Blogger Alanna Parke Kvale, Freelance Writer and Trailblazer, Wrote the Book on Boomer Widowhood

September 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Relationships & Family

Widowhood is not funny

In January 2006, Alanna Parke Kvale, a freelance writer who makes her living creating newsletters, ads, brochures and other content for businesses, started writing a personal blog. And why not? After all, Januaries are always times for new beginnings.

But perhaps it was the topic of the blog that was most significant: widowhood.

Here’s a bit of what she wrote in that first post:

When it comes to writing, everyone says to write what you know; write from your own experiences. And for many years, I did just that, and tried to find the humorous side to everything in my life. Marriage, kids, everyday life, no problem.

I even found the humorous angle to one of my own passions–crochet. I wrote about being a Craft Junkie. I actually wrote several articles, exploring all the angles of Craft Junkie-ism.

I’ve written about the Internet, video games and couch potatoes, all from personal experience, mind you. Recently, I even wrote an article about car repairs and managed to find, yet again, the funny side, despite the expense.

Lately, however, it’s difficult to find any humor in my present circumstances. Because, you see, I’m a widow and Widowhood is not funny, not even a little bit. I’ve looked carefully at every angle, searching for any clue to humor in the subject, but there’s nothing there. It’s simply not funny. What I have learned is that Life is funny; sometimes even hilarious, rib-tickling, sidesplitting, knee-slapping funny. But Death is not, no way, never going to happen, simple as that.

I don’t mean to sound maudlin, it’s just that a writer simply must write about everything they experience. I’ve journaled during this entire period of my life and even that personal writing has been very painful. I tell myself that I need to write about this experience, for myself as well as for others who’ve suffered a loss, or will in the near future. No one can avoid it forever. As yet, I have not found the courage to sit down and put it into words I can publish. It hurts too damn much. I keep thinking soon, I’ll be able to do it. I have to do it. Then the sadness overpowers me and I push the work away, unable yet again to face the pain. It’s hard enough to talk about it, let alone write it down for others to read.

It’s brought with it a depression I’m finding it difficult to deal with. I have wondered if distance from the actual event, time-wise, will help. I’m in the second year, as I write this, but have found it no easier than during the first year. In the first year of widowhood, you’re in pain, but also in shock, so it’s like being anesthetized. The shock wears off in the second year, but the pain is still there, as well as the sadness.

Alanna has been blogging about widowhood ever since. Her blog is, in a way, a journal of her life. And once she got started,  she wrote a book about her experiences, also titled “Widowhood Is Not Funny.” I invited her to talk about the experience, and her thoughts are below.  Enjoy!


Becoming a Widow Offers You the Opportunity to Become a Trailblazer

by Alanna Parke Kvale


I found an interesting quote recently and thought it was relevant to the new life of a widow.

“Rather than following where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Anonymous

This feels like our lives from day one of widowhood. We can’t find the path, we’re totally lost in the wilderness.

Others hold our hands for a few weeks, or if we’re lucky, for a few months. But then they wander off, following their own path and we’re left on our own, finding a brand new path and wondering where it will lead. It’s overgrown and frighteningly narrow, only room for one now.

The temptation is to turn back and try to find the others again. We don’t want to be alone, but there’s no one in sight now and we must continue on this narrow path by ourselves.

We have no map, no guidebook and it’s scary all alone. We’re not the first to do this and we won’t be the last.

It’s time to be courageous, find our own way and blaze a trail for those who follow. Let’s not leave our fellow pioneer women alone now. Let’s leave a trail, a map, a how-to guide, something that tells them they are not alone. Let’s help them find their way.

For myself, I’ve taken up that challenge and written a guidebook to try and help. Hopefully, it will make that trail a little wider and a little easier to follow.

Widowhood Is Not Funny is now available for all e-readers and to read instantly on your computer. Whether you prefer a Kindle, Nook, Sony reader or iPad format, you can quickly download your preferred version, and start enjoying this book. Find it online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony and Lulu.

Alanna invites you to visit her blog, post a comment  and tell her how you are doing.




With the Michael Jackson Funeral and Other Celeb Deaths Behind Us, Boomers Are Having Grave Expectations: Have You Begun Planning Your Own Unique Memorial Service?

July 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Living, Relationships & Family

Will Michael Jackson Funeral Change Your Plans?

It’s been over a week since Michael Jackson’s amazing public memorial service at the Staples Center, and more than two weeks since the King of Pop died. While he’s still in the news, hopefully his family will be allowed to return to life as usual fairly soon.

Jackson’s untimely death at age 50 —  just as he was launching a comeback – not to mention the very public global mourning that ensued — confirms that in the world’s eyes he WAS truly revered as a king, a sort of internationally claimed musical royal who also worked in his own way, for global peace and harmony…

In many way ways, the mysterious death itself — which seems to have probably been related to misuse of prescription drugs — and the worldwide attention to it, is somewhat reminiscent of the untimely death of another musical king, Elvis Presley.  But that is a story for another day.

Given the parallels, it’s no wonder the televised coverage of the very unique Michael Jackson funeral was the second most-watched memorial service ever measured, ranking up there with former US Presidents,  European royalty and popes.

Apparently the US televised audience for his service was slightly more than 31 million viewers, according to the Neilsen Ratings Service. And millions of additional mourners watched online and overseas.

Believe it or not, the US television audience for Jackson’s service was:

  • Second only to Princess Diana‘s funeral, which drew an estimated 33.25 million viewers spread across eight networks – way back on Sept. 6, 1997. (Yep, as a Boomer you probably remember watching, right?)
  • Larger than former President Ronald Reagan’s mid-day funeral service broadcast, which drew 20.8 million people in June 2004
  • Not quite as large as the audience for a prime-time program on Reagan’s burial that same evening, which drew an estimated 35.07 million viewers
  • Significantly larger than the 8.8 million people who are estimated to have watched Pope John Paul II’s televised funeral in 2005

Those who know these things say that given the steep increase in Internet viewing each year, if all forms of viewing were tallied, it’s likely that overall, more U.S. citizens watched Jackson’s memorial than watched coverage of the funeral events for President Reagan or Princess Diana. Which is pretty astounding when you think about it…

Of Course, Death Was in the News, As Michael Jackson Was Not the Only Celebrity to Die Recently

We’ve also recently mourned the unfortunate death of several other celebrity Boomers – including Farrah Fawcett and Billy Mays. Not to mention several high profile people who aren’t technically Boomers, but who meant something to Boomers. Among them:

  • Ed McMahon
  • David Carradine
  • Karl Malden
  • Heath Ledger
  • Steve McNair

As a result of these recent newsworthy deaths, there’s a good chance the concept of death and its aftermath has recently made it to the forefront of your brain. Perhaps you’ve even begun to think a little bit about your desired end game.

That is, your funeral and what you want to have happen – how you want to be remembered – after you die…

Have You Already Formulated Your Own Personal Funeral Plans?

Even if you’re not a much-videotaped superstar, the format for funerals is not so cut and dried anymore… These days, Baby Boomers are into creating memorable memorial services, that not only celebrate the life you or your loved ones have lived, but offer mourners a memorable funeral experience, while often setting in place the opportunity to leave a legacy.

Beyond that, though not necessarily related to it, there’s a growing concern for finding opportunities to save money on funeral expenses. And a trend toward greener, more ecologically minded memorial services and activities.

This Is Actually a Global Trend

It’s not just Boomers in the US who are looking for a more meaningful funeral experience. According to a recent study by Australia’s National Funeral Directors Association:

  • Only 13%  of adults surveyed report a desire for a very traditional funeral service
  • Of those who report a desire for a funeral service of some type, 68% report that they’d like to personalize the event
  • Nearly 75% say they would prefer to prearrange their own service

While in the United Kingdom:

  • The “green movement” has lead to rapid growth in the number of natural burial sites. In 1993, there was only one ground, now there are more than 220 sites operating, with more planned to open in the future.
  • In 1993 only a handful of crematoria and cemeteries would accept cardboard coffins, but now almost every crematorium accepts them.
  • Cardboard coffins? Yep, there are even “green” coffins made of recycled newspapers…

Why Shouldn’t Baby Boomers — And Not Just Boomer Celebrities — Be the Ones to Change Funeral Traditions? After All, As a Baby Boomer You Have Been Bucking Tradition Your Whole Life:

  • It started with rewriting educational experiences, due to overcrowding in grade schools
  • Moved on as you passed through life’s milestones:  revising wedding vows, birthing ceremonies, retirement expectations
  • Once you and other Boomers became accustomed to working with financial advisers, travel consultants, business coaches, personal shoppers and personal trainers, it only seems logical to employ an events planner to orchestrate your perfect funeral service, right?
  • Obviously, challenging the culture of death just HAS to be a “Boomer Thing”

Which Means That While You Might Not Want to Host a Clone to the “Michael Jackson Funeral,” Who Says Your Own Funeral Service Has to Be Generic, Somber, Grave, or Humorless?

