April is Financial Literacy Month

It’s lucky for Bea Boomer that Mr. B. is a financially savvy guy who always plans for the “worst case scenario.”  Not that the worst case has ever happened, mind you; but it’s good to know that we’re prepared, in case it ever did.

The perks of his planning? No credit card debt, no mortgage, and the ability to help our daughter pay for college expenses, just to mention a few.

Mr. Boomer stretching a dollar

For example, if it wasn’t for Mr. Boomer, Bea would still have those high interest retail credit cards. Now, she simply pays cash for clothing and most retail goods, unless buying high ticket items. She’s gotten very good at saying “NO” to those insistent ladies at the register, who keep saying, “Are you sure you don’t want to open a credit card? You can get 10% off your purchase today – it’ll only take five minutes!”

Bea has never paid much attention to financial matters.  Let me put it this way – she would not be able to look Suze Orman in the eye.  There’s no excuse, really.  She has Suze’s book, Women and Money,and she signed up at Ms. Orman’s website, to start her own “personalized financial Action Plan.” She’s just never gotten around to actually reading and taking action to acquire some financial wisdom. But there’s still time, Bea!

Mrs. Boomer, chasing a dollar

April is Financial Literacy Month (of course, there’s no reason not to just start working on your financial smarts at any time of the year) and Bea is pledging to take the 30 Step Plan to Financial Wellness.

How about you, my readers of the feminine persuasion?  Have you taken control of your financial wellness?  If not, why not start today?

Interested in organizing your financial paperwork? Check out Suze Orman’s article from O magazine.

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Tribute to a Good Man

Joseph Andrew Garr in 1962
Today is the 10th anniversary of his death.
October 12, 1949 – April 24, 2000
Hold your loved ones close to you,
Whisper in their ear,
Tell them that you love them
And you’ll always hold them dear.
For tomorrow is promised no one,
Young and old alike,
And today may be your last chance
To hold your loved one tight.
(Author Unknown)

I want everyone to know that my brother once lived on this earth.  He was neither famous, nor rich, nor powerful.  No, he was just a good son, brother, husband, and friend.  A simple man, really – plainspoken and hard working. Raised in a family with four sisters, he was more sensitive than your average guy.

When I was young, he was my protector.  And until his death, he was my staunchest defender.

He left high school before graduating and joined the Navy, serving his country for four years.  When he returned home, he became a proud blue collar union worker, like his dad. In his mid-twenties, I introduced him to a friend of mine, Anita, who became his wife in 1981.  He was a loyal, devoted, and loving husband for 19 years.

He enjoyed the simple pleasures in life. A backyard barbeque, fireworks on the 4th of July. A game of bowling. He liked kids, and made his nieces and nephews laugh with his goofiness. He loved cars and was a neat freak who kept his vehicles and garage sparkling clean. (How he managed that, I’ll never know).

He and his wife loved going to the movies. After he died, I missed his Sunday morning phone calls, the ones that got me out of bed too early. “Hey sis, do you guys want to go to the movies today?”

Why didn’t I say yes more often?

I’m happy and grateful that I have a good memory of the time we spent together the week before his death.

Joe asked me to drive him to his doctor’s appointment. He had recently gone through hernia surgery, and this was simply a check-up to verify his well-being. On the drive home, he asked me if I wanted some lunch – I’m so glad I said yes. At his condo, he warmed up some soup and made sandwiches.

Simple, everyday stuff we take for granted.

We talked about this and that, and discussed our mom’s move to a nursing home in Tawas, Michigan. She had been living in an assisted living complex in his neighborhood, but now needed nursing care. The visit ended with him thanking me for driving him to his appointment. “Love you, sis.” “Love you, too,” I answered.

By the next Monday evening, he was gone. Anita took him to the hospital a few days earlier because he felt dizzy and ill enough to go to the emergency room. Throughout the week-end, we received no specific diagnosis from any of the doctors who saw him, though a few possibilities were mentioned.

On April 24th, early in the morning, Joe suffered from cardiac arrest. Finally revived, he was put on a respirator and was unresponsive. Our family, and his wife’s family, filled the waiting room and struggled with the fear that he might not come back to us. That fear came true that evening, when Joe’s heart stopped for a final time.

