Trust Your Instincts and Carry Water

Walkabout #8

We were on a mission, to find the pond at The Star Fort – Ninety Six National Historic Site, a revolutionary battlefield in Greenwood County, SC. The last time we had walked this site, the trail to the pond was closed. I thought I had a good remembrance of where the trail to the pond was.

First Misdirection

We were hardly parked and out of the car before we ran into someone we knew who was just finishing up her walk. After a short exchange of hello’s, David asked her if she knew where the pond was. She was sure she knew, and she sent us off in the opposite direction from where I thought we should go.  “Walk to the structure that looks like a fancy deer stand, go left off the paved path, and that will take you right to the pond.” David felt confident, I was not so sure, but off we went to follow our friends’ directions. Going left by the fancy deer stand took us a short distance to a gravel road. Hmm, which way here? Right or left? There were no signs indicating the direction of the pond. We went right for a little way, but having no idea where we were, we back tracked to the paved trail.

Second misdirection

Seeing another walker resting on a bench about 100 yards away, we thought we’d ask him. He was certain also, that he knew where the pond was. He even pulled out his All-Trails app to try to show us. “Go straight” he said. “You can’t miss it.”

We headed off in the direction he pointed (again opposite of where I thought the pond was), and kept going straight until we ran into another gravel road, or maybe it was the same gravel road we had recently been on? Right or left? Again, no sign. This time we turned left and after a short walk we saw the main road ahead. Not wanting to walk the black top, we veered off onto another path that we hoped would take us back to the parking lot of the Star Fort Historic Site.

Omen?

Some animal had lost its life on this section and the skeleton was scattered around the trail. Was this an omen that we were again headed in the wrong direction. By now, I was trusting my instincts and felt that we were headed back to the parking lot.

Backup Support

Once we got to the car, David was ready to be done. He was frustrated and his Fitbit told him we had walked close to 5000 steps. I didn’t want to give up, but I did want a drink. And I wanted to find that pond, fulfill our mission. I talked about the sense of accomplishment we would feel once we found it. I said I should have trusted my instincts in the first place and headed off in the direction I remembered. David looked skeptical. I suggested we go to the Visitor Center and ask the ranger. He agreed to that.

The volunteer at the desk, and the ranger, pulled out a map and pointed us in the direction I originally wanted to go. “Take the Goudy Trail to the Cherokee Trail,” they said, “and that will take you to the pond.” We were barely out the door before the volunteer came out and said she would show us. She hadn’t been to the pond in 6-7 years, and she thought going there again was something she wanted to do. David seemed to feel better about having a guide, and off we went.

Donna, the guide, was a history buff. She shared some history with us, not specifically about Star Fort, but interesting stories. We also talked about how she lost her husband to Covid. We talked about her granddaughter who was having a baby soon, her job as an administrative assistant at Lander University for 30 faculty members and should she stay in her big house or downsize. Walking and talking we passed an unmarked crossroad trail. She didn’t notice it. I wondered about it.

A little way past that, Donna stopped. She thought we had gone too far. She was unsure. I mentioned seeing the crossroad trail. We decided to head back and look for the sign that would indicate it was the Cherokee Trail. There was no sign, but looking at the map, we all thought this must be the Cherokee Trail. We agreed to try it.

The Cherokee Trail – maybe?

It was a nicely shaded trail; wildflowers were expressing their delicate new growth along the side of the trail and we kept walking. And walking and walking. By now, we were trusting my instinct that we were headed in the right direction, following the blue blazes on the trees, because there still had been no sign. In his beautiful, deep voice David said, “I see water through the trees.” We had found the pond! Success!

It was now close to lunch time, and we were hungry. We also had made the mistake of not carrying water and we were thirsty. We had achieved our mission after four miles of walking in almost every direction. Time to head back to the fort parking lot and get lunch and water.

Lessons Learned

Why didn’t I trust my instincts initially? Our friend seemed so sure, it created some self-doubt in me. And yet I have learned over and over in life to trust my instincts. I can say without hesitation, every time I made a choice that seemed to be counter to my instincts or my intuition, it did not turn out well.

I did feel a sense of accomplishment that we found the pond, but we did not linger. As I said we were hungry and thirsty. Next time. Now we know where we are going, and we will be more prepared. Even David was glad we continued on. He told me so later.

Have a sense of adventure. I had my phone with me so if we had become hopelessly lost, we could have called for help. I did open the All-Trails app and was able to track where we had been and where we were going.  Reasonable adventure adds spice to our lives. I do not want to jump out of an airplane or bungy jump off a bridge. If that is your thing, go for it. But I like to push my comfort zone a little bit, just to know that I can.

Always carry water on a trail! Enough said about that!

A Renewal Walkabout

Walkabout #6

I like words. I always pick one or two words at the beginning of the year that help keep me focused and motivated as the year goes forward. As a reminder, my words for 2022 are Mastery and Acceptance.

This weekend, when I did my walkabout, I thought about another word … Renewal. Spring is a time of renewal. The plants are starting to peek their heads up to welcome and thrive in the warmer weather. Walkers and bike riders were out enjoying the Swamp Rabbit Trail, a 22-mile rails to trails network here in Greenville, SC.

I started my walkabout this weekend at the Swamp Rabbit Café and Grocery. The place was hopping (pun intended) with folks enjoying a morning latte and a fresh muffin or scone. These early spring mornings start out cool, but quickly warm up as the sun reaches higher in the sky. With the warming day, the outside tables and benches were full.

The Merriam-Webster definition of renewal is:

            To make like new: restore to freshness, vigor or perfection

            To regenerate: formed or created again: spiritually reborn

After almost 2-years of Covid isolation, I could feel the rebirth of coming together with friends, hearing the laughter and seeing the smiles of folks that were finally able to enjoy the day without fear.

Recycle Rabbit

For me, a walk along the Swamp Rabbit Trail is a time for reflection and renewal. If I am walking by myself, I can get lost in the sounds of the birds, and I can be stopped by the public art along the trail. When I walk with a friend, I am more focused on our conversation, and it takes a bit more effort to notice the surroundings. On this day, I set an intention to notice as well as share conversation. We left the Swamp Rabbit Café and Grocery and headed in the direction of the City of Greenville.  The Recycle Rabbit was an appropriate first figure to come across, being that it was Easter Sunday.  Keep Greenville County Beautiful commissioned this work to raise awareness of how litter is impacting natural resources and wildlife throughout the area. I saw the Easter Bunny in the Recycle Rabbit, doing its civic duty.

