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Grave Expectations: There’s More to Funeral Planning Than Sourcing Free Funeral Program Templates Online. Have You Already Begun Planning Your Own Unique Memorial Service?

January 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Living, Spirit & Faith

Grave Expectations: There's More to Funeral Planning Than Sourcing Free Funeral Program Templates Online. Have You Already Begun Planning Your Own Unique Memorial Service?

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 20:  Funeral director Pete...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

A recent article in the AARP Bulletin, titled “The High Cost of Dying,” discussed how easily funeral costs can spin out of control. The article noted that this happens primarily because your surviving relatives — faced with unexpectedly having to quickly put together a funeral while simultaneously grieving your demise  — just don’t have the time or energy to price shop or bargain.

Hey, you can understand: They’re grieving for you, right?

Besides which, it’s human nature to want to provide a loved one with the best funeral possible, as a show of respect, right? This classic skit by Nichols and May really exemplifies the dilemmas grieving relatives experience. You’ll find yourself laughing out loud as you squirm at the man’s discomfort with the sales pitch he’s receiving. After all, she’s not even offering him the option of free funeral program templates!

Sadly, if you’ve recently found yourself planning a funeral, you may believe that not much has changed in the years since they first created it:

The AARP article also points out many people have the impression that the magnitude of the casket is an indicator of socioeconomic status. No doubt that accounts for all those solid bronze caskets still offered in most funeral homes.  (After all, who wouldn’t want to be packaged for death like an ancient Egyptian pharoah, right?)

How about you?

Do you want to exit the world in a solid bronze casket? Or would you rather have a deeply meaningful service that you’ve planned in advance — and the opportunity to leave the money that could have gone for that fancy casket to your grandchildren or a worthy cause?

If you’re more into benefiting family or charitable causes with your worldly goods, they now is the time for you to take action to assure your wishes are met. Why not plan your funeral now — or at least discuss it with your family?

Think of funeral planning as being just as important as the plans families make for a birth, a wedding or a graduation. That you can both enjoy the funeral you’d really like, as well as save your family a lot of future pain. (After all, you’ll be there, both in body and spirit.)

  • Don’t you agree that now — when you’re still hale, healthy and able to speak your mind — is really the best time for you to give some thought to what you’d like to have transpire at your personal memorial service?
  • That way your surviving family members will be saved from the pressure tactics and indecision many currently encounter when talking to a funeral director while trying to give you the send-off they think you’d prefer.
  • After all, you hate to waste money, and you’re well aware that the “traditional funeral” — complete with embalming, viewing in that expensive casket, funeral ceremony and graveside service — is not the only option.

If You Just Want to “Dip Your Toe” Into the Concept of Personalized Funeral Planning, Here Are Some Small – But Extremely Helpful – Things You Can Do:

For starters, how about writing up your obituary now – except for the specifics of when, where and how?

After all,  if you can provide all the “nitty gritty” specifics – such as what high school you attended, or the names of all relevant survivors, this is a real help for whoever is managing your final arrangements.  If you’re famous, the newspapers already have an obit on file for you. Thankfully, for the rest of us, there are readily available fill-in-the blank forms, which will help get you started.

Here are a few you can review. Keep in mind that in addition to the specifics of your death –  which you obviously don’t know at this time – the obituary gives you a chance to tell your story, to create your legacy statement, and get it out there the way you’d like it told:

OK, That Was Easy:

So Why Not Take a Figurative Deep Breath and Jump Into the Deep End of the Memorial Pool? You Know, Spend a Little Time to Plan Your Funeral – EXACTLY the Way You’d Like It?

After all, unless you take the time to write up your plans – and keep them somewhere where they can be found in time – only you know that you’d always secretly wanted something special and personally meaningful, like:

  • To have your funeral procession led by your high school’s marching band
  • A real Irish wake
  • A Viking funeral, complete with a burning pyre floating off to sea
  • A huge send-off party at your country club, with all your friends toasting your life – and maybe you’d like to sign off by treating them to a “hootenanny” and a hot air balloon ride
  • A quiet memorial service after you’ve donated your body to science
  • A service with full military honors. Perhaps you’ve even wondered whether – since you are a war veteran —  you might even qualify to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery?
  • Then again, maybe your dream is to have your ashes scattered over place that holds special meaning for you. Perhaps your dream is to be:

Now’s the time to think about what really appeals to you.

Assuming you’ll want some sort of memorial service involved, you can even pre-determine the specifics including:

  • What sort of coffin you desire. After all, not all coffins are made of solid wood anymore.
    • There are “green” coffins made of cardboard, for example, which can be decorated to suit your personal style.
    • Or you may prefer something natural and recyclable, such as bamboo or wicker.
    • Or – can you imagine – there’s an “ecopod,” that’s actually made of recycled newspaper?
    • And, then there are all sorts of caskets, urns, body bags and shrouds. You could have a unique clay pot specially commissioned, for example. Eco Urns are made from completely natural materials and are fully bio-degradable and are suitable for either burial or cremation.
  • Your funeral budget. Funeral expenses can quickly add up.
    • Few relatives want to worry that they didn’t provide you with the send-off you deserve, so they often spend money on things which might mean nothing to you.
    • Currently you’d need to budget $10,000 for an average funeral in the United States. More if you’re really intrigued with the special events and party planners…
    • If you’re determined to have your money go elsewhere, you may want to join the Funeral Consumers Alliance in your area.
  • Any special poems or readings you’d like shared with your friends and family
  • Your preferred music and songs so that you can set the tone for the ceremony.For example:
    • Do you want your favorite rock music blasting out triumphantly as people enter the service?
    • Or would you prefer a simple flute – or maybe a throbbing drumbeat?
    • Or maybe some Cajun zydeco that merrily sets everyone’s feet a-tapping?
  • Your preferred pallbearers – and you’d like to have offer your eulogy?
  • The funeral venue is important too.
    • Do you feel that a traditional church or funeral home chapel is where you’d like people to assemble?
    • Or maybe you’re an outdoors-y kind of gal, and you’d rather people gather in a lovely bower in the woods.
    • Then again, perhaps you feel drawn to the sea, and you’d like your service to be held on the water, or overlooking your favorite beach.
  • You’ll even have the opportunity to dictate what sort of catering and transport you’d prefer. Here’s where you can let your family know that you’d love it if everyone:
    • Finished off the ceremony by feasting on BBQ ribs and toasting your memory with your favorite micro-brew beer
    • Enjoyed a campfire meal at your favorite national park, complete with hot dogs roasted on a stick and s’mores, or
    • Toasted your memory with your favorite vintage champagne before riding off to the opera in a fleet of white limos
    • Hey, it’s your funeral, as they say… And it’s your last chance to tell your loved ones where you’d like them to go!

One easy way to assemble this information for posterity would be to plan your service and even create the program for it now. Again, there are planning forms available online – and even free funeral program templates.

Heck, you can even order the stock for the funeral programs in advance, selecting your photo, the cover image, etc.

Alternately, you can create a video of your life story, and make it permanently available online or on your headstone. Or, perhaps hand out  CD copies of your video as funeral keepsakes.

Recently Carmen Flowers and Sue Bailey, authors of the recently published book, “Grave Expectations,”  Were Featured on NBC’s “Today” show.

Here’s their take on funeral planning:

Need Even More Help and Ideas? Here’s a Handful of Additional Sources For Funeral Planning  Services:

And Here Are Several Other Great Funeral and Memorial Resources:

Final thoughts on Pre-Planning Your Funeral

As the cliche points out, no one can escape death or taxes. So why not take some time when you are healthy and pre-plan your own funeral? It is a surprisingly simple thing to do and really don’t cost much.