Once you bury a person, the grief doesn’t simply end.  It took years for our sadness to heal. But our lives have gone on, and the memories of that nightmare have dimmed.  Yet we’ll never forget his legacy, nor his love for his family.

Joe Garr once lived on this earth. Simply a good man.

December 31, 1999

Spit On Adversity!

We all have our crosses to bear.  I can’t think of anyone I’ve known who hasn’t faced adversity at one time or another. A child is born with a life-threatening illness.  A family member commits suicide.  A loved one is lost to cancer or another invasive disease. A sibling dies unexpectedly.  A parent’s mind deteriorates from Alzheimer’s. The list is endless. 

Nowadays, life has been particularly difficult for many of us – people are facing job layoffs, mounting debt, home foreclosures, bankruptcy, dwindling or non-existent retirement accounts. 

So what do you do when facing this type of challenge? Do you stare it down, like Randy Pausch did, when faced with pancreatic cancer? Are you always looking up, like Michael J. Fox, as he lives with Parkinson’s Disease? Do you succeed in spite of, like Oprah Winfrey, who grew up in poverty, facing racial discrimination?

Staring it down, snarling at it, kicking it in the a** – yep, that makes you stronger and more resilient for next time. Because you know as well as I do, there’s always a next time.

Life isn’t fair, and often, life isn’t easy.

But facing adversity strengthens us, disciplines us, and teaches us – avoiding it stunts our growth and keeps us from reaching our full potential.

Have you ever noticed that those of us who are shielded from responsibilities and life experiences as they grow end up being victims of circumstances as adults? Because they didn’t learn how to deal with life’s slings and arrows, they play the blame game for their own failure to thrive and succeed.

It’s the people who face life’s struggles that, in the long run, end up as strong, confident, and accomplished. And become role models for others.  Take a look at:

An article from the Third Age website points out that there’s power in resilience, and that though some people have a more innate sense of resilience, it can be learned.

Here’s a personal experience by Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D, who suffered from a spinal cord injury that left her paralyzed.

Bankrate.com offers some practical ideas about bouncing back from adversity when you’re faced with bankruptcy, home foreclosure, and divorce.

Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?

Quotations of the Day:

Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds. (Orison Swett Marden)

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. (Mahatma Gandhi)

Keep Pushing On – You CAN Do It!

 It’s been my experience that setting goals is usually not a problem for me.  I’ve always been okay at starting stuff.  I’ll get an idea in my head about something I want to accomplish, I’ll be excited about it, and I’ll start out like a bat out of you know where. 

The most difficult part, however, is the finishing part.  There have been many times in my life when I’d start a project and for one reason or another, give up on it.  I would:

  • Lose my enthusiasm
  • Get lost in self-doubt
  • Try to accomplish too much at once, losing my focus

Here’s an example of something I started a couple of years ago and never finished.  I decided I wanted to write an E-book, self-publish it and make a ton of dough.  I was excited and enthusiastic – I was going to write a book about “Happiness,” that elusive goal we’re always reaching for.  I told all my friends I was going to do it – I did a ton of research – I developed a survey and asked my friends to send it to their friends so I could get other women’s input.  And I did start to write it.  I got maybe a couple of dozen pages written.  Then that old self-confidence wavered.  I got scared.

It sounded lame to me.  It sounded preachy.  It sounded like every other book about happiness out there, and you know as well as I do, there’s a ton of them out there!

Yet, I still want to write that E-book! 

So I’m not giving up on my dream to write to be an author.  I just decided to take a detour and start this blog.  I wanted to find my voice, and see if I could build up a readership.  I wanted to write from a humorous viewpoint – and find out if others thought  I was actually funny. (I crack myself up, but could I crack others up?)   I wanted to do something and stick to it!

When I get discouraged, I read books by Napoleon Hill or W. Clement Stone, two of my favorite “positive mental attitude” authors.  At night, before I go to bed, I listen to inspirational CDs that I ordered from Brain Sync to “retrain my brain.”