Recycle Rabbit – from 2018 Greenville Journal

It also reminded me of a friend who always brings a trash bag with her on her walks so that she can pick up trash she finds along the way. I did not see trash along the portion of the trail we walked on Sunday, but you certainly see it along the roadways. Imagine a renewed sense of pride and responsibility if everyone stopped leaving trash along our roadways and waterways?

Loss and Renewal

These past years, we have experienced a lot of loss. Two of my friends recently lost their mothers. Other friends lost their long-term partners. Many of us have lost jobs. Life is like that. We live in chapters. I have often described my transitions as moving into “chapter next.” We all move from loss at our own tempos and moving into renewal and reinvention can feel like one-step forward and two-steps back. We see this in nature also, especially in spring. Gentle flowers and early vegetables begin to emerge, only to be hit by a late frost. And still, life goes on. Loss and renewal, rebirth, reinvention are all parts of life.

More public art

Further down the trail were two complementary art pieces. One was a bench with a bronze casting of running shoes that had belonged to the former president of the Greenville Track Club.  Directly across from this is a multi-colored mobile called “The Runner,” nicknamed Ethyl. It is a kinetic sculpture designed for movement to capture what it feels like to run.  Unfortunately, there was no wind on this day, so maybe it was a runner at rest.

The Runner, aka Ethyl

About two miles from where we started is The Commons. It is a restored series of warehouses designed to create a “pedestrian – and family friendly gathering space.” There are restaurants and bakeries, indoor and outdoor seating, office space and retail space. It is a wonderful stopping off spot to relax and refresh along the trail. And talk about renewal. The former dilapidated warehouse space is modern and fresh and thriving.

When I got home from my walk, I continued to think about what renewal means to me, particularly this spring, particularly as I am working to grow Hey, Boomer. I am committing to renew my focus on my words for this year.

Renewed Commitment

I try to constantly remind myself to be more accepting, more tolerant. We all know how family can push our buttons. This is an area where I recognize that acceptance is loving and although I don’t always succeed, awareness is helping me be more accepting. Accepting change, in our bodies and our abilities, is another way I am finding that acceptance is helpful. As I say in my podcast, “we are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream,” and I am aware that the changes we experience as we age will change how I pursue that new dream.

Renewing my focus on mastery means committing to spend more time on the courses I signed up for and continuing to implement innovations and improvements to grow the reach of Hey, Boomer. It also means being braver about reaching out to sponsors. It means asking current listeners to encourage friends and family to subscribe so that I can grow the email list along with the number of listeners.

Just like the new leaves on the trees and the flowers and vegetables rising to meet the sun, I am in a renewal phase. Will you join me in renewing your commitments to yourself?

Healing, Caring and Crafting

Walkabout #5

“Hi Heidi, what are you doing?”

“I am organizing my new home office space, so I can start coaching families.”

That is how the telephone walkabout with my sister, Heidi, began. I was supposed to go to Atlanta to get in a real walk with her. But as I am recovering, and apparently, she is succumbing to this upper respiratory crud, we decided to talk on the phone. 

Heidi has always been a refuge for damaged people and all animals. As a young girl she raised rabbits and collected friends who needed her love and acceptance. In college, she studied to be a special education teacher. But it wasn’t enough for Heidi to work in the special education classroom in the public schools. She worked with the severely emotionally and physically handicapped children in separate facilities. She loved this work. Any little breakthrough she saw in the children brought her joy.

Once she had her two sons, her focus shifted to caring for and encouraging them. She was involved in their school, and this was also a time when her creativity flourished. She quilted. She made porcelain dolls. Maybe she needed to have her own creative, feminine haven with all the male testosterone in the house.

By the time her boys had left for college, she had settled in Greenville, SC. With more time on her hands, she decided to open a bead shop in downtown Greenville. She created an atmosphere in the bead shop that not only drew crafters, but also drew people who needed a respite from whatever was happening in their lives. The shop became a place of healing and creating. Can you see the theme in Heidi’s story? Creativity and caring/healing. When she finally had to close the shop because of rising rents downtown, it was a loss that is still felt by some of her patrons.

Heidi moved to Atlanta about 5 years ago. As happens with any change or transition, it took a while to find her purpose again. A few years ago, she took a job at a residential recovery facility for people with substance use disorder.  She recognizes the struggles the residents are dealing with. She told me she has developed more empathy and patience and less judgment through this work.

But now she is ready to move on. Retire is the word she used; now that she has turned 65 and qualifies for Medicare. She wants to work fewer hours, so she has more time for her crafts and self-care.

She has agreed to work part-time (20 hrs.) as a coach for an organization that coaches families of people in recovery. Her current place of employment has asked her to stay on part-time (another 20 hrs.) to continue her work with medical records.

Which is how we started the conversation, with her organizing a home office to use for coaching and possibly some remote work for her current employer. Time will tell whether this arrangement will give her the flexibility she is looking for in “retirement.”  

One of my favorite poets is Mary Oliver. She wrote, “what is the gift that I should bring to the world?”  Heidi’s gift has always been caring for the ones who need some extra care. In this next act of her life, she will be experimenting with her new arrangements. And she brings her gifts with her.

Oh, and the animals? Heidi has a pet gecko, Gordon. 

She is actually a semi-permanent foster grandmother to Gordon. He will keep her company in her new office.

My walkabout with bronchitis

Being sick is a buzz kill!

At first, I thought it was allergies. When allergy medicine was not improving things, I took the first to two at-home Covid tests. Both came back negative. Finally on Sunday, when the coughing would not stop and I had developed pinkeye, I went to urgent care. Diagnosed with acute bronchitis and acute conjunctivitis. This has been exhausting, both physically and emotionally.

I was raised with the mantra

“I AM HEALTHY, I AM STRONG, NOTHING ABOUT ME WILL GO WRONG.”

Seriously, if I didn’t feel well, I was supposed to “snap out of it,” “get over it,” and repeat that mantra. Once, when my mother was away, my dad decided to take all three of us kids to the county fair. I had a stomachache and did not feel much like riding the rides. “Snap out of it,” he said. “You will be alright.” I tried. My mother got home the next day, took my temperature and took me to the doctor. They rushed me to the hospital for an appendectomy. I guess I could not have “snapped out” of that.

