Top Baby Boomer Travel Blog 2015 Awards

And the winners are… pause for breath-holding… pause for envelope opening …

Well, actually there are 20 winners.  But I am beyond excited to be named one of FlipKey’s Top Baby Boomer Travel Blogs to follow in 2015.  There are some well-seasoned travelers and heavy-hitter bloggers in the mix.  And now me and Just a Backpack and a Rollie.

I’ll take it!

And hubs and I will keep on dragging our backpacks and rollies and sharing our adventures with you throughout 2015.  I’ve been busy applying for house sitting gigs all along the west coast from Canada to Mexico.  And we have some very interesting gigs in the works.

So please click on through to the wonderful post on the FlipKey blog and check out our fellow boomer travel bloggers.  They are all truly an inspiration to me.

And here is our little Award.  She’s not a gold statue, but I think she’s pretty cute.

Aging with Attitude ~

It’s not your age.  It’s your attitude.  Isn’t that what they say?

Well, I’ve got plenty of attitude and some days its not the attitude of gratitude I’ve been striving for.  Some days I just feel old.  And tired.  And really tired of working for a living.  I’m the last of my peers to still be chained to a desk and while most of the time I am extremely grateful for the job and the paycheck, sometimes I think I’ll never get out of the retirement starting gate.  The grass looks greener where my friends are playing, and gardening, and traveling and starting happy hour at 3 o’clock instead of our usual 5:30 meet-up time back in days when we all snuck out of work a little early for attitude adjustment hour.  I’ve got short-timer’s disease for sure and the time feels very long indeed.

But here’s the thing.  While I am ready to give up the desk jockey job, I am not ready to give up some kind of meaningful work.  Whatever work might look like.  So, I’ve been trying on all kinds of hats to see what fits and what feels kinda groovy.  At least for a while.  travel writer – blogger – world explorer – pet and house sitter – walking enthusiast – photographer.  So many hats!  So little time.  And I still don’t know what I want to be when I finally get the chance for my second or third or forth acts.

It's fun trying on new hats!

It’s fun trying on new hats!

Some people seem to float from act to act with ease.  I admire these folks.  And, I love hearing their stories and learning from their adventures.

Meet Barbara Beskind ~


photo courtesy of IDEO/Senior Planet

Barbara is somewhere around her 6th Act.  She is a role model extraordinaire.  Barbara just celebrated her 90th birthday – with her co-workers at IDEO, a Silicon Valley innovation company, where she recently started her latest gig as one of their designers.  A job she won when she competed in the firm’s design challenge for products for older adults.  Every Thursday Ms. Beskind travels by train from her retirement community in San Mateo, CA to the IDEO offices in San Jose.  She’s not an engineer, but she certainly is a real life adviser.   Read more of Barbara’s inspiring story on Senior Planet.

Rock-on older ladies, indeed!

So, my dears, here’s the question of the day. What does aging with attitude mean to you?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.




Rock on Older Ladies

Rock on Older Ladies!

When I saw this video I knew I had to share it on the blog.  Enjoy!

Hubs and I are lacing up our walking shoes and heading out to the Columbia Gorge for a birthday weekend celebration and lots of walking at the Columbia River Gorge Biennial Classic Volkswalk event  at Cascade Locks.  With 600+ walkers from all over the world, 13 different walks and 1 bike ride, plus fun social events, and lots of new people to meet I know it’s going to be a great time.  Now all we need is some sun.

Enjoy this toe-tapping tune and share it with women everywhere!

Cheers to weekend adventures and older women.

Rock on.