  • If you’re at a loss for ideas, not really sure how you want to be memorialized, the links are great starting points. The book “Grave Expectations” is actually subtitled “Planning The End Like There’s No Tomorrow,” and it’s a fantastic resource for idea starters.
  • Or if you’re not into reading, you can start your planning efforts by contacting a funeral home in your community and ask them to come to your home and discuss what you’d prefer. Once you’ve decided on your arrangements, the company will provide you with a quote, and you can choose to pay for it in monthly installments.
  • As you can see, pre-planning allows you to the peace of mind of knowing that your funeral will be exactly what you want — and the price will be locked in and will not change – no matter how long you live.
  • Given that, you have to agree that pre-planning your funeral is not a bit morbid – especially since it means that when your time comes, your family will be freed from having to make arrangements in the midst of their grief.

Based on personal experience, you know they’ll appreciate the fact that they can focus completely on celebrating your life with friends and family – and of course, their grief! Given that we all have to go eventually, isn’t that really the way you’d like to leave this world?

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The 40th Anniversaries of Apollo 11 Moon Landing and Woodstock Offer Baby Boomers A Great Opportunity to Reminisce: Where Were You During the Summer of 69?

July 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Living, Travel & Leisure

Summer of 69 was outta sight

woodstock-1969
Image by raymaclean via Flickr

As a Baby Boomer, What Impact Did the Summer of ’69 Have On You?

Recent retrospective news stories have reminded Baby Boomers that the summer of 69 was a three-month time period few of you will ever forget. It’s probably one of those “litmus test” time periods. You know, the ones where everyone remembers exactly what you were doing at the time you heard.

Like…

  • November 22, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas.
  • February 3, 1959, the “day the music died” – when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson died in a plane crash in Iowa.
  • Or 9/11

Those are all negative events, however. For Baby Boomers, the Summer of 1969 generally presents a more upbeat image of thrills and chills…

Where Were You That Summer? What Do You Remember Most?

Personally, I was 17 and spent the summer in Europe with 29 of my classmates, all from Madison East High School.  Most of us were looking forward to enjoying the summer then returning for a triumphant senior year as the “Class of 70.”  Our group had been together since junior high, and some of us had known each other since grade school. We were so psyched about that trip…

The idea came from the fact that we’d been studying French since the beginning of 7th grade. With five years of French language and culture under our belts, somebody came up with the great idea that we should actually practice our skills in France, among the natives.

You know, show off our linguistic skills while we enjoyed:

  • Site-seeing along the Seine (Of course we would spend time in Paris. What trip to France would be complete without the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower? No to mention the shopping?)
  • Bicycling high in the Alps (No, we didn’t expect to qualify for the Tour de France, but we loved the idea of tooling around Grenoble on rented “velos”)
  • Lounging beside the Mediterranean Sea (We weren’t bold enough to seek out a nude beach, but that didn’t stop us from wanting to sunbathe on the sands of Nice)

Next thing we knew we were all preparing for the trip of our young lifetimes.

After all, few of us had ever left the country before, and none of us had previously lived apart from our families for more than a few weeks of camp. We spent the entire school year in anticipation:

  • Attending weekly in-school meetings to prepare us for the trip
  • Working after school jobs to save up our spending money
  • And perhaps most importantly, planning our wardrobes

Thankfully, Our High School French Teacher and Her Husband Agreed to Be Our Chaperones

“Madame” was young and fun, and we knew she wouldn’t cramp our style. With her help, we selected a study abroad program that allowed us to spend time touring London, Paris, Rome, Geneva — plus studying French for a month at the University of Grenoble. ” Quelle idee!”

For most of us, the summer of 69 would be our first time spending any length of time away from home. And back then, calling home if you ran into problems was a lot harder, of course. Neither cell phones nor the World Wide Web had yet been invented.

So short of expensive trans-Atlantic calls placed from a phone booth, our correspondence with the folks back home was limited to letters send via air mail…

The Trip Was Fantastic and We All Did A Lot of Growing Up That Summer

I know I was not the same person when I returned… After all, during that trip we experienced so many new things. Among them:

  • Learning to ride London’s underground railroad – the “Tube. ” (And Paris’s “Metro” too.)
    • We didn’t have subways back home…
    • My best friend Jenny and I felt so adult when we left our classmates for the evening and took the tube to visit family friends in a London suburb.
    • Even cooler, they served us beer and lasagna for dinner! (Have no recall of whether or not it was Guinness, but I do know they mixed it with lemonade and called it a ‘shandy!’)
  • Personally experiencing the artistic masterpieces at the Sistine Chapel, the Louvre, Versailles, Buckingham Palace even touring the Coliseum in Rome.
    • I loved seeing the Mona Lisa, though I was surprised how small it is.
    • For me, the colorful Swiss Guard in the Vatican City was even more impressive than was the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace!
    • However I believe going underground to experience the cool and spooky catacombs of Rome impressed me the most!
  • Taking French cooking classes – conducted in French!
    • These were even more challenging than the language and culture classes we took at the University.
    • And we got to eat our work!
    • I recall creating an apricot tarte that was “to die for”…
  • Shopping at wonderful London department stores, like Harrod’s, Fortnum and Mason, Marks and Spencer.
    • I bought some fantastic patchwork silk fabric in shades of peach, cream and lavender that I stitched into a smashing maxi skirt. Tres chic!
    • Of course, being teens, we didn’t miss the boutiques of Picadilly Street, which was so trendy back then!
    • Remember Mary Quant and the British “mod” fashions? If not, here’s a memory jogger for you: some say she created the “look” of the micro mini skirt and tights…

Budgeting was one of the life skills forced on me by this trip: I spent most of my money our first week out, in those fabulous London shops. (This was before we even got to France.)

I still cherish my purchases, many of which were gifts for family back home: including a piece of Limoges crystal in the shape of a deer and a beautiful hand hammered copper bowl.

Why do I say that? Well, had I not run out of of money,  it might have been years later before I discovered my true entrepreneurial self.  But how I raised money to keep myself supplied with Cokes and snacks for the rest of the summer is the stuff of another post…

Strangely Enough The Most Memorable Things I Learned On That Trip Did Not Happen In the Classroom Nor On a Site-Seeing Tour

No. Forty years later I know that the two biggest things I learned that summer are to take responsibility for myself and my welfare — and to be proud to be an American.

Both of those lessons came as a result of being away from home, from “losing my comfort zone.” Especially through the experience of seeing life back home through the lens of distance – and from the point of view of a foreign press.  You certainly recall that the events of the summer of 1969 were pivotal. Both for Boomers – and for all Americans.

A lot of big news happened that summer. And it took place during a time when a lot of Americans — especially Boomers — were very unhappy with our foreign policy and our presence in Viet Nam. In fact, it would be safe to say we were not at all proud of our country at that time.

But it was very different to be experiencing what was happening back home via the filter of British and French newspapers and French TV. Strangely enough, learning about what was going on in my country while I lived on foreign soil had a galvanizing effect.

Instead of  deciding to “tune in, turn on and drop out,” as Timothy Leary had suggested a few years earlier, my living abroad experience enabled me to see what is wonderful about living in the United States, and actually caused me to became quite patriotic.