I still believe(d) that sickness is a sign of weakness. When this current episode started coming on last week, I was determined to beat it. I meditated and visualized my antibodies fighting with the germs and winning. I took hot baths and drank hot tea. I took extra vitamins. I repeated my mantra. And in spite of everything, I got sicker.  Everyday, coughing more, less and less of a voice. It was draining.

Finally, I had to give in. I would get up in the morning, take a shower and be ready for a nap. UGH. This was not like me. But at that moment, it was all I could do.

I am looking forward to being able to breathe once more, cough less and find my voice again.

So what have I learned from my walk-about with bronchitis?

  • Illness is not a sign of weakness; it is an illness. Listen to my body and get the rest I need, rather than fighting it.
  • So many people care. I had many offers of help and wishes for recovery. Being such an independent woman that was hard for me to accept, and it was nice to take in.
  • When I went down the rabbit hole of despair and felt like I would never stop coughing, no matter what I did, I called a friend. In my very raspy voice, I spoke my misery and he very kindly listened and encouraged me that I would get better.
  • I realized that my belief that illness was a sign of weakness not only hurts me, but it also hurts others. I apologized to my boyfriend for being so impatient with him the last time he did not feel well.

I am hoping to resume my real walkabouts next week. Stay tuned.

Friendship is about connection

Hey, Boomer Walk-about #4

I was at the beautiful campus of Furman University in Greenville, SC. It must have been time for scheduled campus tours because there were lots of parents and students walking around or sitting on the lawn in groups. The trees were just starting to bloom, but no baby ducks in the pond yet.

overlooking the clock tower at Furman University in Greenville, SC

 Laura was at Veteran’s Park in Arlington TX. Veterans Park stands in remembrance of those citizens of Arlington who served our country through their military service and her grandfather Jack is memorialized there.  It is the only park in the city with a heavily used disc golf course and in a nod to Texas culture, there is an equestrian trail. At 103 acres, she walked through the Texas wildscape and xeriscape gardens during our call. 

Together we were on Hey, Boomer Walk-about #4.

This was an experiment. Part of my vision for Hey, Boomer is to build a community without walls, where we can connect with each other, build relationships and support as we go through the many transitions we face at this stage in our lives. Sure, we could have visited over Zoom, but since Covid, we are so connected to our desks and our laptops, for me it is time to get back out into nature and actually talk with people.

I called Laura on the phone, and we began our walk. The nice thing about walking with someone, is that you are with them, in that moment. This is an opportunity to listen and share and connect, without the distraction of websites or paper on your desk, or chores around the house.

Laura was a guest on Hey, Boomer in November 2020. She talked to us about Reverse Mentorship. One of the things Laura does is work with international university students, mentoring them during their transition to the US and their transitions to the professional world. She shared how they also mentor her on technology and culture in their countries.

Laura is originally from Texas, but had been living in Greenville, SC when I met her.  She is in Dallas now to be with her 92-year-old grandmother, spending quality time with her while it is available.  We talked about Covid and some of the lessons learned from the pandemic.  In addition to making more time for family, she is reconsidering her latest solopreneur venture.  As someone who has always worked in a People function, she is missing the value of being part of a team working toward common goals.  Connection is important to Laura personally and professionally.  Meanwhile, she has expatriate clients and students she is coaching for US assimilation and career mobility in addition to business clients for people initiatives.  Like many professionals, she has taken the approach of location fluidity.

Spending time with her grandmother has been good for both of them. Her grandmother is in good health and now that Covid restrictions are less, she holds a weekly “game day” with some of her friends.  They play strategy games, which keeps them sharp and socially connected.  They even let Laura play sometimes, peppering their stories and anecdotes with rich laughter.  A welcome respite in a serious world.

During the pandemic, Laura volunteered to deliver meals to older adults who could not get out, and she helped with some of their technology questions, so they could stay connected.

Laura is one of the best networkers I know. She might meet someone that could be a potential connection for Hey, Boomer and she sends me a note. We talked about how I want Hey, Boomer to grow and she had some suggestions of people to reach out to and meetups to look into. I have an old high school friend in Dallas that I connected her with.

At the end of our walk, I sat down on one of the benches outside of the Furman bookstore and we talked about some of the things that were going on in the world. Just like we would have done if we were sitting across from each other at a coffee shop. These walks are helping me realize that friendship means connecting. It does not mean that we have to be in the same town or in the same state. It does mean being willing to share and listen, support and empathize.

Thank you, Laura for joining me on the 4th Hey, Boomer Walk-about.

Starting over and staying hopeful – Walkabout #3

We all have a story to tell. Janet and I had never met in person, but we had connected on Facebook. I was looking forward to meeting her for our walk. It turned out to be a beautiful day at Butler Springs Park, early spring blooms were popping up, there was a gentle, warm breeze and we recognized each other immediately.

We all have stories to tell

After the initial first greetings, I asked Janet to tell me about herself. She started by telling me that there was not much to tell. As you all know, having lived life into our Boomer years and beyond, we have a myriad of stories and learnings to share. We don’t always take the time to look at them, until someone is ready to listen.

Janet initially wanted to be a nurse. She enrolled in college, but after one semester, she knew that nursing (all the sciences) was not for her. Lucky for her, she had begun working in a retail store and realized that she enjoyed the merchandising aspects of retail, so she changed her major to merchandising. That turned out to be a good choice and she enjoyed that for a while.

But the desire to help others, which is why she initially wanted to be a nurse, was still strong. She decided to study to be a dental technician and worked at that for a while. She was getting closer to finding what she wanted, but this still was not it.

Janet was raised in upstate NY, where the lake effect snows pile up each winter. She really wanted to move to Florida, and before she could make that move, her parents and her sister moved to FL. The incentive to move was strong, and she finally joined them.

Finding her purpose

Two important events happened once she got to Florida. She met her husband, and she went back to school. This time to get a degree in social work. Janet felt that she had found the right field for her. While in school, each student had to do an internship. One of her fellow students interned with a hospice group and when she described her work, Janet knew that is what she wanted to do.

She continued her education at FSU, where she got a master’s degree in Social Work, and she worked as a social worker with hospice in Florida and South Carolina.  She and her husband moved to SC in 1998. They were married for 27 years before he passed in 2015.

