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       The Casserole Ladies - A Mostly True Story
The Casserole Ladies - A Mostly True Story

By: Billy and Linda Johnson I call him George. He lived a couple of houses down across the street in our neighborhood. A friendly guy that always waived as he drove by and always in a late model Cadillac. His bald head seemed to fit his paunchy body. His wife sat beside him many times. Her silver hair fit her age and prim appearance. Others told us George owned his on medical equipment business and did quite well. Work and family kept us busy, so we never thought much about George, until his wife died about seven years ago. Even though we did not know either of them very well personally, we felt sorry for him. Losing a loved one is devastating. We know. One of us occasionally inquired of neighbors who knew George better as to how he was doing. We received optimistic feedback and noticed a steady stream of cars into his driveway during the months after his wife’s death. George had children living in the area as well as a bevy of friends. Perhaps a half-dozen of George’s friends were older women who pulled into his driveway and exited their cars, always holding something in their hands, away from their bodies. Eventually, it dawned on us. These older women carried food. From the sizes and shapes of their packages, they most probably brought George some sort of casserole. We began calling them the Casserole Ladies. We vehemently deny any suggestions of snooping. Most of our observations occurred while sitting on our front porch, enjoying pleasant Alabama weather. Our conversations went something like this. “Looks like another Casserole Lady just went into George’s,” one of us would say. “Wonder what this one is bringing?” the other would ask in return. “Green bean casserole?” This is a favorite in the South. “Squash casserole?” Not as widely seen at social gatherings as is green bean casserole but more delicious, in one of our humble opinions. This went on for about six months until the stream of cars narrowed down to one. We forget the make and model but remember its driver as being a nice-looking older lady. She usually brought things with her. They did not appear to be limited to casseroles or even food. We noticed her car parked in George’s driveway for longer and longer periods and sometimes even overnight. “Looks like this Casserole Lady is staying,” one of us might have said as the woman drove by and waived to us while we sat on our front porch. “She probably had the winning casserole,” the other might have replied in tasteful jest. Her car became a permanent fixture and remained so until George died, about three years after his wife. No reports of marriage during that time ever surfaced. At their age, who cares? Something we most remember is George and his Casserole Lady waiving, smiling, and talking as they drove by. No doubt he cared for and missed his deceased wife. But she was gone, and life went on. George’s family deserved a father and grandfather not incapacitated by grief. We talked about George one evening after he passed away, and an idea formed. George’s situation was not unique. Differences in gender longevity exist on a widespread basis throughout the United States. Many older women seek companionship from a smaller pool of eligible males. We had noticed the Casserole Lady phenomenon before. How do unmarried women cope? How do they compete? Growing old can be a problem or an opportunity. Thus, our idea morphed into a book, THE CASSEROLE LADIES. We opted to make it a fictional humorous look at how five older unmarried Southern women compete for eligible bachelors in a world producing an insufficient supply. We figured after COVID-19, this country needs a good laugh. We just published our book this spring and hope it tickles readers’ funny bones. George would approve. Thank you, George. Billy and Linda Johnson are a husband and wife writing team and live in Florence, Alabama. Both grew up in the South—Linda in Sewanee, Tennessee and Billy in Panama City, Florida. Both attended the University of the South in Sewanee and got married shortly after graduation. Linda became a housewife and mother and raised two children during seventeen moves across the country. Billy’s forty-one-year career as a healthcare executive, half of that as an officer in the United States Navy Medical Service Corps, necessitated a stabilizing influence, and Linda stepped up to the plate. They have a daughter who lives with her family in Virginia. Besides writing, they spend much of their time traveling. THE CASSEROLE LADIES (ISBN: 978-1-7374282-0-6) is their first collaboration. The book is available on Amazon in paperback or eBook. You can visit Billy’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Billy4GoodBooks

Tips to Break Out from Your Covid Lazy Beauty Routine
Tips to Break Out from Your Covid Lazy Beauty Routine

By: Valorie Albertini Has your beauty routine become Covid Lazy?? I found myself going out with a touch of mascara and a mask. Then it became normal only adding lipstick maybe for Zoom meetings seemed like a lot. This is not about vanity but image, and pride in our appearance and ourselves. As my friend Marijo says “my mother had her hair done every week until she passed away. It was pride in her appearance and in herself. “ Don’t let dry skin make you look older than you feel! Let’s be real. Of course, skin doesn’t look like it did when we were 25. Skin that is smooth and hydrated makes us feel better. So, sluff off the old so the new can show through… Exfoliate and do it with a scrub/mask or a facial with dermabrasion...and moisture, moisture, and moisture (not an oily base). Spray 3 times a day. Use a spray with the essentials that our skin needs: hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5 and Na-pca (mist me) Is it time to rejuvenate your wardrobe? Ditch the sweatpants. Ditch the leggings. Be the spark of joy…Get out of the house. Make the effort. Dress it up. Snap out of it. “With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts” Eleanor Roosevelt. “A woman is like a tea bag you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water” Eleanor Roosevelt. Valorie Albertini has been involved with many aspects of the beauty business for the past 30 years. She was recruited by Jerri Reddding and spent years testing new products as Jhirmack’s Manager of Skin Care and Cosmetics. During her 9 years with Sebastian International, she served as Director of New Product Development as well as their corporate emcee and speaker worldwide. Companies such as Mastey de Paris, Tressa and Murad have utilized my skills and knowledge lecturing for them around the world, from Tokyo to Rome and extensively throughout the United States. Her years of experience have given her the ability to navigate through the haze of beauty fiction and fact with clarity and common sense. She is a licensed esthetician, cosmetologist, and entrepreneur. To learn more about her product line, visit Albertini International.