Fact is, patriotism was really not something I had experienced before the trip. I’d just taken my American citizenship — and it’s perks — for granted…

Among the news highlights  which so impacted me:

  • Man walked on the moon for the first time. For a week in July the world focused on NASA and the flight of Apollo 11, carrying astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin Jr.
    • Their goals: land on the moon, perform some experiments, collect some rock samples, take some pictures, get home safely.
    • The trip which began July 16th lasted eight days, though they spent less than a day on the surface itself and only 2-1/2 historic hours actually walking on the moon.
    • Soon, the whole world knew that “The Eagle Has Landed,” and that “We Came in Peace for All Mankind.”
  • While most of the world avidly watched the action in the skies, Mary Jo Kopechne and the rest of Robert Kennedy’s former campaign workers – who’d been dubbed the “Boiler Room Girls” – took time out to attend a party on Chappaquiddick Island, off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
    • Apparently out of deference to the Kennedy family, the US press embargoed a lot of the facts.
    • Overseas readers learned things which weren’t reported in the US media until much later.
    • These days, with the Internet and more global access to news, I doubt this sort of “media protection” could still happen…
  • And just a month later, in mid-August, we read about how almost half a million people gathered in the rain and mud at Max Yasgur’s farm in Woodstock, New York for a psychedelic celebration of peace and music dubbed “Woodstock ’69″…
    • What would it have been like to have seen those musical greats –  to experience the Woodstock bands in person?
    • Personally, I’m not sure if I could have handled the crowds, the mud, the drugs and the lack of order or sanitation facilities!
    • Still, those Woodstock stories from people who lived it are amazing!

In retrospect, being an American in France when we landed on the moon actually helped rebuild my pride and American spirit. Everywhere we went, total strangers  would come up to us and congratulate us on the Apollo trip.

Instead of feeling like the “ugly Americans” – as we had earlier in the trip — we were suddenly hailed as heroes – even though we personally had nothing to do with the flight to the moon…  That was amazing!

What about you? How did the Summer of 69 impact your life? Where were you? Given where you are now, would you agree with Bryan Adams “those were the best days of your life?”

Why not share your personal “Summer of 69” story here?

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?

You Can’t Do Much About the Economy, But That’s No Cause For a Midlife Crisis. Quick! What Would It Take To Make You Truly Blissful Right Now? As in “Happy From the Inside Out?”

It's Truly Your Choice: Midlife Crisis or Boomer Bliss?

As you were growing up, how did you envision your adult life?

Unfortunately, if you’re like most people, your childhood vision for your adult life doesn’t at all match up to the life you’re currently experiencing – quite possibly due to the recession.

After benefiting from all the high-flying financial success Boomers enjoyed during  the 80s and 90s, who would have ever dreamed you might find yourself today, 50+ and facing a midlife crisis because you suddenly – and unexpectedly –  find yourself:

  • Financially challenged – OK, let’s really lay it out there: too broke to be able to contemplate near-term retirement
  • Fighting foreclosure and on the verge of homelessness
  • Scrambling to have a reliable job and affordable health insurance
  • Worried that no one loves you – and getting by without a sex life, too
  • Dogged by chronic illnesses including arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, type 2 diabetes, depression, sleep disorders, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and cancer
  • Feeling totally alone in the world

That’s certainly not the dream life you were counting on!

After all, when you dreamed of your future back in the day, you undoubtedly pictured yourself enjoying a delightful, robust and well-to-do standard of living; your vision perhaps fueled by the happy lifestyles portrayed in just about every laugh-track laden sit-com we watched on TV as we grew up.

Certainly that’s how Marcy Shimoff, once a self-described angst-filled  “unhappy camper,” envisioned her future life back as a young teen in the early 1970s…

She says she always imagined that as an adult she would undoubtedly:

  • Live in a beautiful house
  • Have a wonderful husband
  • Enjoy a great career
  • Be proud of her perfect body
  • Delight in a social life that was fun and exciting
  • Luxuriate in the fact that she was totally HAPPY!

To be sure, Marci adds, she was realistic enough to know that she:

  • Would have to work hard to get all her ducks in a row
  • Didn’t have any idea how she was going to achieve this fantastic life
  • Was currently filled with existential angst, and not a naturally happy person
  • Had a personal goal to become a professional speaker, striding the stages of the world, inspiring people to change their lives for the better

Now Let’s Digress For a Moment:

Think about it: If Marci’s fantasies are similar to yours, and given the current state of the economy, it’s no wonder that Rhea Becker, the Boston-based author of The Boomer Chronicles has recently been writing post after post dealing with that ubiquitous rite of passage known as “midlife crisis.”

Just in case you may have been wondering whether or not you have or are experiencing one, she offers a handy crisis checklist. According to Rhea:

You Might Be Having a Midlife Crisis if You Are:

  • No longer content with a life and/or lifestyle that may have provided you happiness for many years
  • Bored with things/people that have previously held great interest
  • Feeling adventurous  –  experiencing a desire to do something completely different
  • Frustrated and questioning the meaning of life, and the validity of decisions you made clearly and easily in past years
  • Confused about who you are or where your life is going

Hold On! Are Those Challenged Feelings You’re Currently Experiencing Truly Caused by a Crisis of Midlife?

Perhaps You Just Need to Turn Off the News and Give Yourself the Opportunity to Be Happy?

Realistically, everyone who reads or watches today’s news programs – with their incessant stories of crisis, war and economic meltdown – is living under a cloud of doom, trying to figure out how to deal with the current economy and its negative impact on your personal finances.

Which is why it is so fantastic that Marci Shimoff – yes the same Marci who was once an angst-filled and brooding teen – has just released the paperback version of her fantastic and transformational book, Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out, which was originally published in hard cover format a year ago.

Thankfully for Boomers Everywhere, Marci Got Her Act Together. She’s a Happy Camper These Days – And She Knows You Can Be As Well.

Buy Happy For No ReasonBetter yet, Marci’s written a book to  share with you what she’s learned: You ALREADY HAVE  everything that you need to allow you to be happy –  right here, right now.

You don’t need to hold out for:

  • A fulfilling career
  • A big bank account
  • Your perfect mate

Marci’s book, Happy for No Reason, brings you a breakthrough approach to being happy, one that doesn’t depend on achievements, goals, money, relationships, or anything else “out there.” No, she proves that true happiness must come from inside you…

  • Most books on happiness tell you to find the things that make you happy and do them more often. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you’ve tried it, you’ve probably figured that this can lead to addictive behaviors, and worse — it won’t give you the deep and lasting happiness you’re undoubtedly longing for — the kind you’ll never lose, no matter what happens in your life.
  • Marci’s book includes interviews with 100 people she calls her “Happy 100” – people she’s identified as people who are truly happy.
  • But beyond that, she’s interviewed a handful of leading experts in the fields of positive psychology and neurophysiology, giving the book a great blend of science AND personal stories.
  • The result is a powerful, proven  and life-changing 7-step program that incorporates all areas of your life.
    • Personal power
    • Mind
    • Heart
    • Body
    • Soul
    • Purpose
    • Relationships

Follow Marci’s 7 Step Program and you’ll become happier immediately — no matter where you are now, even if you’re unexpectedly finding yourself at the personal nadir. You know, you suddenly and unexpectedly find yourself feeling  “50, broke and single.”

The book begins by pointing out that each of us has a “happiness set-point” — a fixed range of happiness we tend to return to throughout our life — that’s approximately 50 percent genetic and 50 percent learned. Which is good news: it means that in the same way you’d crank up the thermostat to get comfortable on a chilly day, you can actually raise your happiness set-point! It goes on to give you specific steps to finding your own personal happiness.

Intrigued? Here’s Even Better News:

Now You Can Own a Paperback Copy of Happy for No Reason For a Mere $8.25, Instead of the $24.95 I Paid For MY Hard Cover Version! What Could Be More Fair and Fiscally Responsible Than That?!