After all, isn’t the purpose of the event to remember a life well-lived? And help those left behind begin the healing process?

Certainly we saw this with Michael Jackson’s memorial program at the Staples Center.

After all, this event brought together not only his family, but also a magnificent cadre of musicians, politicians, sports figures, movie stars – not to mention the lucky lottery winners who represented his fan-dom. In the process we learned a lot about Jackson’s impact on those who knew him. Just to recap and give you some ideas, remember that

In the eulogy portion of Jackson’s service we heard:

  • Singer and actress Queen Latifah deliver a very personal eulogy before reading a poem Angelou wrote for Jackson titled “We Had Him.”
  • “Magic” Johnson tell a funny story about  sharing Kentucky Fried Chicken with Jackson while sitting on the floor
  • Brooke Shields remember Jackson’s love of laughter as she fought back tears and told of his favorite song: Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile”
  • Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee speak on behalf of the United States Congress and the Congressional Black Caucus. She makes the point of Jackson’s  innocence in legal matters, and talks about how he called the world into public service with his music.
  • Motown Records founder Berry Gordy share stories of softball games between the Gordy and Jackson families and explain why Jackson’s nickname, “King of Pop,” didn’t do him justice
  • Civil rights activists Bernice King and Martin Luther King III tell tales of Jackson’s humanitarianism, saying he epitomized the words of their father.
  • Rev. Al Sharpton recall that “In the music world, he put on one glove, pulled his pants up and brought down the color curtain.”
  • Daughter Paris, 11, humanize the event and bring tears to everyone as she choked back her own sobs to lament that  “Ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine. And I just want to say I love him so much.”

Of course, you also recall that the musical portion of the event was  as star-studded and magnificent as if you were attending a concert event.

Among the highlights:

  • Stevie Wonder sang his song, “I Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer,” originally written for his wife
  • A very pregnant Jennifer Hudson soulfully delivered Jackson’s own “Will You Be There”
  • Usher broke into tears after singing Jackson’s “Gone Too Soon”
  • Brother Jermaine delivered a balletic falsetto of a song Michael loved, the previously mentioned “Smile”
  • An emotional Mariah Carey covered the famous The Jackson 5 hit, “I’ll Be There” along with Trey Lorenz
  • And who could forget the “We Are the World” production number, which seemed to include everyone who’d taken the stage

So Like It Or Not, Given Your Top of Mind Awareness, Now’s A Good Time For You to Think About YOUR Funeral:

You’ve got the very public Michael Jackson funeral event fresh in your mind. And you know what you liked and didn’t like about it.

So why not consider taking a page from his memorial service and making plans to turn your funeral or memorial service from an occasion of loss into an opportunity to celebrate your life, a celebration that supports the healing and growth of those who are going to be burdened by your loss?

You wouldn’t be the first to do this…

The Last Decade Has Seen Funerals Become as Personalized as Weddings

And in Fact, Many Are Now Orchestrated by Party Planners. For Example, Here Are a Handful Of Other Recent Funeral Services That Also Epitomize Boomer Creativity:

  • Robert Tisch, who ran the Loews Corporation, had a marching band at his memorial service and a packed house at Avery Fisher Hall
  • Guests at the reception after Estée Lauder’s funeral were treated to chocolate-covered marshmallows served by waiters bearing silver trays
  • Socialite Nan Kempner – who was perhaps best known for her charitable activities, having raised  $75,000,000 (USD) for the Memorical Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center – planned for her memorial to be held at Christie’s auction house. She also arranged for each of her 500 guests to receive a CD of Mozart’s Requiem. (She’d originally wanted her guests to enjoy  a live performance of the Requiem, but the logistics — full orchestra, chorus and soloists — were apparently more than could be arranged in a timely manner.)
  • Sarah, a client of Britain’s Fantastic Funeral Company wanted her life to celebrated with the same enthusiasm with which she had lived. She began by requesting that her funeral guests dress as if for a wedding. Her service ended with guests dancing and singing along with Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky. Following that, they were treated to a meal at her favorite hotel, which ended with her guests toasting her memory with cake and champagne.
  • Ian Turnbull wants his family and friends to toast him with beer. The dying brewer has created what he calls a “dangerously strong” beer he’s dubbed Brewer’s Swansong, to be served at his funeral. The toffee apple flavored beer will be served in souvenir bottles whose labels declare that it is “a beer to die for.” According to Turnbull, “It is the last beer I will brew.” He plans that all attending his funeral will get a bottle ” of the brew which is currently being matured in a whiskey cask, ready to be bottled and served “when I am toasted in whatever crematorium I am treated to.” Turnball, who has pancreatic cancer, also plans that his brew will help raise funds for cancer research.
  • And then there’s one of my favorite unique funerals: Harry Ewell’s 2003 funeral in Rockland, Massachusetts. Harry was known for the fact that he had driven an ice cream truck for many years. At his funeral, his ice cream truck led the procession to the burial site, and mourners were treated to popsicles at graveside. (That’s his truck in the photo above.)

Personally, I suspect many Baby Boomers want a unique funeral and memorial service because they identify with the sentiment expressed in the lines below, which have been posted online in dozens of places over the past few years, though no one seems to know who originally said it:

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, But rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, WOW!!!! What a ride!”

You may, of course,  prefer the alternate versions which incorporate chocolate, champagne or other consumable goodies… But the point is, most Boomers, if asked, will express an intent to live life to the fullest, or as some poet put it, to “suck the marrow from life,” before succumbing to the inevitable. (As in death, not taxes…)

Regardless, If You’ve Celebrated Your Life As You Like It, It Would Be a Shame Not to Celebrate Death With an Equal Measure of Brio and Panache, Don’t You Agree?

So what can you do to help assure that your funeral is exactly what you’d like it to be? Or that you can provide these same assurances of a personalized service for a loved one?

Your celebratory  solution can be a much more simple one, as long as it’s meaningful for you and your loved ones.

Think about it. What can you arrange in advance that will make your service unique?

  • Michael Jackson’s brothers wore his signature sequined glove on their right hand, and sported bright yellow ties, for remembrance
  • Billy Mays’ pallbearers dressed in blue work shirts and khaki slacks, the “pitchman uniform” we always saw Mays wearing
  • Harry Ewell incorporated his ice cream truck
  • Ian Turnbull has his special beer with the unique keepsake bottles

No, it’s not morbid to think this way:

  • By planning ahead you’re making things easier for your loved ones. It is very reassuring for family and friends to have the knowledge that they are carrying out your wishes exactly.
  • After all, there are a lot of decisions that have to be made. And generally very little time in which to make them. If you’ve ever had to plan a funeral for a loved one, you already know how hard this can be.
  • Besides, there’s so much emotion related to the time of death.  You want your family to be able to grieve without having to worry about what songs you’d like played at the service, or whether you really meant it when you said you were going to donate your body to science…
  • Beyond that, planning your funeral in advance means that you will be assured of having the service you’d like to have…
  • And admit it: Haven’t you attended funerals where you came home wondering “What were her children thinking? I’m sure my friend would never have wanted a service like THAT…”

In closing, think about this: You certainly recall those memorable death-defying lyrics from the musical, “Fame.” In fact, you can probably belt out the lyrics yourself whenever you hear the tune, right? After all, that anthem ended so memorably:

“I’m gonna live forever Baby, remember my name Remember, remember, remember, remember, Remember, remember, remember, remember.”

So what are your “Grave Expectations?” How do you want to be remembered?