8 Tips to Nail the Interview Process
8 Tips to Nail the Interview Process

Losing a job at any age is difficult. It is particularly challenging when you are displaced later in your career. Questions percolate such as who will hire me at my age? Can I learn new systems at this point in my life? Where do I begin looking for a new job? Some people may even crunch numbers to determine if they have a viable retirement plan. It can all be so overwhelming and scary to process. I was recently laid off from a company I had been with for 14 years. My goal was to run out my career with them but on a random Thursday morning in February, they had other plans in mind for me! After listening to the displacement information that management conveyed to my department, I made the executive decision that the first order of business would be mimosas with my daughter. (Very good choice) I then assessed the situation and determined that I didn’t need to have all the answers that day as to what I would do and how I would get there. I did, however, decide that I needed to establish a timeline. I was fortunate that given the size of the company and years of service, I had racked up many months of severance. Although I would receive a steady paycheck and benefits for most of the year, tick tock tick tock, the weeks pass by quicker than you would think when you are out of work. I struck a balance to create a proactive job search while pushing back feelings of desperation in my pursuit. This plan included identifying “must haves” and “nice to haves” when accepting a new position. I had the mind set that getting laid off was actually a good thing! It was an opportunity to find the perfect position that suited me at this point in my life. (I told myself that regularly until I believed it). With a plan in place and goals in sight, I blanketed job sites with my resume, met with recruiters and began interviewing. That’s when the fun began. I had not interviewed in years and apparently based on some initial flops, it was evident that my interview skills did not match my qualifications. After consulting with experts and fine tuning my approach, here are tips to nail your interview! 1) Zoom call ready: We are all familiar with the old adage “dress for success.” When attending a zoom interview (all of my interviews were on an interface platform) make sure you dress the part, head to toe. Dress professionally yet stay true to your personal style. Add a pop of color or a scarf if that is your vibe. Ditch the yoga pants or pajama bottoms and put on your skirt or slacks. Wear your heels or boots as you would if attending the interview in person. If your hair, make-up and entire outfit is on point, your confidence soars. 2) Optimize your space: Find a quiet space in your home, preferably where Fido can’t be heard or seen. Remove distractions from your background so you are the focus of the interview. Ensure your space is organized and well put together. Keep things simple but don’t hesitate to include a few small items in your background that tell a little bit about you. Avoid sitting in direct contact with overhead fluorescent or incandescent lighting which is not the most flattering. Find a seat that provides direct, natural lighting which will compliment your look. 3) Test your technology: I had an interview that I assumed was a zoom call but it was actually Microsoft Meeting. Luckily, I realized my mistake in enough time to download the program. Make sure your video and audio are activated. Test systems so you are ready for the interview when the call begins. 4) Emphasize results: I interviewed with a company where I had all the qualifications for the job yet I was not offered the position. When I asked for feedback from the hiring manager, she said I provided a list of tasks but I did not discuss the results or impact of my work throughout my career. Providing a laundry list of what you have done is great, but more importantly, what improvements did you make to the workplace, what are the tangible and measurable results and impact of the work you performed. 5) Prepared scenarios: Of course we never know exactly what will be asked in an interview but in most cases, there will be at least one or 2 questions that start with “tell me about a time when…” Be prepared to provide a thoughtful scenario based on how you either improved a process, added to value to your department, resolved a challenge or even mitigated a mistake you had made. 6) Research: Employers want to see that you are interested in their business so research the company ahead of time and ask specific questions about topics that interest you about them. For example, if you are impressed with their philanthropy work supporting local communities or their state of the art technology, come prepared with questions to learn more. 7) Practice your skills: Interviewing is a skill like any other. The more you practice the better developed the skill. Ask a friend, partner or spouse to invite you to a mock zoom call so you practice not only the technology but you can also roll play attending an interview. If you have a friend who is a manager and conducts interviews in his or her line of work, even better. It is tempting to have fun with the process, however, if you take the role play seriously, you will gain a lot from the experience. 8) Ask for feedback: If you don’t get hired for a position that you thought was a good fit for you, don’t hesitate to ask for feedback. If you prepared for the interview, researched the company, created an appropriate background and dressed the part, you earned the right to ask why they went in another direction. Of course be respectful and wish them luck with the selected candidate but also let them know their feedback will help you as you continue your job search. It could sting so be prepared: I was told everything from “You are qualified but I can’t put a finger on why you are not the right fit” (Not helpful) to “you didn’t wow us” (Semi-helpful?) and “You didn’t provide us with results and impact” (Very helpful). The point is there will be rejection along the way and the more you understand why you didn’t get the job, the stronger your candidacy will be next time. After about an eight week job search, I was offered two positions in the same week. It is admittedly a little intimidating to think about learning new processes and systems at my age however I am actually really excited about the new adventure.

     Stay Organized With These 15 Minute a Day Tips
Stay Organized With These 15 Minute a Day Tips