Oh! Maybe You’d Like the Offer Sweetened with Presents? (You Know, Gifts with Purchase…)

That’s right, once you take action and order the book, there’s an extra reward: you can snag a boatload – as in more than $3,000 worth – of fantastic free gifts as a thank you for your highly intelligent purchase of this fantastic book.

Marci starts with a free audio course you can download, including these recordings and study guides:

“Happiness: From the Blues to Bliss” recording with Marci and award-winning actress, Mariel Hemingway.

“2009 Happy for No Reason Coaching Manual” plus free live group coaching session with Marci over the telephone.

“Eliminate the #1 Belief that Blocks Your Happiness” online session by Morty Lefkoe.

“The Passion Test” online session with personalized results to help you discover and live your passions.

“HeartMath De-Stress Kit” — a 15-page guide with helpful practices to manage stress during challenging times.

“Turn Happiness into Money” recording by Marci and CNBC wealth expert Phil Town

“Feng Shui for Happiness & Prosperity” recording by Feng Shui Master Marie Diamond

“Happiness Meditation” with Spring Forest Qigong Master Chunyi Lin

Not only that, but the link allows you to download more than $3000 worth of valuable additional gifts and bonus recordings from almost 200 top authors and thought leaders, who have come together to give you a wonderful, happiness-filled life of abundance and peace.

These authors include:

  • Jack Canfield
  • John Gray
  • Marianne Williamson
  • Deepak Chopra
  • Dr. Joe Vitale
  • Bob Proctor
  • Bill Bartman
  • Maria Carter
  • Dr. Joe Rubino
  • even celebs like Shirley MacLaine, Yakov Smirnoff and Richard Simmons!

Now That You Can Save Money While Learning to Be Happy, Don’t Just Take My Word That This Fabulous Book Can Change Your Life

Here are some quotes from other people whose names you may recognize:

  • “With Happy for No Reason, Marci Shimoff has hit a home run. This book presents a definitive, broad-based approach to becoming truly happy that combines great spiritual depth, top-notch research, and psychological practicality. I’m certain that if you follow the practices in her dazzling new book, you too will manifest a lifetime of happiness.” — from the Foreword by Jack Canfield, author of The Success Principles and co-creator of the bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul series
  • “You can’t depend on external circumstances for lasting happiness. It has to come from inside you. Based on scientific research and the experiences of truly happy people, Happy for No Reason shows you step-by-step how to raise your happiness set-point.” — Mehmet C. Oz, MD, coauthor of You: On a Diet and You: Staying Young
  • “Marci Shimoff is one of the most compelling people I’ve ever known. I’m happy she’s shared her wisdom with all of us in Happy for No Reason.” — Marianne Williamson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Return to Love
  • Happy for No Reason offers seven clear, powerful, and effective steps you can practice to be happier right now!” — John Gray, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus
  • “This book is a wonderful collection of techniques and examples, shared by people who have had one of the most important realizations I think we can have — that we already have within us the ability to live in a state of Happy for No Reason.” — Lindsay Wagner, Emmy Award-winning actress, The Bionic Woman
  • “Tremendous! Marci Shimoff has produced a book that is practical, inspiring, and accessible. Happy for No Reason gives readers powerful ways to become happier in all dimensions of life: body, mind, heart, soul, personal power, purpose, and relationships. It’s seven books holistically rolled into one.” — Stephen M. R. Covey, bestselling author of The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything

Still here? What are you waiting for? Your chance to achieve true Boomer Bliss awaits, don’t miss the boat! Click the link to order Happy for No Reason now, and comment to this post that you’ve ordered the book. I’ll reply with the link to where you can register for all the free goodies!

Are You Worried, Fearful the Recession Will Bust You? Don’t Just Wait for Obama. Why Not Motivate Yourself to Start a Business That Creates Your Own Economic Stimulus Plan?

Got Your Own Recession Busting Stimulus Plan?

My friend Kathy has been a motivated and highly successful Realtor in beautiful and historic Galena, Illinois – a community whose lifeblood is tourism –  a for about 30 years. Regularly one of the top selling agents in her MLS, she loves her work and has lived through boom times and bad with the knowledge that everyone needs to have a home. Hers has always been a business marked by sales awards and steady growth.

  • But, along with almost 100% of the Realtors in the country, she found 2008 to be a real financial challenge. With little or nothing she could personally do to turn things around.
  • Which is probably why she sent out Christmas cards this year featuring a photo her husband took of her with Barack Obama back in 2004, when he was in town, campaigning for the Illinois senate. (She’s what you’d call a long-term Obama fan.)
  • For the past year, her hopes have been that he’d win the presidency and turn the economy around – and that he could take action quickly enough to get people confidently buying real estate again.
  • Naturally, she’s delighted Obama’s presidency is off to the fast start the whole world has been praying for…

Financially, We’re Not Out of the Woods Yet, Of Course. This Recession is Just Too Deep to Turn Around in Less Than a Month.

Obama may be a man with a plan and a compelling vision of hope. But even Kathy knows he doesn’t have super-powers. Nor did he come equipped with a fairy godmother and a magic wand… And we still live in the real world. There’s still a lot of hard work – and painful decisions – ahead:

No Doubt That’s Why You’ve Heard President Obama’s Cautionary Soundbites On the News This Past Week:

  • “We are in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression”
  • “2009 will be tough”
  • “Things may get worse before they get better”
  • “We must take dramatic action now, with regard to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, the economic stimulus package, tax cuts…”

Meanwhile…

  • Back at the ranch
  • Over in your neck of the woods
  • Or wherever in the world you like to hang out

January – with its excitement of the new year and the inauguration – has segued into the chill of February. And the hot dragon breath of recession and economic crisis no doubt continues to flick at your ears, as:

  • More Americans filed for unemployment in January than at any time in the last 26 years
  • A recent New York Times editorial opined that there’s “no guarantee that today’s battered 401(k)’s will rebound powerfully. People close to retirement don’t have time for a do-over. Even for those still far from retirement, there’s no telling how stocks will perform in the future. “
  • Big companies around the globe continued to announce plans to lay off tens of thousands of workers. A quick analysis of world headlines finds the following major firms announcing personnel cutbacks:
    • Caterpillar (20,000)
    • Sprint Nextel (8,000)
    • Home Depot (7,000)
    • Boeing (10,000)
    • Macy’s (7,000 workers cut, plus they cut their quarterly divided, and said they’re integrating all divisions into a single unit, as they expect 2009 to remain very tough for retail)
    • Starbucks (announced plans to close 300 under-performing stores worldwide and lay off 6,700 workers, mostly in the US )
    • The anticipated Pfizer Wyeth merger (which will result in a net loss of 8,000 jobs)

As Ann Landers Used to Say, “It’s Time to “Wake Up and Smell the Coffee:”

The question you must now ask yourself is “What have YOU planned to do in 2009 to keep yourself financially solvent??”

In case you were too busy to take action earlier due to:

  • The year-end holidays
  • The election or
  • Your own personal financial implosions

You need to know this: It’s not TOO LATE for you to RESOLVE to spend 2009 focused on generating income via consistent activity related to your skill sets and your big ideas!

Especially if You’ve Recognized That 2009 is Not Just the Chinese “Year of the Ox,” But Probably Also the “Year You Must Become Self-employed.”

And why wouldn’t you be starting to realize this? Obama may be quickly putting solid plans in play, but you’ve been around the block a few times. You’ve heard all the cautionary talk, and you know you don’t have time on your side:

Most people agree that it’s going to take at least two years – possibly longer – to get our economy straightened out again.

