Let The Countdown To 60 Begin!

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomersHappy New Year!

January 2017 marks the 10th year since I started blogging. A decade has passed since I typed my first blog post capturing my countdown to my 50th birthday. Times have changed but one thing remains constant — boomer women continue to do amazing things.

Some may say that as women age we become more invisible. I say that we’ve only just begun to shine. While we may not be celebrating a female boomer in the White House in 2017, we are a very large community of strong women, estimated at 38.44 million in the USA. As Girlpower Marketing CEO Linda Landers says, “Today’s 50-plus females are the healthiest, wealthiest, most active and influential generation of women in history.”

Arianna Huffington; The Huffington Post

Meeting Arianna Huffington and becoming a contributor to The Huffington Post was a blogging highlight in 2013.

My Countdown To 50
I began blogging in 2007 as an easy way to capture my thoughts and feelings as a boomer woman approaching her momentous 50th year. Little did I know that my countdown to 50 would turn out to be one of the most extraordinary years of my life. Halfway through the year, my husband M took ill. During almost seven months while he was in the hospital, my blog posts became my outlet to share the overwhelming fears that engulfed me as my husband began to drift away. My community of readers became my salvation. I couldn’t wait to get home from the hospital each night to read your emails and comments. Your support made all the difference in helping me survive during that tumultuous time.

ayearto50.blogspot.com; boomer women; post 50

From “Loneliness to Loveliness”
My husband M passed away shortly before our 24th anniversary and two weeks shy of my 50th birthday. I was a widow at 49, The loneliness was deeply felt and I wasn’t sure how I was going to lift myself up.  Continue reading

7 Reasons Why Having A Boyfriend Post 50 Is The Best

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomers“Happy anniversary,” I said to my boyfriend L yesterday. “I am so glad you didn’t walk out the back door of Starbucks when I walked in to meet you six years ago.”

“I can’t believe it’s been six years,” replied L. “Time flies when you’re having fun.

Entering The World of Online Dating 
Widowed at 50, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I ventured into dating after 24 years of marriage. I was older and wiser, but totally new to the world of online courtship. I had met my husband M through a personal ad in the Village Voice back in 1982, so finding a match on JDate in 2009 wasn’t all that different — except now you could see people’s pictures.

L had a full head of gray hair (√), wasn’t wearing any polyester (√√√√), was a former New Yorker like me (√ √), and grew up in the Bronx also like me (√√√).

There was a comfort level, lots of camaraderie, and laughter that we shared in the early days getting to know each other. It was fun to have a companion and partner after more than 18 months of being alone.

“Would I ever want to marry again?” I often thought to myself during the first years of our relationship. “Would I ever want to live with my boyfriend L during my life after 50?” – was another popular Q. The answer was usually “maybe” as I saw other friends happily remarry after widowhood or a later-in-life divorce.

Viking river cruise, Portugal, life after 50, boomer travel, Douro river

My boyfriend L and I are still together after our first-ever international trip.

Why Having A Boyfriend Post 50 Is The Best
Now as we celebrate our six years together, I no longer desire a diamond ring or wedding band on my finger. Nor do I wish for a housemate. I love having a boyfriend at this age and love being in a grownup “L.A.T. – Living Apart Together” relationship. It’s the best. Here’s why: Continue reading

A Special Video Summit for Post 50 Women

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomersReserve your front row seat! On February 19th, I’ll be a featured guest for an online video summit from author Andrea Pflaumer entitled “Vital, Vivacious, and Visible after 50.”  Taping occurred via Skype a few weeks ago and I haven’t seen the episode yet. (Hope I kept my neck up during the interview so my wrinkles didn’t overwhelm the screen.)

Shopping for the Real You

Andrea Pflaummer; boomer women, boomers, life after 50

Andrea Pflaumer is author of “Shopping For The Real You.”

Andrea Pflaumer is the author of Shopping for the Real You – 10 Steps to a Better Wardrobe for Every Women: Fashionistas, Fashion Phobes and the over 50. Her articles on art, fashion, and shopping have appeared in local and national publications, including the San Francisco Examiner, Oakland Magazine, East Bay Express, San Francisco Weekly, and the East Bay Monthly. As an educator, she has trained thousands on the principles of image and personal branding. Andrea is also a leader in the human potential movement through her work as a teacher of the Transcendental Meditation technique.

In in the past few years Andrea has had conversations with her readers about fashion and style. But as much as they’ve discussed these topics, they’ve also explored what our lives are going to look like moving beyond our 50’s.

