back in time as we sipped sangria and listened to the musicians in the plaza.

Madrid Plaza Mayor, life after 50, boomer travel, travel and leisure, retirement

The historic square at Plaza Mayor.

Mercado de San Miguel: Outside the gates of Plaza Mayor is a modern day market filled with food stalls – empanadas, ham, seafood, paella, wine and oyster bars, pastries, fruits and vegetables and more. The market stays open late so we ventured there on Sunday evening for a night snack.

Mercato market in Madrid, travel and leisure, life after 50, boomer travel, retirement

Jambon Iberico at Mercado de San Miguel market.

Palacio Real: The royal palace sits high on the hill and has a beautiful view for picture taking. We bought tickets and toured the grand halls. My sister N said it reminded her of Versailles in France. (Never been to Versailles, must add to my bucket list for my life after 50.) The gardens outside the palace are lovely and we dined at the terrace at Cafe de Oriente which looks out over the palace.

Palacio Real Madrid, life after 50, over 50, travel and leisure, boomer travel, retirement

Tres senoritas at Palacio Real.

Real Jardin Botanico and Museo del Prado: Sunday was a sunny day to visit Madrid’s beautiful botanical gardens. According to Frommer’s Guide, the gardens contain more than 104 species of trees and 3,000 types of plants. Afterwards, we toured the famous Prado museum to see “Las Meninas,” the masterpiece of Felipe IV’s royal family painted by Diego Velazquez.

Real Jardin Botanico, Museo del Prado, Madrid, life after 50, boomer travel

Museo del Prado and Real Jardin Botanico

Tres Senoritas Shop
Our last full day in Madrid was spent shopping. We headed to the chic Salamanca neighborhood to ooh and ah over the shop windows and go inside some of the upscale boutiques. Zara, a stylish Spanish clothing store, was on my daughter A’s ‘to do’ list. Salamanca has the nicest Zara store in the city and prices are cheaper in Spain than in the U.S.

We also explored the trendy Chueca neighborhood, but found it caters to a younger crowd with many brand names that you can find in the States.

Spanish espadrilles, espadrilles, life after 50, travel and leisure, boomer travel, over 50

My favorite purchase: espadrilles!

My favorite stop was an espadrille shoe shop near Plaza Mayor called Lobo. (Did I say I absolutely, positively adore espadrilles? I do, I do, I do.) I wanted to buy a pair in every color, but I held back. I purchased dark purple flats and striped wedges. My daughter A bought two pairs too. (Note: The owner told us that you can buy Lobo’s espadrilles online at www.calzadoslobo.com. I checked out the website and it is in Spanish, but it said on my receipt that they ship worldwide. (Ooh, ooh, ooh, maybe I will become an exporter of Spanish espadrilles as part of my second career during my life after 50. What do you think?)

On Tuesday morning, we packed our suitcases and headed out to the Madrid Atocha Train Station for a three hour ride to Barcelona. Zip, zip, zip – the first half of our trip was over.

What do you think? Are you packing your bags yet? If not, just wait till my next blog post when the tres senoritas take on beautiful Barcelona, our second stop on our travel to Spain.

Adiós por ahora.

Judi


P.S. – I forgot that Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises takes place in Madrid. OMG, I really like that novel. Will have to read it again now that I’ve been to Madrid. OMG, may have to go back and follow Hemingway’s steps per writer David Farley’s feature in The New York Times, “A Tour of Hemingway’s Madrid.

 

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Giving Myself Permission to Transition

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomersDuring the past year since leaving my full-time job, I’ve been on a mission to transition from a fast-paced corporate executive to a person who is more balanced, calm, and happy.

Am I all the way to bright? No, no, no.

Am I further along than I was a year ago? Yes, yes, yes.

Am I where I thought I’d be 12 months after saying goodbye to my 30 year career? Yes and no.

The first six months after leaving my job I was still on a treadmill. I traveled to speaking engagements, kept up my blogging and social media, exercised like crazy (to make up for all the exercise I hadn’t done in 30 years), planned dozens of lunches with friends and acquaintances. Every day I was busy, busy, busy. I did not slow down.