Spring is right around the corner so it is a great time to think about decluttering, purging and organizing. When we embark on a seasonal clean-up, it is one thing to scrub your home from top to bottom and make goodwill runs, however, it is another to maintain a newly minted organizational system for the long haul. How many of us have worked on organizing our home in May only to have it crash and burn by Labor Day? Jenny Morin, author of Get Organized Quick:15 Minutes a Day to Organize Your Life, offers great advice for getting your house in tip top shape and ways for the whole family to keep up with systems into the future. Jenny Morin has been helping families and businesses with keeping spaces tidy since launching Efficient Spaces in 2008. Not only does Jenny add author to her repertoire of accomplishments, she is also a speaker, time management coach and of course business owner. Throughout her years helping others, she has discovered that many people need both physical assistance with organization as well as time management guidance. Thinking about organizing your cluttered space could be overwhelming. In her book, she talks about breaking down projects into 15 minute chunks of time which is an attainable time commitment. Since busy lives are an obstacle, having actionable tips that can be completed in short spurts of time is something we can all envision in our schedule. Jenny was encouraged by her husband, author of 12 fantasy books, to share her extensive knowledge by writing her book. She took hubby’s advice and we all get to benefit from her fabulous advice. Let’s take a look at just a few of Jenny’s many tips to organize your space and find a sense of calm in no other place than home sweet home. Ruthless NOT Reckless: Jenny tells us to be firm and discard items that you are not using on a regular basis but don’t just throw away an entire box without quickly checking its contents. She worked with a client who wanted to throw out an entire bin only for her to search it and find he had a $350 uncashed check from his grandmother. Buy in is key for chaos to calm: Jenny tells the story about a single mom whose house was completely out of control. It was disorganized and even dirty. The key to her success was her “buy in” to putting organizational processes in place, not just going through the motions of a one time clean-up. She was so proud of her rejuvenated home that she threw a party! That would have been unthinkable before getting order back in the home. Cleaning is cathartic: Listen to music for motivation, open windows, allow energy to flow in your room or invite a friend over to talk with you while you organize. You can even try on clothes and she can help you decide if it is a keeper or not. Family Tour: Once you get your house organized, label your cabinets and compartments then give your family a tour. Once your family is part of the process, they will respect the process and adhere to the system Work with your rhythm: Work with your own rhythm by picking the best time of day where you are most focused and ready to attack a home project. If you are a cup of coffee and “make it happen” type of person, plan on a morning schedule and avoid later hours when you feel more sluggish. Create a maintenance plan: Commit to a schedule to maintain your newly organized home. Put time on your calendar each week or month to ensure your new home order doesn’t fall apart. Avoid flat space pileup: Hang organizers on the walls and cabinets to create a home for your items. Resist the urge to create piles on flat spaces for mail, invitations or electronics or other random household things by instal Find a safe space: Dedicate an asset free space such as a space for old photos, family documents and family heirlooms. Be decisive: There are a lot of emotions tied in purging. Jenny suggests making a quick decision. If her client immediately says “I love it” then it is a keeper. If there is a pause, it is probably an item Jenny’s 2 top tips: If you are deciding to keep or purge an item, make the decision as you are holding it. If you put it aside for a future decision, it could be an easy way out of deciding. Make sure you have a home for everything. If you want to attain true home organization, every item must have a consistent place for it to go. Labeling is recommended so your family can help with keeping everyone on the same page. Get Organized Quick: 15 Minutes a Day to Organize Your Life was a #1 Hot New Read on Amazon in February and ranked #2 on Amazon in the Interior design reference category. Jenny Morin also offers virtual services for organizing, and time coaching. Go to Efficient Spaces to schedule an appointment with her. Professional Organizer Jenny Morin has helped many home and business owners get organized through her creative and simple approach to decluttering. Jenny is also a certified time coach, helping clients reach their goals, manage their schedule and have time for a rewarding life. Growing up on a small farm in Maine taught Jenny the value of hard work. There, she learned how to milk a cow, and got woken early up every morning by the family’s loud, roaming ducks. Jenny now lives in southern Oregon with her husband, novelist Frank Morin, and their four children.To her delight, she now is duck-free. Her pets include a golden doodle, Bella, who is convinced she’s queen of the world and a whoodle, Toby, who is a goofball. As a family, they love to golf, swim, ski and visit the redwood forest and the gorgeous Oregon coast. Jenny has been a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers since 2008, the year she started her organizing business in Vermont. Writing a book has been Jenny’s dream for a long time; she is gratified to see it happen. Many thanks go to her husband Frank and her daughter Kathryn for their work and for cheering her on! You can also check out Jenny on her YouTube Channel or check out her Facebook Page.

Got a Safety Deposit Box? Reconsider What You Store in It
Got a Safety Deposit Box? Reconsider What You Store in It

By: Eileen Moynahan As an estate organizer and administrator, I work in the death “space.” Aside from making me tremendously popular at parties, working in my chosen field exposes me to the good, the bad, and the ugly, often disguised as really poor planning. Preparing for end-of-life can be seen as unpleasant, so many of us just haphazardly throw together some plans and move quickly on to another topic. But let’s use some logic as we make these plans so they don’t backfire someday. Exhibit 1 Many people think that renting a safe-deposit box (SDB) at their local bank is a great place to store important documents. You know, the documents that you don’t want damaged in a fire or a flood, nor do you want them to be stolen in case of a break-in. I won’t argue against the advantages of having an SDB - go ahead, have a field day, but I will caution you, dear readers, against storing certain items in that SDB. Should you meet your demise suddenly, without warning, and you don’t have time to visit your SDB first to retrieve important items, the duty falls to your executor (if you have a will), your trustee (if you have a trust), or your administrator (if named by a court). Considering the legal hurdles over which an executor must jump to access the deceased’s SDB, I advise caution on a few points. Here’s what NOT to put in your SDB: YOUR MEDICAL DIRECTIVES Have you worked with an elder-law attorney to prepare healthcare directives in case you become incapacitated and are unable to speak for yourself? Excellent! I applaud you. But if you secure these documents in your SDB, they’re worthless. Healthcare proxies are only useful if first responders or your medical Power of Attorney can provide these documents to the hospital to which you’re taken. If you lock ‘em down, they may as well be very expensive toilet paper. YOUR ORIGINAL WILL OR TRUST Surveys show that about 70% of Americans now prepare a will or trust in advance of death. This is definitely progress. As you may know, your will names your executor, while your trust names a successor trustee. If you die intestate (without a will or a trust), a court will name an administrator on behalf of your estate. If your original will is locked in an SDB, which is only accessible with a court document plus that tiny key, then your executor has no proof of their authority. This would be necessary to access your SDB in the first place. You know, to find the will. That names your executor. Who can legally access your SDB. See what I mean? It’s a vicious cycle! YOUR CEMETERY OR MAUSOLEUM DEED Like that famous line from the movie “Moonstruck,” we’re all gonna die. In most cases, your loved ones will have 1-3 days in which to make arrangements. Perhaps you have carefully selected (and paid for) a plot in advance to make it easier on your family. Accessing that prepaid plot, however, requires the deed. Does your family even know that you purchased a plot, much less where the deed is?? There is no way they can access your SDB in time for your burial… unless you list a relative as co-owner on the SDB AND they know in advance that the deed is in there. As awkward as it may be to discuss this at Thanksgiving dinner (entertaining footnote: my mother did), you DO have to tell someone about the arrangements you’ve made. Unless you want to be disinterred after the original deed is found. Frankly, that’s smelly, traumatic, and expensive. Nobody wants that. We don’t know when our hour will come. But chances are, the bank will be closed when it does. Lock away the jewels, if you must, but keep your end-of-life documents accessible at all times… not just during bank hours! Eileen Moynahan founded Legacy Estate Organizing, an estate business that partners with executors to identify assets after a loved one passes away. Her book, After the Funeral: A Practical Memoir for Administering Your Loved One’s Estate, is available on Amazon. You can reach out to Eileen at: eileen@legacyestateorganizing.com, or feel free to visit her website at Legacy Estate Organizing.