Single and Lonely? Ready to Re-Enter the Dating Pool But Worried It’ll Be a Shock? Why Not Let Rhonda the Maven Show You How to Start Dating Again?

March 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Dating, Relationships & Family

Are you out of touch with the dating scene?

Note from Anne:

As you are no doubt aware, every day, thousands of Baby Boomers suddenly wake up to find themselves single, and – unfortunately  – feeling like you’re totally out of touch with the dating scene.

To help you start dating again, so that you can rediscover the joys of a full social life, I’ve asked an expert, Rhonda Cort, a.k.a. “Rhonda the Maven,” to write this guest post on how to re-enter the dating pool. Whether you just want to dip your toe into the social scene, or you’re ready to dive in – total immersion-style –  she’s got the experience to help assure your water wings are working and your dive won’t end with an unpleasant “belly flop…”

Rhonda’s an entrepreneur who’s been lucky enough to have spent the last 10+ years, living, working – and dating – internationally.

In true entrepreneurial fashion – as in “find a need and fill it” – she’s turned her knowledge and experience into a business, becoming a mentor and speaker whose expertise is helping fabulous women (and some very special men)  not only start dating again, but actually make quantum leaps on the social scene.

Rhonda know how to take your personal life from “fizzle” to “SIZZLE”  –

As she puts it:

  • “I have been living a juicy life in various countries around the world (Italy and Sweden are two of my favorites).”
  • “This time has been full of nothing but memorable moments enjoying fantastic relationships and dating great men of various nationalities, races and cultural backgrounds.”
  • “As a result, my passion and mission are to help you become magnetically attractive to the quality men and women YOU want to date within 90 days.”
  • “In fact, if you are as motivated as some of my clients have been, this could happen within just weeks — not months or years!”

Clearly Rhonda has a unique point of view and a reservoir of wisdom that helps her connect with her clients on many levels. So take it away, Rhonda!

How to Re-enter the Dating Pool — Without Shock

By Rhonda the Maven

The good thing about dating in your midlife is that you are clear (or should be) on what you want, what you like and who you are. There is a silent strength and poise about you that the 20-somethings and 30-somethings secretly envy. Don’t ask ’em though–they’d never admit it.

However, you have probably been out of the dating pool for some time-maybe just a few years for some and perhaps decades for others. With all the life experience you have, nothing can prepare you for re-entering the pool and taking that first swim.

So whether you want to dip your toe or dive in all at once, there are a few things I’d like to share with you – I want your first swim to be in water that is warm, comfy and inviting.

I’ve been in the dating pool, off and on, for the last few years myself.  I understand it can be pretty intimidating, especially if all you’ve heard are disaster stories one after the other.  However, you should try to be objective.  How will you find a new friend or that special new companion if you don’t get in the pool-online or off? I know…I know you’re concerned about your safety, but once you have the know-how there is no need to worry.

Let me help you avoid the ‘cold water’ shock and the struggle so many Baby Boomers experience when it comes to testing the dating waters again. Remember, you should take time to prepare yourself BEFORE you take that dive or dip your toes in the pool.

Don’t waste time swimming in circles! Hurry go get a pen and paper.  Jot down the 2 vital points I’m about to reveal.  They will literally determine if your love life sinks or swims!

1. Get help.

This is of vital importance as it’s infinitely harder to reach goals solo. There will be days when you need encouragement.  So get a like-minded positive friend to help you or a personal mentor.  Your success rate can only SKYROCKET when you do so.

Here are some things a great mentor will help you address:

  • Getting crystal clear about what you want and what you don’t want.
  • Overcoming obstacles or issues that stand in the way of your success.
  • Putting together a step-by-step action plan based on your comfort zone.
  • Inspiring you, keeping you on track and lifting you up when you are low.
  • Providing wisdom to help you get the best out of your dating experience and help you avoid unnecessary pitfalls.

2. As you start dating again, your dating, love or friendship action-plan should be S.M.A.R.T.

  • Specific. You need to specifically and clearly state what you want. Why? Because until you do that, the people you attract will be random and not at all what you want.
  • Measurable. You need to know when you’ve reached your love life goals. You could have a goal to just go out on one great date every 2 weeks or to meet a wonderful new companion within 6 months or so. It’s okay to set measurable goals; they motivate you to take action.
  • Action-oriented. This is where most people fall short. Don’t be one of them. If you want to go out on wonderful dates…you’ve got to DO something to attract them. So you need to figure out what that is, how you’re going to do it and when.
  • Realistic. You have a dream or desire you want to achieve, right? Well it’s great to push outside your comfort zone, but at the same time they need to be reachable. Otherwise, you set yourself up for disappointment.
  • Timely. Are these desires you have in sync with your current needs in life? Only when you feel it’s time to achieve them and you truly want them, will you do whatever it takes to obtain them.

This information has saved people I’ve worked with from wasting precious time with incompatible people, timewasters and bad dates! Following these two points will greatly increase your chances of finding a wonderful new partner or friend who suits you in less time.  It may sound a bit technical, but nothing beats a little preparation.

I would love to hear your feedback and any questions you may have. Write me at: RhondaTheMaven @

Wishing you a warm dive… or a pleasant dip!

Rhonda the Maven

P.S. If you are serious about successfully getting back in the dating pool to find a friend or a loving partner, I have something very special, just for you…
Visit: Dynamic Daters

‘Personal Validation’ Alone Is a Powerful Concept: But What If You Factored in the Power of the ‘Law of Attraction’ When Leaving Everyone You Meet With a Smile Or Blessing? Wow!

January 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Relationships & Family

 Can You Harness Power of Validation?

About six weeks ago, as we moved into the year-end holiday season, I told you about my intent to personally take note of everyone I encountered, on a daily basis for at least 30 days. My plan was to make sure that I recognized everyone, but more powerfully, I wanted find some way to compliment each and every person in a unique and personal way.

In personal development terms, this act I was taking on is called, “Validation,” which is defined by the self improvement gurus as “an observable act and human behavior that espouses both appreciation and gratitude.”

However you want to define it, my decision was largely inspired by watching the short movie, “Validation,” which is freely available on YouTube, and, with over 426,000 views since it was uploaded, has acquired a bit of a following…

Here Are My Personal – Albeit Unscientific – Results:

During this time period, I had a lot of fun, and exercised my creativity:

  • I didn’t just offer individualized (or personalized) recognition and validation to friends and family members
  • I also offered validation to total strangers I met on my daily journey
  • I didn’t just make eye contact with everyone I encountered, while greeting them with a generic “Good morning,” or “Hello”
  • I actually made a point to personally engage each person I met in conversation, offering some sort of individualized and personal feedback; with the goal to leaving them smiling and in a more positive mood than when I’d met them.
  • Sort of like Clint Eastwood, in the movie “Dirty Harry,” I actually tried to “make their day” – (but In a very uplifting way!)

The particular attempt at validation varied, depending on the person and the situation.

  • It might have been as simple as a genuine compliment about something they had done, the impact they were having on the people around them, or the attractiveness of something they were wearing
  • On other occasions, it was a personal inquiry that showed I remembered something about them from a conversation we’d had the last time we’d met
  • And in the case of total strangers, it was a personalized comment based on my appreciation of the situation at that moment. You know, something a lot more personal than, “So do you think it’s going to snow today?”

Doubtless I will never see some of those people again. But it was still empowering to take note of their presence, and leave them with a warm feeling in their hearts.

To review a few of the dozens of people I had the opportunity to positively interact with, so you understand the scope of my actions:

  • A couple who held the door for me as I entered a store
  • Checkers and cashiers at gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies and shops
  • Waiters, and restaurant owners, with whom I might previously have exchanged general chit-chat
  • A handful of postal workers, who I see at the window and make idle conversation with on a regular basis, as well as fellow USPS customers, none of whom I’d met before
  • Of particular note were a couple of fellow customers at a gas station: one,  who saw me attempting to open my car’s hood, so I could add windshield wiper fluid to my car. One came over to offer to assistance with the latch; another stepped in to offer to pour in the fluid… Both were total strangers who doubtless didn’t know each other, and who may never be in the same place at the same time again…

They All Felt Appreciated – And I Felt Great, Too!

