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Boomers: How Is Your Ship Surviving Our Current Sea of Economic Stress? Are You Looking for a New Job, Moving In With Family, Planning an Expat Lifestyle? Or Sailing Ahead?

Has Economic Stress Beached Your Plans?

“Ahoy There,” “Hola,” “Aloha” and “Permission to Come Aboard,” Fellow Baby Boomers!

All apologies for the fact that this blog has been “beached” for a couple of months now. The good news is, we’re about to set sail again!

Hopefully You Didn’t Think We’d Gone “Off the Radar.” Or Fallen Off the Face of the Earth…

Actually, the state of the “Boomer Lifestyle” blog ship is sound and all aboard are well! Fact is, we have been off exploring, seeking ways to better serve you.

The good news is that despite months of news stories telling you of the world’s challenges related to huge global economic stress,  there’s been lots of great stuff floating through the blogosphere, as well as the world at large, and we’ve been busy checking it out on your behalf…

Here’s how you can help assure that we’re providing you with EXACTLY what you need to continue to succeed in these turbulent economic times:

Take the Boomer Lifestyle Poll: It’s Both Quick and Painless

Historically, Boomers have had it good financially for quite awhile now. So we’d love to know how you feel you’ve been handling our country’s current levels of economic stress.  We thought we’d ask you — which is why we’ve developed our poll.

It’s just one quick question with multiple choice answers, so it will take you mere seconds to answer. The simple question is:

“As a Baby Boomer nearing retirement age, how has our recent global economic downturn affected your future life and plans?”

The potential responses ranging from the most positive  to the most stressed.

Specifically, you can vote for any one of the options noted below.

(NOTE: The parenthetical comments aren’t part of the official poll responses, they’re just here to focus and augment your thinking as to whether that point is your preferred response) :

  • No change, life is great, thank you very much. (Everything is on target for retirement as planned, and we’re looking forward to years of smooth sailing and great adventures.)
  • I can’t afford to retire, will have to keep working for the foreseeable future. (And you’re saying, “Damn, working until I die sure wasn’t what I had planned as the capstone of my career.”)
  • I’m currently looking for a second job. (If you’re selecting this answer perhaps you’ve heard that there’s a growing market for Baby Boomers as temporary hires, due to the experience Boomers can bring to the table…)
  • I am giving serious thought to retiring abroad. (If you’re thinking of living the expat lifestyle, you’re probably aware that the cost of living is often less, and those who’re doing it tell you that in certain countries it’s possible for you to live well on just your social security check. But you need to know WHERE those places are…)
  • I’m starting a new online business, to recoup our lost funds. (Perhaps your plan is develop your own economic stimulus package by writing a book based on your life knowledge, and market it online. If so, you’ll want to read the great post we have coming up on that topic!)
  • I’m starting a new offline business to recoup our lost funds. (Self-employment is a solid option, but you’ll want to invest in a business coach or other support system. After all, there’s no time left for mistakes…)
  • I’m moving in with my kids to help save money all around. (You’re thinking that this is what your parents and grandparents  did during the Great Depression, and it worked for them.)
  • I’m paralyzed with fear, don’t know where to turn. (You may not realize that you’re having trouble handling the stress. But if you’re eating poorly, napping excessively, drinking or smoking more than usual, or having trouble sleeping, these are warning signs you need to address. In order to get your ship afloat again, you might want to get some help with learning relaxation techniques, adopting a healthy mindset and developing stress management skills.)

Don’t Wait! You Only Have Until June 12th 2009 to Cast Your Vote.

All you need to do is click on the link below, to quickly send your answer to this single question survey.

This is not a test, it’s  a survey. Which means there is no one right answer. It’s simply an attempt to (albeit unscientifically) take the pulse of Boomer Lifestyle readers, to find out how you’re handling the financial challenges the current economy brings us.

The options you’ll find for your response are based on solutions we’re hearing about by watching the media, and reading your stories online. We know that each of the responses represents a percentage of you – we just don’t know — YET — how many of you have opted for each of these solutions. But after June 12th, we’ll tally up the responses and write a blog post analyzing your responses.

Should be quite interesting…

Of Course, We’d Love to Hear From You, Personally.

It’d Be Fantastic If You’d Share Your Story With Our Readers

If you’re game, feel free to post a comment here on the blog, telling your story… We’d especially love to hear any personal stories you’d like to share.

But Don’t Forget to Vote! Now!!

Here’s where to click to participate in the poll’s single question:

Please click to vote

What’s Next?

Once your vote and the others we receive are tallied, we’ll  post our findings.

Early poll returns show 60% of you selecting the “paralyzed with fear” option, which is distressing. But perhaps not surprising. It’s early yet in this recession, and people are still finding their way out of it…

We Have Posts in the Works on Solutions to Assure You Continue to Enjoy a Vibrant Boomer Lifestyle.

