17 AprBook Review: Life’s Greatest Lessons

Life’s Greatest Lessons, written by Hal Urban, was first published in 1992.  Mr. Urban, a father and a teacher, originally wrote it to provide life lessons for his children. However, the author was pleasantly surprised when it quickly became popular with readers of all ages.  The book is the author’s philosophy of life; twenty chapters of the twenty things that matter.  Over two decades old, this book continues to provide relevant lessons for today’s reader. No matter how technologically advanced people become, there are everyday human values that will always endure, and this is what this simple book offers.


Life’s Greatest Lessons is an easy read, a mere 163 pages long.  But included in  those 163 pages is a comprehensive guideline to living a good life.  The chapters are short, generally between 5 to 10 pages long. The author uses personal experiences and historical references to make his points.


These twenty principles discussed by Hal Urban are based on simple concepts that stand the test of time:  Common sense, a positive attitude, gratitude, honesty, respect (for self and others), motivation, goals, and more.  All of these concepts added together are the formula for a successful life.


Life is complicated, and people often struggle with choices and priorities.  In his book, Hal Urban helped un-complicate it, by providing readers with 20 fundamental life values that will never be outdated or old-fashioned.  His use of down-to-earth, concrete examples and stories provide an enjoyable book with concepts that are well-worth sharing with family and friends.

You can order this book at Hal Urban’s website:  www.halurban.com for $14.00

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. (Dr. Seuss, I Can Read with my Eyes Shut!)

Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book. (Jane Smiley, Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel)

If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do things worth writing. (Benjamin Franklin)


13 AprApril: Foot Health Awareness Month



Think about your poor feet for a minute, will ya?

Runners pound them on the pavement.  (Bea has seen barefoot runners! What the heck are they thinking?)

Teenagers flip-flop around in flip-flops. (One of the most dangerous pairs of things to put on our feet, by the way)

Women force them into captivity with mile-high heels that make their arches scream.

Nobody seems to care about their suffering!  And they suffer from so much:  Corns, calluses, bunions, fungus . . .  Notice that none of these conditions sound even vaguely pretty?

Given all that feet have to put up with, Bea thinks they deserve a month of pampering, don’t you? In fact, a month just isn’t enough. Taking care of our feet is a yearlong proposition.

The American Podiatric Medical Association provides some special Summer Foot Care tips, along with Winter Foot Care tips.

It’s not just about giving them a little TLC, however.  Our feet can actually provide clues about age-related health conditions.  For example, did you know that shiny, hairless feet and toes may indicate plaque build-up in our arteries, causing a higher risk of heart disease? (**) Swelling feet may be a sign of heart or kidney disease or high blood pressure. (*) Sores that won’t heel, as well as numbness and tingling in your feet, can be a warning of diabetes.

For more foot warning signs as related to your health, take a look here.

If you want to help your feet age well, here are a few tips:

  • Quit ignoring  them!  They may be crying out for help.  Take a look at them and watch for the warning signs listed in the above paragraph.
  • Give them a soothing soak, daily if possible.  Use warm, not hot water. (See Epsom salt foot bath, below)
  • Wash them with soap and water every day.  Then dry them completely, especially between the toes. Germs often breed between the toes, causing Athlete’s foot.
  • Wear shoes that fit.  Squeezing them into a too-small size is not only bad for our tootsies, it’s bad for our frame of mind – who can enjoy life when their feet hurt?
  • Help a podiatrist earn a living:  Get a foot check-up. Podiatrists can help with bunions, foot fungus, etc.

Need more tips?  10 tips on foot care.

Epsom salt foot bath:  Fill a container with warm water and add 1/2 cup of Epsom salt.  Let your feet sit in that water for as long as it takes to watch a 30-minute sitcom.  While your skin is soft, use a pumice stone to smooth off any corns or calluses.  After drying them off thoroughly, apply a skin cream made especially for the feet.


*National Institute on Aging. Foot Health.

**Oz, Mehmet. ShareCare. How can losing my hair on my feet indicate heart disease?

For Further Reading:

For further reading:

American Podiatric Medical Association

WebMD: Diabetes and Foot Problems


23 MarKeys to being Age Empowered


Senior Couple Exercising In Park

So here’s the question of the day:

Are you simply getting older, or are you growing older?

The key is in the word growing.

Think about it this way:  You can be a “Senior Citizen,” or you can be what my 74 year old sister chooses to be: “Age Empowered.”

Baby boomers, we have a choice to make everyday.  As of 2014, we range from the age of 50 to 68.  We can’t turn back the clock and return to our twenties or thirties, and do we really want to?  I know I don’t.  I don’t want to be young again.  I DO want to remain healthy and happy as I continue this journey into “old age.”

We can all do that by having an age empowered attitude:

  • Never stop learning.  From continuing your education, no matter what your age, to playing brain games, to fearlessly trying new technologies – we can keep our brain cells active and strong.
  • Open your mind to other possibilities.  Face it, we all tend to get judgmental, and set in our thought patterns, especially as we age.  Seeing things black and white, however, is limiting, and keeps us from understanding other people’s points of view.  We can learn from each other!
  • Stay physically active.  Exercise is such a powerful life enhancer.  We don’t have to be a marathon runner (though many of us boomers ARE), we don’t have to be body builders or world-class athletes.  But we can, and should, take care of this body and brain we’ve been given – this gift of life – and do our best to ward off those age-related diseases, protect our minds, and keep ourselves from getting frail and weak.
  • Stay connected to others.  Loneliness and depression can come with aging, if we keep ourselves isolated from others.  Stay socially connected through your church community, your local senior center, a volunteer group, a running club, a quilting club . . .
  • Accept the changes that come with age.  Help Guide.org has some great suggestions listed in their Staying Healthy over 50 article.
  • Stop and smell the stinking roses, would ya?  It’s even more important over the age of 50, because you just don’t know when your time will be up on this earth.  Enjoy those grandkids, continue to make memories with your family and friends.  Take time to go outside, breathe in that fresh air, and thank God for this gift of life you’ve been given.
  • Find the humor in life.  Laughter is an absolute necessity in this life.  Laugh at yourself, laugh with others – you’ll relieve stress and worries, and you’ll stay healthier.

For further reading:

Creative Aging: A Pro-Aging Resource

Older People Become What They Think



19 MarAre Fears Taking Over Your Life?

Bea’s daughter recently travelled to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, to escape from her first Chicago winter.  She flew out of Chicago, and her friend flew out of Detroit.  They planned to meet up at the airport after arriving in the DR.  It turned out that her friend’s flight was cancelled due to the weather, and she had to reschedule it for the next day.  So Ms. Bea was in Punta Cana alone for a day and a half.

Now if this had happened to Mrs. Bea when she was a young adult, she would have probably hidden away in her hotel room.  Not Ms. Bea, however.  She hung out at the beach, posing for a “selfie” with two big brightly colored parrots on her shoulders, paying $7 to a Dominican for that privilege.  She spent some alone time exploring hotel surroundings and ate dinner at a Mexican restaurant.

In other words, she still enjoyed herself.  She wasn’t afraid of being alone – she paid for this trip and she was going to enjoy it!  Mrs. Bea, on the other hand, feared for her daughter.  She fretted with worry, because what if something happened??  How in the heck would Mrs. Bea get down to the DR, she didn’t even have a passport?

In the end, nothing bad happened; her daughter’s friend arrived the next day, and together they began to enjoy the  many fun activities an all-inclusive hotel has to offer.

While on her trip, Ms. Boomer posted photos on FB and chatted about what activities she had partaken in.

One post:  Just went parasailing over the Atlantic! Next up: Snorkeling. She added the hashtag: #facingfears

Which got old Bea to thinking about fears.  Little fears, such as fear of spiders and mice.  Medium fears, such as fear of heights and closed in spaces.  Then the big ones, such as fear of failure, fear of commitment, fear of taking chances.

Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live. (Dorothy Thompson, prominent journalist in the 1930s)

Bea lived with the fear of taking chances and the fear of failure most of her life. In fact, it wasn’t until she was almost fifty that she actually began to let go of these fears.  She went to college without even leaving her house (BakerCollege online) and finally finished her Bachelor’s Degree.

A couple years after that, she started a blog about health and wellness and began writing, something she wanted to do since she was a child.  With the backing of her supervisor at work, she applied for a reclassification of her job and succeeded in getting it.  Most recently, she got sick and tired of the deteriorating roads in her state and started a letter-writing and Facebook campaign to take her complaints to her State’s Governor and other elected representatives. She’s also gained confidence in her writing expertise and is looking for paid freelance writing opportunities.

The other day when Bea was driving up north to run a 5K with her niece and nephew, she remembers thinking:  “I’m really living.”  It was the best feeling.  When Bea thinks back to her childhood fear of anything less than being “perfect,” and her teenage fear of never fitting in, of never doing anything of consequence, and her adult fear of simply not being good enough, she’s astonished that she let herself be sucked into that kind of thinking for so long.

It’s good to be living.  It’s really good to no longer be afraid.

Silhouette of a girl jumping over sunset

How about you?  What fears have you conquered?


Always do what you are afraid to do. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. I have known talented people who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins. (Charles Stanley)

For further reading:

Overcoming fear of failure

Why Having Fear is the Key to Living Courageously

How to Live Fearlessly


14 MarWhat, Me Worry?

Can worry be inherited? If so, I got the worry gene from my mother. She always seemed to be anxious about one thing or another, and I followed her lead.

When I was a kid, I worried about my parents fighting and our almost daily family disruptions.  As a teenager, I worried that I’d fail a test, wouldn’t fit in with my peers, or would do something stupid and embarrass myself. As a young adult, I worried I’d never find a job; when I had a job, I worried I’d make a mistake. As a wife and mother, I worried about marital finances and all the issues that go along with having an only child.

I distinctly remember a time when I was sitting in a recliner, feeding my daughter, who was only a few months old at the time.  I sat there and literally tormented myself with all the things that might happen to her in her teens.  Now that’s worrying!

Oh yeah, life is tough when you live in that state of mind.  These days, though, I have a different mindset.  If you were to ask one of my friends or co-workers if the person I described above sounded like me, they’d probably laugh and say “No way.”  I’ve managed to overcome most of the worries and anxieties that plagued me for so long.

While worry is often harmful to us, we can learn to make worry work for us, instead of against us.  When I was younger, much of the worry I suffered from didn’t do me any good, because I became anxious and cranky when I worried. I felt I didn’t have any control over situations that occurred.  But I eventually learned to worry efficiently.  I used worrisome thoughts to start thinking about how to solve problems and take positive actions.

For me, that was one of the good things that came with aging. I learned to rid myself of negative self-talk, and focus on my positive attributes.  By taking charge of my health by eating better and having a regular exercise routine, I’ve become more self-confident.  I’ve learned not to dwell on little problems and blow them out of proportion.  I relieve stress by running, writing for my blogs, and venting to my hubby.

Getting older has helped me learn to accept that there are things I just can’t control. For those things I can control, it helps me to take positive action instead of simply dwelling on the issue.

With aging comes the lesson to live in the present, let go of the past, and let God take care of the future.  I  just don’t know when my time on this earth will be up.  Why waste time worrying?

Are you a worrier?  Have you managed to control your worries?  If so, what kinds of tips can you provide other readers?  I’d love to hear from you on this subject.

Want to reduce your worries and anxieties?  You may want to check out these articles:

5 Steps to Reduce Worrying and Anxiety

How to Stop Worrying: Self-Help Strategies for Anxiety Relief


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08 MarCell Phone Overload?

On the telephone

On March 7, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell received a patent for his new invention, the telephone. 138 years ago!

Bea wonders what old Alex would think about the 2014 version of the telephone.  We can take photos and videos.  We can play games, get directions, watch a movie. We can count calories and listen to music. We can update our Facebook and Twitter status, text our  buds, using all those short cut words that make no sense; or even “sext” (which is extremely ridiculous and truly sad, in my opinion: sad that teenagers/young adults don’t have respect for themselves or their peers).  Bell must be turning over in  his grave!

Have you ever noticed two people on a date, sitting at a restaurant, not talking to each other?  Instead, they’re on their respective cell phones, checking out their FB status or texting someone else.  Or people at a store or service counter, talking on their phone, ignoring the cashier?  Bea has seen parents in her neighborhood, taking their toddler for a walk, but they’re not communicating with their kid!  Each of them is on the phone, missing out on real quality family time.  It’s weird.

All that stuff we can do on our phones, yet face-to-face and ear-to-ear conversations are becoming a lost art.  It’s a shame.  Somehow Bea doesn’t think this is was Alexander Graham Bell’s intent.

What do you think?


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03 MarMarch: Save Your Vision Month

The American Optometric Association recognizes March of each year as Save Your Vision month.

Protecting her vision has been important to Bea since she turned 12 years old, the first year she had to wear glasses  (Lousy timing, too; she started middle school that year and her peers just loved to pick on the  “four-eyed” kids).  Back then, she was simply nearsighted – now it’s heavy-duty nearsightedness, presbyopia, bifocal contacts, as well as fear of macular degeneration, cataracts, and other age-related eye conditions.  God, it’s great being in your late fifties.  (Hope you can read “sarcasm.”) Ironically, two-eyed people seem to be in short supply these days; we’re surrounded by 4-eyers, and those that hide their four eyes with contact lenses.

Baby Boomers, the youngest of us are turning 50 this year!  Aging eyes are at risk for macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma. . . . That’s why Save Your Vision month is so important – we need to not only be aware of these conditions, we need to prevent them.  This means an annual vision check by your optometrist, and for more in-depth eye care, a visit to the ophthalmologist.

Our vision changes in several ways as we age.  Here’s a list of those changes:

  • Presbyopia:  Makes it difficult for our eyes to focus      on close-up objects – small print looks blurry.  As we age, the lens of our eyes becomes less flexible and this is what causes that blurred vision when we try to read small print.
  • Color vision decreases: The fault of our lens again, because it becomes cloudy as we age; this is known as a cataract. Cataracts can be removed through surgery.
  • Peripheral vision loss:  This is caused by the eye disease, glaucoma, which eventually causes people to lose their vision.  You can read more about glaucoma at the Glaucoma Research Foundation.
  • Worsening night vision:  As we age, those of us who are nearsighted, farsighted, 0r have an astigmatism, will have difficulty seeing at night, and may see a glare or haloes around headlights and traffic lights.
  • Dry eyes:  As we age, our tears cannot lubricate our eyes as well as when we were young.  Tears have three layers; a lipid, aqueous, and mucous layer, and if one of the layers doesn’t work like it should, dry eyes develop.

For more information on age-related eye diseases, healthy eye tips, and how to take care of your aging eyes, visit the National Eye Institute.

For further reading:

Good foods for eye health

Aging Eyes, or Why the Heck Can’t I Read That?

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25 FebA Girl and Her Mom


Mary (Marie) Garr

Mary (Marie) Garr


I recently read an article in the March 2014 Woman’s Day magazine.  Titled Lasting Lessons, it was written by author Mary Hogan.  Lasting Lessons was about Mary’s relationship with her mom, and the lessons she learned on her mom’s deathbed.  The article brought me to tears; not unusual for me, especially when it comes to reading about parent/grown child relationships.

In this case, perhaps my tears stemmed from the fact that unlike the author, I wasn’t able to say my good-byes to my mom before she died.  She was living in a nursing home in Tawas, Michigan, around 3 ½ hours from where I live – and one evening she simply passed away in her sleep.

Or perhaps the tears came because like Ms, Hogan, I didn’t have an easy, breezy relationship with my mother.  The author felt the burden of her mom’s neediness after her sister died from cancer.  She also felt extremely guilty, because she kept her promise to her sister not to tell their mom that the cancer had spread.  Suddenly, her sister died – Ms. Hogan confessed to her mom what she had known, and her mom felt betrayed.

For me, the youngest child of five, born when my mom was 42 (definitely an “oops” baby), I often felt the huge generation gap between my mom and I.  As a child, I was very close to her, but  when I ran headlong into my teen years, the distance grew.  My mom was already 55 years old!  What did she know about teenagers of the seventies?  Not much, it seemed to me.  She was over-protective, laid the guilt trip on me all the time, didn’t want to hear my opinion about anything (and believe me, I had an opinion about everything!)

We muddled through our relationship, and I alternated between feeling loving towards her and being angry at her and her old-fashioned ways.  Our relationship was filled with misunderstandings.

By the time my daughter was born, when I was 33, my mom was 75 years old, and suffered from a myriad of age-related conditions: heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes.  Though she would live another 11 years, those years were filled with hospital stays, doctor visits, a move to an assisted living facility and ultimately, her final move to a nursing home.

When she moved to the assisted living facility from her apartment, she became depressed, and suffered from mild dementia.  Any chance I had at creating a better relationship by truly communicating with her was lost.  Of course, I visited her at the nursing home, but at that point, there just wasn’t much to say; just trivial conversations.

Then one day she was gone.

Now that I’m well into my fifties, I long to have that time back. I wish I could go back and say all the things I should have said when she was alive. After she died, I remembered all the good things about her:

How she was the family historian, and seemed to know everything about every long-lost relative.  She loved going to family weddings and funerals alike, just to show that “Aunt Marie” cared. She gave unconditional love to her grandchildren. She was friendly, talkative, and made friends everywhere she went.  She could never remember the punch line to a joke.

She loved to polka at weddings with one of her best buddies, my Aunt Esther.  I can still picture them dancing at weddings.

Nowadays, people will tell me I’m like her.  I’m happy about that.  But I sure can’t polka like she did.

I love you, mom.  And I miss you.


Mary (Marie) Garr
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14 FebHow Old Do You Feel?

Baseball legend Satchel Paige once asked:  “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?”

Bea would be 35 years old, which is the age she feels on the inside. Why 35?  Don’t know.  She just knows that she doesn’t feel 56, with 57 breathing down her neck!

Bea knows she’s in her fifties because she keeps getting this old people’s magazine subscription  in the mail.  You know, fellow boomers:  The AARP magazine. And she actually reads it! Yep, long gone are the days of Cosmopolitan and Glamour magazines.

There are gray strands in her hair, that peek out at the roots those days before she gets her hair colored and highlighted.  Character lines (certainly not wrinkles) on her face.  She can’t read small print without reading glasses, and her bladder just isn’t reliable. And age spots?  They keep showing up on her arms.

It’s weird to Bea that the outside of her is aging, because on the inside,  she’s definitely 35.

What’s up with that? 

One day, you know what’s gonna happen.  She’s going to wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, see a 75 year old woman staring back at her, and wonder who in the heck THAT is??

Bea remembers when her mom was in an assisted living center.  At the time, she was around 84 years old.  She would tell Bea “I don’t belong here!  These people are so old, and they’re all senile!”  (Quietly of course; she didn’t want to hurt the old folks feelings).  At the time, Bea just laughed.  She never thought that she would end up feeling the same way as her mom did!

If you’re a baby boomer like Bea, you probably feel the same way she does about this aging thing.  According to the article You’re Old, I’m Not,  from the  February/March 2014 AARP magazine, people taking the magazine’s survey, with ages ranging from 40 to 90, insisted that they were NOT old.  Additionally, most of the survey respondents said that others would describe them as younger than they truly were.

We’ve all heard that aging is just a number, and it’s your attitude that counts. Bea believes in that philosophy with all her heart. If we feel young on the inside, and believe we are capable beings, no matter what our age, we will age better than if we allow ourselves to become the stereotypical old person.

There are many positives to aging:

  • Lack of self-consciousness; we just don’t care what others think of us anymore.
  • Enjoying the present moment; as we age, we just don’t know how many more moments we have left: we’d better enjoy today!
  • Realizing that making a mistake isn’t the end of the world; life goes on even if we do something stupid.
  • Because of the life experiences we’ve had, we are more resilient and able to handle the things life throws at us.

As for Bea, she feels more confident, doesn’t mind laughing at herself, and wants to make the most of her time on this earth.  She’s 35, going on 57 – and, baby,  it’s just a number.

How about you, fellow boomers?  How old do YOU feel? 

For further reading:

Jaroff, Leon. The Surprising Joys of Aging.

Lazar, Kay. Aging Has Its Benefits.

Sacks, Oliver. The Joy of Turning 80. AARP. February/March 2014.

Willis, Melinda. Study: Aging Attitudes Impact Longevity.





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01 FebFashionable Aging

One day  Bea was at the mall and strolled through The Limited. She spotted a pair of skinny leg jeans and immediately envisioned herself as a long-legged gazelle-like creature who would look simply marvelous.  Never mind that Bera is  5’5.”  With short legs. And hips.  Oh yea, and she’s also 56.

She didn’t even try them on in the store, to check out what her behind would look like. After all, this was The Limited’s “sexiest fit ever.”  But alas, at home, in front of my mirror, reality slapped Bea in the face . . . and butt . . . and legs. . .  Sadly, she realized that the sexiest fit ever did absolutely nothing for her body type.

So what was Bea thinking?  She was thinking that even at fifty-something, she  still wants to look chic, and modern.  But no,  despite a lapse of reality when she saw those jeans, she really doesn’t want to look like she’s 20-something anymore –Women at Bea’s age and older who try to look that young, well, in her opinion, they’re just aging themselves.  Those jeans belonged to someone of another generation, not Bea.

For any of you 50+ readers out there, however, remember this:  We DO NOT have to look frumpy or to use an old-fashioned term, “dowdy.”  We don’t have to wear elastic waist jeans or shapeless sweaters.  We don’t have to wear all black clothing to “slim” ourselves.   We can look chic and sexy without going overboard. We CAN celebrate our bodies and sense of style, no matter what size we are! It’s all about self-confidence and self-acceptance.

One of the great things about the internet is all the wonderful resources we have at our fingertips.  Here are some great ones relating to style and beauty for you women out there who, like Bea, are in the autumn of their lives:

  • Fifty Not Frumpy   Looking for outfit ideas? Recipes? Beauty routines?  This is a wonderful blog for women “of a certain age,” who just want to look as good outside as they feel inside!  Susan Street, the editor of “Fifty Not Frumpy,”  is an inspiration!
  • Inside Out Style Blog  Imogen Lamport is the writer of the “Inside out style blog,” another great fashion/style/beauty resource for women of all ages.  I love her “capsule wardrobe ideas,” her post about what necklaces to wear with certain clothing necklines, her “what to wear” posts.  Imogen is definitely a style expert, and her blog shows it!
  • Not Dead Yet Style   I found Patti’s blog on the Fifty Not Frumpy site, read her January 29 post, A Handsome Woman, and was hooked. I like her Visible Monday idea, in which fellow bloggers post an outfit/look that they love and feel “visible” wearing.I particularly liked Patti’s posts: This is Who I Am  and Beauty and Style: What’s Gotten Better with Age?
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