That’s one of the key “take aways” about validation – which you would probably best define as “a specific acknowledgment of appreciation for a task well done:” It is even more powerful for the fact that it feels just as good to the person who does the validating as it does to the person who gets validated.

But the unintended outcome was that I was amazed at how many people reciprocated my greeting by going out of their way to help me, even though I am a fully capable adult, and wasn’t seeking or soliciting any sort of assistance!

This was a total surprise which I didn’t fully comprehend until I happened to pick up and read a quick little book called Using the Law of Attraction to Get Anything You Want,” by Shawn Casey and Antonio Thornton.

You See, By My Actions, I’d Unwittingly Called The Law of Attraction Into Play…

You’re probably familiar with the concept of the Law of Attraction. Most people who’ve learned about it define it as a Universal Principal – like the Law of Gravity – that  works every time, whether you choose to use it for your benefit or not. In other words:

  • Like attracts like
  • Thoughts become things
  • In life, you will always get what you are expecting to get, because that’s what you call into action

If you haven’t seen the Validation movie yet, you should. It’s both powerful and uplifting, though a number of people also report that it makes them cry, so be warned. At a bit over 16 minutes, making the decision to watch may daunt you, of course.  But you’ll find it is thought-provoking and well worth your time…

And if you’d like to learn more about how you can use both Validation and the Law of Attraction in your day-to-day life, grab the book, too. It’s a very worthwhile, quick read.

Among many other points made in the book, Shawn Casey tells of an organized personal greeting effort – similar to mine – which has been growing, worldwide. Started in Florida, this movement is called “Hello From My Heart Day.”

Seems that by invoking the Law of Attraction, and consciously choosing to validate, or genuinely greet people, you can actually participate in a growing movement that has reduced violent crime by as much as 33% according to statistics cited in the book.

Who Knew There Was That Much Value to Personal Validation?

  • Grab the book, “Using the Law of Attraction to Get Anything You Want,” learn how you can use the Law of Attraction to get anything you want – and discover how you can help reduce violent crime in our world.
  • What a deal! Especially since the book is only a measly seven bucks!
  • What’s that equate to? For the price of a fast food meal, you can get on the road to improving your life, and help make the world a better, safer place for all of us!
  • That’s gotta be what they call a “no brainer,” right?

Read the Book and Prepare to Have Your Life Changed.

And after you’ve digested it, feel free to send me a note telling me how it impacted You!

Since Baby Boomers Are Also Known As the “Sandwich Generation” Is It Any Wonder You Are Feeling Like A Panini? You Know, Hot, Overloaded and Grilled Under Pressure?

Sandwich Generation Choices Squeezing You?

Yesterday’s post in the New York Times blog New Old Age, and a conversation with my friend “Lisa,” who’s just uprooted herself and her family – moving halfway across the country to assist her in-laws – got me to thinking once again about the challenges of Sandwich Generation Boomers.

It Also Reminded Me That It’s Been Just Over a Year Since My Sister-in-Law Died of Breast Cancer.

Which means our family is finally gotten past the first year of significant post-Joanna anniversaries.

You know what I mean:

  • “This is the first Thanksgiving since Joanna died.”
  • “It’s my first birthday where Mom won’t be baking me my favorite birthday cake.” 
  • “The first Christmas where she isn’t running around wearing those funny reindeer antlers on her head, and incessently playing holiday music, while she creates unique hand-made cards and effortlessly puts her personal stamp of approval on the entire holiday celebration.” 
  • “Too bad Joanna will never get to see her granddaughter get married or hold her first great-grandchild.”

And this thought process got me to thinking about how hard caring for a loved one during a prolonged illness – or assisting them through their slide into eventual death  – really is for everyone involved:

  • Being there for “Joanna’s” last few months and eventual death and watching her decline was heart-wrenching. 
  • But just as painful was watching her three adult daughters – each already juggling two jobs apiece, plus school-age kids and spouses – deal with the challenges of trying to be there – physically and emotionally – for their mother as well as their families and their jobs.
  • If you’ve lived through it, you know how emotionally draining this is. How you get to a point where you desperately wish you could actually clone yourself so that you can be in two – or more – places at once.  Because you know that since you can’t – someone or something you care about is going to be slighted.
  • What an emotional “lose-lose” proposition this often is for everyone involved.

No wonder the Times blog post, Adult Children, Aging Parents and the Law attracted 81 reader comments before it was even 24 hours old. You know dealing with multi-generational needs is the primary challenge of the sandwich generation.

So clearly discovering that 30 states have laws on their books governing adult children’s fiscal responsibility to their aging parents is an issue that really strikes home. 

I recall sitting in the visitors lounge at the hospital, joining the conversation as Joanna’s daughters talked options with the hospital social worker.

It had became clear that Joannna would no longer be able to care for herself at home, and that her husband wasn’t physically up to the challenges either. So her loving but time-challenged daughters worked to quickly come to decisions for her welfare while continuing to juggle their family responsibilities. Meanwhile they were also:

  • Trying not to stress out too much over what was going un-done at home and work
  • Watching their vacation and sick days get eaten up
  • Encouraging their kids to “Stop by and visit Grandma” before after-school activities or after work – so they’d have a chance to see them, too!

Thankfully, there are options, in most cases.

Which is a good thing, since according to Pew Research Center reports, there are roughly 10 million Sandwich Generation Boomers in the world: adults who are raising kids or supporting an adult child while giving a financial hand to an aging parent.  

The Good News Is, There’s Plenty of Help Available  – Once You Know Where to Look:

  • From local programs to national organizations, from books to Web sites, a veritable cottage industry has sprung up to assist sandwich generation Boomers in juggling the demands of raising kids while also caring for your aging parents.
  • Some of these services are a direct response by the government to meet the needs of the country’s burgeoning senior ranks – with you, the taxpayer, footing the bill.
  • Others are the work of smart entrepreneurs who’ve seen a business opportunity.
  • Still others come from fellow boomers wanting to share what they’ve learned as they’ve personally grappled with these issues.

Lisa mentioned that she’s been working with a “housing advisor counselor” who was very helpful.

This resource has been a boon as Lisa and her husband devotedly seek a new home for her mother-in-law, who is recovering well from her stroke – thankfully – and her father-in-law, who has Alzheimer’s. Lisa’s challenge is made tougher by the fact that her father-in-law can’t figure out why they keep taking him along while visiting nursing homes!

To start with, her mother-in-law will move from the hospital into a board and care facility: a place that offers residential care for seniors in need of assistance. The goal in these homes is to provide long-term care for seniors who seek independent living in a safe, comfortable and dignified environment. Amazingly, the resident to staff ratio is about 2-to-1.

Not all of these homes can handle Alzheimer’s patients, however. That’s presenting Lisa with an extra challenge.

Even Though Lisa and Her Family Have Been Successfully Finding Resources, She Still Expects it Will Be at Least Three Months Before They Are Able to Move Back Home.  

Three months living out of a suitcase, away from the comforts of home!

That made the challenges my neices experienced seem easy. After all, at least they had the benefit of living in the same major metropolitan area. Clearly the challenges of  long-distance assistance magnify the difficulties in these situations – perhaps as much as tenfold.

According to the US Department of Labor, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. It also requires that their group health benefits be maintained during the leave.

But while this act protects you from losing your job, and maintains your healthcare benefits – you have no income coming in during this time! And the FMLA only applies if you work for certain types of employers. (Specifically businesses employing over 50 people.)


Here’s Exactly What the FMLA Website Says:

  • FMLA is designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. It also seeks to accommodate the legitimate interests of employers and promote equal employment opportunity for men and women.
  • FMLA applies to all public agencies, all public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees. These employers must provide an eligible employee with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for any of the following reasons:
    • For the birth and care of the newborn child of an employee;
    • For placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care;
    • To care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or
    • To take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.
  • Employees are eligible for leave if they have worked for their employer at least 12 months, at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles. Whether an employee has worked the minimum 1,250 hours of service is determined according to FLSA principles for determining compensable hours or work.

So Where Does the Money Come From? How Do You Pay Your Mortgage, Buy Food, Cover Your Day-to-Day Expenses During Times When You’re Involved in These Crucial Family Events?

With – Or Without – FMLA Benefits, You’ve Still Got to Cover Day-to-Day Living Expenses, Right? With – Probably – Not Too Much In Savings?