They include topics like:

  • How to write a book based on your life experience and knowledge  – and better yet – how to market it successfully
  • What to look for in selecting a foreign country as your future residence – full or part time
  • How to market yourself so that you can find a job without being penalized for your age
  • How why and when to start and operate a (profitable) online business
  • How to make money from a hobby business
  • And loads more of the lifestyle posts you love, on topics like healthy living despite health challenges, vacationing with your grandchildren, helping a parent coping with Alzheimers, dating, recipes and Boomer fun. Even a fun and entertaining post on creative trends in Boomer funeral planning. (Really!)

You know, this is all great stuff you’ll want to read as soon as it’s posted. Why not subscribe to our RSS feed, or go to the top of this page to sign up for our email list, to assure that you don’t miss a single post!

Stay cool! The tide’s rising to meet you!

Good Gravy! If Comfort Foods Can Make the Most Nerve-Wracked Day Seem Happier, Should You Learn to Make Healthier Versions? Or Does That Defeat the Purpose?

October 25, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Food & Recipes

Do Comfort Foods Really Reduce Stress?

Given the Major Tension and Trauma In the World Lately, You’ve a Lot Of “Heavy Stuff”  Weighing You Down. Perhaps You’re Stressing Over Your:

  • Decimated stock portfolio, recently failed 401(K) and the uncertain economy  
  • Impression that the war has been going on forever and is costing our nation too much
  • Frustration with the lying attacks in this interminably long presidential campaign 
  • Worries over skyrocketing food and energy costs – high gas costs this summer, but now there’s your next unknown: the expense of heating your home this winter – and/or even how you’ll be affording the big holiday meal
  • Concern over how you’re going to get through the coming holidays – financially, emotionally – or both
  • Real fear that you really ought to have that lump (or sore spot) checked out… you worry that it might be really BAD NEWS
  • Trepidation over your parents’ failing health and your suspicion that you’ll soon be approaching the time where current arrangements must change
  •  Parental concern over the fact that your daughter just lost her job and her husband’s serving overseas – you’re worrying over whether she and the kids will have to move in with you? 

That’s A Lot of Stress You’re Carrying Around With You! Especially Since You Can’t Immediately Resolve Most of Those Problems! 

No wonder you’re looking for some way to ease your feelings of frustration, and make yourself feel better. 

  • After all, you can make a plan for:
    • How you’re going to approach rebuilding your challenged finances and retirement plan 
    • How to get along with the squabbling relatives over the holidays
    • How much to spend on all those holiday gifts
    • Seeing your health care provider to be tested or get the worrisome lump/sore spot examined
  • And you can even come up with an effective strategy to allow you to afford your utility bills this winter, though it may involve wearing layers and setting up a long term payment plan
  • With regard to your worries over your parents, your children and grandchildren, you don’t have to solve those problems alone. You’ll have to work that out together – perhaps with some outside assistance
  • As for the election, well, it will be over soon. Then you’ll just have to wait out the time until the new regime takes over

But All of This Strategizing Takes Time & Effort – And You Pay With a Toll on Your Soul.

Beyond that, you have to realize that you are never totally in control.

This is no doubt why, in challenging times all humans seek outlets for stress… We’re looking for comfort AND something we have the ability to control:

  • Some people turn to drink
  • Some to sex (think David Duchovny and this “sex addict” thing)
  • There are those who find solace in just sitting there doing nothing (or maybe watching way too much television?)
  • Others immerse themselves in solitary games, like online Scrabble, or hide out from the world for awhile (My grandfather would confine himself to the basement, where he slept away whole days on an uncomfortable army cot. But when he emerged, he was ready to take on the world again!)
  • A lot of people become workout or exercise fanatics
  • Some people try gambling
  • But the number one choice for dealing with your stress: eating your favorite comfort foods

Mmmmm. Comfort Foods.

Sometimes Just Saying the Names of Your Favorite Comfort Foods – or Just Thinking About How Wonderful They Would Taste – Can Be All the Soul-soothing You Need. Other Times, You Really Need to Chew and Taste the Food… 

With regard to the comfort you can derive from imagining comfort foods, here’s a story you might relate to: Back when I was in high school, I and a group of friends spent the tumultuous “Summer of 69” (also known as the “Summer of Love” and the summer man first walked on the moon) far away from home, studying in Europe.

  • We enjoyed the trip and the cultural experiences, and gamely ate the meals we were served – both at the school cafeteria and in the local bistros. But we often found ourselves intensely hungry for the comfort foods of our homeland.  
  • We’d get a bunch of us together in someone’s dorm room, and do a round-robin, where we talked about what we most missed and took turns reverently saying the names of the favorite comfort foods we were most looking forward to diving into on our return home. Maybe you did a similar thing when you were away at camp, college, or the serving with the military. I suspect we weren’t unique in our lust for the familiar in the midst of uncertainty.
  • Anyway, we discovered that just reverently saying the names of our favorite foods and fantasizing about which one we would eat first, once we got back home, was actually very soothing.