Female Nomads ~ retired women are taking to the open road

My friend Lois is a nomad.  She’s also single and pretty much retired.  Lois doesn’t have a huge income or the security of a well-stocked trust fund.  And yet, Lois has one of the richest, fullest lives of anyone I know.  This delightful, spirited woman lives in a 10 foot 1965 vintage Aloha trailer that she pulls with her aging Mercury Montero.  Freedom?  Oh my! She’s got that in spades.  A couple of weeks ago, Lois waved goodbye to Portland’s rainy winters and headed south with “Li’l Homey”.   She shares her travels and nomad lifestyle on her blog Playing a New Game.  Thank you Lois for  inspiring the gypsy hiding in me.Lil Homey

These days more and more senior single women are taking up life on the road.  They are firing up the RV or hitching up the trailer to explore the highways and back roads all across the country.  They are creating new communities and making friends as they go.  And, while there are are some very interesting challenges in this lifestyle, these gals are rising to the challenge and loving their new home on the road.

If you are feeling the call of the open road as a retirement option, check out these very informative links for more information and a some stories that are guaranteed to make you smile

Unlikely Nomads ~  the Christian Science Monitor

Happy End of the Road for RVers – Assisted Living on Wheels ~ AOL Real Estate

And, finally, if you are not sure the RV life is for you, perhaps you like to give it a try for a night or two in one of the beautiful vintage trailers at the Shady Dell Resort in Arizona or one of the eight cuties available in Bend, Oregon at Cowgirl Cabins.

Who’s in for a Wild Women’s Weekend this summer at Cowgirl Cabins?  Sounds like fun, doesn’t it.

See you on the road.


Today’s Inspiration ~




In Celebration of Grand Others ~

Grandmothers are pretty cool, but  if you’ve been lucky enough to have a “Grand Other” in your life, you are truly blessed.  Grand Others don’t have to love you…they just do.  They see you through the lens of their rose colored glasses.  You glow in their presence.

It’s true.  And, it is very special.

My sister is a Grand Other.  One of those wonderful “aunties” with a big loving heart

Everybody's Auntie Ann

Everybody’s Auntie Ann

and a kind helping hand for everyone she meets.   My granddaughter used to call her auntie-grandma and it suits her perfectly.   She sprinkles joy.  She listens without judgment.  She genuinely cares, and she is tireless in her giving.  She is humble and isn’t aware of her own power, but it’s there.  She will tell you that God has blessed her.  And I’m sure that’s true.  But she has passed along that blessing ten-fold.

She’s making the world a better place one person at a time.

She leads with love.  Every time.

That’s exactly what Grand Others do.

And our lives are richer because of them.

This I know for sure.

Saipan Auntie Ann

Saipan Auntie Ann

So let’s raise our glasses in a virtual toast to all the Grand Others and the Special Aunties (you Grand Others in waiting).

Thank you for all you do.  Your powerful love lights up our lives.




Passion + Purpose = One Powerful Grandmother ~

          An international grandmothers movement is underway.               Grandmothers have never worked so universally and effectively for social, economic, and political justice.

I’m honored to have been invited to participate in a blogging campaign in support of Grandmother Power.  I am truly inspired by the women I know personally and those I read about or see in the media who are so passionately and so creatively and often so quietly taking actions big and small that are making our world a better place for our children and grandchildren.  This powerful movement is sweeping around the world and I want very much to be a part of it.  Count me in!

I thought it would be fun to post grandmother stories all week.  Stories by grandmothers, stories about the unique joy of being grandmothers, and stories of amazing and brilliant grandmothers who have not only inspired me and changed my life, but are using their grandmother power to light the way for so many others.

I say we start with amazing and brilliant ~

Paola in Kenya  Photo credit - Norma Adniambo

Paola in Kenya
Photo credit – Norma Adniambo

I don’t think there could be a better way to kick-off our week of celebrating the power of grandmothers everywhere, than to share some insights, experiences and words of wisdom from Paola Gianturcothe powerful grandmother and creative force behind Grandmother PowerPaola has opened our eyes and our hearts with her beautiful photographs and powerful stories of women making a difference all over the globe.   I’m excited to share Paola’s story, in her own words, of how she made the leap from exhausted executive to her brilliant and powerful Second Act as a photojournalist.  She is truly an inspiration to so many of us who are still trying to figure out what’s next.

Nancy:  Paola, women over 60 are a huge untapped resource in the world.  For many of us, some time after 50 is when we finally begin to find our true voice and start to feel those first twinges that maybe there’s something more we are here to do.  What words of wisdom and advice are you able to share as someone who felt that call and followed your heart?