I felt a need to prove that I was working – to foolishly please myself or to please others. I didn’t feel I deserved my current freedom or as a new friend said the other week, I didn’t feel “I earned it.” When I really did.

January arrived with mountains of snow. Whoa Judi, what are you doing to yourself, my body cried? My irritable bowel (IBS) acted up after a bout with food poisoning. My menopausal sleep patterns kept me up into the wee hours of the night. My mind, body and spirit began to drag from exhaustion.

The FODMAP Diet Physically Changed My Life
In April, my gastroenterologist suggested I follow the FODMAP diet. Some call it the ‘tummy diet.’ It’s a gluten-free, low lactose, low fructose diet that eliminates foods that cause indigestion and bloating. Unfortunately some of the foods that I consumed most of my adult life – like apples, pears, peaches, high fiber cereals, bagels and artificial sweetened teas — are no longer allowed.

FODMAP diet, life after 50, over 50, healthy eating

I'm eating healthier on the FODMAP diet, such as tilapia with polenta, capers and peppers.

Onions and garlic and any processed products that contain any powdered form of these foods are also off my shopping list. I’m cooking more naturally with fresh ingredients. The positive results override the negatives – my stomach pains are nearly gone and I feel so much healthier. (I cheat now and then, but I’m doing a pretty good job. Yes I am. Yes I am.)

Now it’s time to give myself permission to transition other areas of my life and slow down. It’s time to take my yoga and mindfulness meditation practices off the mat, stop judging myself and instead take moments to stop, breathe and be – to live in the present and enjoy each day.

AARP Life Reimagined, life after 50, over 50, retirement

 

 

I just finished reading Life Reimagined – Discovering Your New Life Possibilities by Richard Leider and Alan Webber. I enjoyed the book very much. The authors provide what they call a Life Reimagined (LR) map that I’m using to reconfigure my “what’s next” for my life after 50. As Richard and Alan advise, “The map’s six guideposts are a guidance system that can help each of us find our way forward.” I feel like I’ve experienced all six areas this year:

♦ Reflect – I may not have paused at the start of my journey, but I’m definitely pausing now and intend to keep pausing along the way.
♦ Connect – I am getting feedback from my trusted family and friends, from my boyfriend L, and my therapist Dr. F. I agree with the LR philosophy, a person cannot take this journey alone.
♦ Explore – This step is easy for me. There are so many possibilities I want to test out during my life after 50 – writing, travel, yoga, meditation, reading, volunteering, sewing, decorating – my list is endless.
♦ Choose – This part is where you focus on priorities and do a deeper dive and a reality check. I am narrowing down my choices, but not there yet.
♦ Repack – Here you decide what to let go of and what to keep for the road ahead. Richard and Alan recommend “lightening the load, both tangible and intangible, for the new way that is opening up.”
♦ ActOoh, ooh, ooh, the last step is about taking action toward making the possibilities real. Richard and Alan say that “taking action releases energy through the optimism that comes with choice, curiosity, and courage.”

I hope you’ll join me and give yourself permission to transition. It’s not as scary as it sounds. In fact, it’s rather fun. Check out and sign up at LifeReimagined.org. Come on over, it’s full of possibilities.

Judi

P.S. – Speaking of possibilities, I’ll be traveling the end of this month on a girls’ vacation with my daughter A and my sister N. Will be sure to report back when I return from my explorations. Unlike a year ago when I visited France, this time I’m packing a smaller suitcase and taking a lighter load. Excuse me, you want to know where I’m going? Okay, I’ll give you a hint - Ciao pescao! 

Disclaimer: This post is supported by Life Reimagined (www.lifereimagined.org): your guide to rethinking what’s possible and seizing your “what’s next” in work, relationships, health, personal finance and more. All opinions are my own.

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Expert Beauty Tips For Women 50 Plus

boomer beauty, life after 50, makeup for 50+ women, over 50I was excited to review the new beauty book Toss the Gloss by Andrea Q. Robinson. Andrea’s illustrious career spans more than forty years, with chief roles at Estee Lauder, Tom Ford Beauty, Ralph Lauren Fragrances and  editorial at Seventeen, Vogue and Mademoiselle.

Since I’m trying to age gracefully I was eager to read Andrea’s “beauty tips, tricks and truths” for women 50 plus. The guide is overflowing with practical information for boomer girls.