Tips to Get Your Mojo Back When You Lost Your Groove
Tips to Get Your Mojo Back When You Lost Your Groove

Have you ever found yourself in a rut and you don’t know how to bounce back? Perhaps you were following a healthy diet or workout plan and fell out of your routine. You were on a pace to reorganize every room in the house and suddenly your process came to a screeching halt. Life gets busy and you want to stay connected with friends but your Friday wine night or Sunday zoom call have come to an end. When April and I launched Hello50 last March, I enjoyed every minute of managing the website and collaborating with women over 50 for our blog. As difficult as 2020 was, taking on the challenge of writing, selling our Never Better bags and establishing a community for women over 50 was truly a bright spot in an otherwise bleak year. However, life happened! I had some personal and professional competing responsibilities and unfortunately, my time commitment to Hello50 diminished. Now, I have never been a New Year’s Resolution kind of girl but I turned to the Hello50 community to find out how to reignite that spark and resume your passion when your routine fell by the wayside. Here are some tips to get get your mojo when you lost your groove: Don’t beat yourself up about falling off course: Before you think about ways to change course, know that taking a break can be your body and mind telling you it was necessary. Embrace the break, re-group and set your path forward. Set both long term AND short term goals: If your goal is to resume a diet, choose smaller goals rather than focusing on the total amount of weight you want to lose. It is much easier to stick to a plan if you can celebrate successes often. Getting into a pair of jeans is a great short term success rather than focusing only on the scale. If you started writing a book and you are looking to dig back into chapter 5, give yourself a timeframe for smaller chunks of the book so you can revel in completing a few pages or a chapter. Know what you what you are looking to achieve but celebrate small wins along the away. It is much easier to stay on a path when you find small successes often. Was your routine realistic? How many of us are guilty of getting into a commitment with unrealistic goals? If you are wondering why you fell out of your workout routine, was your 5 days a week of 5:00 am boot camp ever going to be sustainable in the long run? Take inventory of whatever it is you sought out to do and assess if the regiment is sustainable over the long run. It might be a matter of readjusting your time, emotional and physical commitment so you are more successful maintaining your routine in the long run. Connectivity: Whether we are in a learning environment or focused on a task, adults want to be connected to the relevance of what they want to achieve. When we launched Hello50, the goal was to establish an inclusive community for women over 50 by talking about topics of interest. Revisiting that goal was a good way for me to re-energize and get back to writing and collaborating with women over 50. Think about why your process was so important to you. You might need to remind yourself as to what it is you are trying to accomplish. Success metrics: You may have fallen out of your routine because you didn’t have metrics to identify your successes. If you had established a routine to cook healthy meals from scratch, your success metric might be a decrease in your blood pressure. Not only do you want to recall why you pursued a particular goal but how do you know if you are meeting your goal or coming up short. Create your own barometer throughout your journey to keep yourself motivated. Accountability calls: Find a person who is also focused on a goal or task and set up accountability calls. When we communicate our goals to someone or project them to the universe, we are more compelled to follow through. You and your accountability partner might help each other see blind spots or barriers to success. The good thing is your partner or accountability team could all be pursuing different passions but each of you help one another to stay on track. I had an accountability partner for several months - she was writing a book and I was writing for the blog and we helped each other stay motivated. Jenny just published her book! Block your calendar: Time blocking is a great way to stay organized so you are committed to a particular hour, day or time period for your selected activity. Set your phone alarm and block outlook so your time is allotted. Make sure you have a plan so a realistic amount of time is allotted throughout your week or you can time block a month at a time. Once it is on your calendar, it is harder to ignore. Meditate: If we are talking about rejuvenation, meditating, hiking or finding your inner peace is a great way to prepare yourself to take on new challenges. Shake off negative energy, forgive yourself for falling out of your routine and take one day at a time. The goal is for your new routine to become a habit and integrated into your life. Research shows that if you stick to a routine for 21-30 days, it can actually become part of your everyday routine. The question is how do you ensure your habit is not a temporary pursuit but rather a long term life change. Identify realistic goals, remind yourself what you want to accomplish and develop availability techniques. Before you know it, you will be back to your NEW self.

6 Tips for Setting An Inviting Table for the Holidays
6 Tips for Setting An Inviting Table for the Holidays

Whether your "bubble" is a table for two or a bit more expansive, nothing brightens up a meal like a perfectly set dinner table. We all have grandma's china or the place settings that we picked out for our wedding registry years ago and definitely would not choose it again today. Be a little daring this year and combine individual pieces from both of those sets to accent your dinner table and create a more interesting appeal. Let's take a look at some unique yet elegant ways to put some cheer in a holiday dinner by setting a fabulous table. 1) Linen Selection It is best to use a neutral color and plain pattern rather than a holiday themed or colored linen. Allow the accents to broadcast your holiday exuberance while your linen selection portrays a feeling of elegance. 2) Place settings It’s fun to mix and match the plates to give the table an eclectic look. Select a color palette of 2 to 3 colors but add a pop of another color using an individual item throughout your table. Enjoy using graphics, patterns and even match a casual larger plate with a more formal salad plate. Use a whole different textured plate as your bread basket or an animal print butter bowl. If you have a holiday patterned place setting your are dying to use, include one of the plates as an accent. Allow your place settings to create a visual presentation. 3) Stemware and glasses When it comes to your glassware, use a variety of heights between beverage and wine glasses to establish contrasting dimensions. Like your place settings, add unique glass to add interest to your table setting. Is there a local artisan who creates glassware? Support her local small business while spicing up your dinner table. 4) Add personalized name cards Add a beautiful name card tent for each place setting. Use beautiful holiday design and make them beautiful. Do you want to avoid dinner table topics like COVID-19 and politics? Include in each name card a question so you can go around the table throughout the dinner and enjoy some great conversation starters for you and your guests. As an alternative, add a different inspirational quote inside each name tent and ask each guest to share the quote. 5) The Centerpiece Allow the centerpiece to be the star of the show. Include elements from the outside such as berries, pomegranate, and pine shavings. As a rule of thumb, long and lean works best for your dinner party. You don't want your guests competing with the centerpiece while trying to engage with other guests nor do you want it to take up too much space for your guests to gather comfortably. 6) Candles If you have room on your table, a few candles add a nice glow and elegance to any dinner table. Be mindful of the scent. You don't want to overpower the room, frown out the aroma from the food or even worse, some of your guests might not enjoy the scent of candles. When thinking about your dinner table this holiday season, remember the 3 c's: creative, comfortable and cozy. Don't be afraid to mix different elements in the overall dining experience. Make sure your guests can enjoy the ambiance of the environment but not compete with it. Include fun elements to set the tone for an enjoyable dinner together. If you are not able to celebrate in a group this holiday season, keep your spirits high by looking forward to using these tips for a future gathering with friends and family.

