Sunday, December 28, 2008

Brad Pitt


It doesn’t matter if you’re a female teenager, a retired baby boomer like me or anywhere in between, as long as you have a heartbeat, I’m sure you find Brad Pitt attractive. There’s just something about that man that electrifies the movie screen. Just think of him in “Thelma and Louise” (his break through movie) or “Legends of the Fall”!

I recently saw his latest movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” If you’ve seen the previews, you know the unbelievable, but fascinating premise of the story. A true Brad Pitt fan will find the almost 3 hour running time is not long enough to tell Benjamin’s life story as Pitt is very appealing as both the narrator and in the title role. The special effects skillfully done by the make-up artists were astonishing. The artists not only created an unrecognizable aged Pitt, but in the reverse aging scenes gave us a Pitt that looked almost as young as he did in “A River Runs through It”.

I’d highly recommend this movie only if you like Pitt and enjoy movies that stretch your imagination; otherwise, you might find this lengthy movie rather tedious. For a detailed review, go to
http://movies.nytimes.com/2008/12/25/movies/25butt.html

Rockettes Christmas Show

I went to see the
Radio City Rockettes' Christmas Spectacular with my sister Ginny and my nieces, Lauren and Linsey. It's such a fabulous show that this was the 2nd time that we've seen it here in St. Louis at the Fox Theater. The dazzling production has been put on at Christmas for more than 75 years!


The show features several numbers with the Rockettes performing their signature waist high kicks and precision choreography. Highlights of the show included the legendary "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers", and "New York at Christmas," a colorful, fast moving holiday number.
With Santa as the emcee and several numbers specifically designed for the kids, it's definitely a show that your grandchildren will love.
The show ends with an emotionally-charged Living Nativity scene with vividly designed costumes and live animals. There's just a few shows left this year, but here's a website where you can check out tickets. It's so popular that they are already selling tickets for the 2009 Holiday Season!
To see more clips of the show, go to the official Rockettes website at http://christmas.radiocity.com/

Am I old yet?

On this trip to
St. Louis I've thought a lot about aging as I have several aunts and uncles who are over 90, so the term "old age" has been brought up a lot. At 96 my aunt Katy is my oldest living relative and not doing well. My Uncle Barney is over 90, in decent shape and lives in a very nice old folks home. To me, they are really old!

That's a picture of me and my nephew Nick at our Christmas dinner. I just found out that he thinks I'm a really "old person". Pretty depressing!!

See, I hadn't really thought much about it, but our age differences (30 plus years) are about the same as me to my older aunts and uncle, so it makes sense, but it hurt!

I don't want to be classified as 'really old' by anyone. He made a few jokes about me living in a retirement community and sitting around all day with the old folks playing bingo and shuffleboard. So while I don't feel old yet, either chronologically or physically, it was interesting to see how I'm viewed by the younger generation.

While it's hard to accept, because of my chronological age, I'm now considered part of the "young-old" (ages 55 to 74). Check out article at http://ohioline.osu.edu/ss-fact/0101.html

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Holidays!


I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends! We had such a great time at my sister Ginny's home. It was just so much fun -- more than 30 people were there. Being Italian, we're all very, very loud; so with that many people we should've passed out ear plugs at the door!

Here's a picture of my mom, Eleanor, on the left of Santa -- she's 83 and had 9 kids. We range in age from 49 to 60 -- so she was always on the go. On the right is my 90 year old aunt who we affectionately call Betty Boop.

There were 4 generations of my family there ranging in age from 5 weeks to 83. I felt a little over the hill when my brother-in-law reminded me that next to my mom and aunt, I was the oldest person there. I just hadn't thought about that, but it was true.
It was a joyous celebration and now I'm looking forward to New Year's Eve!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Nintendo Wii


The Nintendo Wii is still one of the hottest Christmas gifts this year.
I visited with my brother and his wife today. We had a great time this afternoon bowling, playing tennis and skiing (even though I'm in St. Louis).
It's really fun......and something you can do with your grandkids or even your much older parents.
I love to ski and when playing with the skiing video, I actually felt like I was flying down a mountain. It's just so realistic, with the various elements coming into play....riding the chairlift, the wind, snow, moguls, jumps and even dodging other skiers on the mountain.
We even got my 83 year old mom to bowl! At first, she had a hard time with the Wii Remote, but finally got the hang of it and bowled a few lanes.
Nintendo Wii games are becoming very popular in retirement communities and many are even organizing senior Wii tournaments. Check out the YouTube Video of a Wii Sports bowling championship tournament among residents at Erickson senior living communities.

Travel Tidbits

Flying to see the kids and grandchildren for the holidays?
Then join the maddening crowds!

I flew out of Denver International Airport (DIA) on Monday and while I’m a seasoned traveler, I was a little nervous as there just had been an accident there last Saturday night. A plane skidded off the runway on takeoff. Luckily, all the passengers escaped and there were no deaths. Still the accident was on my mind as the winds were extremely high again this morning.

Here’s a few tips that made my trip easier:

  • Leave for the airport an hour earlier than you normally would. You just can’t accurately anticipate car accidents, icy roads or the wait in the security line.
  • Carry as little as possible with you on the plane which will speed things up in the security lines. Isn't it absurd that we have to pay to check luggage, but I’d rather do that than try to dodge passengers while pulling a heavy suitcase through the airport. I was shocked as I paid $37 to check in 2 small suitcases, neither of which was overweight, so that was just the standard check in fee for 2 bags on United.
  • Make up a mantra to repeat to yourself while standing in line. Okay, I know that sounds a little metaphysical – but believe me it will help you stay calm as you’re being pushed and shoved in that long security line. Mine was – ENHANCE, ELEVATE and EXPAND.

ENHANCE – Reminded me to have a pleasant encounter with everyone I met at the airport and ENHANCE their day by being friendlier than usual and wishing them” Happy Holidays”.

ELEVATE – Reminded me to ELEVATE myself more spiritually during this season by doing more an unexpected kindness for someone.