The ever-evolving list we came up with looked something like the one below. So if you’re questioning the benefits of dining via your imagination, feel free to run through the list below and try out the “fantasizing method” for yourself. It’s quick – and very low-calorie:

  • Mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Spaghetti and meatballs
  • Chicken and dumplings
  • Tuna noodle casserole
  • Rice pudding
  • Chicken a la King
  • Pot roast with plenty of rich fragrant homemade gravy to ladle over cooked carrots, potatoes and other vegetables
  • Bacon cheeseburgers
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Lasagna
  • Beef stroganoff served with noodles
  • Cream of tomato soup with gooey grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Meatloaf and baked potatoes
  • Chocolate cake with thick fudge frosting
  • Scalloped potatoes and ham
  • Warm, melty chocolate chip cookies and milk
  • Hot fudge sundaes made with rich French vanilla ice cream, plenty of thick, rich fudge and toasted pecans
  • Warm apple pie with cinnamon ice cream

Feeling Better Now? If Not, Then It’s Time to Get Cooking for Real…

Pick Out Your Favorite Comfort Food and Make It Right Now. How About Putting a Really Good Gravy Onto Something?

After all, gravy’s not only soul satisfying, it’s quick and easy to make, and can be made with virtually combination of liquid, fat, flavorings and a thickening agent.
That’s right: you can make gravy using liquids like meat stock or broth (go with low-sodium if you’re buying it pre-packaged), cream, milk, water, juices, wine — even beer. And your fat can come from pan any sort of pan drippings – even those you get from grilling hamburgers!

  • With regard to the liquid: I’ve made a fabulous and soul-satisfying “beer-based gravy for a wonderful pork roast. And think what a wine-enhanced gravy does for your best chicken casserole — suddenly you’re making your own personal version of “coq au vin!”
  • As for the fat: If you don’t have pan drippings, you can also use reserved bacon grease, butter, margarine – even heart-healthy olive oil!
  • If you don’t want to thicken your gravy with flour,you can also make your roux (that’s the official name for your “pre-gravy” mixture of hot fat and flour) with cornstarch, potato starch or arrowroot
  • For flavorings, your imagination is the only limitation! Some flavor will come from your choice of liquid and fat of course, but you can also make liberal use of fresh or dried herbs, spices, salts and peppers, packaged sauces like Worchestershire, salsas, fruits, onions, mushrooms – even oddities like mustards, ketchup, tomato paste, lemon or lime juice, instant coffee granules and peanut butter have a place in flavoring gravies… Just hold off on the MSG and Kitchen Bouquet, please!

Now, If You’re Still Feeling “Gravy Challenged”…Here’s More Help  

That is, you’ve never yet been able to make gravy that’s thin or thick enough, or perhaps lump-free – relax. This can be easily resolved with  simple lessons and a bit of practice… No need to resort to bottled gravies for creating gravies for your best comfort foods.

Actually, once you know the secrets of making great gravy, you can also put those culinary tricks to good use making similar sauces: Think of a wonderful, homemade three-cheese sauce for your mac and cheese, for example.

Not to mention that the same lump-free sauce tricks apply to chicken a la king, stroganoff, chicken and dumplings, and even homemade tuna noodle casserole.

Aren’t You Feeling More “Comfortably” Empowered Now?

One final comment: Should you try making healthier versions of your favorite comfort foods?  Since you know that proper nutrition and exercise are so important to your ongoing health, this may be a good idea.

On the other hand, sometimes, you just have to have your comfort foods “just like Mom used to make.”

So in that case, you’re going to have to learn to exercise portion control. For example, I love a good grilled Reuben sandwich. I mean I really exault over the otherworldly combination of corned beef,  Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing on dark rye bread.  

But I know there’s too much fat and salt in a traditional Reuben for my own good.

So, aside from learning to make a healthier version, using turkey instead of corned beef; which is an excellent substitution, I also have a personal rule not to allow myself to eat more than a half of a Reuben, and then only once or twice a year…

But if you want to know how to make healthy comfort foods, help is here…

Yes, You Can Make Your Own Versions of Healthy Comfort Foods

If you’re interested in learning how to make your favorite comfort foods using healthier methods, you’ll want to check out these great cookbooks I just discovered:

So bring on the challenges. You’re empowered to handle them now, with the help of your favorite comfort foods, right?

Yummy Recipe for Stress Management: With All the Trauma in the World, Why Not Take Action to Relieve Your Stress by Baking Something Healthy & Delicious – Sharing With Friends?

October 21, 2008 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Diabetes, Food & Recipes, Wellness

Looking For Stress Reduction? Have Some Fun With Friends!

With All the Economic Drama of Recent Days, You Know We’re All in Need of Some Good Stress Management Techniques.

Hopefully you’ve been able to find an opportunity for a big belly laugh every day, since you know laughter’s a proven stress reliever. No need to head to a comedy club, there have been some great opportunities offered by the presidential campaign:

  • Tina Fey’s impressions of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live have really had the world laughing
  • The real Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live this past weekend was another good chance to laugh, especially Amy’s the end of show rap  
  • Not to mention the ably delivered standup comedy of both McCain and Obama at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner

Read more