When I lose my motivation, I try some tips from Leo Babauta’s Get Off Your Butt  post from his Zen Habits blog, which, by the way, is a cool place to go to learn how to become more productive. Terence Young wrote 7 Tips to Get You Motivated (I like tip #3, “Get a timer and tell yourself you only have to work for fifteen minutes, which has worked for me).

Bea’s Book Recommendations:

Bea’s Blog/Website Recommendations:

I love to be inspired and motivated!  Do you have any favorite motivational books, quotations, or blogs? 
I’d love to hear about them.

Bea, not giving up!
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National Volunteer Week! April 18th – April 24th

Fellow boomers, do you have some free time on your hands? Would you like to use that time to help someone else out? Are you looking for a way to enhance the social wellness in your community?

National Volunteer Week is a great time to start!

Check out Create the Good, created by the AARP for some wonderful volunteering options!

  • Search for opportunities by typing in your zip code. When I typed in my zip code, 317 options were available, including 132 good deed choices that would simply take five minutes each!
  • Sign up to receive monthly email updates about volunteer events and projects within your own community.
  • Earth Day is Thursday, April 22 and Create the Good has special  “green” volunteering ideas. There’s even a “Do It Yourself” toolkit that provides ideas about how to “Go Green” at work, at home, and in your community.
  • If you like to organize volunteer projects, Create the Good has “How-to” guides to help you.
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Don’t have a lot of time on your hands?  Take a couple of minutes online to make a difference.

Healthy Recipe Sites!

Looking for some great healthy food recipe websites?

Look no further:
Food Network’s Healthy Eating – This site has links to Low Carb, Low Fat, and Low Calorie recipes and even a Gluten-Free section, among many other options.

Eat Better America – I’m a big breakfast fan, and the Oatmeal Peanut Butter Breakfast Cookies look excellent. This site includes healthified recipes, slideshows, and tips.

Healthy Quick Meals – Written by Ellen Gray, who describes herself as an ordinary mom who enjoys cooking. 

Do you have any favorite healthy recipe websites or blogs?

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:

Weight Management for a Lifetime

You Are What You Eat!

Prevention, A Mighty Good Health Magazine

Fitness For a Lifetime

Bea, you are looking good!
Bea has never been athletic.  In fact, she has athletophobia, a disorder stemming from great embarassment during gym class, beginning with the Chicken Fat regime from early elementary school days.

In elementary school gym class, Bea would stare up at that knotted rope that hung from the gymnasium’s ceiling, willing herself to climb it all the way to the top. Bea would struggle to make it halfway up that stupid rope, then suffer from rope burn (oww oww ouuucchhh!) as she slid down it and hit the floor with a humiliating thump. (Wondering what in God’s name was the point of climbing up a rope??)

In Middle School, she, along with her best buds, (AKA the geeks), would sit in embarrassment as field hockey teams were picked and the geeks were snickered at, or even worse, simply ignored.

High School was the worst – Bea shudders just thinking about “synchronized swimming,” (not to mention those awfully ugly bathing caps) a frightening activity that involved the DEEP END OF THE POOL.

Let me put in this way: Bea was no Esther Williams! The swimming routine that she and her friends  attempted was a sad state of affairs.

And diving off that freaking high diving board??? Are you kidding me?

Yep, in high school it was time to use that age-old ploy used by teen-aged girls around the world: “I can’t participate today, Mrs. Jockson, it’s that time of the month.” (You’d think she would have caught on after Bea used that line for three weeks out of four!)

I’m willing to bet that a lot of other women my age out there feel the same way Bea did about gym class. Not fun. (Now, I’m sure there are those of you who loved gym class and were great at all of it – I tip my hat to you. But this post is for us ungainly creatures, who, nevertheless, turned out okay.)

It may be these old gym class memories that keeps women from joining fitness clubs today. Like Bea, some women may feel self-conscious and uncoordinated. Who wants to stand there next to these cute little twenty-something’s who have absolutely no cellulite? Bea’s aging body makes funny noises, for gosh sakes!

But all is not lost, fellow athletophobes. Take it from someone who, at 19, decided to make fitness a priority in her life (granted, a priority that has ebbed and flowed over the years):

  • You don’t have to be athletic to get fit
  • You don’t have to join a fitness club
  • You don’t need expensive equipment

And, according to experts at WebMD and Mayo Clinic, combining calorie cutting with exercise helps you lose weight.