EXPAND -- Reminded me to expand my circle of friends by reconnecting with some of my friends in St. Louis and making new friends. It sincerely helped me to repeat those words to myself as I grew impatient in the security line.

If you’re renting a car – be persistent in getting what you reserved. When I went to pick up my car, the agent first told me that there were no mid-sized cars left and I’d have to pay for an upgrade. When I refused, he tried to give me an economy car. When I went out to the lot, I talked with the attendant who checked in the returned cars. Sure enough, he told me that there were several of the mid-sized cars available. Since I’m here in St. Louis for 2 weeks, I decided to take the time and change out cars.

No matter where you spend your holidays I wish you a joyful, fun time with your family and friends!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Does she ... or doesn't she?

If you’re a Boomer, you’ll remember that slogan!

Spending over 3 hours at the beauty shop today made me think about the aging process and how differently each of us deal with it.

Some people just accept the gray hair and the wrinkles, while others have monthly maintenance rituals. I feel that as you age you should do whatever makes you happy in terms of maintaining or improving your looks. I hate pain, so forget plastic surgery!

But when it comes to my crowning glory, I’ve been hitting the bottle since I was 25 when I noticed my first grey hair and panicked. I could have bought a cute, brand-new, red Mercedes coupe for what I’ve spent on my hair over the past 35 years!

Speaking of hair color – mine has ranged from the darkest brown (my natural color) to blonde and many shades in between! Of course, there’s been a few dyeing disasters, like the time the chemicals in the dye negatively reacted to my previously permed hair leaving me with little tufts of Brillo-like hair in shades of green, black, brown and a horrible gray. That fiasco was the worst and when the next beautician tried to correct it – well, let's just say that I was lucky that I didn't end up bald. My hair was so damaged, the only solution was to cut it very, very short. Talk about a bad hair day; well, I had a string of 95 bad hair days before it finally grew out!

And the answer to that question --
''Hair color so natural only her hairdresser knows for sure..............''

An interesting tidbit is that the entire Clairol ad campaign almost got scrapped due to the double-meaning of that question– check out:
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9802EFDC173AF93BA35755C0A96E958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

JERSEY BOYS

"OH, WHAT A NIGHT!"

I'm so wired! I just got home from the Denver Center's Production of "Jersey Boys", the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. What a phenomenal show!

From the start, it was fast-paced, energetic and definitely captured the feeling of that era. The lead actor portraying Frankie Valli sounded so much like him and mimicked his actions so well, that I could've sworn it was a young Valli on stage. The show included many of their hits - "Sherry", "Big Girls Don't Cry", "Dawn", and "Ragdoll". If you're a Boomer and liked the Four Seasons, I'm sure one of their hit songs will take you for a heart-felt stroll down memory lane!

We had great seats in the Orchestra Section, but they were quite pricey at $92 a ticket!
It was so worth it -- this was the best show I've seen since I moved here 9 years ago.

I know times are tough for retirees with the stock market crash and it being the Holiday Season, but if this show is offered in your town-- I don't care if you have to eat bologna sandwiches for a month -- go see it! You'll leave the theater just like I did -- singing their songs and dancing out the door!

WARNING: Not suitable for younger kids as they freely use profanity in some scenes including the big "F" word.

For ticket info go to: http://www.jerseyboysinfo.com/tour/

Can't Sleep!

It's 4 am and I'm wide awake!

It's not like when I was younger and just might be coming home at 4 am from a night of partying and dancing.

Or when I had a deadline at work and laid awake all night going over the details in my mind.

Dreaded insomnia -- one of the natural side-effects of the aging process has once again reared it's ugly head. It's not as if it happens every night, but when it does I just can't get back to sleep and it totally ruins the next day. So here I am at 4 am BLOGGING.

Some of the standard rules for dealing with insomnia are:
  1. Get exercise during the day.
  2. Make sure the room temperature and conditions suit you.
  3. Eat light meals, especially at night time.
  4. Avoid alcohol late at night.
  5. Accept that your body and sleeping patterns will change with age.
  6. Follow a routine. If you cannot sleep at night, don't force it, but make sure you get up at the same time every morning.
  7. Take a bath, read a book, do yoga, exercise and stay mentally and emotionally fit.

I follow most of those rules and still wake up in the middle of the night. So, if you do to, drop me a note and tell me how you get back to sleep!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Has your Nest Egg Cracked?

Wouldn't it be nice if just one day went by without hearing or reading about a bailout or stock scandal?

Other than the National Election, financial horror stories have dominated the news for the past 5 months, the latest being the PONZI-like Pyramid Scheme created by Bernard Madoff, a former chairman of the NASDAQ Stock Market. It's unbelievable that someone in his position would trade on his reputation and expertise to cheat so many people and charities out of more than $50 billion dollars! It really saddened me to see one of the investors interviewed on TV who lost their entire life savings. As one man put it -- "I've lived responsibly my entire life and one phone call wiped it all out!"

I really liked the above photo because while the egg is cracked (symbolic of our own nest egg), the buildings inside look safe - right? And that's how I think most of us feel right now --- while we have watched our own 'retirement nest egg' crack and plunge to 20 t0 30% of it's value, the big corporations have received relief (safety) from the Government. If this financial fiasco hasn't hit you personally, I'm sure you have a friend or relative who has had to postpone retirement because they can no longer count on supplementing Social Security by making withdrawals from their 401Ks.

So, what can you do personally in 2009 to get some relief from this financial crunch? Use your house -- that's right!

First, if you still have a mortgage seriously consider refinancing your mortgage. Today the Fed's policy panel dropped its target for the federal-funds rate to between zero and 0.25%, the lowest on record, so there will be significant drop in interest rates. Get on the internet tomorrow and check out the new, lower mortgage rates!

The second way you can use your home if it's paid off is a reverse mortgage. A reverse mortgage is a special type of home loan that lets your convert a portion of your equity into cash. But unlike a traditional home equity loan or second mortgage, no repayment is required until the borrower no longer uses the home as their principal residence.