The Best Sweater Picks for the Winter
The Best Sweater Picks for the Winter

With the arrival of winter and the cold weather upon us, let's celebrate cozy, winter sweaters. From perfect cream-colored cable knits to bold orange hues, there are great sweater picks for the season. Yes, it is possible to stay warm and stylish at the same time. Here are some of our expert selections for the best sweater to wear this winter: Vintage Inspired Sweater These sweaters are wonderfully warm, giving you a little retro vibe, and everybody loves a bit of vintage in their closet. We recommend you go for something multi-colored, a cheerful knit sweater for this year’s winter. We guarantee this will give you the right amount of coolness to overcome this winter. Fringe Style Sweater Warm in its texture, quirky in its embellishment, a fringe knit sweater delivers both coziness and style in just the right amount. Pair it with your standard bell- bottom jeans or a catchy vinyl trouser. Whatever style you pick, you will definitely turn some heads on your way. Turtleneck Sweaters Turtlenecks are amazing; they give you the extra bit of comfort you want in the neck area. This frame turtleneck has a super warm and cozy feel, featuring a relaxed silhouette that goes well with just about any trouser or waisted skirt. Prairie Sweater If medieval inspired dresses fascinate you, then you’re going to love the prairie sweater. This will be your favorite item in your wardrobe this winter! When the temperatures plummet, not only is it stylish, but it screams cozy or what the Danish like to call it, Hygge. Pointelle The Pointelle sweaters are setting trends this year and will continue to ride the fashion waves for a while. One of the best sweater picks for this year, Pointelle sweaters are what you call the perfect blend of casual and comfort, especially if you like wearing shirts underneath sweaters. Crochet Patterned Sweaters If you’re going for a more adorable and cuter look, this sweater checks all the boxes. The patterned crochet sleeves make sure the sleeves don’t fall off. The overall look of this sweater is oversized, perfect for both home wear and hangouts. Cropped Sweater Cropped lines, puffed up shoulders with an elegant and flattering look, this is one of the best outfits you’re going to have this winter. This sweater has got all the ingredients of a laid-back look that doesn’t overpower the rest of your attire. Don't limit yourself this winter. Try all of these looks and see what works best for you!

8 Ways to Protect Your Privacy and Safeguard Information
8 Ways to Protect Your Privacy and Safeguard Information

By:Stasia Decker-Ahmed In my book, Back in the Day, I talk about how we had a lot more privacy when growing up in the previous century than we do today. We didn’t have cell phones, Twitter, or surveillance cameras on every street corner. We could get away for hours, sometimes days at a time, and no one could reach us. It was also pretty easy to keep most of our information private. Times sure have changed. What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but what happens online, at your bank, and your favorite retail store goes everywhere. Now that we live in the age of information, things such as your mother’s maiden name and what color shirt you ordered last week on Amazon are all worth their weight in gold. Everything from filling out forms at the dentist to subscribing to an online newspaper requires divulging reams of information. Unless you decide to go off the grid and start communicating with a string and a tin can, how are you to participate in our modern society while still protecting your privacy and personal data? It’s not always easy, but there are some steps you can take. The following are a few easy ways you can safeguard your private information both online and off. 1. Use Encrypted Email – Sending and checking email on a daily basis is now part of a normal routine. Everything from viruses on our devices to losing personal information can happen through sloppy email practice. One of the best things you can do is to encrypt your email. A site that is encrypted will start with https://, not http://. It’s also important to safeguard your email offline. Many retailers now automatically ask for your email address when making a purchase. I always politely say no. I haven’t yet had a salesperson refuse to take my money or sell me an item because I didn’t give out my email. 2. Monitor Your Credit – It’s important to regularly check your credit from each credit bureau. These bureaus include Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Since you can get a free report from each of these once a year, it’s recommended to ask for one report approximately every three or four months. By spreading each of them out, you don’t have to wait an entire year to check your credit. 3. Limit Your Use of Public Wi-Fi – Yes, it’s both enjoyable and convenient to go to your local coffee shop or library and use the public Wi-Fi. It may be okay if you just want to generally surf the web while enjoying coffee and a donut. Try not to do anything that requires giving out sensitive data, like banking or making purchases, while using public Wi-Fi. 4. Strengthen Passwords – This is a basic tip, but one that can’t be emphasized enough. It’s too easy to fall into the trap of using the same password, or variations of the same password, for all your accounts. Make sure to use completely different passwords and change them every three or four months. 5. Pay with Cash – Unfortunately, some credit card companies have started selling purchasing information to marketers. Companies now have the ability to track what you’re buying and how much of it you’re buying. If you want to limit the amount of personal information that’s out there about you, pay with cash when you can. 6. Opt Out When Possible – Many of the forms we fill out have “opt out” boxes to check for receiving emails or allowing the information we’ve just given to be used for marketing purposes. These boxes and the text beside them are often microscopic, so many people often overlook them. It’s smart to get into the habit of looking for them and always checking them if possible. 7. Skip the Competitions and Surveys – When I was a kid, I loved filling out the little pieces of paper and sticking them in the box for whatever prize the store was giving away. I always figured, what have I got to lose? Back then it was nothing more than a few minutes. Today it’s your privacy and personal information. Most giveaways, competitions, and surveys are little more than mining expeditions for information to use or sell. 8. Stick to the Billboard Rule – Don’t post anything online you wouldn’t want plastered on a billboard on the interstate. More people will potentially see what’s online than what’s on a billboard on any given interstate. Even if you’re using privacy settings, this can’t stop someone from resharing posts. Privacy and the ability to protect our information may never again be as easy as it was in the old days. Following these few simple steps, however, will go a long way toward providing as much protection as possible. Stasia Decker-Ahmed is a former waitress, social worker, activity director, newspaper researcher, and educator. After spending 14 years working as a teacher in public education, I started a freelance writing career. I’m a traditional and self-published author. I’m also the author of the blog, Back in the Day, which can be found at storiesbystaz.com.

