It’s Time To Be Kind To Family Caregivers

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomers

November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to be especially kind to those who care for aging family members. Many of those who are family caregivers are boomer women, sandwiched between the needs of their parents and their own kids. They give, give, give to loved ones, while often sacrificing their own needs.

The Life Of A Family Caregiver
I’m familiar with the life of a family caregiver. I was a caregiver to my late husband during his illness. For many months, I visited him in the hospital each evening, driving a long distance after a full day of work, then home to make dinner for my son, leaving little time to rest, and start the routine all over again.

Shortly after my husband died, my sister N and I became more active caregivers to my mom. We were grateful that mom lived on her own for most of her senior years. Yet when she became ill at 89 and we had to give care from afar (since mom lived in Florida and N and I lived in the northeast), it became quite difficult.  We decided it was best for mom to move into an assisted living environment where she would have the ongoing care she needed. As devoted daughters, moving my mom was a tough decision. We were glad mom thrived in her new home. She passed in her early 90s.

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My sister N and I were caregivers to my mom until she passed away a few years ago.

Being a family caregiver is a major commitment. Many of my friends who have aging parents tell me of their challenges. When their dad falls and  breaks an ankle or hip, when their mom forgets to take her medicine due to dementia or Alzheimers, when they have to play the parent to their parents and take away driving privileges — so much debating and deciding ‘what should I do?’ issues pile on the family caregiver that their shoulders begin to weigh down. Continue reading

My River Cruise on the Douro – Breathtaking Views

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50“Take me back to Portugal, I miss the picturesque villages, pristine waters, and magnificent vineyard covered mountains,” I said to my boyfriend L. I wished to return to the Viking Hemming, but instead spent time cherishing all the memories from our first-ever river cruise on the Douro.* It had been a fun adventure and there’s plenty more to share.

Lots To Do On-Board 
There were many activities on-board and unlike L, who enjoyed relaxing and reading on deck, I was eager to participate in all.

Viking River of Gold Cruise, Portugal, Douro, river cruise, over 50, life after 50, boomer travel

Como està,” I said to L when I returned from my Portuguese language lesson. L smiled and went on reading. Elia taught us how to say popular words and phrases, like bom dia (good morning), boa tarde (good afternoon), boa noite (good evening and good night), adeus (good bye), and olà (hello). “There are two ways to say thank you,” said Elia. “If you are a woman you say obrigada, but if you are a man you say obrigado.”

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A Remarkable Story About “Woman In Gold”

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer womenI pass the Holocaust exhibit at Katz Jewish Community Center in Cherry Hill, NJ, each day when I go to my yoga class. It’s a constant reminder of the atrocities that Jewish people endured during World War II. I shudder every time I look at the pictures on display.

Feelings about these times were stirred deep down as I watched Woman in Gold this weekend. The film is based on the true story of a Jewish woman’s journey to reclaim her family’s artworks that were seized by the Nazi’s. She aims to seek justice for what happened to her family more than 60 years ago after being forced to flee her home in Vienna.

Helen Mirren, Woman in Gold

Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Anchor Bay Entertainment provided me with a copy of the Blu-ray and a $100 gift card to help me mark my own moments in history. In addition, they are providing the same sample and prize package to one of my readers – so after you read my review, I hope you will enter the giveaway below. It’s a movie worth watching.

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Buzzing About New Books At 2015 Book Expo America

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomersWhen I was a young girl growing up in the Bronx, NY, I loved to go to the public library. My mom would drop me off at the library and then go shopping at the supermarket.

The library was my babysitter. I’d head over to the “NEW BOOKS” display and scan the binders and jackets of each book. I liked the fresh smell and feel of new books — there weren’t any dirty fingerprints all over the shiny covers.

My mom would return after an hour or so. I’d check out my books and then we would stop at the bakery for a big sprinkle cookie (a large round shortbread with chocolate sprinkles on top) to eat on the walk home. Ah, the simple pleasures of life.

When I grew up and had kids of my own, I often took my daughter A and son D to the library near our home in Cherry Hill, NJ. Once again, I’d wander over to the shelf that said “NEW BOOKS” and pick out the pretty picture books. There’s nothing as wonderful or as relaxing as the joy of reading a book to a young child.