To be eligible for reverse mortgage requires that the borrower is a homeowner, at least 62 or older; own your home outright, or have a low mortgage balance that can be paid off at the closing with proceeds from the reverse loan; and must live in the home. There are many other rules, so if you're considering a reverse mortgage, go to: http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hecm/rmtopten.cfm


Monday, December 15, 2008

Housing Options

Have you thought about moving after you retire?


People move during their lifetime for many reasons -- for their job, getting married, needing a larger home; but the top 3 reasons why retirees move are: to be close to their family; to reduce their living costs; or a change in marital status due to death or divorce.

Some of the housing options to consider depending upon your age, health, financial position and marital status are:

  • APARTMENT - requires minimal cash, little maintenance, but you have to deal with other tenants and a smaller space
  • CONDO - builds up equity, but you have other homeowners close by
  • SINGLE FAMILY HOME - offers privacy and ownership, but more expensive and requires maintenance
  • BOARDING IN A PRIVATE HOME - offers a homelike setting with other people, but homeowners exert too much control
  • COHOUSING - similar to owning a single family home, but in a cohousing community you're committed to eat common meals, allocate dues, and pay for the common buildings
  • CONTINUING CARE COMMUNITIES - offers prepaid health care, social activities and you don't have to move if you need more medical care, but this is usually the most expensive option.

Don't rush your decision!! Before you pack your bags and call the movers, be sure you spend time further researching the many housing options. Plan to spend time visiting that area or housing situation and talk frankly to the people living there. It'll save you time and money and give you peace of mind in knowing you made an informed decision.

Holiday Movies


I love going to the movies! The Holiday Season is one of the best times for taking in a movie as the Hollywood Studios release
several new Christmas movies and Blockbusters beginning Thanksgiving week. I recently saw the movie "Australia". It starts out a bit slow, but I thought it was great movie -- definitely an EPIC which you have to see on the big screen to experience the full beauty of the Australian outback and the magnetism of the "Sexiest Man Alive" Hugh Jackson. I know several reviews were less than complimentary, but the story line of overcoming adversity, the war and an unlikely romance were just the right combination for a memorable movie.
But I was disappointed with "Four Christmases". I thought Reeese Witherspoon was great in some of her earlier movies, but found her performance here lacking --- her delivery was too stiff and she looked bored in some scenes. Most of us can relate to one or more of the dreaded holiday visits that the two of them tried to avoid, but there were just too many cliches to make it a good comedy. When I go to the movies, I expect to be entertained and this movie just didn't deliver.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Healthy Hearts



Ladies - please pay attention to your heart!

I was 44 when I had a heart attack and it was the ton of bricks and elephant sitting on my chest type of feeling. (Symptoms more common to a man having a heart attack.) I was immediately rushed to the hospital and thank God, I made it. I'm bringing it to your attention because the Holiday Season is a very stressful time of the year for Superwomen who are trying to play so many roles - mother, grandmother, sister, daughter, friend, cookie-maker.

But more importantly, because a good friend of mine recently had a heart attack. We had been playing telephone tag and when I finally reached Mary, I couldn't believe that just 4 weeks after retiring and 2 weeks after running a half-marathon, she had a heart attack. What is most frightening is that because she had symptoms she described as more flu-like , she put off going to the hospital for several days. By the time she went to the emergency room, the doctors found that she had 4 blocked arteries.

Don't delay--call 911 immediately--if you experience any of the following symptoms :

Pain or discomfort in the center of the chest.

Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach

Other symptoms, such as a shortness of breath, breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or light-headedness.

.......and during this Holiday Season -- don't stress yourself out -- if the planning, shopping and cooking gets to be too much -- either do less or ask for help!

For additional info on Women and Heart Attacks, go to http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/actintime/haws/women.htm

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cutting Car Insurance Costs

Aren’t you always looking for ways to save money?

I sure am! If I can save $25 or $30 a month, that’s another dinner out. So, when you retired did you contact your car insurance agent to let them know that you are no longer driving to work every day and are now older?

In retirement, many people cut the distance they drive per year by 5,000 to 7,000 miles which would result in a decrease in their car insurance. Some insurance companies give you another discount when you hit 60! I also wanted to let you know about the AARP Driver Safety Program ( http://www.aarpdriversafety.org ) since in many states you can get an additional 10% discount on your car insurance when you pass that course. WOW, was I ever excited to find out today that you can now take that course ONLINE and it's even cheaper. I immediately signed up today, since AARP is offering an additional discount on the course if you sign up by Dec 31st. It takes 8 hours but you don't have to complete it all at once.

So, if you're looking to save a little cash, don't forget to review that car insurance policy immedidately and make sure they have down the correct number of miles per year and your real age (this is one time you don't want to lie about it)!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Brown Palace

Retirees are always looking for a fun afternoon outing, so after our book club discussion of the “Murder at the Brown Palace”, we decided to take a tour of the historic Hotel located in Downtown Denver. The Hotel is an impressive site, triangular in shape and the exterior is a deep red hue from the Colorado granite and Arizona sandstone. The Brown Palace was built by Henry Cordes Brown. He was quite the entrepreneur, purchasing several acres of land and then donating a part of it for the state capitol building. With the Country’s first 8 story atrium, the Hotel was considered an architectural feat for that era.

While the Brown Palace is known world-wide for treating their guests like royalty, it’s a hit with local Denverites for their afternoon High Teas, with tasty scones, delicious pastries and delicate tea sandwiches.

A highlight of the tour was to see the area where the “Murder” took place, but the famous “Marble Bar” is no longer there, having been removed during a remodel.