2020 Has Been A Real Doozie! What Have You Learned About Yourself this Year?
2020 Has Been A Real Doozie! What Have You Learned About Yourself this Year?

2020: I think we might have run out of adjectives and memes to describe the year. We have ALL been impacted in one way or another either physically, emotionally, financially or the way in which we live our daily lives. Have you taken a moment to reflect on what you have learned about yourself during 2020? We were curious to learn what women over 50 have discovered about themselves or life after this tumultuous year. We asked women to share their thoughts and here is what they told us about their reflections about 2020. Resilience: “I am stronger than I thought.” We heard this from several women. They shared that they were surprised how they have bounced back despite what has come their way. Flexibility: One woman shared that she has always been pretty set in her ways but she has become more flexible given life changes. Women shared that while change can be scary, they have successfully adapted what has come their way.. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: We heard from a lot of women who feel that they were too focused on things that were not important and they have learned to focus on what really matters in life. “Prior to 2020, I wouldn’t leave the house even to go to the grocery store without make-up and although looking nice is still important, my values have shifted.” Who knew masks would be the new lipstick shade in 2020? Fortunate: “I have taken a moment to appreciate that I have a job, a home, security, health and friends and family.” This is a message we heard quite often. Women expressed that they no longer take for granted gifts they have in life. Give Back: “There is real pain out there. I want to find ways to help.” Many women told us that they are already giving to charities or volunteering but their future goal is to volunteer and give more. They shared that 2020 has inspired them to re-evaluate their priorities. Creativity: “I didn’t think I had it in me.” We have all seen the videos of home projects in process. Women told us that they have renovated bathrooms, renewed their passion of painting, learned new crafts, begun work out programs, expanded their baking and cooking skills as well as started writing. Women have embarked on new adventures from the comfort of their home and seemingly surprised themselves about their under utilized talents. There is a Silver Lining: Despite the challenges of 2020, women told us they have learned to appreciate the “silver lining” in all of the chaos of the year. “We pulled out and dusted off board games we had not played in years.” Women shared that 2020 has taught them that they had become removed from some of the more important aspects of life. This year has been a time to enjoy cooking dinner and eating as a family, taking long walks, slowing down and spending time talking and laughing on the phone with friends and family. They said they would make life adjustments even after we return to “normal.” Eat Cake and Drink Wine: One of the women in the Hello50 community broke down 2020 this way: “Eat the piece of cake and drink the glass of wine.” She said she has learned this year how precious life is and take a moment to enjoy simple pleasures! She is not advocating “over indulging” but if you want the cake, eat it. The impact of 2020 transcends socio-economic standing, race, gender, political views and geographic differences. Many people have taken the opportunity to recognize that while we can’t ignore the tragic impact on so many people, there is also an opportunity to take inventory of how we live our lives and perhaps make some long term changes. 2021: We are ready for you!

Is Your Hair Thinning? Here Are Tips for Combatting Hair Loss
Is Your Hair Thinning? Here Are Tips for Combatting Hair Loss