Lisa’s a bit luckier than most when it comes to this aspect: She’s an author who has mastered the art of generating residual income online.

Which means she knows her income will continue to find its way into her bank account, even though she’ll most likely be forced to take a break from generating new literary products for the duration. That is: She knows money will continue to flow into her bank account while she’s on the other side of the country assisting her in-laws – even though she has no plans to “show up for work” for the next three months!

Even Better, From a Financial Standpoint: 

  • As long as Lisa has a laptop and a functional Internet connection she can be in communication with her publisher and her clients, whenever she has time: Even if that’s 2 AM on Thanksgiving morning! 
  • So if the muse strikes and she chooses to toss off a couple of chapters for her current novel, or a write a post to her blog – she’s only a “mouse click” away from taking these actions. Even if she’ finds herself sitting in the waiting room at the hospital waiting for her mother-in-law to finish a procedure when the muse shows up!
  • Since she’s also an advocate of online banking, Lisa can handle her finances froma distace as well! After all, the income she’s generating is depositing automatically, so she always has available funds.

Whether You’re Living Out of a Suitcase or Not, Having a Reliable Portable Income Sounds Incredibly Wonderful, Doesn’t It?

Sort of like enjoying the lush life of a movie star who lives off her residuals?

Living off income that comes in from work she did in the past? It’s entirely possible for you to enjoy this lifestyle, too, as you know. We’ve talked about this before, actually.

You see, Lisa is one of Gina Gaudio-Graves’s apprentices.

She took Gina up on one of her first “30-Day IM Challenge” contests. And though Lisa didn’t win the challenge, she was hooked on the many benefits she discovered in the process.     

Lisa Didn’t Decide to Start Building Her Online Business BECAUSE of the Potential That Her In-laws Might Become Ill.

Of course not! 

But the fact that she did take the entrepreneurial plunge, and learned how to effortlessly generate residual income online DOES MEAN that she’s not financially stressed while helping her mother-in-law recover.

And that’s a wonderful ancillary benefit.

The latest 30-Day IM Challenge started this past Sunday!

It’s not too late to sign up and start learning how to build your own totally portable cash machine.

Go check it out now! It takes time to start this sort of a business into motion.

It’s sort of like pushing a flywheel.

  • At first you expend effort, but nothing happens.
  • But you keep the pressure on, and finally the flywheel moves almost imperceptably.
  • But you keep pushing, keep the pressure on.
  • And suddenly that heavy flywheel is moving effortlessly.
  • In fact, it takes on a life of it’s own!

What are you waiting for?

As a Baby Boomer, you’re automatically part of the Sandwich Generation. If you haven’t had to take time away from work to help a family member yet, chances are that opportunity still awaits you somewhere in the future.   

You owe it to yourself to check out the 30-Day IM Challenge.

After all, it’s free.

And talk about over-delivery!

Gay Marriage: What Can Our Society Possibly Gain From California’s Revising/Amending Their State Constitution Via the Passage of Proposition 8?

November 14, 2008 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Politics, Relationships & Family

Will Our Society Truly Benefit By Banning Gay Marriage?

I didn’t catch Keith Olbermann Countdown show this past Monday, when he delivered a rousing and eloquent six-minute editorial on California voters’ decision to pass Proposition 8 – the amendment to their state constitution, which would ban same sex, or gay marriage . Frankly, I wish I had.

Have You, Like Me, Been Struggling Since Election Day, Trying to Figure Out Just What California Voters Were Thinking?

As Baby Boomers, after all, you helped birth the women’s rights movement, the civil rights movement, and the fight for migrant rights. You’ve helped save trees and forests, whales and wolves. Why stop now?

  • Personally, since California Governor Schwarzenegger’s comments, I have been wondering just where this clear issue of denied rights is going next…
  • Having been raised a Christian (actually very proper Episcopalian, thank you very much) I can’t believe God wants us to remove basic human rights from anyone! That would be against the very basic core of religious philosophy!
  • If you think about it, same-sex marriage is really an equal protection issue. That is, as a Baby Boomer – someone who realizes good health can be very transient – don’t you want all of your fellow humans to have the same rights to transfer property, visit loved ones in the hospital, and be present in times of trauma and trouble – even in death?

Olbermann’s video clip has been widely posted online.

Hopefully you’ve had a chance to view it. If not, take the time to watch it via the link provided above. Keith speaks quite passionately from a philosophical and sociological point of view, and what he says makes sense.

It seems that when we look back to the foundations this country was built upon, bedrock concepts like Thomas Jefferson’s declaration that “all men are created equal…” we took two steps forward with the election of Obama, our first African-American president, and then about 20 steps back with the passage of this law, whose intent is to rescind the right of same-sex couples to marry.

As Olbermann notes, this decision “tilted the balance on this issue from coast to coast.”

I Don’t Have A Personal Axe to Grind: Like Olbermann, I’m Not Gay. But Realistically, This Is An Issue That Touches Us All.

  • Thankfully, I’ve been happily married to my second husband for over 20 years, and have personally enjoyed the wonderful experience of parenthood for three decades now.
  • But this issue still touches me, as it touches us all. As you do, I have family members and good friends who are gay, and perhaps it’s through my participation in their lives and stories that I have developed my strong opinions on this subject
  • Don’t be so naive as to think you don’t know any gay people: While statistics vary, we can agree that somewhere between one in ten and one in 20 people currently identifies themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. In other words: of every twenty people you know, at least one was not born heterosexual.
  • You, I  – and everyone you know – have gay friends and/or family members – or at least work with someone – who was not born heterosexual.
  • If you think you don’t know anyone who’s not heterosexual, understand this is statistically unlikely. Instead, it’s much more probable that within the social world you live in, people are still forced to closet their sexual orientation in order to get along in this world. You know, as in “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Here’s a Part of Olbermann’s Commentary:

This is about the… human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it.

If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not… understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don’t want to deny you yours. They don’t want to take anything away from you. They want what you want — a chance to be a little less alone in the world.

Only now you are saying to them — no. You can’t have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don’t cause too much trouble. You’ll even give them all the same legal rights — even as you’re taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can’t marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn’t marry?

I keep hearing this term “re-defining” marriage.

If this country hadn’t re-defined marriage, black people still couldn’t marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal… in 1967. 1967.

The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn’t have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it’s worse than that. If this country had not “re-defined” marriage, some black people still couldn’t marry…black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not “Until Death, Do You Part,” but “Until Death or Distance, Do You Part.” Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.

You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are… gay.

And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing — centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children… All because we said a man couldn’t marry another man, or a woman couldn’t marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage. How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the “sanctity” of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?

What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don’t you, as human beings, have to embrace… that love? The world is barren enough.

It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.

And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling. With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?

With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate… this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then Spread happiness — this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness — share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

The Impact Goes Beyond California – It Is Massive

  • Perhaps it’s the fact that we’re talking about rescinding people’s rights that has caused so many people to speak out, realizing that this is not just a California issue, it’s a nationwide issue
  • Or maybe it’s because the November election also saw bans on gay marriage pass in Florida and Arizona, while Arkansas stopped gay couples from adopting children
  • Currently, gay marriage is legal in two U.S. states, Massachusetts and Connecticut, where court-approved same-sex weddings began earlier this month.
  • But dozens of states have laws that limit marriage to a man and a woman, which brings forward another issue: whether a gay couple who marry legally in one state will have this marriage recognized in another

Here’s A Summary For Your Consideration:

  • “Marriage” is a religious sacrament, and has no place being defined by the state
  • All “marriages” should be legally defined as “civil unions,” which can be defined by the state
  • If we still support the concepts on which our country was founded, “civil unions” between same-sex couples MUST be allowed in every US state

What Can You Do?