And, as a Boomer, someone who might have had plans to retire in as few as two years, you know you’ve got to take action. You can’t just wait for the “man from the government, who’s here to help”  – even when he brings with him as much hope as Obama does…

With so much to do, and so little time, your first step has to be to resolve to get motivated to take some action – after you chart your own personal recovery and reinvestment plan!

>Not Sure If Now Really Is the Time to Start Your Dream Business?

The truth is, 2009 is the perfect year to start. Done right, the economy can actually help you break all kinds of records for a start-up business generating sales, revenue and profits. Which is why there has not been a better time in the last 70 years to go out and build a business. You know why?
Because everyone else is pulling back! That means, for instance, that ad rates are cheaper now, so it costs you less to find buyers – provided you have pinpointed the messaging that is going to resonate with your ideal prospects…. and you’re absolutely clear about where you’re going with your business, and how you’re going to get there.

What? You’re Panicked and Not Buying This Concept?

Well relax. Fear and panic won’t get you anywhere. But strategic planning accompanied by proper motivation will.

As proof, take a look at the front page of Advertising Age for January 26, 2009.  Hone in on the article that says, Marketing’s New Red-Hot Seller: Humble Snuggie”

  • You know what product they’re talking about: those slightly silly-looking  blankets with arms that have been advertised all over TV these last few months… You can probably recite the commercial from memory, so you know they come in 3 colors and you can get two of them –  plus two book lights – for $19.95 plus shipping and handling…
  • Turns out the manufacturer has sold 4 million of these quirky little blankets with sleeves in just over four months which represents just under $40 million in retail sales.
  • And the products are not only back-ordered, they’re flying out the door as fast as the company behind the idea can get their Chinese suppliers to crank them out…
  • Here’s how popular this item is:

    • Not only has Ellen DeGeneres jokingly worn one
    • Fox News actually honed in on a woman wearing one at Obama’s inauguration
    • And the product has inspired more than 200 parody videos on YouTube – as sure a sign of success as anything

    Now Think About It: Haven’t YOU – At Least Once or Twice – Had an Idea for a Product As Simple – and On Target – As This One?

    Thought so. Most people have. Problem is, too few take action to turn these personal flashes of genius into income-generating products.

    Now’s the time to review those great ideas you’ve shelved somewhere in the back of your head and dust off any that might fit a similar mold. That is, products that are easy to produce and fill a need.

    Especially if – like the Snuggie – they are product ideas that can help people in at least one of these four crucial ways:

    • Save money
    • Make money
    • Relieve pain, or
    • Do something they have to dono matter what the economy (except, of course, that you can show them how to do it better, faster, easier, with less trouble)

    Add to That the Concept of: Do What You Love And the Money Will Follow

    Whether you’ve been laid off, are anticipating that a layoff might happen to you later this year, or are simply trying to figure out how you’re going to be able to retire in a few years, now’s the time to take a clue from experts like Loral Langemeier and figure out how to make some additional money doing what you already know how to do. Especially if it’s something you love to do AND it fits the criteria listed above.

    • Just getting a new job isn’t going to do it for you right now.
    • Nor will panic and fear get you anywhere.
    • Your best option today,  no matter whether you’re “still employed but worried,” or just lost your job, is to start figuring out how you can generate some new money. Money that will allow you to recession-proof your income.

    But What If You Can’t Afford to Spend Money on a Great Business Coach to Help You Get Started?

    No doubt there’s a lot of work you’ll have to do to get your business off the ground. The fastest and quickest way to do this is to work with a counselor or coach.

    • But that takes money, which is something you’re no doubt short on right about now…
    • Your next best option, instead of hiring someone to coach you one-on-one,  is to find a reliable online coaching program that’s readily available and free.
    • Gina Gaudio-Graves has a great one: Take a look at her 30-Day IM Challenge. Luckily for you, the latest challenge is just about to start. You’d be smart to take a look at what she’s offering.

    The 30-Day IM Challenge is Packed With Hundreds of Pages of Solid Information – All Free – And Since It’s a Contest, There Are Even Prizes to Further Motivate You!

    According to Gina, the biggest problem people have with completing the challenge is staying motivated to keep up with all of the training. Of course, you can work your way through it slowly. But since your goal is to get yourself into a position where you are generating some new money as fast as possible, taking it slow isn’t the best option. Especially if you want to with the prize, which is a free one-year coaching program with Gina, worth over $5,000.

    Here’s something guaranteed to help you focus and stay motivated, so you can keep up with the 30-Day IM Challenge and win:

    It’s Gina’s fantastic Miracle Motivational Package.

    You owe it to yourself and your future to find out what’s included in this program. Especially since just reading Gina’s story will motivate you!

    Can you imagine:

    • A car accident ended her legal career
    • Doctors gave her 12 months to live
    • When doctors said there was no hope – she used motivational techniques – which she shares with you – to save her life. She not only overcame her paralysis, learn to walk again, and figure out how to pay for $9 million in medical bills –
    • She also dedicated her life to helping one million people learn how to live the life of their dreams

    Discover How Gina Turned Her Life Around – And How You Can, Too!

    • Learn to motivate yourself to overcome everything that’s dragging you down right now, including this recession and your current financial frustrations!
    • Grab her Miracle Motivational Package today.
    • And don’t forget to sign up for the upcoming 30-Day IM Challenge!

    One month from now – when everyone else is moaning about how the recession has only gotten worse – you’ll be so glad you did!!

    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 marchforequalrights@gmail.com
    • 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 Amazon.com.

    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?

    Have You Ever Seriously Considered the “Expat Lifestyle” – You Know, Daydreamed of What It Might Be Like to Live, Work Or Perhaps Actually Retire Overseas?

    Wonder What It Takes To Retire Overseas? Yes You Can!

    Do You Sometimes Have the Feeling That You Really Need to “Get Away From It All,” As In Take a Break From the World As You Currently Know It?

    You know: you aren’t just dreaming of taking an extended vacation to some exotic locale, but you actually find yourself fantasizing about what it might be like to take up permanent – or semi-permanent – residence in another country? 

    Like that couple you might have recently read about, who decided to escape the rat race and retire abroad before they were even 40: They sold everything they owned, raised $500,000 and moved to an island in the Caribbean, where they’ve been “living happily ever” after for the last 18 years… and living like royalty, to boot! 

    Perhaps you, too, have wondered what it might be like to retire overseas: to trade in your expensive, traffic-clogged life for a quieter, more affordable one. 

    • Maybe you’ve imagined yourself on on a verdant, mountainous Caribbean island where you might find lush views out every window and sand crabs meandering across the roads.
    • Then again, maybe you’ve seen yourself in somewhat more urban surroundings, perhaps dining on a fabulous three-course dinner with abundant wine, while attentive waiters linger nearby awaiting your next request. Could this be Paris? Or maybe you’re in Buenos Aires?
    • Or perhaps you were so taken by the exotic scenery in the “Lord of the Rings” movies, that you like to imagine yourself riding horseback in the wilds of New Zealand?

    No matter which is your dream, your getaway vision always involves somehow transporting yourself to entirely new and exotic surroundings:

    • Sort of like Hemingway did decades ago, when he moved his authoring operations to Spain, land of bullfighting and sport fishing.  
    • Or maybe like what the Danish author, Isak Dinesen, did when she moved to Africa. (Remember, her story, chronicled in “Out of Africa,” begins: I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills…”   (What Boomer woman doesn’t remember the scene in the movie where Robert Redford helps Meryl Streep shampoo her hair while they’re out on safari… )
    • Then again, maybe your vision is more like that of poet, cook and travel writer Frances Mayes, the real-life person whose story of buying a house in a foreign country was so well portrayed by Diane Lane in the movie, Under the Tuscan Sun. 