Loss and grief

As you know from many statistics, there are more single women than men in the over 65 age group. After her husband passed, Janet knew that eventually she wanted another partner. She ventured into the online dating world and met Greg about 5 years ago. They were both retired and soon were spending all their time together. Then suddenly, just about a year ago, Greg became ill and passed away. Grieving his passing has been difficult because they were enjoying so much time together. “It was not supposed to be this way,” Janet said. When her first husband passed, he had been in rehab for months, so there was time to prepare. When Greg passed, it was more sudden, she was not prepared.

Starting over again is hard. She is attending a grief support group. She has joined Senior Action for the exercise classes and socialization. She has her church family. But it is still lonely. She would like someone to go to dinner with, see shows or even share walks. She feels ready to try online dating again. Of course, she is staying alert for all the scammers on the dating sites.

Staying hopeful

It was inspiring to me that she was doing all these self-care activities, senior action, exercise, church and now online dating again. I am not allowed to tell you how old Janet is. I can say that she looks great and is in great shape. In spite of her loss, she is staying hopeful. And as you can tell from her story, Janet is a lifelong learner.

We got to talking about “what’s next.” When you are in the grieving process, it is hard to know what each day holds. Thinking about what’s next sometimes seems impossible, and our mortality is more present as we age. I asked what she liked doing as a child. Playing outdoors, “swinging,” she said. Since we were at the park, we got on the swings. We didn’t swing high, but we did some swinging and we sat on the swings and talked, like two girlfriends, until it started to rain.

Are we doing enough?

Hey, Boomer Walkabout #2

It was very cold on Sunday morning, 21 degrees. I wasn’t sure we were going to be up to walking in that kind of chill. Luckily for us, it warmed up into the 40’s by the time of our walk, the sun was high, and the sky was vibrantly blue.

Gayle and I decided to walk a section of the Swamp Rabbit Trail, from the Greenville Zoo to the Former Cleveland Park Stable site, and then looped around until we got back to the Zoo.  The trail has been built on a now defunct rail bed and currently stretches for 22 miles.

The Big Dog Show Exhibit

We were pleasantly surprised to find The Big Dog Show, a large-scale temporary art exhibition at the former Cleveland Park Stable site. This is part of Greenville’s Arts in Public Places Program. As our walk began, we were talking about the sadness and helplessness we were feeling around the war in Ukraine, so coming upon this exhibit helped to lift our spirits. Many families were out enjoying the day, taking pictures with the sculptures and wandering down along the Reedy River. This section of the trail also includes some exercise stops for an added workout for the walkers.

Pandemic Learning

Gayle retired shortly before the pandemic. She had been the Director of the childcare program at her church and loved working with the parents and children. But she felt it was the right time to retire. Then we went into lockdown.

We talked about how the pandemic has changed us. Gayle used to think she had to be around people. She learned to become more comfortable being with herself. She also learned that she was a doer, and not having a sense of purpose that involved giving back to the community, was difficult for her.

I also wanted to be involved and found my purpose in working to provide inspiration about what is possible as we age. Hey, Boomer was born out of the pandemic and my desire to build a supportive community.  As I learned more about the harmfulness of loneliness as we age, I knew I wanted to make a conscious effort to build my relationships. That is part of my wish to have a weekly Hey, Boomer walkabout. I am curious about other people, and I look forward to what I can learn on my weekly walks. I also look forward to what I can share and the relationships we are building.

Gayle found her involvement as a volunteer at Place of Hope. Place of Hope serves the chronically homeless individuals in Greenville County. They come in the morning for a shower, laundry services and maybe some clean socks, before they head over to Project Host for a meal.

Gayle is building relationships with the people who come to the Place of Hope. She likes greeting them in the morning, seeing their smiles and offering some kind words. Most of the guests have lived on the streets for years, some in tent cities and some you may find sleeping on park benches or in store fronts. Most do not want to stay in shelters. Yet they find a sense of community among each other and with the volunteers. Recently, they lost two members of this community to a house fire, where they were sleeping to try to stay warm.

I asked her how she finds inner peace, not just with all that is happening in the world, but also volunteering in an area that (to me) seems so hopeless.

“You have to find it in yourself,” she said. She prays, she goes to the dog park for some socialization, she sees friends.

Are we doing enough?

Are we doing enough? That is always the question we ask ourselves. But is that the right question? Maybe the better question is, “are we living our values?” Gayle is volunteering directly in the community. She sees the people she is helping; she sees them as individuals struggling with addictions and health issues, and individuals who deserve and appreciate her kindness. She is living her values of helping and building relationships.

I too am living my values. My value of inspiring others to be all they want to be. My value of teaching and motivating and sparking ideas. I rarely see my community to know if I am having an impact. These walkabouts help me connect and answer the question “am I doing enough.” Internally, it is comforting to be living my values.

What I learned about Happiness, Joy and Friendship on my First Walk-about

My inaugural Hey, Boomer walk-about was with my dear friend Doris McLallen. Doris wanted to walk around the Greer City Park. This is a 12-acre park, and I anticipated an hour or so of active walking and talking.

Doris had designed a more historic agenda for our walk, and I gladly went along with her plan. It began with a short drive into downtown Greer as she was showing me all the building that is going on in that town. Once we got to the park, our walk first took us to a sign that showed the eastern boundary line between the Cherokee Nation and the province of South Carolina from the end of the Cherokee war (1759-61) until 1777, when the boundary was expanded to the Savannah River.

We continued from there to the amphitheater within the park. As we sat down to imagine a performance on the stage, Doris asked me, “what do you do for enjoyment?”

Enjoyment

That question totally caught me off guard. I am the one usually asking questions. I had to think about that. What does enjoyment mean? That is a different question than “what do you like to do?” Could it be reading a book, or did it have to be more active than that? I enjoy going to concerts and dancing. I enjoy time with my kids and grandkids. I enjoy playing with my cat. I enjoy being out in nature. I enjoy working on the Hey, Boomer shows and meeting some of the amazing people that are my guests.  Good question, Doris. Doris and her husband enjoy going to plays. She also enjoys reading, spending time with friends, being out in nature and the spirituality she finds in her church.

When we got up to walk again, we passed a fountain that apparently changes colors to reflect the occasion. Pink for breast cancer awareness, purple for Alzheimer’s awareness, and it will soon be green for Saint Patrick’s Day. Our next rest stop was to a covered porch swing on the other side of the fountain. And it was time for Doris’s next question.  “What do you do to relax?”