Speak up. Stop the insanity. Demonstrate your Baby Boomer pride in supporting civil rights actions. There are a number of ways you can participate:

  • Visit the website,  Join the Impact, to keep up on the latest details of this effort. This blog site calls for coordinated action across the United States, beginning with marches planned for the weekend of November 15th. Since Amy Balliett, 26, used her lunch break to start this site a few days after the election, more than 1 million people have visited and dozens of marches and meetings are now planned for Saturday 11/15, 1:30 p.m. EST (1830 GMT).
  • Send your local media copies of the press release created by Marriage Equality USA. For a copy of it, please email
  • Make an online donation to fight Proposition 8
  • Join the Facebook group >”1,000,000 Million Strong Against Newly Passed Prop 8.” At the time of this writing, it had about 68,000 members. Join Facebook if you haven’t already and sign up. The group’s creators identify themselves as high school students. Would you let high school students, who learned about civil rights from the actions of Baby Boomers like you try to carry this cause alone?

Want To Know More?

Many great books have been written addressing the issues related to gay marriage. All will help you better understand the issues and resolve your feelings toward this issue, no matter whether you are gay or straight.

Among them is one I’m really looking forward to reading: Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage: Valuing All Families under the Law, by Nancy D. Polikoff, which is currently available for pre-order on

Polikoff asserts that, in American law, marriage is the dividing line between those relationships that matter and those that don’t.

For example, with regard to inheritance, a woman married to a man for nine months receives Social Security benefits when he dies; while a woman living for nineteen years with a man or woman to whom she isn’t married receives no government support.

Among the crucial topics this books covers are:

  • Inheritance
  • Tax consequences
  • Workers’ compensation death benefits
  • Social security
  • Probate
  • Adoption
  • Health care
  • Plus, their impact the diversity of today’s family units

Polikoff knows her stuff. She writes this book after having taught, litigated and written about family law, civil procedure and sexuality for more than 30 years. From that perspective, she reframes the family-rights debate by arguing that marriage should not bestow special legal privileges upon couples because people, both heterosexual and LGBT, live in a variety of relationships—including:

  • Unmarried couples of any sexual orientation (remember, the co-ho concept works well for single Boomers)
  • Single-parent households
  • Extended biological family units, and
  • Myriad other familial configurations

These relationships, she argues, like marriage, are about building and sustaining economic and emotional interdependence and nurturing the next generation.

Sounds like a “must read,” for all Boomers, don’t you agree?

Forget Economic Meltdown. The Far More Important Worry: “Is Your Life What You Hoped It Would Be?” Why Haven’t You Added “Recareering” to the Top of Your Dance Card?

October 13, 2008 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Relationships & Family, Spirit & Faith

Not Dancing Through Life - Try Recareering

You’ve probably received your share of those sappy email forwards people pass around to remind themselves that we still care about each other. I just got one that ended with a comment worthy of sharing with you:

‘Life may not be the party we hoped for… but while we are here we might as well dance!’

Hmmm. A Bit of Upbeat Advice to Live Life with Passion Amidst All the Teeth-gnashing Financial Angst in My Mailbox Lately.

It Immediately Reminds Me Of Another Great Dance Aphorism: “Dance with the one what brung ya,”

Combined, the two concepts offer great advice. Especially in these challenging times where you’re probably worried about the potential of economic meltdown.

Not sure how the old Southern cliche and the new “dancing/live life with passion” philosophy apply you at this point in your life? Here’s a story to illustrate it for you:

My friend Bob is frustrated with his current employment situation as a pressman for a major newspaper organization, and rightfully worried that he might lose his job in the next round of layoffs.

In thinking about his employment alternatives, he’s realized that the entire newspaper industry is in rough shape, so finding a new job as a pressman is going to be tough.

Meanwhile, in casting about for alternative employment opportunity options, he’s considering what many Baby Boomer-aged workers are dreaming about: changing careers. In his case, Bob doesn’t want to make as drastic a change as some people you may know. For example:

  • He doesn’t want to convert himself from CPA to restaurateur
  • Or from public relations account executive to blues guitarist
  • Nor does he dream of making a transition from office administrator to yoga or Pilates instructor
  • He’s not even thinking of making a switch from lawyering to growing and selling organic vegetables

All passion-oriented career changes others have tried…

No, Bob’s inspiration is a switch that will still involve him using his mechanical skills. He just wants to take them in a new direction. He’s been talking with his brother-in-law about a new, “green” technology in the construction industry that they both feel sure is about to take off – installing geothermal pumps.

A change that will have him working outdoors instead of inside, which he will enjoy. And one that will require extensive re-training.

It’s That Last Part That is Concerning Him.

As he explained his dilemma, he outlined the opportunity: “Geothermal heat pumps are similar to your regular heat pumps, except they use the ground instead of outside air to give you your heating, your air conditioning, even hot water. Since they use the earth’s own heat, they are among the most efficient and comfortable heating and cooling technologies around. Damn cool engineering.”

In other words, this is a “green” technology, and these days, just about everything green is good.

As Bob talked further, his zeal and enthusiasm – or passion – for the new technology became apparent. “These pumps are so energy efficient, I know there’s gonna be a TON of guys like you and me – homeowners looking to save money and energy – who are going to want to install them. Especially since it seems like our home energy costs are going to just keep going through the roof.”

Bottom line as Bob sees it:

  • If he earns this new certification, he believes his employment future will be secure
  • Instead of plying his superb mechanical skills working with an aging technology – where future employment is iffy – he’ll be positioned on the leading edge of a new one
  • He’s feeling huge enthusiasm, or passion, for learning more about the potential new work, which excites him, and makes it worth getting up in the morning
  • And he’s sure he’d be making some real good (and reliable) money going forward…

There’s just one thing troubling him: He’d have to become trained and certified for the new work, and the certification will take him four years to achieve.

His Biggest Questions as He Contemplates This Transition: Can His Family Financially Handle His Time in School, AND Is the Significant Investment of His Time and Money – At This Time in His Life – Likely to be Worth It?

  • If he went back to school to learn this promising new trade, he would be 50 years old when he finished.
  • My answer: “How old will you be in four years if you don’t go to school?”
  • Of course Bob got the point: He’d still be 50 years old
  • And, he realizes that if he doesn’t grab the opportunity to get new training now, there’s a big chance he’ll be even closer to unemployment in the future

In Other Words: Bob Would be Wise to Consider the Possibilities; Not Just Go for a “Knee-Jerk” Reaction Which Lets Age Keep Him From Investing Into An Enjoyable New Work Opportunity.

Especially since, if Bob gets into doing something he really loves and has a passion for, there are major life benefits.

First, instead of constantly running an employment treadmill, staying in a job in which he’s continually stressed out over the looming potential for unemployment, he’ll have developed new and desirable skills. Not to mention that everything else about his life will be so much more enjoyable once he’s spending his working hours doing something he enjoys!

  • He’ll have a passion for his work, which is really important.
  • He’ll benefit from a much stronger opportunity to be successful in his work
  • Not to mention that his stress levels will be lower, making for a much more enjoyable homelife, too

Second, fifty just isn’t that old anymore. At age 50, Bob – or you, if you were in his shoes –  still has 15 years of work/employment ahead of him before he reaches the traditional retirement age of 65 – plenty of time to make it worthwhile to change his career.

Besides which, the reality is, most Baby Boomers are going to work long past the old traditional retirement age of 65, so at 50 you’re realistically talking about having MORE than 15 working years ahead of you.

Third, despite an economy in recession, and Bob’s very real concern for personal economic meltdown if he leaves his current job, the opportunities for a midlife career change have never been better. In fact, a variety of factors currently work in favor of midlife career change, including:

  • Changing attitudes toward older workers
  • Rising demand for workplace experience
  • More powerful job-search resources
  • Employers’ pending recognition that they can’t afford to lose older workers. This is especially apparent in fields the fields of nursing, hospitality and utilities. Bob’s career change would factor into the latter arena.

So How Can Bob Make This Work? Especially Because He Wants to Avoid Financial Hardship While He Gets Things Going?

Despite all the opportunity, “recareering” – changing careers in midlife – can involve difficult and potentially life-altering decisions. Especially if going back to  school forces an overhaul of your lifestyle or your family’s standard of living.

Bob clearly realizes that unless he comes up with a corrective plan in advance, in the short-term, his opportunity has the potential to:

  • Damage his family life and maybe even cost him his friends
  • Generate a lot of internal stress
  • Significantly reduce the amount of time he has to relax and socialize
  • Negatively impact his finances – in the short term

A Career Coach or Counselor Can Show You How, With Planning, All of These Negatives Can be Controlled.

