Making The Most Of My Mindfulness Journey

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer wellnessIt has been almost 10 years since I studied mindfulness meditation. My therapist C at the time had suggested I sign up for the Mindfulness-Based Stress Management Program at The Penn Medicine Program for Mindfulness. It was right after my husband M died and she thought learning these new skills would help me process my grief and reduce my stress. I went to an 8-week program and began my mindfulness journey. It changed my life.

Last night I was reminded of these changes as I sat among mindfulness newbies in one of Penn’s 2-hour introductory classes. As a yoga instructor, I wanted to brush up on my mindfulness skills so I can share the benefits with my yoga students.

“Mindfulness originated in India. It comes from a word that translates as heartfulness,” said our leader M. “It is a way of bringing your attention to the present moment.” Like yoga, mindfulness is a practice. You have to work at it to experience the changes it can bring.

The Penn Program is modeled after the philosophy of Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., who has done landmark work on mindfulness meditation and healing, and is the author of the bestseller Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, Illness. M noted that “Dr. Kabat-Zinn says mindfulness is when you are bringing your attention on purpose, in the present moment, and without judgement.” (Note: If you want to learn more about Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn check out his 60 Minutes interview from 2014 with Anderson Cooper.)

How Do You Practice Mindfulness?
During the evening session, M guided us through different exercises to bring us into the present moment. We did a 25 minute meditation, closing our eyes and bringing our attention to various parts of our body, such as noticing the top of our head when M would mention it, or our fingers or toes. For many of the newbies, their thoughts wandered during the meditation. Each time M reminded us to bring our attention back to the body. My mind wandered too, but not as much as in earlier days.

“You become more aware of your thoughts as you practice,” M said. “You are strengthening your attention like you would strengthen a muscle during exercise.”
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Using Mindfulness To Manage Stress
“What is stress for you personally?” M asked. We gathered in groups to discuss our stress. “Lack of sleep,” said one participant. “Pain,” said another. “Worry,” said another. “Perfectionism and over thinking,” chimed in two more. Continue reading

You May Be Getting Older, But You Can Still Have Fun!

This post is sponsored by Warner Bros. Pictures. All opinions are my own.

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Since turning 50 my philosophy has been that while I may be getting older, I can still have fun. That’s why when the PR team at Warner Brothers contacted me about writing about this topic, I said “absolutely.” It’s one of the key themes of their new movie, Going In Style, which will premiere in theaters on April 7th.

Going In Style
The new comedy stars some of my favorite Oscar-winning actors, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin. They play lifelong buddies Willie, Joe and Al, who decide to buck retirement and step off the straight-and-narrow for the first time in their lives when their pension fund becomes a corporate casualty.

Going in Style; #GoingInStyle;

Desperate to pay the bills and come through for their loved ones, the three risk it all by embarking on a daring bid to knock off the very bank that absconded with their money.

Ann Margaret, who BTW is 75 years old, plays Al’s love interest. She looks amazing and her voice is just as lovely as when she was a teenager in Bye, Bye Birdie. The director of Going in Style is actor, director, and screenwriter Zach Braff (who starred in the television series Scrubs and was born and bred in New Jersey).

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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.

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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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My River Cruise On The Douro – Welcome Aboard!

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50“We are delighted to welcome you aboard Viking Hemming, and look forward to serving you,” said our program director Jorge. My boyfriend L and I were excited for our cruise along Portugal’s Douro River, compliments of Viking.*

A Stop Off In Ciombra
It was a fun day of travel to the ship, leaving our pre-trip in Lisbon in the early morning and heading north to Coimbra, the original capital of Portugal, and home to one of its oldest universities. Students gave us a tour and shared stories about their “black capes,” which are a tradition on campus. The capes were originally worn so students would not be judged by their clothes if they were rich or poor. “During graduation festivities, we cut the cape,” said Maria, a student of engineering. “A middle cut is for your boyfriend, but must be sewn up if you break up.” Moi tried on one of these heavy woolen capes and almost fell over.

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The university at Combria is one of the oldest. Black capes are a tradition for students.

Welcome Aboard!
We arrived in Porto, Portugal’s second largest city, by early evening and boarded the Viking Hemming, The small ship holds about 105 people, Our third floor room was lovely, with a veranda, a king-sized bed, contemporary bathroom (that even had a night-light), and plenty of closet space. “I could definitely live on this ship,” I said to L. “It’s great waking up to a magnificent views of the Douro river and Portugal’s mountainous terrain of vineyards. My only wish is that they had yoga classes on the deck instead of shuffle board and pitch and putt.” Continue reading

A Dynamic Mother & Daughter Duo

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomers“I noticed that you’ve posted interviews of women over 50 pursuing new career paths and I was hoping I could submit my mom as a future subject. My mom is Diane Yeager and she is 60 years young. Every time we think it’s time for her to slow down and retire, it’s as if she starts another life.” said Nikki.

What a nice lead-in to an inspiring story. I like to hear about positive family relationships, especially when a daughter is proud of her mom. I wanted to learn more about how Diane, a former full-time nurse and now owner of EHR Tutor, navigated entrepreneurship. I also was curious to hear Nikki’s perspective — to understand how her mom has influenced her own success.

Here are excerpts from my interviews. Perhaps Diane’s story may motivate you to become an entrepreneur during your second act. 

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Nikki (left) was inspired to succeed by her strong mom Diane.