Now, some have argued that “exercise won’t make you thin,” and found research to prove that point. However, doctors reacted to that article by stating that even if that were true, exercise is still extremely important for both overall health and as a factor in healthy weight maintenance.

Let the experts argue all they want. Bea believes that maintaining physical fitness has enhanced her life. Really.

She has:

  • More energy
  • Less stress
  • Improved sleep
  • More focused thinking
  • More body confidence
  • All-around better health
  • Maintained a healthy weight for her age

And finally, she looks a lot younger than 52 years and 11 months old (Okay, Bea, now you may be getting carried away).

The simplest way Bea has found to maintain her fitness is by working out in front of her television, using exercise DVDs or her Exercise TV channel provided by her cable company. She alternates cardiovascular exercise with strength training exercises, or does circuit training.

To work on whittling that middle-aged “middle,” she attempts to throw in some core training a few times a week.  Pilates is  a great form of exercise for core conditioning.

Bea’s favorite exercise “gurus:”

  • Prevention Magazine’s fitness series featuring Chris Freytag (Some workouts combine walking and strength training, which is great)
  • Billy Blanks (He has a Tae Bo workout for everybody!)
  • Leslie Sansone (The Queen of Walking at Home)
  • Jillian Michaels (Her workouts require a lot of energy)

If you liked this post, see my related article about Weight Management for a Lifetime.

Related Articles:

How about you?  Do you have those same bad memories of those early gym classes?

Weight Management For A Lifetime

Weight and height are used in computing body m...Image via Wikipedia
That “D” word,  “diet” should be stricken from our vocabulary and our mind-set.  When I think of the word diet, I visualize a temporary act. It’s the two week plan and you’ll lose 15 pounds – then you’re done and you go back to your regular eating habits.  And, voila, the weight comes back. Also, as WebMD points out, dieting isn’t healthy eating.
The reality is that losing weight and keeping it off requires a lifetime commitment. Yep, there ain’t no magic wand that will zap fat and give us the perfect BMI.

Making that commitment to ourselves to travel that often bumpy road to weight management and fitness will help us:

(1) Become healthier and avoid heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and other age-related  conditions

(2) Build muscle and ward off fat
(3) Increase our self-confidence and self-esteem
(4) Become good role models for our children and grandchildren

These are just a few of the benefits. There’s truly no better gift we can give ourselves than the gift of well-being.

Weight management starts with thinking about your weight loss goals. WebMD talks about setting realistic weight goals – to avoid sabotaging yourself and quitting before you reach your objective.
Do you have only 5 to 10 pounds to lose to reach your optimum weight? Are you generally healthy? In this case, you can often succeed at reaching your goal by simply making some small to moderate changes in your eating and fitness habits, such as the ones listed in this Googo Bits article written by Diana Bocco.
Also, check out the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for healthy eating, which can easily lead to a healthier weight. If you go to the CDC’s other links on that page, you’ll find a ton of weight loss resources and information.
If your weight loss goal is to lose over 10 pounds, other strategies or a commerical weight management program are options. You may want to check out Mayo Clinic’s “10 tips for success” before you start working toward your goals. The Mayo Clinic website provides a lot of great information about weight management.
If you do need to lose more than 10 pounds, and if you have any health issues, it’s important to talk to your doctor before starting on a weight loss program.  Here are a few guidelines about how to talk to your physician about your desired weight loss.
What should you look for in a commercial weight loss program?  For advice, check out WebMd’s “Choosing a Weight Loss Program” article, which urges people to look for a program that is safe, and provides for slow, steady weight loss.
The Consumer Search website gives more advice about weight loss programs. This website also provides a list and description of what it calls the “Best Weight Loss programs” and indicates that Weight Watchers is the most proven.
Are you interested in an online weight loss community?  One highly recommended free online weight-loss community is Sparkpeople. According to the Consumer Search website, this site got high marks from Good Housekeeping magazine. In 2006, 2007, and 2008, Business Week magazine named it the “Best Health Website.”