Andrea Robinson, Toss the Gloss

Andrea Q. Robinson is the author of "Toss the Gloss."

I like Andrea’s friendly attitude about beauty and her book’s conversational tone. At times I felt like I was chatting with an old friend who happened to be a makeup maven. According to Andrea: “The right makeup, used the right way, is the most powerful weapon in your beauty arsenal. Good makeup reclaims you. Not youth.”

Andrea says that “letting go of perfection and embracing your flaws makes you more beautiful, more noticeable, more accessible, more real.” (I agree Andrea. I agree.)
Andrea laments that “fear of change is for old ladies.” She says to “look in the mirror and decide if your makeup routine is still working.” (I did this a year ago when I retired from my full time job. I totally slimmed down and most days use very little eye makeup.)
Andrea advises that “makeup routines for women 50 plus should be effortless – not more than 10 minutes.” (That’s about the time it takes me each morning to finish my face. Well, perhaps 15 minutes. How about you?)
Andrea says that “you don’t need to spend a lot of money to look good. Maybe a few pricey pieces but the rest can be bought at the drugstore.” (I do like my Bobbi Brown eyeshadows, blush and lipstick, and prefer Lancome Hypnose Drama mascara. As for moisturizers, I often purchase these skin care items at places like Ulta, Target or CVS.)

My Favorite Beauty Tips From Mrs. Robinson

Toss the Gloss, Andrea Q. Robinson, beauty tips for women 50 plus, over 50, life after 50Andrea has so many useful tips in her book. Here are a few pointers I plan to practice during my life after 50:

Beauty comes from within a very small makeup bag.” (I did exactly what Andrea said and last week I dumped every cosmetic product I’ve owned longer than a year into a garbage bag. I went into my cabinets and scooped up old lipsticks, eye pencils, lip liners, foundations and nail polishes. Sweep, sweep, sweep, out the door.)
To get more longevity, keep your cosmetics in a plastic box with a tight lid and store products in a cool, dry place, removed from moisture and light.” (Oh no, oh no, my cosmetics are in a plastic box with a tight lid right next to my bathroom sink. Note to self: Move makeup as soon as possible — quickly before it all gets damaged.)
Sharpen lip and eyeliner pencils after each use to remove moisture-causing bacteria which contaminates pencils. Periodically wipe lipstick with alcohol wipes.” (Check, check. Done.)
Use sunscreen everyday at least SPF 30. Sun damage is the #1 cause of wrinkles.” (I use Skinceuticals Fusion UV Defense Tinted Sunscreen with SPF 50 year-round. I’ve been trying to remember to put sunscreen on my hands too. Lately there are so many more brown spots on my hands.)
“Good skin care includes sleep and exercise.” Andrea notes that “our skin cells regenerate when we sleep and that increased blood flow and circulation nourishes skin cells.” (Well there goes that. My menopausal skin is already drier, thinner and less elastic due to lower estrogen levels. Menopausal moments that awaken me at night or prevent a good night’s sleep don’t help matters. Thankfully I’m getting lots of exercise these days –hope my yoga, bicycling and walking will help improve things. I use Skinceuticals CE Ferulic on my face to counteract all the free radicals that are in the environment  - it’s really good – very pricey. Andrea has CE on her list too, as does Martha Stewart and other mature celebrities.)
“Always wash your face before going to sleep.”Andrea says that “retinoids are the only proven anti-aging compound that reduces lines and wrinkles. She says to “only use retionoid products at night.” (I never go to bed without first removing my makeup. I’ve tried ROC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Serum, which is one of the products mentioned in the book. I find retinoid to be too drying for my skin.)

Andrea shares more tips about concealers, primers, highlighters, foundation, and a whole lot more in Toss the Gloss. You’ll have to buy the book to read them all. Or, leave a comment with your 50 plus makeup tip and you might win a copy as part of my May Giveaway! See entry below. (Share this giveaway with your friends too.)

No matter what makeup you choose to put on your face, remember that beauty is more than skin deep. It comes from inside you. During your life after 50, Andrea says “love your lines, you’ve earned them. Your lines are what make your face interesting.”

Judi

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