Paola: After 35 years in marketing, advertising, public relations and corporate communications, I decided to teach too…and at the end of one year, I’d earned two years worth of money (bought myself a year), had one million frequent flier miles (could fly and stay virtually anywhere free), and I was exhausted!

At 55, I had been walking on Mount Tamalpais (Mill Valley, Calif.), asking myself “What next, what now?” without answers. I decided to take a year off and do only what I loved most (photography and travel in the developing world) and wanted to learn next (about women’s micro-businesses). My “one-year sabbatical” became my first book and a second career: documenting the lives of women all over the world.

Nancy:  What inspired you most on this journey?

Paola:  I was inspired by the strength and stories of women everywhere. At first, I worried that the women I interviewed would see me as so different from them that they wouldn’t tell me anything.  But in fact, people don’t travel to listen to the women I met (who were mostly rural, mostly poor, mostly ill educated) and they told me things I would never have asked. Like all of us, they wanted to be witnessed and wanted their voices to be heard.

Sharing a laugh with women in South Africa in 1996. Photo credit - Toby Tuttle

Sharing a laugh with women in South Africa in 1996.
Photo credit – Toby Tuttle

Nancy:  How has the path unfolded for you?

Paola:  Having worked in large corporations where I’d learned to set objectives, define strategies and tactics and “make it happen,” I was amazed how my life unfolded. Each step was one that I couldn’t possibly have planned. For example, the books developed out of each other. As I packed my cameras having interviewed embroiderers in the desert of Gujarat, one said, “Come back in the fall and we’ll teach you the dances we perform all night to honor the Mother God.” I did, and that experience turned into my next book, Celebrating Women.

Nancy:  What kind of support did you have and how did you reach out to create a new network?

Paola:  I  have a husband who had two million frequent flier miles of his own, which he gave me.  That made it possible to do more books. Lots of husbands wouldn’t have liked it that their wives travel alone for weeks at a time, but David cooks for himself and does his own laundry even when I’m home. When he got lonesome, he began working at a drugstore in the evenings (husbands have thought of worse things to do while their wives are away!) And he has always cheered me on. Because I was stepping into a whole new career, David was my “support-network” at the beginning.

Nancy:  You left the corporate world to step back from stress and exhaustion.  It looks like you have ramped up a very busy life again.   Are you able to keep a good work/life balance these days or are you happiest when you are going 120 mph?  I think that word “balance” is very different for each of us.  What does it mean to you?  What do you do just for fun?

Paola:  Busy is not necessarily the same as stressful. if you’re doing something you feel passionate about, you can go 120 mph without even noticing it! (People ask why I don’t have an assistant, but I can’t imagine giving away such fun.) I recognize that my life is not for everyone, and my idea of fun is unique.

I love traveling to places most people don’t go and sitting on the floor of huts listening to interesting people. It is creatively challenging to photograph them well; I am always learning and growing.  For each book, I may travel over three years, taking a number of 3-5 week working trips. I shoot in the early morning and late afternoon when the light is good, interview mid-day, and write after dinner. By now, I’ve worked in 55 countries.

Paola with Iranian Students in 2008 Photo Credit - Nancy Williams

Paola with Iranian Students in 2008
Photo Credit – Nancy Williams

Drafting each book takes a year and during that time, I am a hermit. I get up, go to the computer, get up and go to bed. My “break” is to watch the rainbows that spin from the prism in my office window every afternoon and I marvel at how lucky I am to get to do challenging, difficult, important work.

The last few months before a book is released are very demanding: working with the editor and designer, writing the website and working with the web designer, creating direct mail pieces, arranging book tour details, creating slide presentations, planning press with the PR people. In the midst of that crunch, I always vow that I will figure out a calmer way to handle those four months next time. But I haven’t yet.

Promoting the book is a different kind of fun. My books are all philanthropic projects so selling books means raising money for causes I care about: 100% of my author royalties from Grandmother Power go to African grandmothers raising children orphaned by AIDs. My work has meaning and purpose.

For relaxation? I read. I watch movies with my husband. I play with my Grand Girls. Swim. Go to the gym (without which, at age 73, I’m convinced that none of the rest would be possible).

Nancy:  Did becoming a grandmother create a new lens through which you see the world?   How so?  Were your grandchildren the inspiration for your latest book?  What do you hope this book will achieve?

Grandmother Power -  Paola at home with her girls

Grandmother Power – Paola at home with her girls

Paola:  Because I am a grandmother, I wondered what grandmothers were doing other places. I discovered an unheralded, international activist grandmother movement, full of women who thought (as do I) that this troubled world is just not good enough for anybody’s grandchildren.

Grandmother Power, was inspired by African grandmothers who were raising children orphaned by AIDS. I met so many of them when I was working there in 2006 that I left convinced that grandmothers hold the future of the continent in their hands.

Grandmothers today are younger, better educated, healthier and (in the Global North) more career-experienced than they have ever been. As Boomers become Grands, they (who came of age in the 1960’s) know they can change the world because they did. In other words, the days of the “knitting, tatting, rocking-chair-ridden grandmother” are long gone.

But many grandmothers in the US are not yet part of the international activist grandmother’s movement, perhaps because they don’t know about it. And that’s a waste of a lot of urgently needed talent.

Nancy:  I want to be part of the Grandmother Power Movement and I am sure lots of women reading your story will as well.   How can we get involved?

Paola:  I hope Grandmother Power will inspire those who are not yet engaged to collaborate to make the world a better place. To start, join, support and network with grandmother groups. I’m convinced it will take all of us, Grandmothers and GrandOthers, working together, to create hope and possibility for our world.

Nancy:  In your book, Grandmother Power, you photographed and interviewed grandmother groups all over the world.  What is your process for locating your subjects, making contact, establishing rapport and getting to the heart of their story?

Paola:  I do preliminary research on as many as 70 different groups, then select 15 that, together, present a balanced variety of issues, ethnicities and geographies. (I make sure the groups are on the United Airlines routes so I can fly there free!)

I email the head of each group, describe my concept, and ask if the organization would like to participate. When I arrive, my interpreter and I meet with the group’s leader, and decide whom I will interview and when. My interpreters are almost always local women; their English may not be perfect, but bringing in a well-educated “city woman” as interpreter is a nonstarter; no one will talk.

I begin every interview by showing pictures of my family and showing my books so the woman will understand who I am and what she’s getting into. I never take pictures until after she has talked for at least an hour and I have a sense of who she is and what pictures might reveal her world. The interviews feel like conversations, although I explore areas I’ve defined carefully in advance. At the end, I always invite the woman to ask whatever she wants to ask me. Turn about is fair play!

Because it’s important to me to represent the women well, I send every chapter draft to the interpreter to read to each woman so she can correct any factual inaccuracies.

Nancy:  Do you develop lasting friendships with some of the women you interview or follow up on their lives after your time together?   I’m sure each meeting touched you in different ways.  Have you seen any direct impact of your stories on their lives?

Paola:  Yes, I stay in touch with many of the leaders of the groups that are featured in my books, and feel blessed by their friendship.

Paola with Yasmina in Panama in 1997 Photo Credit - TobyTuttle

Paola with Yasmina in Panama in 1997
Photo Credit – TobyTuttle

And yes, I have been astonished and awed, to see the direct impact of my books on women’s lives.  For example, I went back to India to work not long after a catastrophic earthquake and saw all the women in one village rebuilding their huts with funds wired by a reader of my first book. I was so touched that I wept.

Nancy:  What’s next?  Do you have more stories to tell through your photographs and books or do you have other visions to conquer and roads to explore?

Paola:  I always have a file of ideas of what to do next. I won’t open that file until January 2014. Until then, Grandmother Power is where the action is. For example, The Grand Rapids Public Museum in Michigan will present a Grandmother Power exhibit from September through December 2013.

Nancy:  And, I finally a much more lighthearted question – If you were a pair of shoes, what kind would you be and why?

Paola:  “Strappy black sandals, flats. I’m comfortable being casual and being fancy—and summer is my favorite time of the year.”

Thank you, Paola.  Your purpose and passion have inspired me once again.  My mind is buzzing with ideas!


Taking the plunge ~ a swimsuit shopping adventure

A couple of months ago, I received an email from a friend and avid Just a Backpack fan, with a very interesting proposal.  Would I be open to having guest bloggers?  Hmmm.  Maybe.  Not sure.  How would that work?  Lot’s of questions and no answers at the time.  It took a while, but it finally hit me – this blog is all about seeking new adventures in our later years.   I love sharing new ideas and experiences with my readers and my hope is that they create a spark to dip your toes in the water, give it a try, and then hold your nose and dive right in when you find something that looks interesting.  So, when Judy thought she might like to give writing a blog post a try – I’m here to give her a wholehearted Yes!  You go girl. 

And, now Judy is taking the plunge and making her debut as our very first guest blogger.

* * * * * * *

Is there anything as daunting and terrifying as shopping for a new swimsuit when you’re a “woman of a certain age”?  Truth be told, when I’ve been any of my ages, I’ve had body issues that made bathing suit shopping anything but fun.

A trip to Palm Desert and sunshine was the impetus for this particular shopping adventure.  I’d put it off as long as possible.  I even thought I’d wait until I got to California to shop, but I didn’t want to waste precious sunshine time in a store.  My old bathing suit still fit, sort of, but the straps made a crackly sound – which meant the elastic was gone.  So I had no choice.

A swimmer friend recommended Macy’s or a shop out of my usual traffic patterns.  So I checked the web and found Popina’s  – a local swimsuit shop that even has a selection of their own creations.  I asked the woman on the phone if she would help me find a suit that would make me look good.  “Oh, yes,” she replied, “and we even have beer.”  Surprised, I asked how beer could help my tummy look smaller.  “It won’t, but it will make you feel better”.  This sounded like it could be fun.

Popina's ~ a little slice of heaven in Portland

Popina’s ~ a little slice of heaven in Portland

With trepidation, flip flops and white legs, I drove to Popina’s the following day. This is a fun store, full of sunshiny decorations to get you in the mood. I was the only customer in the store at 11:00 a.m. and Kristen gave me lots of personal attention, which was exactly what I needed.   She really knew her stock and listened to what I wanted.  The racks at Macy’s would not have done that.

I learned that there are now suits that are chlorine resistant so they won’t break down easily from the chemicals.  She brought me a selection of suits to try on and they actually looked pretty good – until I looked in the rear view mirror.  No, the suit didn’t make my butt look big  – it was discovering I had back fat and the suit accentuated it.  Where did that come from? Too much information to share – too matronly. This hadn’t shown up in clothes.  This can’t be me!  I’ve had lots to contend with in the past several years – like  a kidney transplant – but not back fat!  Ughhh!

Kristen to the rescue – She totally “got it” and found a suit similar to the one I liked, but it was cut higher in the back – which made it much more flattering and kept the back fat in check.  Within about 45 minutes, start to finish – I  bought a new suit that I actually like.  Definitely a more fun than traumatic experience.  I didn’t drink the beer, but now I was totally ready for the sunshine.

Where's the pool?

Where’s the pool?

My trip to Palm Desert and sunshine was wonderful.  But the most delightful part was being amongst active women, all of a certain age, and with many different body  types… all of them enjoying life.   Having fun in the sun does not mean fitting into an itsy bitsy teenie weenie.  It does mean being who I am – a woman of a certain age, enjoying my good health, my body and my life.             ~Judy Romano~

 * * * * *

Judy and her husband sold their business a couple of years ago and are now exploring their own second acts in retirement.  She loves discovering all of the new possibilities and adventures life is bringing her way.  These days, Judy calls herself a very happy dilettante.

Grandmother Power!

It seems like every day the media issues another dire warning about how we aging baby boomers are about to become a giant drain on the country.  Since I’m the leading edge of this soon-to-be-retired tsunami of grey-hairs, I usually feel a combination of fear, depression and anger with each new media blast.  We’re the children of the sixties for goodness sake.  Our generation of women fought for equality, marched for peace, changed the world.  We were the superwomen who burned our bras in public so that our daughters could have it all – careers, families, and a seat at the table.  We made a difference then.  What makes the media think that we aging boomers (women and men) won’t step up and do it again?  Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I don’t think we’re done yet – just because we’re about to become retired.   In fact, our 60’s, 70’s and even 80’s might be the perfect time to step up again and change the world in new ways.  We’ve always had the compassion and the passion, but now we have the knowledge, skill and a whole lot of experience to add to the mix.  Pretty simple, really.  But not always easy.  We need a cause.  We need a movement…

And so it was perfect timing when I received an email notification from photojournalist and grandmother_power_300dpi author, Paola Gianturco announcing the publication of her latest book – Grandmother Power, a Global Phenomenon – documenting a growing new international women’s movement.  In her book, Paola shares the stories 120 activist grandmothers in 17 grandmother groups from 15 countries on 5 continents who are fighting courageously and effectively – against poverty, disease, illiteracy, and human rights abuse – to create a better world for grandchildren everywhere.

From the Raging Grannies who dress in crazy hats and aprons and sing funny songs to attract media attention to key political issues, to the African grandmothers raising their grandchildren orphaned by AIDS, to the illiterate grandmothers in India who spent six months learning to be Barefoot Solar Engineers, bringing light to their dark villages, Paola gives a voice to the work and power of grandmothers all over the world.

Paola Gianturco is a brilliant and deeply committed woman who I had the very good GM_author_photo fortune to meet five years ago when she so generously came to Portland to speak at one of my Flourish Sunday Salons about her book Women Who Light The Dark.   Several years ago Paola left the corporate world to begin her second act as a photojournalist.  Through the lens of her camera, we meet women from all walks of life, accomplishing extraordinary things, in all parts of the world.  What a gift.  Paola has published five books and I’m sure she’s not done yet.

Reading a book like Grandmother Power give me a powerful shot of inspiration, motivation and hope.  Aging and retirement don’t have to be a slow march to the grave.  As an aging, soon-to-be-retiree, and a grandmother myself, I agree completely with Paola (also a grandmother) when she says ~ “Today’s grandmothers are younger than, better educated than, more professionally experienced than, and (despite the economic downturn) relatively better off than grandmothers have ever been.  My dream is that they will ask themselves how they can best use their experience, energy, wisdom and creativity – their power – to create a better future for grandchildren everywhere who deserve to live in a better world.”

Come on grandma.  What are we waiting for?  There’s work to be done!

If you are inspired to use your grandmother power but are not sure where to start, check out the Grandmother Power website.  It is filled with information on how to find a program that calls to you and get involved – join a group, start a group, learn more and get involved so you can make a difference.  Buy the book!  Burn your bra!  Join the movement!

All proceeds from Grandmother Power go to support Grandmothers to Grandmothers.


What are you planning for your Third Act?

I am a big fan of TED Talks.   What began as an annual get-together of the brightest minds in technology and entertainment to share their creative ideas and vision for the world, has grown into an amazing resource of information and inspiration for all of us.  From the comfort of my own home, on my own time, I too can be awed by brilliant minds, stories of courage and humorous insights that are inspiring change and lighting the dark in every corner of this planet.

As a sixty-something woman who is still searching for meaning and purpose in my life, I love Jane Fonda’s concept that today’s 60 year old’s have about 30 years of extended life.  Not long ago, that was an entire lifetime.  In her talk at TEDx Women, Jane speaks about this additional life span as Life’s Third Act.  I’ve been spending a lot of time lately researching and planning for my own Third Act so finding this talk the other day was perfect timing.  Jane had some really interesting insights and good food for thought and I was ready to listen and learn.

Plus, at 74, that woman looks hot!

Thanks Jane for sharing your voice and your wisdom on the art of aging.