The Sparkpeople site offers diet and fitness plans, support teams, weight loss tools, and help from dietitians and fitness trainers. You can join to lose weight, or to simply live a healthier lifestyle.
Related articles:

You can find more healthy weight tips here.

What about you?  Have you recently lost weight, and if so, did you choose a weight management program or do it on your own? What are your tips for other readers who want to lose pounds?

If you enjoyed this post, check out my post about Fitness for Life.
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Summer is Coming! Really!

Ok, we’re a few weeks into spring. Oh happy days! Our thoughts have turned to enjoying sunny days, blue skies, budding flowers, and (shriek!) shedding our winter apparel. 

Now that’s a scary thought. That first peek of a body that has been covered up by layers of winter clothing is enough to make Bea run for her robe and hide under blankets. 

There will be no more covering up, folks.  Summer is just around the corner (okay, I’m thinking optimistically; after all, I do live in Michigan).  Soon it will be time to drag out the shorts, tank tops, tee shirts, and (shriek again!) that most dreaded summer apparel of all:  The Bathing Suit. (“Well, golly, it looks a little small. Hey, this fit me last year! Did someone throw this thing in the dryer, for God’s sake??”)

So you’re looking at that summer wardrobe, displayed so hopefully on the bed, and you’re thinking, “Ya know, I’ve got to start eating healthier. That extra weight around my middle can’t be good for my heart. And I should try to get in better shape, get some exercise – it was so easy to just veg out when the days were cold and gray.”

Yep, you’re thinking, now’s the time to GET IN SHAPE and lose some weight!

Bea, drop that cake, NOW!

Now, please don’t:

  • Opt for a fad diet that promises you’ll lose 10 pounds in a week. We all know that quick weight loss programs simply don’t work for the long run.
  • Strive for perfection.  In this post from the Cranky Fitness archives, Crabby McSlacker talked about the importance of healthy living for life and people’s “delusional quest” for perfection.
  • Forget that a healthy weight and a fit body is part of your lifelong journey, just as my fellow blogger Karen talks about in her blog “Fitness: A Journey Not A Destination.”

You’re alive and kicking.  It’s never too late to start living a healthier life, and enhance your fitness and well-being. Make a promise to your “present” self and to your “future” self. By enhancing your health today, you can give yourself a better tomorrow.

We all know we have to grow old – staying young is not an option.  However, we can, and should, take charge of our health so that our golden years are quality years.

Related articles:

Protect Yourself From Strokes!

In 2006, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, my brother-in-law suffered a stroke.  He went to his office in the morning and sat down in a chair and in a blink of an eye, it happened. Fortunately for him, one of his employees walked into the office and recognized the stroke symptoms. She knew to Act Fast.

This probably saved his life. At the very least, his stroke wasn’t as devastating as it could have been. 

Bear (as he is known in our family) had a “hemorrhagic” stroke, which, according to the American Heart/American Stroke Association,  is caused by a weak blood vessel that breaks and bleeds into the brain, causing blood to build up and compress the brain tissue around it. There are several other types of strokes, as discussed here.

After the crisis stage passed, Bear still faced a long road to recovery through rehabilitation.  He had to re-learn many of the things we all take for granted, such as simply picking up a spoon. He (and of course his family, my sister and their two adult children) traveled that road bravely and stubbornly.  His determination to recover from this stroke greatly aided his rehabilitation.

Though he’s come a long way, he knows his quality of life will never be the same.  He takes many medications daily and suffers from complications from the stroke that make life difficult, for both himself and Rosemary, his wife.

Please, take the time to learn about what you can do to prevent having a stroke. There are factors you can control, as well as factors you cannot control, as shown in this article from the Everyday Health website.

Did you know that brisk walking can reduce a woman’s risk of getting a stroke?  Elaine, from Elaine’s Place blog, wrote about that fact here

Earlier this year, Elaine published a post talking about the frightening fact that strokes are increasing among younger people, because of obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes becoming more prevelant in people under the age of 45.

Want to be inspired?  Here’s a story of a 43 year old dad who suffered a stroke whose  devotion to his son led to an amazing recovery.

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