    Keep Reading If You’ve Ever Screamed, “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off.”

    Moving – or even retiring – overseas is no longer a radical notion. More and more, Baby Boomers are looking into retiring offshore in an effort the get the most from their retirement dollars, while having the adventure of a lifetime.  Actually, Americans are choosing to emigrate for a variety of excellent reasons:

    • Adventure – what’s more adventurous than leaving behind life as you know it for a new one in an exotic locale?
    • A better climate – maybe you’ve had it with snow shovels, now you’re looking for unending days and nights of temperate tropical breezes
    • Lower cost of living – your retirement savings can afford you a better lifestyle than you would be able to achieve in the US
    • Financial freedom – a way to sidestep recession. Living offshore can mean you can “retire rich” on a middle class budget, never outlive your nestegg
    • Investment opportunities  – an opportunity to grow your investments tax-free or tax-deferred
    • Healthier lifestyle – a way to live better, healthier, and with less stress

    Of course, Boomers aren’t just dreaming of basking in the sun on those beaches of the world: we’re talking “retirement” in loose terms here. Let’s focus on how you might have imagined yourself living very affordably overseas while you generated a nice side income for yourself by doing something you love, like:

    • Running a small restaurant on the beach
    • Operating a beachside dive shop, renting out your yacht while you and your spouse serve as crew or giving surfing lessons
    • Exporting local handicrafts back to the US or elsewhere
    • Working long distance for your current US employer
    • Running your own company, via your mobile “laptop office”

    Which Countries Offer the Best Living and Investment Options for Potential Expats? 

    The fact is, thousands of Baby Boomers are finding themselves dreaming of living a life of retired splendor in another country — and many of them are doing more than just dreaming about what it might be like to retire abroad – they’re actually taking action. You’ve probably even had friends who spoke to you in glowing terms about the benefits of retiring permanently in an exotic-sounding county like:

    • Argentina – Think European-style living at a fraction of the cost
    • Croatia – Sun-kissed islands, great sailing, temperate climate: The best of traditional Europe…Non-traditional prices
    • Dominican Republic – An extremely affordable Caribbean lifestyle, and several large expat communities
    • Italy – Tuscany may be calling, but if you’re American, Canadian or Australian, you don’t have the right to work or live in Italy. So this one is a tougher call
    • Malaysia – If you ever considered Asia, it’s easy to buy property here and they have a “Malaysia My Second Home” program for expats
    • New Zealand – Tight immigration laws, wide range of climates, but English-speaking, and oh! the scenery
    • Nicaragua- Stunning natural surroundings and more afforable than Costa Rica 
    • Panama – Many expats say the this is still the world’s best retirement option. Find out why – and if you agree
    • Poland– Great scenery, growing economy, newer member of the EU, tourism is rising, and there’s a lot of foreign investment
    • The Philippines – Another great Asian opportunity with the economy recovering well, but land ownership laws aren’t as welcoming
    • Uruguay – Some say moving here is like rediscovering the good life of 1950s small town America

    Then again, maybe you were wowed by the scenery when you watched the recent Olympics and you’re thinking of moving to China. Obviously, an emerging superpower, China is expected to become the world’s largest exporter by 2010, so there are great investment opportunities here.

    More potential financial opportunity comes from their growing tourist economy. Maybe you imagine yourself setting up shop as a travel writer, photographer, importer or consultant

    Of course, since it’s still a Communist country you can’t own Chinese real estate outright; but you can buy a 70-year leasehold option on property.

    Most likely you’ll agree this country has to be categorized as an opportunity only the most adventurous will choose! 
     

    Look Before You Leap: Doing Your Research

    Obviously there’s a world of exciting options out there – literally something for everyone. But whatever your reasons for leaving your current lifestyle behind, it’s always best to investigate as much as possible in advance.

    Before you sell your home and kiss the grandkids goodbye, you need to do your homework. You absolutely must learn everything you can about the countries you’re interested in.

    Experts advise the best thing to do is start with research, and then visit the country you’re interested in several times as a tourist, ideally visiting during different seasons of the year.

    These Are Probably the Most Crucial Topics You Need to Research:

    • Climate
    • Crime
    • Cost of living
    • Healthcare
    • Insurance
    • Taxes
    • Residency requirements
    • Visa and other documentation requirements
    • Local laws regarding work and foreign property ownership
    • Rules regarding taking your important “stuff” with you: furniture, cars, PETS

    How-To Advice to Retire Overseas From Someone Who Actually Did It 

    Jacqueline D. Brown, who currently has a show on public access TV in Los Angeles called “Southern Latitudes,” dreamed of living on a tropical island, and moved to the Fiji Islands for a year that turned into five. Prior to that, she lived in South Korea for a couple of years, teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). 

    On her return to the US, many people asked her how she did it: How was she able to give up everything and move to a place she barely knew?  To answer, she drew up the following her list of ten steps you must take before you decide to move abroad, no matter where you want to go:

    10 Steps To Move Abroad, Wherever You Wish to Go:

    1. Ask yourself, whether or not this something you really want to or can do? Talk is cheap. Can you really give up your friends and move thousands of miles away to a place where there’s limited television and yours is the only cell phone around?
    2. Pick a place. It’s important to choose the right place. If you’ve always wanted an ocean view, this is your chance. Or if only the hustle and bustle of city life satisfies you, expect to find it only on a smaller, more manageable scale. Be honest with yourself about what you want. Do your research.
    3. Decide on a moving date. It’s best to have a definite date for your move. This way you are working toward a goal that is realistic and tangible.
    4. Determine how you are going. If you just can’t leave your things behind, renting a container on a freighter is best. You can accompany your things or fly days later when they are expected to arrive.
    5. Do your research. Contact the tourist board or embassy to ascertain residency requirements. Currently in Fiji, you can only stay as a tourist for 90 days but can return the next day for 90 more. Do you need a Visa? Start the process three to six months before you go.
    6. Simplify your life. Clean out your closets and give away or sell things you don’t need or can get there. If you plan to work, take original diplomas. I had a copy of mine but that was unacceptable when I was offered a teaching position.
    7. Maintain your health. Depending on where you are going, the medicine and dental care may not be what you are used to. Get a complete physical, your needed shots, and a dental checkup. Do you have enough medicine? Take enough to last until you find a doctor. Can you order medicines online?
    8. Use the Internet. Here you can find land or houses for sale. Also, if you read the local newspaper online, you can get a feel for the place: food cost, apartment rent, weather. The State Department’s web site will tell you if there are any warnings or problems in the area.
    9. Cut emotional ties. It’s said that if you can make it past the first six months in a foreign country, you will probably stay. After the newness and excitement wears off and reality sets in you’ll find yourself alone without family or friends. This is now your home. You can’t click open your cell phone and call back to your former home every day. My relatives and friends cried when I was leaving for the airport. But I had made up my mind. Although I would miss them, I wanted a new life, a new adventure. Once settled in your new home get to know your neighbors. Hang out with expats also. You’ll appreciate talking to someone with a similar background who will understand what you are saying without your having to give a long explanation.
    10. Make a checklist. Make a list of everything you are selling and everything you are taking, including your tickets and passport. As each thing is done, check it off. I made a list of things I was selling: furniture, appliances, books, some clothes. I took the list to work, made copies, and passed it around. My co-workers picked what they wanted and put it on layaway with me. Just before I left, they paid and picked up their goods.