Relaxation

True confession, that was a harder question for me. I don’t relax much and when I do, I have to give myself permission to relax. I spend many hours in my office working on Hey, Boomer (finding guests, working on promotions, writing scripts, writing blogs, researching). When I am not doing that, I am doing the chores of daily living (paying bills, cooking, cleaning up, making phone calls). But every once in awhile I give myself permission to relax. That generally involves spending time with people I love or reading just for the fun of it or watching a favorite TV show.

One of the benefits of having a walk-about with friends is that it is also a way to relax, to just be with my friend and not worry about what other thing(s) are not getting done. I have never been a great “relaxer.” Thank you, Doris for helping me to think more about this.

As we continued our walk past the restored train depot and through beautifully restored downtown Greer with its cobbled streets, we got into a discussion about what makes us happy. We agreed that “Happy” is a transitory feeling, it comes and goes. So, the question became, “can a person feel joy, minus the feeling of happiness?”  I had to do more research on this. Here is what I learned.

Joy vs. Happiness

Happiness comes from external factors. Material things, people, places and experiences.

Joy is more of an internal feeling that comes from being at peace with who you are, where you are, and why you are. Joy feels more stable and secure because it cannot be thrown off (like happiness) when something goes wrong.

I believe the answer is that a person can experience the internal feeling of joy, of being at peace with themselves, even when things go wrong, and they may feel sad or disappointed at the same time. What do you think?

Navel Gazing

The funny thing is, Doris told me she was not one for “navel gazing.” She did not spend a lot of time questioning why things are the way they are or why she is the way she is. Navel gazing is one of my favorite things to do. I am very introspective and always curious and trying to learn why things happen the way they do and what can I do about it. Maybe if I “navel gazed” less, I would experience more inner peace, more joy. Hmm, something else to ponder on. 😊

Sunsets and Friendship

We ended our walk sitting on a bench between the charming chapel of the Episcopal Church and the vestry in downtown Greer. The sun was setting over the steeple and we were appreciating the time we had spent together.  When I got home, I got the most beautiful text from Doris. She said, “What is happy? Where can we find joy? For me, a heart to heart on a bench with a friend is a joy … and looking up, a blessing.”

I could not agree more!

Can it happen here?

I have been ruminating on this blog for days.

The war in Ukraine looms over everything I am thinking about.

It is also Women’s History month, and there is a lot to say about that.

And there is the quote that Dr. Bob Saul left with us when he appeared on Hey, Boomer, that has seeped into my consciousness.

“I am the problem, I am the solution, I am the resource.”

First – Ukraine

Ukraine was not front and center in our awareness until a couple of weeks ago. The administration started raising concerns about the Russian buildup along the border. Nightly we were hearing news about more troops amassing, intelligence that an incursion was likely, hope for diplomatic talks fading. Then Russia recognized two Ukrainian breakaway states, Donetsk and Lugansk as independent and moved troops into their territories. We now watch in horror as residents flee, fight and refuse to give up to the Russian aggression. And we wonder what we can do.

Threats to Democracy

As I was thinking about all of this, I opened an article in the League of Women Voters’ SC Voter publication. The article was titled “Can it Happen Here? Countering Threats to Democracy”

Can it happen here?

  • On January 6, 2021 there was a concerted effort to overturn the election results through the incursion on the capital
  • State legislators in 41 states have introduced 262 pieces of legislation to alter how states administer elections
  • The US Senate has failed to pass either the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act or the Freedom to Vote Act
  • At least 5 people on the ground during the January 6 attack on the Capital are running for the US House!

Can it happen here, is our democracy at risk? I believe the answer is yes.

Leadership examples from the women

This is where looking at some of the brave women in our history can inspire us.

Abigail Adams, wife of President John Adams and mother of President John Quincy Adams, was an early advocate of women’s rights, female education and the abolition of slavery.

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton worked tirelessly for women’s rights, founding the National Women Suffrage Association in 1869. The women in this struggle were jailed, beaten, spit upon, and still they kept going. In 1920, women were finally granted the right to vote with the passage of the 19th amendment, just 102 years ago!

Rosa Parks, who helped initiate the Civil Rights movement in 1955, when she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man. This inspired the local black community leaders to initiate the Montgomery Bus Boycott and a year later the US Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation was illegal.

These are some of the women we hear about. There are so many other women whose names we don’t know, who stood up for causes they believed in, who are mothers and sisters and daughters working to make the world a better place, to keep their homes safe, their families fed, their children educated.

I am the problem, I am the solution, I am the resource

When I questioned Dr. Saul about what this really meant, he explained that it is about taking responsibility for problems in our community. Rather than pointing to others and saying it is “their” fault, we look at ourselves and ask, “what can I do, and am I doing enough?”

When I ask myself, “what can I do?” it can seem overwhelming. There is so much to do. What I do now is

  • The Hey, Boomer show, to encourage and inspire people over 55 to get involved, to recognize their relevance, to make a difference in ways that are possible for them.
  • I provide coaching for people who are fearful about what is next, who don’t want to end up bored, lonely, feeling useless, but are looking for confidence and reassurance and a plan for staying meaningfully busy.
  • I belong to the League of Women’s Voters and actively participate in voter registration drives. This is how I am working to protect our democracy.

There is a quote I read the other day that is attributed to Margaret Mead. It says, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that can.”

Whatever your issue is; peace, health, climate change, voting rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, child welfare, education, gun control, hunger, homelessness, domestic violence… pick one, commit to it and find a way to get involved and stay involved.

Pray for Ukraine. Celebrate the Women in your life. Celebrate yourself!

Organizations working to provide relief to Ukraine (verified through Charity Navigator)

Doctors without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres

Save the Children

CARE – raising money for their Ukraine crisis fund

Hey, Boomer Walk-about

It is too easy, as we age, to tell ourselves that we can’t move like we once did. That may be true. We may not be able to move like we once did but that does not mean that we can’t still move. Let’s do a Hey, Boomer Walk-about. More about this below. First the facts…

Here is the truth, from the National Institute of Health. “Older adults who lose their mobility are less likely to remain living at home; have higher rates of disease, disability, hospitalization, and death; and have poorer quality of life.”