We ended our tour with a visit to one of their executive suites that was so huge it looked bigger than my home. I was thrilled to see it because at $1650 a night that’s the only way I ever would!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

MAKE A WISH






Most of you know about the Make A Wish Foundation and their wonderful mission of granting wishes to children.
There's a great way that you can help them out this Holiday Season at no cost to you. While you're out shopping with your grandchildren please stop by your local MACY's store and look for the big red Believe Station Mailbox (usually it's displayed right in the main entrance).
There is a Believe Meter and a letter-writing station. Take a few minutes and have your grandkids write a letter to Santa. It'll be fun for them and for every letter sent to Santa, MACY's will donate $1 to the Make A Wish Foundation, up to $1,000,000!! It's an easy way to help out Make A Wish - so please stop by.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Holiday Parties!

RETIRED?
If so, I bet you're just like me at this time of the year and you miss work -- well, not really work, but all the Christmas Parties and holiday cheer. I love the Christmas Holidays and it was always so much fun at work -- decorating the office, participating in Toys for Tots, cookies and candy everywhere and Secret Santa.


We all had a Secret Santa in our office when I worked in Germany. Our personal Secret Santa would leave a small gift on our desk every day for 1 week. The most fun though was that one employee played the Grinch and she would leave mean gifts on your desk, like a beautiful sweater with big holes cut in it or she gave one of the guys a Sports Illustrated Calendar with clothes drawn on all the models.

A big advantage of being retired is that now I don't worry so much about what happens at a Christmas Party like I did when working. I pretty much behaved at office Christmas parties, because I didn't want to come back from Christmas vacation and be reminded that I had been dancing on someone's desk.

The holiday activities have already started for me. On Saturday I went to a fun Holiday Party hosted by the Rocky Mountain Over the Hill Gang, the local Ski Club for anyone over 50. Then on Sunday afternoon we had a holiday singalong at our Clubhouse. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I can't carry a tune, but I still love to sing the Christmas favorites.

Office Christmas Parties are a national past time and have created many humorous situations. I'm sure many of them are captured in the annual play "Bob's Office Party" http://www.bobsofficeparty.com/ Check it out if you live in Los Angeles!

So, get out during this Holiday Season, socialize and have some fun. If you're looking for a Holiday Party, check out your local Senior Center. I'm sure they have several interesting activities planned for the Holdiays!

Friday, December 5, 2008

What's for lunch, honey?


I’m single, so I don’t have to answer that question, but this topic came to me one day when we were sitting around the clubhouse and I overheard a lady say, “Oh no, it’s 11:30 so I’ve got to run home and get lunch for Bill”.

I could tell by her tone that she really didn't want to leave.
Many couples have a tough time adjusting to retirement when all of a sudden they are thrust together for 24 hours a day. Those first few months after retirement are often filled with conflict as they attempt to renegotiate the boundaries of their relationship, especially when the wife hasn't worked full time and has a set routine that she's not ready to give up.

To ease the transition, spend a lot of time before you retire talking to each other and jointly deciding how much time you plan to spend together in a typical retirement day. Some things to think about:
  • Keep your own friends. When working, I’m sure you both had your own set of friends. Don’t drop them now when you need them the most. Plan to still get together with your female friends for lunch or the theater. And for the men, why not start a ROMEO’s club and get together once a week. Oh, yeah, ROMEO stands for Really Old Men Eating Out

  • Be prepared. If you are both retiring at the same time after having had full time jobs, you will now find yourself together at least 50 more hours a week. How are you going to creatively spend that time so that you don’t get into each other’s hair? You’ll not only have to rework the time spent together aspect of your relationship but also the space boundaries – like what will the wife do if all of a sudden your husband want’s to take over the cooking? Can you willingly give up your old turf or perhaps a compromise to cook dinner together is the best solution.
  • Develop separate hobbies. It’s been proven people are happier after retirement if the have a part-time job or do volunteer work. Find something you’ve always wanted to do but before just didn’t have the time before--- perhaps it’s drawing, golf or volunteering for your favorite charity; then suggest that your spouse pursue a new hobby on their own. You need to spend time alone so that you can both bring something new to the relationship.
And the best answer to that question above is ---
Let's go out for lunch, dear and you can pick the place!

On-Line Book Clubs


Love to read, but can't find a book club in your area?

I belong to a regular, meet once-a-month in a member's home, eat great food, drink good wine, type of book club. I didn't even know that on-line book clubs existed until I wrote the BLOG "Book Clubs" (see Oct 8th BLOG).


I then received a comment from Jason at Booksprouts
(go to http://www.booksprouts.com/ ). I checked out their website and found it straightforward and easy to use. I think it's a great idea for anyone who lives in a remote area or can't find enough people to start a book club.

My book club has read a variety of fascinating books this past year, but the one I loved the most was Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral by Kris Radish. I'd highly recommend it as a great first book for you to start an on-line book club. Obviously someone dies (hey, you already know that with "Funeral" in the title). It's such an interesting read and warm tale of true female friendship. I also found the website http://www.book-clubs-resource.com/ to have several good ideas for book clubs.

Looking for someone to discuss that great book with -- then take the initiative and start a book club. Whether you start it on-line or in your home, it's fun, mentally stimulating and you'll make some new friends!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Holiday Hassles!

Are you tired already and Christmas is still
3 weeks away?