Going To The 2015 Book Expo America
These days I never go to the library. I purchase most novels on Amazon and download them onto my Kindle. I do still adore books, especially new ones. That’s why I was delighted to attend the 2015 Book Expo America (BEA) at the Jacob Javits Center in NYC last month. The BEA is where publishers showcase their upcoming releases for the year.

BEA 2015, Book Expo America, Dyan Nyad, Tom Foreman, books, life after 50

Fun at BEA 2015: I met Tom Foreman, author of “My Year Of Running, A Dad, A Daughter and A Ridiculous Plan,” and Diana Nyad, swimmer and author of “Find A Way.”

The BEA Book Bloggers Conference
On day one, I attended the BEA Book Blogger’s Conference with fellow midlife blogger and friend Helene Bludman Cohen of Books is Wonderful (a great place to go for book recommendations). It was interesting to hear the cognoscenti of the book blogosphere share their passion for books. We also heard self-published authors talk about the triumphs and challenges of being a writer. (Okay folks, I’ve now added ‘writing a memoir’ to my bucket list. I just have other things I want to accomplish first!) Continue reading

Conquering My Fears At SUP YOGA

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer wellness“What time is yoga class?” I asked the nice instructor at the Adventure Center at the The Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort in St. Thomas, USVI, while I was visiting for my niece’s wedding. “It’s at 7:00 a.m.,” said Katie. “Ooh, that’s very early. A little too early for vacation,” I replied.

“You should try SUP YOGA VI,” said Katie. “It’s so much fun. I teach it at 9:00 a.m. at the Cove beach.”

“What is SUP YOGA?” I asked. “SUP YOGA Stands for Stand Up Paddle board yoga,” said Katie. “We paddle out on the water to nine feet and then we do yoga on our boards. You just need to know how to swim.”

Nine feet deep. Uh-oh. Oh-no. Asanas on a paddle board on the water. I’m not the greatest swimmer. Uh-oh. Oh-no. Should I? Would I? Could I do SUP YOGA?

My body tensed up as Katie put the sign-up sheet in front of me. “I’ll go with you for moral support,” said my son D. (What a nice son. He doesn’t even practice yoga.) “All right then,” I said, “I’m going to conquer my fears. Let’s do it.” (Go Judi! Go Judi!)

“You’re going to love it,” said Katie. “SUP YOGA on the water is so relaxing.”

A New Level of Mind, Body, and Spirit
The next morning I awoke early, put on my swimsuit (and lots of sunscreen) and headed down to the beach. Katie provided each of us a board with a paddle and guided us out onto the water. She showed us how to paddle forwards, backwards, and turn our boards around. Then we were on our way.

SUP YOGA VI, yoga, St. Thomas USVI

My son D and I got ready for SUP YOGA with our boards and paddles. Poses were done on the ocean water.

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“IRIS” – A Delightful Documentary About A 93 Year Old Style-Maven

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer womenI’ve always adored the style-maven Iris Apfel. I’ve followed her flamboyant fashions and over-sized iconic eyewear since I was in college in the 70s. As a student of textile and clothing design, it was a treat to see what avant-garde outfit and costume jewelry Iris was wearing on the fashion pages or around the streets of New York City.

Now at 93 (the same age my mom would have been if she was alive), she is the subject of a new documentary called IRIS. If you are a fashionista or creative spirit like me, you won’t want to miss this fabulous film directed by the legendary documentarian Albert Maysles (who sadly passed away in March).

Iris Apfel, IRIS, aging, fashionista

Iris Apfel in IRIS, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo credit: (c) Bruce Weber.

Who Is Iris Apfel?
For those of you who don’t know Iris, let me tell you about her. “While Iris Apfel has been an outsized presence on the New York fashion scene for decades, her life is more than just about glamour,” as the press release states. “She continues to embrace the values and work ethic established during a middle-class Queens upbringing during the Great Depression. Her enthusiasm for fashion, art and people, reminds us that dressing, and indeed life, is nothing but an experiment.” Her fun-loving attitude, abundant creativity, and tireless energy are what make Iris so inspiring and the film IRIS so endearing.