My chiropractor told me that sitting in front of the computer for hours, or sitting in front of the TV for hours, is the new smoking! According to the Mayo Clinic, excess sitting is linked with many diseases and conditions, like obesity, hypertension, back pain, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and depression.

Your Why

If you have not been pursuing movement, this will require a mindset shift. Like any change, unless you see a good reason to add movement, you are not going to do it. It is a strange thing about humans, we may know something is good for us, but it seems like it is difficult to embrace the changes we need to make. And change takes courage because it is outside of what is familiar.

How many times have you told yourself you were going to cut out fried food, or you were going to go to the gym at least 3 times a week? You make a valiant effort, for a week or two, maybe even for a month. And then … well you know what happens. Life interferes. Without that compelling reason to stick with the new behavior it is easy to let it go.

How do you determine your Why around movement? Sometimes it is a diagnosis that compels us to make a change. Could you find a reason to move more before it became critical?

  • You want to be able to play with your grandchildren, toss a ball, walk to the playground, take a hike…
  • You want to be able to dance at your child’s wedding, or at your anniversary, or just for fun.
  • You like growing flowers or vegetables, and you need to keep up your mobility to maintain your garden(s)
  • You want to feel good
  • WHAT IS YOUR REASON, YOUR WHY, TO ADD MOVEMENT TO YOUR LIFE?

Add movement to your day

Start slowly. Set yourself realistic goals. If you over promise yourself, for instance, you say that you are going to walk 5 days a week, you could feel like a failure if you don’t achieve that. If you have not been walking at all, how about trying for short walks 2 days a week? Once that feels good, add on another day or a longer walk (or both).

Exercise not your thing? How about fun? Here are some fun things you can do to increase your daily movement.

  • You could ride a bike
  • Swim
  • Paddle a canoe or kayak in a nearby lake
  • Play pickleball or tennis. Shoot some baskets with friends
  • Dance, at home or at a club
  • Take a yoga class

And here are some more ideas for adding movement to your day.

  • Set a reminder to stand and move every hour
  • Park far from store entrances
  • Walk around your house when doing routine things, like brushing your teeth, or talking on the phone
  • Call a friend to take a walk with you. This is good for your mental health also.
  • Do some stretching in front of the TV or walk around during commercials
  • Walk your dog rather than just letting him/her out into the fenced backyard.

So, what is this idea of a Hey, Boomer walk-about? Once a week, I will go on a walk with one of you. If you are local, we can schedule a time and place to walk together. If you are not local, we can schedule a time, and we will call and talk to each other as we walk. If you are interested in joining me on this weekly walk-about, drop me an email at wendy@heyboomer.biz and we will get this scheduled.

Music, music everywhere

You remember the portable record players we had. The kind that were housed in a box with a latch that played 45 LPs. Remember the joy of loading the 45’s and watching them drop and the arm moved over, and the music started? How many of you danced in your rooms while you played these records?

Then we were teens. We played the radio and made mix tapes for our boyfriend or girlfriend. We watched the Beatles music evolve into complex melodies and words. The Byrds, the Grateful Dead and Dylan put our feelings to music.

Music is a constant in our lives. It seems like it is always there in the background, even if it is just a song in our head. We hear music in the grocery store, on our car radios, in our ear buds when we are walking or working out, in our places of worship.

But when was the last time your really listened to the music? Last night I just wanted to listen to music. No YouTube videos, no social media, no book to distract me. Just the music. I dimmed the lights, curled up on the couch with a blanket and put Paul Simon radio on Pandora. You can hear so much when you block out all the other noise and just listen.

Of course, you hear the words, try listening for the expression or emphasis the singer puts on certain words or phrases. Listen beyond the guitar or the keyboard. Do you hear the drums? In some songs they are simply keeping the beat, in some songs they are an important part of the melody. And wait, what is that … a flute? Is that a harp I hear? I never heard that in that song before. Oh, I love the violins or fiddles bringing their sweet, sensual sounds to the song.

We have all heard about music being one of the last connections to go. Dementia patients respond to music in positive ways. Music has always been with us, going back to the beginning of civilizations. Recent studies by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine have confirmed the healing power of music. Health psychologist Shilagh Mirgain, PhD. said “music helps reduce heart rate, lower blood pressure and cortisol in the body. It eases anxiety and can help improve mood.” I have definitely found this to be true for myself. When I am working all day in my office without any music on, my mood and energy suffer. Hearing music lifts my spirits and encourages me to get up and move a little bit.

So, if you see me in the grocery store, bopping to the music, I can’t help it. I feel the music and it makes me happy. And I encourage you to take some time to get quiet and really listen to the music. You will be amazed at what you hear, and how relaxed you feel.

Live with passion, live with relevance, live with courage.

Maybe I should have been a black bear

Maybe I should have been a Black Bear  so I could hibernate in the winter.

Black Bear hibernating in Glacier National Park

You don’t usually hear me complain in my blogs, but I need to be honest with you. I don’t like the winter. I don’t like the cold and I don’t like the shorter days.

I am not able to sleep in because my sweet cat wakes me early. She is used to her morning routine of wet cat food, and she does not care that it is still dark out. Between 5:30 and 6:00am she is rubbing on my face to wake me up.

Actually, that is good, because morning is my time to read some of the books that authors who will be on Hey, Boomer sent to me. I do enjoy that, curled up on my couch with a cup of coffee, learning from the wisdom of my guests.

But I also had planned to go to the gym for an hour. I woke up and looked at the temperature and it was 28 degrees outside. I know – all I have to do is get in my car, drive to the gym, park and then walk across the parking lot. I know! But the idea of heading out in the cold and the dark demotivates me. So instead, I am writing this blog to you.

Are you listening? Do you feel this way in the winter? Is this what they call Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? The website veryhealthy.life defines SAD as a condition “that causes people to feel overly tired, emotionally drained, and even potentially depressed during the darker winter months.” The lack of sunlight messes with our circadian rhythm, which means we want to sleep longer but we are forcing ourselves to get up.  It may be my cat that is forcing me to get up, but I find that I am “forcing” myself through the day to accomplish all that I have on my list. This also limits my time in the sun. I don’t want to go for a walk because it is cold, and I have work I want to get done, resulting in another day of less sunlight.

I looked up some of the suggestions for adjusting to SAD.  Compared information I found at veryhealthy.life and the Mayo Clinic. Here is what I found.

  1. A daylight lamp with a daylight alarm. You set it and it slowly gets brighter to simulate the sunrise, so you are nudged into wakefulness. Apparently, the sunrise will stimulate your brain to produce cortisol, which is the hormone that works counter to melatonin, signaling you that it is time to wake up.
  2. Get more fresh air and exercise. I know this is important and even all bundled up, it still exposes us to sunlight … and fresh air. Being cooped up indoors all day doing whatever it is that we do, is not good for our bodies or our souls. Exercise and fresh air help to relieve stress and anxiety, both of which can increase SAD symptoms.
  3. Better sleep. The suggestion here is to avoid screens at night. TV, computer screens and phones stimulate our brains. Getting restorative sleep will help us feel better during the day. Try to give yourself an hour without screens before falling asleep. I generally try to read for a little while before falling asleep. I find myself fading pretty quickly when I do that. The Mayo Clinic also suggests reducing napping and oversleeping so that your body will get into a routine of restorative sleep at night.
  4. Vitamin D. This vitamin is naturally produced in our bodies from sunlight. Studies of how Vitamin D affect SAD have had mixed results. “People who live in climates where it gets darker earlier are at risk of not getting enough vitamin D without supplementing, but vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so it is possible to supplement too much and reach toxic levels,” researchers said. “The best way to approach vitamin D is to have your level checked and then talk to a health care provider about the best plan for you.” I am on a prescribed Vitamin D supplement because my levels were low, according to my last physical.

I was born and raised in Miami, FL. Even when the days got shorter, it was not cold enough to keep us indoors all day. As I moved up the East Coast, to my surprise I found that I was adversely affected by the winter weather – the cold, the winds, the dark. I cannot imagine living in a far northern climate. I suppose some of us are more susceptible to the changing light and temperature than others.

I will try to bundle up later and go out for a walk. I know it would be good for me.

And soon it will be spring, and I will rejoice in the new buds on the trees and bushes and the flowers beginning to emerge from their sleep. I love the spring!

Turning 70

Guest blog this week from my dear, special person, David Bell. David is a singer-songwriter and a professor of Economics and Finance at Lander University. He shares some heartfelt thoughts about turning 70 this year. Please leave some comments and let us both know what you got out of this piece.

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It’s 2022. This year I will be 70. I hope. I have to live until May 29 for that to happen. But I will be 70 on May 29 no matter what. I can’t change it.  I can wish to be 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, or even 60- again but I’m going to be 70. NO MATTER WHAT! I may not like it but it is the reality. I will be 70. That’s it!

So what do I do with that reality? It’s a little difficult to accept or even believe that I’m at this stage of life. It’s strange to try to get my head around it

I may not feel 70, but this is what 70 feels like.
I may not act 70, but this is what 70 acts like.
I may not look 70, but this is what 70 looks like.

Is it really just a number? Or is it something else? I am in the here and now, living and aging as I go. I can count many blessings, starting with my parents. My father and mother taught me Christian love and tolerance. Giving people empathy and treating others with respect. I was nothing if not a respectful child. Yes, Sir. Yes, Ma’am. Please and thank you.

Eventually I became who I am today, using what they taught me but calling on my own attributes and experiences. I am thankful for my daughter. She’s a terrific blessing. I’m sorry for a marriage that ultimately failed after 37 years but my daughter was the result and I’m very lucky.

I am thankful for a new friend that has helped me see a new way to view the world as I age. She has shown me love and compassion and my outlook on the world has changed. So right now, I’m in a good place. I have my own point of view. I know what I believe in and devote time to. I know there are demons I need to avoid.

So where do I go from here? Last Friday I played my first gig ever. At 69! Bearded, and wearing a cowboy hat! If my banker friends could see me now! Who knows, maybe they will. I played with a guy who’s 26. Weird but it worked. It’s a whole new adventure. I’m looking forward to seeing where it will lead. I’d like to find an audience for my music.  Just a niche so I can play my songs and some other songs that I love. I’m not trying to be a star but just use the gifts that I have, limited though they be. I do think I have something to say about life.

My words for this year are Courage and Health. Courage to speak up and make myself known on certain issues – racism, misogyny, and homophobia, to name three. There’s a balance to be reached. I think I can influence people just by provoking a thought or idea rather than trying to convince someone to share my point of view. Health, as I see it, is a matter of focusing on what makes me feel good about myself. I feel better if I exercise more. I feel better if I drink less. I feel better if I weigh less. I feel better if I stay away from certain temptations and influences and put myself in more positive environments. I am definitely in better health than I was a year ago, thanks to efforts on my part and the help and encouragement of my girlfriend.

As I write this it’s the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. What better way to turn 70 than by living up to the principles he espoused? I hope I can be a great 70 and beyond. So bring it on!

Wakeup Calls

I was in 5th grade when we moved into the house on the lake in Miami. It was a small lake, part of a series of lakes that were built off the canal system in Miami to control water flow.

It was a new house with new, modern features like an intercom system. My brother and sister and I all had bedrooms at one end of the house. Between us and my parents wing of the house was the family room, kitchen, living/dining room and a den.

My father loved exercise and he loved the intercom. Every morning he would whistle revelry over the intercom to wake us up. We then met him in the backyard for some stretching and jumping jacks before swimming a few laps in the lake! I went along with this until I started Middle School. Then I was more concerned with how my hair looked after a swim then I was with getting the exercise.

Revelry in the morning over the intercom was my first wakeup call.

Many alarm clock rings, and baby cries later, my cat is my morning wakeup call now. Most of the night, she is snuggled in around my legs, making it difficult to change positions without disturbing her. Around 5:30 she moves up to my face and gently pets me… literally. She tenderly and softly rubs her paw on my cheek, gives me the head rub that cats do, and then pets my cheek again. Morning is when she gets wet cat food rather than the dry food that is available to her all day and she looks forward to that. Sometimes I ignore her, head under the covers or tell her no. But most mornings I get up so I can have some reading time or writing time before my day really starts.

But what I really want to talk about are the metaphorical wakeup calls. The ones that wake us up from what we always did and make us realize we need to make some changes. Or the ones that suddenly upend our lives with events that are out of our control, and we realize it is time to let go of something or someone.

Like when my dad entered hospice care. My Dad, larger than life, an athlete all his life, center of a room and certainly center of the family. First it was an aortic aneurysm which fortunately they found and corrected before it ruptured. Then it was prostate cancer, then lung cancer, then kidney failure and COPD. It was a slow decline and throughout he still seemed invincible … until he wasn’t. I was staying with my parents when my dad passed. We had home hospice care. Around 3:00 in the morning, my mother came into wake me up. The home health nurse said he did not have much time. I crawled onto the bed with him on one side. My Mom was on the other side. He took a couple more breaths and then no more. That was a wakeup call I did not want to get.

Last week I went to the doctor for my annual physical. At 68, I was having normal aches and pains and complaints, but mostly I feel pretty good. The doctor told me that overall I was in pretty good health … but, my cholesterol was getting close to being seriously high and my Vitamin D levels were seriously low. The Vitamin D levels are easy to fix, add a supplement and get outside a little bit more, even during these colder months. The cholesterol is partly a hereditary thing, my mother has always had higher cholesterol. But I always thought I ate mostly healthy and was not worried about it. When I met with the doctor last week, he told me to exercise 5 days a week, drink eight glasses of water and eat five servings of vegetables. Then we will retest in four months.

All of that sounds reasonable and I am glad my doctor suggests things I can do, rather than immediately going the medicine route. But making those kinds of changes all at once is not easy. I am trying to go to the gym three days a week and if I don’t go, I do some yoga. I think I eat pretty well, and I recognize there is always room for improvement.  It is not difficult to add a Vitamin D supplement.

Changing behaviors and habits is not easy. I always tell my clients to take baby steps. You can’t change everything at once. For me, having water at my desk all day and trying to take an afternoon walk are the two habits I will be working on to hopefully bring down my cholesterol levels.

My visit with the doctor is a minor wakeup call, compared to health news that many people receive. It is a wakeup call that gives me some control over my health. I am grateful for that.

My gentle cat wakeup call this morning, inspired this post. As I laid in bed deciding if I was ready to get up, the thought of wakeup calls popped into my head. I hope your wakeup calls are mostly gentle nudges to pay attention to behaviors or thoughts you can control. And when they are not so gentle, I hope you find the “serenity to accept the things you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Fred Rogers & Transitions

There is a fabulous 13-episode podcast called “Finding Fred.” It tells the story behind the story of the beloved Fred Rogers. The sometimes-radical ideas he presented to Congress, the barriers he broke when he shared a towel with Officer Clemmons, a black policeman on his show. He talked to kids about the war, about disabilities, about being their best self. And all of this he did with such genuine kindness. Check out the podcast if you get a chance. Here is the Spotify link:

I bring this up, because I came across a Fred Rogers quote that I wanted to share with you today.

“Often, when you think you are at the end of something you are at the beginning of something else.”

Endings and beginnings are a part of life. 2021 ended and we transitioned into 2022. Christmas decorations went up, and then they came down. Betty White passed away, and new babies were born. It is a continuous cycle.

Life transitions happen at all ages, but somehow in our 50’s and beyond, they can seem to pile on. Our careers end, our children move out, we may have a health crisis, or we may become caregivers. These challenge us to find the new beginnings.

Three stages of transitions

One of my favorite books on this is Transitions, by William Bridges. In this book he talks about the stages we go through. There is a new book out by Bruce Feiler, Life is in the Transitions, that defines very similar stages.

William Bridges calls the first stage Endings. There is grief from loss associated with this stage, even if you wanted the ending to happen. Let’s talk about the end of a full-time job. If your job is terminated due to downsizing or the pandemic, you are understandably feeling a sense of loss. A loss of control over the timing can be unsettling. If you have planned for your retirement, you have the big going away party, and you wake up the following Monday with no office to go to, that may feel wonderful but over time you recognize the loss of routine, the loss of friendships, the loss of structure and the loss of a paycheck. Bruce Feiler refers to the Endings as The Long Goodbye.

Once you move through the Endings stage, you move into what Bridges calls The Neutral Zone. Feiler refers to this as The Messy Middle. This is a time of uncertainty. A time of introspection. You are questioning what has worked for you, trying on new ideas and new habits. It can be uncomfortable because it is a time of reinvention for many people. The time in the Neutral Zone can be short, but it should not be rushed. There is a richness in “being in the wilderness” and giving yourself the time to explore the new thoughts and opportunities that are showing up.

Eventually you will come to a New Beginning, as both Bridges and Feiler call it. “Genuine beginnings depend upon inner realignment rather than on external shifts, for it is when we are aligned with deep longings that we become powerfully motivated.” That is a quote from the Bridges book. Being in alignment with deep longings comes with giving yourself time in The Neutral Zone or the Messy Middle to look inside, explore and try out new ideas.

Jan. 6, 2021 failed as an ending

I cannot end this piece, written on January 6, 2022, without reflecting on what was happening a year ago on the steps of the United States Capital. Insurrectionists were attempting to overturn the results of a free and fair election, because they did not like the outcome, and they had been convinced that the outcome was fraudulent. Fortunately, our government worked that day, and we did get a new beginning. However, I believe that our democracy is in the place of the Messy Middle, trying to figure out who we are and what is important to us. One of my goals with Hey, Boomer is to encourage each of you to make a difference in your community. Today would be a good day to call your US Senators and encourage them to support the new Voting Rights legislation that is before Congress. Our new beginning is being challenged in many ways, politically, with the virus, with misinformation, and potentially with violence. I hope we can maintain and grow this new beginning and not experience an ending to democracy as we know it.

Life is in the Messy Middle

As Fred Rogers said, “Often, when you think you are at the end of something you are at the beginning of something else.” Life is in the Messy Middle, in the Neutral Zone, where we redefine who and what and why we are. We are in unprecedented times with the pandemic and the wild weather and the political infighting. It may seem outside of our control. Focus on what you can control, make your voice heard. Build the life you want to live. It is ok to be in the Messy Middle until you get some clarity.

Want more?

If you want to talk more about the stages of Transition and would like some help navigating your own personal transition, I will be leading a 6-week group workshop that will help you identify your own desires and dreams you may have left behind and begin to visualize your new beginning.  It will begin on Tuesday, Feb. 22 and we will meet from 4:00-5:30, every Tuesday at that time for 6-weeks. I am limiting the group to 6 individuals so that we can all have time to participate and form bonds. The full cost is $750, and if you register with me by the end of January, it will only be $600 for the full 6-week program. Send me an email if you are interested: wendy@heyboomer.biz.