What with the shopping, decorating, writing Christmas cards and partying, it’s no wonder that by the time Christmas arrives we're worn out! So, here’s a few tips to help you avoid being stressed out during the holiday season:
  • Stop Buying Gifts – When I retired 4 years ago I told all my nieces and nephews that the Bank of Aunt Rosie was closed and that there would be no more Christmas gifts from me. They didn’t like it, but since I live on a fixed income, I’d rather give what I feel I can afford for gifts to a person or a charity that really needs it. With money being so tight this year for everyone, I even talked to a few retired friends about skipping the Christmas gift exchange and they were all for it . But, if cutting off your family and friends cold turkey is just too much, then re-gift. Let's face it -- we all do it -- just try to find something that the person could actually use. Or offer something even more precious --the gift of your time – perhaps run errands for a house-bound friend or make a meal for them.
  • Decide what’s really important to you - Accept your limitations and recognize that even if you’re retired, you only have so much time. List everything that you need and want to do for the holidays and then pick the 5 activities that mean the most to you. This year I decided that I didn’t want to spend time decorating my home as I’m going to St. Louis for 2 weeks. But I love to stay in touch with my family and friends, so I’m sending out over 100 cards.
  • Avoid negative people - While that’s more difficult to do at a family Christmas party, just say “Hello” and then immediately move on to another family member or sit in another part of the house. Remember that it takes 2 to argue, so just refuse to engage with the argumentative person. Or if you feel that the Christmas Day party will be unbearable, then visit those family members you like either on Christmas Eve or the day after the holiday. I know how bad it can get as I come from a large family and our holiday parties always have at least 25 to 30 people there. It got to the point that there would be at least one argument at every party, so my sister had a great idea to keep the conversations moving in a more positive manner by asking each person to describe their favorite childhood memories of Christmas.

    No matter how you decide to spend your time and money during the Holiday Season, just make sure it’s doing what you really want and that alone will keep your stress down.

Senior Connection

With Boomers rapidly becoming the largest group in society, there are many Trade Shows popping up that target us. These Shows bring to us a wide variety of products ranging from health, recreational activities and hobbies, home improvement to travel.

WestWind Productions, in partnership with the Todd Creek Red Hatters, will produce a Senior Connection Show at Heritage Todd Creek in Thornton, on Tuesday, February 3, 2009. Check out their website at http://www.tradeshowsbywestwind.com/ for all seven Senior Connection show dates and locations in 2009.

On stage excitement starts on the hour and includes performances – all by active seniors- in dance, music, and fashion. Two fashion shows are scheduled including one exclusive to Red Hat designs. Ms Senior Colorado will make an appearance and MC the stage activities.

Red Hatters

RETIRED - but your friends are still working? A great way to make new friends is to join a local Red Hat Chapter. The Red Hat Society first began as a result of a few women deciding to greet middle age with humor rather than dreading it. It was started by Sue Ellen Cooper who bought a bright red fedora at a thrift shop; then about a year or so later she read the poem "Warning" by Jenny Joseph, which depicts an older woman in purple clothing with a red hat.

Sue Ellen decided that her birthday gift to her friend, Linda, would be a vintage red hat and a copy of the poem. Linda loved the gift so much that she gave the same things to another friend, then another, which blossomed into a world-wide organization devoted to friendship and fun.

Red Hatters relish life in their golden years enjoying friendship, new activities and a genuine enthusiasm for "what's next" as we age. I am a founding member of the Todd Creek Red Hatters in Thornton CO, started in August 2006 by a woman who had been very active in several Red Hat Chapters in California. We've grown to 97 members and during the year host a variety of activities including luncheons, going to theater and Denver attractions. With generous hearts, we support several charitable activities including adopting 2 teens at Christmas; a toiletry drive the homeless and a Dr. Seuss Day reading at the local school.

So if you're looking for new friends and fun ways to spend your time, check out the Red Hat Society website at http://www.redhatsociety.com/

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The "D" Word

It seems like a lot of people think they can cheat death (the "D" word) by not mentioning it or not writing a will. But like it or not, death is a part of the circle of life. I know death is an uncomfortable subject that most of us avoid talking about but I had been thinking about it a lot this past week, as last Friday was the anniversary of the death of my best friend who died 9 years ago in a skiing accident.
Then last Monday I attended a funeral for a friend's father. He had been quite ill for a few years and had put things in order prior to his death, so that his family knew exactly what to do. As I thought about death, it reminded me that there are some very important documents that many retirees just haven’t taken the time to complete like a Medical Power of Attorney (MPA) and a Will. So, let’s start with the Medical Power of Attorney. Usually, a married person has the right to make medical decisions for their spouse in time of an emergency. But, if you're single, then it’s crucial that you have an MPA in place. Begin by asking yourself who you would trust with your life because that’s the person you want making medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. I have 2 people listed on my MPA in case the first one cannot be reached. (for an example of an MPA, see: http://www.expertlaw.com/library/estate_planning/medical_power_of_attorney.html)

As for your Will, obviously, the law differs from state to state on distribution of assets, but by writing your will, you’re the one in charge. You can specifically direct who gets what instead of having your assets distributed according to state laws. While a handwritten will, signed by 2 witnesses is legal in many states, I recommend you consult an attorney to ensure you’re in compliance with state laws.
So, if you haven't done it yet, why not take some time this week to start creating these 2 important documents. Knowing your wishes will make it so much easier for your loved ones to handle an emergency situation for you.

EGYPT - the Cruise

We started the cruise portion of our trip by flying from Cairo to Luxor where we boarded the MS Giselle. We spent the next 7 days cruising the Nile River and stopping in several cities to visit the temples and ruins. It was my first cruise and I loved that it was a small ship that held 150 passengers. With 75 employees catering to my every need, I truly felt like a Queen. On board we feasted on 3 meals a day, including many special Egyptian vegetables, salads and desserts. I can't begin to write about everything we saw in the 7 days, so I'll hit some of the highlights of the Cruise. We took the Wonders of Egypt Trip guided by Trafalgar Tours. First, we visited the gigantic temple complex of Karnak which is the largest temple complex ever built by man. It was so exciting to walk down the Avenue of the Sphinx above which once stretched for more than 2 miles between the Temples of Karnak and Luxor.

That afternoon we rode by horse-drawn carriage to the Temple of Luxor (below) which largely dominates the town and was built parallel with the Nile. It has been used almost continuously (and still is) as a house of worship since it was built by King Amenhotep III, completed by Tutankhamun and added to by Ramses II.

On the 3rd day of our cruise, we visited the West Bank and Valley of the Kings. It seemed like every day I was overwhelmed by the fact that I was really there in Egypt, actually walking over such historical grounds and in temples built thousands of years ago.

The sacredness of the Valley of the Kings created a spiritual cloud that enveloped me as I walked through the area, which was the most moving ruin sight for me. I have no personal pictures of the area as we were not allowed to take pictures there. We did go down into King Tut's tomb. Our tour guide, Sammy, warned us that it was a rip off -- not worth the $20 additional fee to go in it; but hey, how could I have gone to Egypt and not seen King Tut's tomb. (and it wasn't worth the money as it's quite small and all the artifacts are in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo)

As of 2008, there are 62 tombs and chambers in the Valley of the Kings, ranging in size from a simple pit to a complex tomb with over 120 chambers. The tombs are decorated with scenes from Egyptian mythology and give clues to the beliefs and funerary rituals of the period. While all of the tombs have been opened and appear to have been robbed, it is still fascinating to actually go down into the tombs and just imagine what life was like for the Pharaohs and kings. We went into 4 tombs and my favorite was King Seti II with its numerous rooms, hieroglyphics and colors still so vivid on the walls in the tomb. (see stock photo below)
I would have loved to have spent more time exploring the tombs, but that's one of the drawbacks of being on a guided tour because our time in the Valley of the Kings was limited to 2 hours. But it's still the safest way to travel in Egypt and to maximize the number of Temples and sights you can visit in a few weeks.

We also visited the breathtaking Deir el-Bahri, Queen Hatshepsut's impressive temple. I found the story of Queen Hatshepsut really interesting because she was one of the original feminists. She had run-ins with the Kings and other high rulers, so she decided to dress like a man as she wanted to be taken more seriously. That's Sue and I in front of her temple. Unfortunately, her Temple was also the site of a massive attack in November 1997 which left 71 people dead, which further why you need the securityof traveling with a group when in Egypt.
Everywhere you go in Egypt, the locals will try to sell you something. It gets very tiresome and you have to be firm with your "NOs" for them to stop bothering you. But, by far, the wildest approach in shown in the pictures below. While waiting in the Esna lock on the way to Edfu the tourists are a captive audience so the locals come by ship to try and sell their wares. It is just a riot, as they literally throw bags with everything from dress to shoes to carpets up on the top deck of the ship. Then the tourists yell down to them what they are willing to pay. Once the negotiated price is agreed upon, the tourist puts the money in another bag and throws it down to the ship.

I'd highly recommend an Egyptian Tour that includes cruising because it's just such a relaxing way to go. We'd usually sightsee in the morning; have lunch and then cruise to the next town. Every afternoon at 4 pm, they would serve high tea on the top deck.

Again, if you plan a trip to Egypt, go in late winter/early spring to avoid the high temperatures. Egypt was everything I expected and more -- so for me it truly was a dream come true!!
(There we are below with Sammy, our tour guide, on the top deck of our cruise ship.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Hope You Dance

With the holidays here, you've just got to exercise or those 5 to 10 extra pounds will jump on you before you know it!

If we're honest with ourselves, we have to admit that it's gotten much more difficult to lose the weight and maintain a good shape as we've gotten older.
(Why do you think they invented elastic waistbands?)
I love to dance and like that song - I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womack. (lyrics at http://www.elyrics.net/read/l/lee-ann-womack-lyrics/i-hope-you-dance-lyrics.html

Tonight for exercise I went to a line dancing class. It was a lot of fun - we practiced the Electric Slide which I knew how to do and then I learned the Chocolate Hustle. I had never tried that dance and it was a little confusing to learn, but our instructor did a great job of breaking down the steps. She's done an excellent job of shaping a group of amateur dancers into a fine-tuned troupe as the HTC Line Dancers took 1st Place in June 2008 in the Line Dancing Category in the Greeley CO Senior Games.

So, eat all the turkey, fixings and pumpkin pie you want on Thursday, but get back to exercising on Friday! According to the MAYO Clinic there are 7 primary benefits of exercise:
  • improves your mood
  • combats chronic disease
  • helps you manage your weight
  • strengthens your heart and lungs
  • promotes better sleep
  • puts the spark back in your sex life
  • can be fun

No matter what your preferred exercise is -- JUST DO IT! Don't use the holiday season as an excuse to let yourself go!

Need more encouragement? Pick up a copy of the book "Growing Old is not for Sissies" by Etta Clark. The book is an excellent pictorial display of older athletes and proves you can stay in shape no matter what chronological age you've hit.

Give Thanks!

At a time when there are so many things wrong with our economy, when every day we hear of more doom and gloom with companies closing and more layoffs, we still have much to be thankful for. Just the fact that 3 weeks ago today we elected a new president and that transition will be made in a peaceful manner is a feat never accomplished in many countries.

In the midst of rushing to prepare your Thanksgiving dinner, please take a few minutes to think of all you personally are grateful for -- family, friends, health, a job, your home. Personally, I feel very blessed to be part of a large extended family with 8 brothers and sisters, many other relatives and wonderful friends scattered across the nation and abroad, good health, medical insurance and a pension. One of my traditions for Thanksgiving Dinner is that I love to start the meal by going around the dinner table and having each person say what they are grateful for. Try it --- some of the answers may surprise you.

Since we live in such a highly mobile society, with family scattered throughout the country, many of you might be alone for the Holiday -- some for the first time. If that's the case, then there's several options to keep you busy. Plan a Thanksgiving dinner party and invite all your single friends; check out programs at nearby churches or senior centers as they always have room for one more or volunteer. Live near Denver, then volunteer to serve dinner to the homeless at the Denver Rescue Mission.

Whatever your plans are, I wish you a joyous and safe start to the Holiday Season!
HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

EGYPT - CAIRO

We spent the first 2 days of our exciting Egyptian adventure staying at the LeMeridien Pyramids Hotel Cairo. It was the perfect location, so close to the Great Pyramids, that you can see them from your room and the pool. Again, part of the 5-star treatment provided by Trafalgar tours. For me, the 2 most important monuments that I had to see were the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx.