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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

Self-Care For The Soul: An Interview with Life Coach Pamela Mulhearn

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomersI always like to talk to boomer women who are doing interesting things during their life after 50. Recently, I had a chance to chat with Pamela Mulhearn, Certified Professional Coach and Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner. Pamela works with empty nesters and helps women get ready for their next chapter.

“For 11 years, I was a multi-venture entrepreneur and small business advisor. This gave me flexibility to be available for my children. The day came as my children started leaving the nest when I decided to sell the businesses,” said Pamela. “I took some time and volunteered for women’s organizations assisting women in reinventing themselves and making changes in their careers. I then decided to get certified as a life coach and have been working with women in transition ever since.”

Advice From The “Queen of Reinvention”
While I’m a few years post the empty nest, my life continues to evolve. I was curious  to hear what Pamela had to say about her work with post 50 women. Here are excerpts from our discussion:

What trends are you seeing in women post 50 and post empty nest?

Transition Life Coach Pamela Mulhearn helps women in transition at emptynestinstitute.com.

Transition Life Coach Pamela Mulhearn helps women in transition at emptynestinstitute.com.

“The biggest trend right now is women shifting toward ‘self-care of the soul.’ Women over 50 are taking stock of their lives and making the changes necessary to achieve happiness and fulfillment. There is a ripple benefit of this peace and contentment to all those around her.” (Yes Pamela. That’s me – I’m re-evaluating many areas of my life and working on setting more mindful intentions around my mind, body and spirit.)

Is there a common thread?
“I generally work with women in two categories. First, women who put their careers on hold for 20+ years to raise their families. With now grown children, these women find themselves trying to find a new purpose. Many of these women have devoted and flexed their lives around their children’s hectic schedules and are feeling lost. We work together to help them find their “ME” again.

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7 Ways I’ve Changed For The Better In 7 Years Post 50

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomersThis week marks seven years since the passing of my husband M. He left me two weeks shy of my 50th birthday. I often think about the words my bereavement coach S said during our class: “The heart never mends after losing a spouse, the hole just gets smaller.”

“Are you really a different person since turning 50?” asked  R at a boomer girls’ gathering last weekend. “What’s different, how are you different?” R wanted to know.

My answer was quick. I did not hesitate. “Yes, I am a different person,” I said. I proceeded to list several ways I have positively changed during the past seven years.

life after 50, post 50, changes, boomer women

My two plants are 7 years old. Their growth is a symbol of my own.

Questions like this remind me to review my accomplishments – big and small. In fact, this December marks a symbolic moment in my life after 50. My relationship with myself is quite the opposite of the seven-year-itch.

Unlike a potential wandering spouse, I don’t want to be unfaithful to myself. The person I was before 50 and the person I am becoming after 50 are evolving into one authentic relationship that I plan to keep improving, growing, and moving forward. Yes, there is a constant push and pull between the two – but lately the Judi after 50 seems to win out and make the right choices.

How Am I Different?
I could go on and on, but I’ll save that for my book (if I ever motivate myself to get past the first few chapters and finish it). In honor of my seven-year-itch, I’ve listed seven ways I’ve changed for the better: Continue reading

Are You In A Postmenopausal Desert?

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer wellness“I’m itchy down under,” I told the gynecological nurse practitioner during my last visit. I was going to purchase an over-the-counter medication for what I thought was a simple vaginal infection. Glad I didn’t self-medicate. It’s not a good idea.

“You have postmenopausal dryness,” said the nurse practitioner. “Your vaginal walls are thinning and irritated due to your lack of estrogen. It’s simple to fix.” She prescribed an estrogen cream. Just a few small dabs worked wonders and now I’m pleasantly hydrated again.

Not Alone With My Postmenopausal Woes
I’m not alone with my postmenopausal woes (psst, psst, it can impact your sexual health after 50 too) and soon there will be many more women joining me in the vaginal desert. According to statistics, nearly one out of every two (45.25%) American women will be menopausal or approaching menopause next year. While most women are aware of menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes  and night sweats, fewer know about vaginal atrophy, a condition that effects one-third of women. (OMG, OMG, OMG, that’s a lot of dried out women!) Continue reading