A Conversation With Diane Yeager
Q: What spurred you to start a company during your life after 50?
Diane: “In my 50s, I was working as a consultant for a healthcare software company and found myself working increasingly longer hours. Having a 100 hour work week at the beginning of a job is something I can do, especially when I’m excited about the work. However, when I was doing overnight support shifts on a regular basis after writing training curriculum, I realized I was well into my 50s and losing time at my job instead of gaining anything meaningful in my life. Continue reading

Are You Taking Care Of Your Heart Health?

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer wellnessThanks to Valentine’s Day, February is a month filled with red hearts. I just bought my cards and heart-shaped candy for my sweetheart L. I always tell him how lucky he is to be my boyfriend.

February is also a month to honor your own heart and make sure it stays healthy year-round. I learned more about heart health from the American Heart Association (AHA) Go Red For Women Campaign and wanted to share it with all of you. Boomer girls are especially prone to heart disease after menopause as our estrogen levels decrease causing a whole lot of ruckus in our body. While heart disease and stroke kill one in three women, the good news is that 80 percent is preventable.

So what are you doing to take care of your heart?

Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum

Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum

I talked with Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, attending cardiologist and Director of Women and Heart Disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, to learn more about menopause and what boomer girls can do to stay in tip-top shape. Here are excerpts:

Q: How does menopause impact heart health?
“Menopause is so fascinating,” said Dr. Steinbaum. “It is about the closing out of our time to reproduce. Estrogen levels decrease and the benefits of estrogen decline. Blood pressure rises. LDL – the bad cholesterol rises. Research has shown that 10 years after menopause has occurred that heart disease increases because you no longer have any estrogen left in your body.” (Ugh! This is depressing. I feel like I may need to eat all those heart-shaped chocolates I just bought for L. Isn’t dark chocolate good for the heart?) Continue reading

Raising Awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomersWhen the team at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI) asked me to get involved in spreading the word about Taking Action Against Alzheimer’s, I agreed to participate in this important campaign. While I feel very lucky that neither of my late parents experienced this devastating condition, I have seen the impact it has had on the families of close friends who have moms and dads with Alzheimer’s disease.

National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

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Jessica Langbaum, PhD, is Principal Scientist at BAI and Associate Director of Alzheimer's Prevention Institute in Phoenix, AZ.

In addition to National Family Caregivers Month, November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. I learned a lot about this disease during BAI’s blogger briefing. Jessica Langbaum, PhD, Principal Scientist at BAI and Associate Director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative in Phoenix, AZ, shared some staggering statistics which are only going to increase as baby boomers get older.

 Every 67 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
 More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s.
 Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death.
 Alzheimer’s is the only top 10 cause of death that cannot be prevented, treated or cured.

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A SoulCycle Experience

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer wellnessCelebrities are doing it. Oprah just had an arena-wide session at her “The Life You Want Weekend” in Newark.  It’s called SoulCycle,  “indoor cycling re-invented,” as the company’s website says.

“Do you want to take a SoulCycle class?” asked my daughter A since I had planned to visit NYC this past weekend. “I’ll register us for Saturday at 10:45 a.m.” “Okay, let’s go for it,” I replied. I had taken a spinning class once before but never done SoulCycle. “Maybe we will see some celebrities,” I said. I had heard that Jake Gyllenhaal was a cycler in the city. My son’s girlfriend J joined us too.

I dressed in my artful gray and black leggings and black tee. We arrived early for the sold-out session. We checked in at the front desk and were given cycling shoes and instructed to go downstairs to put our things in a locker. I signed the waiver, since I was a first time rider. Continue reading

A Vacuum Fit For Cleaning and A Work Of Art

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer womenAs a blogger, I often receive a variety of promotions and products to review. Each day I never know what fun pitch is going to appear in my inbox. Here’s one of my recent favorites:

“I’m reaching out from Dyson’s PR team. We’ve released new cordless vacuums that I think would be a perfect fit for folks over 50. Rather than dealing with bulky upright vacuums that are heavy, difficult to maneuver, and involve cords that you need to bend down to wrap, plug and unplug, ours are under 5 pounds, docked to the wall for easy access, and their performance actually rivals traditional corded uprights. In fact, the latest model – DC59 Motorhead – out-cleans the top 5 full-sized uprights across carpets and hard floors. Plus, they convert into powerful handheld vacuums for cleaning car interiors, upholstery, etc.

Would the newest cordless vacuum cleaner be something you’re interested in testing out? Happy to send through a sample.”

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The Yogi’s Way to a Good Night’s Sleep

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer wellnessCatching my nightly zzz’s has been getting more challenging during my life after 50. What about you? Is your mind racing when your head hits the pillow? Still experiencing menopausal night sweats? Is your body exhausted?

Since yoga has helped me to lower my stress levels during the day, I asked my friend Alene Brennan, health coach and yoga instructor, if she had any yogic advice that might work during the wee hours of the night. Here’s an excerpt from our chat:

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Alene Brennan, Health Coach and Yoga Instructor

J: What principles do yogis follow in regards to sleep?
A: “Yogis follow Ayurveda, a sister science of yoga and one of the world’s oldest healing systems.  Ayurveda offers simple routines that can create balance and a restful sleep.”

J: I’ve always wanted to learn about Ayurveda – tell me more.
A: “A good night’s rest begins with the time that you wake up each morning According to Ayurveda, there are cycles of energy in nature throughout the day and the more you synchronize your daily routine with nature’s clock the better balanced your energy will be throughout the day.”

J: So what time does nature awaken?
A: “Ideally you want to rise by 6:00 a.m. or before sunrise. This is known as Vatta time when the energy is fresh and full of renewal. Rise and shine to welcome the new day and sync your internal clock and energy with that of nature.”

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