For example, a career counselor would help Bob:

  • Figure out his passion, if we weren’t yet sure of it; so he could be sure he was moving in the right direction.
  • Advise Bob that he needs to make sure his family supports his decision
  • Help him work out a strategy to make sure he can pay his bills while he’s getting refocused. (For example, Bob might have an option to take a buyout from his newspaper job, and live off some of his 401K savings for the short-term)
  • Make sure his motivation to change is properly focused

Bottom Line: Since You’re Going to Be Working A Couple More Decades Anyway, Why Shouldn’t You Do Work You Enjoy – Something That Gives You the Opportunity to “Dance” a Bit Every Day?

And in terms of recareering and the concept of dancing with the one “what brung ya,” I believe that means you need to look into how you can:

  • Develop work from a hobby
  • Create income from something for which you have passion.*
  • Incorporate skills you have, enjoy and in which you excel

In Bob’s case, those are his mechanical skills and his passion for helping people save money through use of a “green” technology.

What Are YOU Passionate About? What Makes YOU Dance? (And Are You Dancing Enough?)

*Not sure whether or not you actually have a passion for anything? Join the crowd. A lot of people are confused right now about how to live a life with passion. Yet making time to dance is so important.

This book, The Passion Test: The Effortless Path to Discovering Your Life Purpose, will really help you figure it out.  The book is by Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood. Here are a few great quotes that explain how powerful it is:

  • “The simplest, clearest way to get started on knowing what you want—by getting clear on who you are.”
    —T. Harv Eker, author of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind
  • “It’s simple, it’s easy, and it’s profound.”
    —Jack Canfield, cocreator of the #1 New York Times bestselling series, Chicken Soup for the Soul
  • “[A] clear, simple, and effective method to help you identify your core passions so you can create the fulfilling life you deserve.”
    —John Gray, Ph.D., #1 New York Times bestselling author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus

Now, go forth and dance with passion!

Got the Latest Lingo Down? Raise Your Hand If You Know What This Question Means: “Are You a Cougar Who’s Craigslisting Because You’re About to Become A Co-Ho?”

October 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Living, Relationships & Family

Want Bigger House and Companionship? Consider Co-Ho: Buying With a Friend

“Whatchutalkinabout!” Where Did You Come Up With Those Strange Words?

Don’t worry, there’s no need to run for a bar of soap to wash out your friend’s mouth when you hear words like:

Likewise, when you see or hear these odd-looking words, there’s no need to furrow your forehead in confusion, as did the young Gary Coleman in that classic 70s sitcom, “Diff’rent Strokes.” (Remember, he became famous for his “straight man” line repeatedly delivered to his older brother, Whatchutalkinbout Willis?

Instead, we have one simple (known) word for you, “relax.” Help for understanding these odd words – most generated as a result of new technology – is here…

No Need to Send Out For a Fresh Supply of Botox to Smooth Your Wrinkled Brow!

Of course, you know your challenges with strangely-used words happen because English is a living language, and that means that new words – or new usages for terms you know – evolve regularly.  Sometimes the liveliness of the language also means Boomers end up feeling out of touch. 

For example, perhaps you know that a “cougar” is an attractive older woman who dates younger men, and you can guess that the reference to “Craigslisting” means attempting to sell your personal possessions on the popular, geographically-oriented classified advertising website.

But the usage of “co-ho” may have you stumped. Nothing “fishy” about it, by the way, but that’ll be explained in a second…

Meanwhile, Perhaps You’ve Also Run Into Other New Terms Under Situations Like These:

  • A friend commented that since you’ve been spending so much time hanging out in theblogosphere,” you might know why he’d received an email request from a peer suggesting that he “friend” him
  • Or,  you’ve been puzzled hearing people blithely discuss the relative merits of “Digging” a web site versus “Stumbling” it
  • Maybe you decided to nod knowingly and act like you understood what was being discussed when a your niece told you that her “bff” had just “twitted” her with a link to a fantastic new “mash up”
  • Then again, perhaps your “Huh? What’s That? Meter” blinked when you heard a recent Tonight show guest tell Leno how much her husband likes her “tramp stamp while another guest spoke knowingly about being all “tatted out

If all of these terms have your head spinning, the good news is that you can check out the definition of “co-ho” and all the other new terms mentioned right here, in our helpful glossary.

OK, Now That You Know That the “Co-Ho” in The Headline Refers to the Relatively New Concept of “Communal Home-ownership,” and Has Nothing to Do With Migrating Salmon… Let’s Talk About It In More Detail 

Perhaps you’ve already started to consider the merits of a decision  to “go the co-ho route,” and “craigslist” your extra furniture…

Let’s take a look at longer look at the concept than we’d done with the other new words, as this is a significant phenomenon which may grow to trend-like proportions. And, though similar, it is distinctly different than the concept of co-housing, which you may have heard of, as it’s often associated with the creation of neighborhoods where people can safely “age-in-place.”

A Co-Ho Arrangement Is Different Than A Co-housing Agreement

Co-housing is a concept that originated in Denmark in the 1960s.

It’s sort of like getting all your friends together to live in separate units of one apartment building, similar to the arrangement on TV show, “Friends” except that you’d more likely all be living in your own homes on the same block. 

The goal of co-housing’s members is to intentionally create a community where residents are consciously committed to living together as a (planned) community. In other words, in a co-housing arrangement:

  • The members actively participate in the design and operation of their neighborhood, which is designed primarily to encourage social interaction and often the overall goal, as mentioned above, is to facilitate “aging-in-place”
  • Social interaction is key. Think of it as a return to the days of your childhood, when people knew and were close to their neighbors
  • In co-housing communities, the physical design is meant to encourage both social contact and individual space
  • Private homes contain all the features of conventional homes, but residents share extensive common facilities such as open space, courtyards, a playground and a common building or social hall 
  • The common building usually features a large kitchen and dining area as well as a living area and game area
  • Often, residents attend a number of group meals per week, and community events are regularly planned
  • The housing itself is usually clustered with parking on the perimeter and walking paths designed to encourage interaction in the middle
  • It is designed to create many opportunities for casual meetings between neighbors, as well as for deliberate gatherings such as celebrations, clubs and business meetings

On the Other Hand, the “Co-Ho” Arrangement is Much More Unique, Individual and Small Scale. Much Less of a Planned Community Than it is a Personal Conract Between Two – Or Rarely as Many as Three or Four – People.

  • For a quick dose of clarity,  you can check out the recent TIME magazine story entitled “Should You Become a Co-Ho?” (You probably overlooked that story when it first came out… that’s when you still associated the term “co-ho” with the spectacular west coast sport fish…right?)
  • “Co-hos” are people who have made the decision to live together in a relationship which is more permanent than if they were merely roommates, but does not incorporate any romantic involvement.
  • Think in terms of the movie “The Odd Couple,” or maybe the TV show “Will and Grace,” – though neither of those scenarios dealt with the residential ownership issue.  

The co-ho arrangement – friends co-owning houses – though first adopted by 20-somethings who were looking to be able to afford a larger house, really makes sense for Baby Boomers.

Co-owning Homes Makes Sense for Boomers, Since Almost One-Third of all Boomers Are Single, or Spouseless

In Case You’re Wondering, That’s Some 25 Million Single Boomers Who Aren’t Likely to Marry, With the Breakdown Working Out Like This:

  • 12 percent never married, about twice the percentage of the previous generation
  • 16 percent are divorced or separated
  • 4 percent are widowed

Beyond That, As the News Media – or Your Parents – Like to Remind Boomer Women:

  • Women over 40 have a far harder time finding mates than men
  • Boomer males – those who don’t live in cardboard houses or under the highway overpass – remarry at higher rates
  • Men die sooner, which means the pool of available – and desirable spouses – is smaller for women
  • So unless you’re a Boomer woman who still subscribes to that 70s-era women power manta – “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” – the sad fact is many Boomer women find themselves living alone, spouseless and childless

Bottom Line: Due to Scattered Family and Sheer Numbers, Many Boomers – Men and Women – Will Need to Find a Way to Create Their Own Support Systems as They Grow Older: Living in a Traditional Family Unit – With Spouse, Children or Even Siblings – Just Isn’t Possible 

Which makes the concept of living with friends a lot more palatable than living alone, without a built-in support system.