    Some Good Online Resources to Help You Get Your Research Started Are:

    Fascinated By the Possibilities in What You’re Reading?

    Look for another post on living the expatriate lifestyle coming soon. There’s just too much to cover in just one post! 

    Next up:

    • How hard it sit to take your car? What about moving your furniture?
    • How long does it take to get the necessary visas?
    • How do you handle prescriptions and health insurance?
    • Can you really do this?

    “Joe the Plumber” Isn’t the Only Entrepreneurial Wannabe: Haven’t You Wondered Whether You Could Successfully Fund Your Retirement by Starting Your Own Small Business?

    Small Business Owner Wannabe? Yes You Can!

    If you watched the third and final presidential debate earlier this week, you heard both candidates talking abut how their economic development and tax plans would benefit Joe Wurzelbacher, aka “Joe the Plumber,” a Toledo, Ohio man who’s considering buying the plumbing business where he currently works – for somewhere between $250,000 and $280,000.

    Both candidates attempted to make the case that their plans for taxation and business development would benefit more Americans. Who won the debate – and the hearts and minds of Americans – will be determined in mere weeks now. But that isn’t the main point of this post: Helping you decide whether or not to buy or start your own small business is.

    See, “Joe the Plumber” Is Not the Only Baby Boomer Considering the Entrepreneurial American Dream of Business Ownership. Likely You Are, Too!

    For many Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, the concept of retirement has a very different meaning than it did a generation ago. Many of you are looking into starting your own business to support your retirement – or semi-retirement. Actually what some people are starting to refer to as “unretirement.” And why not?

    After all, several recent studies indicate that roughly 63% of non-retired adults in the United States plan to work into the time periond that used to be called retirement. Why? Your reasons may be different, but here are some popular ones:

    • Two-thirds of you say your key reason is that you enjoy your work and you want to stay mentally engaged
    • About half of you have a concern over not having enough money to cover your basic living expenses once you are old enough to collect Social Security
    • The current economy has left many of you with decimated home values, mountains of bills, and vanishing 401(K)’s
    • Only 28% of you report confidence in your ability to pay for projected medical costs – especially since many of you won’t have health insurance after you retire -and you can easily expect to live another 20 to 30 years

    On the Plus Side You Can’t Ignore the Very Real Benefits Of:

    • Your years of valuable work experience
    • Your maturity and judgement
    • Your health and vitality

    Actually, There Are as Many Reasons for Starting a Small Business as There are Americans Reaching Retirement Age

    At the very least you have to consider:

    • Corporate layoffs
    • The need to supplement your current income
    • Your desire for a more flexible lifestyle
    • Your recognition that advancing technology has leveled the playing field for many small businesses
    • The very real opportunity to realize your personal ambition to be the boss and reap the rewards

    It All Adds Up: More and More Boomers Find Financial and Personal Fulfillment in Running Your Own Small Business.

    “[Boomers] stand at the portal of advancing age more driven by their desire to stay engaged with achievements and family relationships than by the value of their portfolio,” says Carol Orsborn, an author and expert on marketing to Baby Boomers. Here are some other relevant facts:

    • A study by Merrill Lynch and Harris Interactive found that 45% of Americans approaching retirement never plan to completely stop working
    • You can often deduct some of your health insurance premiums from taxes if you’re self employed and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) offer more savings.
    • Americans over the age of 50 make up a disproportionate share of the self-employed workforce, about 40 percent compared to 25 percent of the overall workforce according to a 2002 AARP study
    • Americans in their 40s and 50s expect to “retire” at age 61 but will continue to work until around age 70 according to Merrill Lynch and Harris Interactive. During these 9 years, many of you believe the ideal work arrangement is to “cycle” between periods of work and leisure (42%). And only 17% of you hope to never work for pay again
    • The top-10 most popular franchising industries according to a report in USA Today are: fast food, service, restaurants, building and construction, business services, retail, automotive, maintenance, food retail, and lodging
    • A new franchised business opens up in the United States every 8 minutes, according to Price Waterhouse Coopers.  Average initial investment is $250,000
    • Only 37% of the Boomer generation indicated that earning money was an important reason to keep working according to Merrill Lynch and Harris Interactive.  67% thought challenge and mental stimulation would motivate them to continue to work. The same study found that of Boomers who plan to continue work, nearly two-thirds want to pursue a different line of work.
    • The number of franchised business in the US has grown to 850,000 from 760,000 in the past six years according to an International Franchise Association report. The number of “franchise concepts” has grown to 2,500 from 900 in 3 years
    • 75 industries use franchising to distribute goods and services according to Price Waterhouse Coopers

    Undoubtedly it’s facts like these that led the US Small Business Administration (SBA) to unveil a new section of their web site earlier this month, aimed directly at you, the country’s most rapidly expanding group of entrepreneurs.

    The new Small Business oriented site is designed for you if you are a 50-plus entrepreneur seeking information on starting, growing and expanding a small business.

    “The SBA is working hard to increase opportunities for small businesses of the Baby Boomer generation at every stage of their business development through better technology tools and effective services through the agency’s district offices and resource partners,” said SBA Acting Administrator Sandy Baruah in a statement. “We believe 50-plus entrepreneurs will drive significant new business growth in the coming years.”

    The new site has been designed to help you evaluate the pros and cons of business ownership after age 50 and provides advice on how to treat different phases of business growth. It includes a series of free online course on topics like:

    • Small Business Primer: Guide to Starting a Business
    • How to Prepare a Business Plan
    • How to Start a Business on a Shoestring Budget (Trump University)
    • Franchising Basics
    • Technology 101: A Small Business Guide

    In addition you’ll find:

    • A tool to you measure your business readiness
    • Information on borrowing and credit
    • Encouraging success stories from other Baby Boomer small business owners

    There’s Also a Section Called “Bootstrapping Basics” That Offers Training Tools Such As “Traits of the Successful Entrepreneur”

    Here, you learn that:

    • Just as not every idea is well suited for a shoestring start-up, not every person is well suited to be a bootstrapping entrepreneur
    • “When it comes to starting a business on a shoestring budget, two of these traits are especially important. An entrepreneur must be passionate about his start-up business. It can be long time before you really start reaping the rewards of your business, and it can be easy to let other endeavors distract you. Your passion is what will keep you focused on moving your idea forward
    • “Too much caution can stand in the way of a successful start-up.”
    • A bootstrapping entrepreneur must also be something of a risk taker. You must be willing to experiment. If the first thing you try isn’t working, you have to be able redirect your efforts and try another approach.”
    • “Successful entrepreneurs share some common traits that help them meet the particular challenges starting a business puts before them. They include:
      • Passion
      • Tenacity
      • Persistence
      • Self-reliance
      • Risk-taking
      • Focus
      • Curiousity

    The SBA’s Self-Paced Training for 50-Plus Entrepreneurs Is A Good Idea, But It Lacks Passion – and a Mechanism to Keep Your Focused and Moving Forward.

    If you’re serious about building as business to support your retirement there is no time to waste. You need to get started now, and you need to get training from a reliable resource which will keep you focused and moving forward with passion.

    In my opinion, you’ll be much farther along in your business development efforts one month from now if you work with Gina Gaudio-Grave’s program, The 30-day IM Challenge instead of using the SBA’s self-paced training.

    What Have You Got to Lose? It’s Priced Right, and A Stronger Program

    In the past I’ve recommended Gina Gaudio-Graves free 30-Day IM Challenge program and I stand behind that recommendation. Also free, it gives you all the knowledge you need to succeed with your own business, whether you decide to go home-based or not.

    In Addition to the 750+ Pages of Training, Plus Recordings and Videos, the 30 Day IM Challenge Gives You Weekly Group Phone Calls and an In-depth Forum, Where You Can Ask Questions of Gina’s Apprentices, Who Are All Successful Graduates of the 30-Day IM Challenge.

    So, if you’re considering starting a small business to supplement your retirement income,  the only questions still left for you to answer are:

    • Do you want to succeed?
    • Do you have what it takes to own your own successful business?
    • If not, are you willing to work hard to acquire it?
    • Are you ready to launch yourself into prosperity despite the gloomy economy?
    • Or would you rather stick your head in the sand and wait until things are “easier.”

    If you opt for the last option, keep in mind that while you wait your chances for enjoying a comfortable retirement will be steadily shrinking…

    “Joe the Plumber” is not waiting. Don’t you hold off either!

    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

    Real Boomer Women Not Offended By Media Uproar Over “Putting Lipstick on a Pig.” But Isn’t It True You’d Rather Spend Your Time “Wearing” Lipstick and Riding Your “Hog?”

    September 12, 2008 by  
    Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Politics, Travel & Leisure

    Lipstick and a HOG

    OK, You Asked to Get to the Bottom of This Latest Campaign Silliness So You Can Move On. Here You Go:

    According to “Media Matters for Media,” a Web-based, not-for-profit research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media, here’s what really brought about the US presidential campaign’s latest dither, the outrageous “putting lipstick on a pig” brouhaha:

    • First “The Boston Globe reported that former acting Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift “led the Republican charge” that Sen. Barack Obama’s “lipstick” comment regarding Sen. John McCain’s policies was ‘an echo of [Gov. Sarah] Palin’s joke during her convention speech.’
    • “But Swift did more than charge that Obama’s statement was “an echo” of Palin’s joke; she actually accused Obama of calling Palin a pig.
    • She “directed media traffic” by opining that, “It was a comment that obviously people in the audience and the press interpreted to be directed at Governor Palin. I interpreted it that way. I found it offensive.”
    • “Then the next day, during an interview with MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell, Swift backtracked from that accusation.
    • Unfortunatley for you who don’t have time to waste on trivialities, “The Globe reported neither the direct accusation nor the backtrack.” And the story grew huge, as the campaign and the media once again attempted to create inflammatory news rather than report truth.
    • In the interest of truth: Swift is a national member of the McCain campaign’s recently announced “Palin Truth Squad” – set up to counter attacks on Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
    • No wonder the Public Relations Society of America issued a media advisory, calling on both the McCain and Obama campaigns to commit to the highest standards of ethical practice in every facet of their campaign communications.

    It was sort of like watching an episode of Seinfeld, much ado about “nothing”…  Except that the McCain machine engineered the media,  to make you think you were watching breaking news instead of wasting your time over “nothing.” Don’t you hate finding out you’ve been manipulated?

    Now, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, and don’t really know the long political history of the infamous “putting lipstick on a pig” phrase, you can refer to our own glossary definition of putting lipstick on a pig, which reports that it is a “term used by many, generally in reference to someone who may be trying to make something or someone look appealing or attractive when it quite clearly will not work, or will only deceive the dumbest of people.”

    And of course, Boomer voters are not dumb, so in the end, the effort didn’t work any better than the earlier and equally ill-conceived “Obama is a Muslim” plan….

    But to finally put this story to rest, let’s remember what Barack Obama told David Letterman:
    If I had meant my “lipstick on a pig” remarks about Sarah Palin, she’d actually be the lipstick… not the pig.”

    Have You, Like Other Boomers, Had Enough with the Spin, Fluff, Innuendo, Incomplete Information, Character Assassination, Unchallenged Reporting of Falsehoods – And Outright Lies That This Presidential Campaign Has Become?

    Likely you have. After all, since McCain announced Palin as his running mate, we’ve been subjected to all kinds of silly and sexist media posturing:

    • First there was the obvious spin: “Women want to be her and men want to mate with her,” opined Donny Deutsch on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street”
    • While in an interview with Newsweek, Harvard Business School’s John Quelch said that he thinks of Barack Obama as a new Prius and John McCain as an “old Ford F-150.” Then told Ad Age That McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin was a “good brand extension,” likening it to “putting a red Chevy Camaro in the garage next to his truck.”
    • And later in that same Ad Age article, Bill Hillsman, Chief Creative Officer at Minneapolis’ North Woods Advertising agency said, “Palin for VP may be the best news for the snowmobile industry in the past five years,” adding that her presence on the ticket may induce the “boys with toys” market segment – those independent male voters, outdoorsman who are fishers, campers, hunters and who own 4WD trucks, ATV’s, boats, jet skis, etc., to vote Republican
    • And just before the “lipstick” got smeared, you started reading about Sarah Palin as a fashion statement, with discusisons of her red shoes and frameless eyeglasses, not to mention all the other “news” relating to her fishing, hunting and parenting skills.
    • Yet for weeks, no “solid meat” — Not much real substance had emerged about Palin’s political viewpoints.

    Instead of All These References in Terms of “Boys and Their Toys,” Perhaps it is Time to Consider How the “Boomer Girls with Toys” will Respond?

    You know: The real-life Boomer women who’d rather wear lipstick and ride hogs than concern themselves with lipsticked pigs. As in women owners of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. What? You didn’t know one in every ten Harley owners is a woman? The company certainly does. That’s why:

    • Their website has a special women riders section, and why the various H.O.G. (Harley Owner Group) clubs offer special events for women, as well.
    • One of the big events at this year’s huge Harley-Davidson’s huge 105th Anniversary Celebration was a women’s ride, in which 300 women grabbed the throttle and paraded through the streets.
    • And why one of the riders, Wisconsin State Senator Mary Lazich, commented, “There’s nothing more relaxing, and nothing more fun than riding; and riding with women.”

     

    Shattering More Stereotypes

    You’ve no doubt come to understand that today’s Harley owner is more likely to be a surgeon, a Web site developer or advertising agency art director than a rebel without a cause.

    Likely you’ve seen enough Harley riders out enjoying weekend getaways at antique stores and resorts to realize that the typical Harley owner is a married, 44-year-old college graduate with a household income of $70,000.

    But perhaps you hadn’t realized how many Harley owners are women.

    Regardless, everyone knows Harley-Davidson stands for no-nonsense, for “macho.” It’s as much a part of the world’s image of America as Levi’s, McDonald’s or Coca-Cola. After all, a Harley-Davidson is more than just a motorcycle. It’s:

    • An Obsession
    • Something to Believe in
    • An exhilerating way to Escapethe trivialities of mundane life

    Here are some interesting resources about women who own and ride Harleys:

    It is fitting that Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Harley Davidson’s huge 105th Anniversary Celebration took place August 27th -30th, this year: Sandwiched, timewise, right in between the Denver hosted Democratic National Convention (August 25th-28th) and the RNC party in Minneapolis, which took place September 1st through 4th.

    Maybe the candidates should have spent more time in Milwaukee? After all, Wisconsin is going to be a highly contested state….

    Meanwhile, in order to regain your sanity, Boomer Lifestyle suggests that Boomer Women ignore the meaningless soundbites from both campaigns and the media:  Instead, brighten up your lips and go out and enjoy the fall colors — on a HOG, if you’ve got one.

    Maybe if women voters ignore them long enough, the campaigns will return to discussions about issues of substance by the time the autumn leaves have fallen.

    After all, the fall leaf shows won’t keep, but after the leaves fall, there will still be plenty of time for political debate before the November election.

    Ride On, Ladies!