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.”
Rock Cotton, Rock Cotton , tee shirt dress, yoga, mindfulness

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

A Podcast Interview: Sharing My Reinvention After 50

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

Last week, I had a chance to share my reinvention after 50 during an interview with Mary Rogers from Experience 50 – The Podcast. It’s an audio show that as Mary says “Kicks Your Midlife Into Gear.” It was my second-ever podcast and a change of pace from the written word.

 

 

Experience 50 - The Podcast; reinvention after 50

An Experienced Host
Mary is a a mentor, entrepreneur, entertainer and former talk radio host with over 3,000 interviews under her belt including celebrities and public figures. Since launching Experience 50 – The Podcast, Mary says ” I’m enjoying having real conversations with real people about their stories, life lessons, pivots and also with topic experts who can provide the information they need as they navigate changes that come with balancing a bucket list with grown kids and aging parents.”

Experience 50 - The Podcast; Mary Rogers; reinvention after 50

Mary Rogers is the host of Experience 50 – The Podcast.

To quote her website: “With The Experience 50 Podcast and Experience50.com, she is rapidly expanding her following of highly motivated midlifers looking to make the most of this life and have an awesome third quarter. From teaching confidence building skills to sharing tips on how to gracefully become an in-law or grandparent, Mary just has a way of making the road to change smoother and a helluva lot more fun.”

Reflecting on a Decade of Change
Mary asked me to reflect on my decade of reinvention from 49 – 59, after losing my spouse, selling my house, emptying out my nest and retiring from my full-time job. During our conversation I talked about how I used my yoga and mindfulness practice and blogging to successfully transition into my second act. I spoke about the role of gratitude, about making new friends, and working with a coach to help me make the right choices.

reinvention after 50

Next month will mark four years since I retired from my full-time job.

Continue reading

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.

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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

Help Prevent Osteoporosis: “Love Your Bones: Protect Your Future”

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer wellness“Did you have your bone density scan?” asked Dr. S during my annual gynecological examination earlier this year. “Yep, I had my last scan in February 2015 and it indicated that I had osteopenia, a lesser degree of bone loss, which may lead to osteoporosis.”

“Okay,” said Dr. S, “No medication is indicated at this time.” Dr. S recommended that I get a DXA scan every two years to check my bone health.

I felt relieved but wanted to know more about how I could help prevent osteoporosis, a chronic disease of the bones, during my life after 50. That’s why when Hologic, Inc., a leading global healthcare and diagnostics company with a focus on women’s consumer health, asked if I would participate in their sponsored campaign, I said “yes.”

The Statistics Are Startling
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, approximately one in two women over age 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis. Furthermore, estrogen, a hormone in women that protects bones, decreases sharply when women reach menopause, which can cause bone loss. (Isn’t it enough that I have sleepless nights due to my lack of estrogen, now my bones are less protected too!)

osteoporosis; National Osteoporosis Foundation; World Osteoporosis Day

In addition, figures from a recent Harris Poll, Omnibus Survey on Osteoporosis (April 7-11,2016) reveal 71 percent of Americans say they are aware of the effects that osteoporosis can have on their health, yet only 52 percent report taking any steps to prevent it.

Wow-o-wow! These are startling statistics. And the sad part is that many women (and men too) can help prevent this disease by following some simple tips.

Celebrate World Osteoporosis Day
While World Osteoporosis Day 2016 is October 20th, and National Osteoporosis Month is in May, it’s the theme of this year’s campaign that is especially important. It calls for individuals to “Love Your Bones: Protect Your Future.” Continue reading

My Post 50 Yoga Journey: Time To Celebrate Accomplishments

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer wellness“How do you feel?” asked my teacher B after I concluded my final one hour practice teach to become a yoga instructor. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for all that I had accomplished during the past 16 months of YTT200 training at Lourdes Institute of Wholistic Studies in Camden, NJ.

There was a bond among the five of us who went through the journey together. We were forever changed in mind, body, and spirit. During our closing ceremonies we surrounded each other in a circle with a special blessing and chant of “om”. We were encouraged to observe and give positive feedback after each practice teach. “Leave the teacher open to new possibilities, alternatives, and choices rather than the idea that there is a right or wrong way,” B said.

As new teachers, we each created an affirmation about ourselves and our teaching. “I, Judi, am grateful for having completed my YTT 200 teacher training and look forward to sharing the benefits of yoga with others,” I chanted the sentence three times and then my classmates and teachers repeated it in unison to reconfirm.

yoga; yoga teacher training, Lourdes Institute of Wholistic Studies, meditation

As new yoga teachers, we each created an affirmation.

Becoming A Teacher, But Always A Student
Gerald Marzorati, a former editor of The New York Times Magazine, wrote an essay last month called “Practicing for a Better Old Age.” In his writing Gerald recommends that during your life after 50 that you “Find something — something new, something difficult — to immerse yourself in and improve at.” He says that “What brings us to the the beauty of a disciplined effort at improvement and, I think, the only guaranteed benefit of finding something, as I found in tennis, to learn and commit to: You see time and make it yours. You counter the narrative of diminishment and loss with one of progress and bettering.” Continue reading

My Post 50 Yoga Journey: A New Perspective on the Body and Mind

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer wellnessIt’s been a while since I shared progress on my post 50 journey to become a yoga instructor. Through my education at Lourdes Institute of Wholistic Studies, I’m gaining a new perspective on the union between the body and the mind.

Our Amazing Bodies
In prior posts, I told you about my deepening knowledge of anatomy and physiology. This spring, I decided to re-audit A+P. Our bodies are very complex with so many muscles, bones, limbs, joints, and organs – it’s truly amazing how everything works together, or sometimes doesn’t work together when you don’t take care of yourself. It’s been said that a consistent yoga practice can help resolve “the issues in the tissues.”

yoga, transformation, boomer wellness, anatomy + physiology

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

The Power of Prana
I introduced you to prana, the Sanskrit word for “life force” and demonstrated different breathing techniques – Dirgha and Nadi Shodhana – to move prana through the body. Over the past several months, I’ve learned additional ways to use breath to calm and focus the mind, build lung capacity, and activate energy in the body.  From Ujjayi, great sound breath, to  Kapalabhati, skull shining breath, Sama Vritti to Vishama Vritti, both with a counting rhythm (Sama is equal counts with inhale and exhale and Vishama has a longer exhale) – I’ve witnessed how marrying breath with movement can bring greater benefits to the body and mind.

yoga, nadi shodhana, pranayama, prana, meditation, life after 50

I practice meditation with Nadi Shodhana breathing, alternate nostril breath, to help lower my blood pressure and relax.

The Artistry of A Yoga Sequence
My artistry of asanas has multiplied with a broad portfolio of poses to choose from as I enhance my own practice and craft sequences to teach others. There are joint-freeing series, reclining poses, seated poses, standing poses, backbends, forward bends, twists, and inversions. There are the three-dimensional aspects of poses, their Sanskrit names, and proper alignments. There are key benefits, precautions, and contraindications for poses, plus modifications and assists for those who may need help.

yoga, asanas, Lourdes Institute of Wholistic Studies, reinvention post 50

Our instructors L and M show us the correct alignment and assists for poses.

We begin each sequence with centering. “Let your thoughts go. Bring your mind to the mat as well as your body,” said my instructor L. We end with savasana, known as corpse pose, the most important asana of them all. It’s when the body and the mind totally relax lying flat on the mat and the goodness of all the other poses melts into every cell. Continue reading

How To Prevent A Fall During Your Life After 50

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer womenOne of the reasons I study and practice yoga is to maintain my balance during my life after 50. We do poses to improve our balance on two feet with poses such as Warrior and on one foot with poses such as Tree. Being better balanced can help prevent a fall as we age.

As the snow piled up on my doorstep this weekend, I was reminded of how easy it is to slip on icy and wet surfaces during the cold weather months. Several family and friends fell on black ice last winter. One friend fractured her elbow.

yoga, tree pose, balance, prevent a fall, life after 50

In yoga we practice balancing on one foot. Note the shoes in this picture are not shoes I wear to yoga!

According to the National Safety Floor Institute (NSFI), falls account for the leading cause of hospital emergency room visits. AARP Bulletin in December 2015 reported that “Injuries caused by falls are affecting adults ages 45 to 64, just as they are for those 65 and older, according to data collected by the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s national injury-surveillance system.” Not a positive story.

So now that you know falling is a serious health issue, what can you do to prevent a fall?

“Shoes Designed With Your Sole In Mind”
Besides practicing yoga for balance, I was interested to learn about a line of shoes that was engineered to be slip-resistant. “We are a footwear company that make casual flats and sandals for women. However, we use a fully patented outsole that provides the strongest grip on all slippery surfaces. We focus on primarily shoes designed to prevent slips-and-falls,” said Rhea Footwear’s cofounder John Lee in his email. He offered to send a pair for me to try.

Rhea Footwear, prevent a fall, aging, life after 50

Rhea Footwear makes slip-resistant shoes and flip-flops.

Per the Rhea website, John and his cofounder Paul Ahn brought together the technology that provides superior grip on all terrains and a stylish design while at Cornell University (my alma mater). During their time in Ithaca, New York, a place where it rains and snows more often than it shines, they were unable to find shoes that were practical in the rain and snow while being stylish. Rhea was founded under the mission to deliver high quality shoes that integrate style with technology. (Wish I had these shoes when I had to climb Libe Slope to make it to class during winters in the ’70s. Half the time I felt like when I put one foot forward the other foot went backward.) Continue reading

A Captivating Day At “The New York Times” Travel Show

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50More than 29,000 people attended the 2016 The New York Times Travel Show at Jacob K. Javits Center in NYC last weekend and I was one of them. With 545 exhibits, it was a captivating day.

According to a recent AARP Travel survey, America’s 76 million Baby Boomers spend over $120 billion annually in leisure travel. So, I was interested to see what I could glean about travel from this year’s show.

Learning From Travel Experts
I attended on Friday Media Day, which kicked off with several seminars. My favorite speaker was Sree Sreenivasan, chief digital officer of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) and one of Fast Company magazine’s 2015 Most Creative People of the year. MET was named the world’s #1 museum by TripAdvisor. The MET Costume Institute exhibit is a trip I enjoy each spring. You can purchase advance tickets for “Manus x Machina – Fashion in An Age of Technology,” on display from May  5 – August 14, 2016.

Sree told us that online sites like TripAdvisor and other mobile tools have become very helpful when booking travel. “My wife used her iPhone to book everything for our trip to Italy,” said Sree. (I did the same – TripAdvisor, VRBO, Homeaway, and Airbnb topped my daily ‘to do’ list last week as I perused apartments and villas, reading reviews on my iPad. I’m happy to say that my 2016 family vacation to Italy is almost completely booked. I also used Expedia to check flights and Allianz to buy travel insurance.)

#nyttravelshow, New York Times 2016 Travel Show, Sree Sreenivasan, Lorraine Sileo, Erin Bender, David Callaway, boomer travel, travel

Speakers: (clockwise from top l.) Sree Sreenivasan, Lorraine Sileo, Erin Bender, David Callaway.

Lorraine Sileo, svp of research at Phocuswright, a global travel market research company, said that “TripAdvisor is the most influential source of travel advice or information.” She said that “many people share so much of their vacations via social media that they don’t need to share any highlights when they get home.” (I hear you Lorraine. I do share pics from my travels at JudiBoomergirl on Facebook and Twitter. However, I wait to write my blog posts until I get home. Readers can find past travel posts on my Travel and Leisure page. ) Continue reading

How To Be “Younger Next Year” With Exercise

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer wellnessHappy New Year!

I’m back from the gym and finished my aerobic exercise with 20 minutes on the elliptical. My heart rate was at 70 – 85 percent of my target – a high endurance workout. (Go Judi! Go Judi! Go Judi!) I also completed some strength training and stretching with an hour yoga class. (Go Judi! Go Judi! Go Judi!)

Dr. Henry Lodge (also know as Harry) and Chris Crowley, authors of the Younger Next Year series would be proud. Harry’s first rule to help limit decay in an aging body is to “exercise six days a week for the rest of your life, especially during your life after 50.”  I had heard about this series, but never read any of the books until Younger Next Year for Women and their latest Younger Next Year The Exercise Program review copies arrived.

Younger Next Year, Chris Crowley, Henry S. Lodge, M.D.. aging, exercise

Henry S. Lodge, M.D. (Harry) (left) and Chris Crowley are authors of the “Younger Next Year” series.

Younger Next Year for Women
“Harry’s Rules will change your life,” says Dr. Oz. “It’s got all the tools that women need to achieve longer, sexier, and more passionate lives,” says Dr. Hutcherson, Codirector of New York Center for Women’s Sexual Health. Wow-o-wow. With more than 1.5 million copies of the series in print and a 10 year history of helping change lives for the better, I was curious to find out what passionate followers had discovered. Continue reading

It’s Time to Positively Rock In the New Year!

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomersThe new year is almost here. Feels like the past 12 months flew by. Does time speed up as we age? Some say it does.

Reflecting In The Rearview Mirror
While I’ve been doing a good job of practicing mindfulness and living in the present, come December I find myself looking back in the rearview mirror. There are more wrinkles on my post 50 neck and  face, but not for lack of anti-wrinkle creams and serums. Thanks to all the nice  PR reps from Loreal, AHAVA, EB5, and Beverly Hills Cosmeceuticals for keeping my skin care in check in 2015.

Loreal, AHAVA, EB5, Beverly Hills Cosmeceuticals

Thanks to all the PR reps who sent me anti-wrinkle creams and serums.

My blogging brought me other good fortunes this year, with a trip to Portugal on my first-ever Viking River Cruise and my first-ever international trip with my boyfriend L. It was an adventure and the best part is that L and I still love each other after eight days onboard.

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

My boyfriend L and I took our first-ever Viking River Cruise to Portugal.

In addition to my travels, 2015 brought great personal and professional growth as I started my training to become a yoga instructor at Lourdes Institute of Wholistic Studies in Camden, NJ. Being a student again after more than 35+ years has not only physically stretched my body, but also required me to emotionally open my mind and spirit. The best news is that I passed my first semester. (Go Judi! Go Judi! Go Judi!)

yoga, The Eight-Fold Path of Ashtanga Yoga

In 2015, I started my training to be a yoga instructor.

Time To Rock In The New Year
The January magazines are on my night stand with bold headlines for 2016: Vogue says “Be Yourself!” InStyle shares “How To Get Away With The Best Year Ever!” AARP The Magazine advises “Experts Agree: Slow Down To Live A Longer, Healthier Life.” Oprah says in O, “No moment but this one is guaranteed, so I’m ready to be in each as the healthiest, strongest, fittest, most conscious, most alive me I’ve ever been.”

I hear you all. My headline is to “Positively Rock In The New Year!” That’s right. I plan to positively welcome 2016 with my BFF L and her hubby and my boyfriend L when we celebrate New Year’s Eve together – if we can all stay up until midnight. Then my plan is to continue to positively rock in 2016 – each and every day. (BTW, I’m wearing a Rock Cotton – Cotton For Your Body, Rock For Your Soul – tee-shirt dress that the nice PR rep N sent to me. Each shirt comes with a matching rock necklace. My rock was onyx – with properties of strength, positivity and stamina. Perfect for my 2016 theme.)

Rock Cotton, Rock Cotton tee shirt dress, yoga

I intend to rock in the new year wearing my Rock Cotton tee shirt dress.

So Excited For 2016
I know I’m supposed to live in the moment, but there are so many things I’m excited about in 2016: Continue reading