Why is your hair thinning? Your hair becomes thinner as you age, but you can take action to stop the thinning process. Let's start with the facts. Whether you like it or not, hair loss is a reality experienced by both men and women as we age. You might not have the hairline you had back when you were in your twenties, but you certainly have some tricks up your sleeves to halt the hair loss. You may have heard that shedding between 50 to 100 hairs a day is considered normal. However, if the quantity exceeds the average range, the medical term for this is telogen effluvium. It occurs in men and women due to factors such as poor nutrition, illness, and genetics. According to the American Hair Loss Association, women make up 40% of all hair loss sufferers. As reported by the American Academy of Dermatology, 30 million American women experience hereditary hair loss compared to 50 million American men. Here are other reasons for hair loss with age: Stress Yo Yo dieting Poor nutrition Medications Illnesses like the autoimmune disorder (alopecia areata) Chemical treatments, hair dyes, styling tools Menopause Hormonal fluctuations Genetic disposition - As reported by the American Academy of Dermatology, 30 million American women experience hereditary hair loss compared to 50 million American men. The terms hair loss and hair thinning may be used interchangeably. However, it is essential to note that you may not be losing your hair but maybe experiencing accelerated thinning. It means that your hair is still there, but it has become shorter, thinner, and or to the point that the naked eye cannot see it. Ultimately, some of these hairs just stop growing. How to Deal with Hair Thinning? You can salvage your thinning hair by getting rid of your bad (hair) habits and adopting new (good) ones. According to dermatologists, the three areas you need to work on include your hair cut, styling choices, and maintenance routine. Here's what you can do to deal with your thinning hair: DO's Eat healthily: Foods like eggs, fatty fish, spinach, sweet potatoes, avocados, seeds, and nuts contain nutrients that are great for maintaining hair health. Make sure you incorporate them into your diet. Supplements: You can also take FDA-approved supplements for better hair quality. Hair Care: Shampoo your hair regularly but not every day. Shampooing keeps your scalp and hair clean, and therefore, healthy. It helps your hair grow at its best rate and prevents thinning. How often you should shampoo your hair varies from person to person, depending on your scalp's oiliness. Generally, most people should shampoo at least every other day to prevent the buildup of oils and pollutants on their scalp. This buildup can cause inflammation, which hinders hair growth and dandruff, that leads to itching, scratching, and consequently, hair breakage. Trim frequently: If you think avoiding trimming your hair will help it grow longer, think again. It can damage your hair and lead to breakage so make sure to trim every 6 - 8 weeks. This practice – called dusting by stylists helps to keep your hair thick and healthy. Consider Treatments: Did you know that there are two types of hair loss? They are called scarring and non-scarring hair loss. Scarring occurs due to long-term wearing of hair extensions, tight braids, or hair disorders, and the damage is irreversible. Non-scarring hair loss is treatable and occurs due to thyroid problems or low iron intake. The treatment options available for non-scarring hair loss include Minoxidil, prescription drugs, laser therapy, Platelet Rich Plasma Treatment and hair transplants. Start with a healthy breakfast: It may surprise you to hear that a healthy breakfast is essential for maintaining healthy hair. What you eat at breakfast is used to fuel your body's vital systems. If you skip your breakfast or don't eat enough nutrients, your hair system does not get the nutrition it needs. As a result, your hair loses its quality and becomes weak and damaged Dont's Aggressive shampooing: If you have brittle or dry hair, shampooing too often can cause hair breakage, especially if your shampoo has a drying effect. If your hair is weak, dry, or brittle, you should use a moisturizing shampoo with a good conditioner to avoid hair breakage that can cause thinning hair. Brushing vigorously: The secret to having healthy hair is to be gentle with it. It starts with brushing it gently. So, the next time you comb your hair, try to detangle it with a wide-tooth comb and be extra gentle when it is wet because it is more vulnerable to breakage. Don't brush your hair excessively; always start at the bottom and slowly make your way upward when brushing and try to pull on your hair as less as possible. Selecting the right hairbrush is essential because you use it daily, which means thata wrong choice can cause severe damage. Contrary to popular belief, the famous boar-bristle brushes are not the most hair-friendly option. The metal brushes are also not recommended because they can get too heated up during styling. The best option is a brush with rounded plastic prongs with preferably a plastic base with a vent. Excessive heat: Too much heat can be harsh for your hair and lead to hair breakage and weakening your scalp. It can cause damage to the cuticle on the hair's outermost layer. So, don't overuse styling tools like curling irons, flat irons, hot rollers, and hair dryers, and avoid keeping them at the hottest setting. Pulling hair tightly: Tying your hair in braids, buns and ponytails may damage hair. The tight pull can harm your hair follicle and lead to traction alopecia. In this condition, you get scarring and thinning at the hairline. You should use hair-friendly clips or ties such as soft scrunchies and keep alternating between different styles so that you avoid pulling the same sections of your hair. It would help if you also got haircuts covering up the areas where your hair is thinning the most. Over-bleaching: Using a high-lift hair color can make your hair fiber plumper and fuller, but bleaching damages the cuticle of your hair. It makes your hair susceptible to breakage and thinning. Avoid bleaching your hair or try to do it less often. Styling Products: Some hair styling products can be very harsh for your hair. Hair gels or sprays contain alcohol, which leaves your hair dry and brittle. Several straightening products may scar your hair follicles and lead to hair loss. If these products are not removed properly from your hair, their residue can make your hair fall out or break while brushing your hair. Playing with your hair: Some people have a habit of scratching their head, twirling their hair around their fingers, or pulling at their hair when they are angry or nervous. These habits can lead to hair loss in the long run. Smoking: Research suggests a link between smoking and poor hair health. Smoking causes low blood circulation to your extremities, including your scalp, which affects hair follicle's growth. Sun protection: Even a lack of sun protection or too much sunlight can harm your hair cuticle and fiber, making it more vulnerable to breakage. . If your hair is getting thinner, your body might be trying to tell you something about your health. Managing stress, balancing hormones, maintaining a healthy diet, taking appropriate supplements and implementing healthy hair care might make a difference in your hair. As you age, think about what your hair is telling you about your overall health. .

Dinner Time: Is Good Food on Your Healthy List?
Dinner Time: Is Good Food on Your Healthy List?