“Women want to know how to keep looking good, but we also want to know how to stay relevant, hip, and lively into our 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, and beyond,” said Andrea. “That means how to stay healthy, how to maintain a sense of humor, how to engage in activity that is meaningful for us, how to expand our horizons and our circle of friends and acquaintances so that we keep growing instead of shrinking – literally and figuratively.”

“Vital, Vivacious, and Visible after 50” Online Video Summit
For her online video summit, Andrea interviewed a group of experts in fields ranging from personal style to health and wellness, from joyful aging to entrepeneurship – all geared toward those post 50 – as well as other midlife women, as she says, “who will be in this category before long!” Continue reading

How To Practice More Gratitude During Your Life After 50

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomersTomorrow will mark eight years since my husband M died. As my grief instructor S said shortly after M’s passing: “The hole in your heart will get smaller, but it will never fully close.” S was right.

My life has evolved a great deal since those dark days of December 2007. One of the biggest behaviors that has created positive change in my life after 50 is having an attitude of gratitude. Like yoga and mindfulness, having an attitude of gratitude is an awareness practice. With gratitude I’m learning to have more contentment for all the things I have and all the things I can do, versus being disappointed with the things I don’t have or can’t do.

For example, when I see my friends celebrating their 25th or 30th wedding anniversaries sometimes I am sad that M and I will never have an opportunity to achieve such a milestone. Then the gratitude meter checks in and I become grateful for the 24 years we did have together. It’s more than many couples get, especially with the rate of divorce in this country.

Wearing Gratitude On My Wrist
I wear a MyIntent bracelet on my wrist with the word “GRATITUDE.” It acts as a constant prompt to be thankful for all the things I can do. “Breathe because you can,” said my yoga teacher N in today’s class. N is right, I am grateful that I can breathe.

MyIntent.org, gratitude, BlogHer15,

I chose the word GRATITUDE for MyIntent bracelet.

A Bucket Full of Gratitude
If I could hold all my gratitude in a container, it would fill up a huge bucket. In that bucket would be my daughter A and my son D, my boyfriend L, my BFF L and BFF R, my sister N, my late mom and dad, and many more friends and family members. I’d add the gratitude for my beautiful home and my condo on the corner at the shore, top that with my yoga and meditation practice, and for the retirement I earned from my full-time job that is enabling me to live life to the fullest during my second act. There’s more, more, more gratitude for you, my blog readers who bring me great joy each week when we connect through my posts. Continue reading

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

Refocusing on My Memoir Writing Goal

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomersAs I continue to evolve my life after 50, I’ve enjoyed reading Life Reimagined, Discovering Your New Possibilities. Authors Richard J. Leider and Alan M.Webber use  a concrete approach to help people “rethink life’s meaning and discover (or rediscover) their purpose” when faced with the challenge to change.

I’ve been using the Life Reimagined online tools to help me set my goals. Last month, after returning from the BlogHer conference in San Jose, CA, and listening to the panel on publishing a book, I thought it was a good time to revisit my goal to write my memoir.

AARP Life Reimagined, memoir writing, change, widowhood, life after 50

My Life Checkup
I logged into the Life Reimagined website and reviewed the results from my “Life Checkup” activities that I completed last April. My checkup told me that I was “optimistic and passionate about my goal to write a memoir. My gut was telling me to go for it. However, my actions were not in-sync. Instead of focusing forward, I was moving in a hundred different directions. Instead of acting, I was waiting for the right moment.

“If your idea hits a roadblock, get creative about pushing past it,” my Life Checkup results declared. (Okay, I hear you! I’m ready. I’m willing. I want to start putting prose on the page.)

Continue reading

Jackie Kennedy – My Mentor From Afar

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomersI was only five on November 22, 1963 when  Kennedy was assassinated. I don’t remember much. But growing up, I became enamored with Jackie Kennedy – her fashions, her style, her grace, and her love for her two children Caroline and John. Now, looking back on my own life, I realize that to me she was a mentor from afar.

President Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, life after 50, over 50, boomer women

Julian Read was the former press aide for Governor Connolly. My coffee table book featuring Jackie Kennedy’s fashions.

 

I had an opportunity to meet Julian Read, who was Governor Connolly’s press aide, when I visited Dallas this past October for a Public Relations Society meeting. He was an eyewitness during JFK’s final hours in Texas and wrote a book about it. He talked about how brave and strong Jackie was as she sat alone in the hospital while her husband lay dying from a gun shot wound. Julian said it was so quiet in that hospital hallway that you could have heard a pin drop.

She was only in her 30s when she was First Lady. She was only in her 30s when her husband died. She was only in her 30s when she became a widow. Continue reading

Five Years And Counting

“Your husband is a very sick man,” said the doctor at the long-term acute care facility. “He cannot breathe on his own. Do you want to put him back on life support? He will not live much longer. Does your husband have a living will?”

These words were uttered to me five years ago tonight – December 17, 2007. I remember these words like it was yesterday. I felt a weight on my shoulder, yet I could not let M suffer any longer. I could not let my family suffer either. It was time to say good-bye. (M passed away the next day.)

I drove home that evening in a misty fog, just like the rain outside tonight. It was a Monday evening and as the wipers swished back and forth, Alicia Keys’ hit song “No One” played on the radio and I sang along:

“You and me together
Through the days and nights
I don’t worry ’cause
Everything’s gonna be alright

And no one, no one, no one
Can get in the way of what I’m feeling
No one, no one, no one
Can get in the way of what I feel
For you, you, you
Can get in the way of what I feel for you

When the rain is pouring down
And my heart is hurting
You will always be around
This I know for certain”

“No One,” became the top song on my playlist that day and the days and months that followed as I mourned the loss of my husband M and did my best to comfort our two children, my daughter A and my son D.

Heartfelt Memories: Today I wore the gold heart necklace that my late husband M gave me on our first Valentine's Day together.

It is five years and counting. Today I laid a stone on my late husband’s gravesite as I’ve done each December since his death. This year, it is a special stone. It is a big silver and gray stone that I’ve had since I went to the Miraval Spa during my first year as a widow. It is my special stone that has kept me strong all these years. It is my rock. My big rock that I now no longer need to squeeze when I am fearful.

I am a lot stronger and courageous than I was five years ago. I am a student of yoga and mindfulness. I am grateful for my marriage of 24+ years. I am grateful for the two incredible children that M and I brought into this world and for the fantastic adults they have become — in many ways because of the love and nurturing that their dad provided to them. I am thankful for my terrific family, my many good friends and the love of my new partner L.

Oprah says that “You radiate and generate more goodness for yourself when you’re aware of all you have and not focusing on your have-nots.”

It’s five years and counting. There’s a new Alicia Keys’ song on my playlist. It’s called “Girl On Fire” and I think it fits the way I’m feeling now. Yes, I’m getting stronger every day. I think you’ll like this song too. Sing the chorus with me…

“She’s just a girl, and she’s on fire
Hotter than a fantasy, longer like a highway
She’s living in a world, and it’s on fire
Feeling the catastrophe, but she knows she can fly away

Oh, she got both feet on the ground
And she’s burning it down
Oh, she got her head in the clouds
And she’s not backing down

This girl is on fire
This girl is on fire
She’s walking on fire
This girl is on fire”

See what I mean?  Don’t you feel stronger now?  I do.

Judi

P.S. – As I honor my late husband M, I grieve for all the families in Newtown, Conn., who lost their loved ones and especially their children in the violence that overtook that town last week. My sympathies go out to all and I wish them strength in the coming days, months and years to come.

From Loss, Comes New Traditions

I went to see Kati Marton, the award-winning journalist and author of Paris: A Love Story, speak last week at the Book and Culture Festival at the Cherry Hill Jewish Community Center. Kati’s memoir is about her life after the sudden death of her second husband, Richard Holbrooke, a former U.S. diplomat. Kati’s first husband was Peter Jennings, the former anchor of the ABC Evening News, who passed away from lung cancer in 2005.

“This is life,” said Kati. “None of us escape loss.” She had been married most of her entire adult life. “To be single, what does one do?” said Kati. She went to Paris, “where good things always happen” to decide what she was going to do in the next phase of her life.

Kati Marton is the author of Paris: A Love Story

I enjoyed reading Kati’s memoir. As Kati told us, “this book is about how to get from terrible grief back to life.” I could relate to Kati’s comments about “how loss opens up other lives” and about how she has become much closer to her siblings and to her children since the death of her husband. “When you are married you lose some of those close bonds with others,” said Kati. “After multiple losses, we have started new traditions – many centered around Paris.”

Like Kati, after the loss of my husband M (almost five years ago), I have grown closer to my two children, my daughter A and my son D. We are a tight threesome now, carrying on some of our old family traditions, while creating new ones as well.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I will not be roasting a turkey or elaborate turducken like their dad did each Thanksgiving morning. My sister-in-law is ordering the turkey all prepared from the local grocer. Rather, I will be trying a new dish on the menu – carmelized brussels sprouts – and hope the sprouts will turn out as delicious as the ones my children and I recently ate at Alta, a tapas restaurant in NYC. My son D will be following in his father’s footsteps when he prepares the baquette just the way his dad did – slicing, dusting with olive oil, salting and toasting in the oven until nice and crispy. Then we will all devour the slices topped with our favorite spinach artichoke and crab artichoke dips from Whole Foods. Yes, M gave his children a wonderful love of good food…and me too.

I am also making two homemade pies this year. Cider Apple Crumb Pie from The Hay Day Country Market Cookbook and Pear Blueberry Pie from a recipe I saved from an old Bon Appetit magazine. My late husband M subscribed to Bon Appetit and always loved the Thanksgiving issue.

“Open your heart,” said my yoga instructor P this morning during yoga class. “It’s time to think about those you are grateful for this Thanksgiving and scrunch them into your heart.”  I thought about my late husband M and I scrunched him into a corner of my heart. “Scrunch some more endearing souls into your heart,” P repeated, “There’s lots of room in there.” I scrunched in my daughter A and my son D. I scrunched in my mom P and my sister N. I scrunched in my boyfriend L. I scrunched in all my extended family members and friends.

Ahh, ahh, ahh, my heart is now fully scrunched with gratefulness this Thanksgiving. I hope your heart is fully scrunched too.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Judi

 

 

 

 

Starting Anew In The New Year

“Are you starting anew in the new year?” said the rabbi as he unwrapped the torah for the Rosh Hashanah service and invited the community to share in the opening and closing prayers each time the torah was read.

He invited all who wanted to “start something anew in the new year” to join him on the bima. He invited those who are students, those who are teachers, those who are in need of healing, and he even had a silent prayer for those who are no longer with us. (I thought of my late husband M and knew that his spirit was part of the community too.)

I stood up tall and walked to the bima along with others who plan to start something anew in the new year. Yes, I smiled and grinned because during this year of 5773 I will be be retiring from my full-time corporate job where I have spent the last 29 years and I will be starting anew.

What will my life be like as 5773 unfolds? I’m scared, but excited to see what’s next. I’m exhausted, but renewed at the prospect of change. I’m anxious, but feel a sense of calmness that I can and will manage just fine.

The shofar sounded and I felt like my crown chakra was opening up, like it was telling me that I am indeed truly ready to start anew. According to Dr. Souzan Carroll: “The crown chakra is located at the top of the head and when it is clear and open, it is our own personal Stargate, or vortex, into the higher dimensions. The crown chakra represents the stage in our life when we are SELF-realized, it is time to fulfill our Mission.” (Do you know that the signs of Capricorn and Pisces rule this chakra. OMG, I am a Capricorn!)

The Rosh Hashanah guide book says that “when the shofar is blown its sound is calling us to awaken and take a good, hard look at ourselves, to examine our deeds, look well into our souls, to mend our ways and to improve ourselves this coming year. We are reminded that we are not destined to remain the same as we have been. We can break free from our enslaving habits and transform our future. The shofar’s sound can empower us to take control of our lives and direct ourselves towards a better path.”

I will be starting on a new life path this spring. I’m not sure exactly what that path will be just yet, but I am definitely becoming more courageous during my life after 50.  I have been working on balancing all my chakras for the past five years since losing my late husband M in 2007. Now I’ve reached the top.

Violet is the color of the crown chakra. Purple is my favorite color and amethysts are my favorite gem. And to top it off, my African Violets are in full bloom – they are actually multiplying before my eyes the flowerpot is overflowing with blossoms. (Ooh, ooh, ooh, I think my purple violets are a very positive sign of the fullness to come during this next phase of my life after 50.)

Yes, I think 5773 is going to be a good year. I think I will sing the crown chakra mantra this week as I atone my sins of 5772 and get ready to start anew.  The mantra is “ee” as in bee.  Ooh, ooh, ooh, it rhymes with Judi.

EE, EE, EE, JUDI, JUDI, JUDI!

Happy new year to all who celebrate this week.

Judi

P.S. – Congrats to Trish, who won the random raffle prize of a collectible copy of “The Late Show: A Semiwild but Practical Survival Plan for Women Over 50” by the late Helen Gurley Brown. Watch for a new raffle coming in October.