The most well-known and photographed of the Pyramids is Cheops, which is approximately 540 feet tall, the equivalent of a 54 story high building. I've always been curious as to how they were actually built. The most widely held theory as told by our tour guide, Sammy, is they cut big limestone blocks , then gangs of men dragged the blocks to the pyramid site and pushed the first layer of stones into place. Next, they built long ramps of earth and brick to drag up the next layer of stones. They continued this process until they made it to the top. Finally, they covered the pyramid with an outer coating of white casing stones which is why the pyramids always look smooth in pictures. While Sammy's story seemed plausible, it's such an amazing engineering feat, that it's still hard to believe that's how they were actually built. As shown in the picturs in the EGYPT Planning BLOG below, we actually climbed the lower section of Cheops, which for me was one of the most thrilling things we did.

The other mystical sight was the Great Sphinx which is a creature with a human head and a lion's body. Of all the myth0logical stories we heard, the one most fascinating to me was how the Sphinx was found as it was buried for most of it's life in sand. The story goes that when Thutmose was still a prince, he had gone hunting and fell asleep in the shade of the sphinx. During a dream, the sphinx spoke to Thutmose and begged him to clear away the sand because it was choking the sphinx. The sphinx told him that if he did this, he would be rewarded with a kingship. Thutmose carried out this request and the sphinx held up his end of the deal. The statue is crumbling today because of the wind, humidity and the smog from Cairo.

After 2 days in Cairo, we flew to Luxor to begin our cruise which will be covered in the next EGYPT BLOG.
At the end of the cruise, we flew back to Cairo and spent 2 more days there visiting several of the local Mosques and the world-famous Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The Museum is just overwhelming as it houses over 120,000 objects, including the mummies of Egyptian Pharaohs, sarcophagi, sculptures and furniture We spent just 3 hours there which wasn't enough. I'd highly recommend that you take a tour that visits the Cairo Museum at the start of the tour as I feel you'll get more out of visiting the temples by having seen the jewels and antiquities first. To truly take it all in, you'll need a few days so look for a tour that gives you the option of extra days in Cairo. For me, the highlight of all exhibits were the jewels and antiquities taken out of King Tut's tomb. King Tut's Death Mask was just breathtaking, with the colors still so vivid after all these years.

When visiting one of the mosques, we had to take off our shoes and also put on the green capes pictured below as our pants were too short.
The picture below was taken inside one of the mosques and the other is an of over-crowded Cairo. I've never seen anything like the dense living conditions there. The final tip on traveling in Cairo is NEVER DRIVE. The drivers there are more reckless than those in either Italy or Paris --- so always take a guided tour.

Boomers Festival


Today, while confirming some facts about Boomers I found an interesting website advertising the first ever Baby Boomer's Festival, March 27-29 in Reno NV. Activities over the 3-day weekend will include great speakers, dancing, wine tasting, athletic competitions and live entertainment. There will also be exhibits designed to appeal us boomers. For more info go to:
http://blog.visitrenotahoe.com/2008/11/10/new-reno-tahoe-event-targets-baby-boomers/

Did you know?
  • In 1946, when the baby boom started, the U.S. population was 141.5 million. Today it's more than doubled, with boomers representing over 28% of our total population.
  • In 1957, 4.3 million babies were born, the most in any year.
  • There are more than 77.4 million boomers with another person becoming a boomer every 18 seconds. That's approximately 10,000 new boomers daily!
  • Since everyone is living longer, boomers will spend more time taking care of their parents than any other generation.

Friday, November 21, 2008

EGYPT- Planning the Trip







One of the luxuries of being retired is having the time to take a trip in off season which reduces the price and makes sightseeing more enjoyable by avoiding crowds. Since 1970 I’ve wanted to see the Pyramids and the Great Sphinx in Egypt and was thrilled to finally make that dream come true earlier this year. As mentioned before, Sue and I started our trip in Europe and visited Germany and Italy for the first 2 weeks. We then flew from Frankfurt to Cairo on April 29th and spent almost 2 weeks in Egypt. I'm dividing the BLOGs on Egypt into 3 parts -- planning the trip, Cairo, and the cruise. I'll include some photos with each BLOG.
I always love the planning stage of any trip because of the excitement I feel in anticipating the adventure. Since this would be my only trip to Egypt, I decided to take a 5-star tour through Trafalgar Tours which turned out to be a great choice. They not only booked us in exceptional hotels and provided a luxurious cruise ship but I felt very secure on the trip as there were armed guards accompanying our group. I didn't realize it until I actually started travelling through Egypt, but there are still unsafe areas, but at no time did I feel threatened. In planning a trip abroad, for travel advisories always check the State Department's website at http://www.state.gov/

For any potential health problems, consult the Center for Disease Control website at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/default.aspx to determine what vaccinations you'll need. Also, carefully plan what you'll bring as most foreign tour operators now allow only one 26" suitcase. Many museums will require you to cover your head and knees so bring appropriate clothing.
A great website for clothing tips is http://contiki.com/contikipedia/articles/suggested-packing-list-egypt Be sure to get all your medications filled well in advance. The most useful items I found for traveling in Egypt were a hand-held battery operated fan; a ventilated hat and a small square scarf. What I loved most about traveling with Trafalgar is that from the minute we arrived in Cairo until we departed Egypt, their tour guide and other personnel more than delivered on everything promised in the brochure. From all my travel experiences, that was truly a pleasant experience -- to have my expectations exceeded!

Where's the Line?

Are you like me --- sick of these bailouts? And now the auto industry wants a piece of the action! Corporate greed has been rampant for years and the Federal Government did nothing to stop their excessive spending, lavish lifestyles and the many tax deductible corporate benefits bestowed on officers like company cars, county club memberships and let's not forget the private jets. What happened to the fiduciary relationship between the Chief, Financial Officers (CFO) and corporate investors? Why isn't the CFO being held accountable --surely he and the accounting firm had to realize long ago that these corporations were in dire financial shape, yet somehow they managed to find the money to fund huge year end bonuses? What happened to people and corporations being forced to accept the consequences of their actions?

The inaction of top corporate executives to tighten their belts and begin to make prudent business decisions has caused this financial fiasco, so, why shouldn't they have to accept the consequences and be fired without a golden parachute? Instead, if the Government grants them a bailout, it is directly rewarding them for mismanaging their company. Since Uncle Sam seems to have so much spare cash to dole out to these failing corporations, I'd like to know where the line starts because I want some too. I know that many of us could use a Government handout right about now as we watch our retirement nest eggs fall daily. Some of my retired friends have lost as much as 70 to 80% of their entire stock portfolio.

Let's see -- corporate officers mismanage their money -- then the Government bails them out. But,you, a struggling retiree loses in the stock market (a direct result of these ongoing and ever-increasing corporate problems) and do you get bailed out---nope, you just have to tighten your belt, eat beans and maybe forgo a needed medical treatment.
Fair -- no way!

So, if you're tired of it like me -- please take the time to call or email your Congressman and let them know your fed up! http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/index.html

Wellness Seminars

One of the joys of living in an Active Adult community is the variety of workshops and activities offered. This week we had a seminar presented by Kim Kirmmse-Toth of Positive Aging, Inc. (see links). She gave an energetic, fun-filled presentation on staying happy and positive in retirement. Some of her tips on Planning for Play are to: energetically pursue new hobbies and interests; volunteer your time and talents; explore outside activities like hiking and biking; and expand your horizons by investigating areas outsize your comfort zone. For example, you might want to consider volunteering out of state when a national disaster hits or take a trip to another country to explore the local culture. It's critical to both your social and mental well being that you stay involved -- so if you don't live in an Active Adult Community, try your local library, churches or Senior Rec Centers for classes. In many areas, there is a Free University which offers classes for a very reasonable fee. To me, the KEY to finding happiness in your retirement years is to stay involved and be enthusiastic about pursuing new adventures!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Denver Film Festival

Are you a movie buff and live in Denver? Then catch a movie at the STARZ Denver Film Festival which is happening now at the STARZ Film Center in downtown Denver and runs through Sunday, November 23rd. I've met a lot of retirees there who love movies just as much as I do and enjoy the buzz of the Festival. No matter what your skills are, there's something to do for everyone from driving the directors/stars, working in the theater or at the volunteer center. I love working in the Film Maker's Lounge. There's such an electric feeling in the air when people start filtering in after a movie. It's a place where all the up and coming directors and film makers hang out and can get a bite to eat. It's so much fun, that it's my 6th year as a volunteer. Here's the schedule, in case you have some free time to catch a flick this week---http://www.denverfilm.org/_uploaded/sdff08postbookletweb2_182316.pdf
And if volunteering there sounds like something you'd enjoy, then check out their website next summer.

Friday, November 14, 2008

My Love Affair

It's not what you think! Today I had planned on writing about Egypt, but it snowed here last night which made think about my passion -- skiing! I've been skiing since my first trip to Chestnut Mountain Lodge in Galena Illinois in 1969; so in January 2009 I will celebrate my 40th anniversary. I fell in love with skiing on that first trip, even though we had many mishaps, the weather was freezing and I didn't have a clue what I was doing. I just knew that I loved being on the mountain and the joy of flying down the slope; well,it was the most incredibly free feeling. Then in January 1970 I skied in Winter Park Colorado and that hooked me forever. I vowed that someday I would live in Colorado and have since 1999.
Skiing has brought so much adventure and joy to my life. In 1988, I accepted a job in Heidelberg but my heartfelt reason for that major life change at age 40 was so that I could ski Europe. I was scared as I had never lived anywhere but St. Louis. I joined the ski club which was a great way to meet new friends. I'll never forget my first trip to Club Med in St. Moritz Switzerland (pictured above). What a thrill -- skiing in one of the most exclusive resorts in the world! Every weekend was a new adventure - skiing in Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Austria and France! Skiing also brought out my altruistic side as starting in 1986 I became very involved with the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park Colorado. It brought true joy to my heart to be able to help out the kids both physically and financially. So what's skiing got to do with retirement --- plenty!! It's a challenging sport that will keep you in great physical shape, it's a fun way to meet new people and staying physically fit helps you mentally. Skiing is so popular with Boomers that we even have our own club -- the Over the Hill Gang! http://www.skibumnews.com/OTHG.htm

Oh, I've been married, divorced, several other long term relationships, but no passion has lasted as long as my love affair with skiing! Try it --- you might fall in love too.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Europe-Italy


Continuing on with our European Adventure , we flew from Stuttgart to Italy to visit my friend Nancy who lives in Vicenza. With Sicilian blood flowing through my veins, I just love being in Italy - the food, the ambiance, hearing the language -- it all reminds me of my heritage as we lived for many years with my Italian grandmother, who immigrated from Sicily. Sue & I stayed with Nancy in the Piazza dei Signori area where the Basilica Palladiana is located. The church is an impressive example of Italian architecture and was under renovation. I loved staying right in the heart of town as everything was within walking distance. Every night a group of us would stroll through town until the enticing aroma of one of the many fine restaurants pulled us in. Using the clocktower as our landmark, we never had to worry about finding our way back. We also visited the Teatro Olimpico ("Olympic Theatre"), built in the late 1500s, which is considered the first example of a covered theatre in the Modern Age. That's Sue and Nancy in the Teatro Gardens.

Have you heard of Vicenza? It's world famout for its fine, intricate golf jewelry which is widely advertised on HSN. Some travel tips for Italy --- most stores are closed on Monday until 1 pm; the Italians love to dress well so leave your jeans at home and their hotels aren't up to our standards. Since you can't count on a 3-star hotel being what you'd expect, don't hesitate to ask to see the room before booking it.
Above all, relax and have fun as the Italians truly know how to enjoy life. Be prepared to spend at least 2 hours having dinner as Italians consider conversation just as important as the food!