By: Denise Stegall What is the one thing that you think of every day? Several times a day, perhaps. You wake up thinking about it, daydream about it. You even plan shopping trips and take vacations to find it. You spend hours planning and preparing for it. What is this one thing that has our minds so preoccupied? Good Food! GOOD FOOD is on one thing that we think of constantly. Maybe not minute by minute but certainly more often than you even realize. How many times just after breakfast have you asked your spouse, “What do you want for dinner?”. Nothing brings us together the way good food does. We gather around tables at home, with friends, in restaurants surrounded by the people we love. It fills our bellies and warms our soul. The good food you eat nurtures your body and gives it what it needs to optimally function. It sharpens your mind, increases energy, keeps you feeling great! It’ll even help you maintain a healthy weight or if need be, lose weight, too! Bookstores and bookshelves are filled with cookbooks on good food, the internet is loaded with recipes for good food yet the term “Good Food” means something different to everyone. I even polled my family, who as you can imagine I know pretty well, and some of their answers surprised me. Overwhelmingly though their good food included pasta, pizza, taco’s burritos and ribs which, I’ll admit, agreed with most people I have worked with in the past at Living Healthy List. As a health and life coach, the first thing I want to know is what my clients are eating on a regular basis. It seems that comfort foods are mainly thought of as good food. Foods that are heavy, smothered with butter, cream, cheese and tons of calories. Not much nutrition, either. How often have you though about good food and an image of a green salad with pomegranates tomatoes and chick peas popped into your mind? Why do so many of us think that foods that are good for us: vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legume, nuts seed, fatty fish and lean meats don’t taste good? The answer to that is multifactorial. What you ate growing up can dictate your likes and dislikes. Your location, family background, and income level play a role. If, as a child you weren’t encouraged to try new foods like fish, Brussel sprouts, or even a grapefruit your palate never had the opportunity to acquire a taste for them. When my nephew was little, he would not eat a vegetable, any vegetable. His dad didn’t eat vegetables either which made the case for “veggies being good for you” a true challenge for my sister. As an adult in his 20’s, he still isn’t keen on vegetables but he can be coaxed to eat them if they are smothered with cheese or Ranch dressing. Which, by the way, defeats the point of the wholesomeness of the veggies. But, at least it’s a start. Interestingly, the same nephew loves sushi rolls so maybe there is still hope for his taste buds. Another factor that plays a role in us believing that foods that are good for us but don’t taste good is in the way they are prepared. Most of us home cooks have basic cooking techniques like frying, baking or boiling. We have never learned more advanced techniques (advanced not difficult) to transform a boring leek into a creamy, delicious and satisfying soup or a basket of mushrooms into a sweet and sassy topping for steak. Instead we boil or fry them into oblivion with tons of butter and oil. Not that butter and oil are bad, they absolutely have their place in cooking just not so much or so often. Finally, most of us never learned the finesse of using herbs and spices. Go into any household and I can bet you’ll find a salt and pepper shaker in the kitchen. Maybe a few random spice jars hidden in the back of a cabinet, probably past their prime. They are an afterthought instead of part of the planning and cooking process. With herbs and spices you can take a head of lettuce and turn it into a scrumptious meal. That olive oil I mentioned earlier will come in handy, here! Condiments and sauces in the United States are pretty benign. Mayo, mustard and ketchup are the most popular and let’s be honest the most boring! I am encouraged by the influx of international condiments that can now be found in the local supermarkets. Sriracha anyone? Growing up in New York I thought sauce was red, thick and took hours to cook on the stove. It was not until I was un college that I expanded my culinary skills and began experimenting with beurre blanc, chimichurri and pesto. They may sound complicated and exotic but I assure you if an 18-year-old college kid could master them in 10 minutes, you can too! As I’ve gotten older and approach 50, my celebration is in April, I’ve noticed that most of us at this stage in life have gotten a little thick in the middle. We can blame it on menopause, it certainly a contributor but more likely our food choices are the culprit. When you were little you were probably allowed one cookie at a time. As an adult do you still limit yourself to just one? Probably not. If you do, congratulations, may I have some of your willpower? Cookies are my Kryptonite. Our food choices have always dictated how we feel physically, mentally and emotionally and at this incredible stage in our lives its never been more important! This is the best time of our lives. We are wiser, more confident, have more time for ourselves and have cultivated meaningful relationships with friends and family. The sad truth is that many of us are not living a heathy, happy fulfilling life. Heart disease, cardio vascular disease, obesity, and diabetes are wreaking havoc on so many of us, (about 13.7%) and that number grows as we age. It’s time to focus on good food- real food! The foods that lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, help us lose and maintain a healthy weight and feel vibrant? Real foods are whole foods which are mostly unprocessed, free of chemical additives, and rich in nutrients. These are the foods our grandparents ate prior to the 20th century, when processed, packaged and ready to eat meals became the bulk of the western diet. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, lean meat, poultry and fish are the staples of a healthy diet of real food. The basic premise of Eat Real Food is consuming foods the way nature intended them (or as close as possible). It’s a lifestyle philosophy, not a diet. I know, I know. You’re thinking that these are the foods that don’t taste good. I assure you that they do. Your taste buds just don’t realize it. After almost 50 years of eating processed foods with added artificial flavors, sugars, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), canola/vegetable oil and chemical additives that you can barely pronounce your taste buds are numb! Anything you eat that isn’t super sugary and salty seem to lack flavor. The wonderful, natural flavor is there but you can’t taste it. As soon as you stop eating processed foods, and pretty much everything we eat is somewhat processed, you notice the sweetness of carrots, strawberries no longer need to be sprinkled with sugar or drowned in whipped cream. You’ll find that a little bit of good quality olive oil has an amazing flavor and that a little goes a long way. Focus on Eating Real Foods 80% of the time and your life will change. You will feel better, you think more clearly, your joints are less stiff and you have more energy to do the things you enjoy. I truly feel that at 50 you can feel as good if not better than you did when you were 30! With the holidays fast approaching the topic of good food has once again dominated the conversation in my circles. Specifically, because many of the traditional foods we eat during the holidays are not particularly heathy. They tend to be heavy, calorie laden, full of butter, cream, gloppy canned soup and of course we eat too much of it. During this holiday season I encourage you to “lighten up” your traditional dinner menu. I’ve even made it easy for you to do so by giving you my some of my favorite Thanksgiving Recipes. Be assured that it’s not as daunting a task as you may think. Planning and prepping are essential. Simply by adding a green salad with an olive oil and vinegar dressing using herbs and spices as well as a dish using a whole grain like quinoa you can completely change the focus of the meal to good food that’s good for you. Turning 50 is momentous which makes it the perfect time to evaluate what is important and what is not, and to decide on any changes you need to make. Eating real food, and creating healthy habits now helps you view your life with optimism, hope and enjoy this incredible time in life. Fifty is a threshold that opens to new horizons and those healthy habits you make today can determine your quality of life for reaching your next milestones. Meet Denise Stegall Denise Stegall is a speaker, teacher, transformational life coach and CEO and curator of Living Healthy List, an online healthy lifestyle magazine. She has innate wisdom as a connector and a leader who radiates emotional intelligence, strength, positivity, and a zest for life! Denise holds a BA in Hotel, Restaurant and Business Management with a focus on nutrition, experience in the food industry and has certifications in Health Coaching, Life Coaching, Nutrition, ETP and Plant Based Cooking. Denise has condensed 20 years of experience/study in nutrition, cooking, exercise and coaching to educate women on how to live, healthy happy and fulfilling lives by focusing on 4 pillars health, wellness, personal development and fun! As the CEO and Curator of Living Healthy List she is determined to connect Living Healthy List to experts that can trust and provide honest, reliable, research-backed content that can be implemented in real life!