You can read an example of Boomer women “going co-ho,” in this story from The Richmond (Virginia) Times. 

Here, the partners are longtime friends and empty-nesters: Susan Grady, 68 and Sharon McAbee, 52.  Both work full-time. Grady is a human-resources generalist with Virginia Blood Services, while McAbee is self-employed.

Before they decided to buy a home together, they’d been close friends for 30 years. In fact, Grady is godmother to McAbee’s daughter, a college senior: 

  • They had spent many years talking on the phone week after week, lamenting their loneliness
  • “Finally, we said, ‘We’re so stupid,’” Grady recalled
  • Even so, their decision to join forces and stop living alone wasn’t undertaken without care

Getting Their Arrangement Underway Wasn’t Done Quickly, They Took Time and Due Diligence

The friends say it took them a year to find the perfect house — but they’re delighted with their spacious home on a golf course.

To assure their individual needs were protected, they ironed out the legal details with an attorney, got a mortgage together, and have been more than satisfied with the results since moving more than a year ago.

The two share cooking duties and other household chores. They live with three dogs and a one-eyed cat in a five-bedroom, 3,800-square-foot house that provides plenty of space for privacy and for welcoming visiting children, mothers and other relatives. They even hosted both of their extended families last Thanksgiving and Christmas.

  • “We’ve been really happy here,” said Grady, a mother, grandmother and widow 
  • McAbee, a divorcee , had been renting a home since her divorce but liked the idea of “paying into something I’m going to get equity out of.”
  • The both agree that it’s been a great decision: “We like the location, we like the house, and our neighbors are great.”

A Way for Empty Nesters to Fight Off Loneliness…

Ben Winters, their Realtor, notes that for older homebuyers, the advantages of co-owning a home are largely financial – shared expenses and home maintenance, more buying power – but it also can help stave off loneliness for those living alone.

  • “The other thing is companionship,” said McAbee, “When my daughter went to college, I was miserable.”
  • Said Grady, “It’s nice to have someone to cook for.”

Apparently Grady and McAbee are still working on merging their furniture, so maybe someone ought to tell them about the power of Craigslisting the surplus

Wondering How You’ll Keep Family Peace While Liquidating Your Parents’ Estate? Author of “The Boomer Burden” Offers Tips to Reduce the Stress

August 9, 2008 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Relationships & Family

Whenever a close friend of ours visits his parents, a wonderful couple we have also come to know and love, he inevitably returns with a bit of concerned grumbling about the on-going battle they always have over his efforts purge his parents’ garage of what he sees as a lifetime accumulation of junk.

The punch line is always the same: his father defends this “quasi warehouse” as a collection of treasures, while our friend half-joking threatens that upon their death, he’ll return to clean house with a backhoe!

Happily, I’ve just come upon a fantastic solution to end this family stalemate:

Prior to his next visit, I plan to gift him with a fantastic book, which he, his brother and his parents can read together before jointly working out a plan for the inevitable future.

The book is called “The Boomer Burden – Dealing with Your Parents’ Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff,” by Julie Hall, who is known professionally as The Estate Lady®. Next to infirmity or death, estate settlement is the most stressful challenge a Boomer will go through with their parents, she says, “and often leaves everyone involved feeling upset, resentful and frustrated.”

A professional estate liquidator and certified personal property appraiser, with more than seventeen years experience, Hall is an expert in personal property, specializing in the dissolution of tangible assets. She has seen it all while assisting thousands of individuals in the daunting and often painful process of managing their deceased parents’ affairs.

Many of the 78 million Baby Boomers – whose parents learned how to hoard in order to survive the Depression – are finding themselves having to deal directly with the effects of that mentality.

“Old habits certainly die hard,” she says. “I see it over and over. As Boomers age and their parents become invalided or pass away, the added burden of having to deal with all that stuff left behind is compounded by the fact that their parents once hoarded items of value in order to stay alive and the urge to save and collect ultimately became habitual.”

“When a loved one passes away, and you suddenly find yourself responsible for taking care of all the ‘stuff’ he or she left behind, it’s common behavior to speed the process by thinking ‘when in doubt, throw it out,’” explains Hall. “But too often, families don’t know the value of the inheritance they’re discarding.”

Hall offers her readers an alternative: have family property professionally evaluated and appraised. “I always find a number of precious items easily mistaken by the adult children as trash.”

Worse, Are the Family Fights

Perhaps worse than throwing away treasure in the trash, are the major family disputes that frequently arise during the settlement of an estate. These often tear siblings apart.

(Having personally experienced the impact of several such fights – just last week, my 78-year old mother and her 76-year old sister finally got together again for the first time since they battled over the settlement of my grandmother’s estate twenty years ago – I know just how valuable the advice in this book can be.)

Hall advises that the best place to begin preparing for the inevitable is among the siblings.

She suggests an initial planning meeting limited to siblings – no spouses – be held in a public place as soon as possible – hopefully before signs of parental inability to cope begin to surface. The goal is to discuss the future and make plans together for how to handle it.

And one of the first steps she recommends is for everyone involved to read her book! (I guess that gets everyone “on the same page!”)

Here are a handful of real life examples from Hall’s book

As you read them, I bet your mind will flash to similar situations you’ve personally observed, I know mine did:

  • Elderly woman with advanced Alzheimer’s (husband in back bedroom dying of Parkinson’s) is completely taken advantage of when neighbors and so-called friends come into her home offering to help her with her upcoming move to a nursing home by buying her valuable heirlooms. What she didn’t understand was that they were taking advantage of her mental state – and buying her family treasures at garage sale bargain rates – we’re talking $2,000 worth of sterling silver flatware walking out the door for twenty bucks! The neighbors knew better, but she didn’t. There was nothing the police could do, since she willingly accepted money for her belongings. The items sold for pennies were worth thousands, and her children, totally unaware of what was happening, will never again see the heirlooms they should have inherited.
  • Elderly widower wanders the neighborhood in the middle of a winter night, barefoot and wearing only pajamas. He manages to get into a neighbor’s home. The neighbor initially thinks it’s a burglar, but then recognizes the elderly gentleman and offers him a blanket and sofa to sleep on while they call the police, who contact the man’s adult daughter. Her other sibling is in denial. It’s time for professional assistance.
  • Two siblings inherit millions each and viciously fight over the old Tupperware. Hall gets hit in the head with a flying kettle in the process.
  • Elderly dad has a problem: Two sons, one Civil War firearm passed down for generations. Both sons are already fighting over it. He wonders which he should he give it to – and seriously considers just letting them fight over it after he’s gone.
  • Daughter holds “24/7” vigil by her father’s bedside until his death, rarely letting other siblings in. Everyone thinks this is because she is so close to him. Turns out the real reason for her “devotion” is her desire to “cherry pick” and stash away prized possessions she wants for herself in the basement. When Dad dies and the coroner arrives, the other sibs gather on the first floor comforting Mom while daughter is in the basement, funneling her stash to her car.
  • Wealthy woman, blind and suffering from Alzheimer’s, daily decks herself out in her fantastic jewelry collection. The heirs ask to have the diamonds removed and replaced with CZ’s, but before the request can be carried out, the caregiver steals the jewelry while the woman naps. (For good measure, they also took a crock pot.)
  • Son who’s just lost his aging parents decides to donate a pair of “really ugly” vases to Good Will. Recognizing them for the collector’s items they are, Hall rescues the vases. And sells them at auction for over $60,000.

The Boomer Burden is available in highly affordable paperback ($10.19 USD) from I highly recommend it, because it will teach you to:

  • Divide your parents’ estate with peace of mind
  • Minimize fighting with siblings during the estate settlement process
  • Clear out the family home in 10 days or less
  • Identify potential items of value in the family home
  • Plan how to have “that conversation” with your parents
  • Prepare yourself and your children for the future
  • Plus it’s got fantastically comprehensive checklists, spreadsheets and resource lists.

Don’t wait! Ease the potential for anxiety.

Order yourself a copy right now. And while you’re at it – get a copy for each of your siblings too! They’ll thank you for starting the difficult discussion of how your parents estate ought to be settled. Here’s that convenient link again: The Boomer Burden – Dealing with Your Parents’ Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff.