Does the thought of a school reunion leave you feeling like hiding in a cupboard, never to reappear until the reunion is over? Or would you love to catch up with people who you knew during your school days?
School reunions, at any stage of life, can bring up long-forgotten memories, emotions and insecurities. They can also reunite long-lost friends and remind you of the good and the bad of your school days…and the role that your school life and friendships played in developing you into the person you are now.
From the perspective of 50 years all of these elements are magnified. It’s 50 years since a large proportion of my classmates left school at the end of Year 10.
Many of us grew up in the same country town and went through primary school together. Others joined us in high school, some as boarders. Several moved far away and have rarely returned to the old hometown, while others have remained part of the local community. Some have retained close friendships while others have not connected with school friends for many years. Five classmates have already passed away and were remembered fondly.
I suspect most people arrived at our first gathering with the same questions in their mind? Will people remember me? Will I recognise faces? Will anyone actually care that I attended the reunion?
From what I observed, those concerns lasted only seconds as people walked in to the first gathering and were embraced and surrounded by a gaggle of over-excited women. People were warm and welcoming, and genuinely excited to catch up with one another.
Most new conversations with people you haven’t seen for a long time start with the obvious “life” questions: Where do you live? Do you have children/grandchildren? Are you still working? What work do you/did you do?
But covering all that in a quick chat was frustrating. The conflict was to take enough time to really engage with one another versus moving on to another conversation.
Facebook connections were helpful because you already knew a bit about their lives. Important life matters like divorce, serious illness and deaths rarely made it into the conversation because of time.
We came together as a diverse group of 65-66 year old women who had lived full lives, experienced joy and heartbreak, love and loss, successes and failures, brilliant and disappointing careers. Yet our interactions were enhanced by the memory of the girls we were when we were at school together.
Over the weekend the old school friendship groups emerged, especially as people seated themselves for dinner, but there was a lovely atmosphere of inclusion so hopefully no-one felt left out.
Old photographs, stories and memories were shared and many photos taken. There was much laughter, and old photos were even re-enacted. The two photos at the bottom of this page show our 1963 netball team, with only one person missing from the 2018 version. Fortunately we didn’t have to remember how to play as I was no good at it even then!
A favorite teacher, not that much older than us, was able to attend the reunion and it was amazing to see how well she remembered our group. It was her task to look after that cohort of boarders for a couple of years, so she remembered them especially well. One of them took the microphone and regaled us with stories of their escapades and had the audience in fits of laughter.[Note to parents and teachers who read this blog post: “Naughty kids” at school grow up to be delightful fun adults with excellent stories to tell at reunions!]
Identical twins, Rosemary and Kathleen, started singing together in the last few years of high school and they have worked professionally as a duo since then. They kindly brought all their electronic gear to the reunion and performed for us…initially two songs….then an encore was demanded by the crowd…so they played for the rest of the night. What a treat that was! As soon as the live music started people were on their feet dancing bringing a whole new dimension to the party.
We are planning another reunion in 2 years time, to celebrate 50 years since the class of 1970 left school. We will hopefully have even more in attendance, including many who attended this reunion and others who were unable to be with us this time.
There’s a whole world to explore out there, and many adventurous baby boomers are in the unique position of having finished work, but not being anywhere near ready to settle down in a one place and stop travelling. If you’re an adventurous baby boomer who’s always prepared for their next adventure, try one of the following locations for your next trip:
Being a stone’s throw from beautiful animals in their natural habitat rather than at the zoo is sure to be a thrilling prospect to many baby boomers. South Africa is home to a wealth of incredible animals, including lions, buffalo, and elephants; take a safari to view these magnificent animals in their natural environment.
This northern European country has gained a reputation for its windswept features and fascinating culture, making it a popular destination for people of all ages. Its ring road makes it relatively easy to explore by car, but as it’s so sparsely populated, it still manages to enchant its visitors with awe-inspiring views and gorgeous, postcard-worthy scenery.
The Land of the Long White Cloud has it all – whether you’re looking for a serene trip away or a non-stop adventure (or if you’re aiming for a combination of excitement and relaxation), you’ll be satisfied here. Head to the Otago region if you’re a bit of an adrenaline junkie – picturesque Queenstown is full of exciting things to do. The adventurous baby boomer may find they are surprising the millennials with their choice of activities!
Take a jet boat ride, try a bungee jump, or ride the luge – you’d be hard pressed to find another place on earth offering more adventure activities than this South Island town, which is easily accessible by rental car from Queenstown Airport. On the east coast of the North Island, you’ll find Gisborne, where you can visit Mt Hikurangi, a mountain that holds cultural significance to locals. You can even take 4×4 guided tours that blend history, culture, and jaw-dropping beauty into one exciting trip.
Tourism is booming in this Southeast Asian country, and you can reap the benefits of excellent hospitality combined with relatively low prices. Take a bicycle tour in Hoi An, or go trekking in Sapa – wherever you go in this diverse country, adventure is just around the corner. You can’t beat the food, either – street food reigns supreme here, and you’ll be eating delicious bowls of noodles around the clock. Combine your adventurous baby boomer activities with a cooking course, and you’ll return home with new memories as well as new skills.
If you’re an ocean lover as well as an adrenaline junkie, what could be better than swimming with real whales? Tonga, a peaceful island in the South Pacific Ocean, is the perfect place to give it a go. You’ll be able to return home having taken part in a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience; there aren’t many places in the world that allow visitors to get up close and personal with these gentle giants, and Tonga is also completely worth a visit for its friendly populace and abundance of natural treasures such as beaches and waterfalls.
Mexico often gets an unfairreputation for danger, but there are plenty of safe areas that are perfect for a bit of adventure. Visit idyllic Playa del Carmen, a seaside town on Mexico’s east coast full of great restaurants and beaches, and take a trip to the nearby cenotes. These caves, filled with fresh water, are the perfect place to explore for anyone interested in unique natural features; you can generally swim through with a guide who’ll tell you all about the history of the area.
Once you catch the travel bug, you’ll never get rid of it! Take advantage of your freedom, of having more cash than you did in your younger years, and plan your next trip to a location that’ll offer you new, exciting adventures.
Maia Fletcher is an aspiring freelance writer and nature lover living in Gisborne, New Zealand. She dreams of someday traveling between countries, and typesetting a novel. You can also find her on Tumblr.
The other remarkable fact about that is that it’s the women who, more often than not, do the heavy lifting, and with people living longer than ever, Baby Boomers comprise the first generation to care for its parents as long as it cared for its children, and this can be a very stressful time.
Three things you can count on when it comes to your aging parent(s):
We all get stressed, and the tendency to get stressed can get worse as you get older, so it’s good to have some good stress relief strategies you can use when you need them.
Stress is like a heavy backpack that we lug around. It is our companion from the day we land on this planet, and it doesn’t ever let go. As newborns, we cry out loud when we are hungry or cold, only to then surrender to contentment when we are picked up, and to smiles when we are kept warm and fed. Stress follows the same up-and-down patterns, well past our prime.
Remember how you used to play and run around as a child? How the little things in life, such as molding houses out of twigs and clay, used to bring you the most joy? How running around barefoot on grass and mud used to feel? Remember how you used to chase friends and frolic all over, hollering, laughing, and sweating like crazy? You certainly didn’t need to consider stress relief strategies back then! What’s happened over the years? How did we ever let stress creep in and take hold?
Stress simply won’t go away, often times exacerbated by a relationship that isn’t going too well, mounting bills, a boss we’d love to throw under a bus, or perhaps even a sudden health issue. Left to its own devices, it keeps lurking in our mind, always threatening to degenerate and turn into full-fledged anxiety and/or depression. Both are serious issues that must be addressed with stress relief strategies.
It’s time to fight back, starting with a positive mindset that says that we’re not about to take our stress lying down. And while we know that there is no silver bullet—no magic wand—to rid us of stress, we sure as heck can do what we can to manage the beast.
We Boomers have a tendency to blame our genes—our parents and grandparents—for anything that goes wrong in our lives, including the level of stress that gets us down. When “neuroplasticity” came into the picture as of the second half of the 20thcentury, it showed that the brain is not as “set” as we had thought, that it is elastic (“plastic”) and can be made to change, particularly as we grow older. It has become clear that the makeup of brain circuitry can be invigorated as we factor in physical exercise, a nutritious diet and, most significantly, a regular routine of mind-stimulating practices. Making these stress relief strategies part of your everyday life is important to your overall health.
This science describes stress as a main factor in damaging “synapses”, or minute gaps between nerve cells through which brain impulses pass. The good news is that once the stress is mitigated, the synapses get replaced.
It’s time to bring back our zest for life—bring back the laughter of the past. The idea is to engage with peers who are outgoing and who know how to laugh. Following a considerable amount of research on the subject, a major study revealed that laughter is one of the best tonics to mitigate the insidious effects of the high-speed, high-stress world that we live in. Humor can reduce cortisol, a stress hormone. Chronic release of cortisol can damage hippocampus neurons, also leading to impairment of learning and memory.
This is also another quick and easy way to achieve a lessening of the tension in your mind and body, and you can put its basic principles to good use at any time of day and whether at home or at work.
First, focus on lowering the breathing from your upper chest down to your middle section: lie down comfortably on your back, layer your hands on your belly and experience each breath going consciously all the way down. By taking a deep breath and holding it briefly for a moment, you should be able to see your belly rise and stay inflated while in this position. Now exhale at a slow and deliberate pace, emptying your lungs “down to the last drop”.
From that point on, inhale to a count of 2 or 3, and then exhale backwards from a count of 4 or 5, all the way back down to 1.
Deep breathing is so easy to learn that we are going to leave it up to you to master this technique and get a breathing rhythm going that gives you the feeling that every time you exhale, you are in fact pushing all the day’s accumulated tensions out of your system.
Do Something That Gives You Joy: In the busy life that most of us lead it is easy to miss out on the activities you love to do, especially the activities that relieve your stress. Go for a walk in the countryside, enjoy an activity on the water, sing, read, visit a friend.Do whatever it is that makes your heart sing. And do the things that make your heart sing as often as you can. It makes stress melt away.
Just imagine what a few minutes of uninterrupted deep quiet within us would conjure up. In such instants, you would be able to attain amazing dimensions of energy, insight, sensory acuity, strides towards heightened awareness—and yes, love. The trick is to identify the stress factors in your life and fight back with appropriate stress-relief techniques for baby boomers.Living the Retirement Dream
Are you planning on living to 100? There are actually around 450,000 centenarians in the world, 72,000 of them in the US. Longevity, is about a whole slew of factors. Genes naturally play a role. So do the armies of free radical agents that rummage inside of us. Other factors include antioxidants, exercise and nutrition, negative attitudes, brain health, and mitigating stress.
Living to 100 relies on those thousands of mind-blowing parts and systems inside the body that operate in sync and keep us functioning harmoniously – homeostasis. The point about homeostasis is that any blockage to that glorious orchestration of cells, organs, and systems can throw us into disrepair—and a shortening of our lifespan.
The Free Radical Theory of Aging (FRTA) stipulates that aging is the continuous battle between oxidative stress (akin to what makes a piece of metal rust when left in the open) and antioxidants. In that raging “wear and tear” war, stress is a powerful enemy, and antioxidants (berries, leafy veggies, nuts, red wine, dark chocolate, etc.) fight back and support our longevity.
And although we conduct this battle gallantly day in and day out, the best we can is try to live as long as possible—perhaps living to 100 and beyond.
According to Thomas Perls, Associate Professor of Medicine at Boston University, 50% of those who make it to 100+ have in their ancestry people who also aged beyond the norms. In other studies, we learn that perhaps up to 25% of the longevity factor is due to our genes.
Although many other family studies associate longevity with both genetic and non-genetic factors, recent findings showed that even the offspring of those with abnormally long lifespans are likely to live long and less likely to suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. No need for alarm though, for there are hordes of centenarians whose parents only lived to their 70’s or 80’s.
In today’s fast-paced lifestyles, we are driven to multi-tasking on a number of fronts, including family, financial, and job-related trials and tribulations. Stress can then evolve, particularly when we begin to give in to the circumstances that test us—when, fearfully, we question whether we have the fortitude to handle the challenges. Stress conjures up toxic thought processes, making us view our issues through the prism of fear and uncertainty.
Some of us learn to cope with stress more effectively than others, mostly by staying fit and embracing other stress-relief strategies. We thus owe it to ourselves to not let stress evolve into depression and other mental issues, for those would turn into decisive barriers to healthy aging.
Our basic attitude to life has a lot to do with how we handle stress. We may bring stress upon us unknowingly by having a cynical viewpoint to most ideas we face, or by holding on to a pessimistic outlook and walking around dejected and with low self-esteem.
So, get rid ofthat destructive and incessant self-criticism that you entertain, and replace it instead with open-mindedness and recognition of who you are. Focus on your generous deeds towards others, on every time you exhibited kindness and compassion, for in the end, we all have it in us to be filled with compassion and to love and be loved. That would be a necessary step towards turning into a positive frame of mind.
The old adage still works wonders: strain your brain, your witts to retain. Moreover, if you’ve never stopped to wonder about the human brain, perhaps now would be a good time. This 3-lb. sensation spends 80, 90, 100+ years supervising, adjusting, and refining everything that goes on in your body, from the littlest cell, to your heart, respiratory and other major systems. It uses billions of “synapses” (nerve cells) to facilitate communications with every part of your body and maintain that state of harmony and balance so essential for long living.
The recipe from experts is to keep mental faculties working withthought-provoking mental activities that are both entertaining and engaging. If you want to be living to 100 with good health and vitality, keep your mind working. Naturally, crossword puzzles come to mind, as do chess, card games such as bridge and, especially, games that achieve both stimulating the mind as well as socialising.
Boomers, you know well what it takes, so the question is: are you going to make the necessary adjustments? It’s simple really: fight off stress, stay healthy, and you can be one of the people living to 100, no matter what your genetic inheritance consists of.
Croatia is a country with a deep and turbulent history. We have walked in the paths of the Ancient Greeks, Romans, Corintians and Venetians. We met a guide whose parents, wife, and children were all born in the same village as himself, but each was born under a different ruling authority, and so each was officially born in a different country….AustroHungarian Empire, Italy, Serbia, Yugoslavia and Croatia.
The scenery is spectacular, especially the coastal villages on little islands that we'd never heard of until we booked the holiday.
Traveling by small boat is ideal because you can moor in the centre of the town, disembark and you are immediately able to start your exploration.
And the swimming! Forgive me if I do a little rave here but the water is just wonderful, cool but not too cold, salty and buoyant, calm and very lovely for just moving around in the water. I didn't try swimming because it was so delightful just paddling around, floating and watching the passing parade of Europeans on holidays.
As time is limited to write this blog post I'll finish here, because in a few minutes I'm heading off with others to explore a pretty little village on the island of Brac.
I am thrilled to have booked tickets to a concert that I really want to go to.
No, it's not Sting and Paul Simon. I really really wanted to go to that but my plans of a weekend with friends at the Pokolbin concert in a vineyard have fallen through. No, this concert is about creating memories with my granddaughter; about enjoying the privileges of being a grandmother.
It is not a concert that I would have even considered a year ago, in fact a year ago I'd barely heard of the main star of the show. But then Peppa Pig came into our lives. My granddaughter watches her avidly. She learns manners from her ("Nanna, this is my baby sister Charlie"). She plays with her Peppa Pig stuffed toy. She eats off a plate with Peppa's image on it. She draws and paints pictures of Peppa Pig. Peppa is as real to my granddaughter as most people she knows.
So when I heard Peppa Pig was going to be LIVE at a Brisbane theatre I immediately booked tickets. We are having a special date, just the two of us, to see Peppa in concert.
I realise that someone who is still a few months off turning three probably won't remember this concert, or even that we attended a concert together. But I will always be able to treasure the moments of joy and wonderment that I will see on her face. There will be aspects of theatre that she will never have seen before, experiences she won't have had, and then there will be the excitement of seeing Peppa and George (Peppa's baby brother who is always introduced politely…hence the introduction I mentioned before).
Being a grandparent is such a privilege; the opportunity to give unconditional love without having all the tiresome parts of parenthood. We've been there, done that. Now this is the truly fun part, the chance to enjoy the special times with the next generation, then hand them back to the parents when the outing is over.
Thank you, Peppa Pig, for bringing this joy into our lives.
I'm always delighted to hear of Baby Boomers who are creating the life they want through a clever business idea or by offering a great solution that enables others to create the life experiences they desire. The guest author of this blog post Marguerite McMahon has done just that, using her years of travel experience to provide a great tour of Italy for ladies who don't want to travel on their own.
Would you like to be part of the Thelma e Luisa Tour of Italy?
Why is this tour called the Thelma e Luisa Ladies Only Tour of Italy? Yes it is a pun on the title of the old Brad Pitt movie, but don’t worry…..we will not be driving off a cliff!
I am organising a small group departure for ladies who would like a holiday in Italy. There are many ladies…single for one reason or another, or with a partner who doesn’t want to travel…who do not want to travel in a large group, don’t want to have to pay single supplement, or perhaps would prefer the security and fun of being part of a friendly group when travelling.
The idea of this tour developed when joking with a couple of dear friends about how much fun it would be to do a "girls only" road trip touring Italy. Initially we were not seriously planning a holiday….but then the idea grew and grew.
So I am delighted to invite you to join our THELMA e LUISA LADIES ONLY TOUR of ITALY. The numbers who can come on this exciting tour are very limited and only three places are still available. If the idea of holidaying in Italy with a small group of like-minded ladies appeals to you, don’t delay. Give me a call – 0408 765954 – or email me today to find out all about our tour.
About Marguerite McMahon
I love to travel, and I love to share the joys of travel with other people. Some people are content to just stay around home. That life does not seem to keep me exhilarated. I’ve lived and worked in England, I have been a volunteer in Israel, have worked in NZ, worked in Vienna and another place close to my heart, bella Roma. They say if you throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain you will return. Each time I go to Rome I always throw a coin in the Trevi….and so I keep going back!
I have been working within the Travel Industry for the past 30 years. My business name is Marguerite McMahon Travel Services. I only work by appointments and if local, would go visit you at your favourite coffee shop. Otherwise I am still able to offer my personal service and attention via phone.
Images from previous tours organised by Marguerite McMahon Travel Services
Budapest is a beautiful city, well worth a visit. We were there during the Szygert Music Festival so the city was teeming with the youth of the world, all intent on having a great time. That brought a lovely youthful vibe to the city and attractions, where I expected the baby boomer generation to dominate, due to the large number of people who take the river boat cruises from Budapest to Amstedam or the reverse journey.
In mid August it was very hot and dry, and the sky seems to permanently have the haze that adds charm to photos, but is probably dust and pollution.
I put together these five tips for some friends who are visiting Budapest soon. I hope they contribute to your pleasure whilst in Budapest.
1. Bring a swimming cap or at least a shower cap to Gellert Spa or you can't go in the cold pool. My law-abiding husband broke two rules at once and was severely reprimanded by an officious man with a loud whistle, expressive hand gestures and no sense of humour! In his delight to find a cold pool he did a big jump in the deep end……
No jumping allowed!
Caps must be worn at all times!
No sir, we didn't read the signs!
At the other big mineral spa, Szechenyi Baths, the rule was similar but only enforced there if you are doing laps. They have a fun outside pool with a great massaging waterfall. They also have many hot pools but the day I was there they were all overrun with Szegert Music Festival participants.
2. The Hop on hop off bus is excellent but keep an eye on last bus time…It's a looonnnggwalk home if you miss it because you were too long at the mineral baths! We used Red/Yellow line (giraffe bus I think they are called) and that included boat rides and night buses & boats if you were still capable of doing something at night. (We weren't!)
3. The Castle coffee shop overlooking the city has stunning views, brilliant ambience and the iced coffee was the best ever (or maybe I was in desperately need of liquid, caffeine and sugar by then). We were serenaded by a violinist and enjoyed the music provided by him, a cellist and keyboard player.
5. We stayed at Palazzo Vichy Hotel and loved it. The only negative was the distance to the nearest hop on hop off bus stops as our feet got tired. The restaurant in the little square opposite the hotel, and it being in a local resident/ university area added to the charm.
6. Final, but most important, tip: Start walking training now in the shoes you will be wearing!
For the next five weeks Boomers Next Step blog posts will be focussed on Travel and all the wonderful lifestyle, cultural and historical issues that arise when you are travelling in fascinating parts of the world.
We have been briefly in Budapest and are now in Zagreb about to enjoy 3 weeks exploring Croatia. Paris then England will follow.
Somewhere in the skies, in the middle of a long and uncomfortable night, I commented that the effort of getting ready to travel, and then getting to your destination, was just not worth it! I admit I was sleep-deprived and feeling a little tired and crotchety at the time. Yes, it is an effort, but it is so so worth it!
As I looked around at the people boarding our flight, and again at the tourists we saw in Budapest, many of whom were about to join the Danube cruises, it reinforced to me how much travel is ingrained in the baby boomer generation as the "reward" we aspire to when many of the other responsibilities of life have lessened.
For those of us fortunate enough to be able to travel there are often two times in your life that you can freely do so….before your career gets underway and when you are either finished or nearly finished your traditional career path. Budapest, and flights into Budapest, were filled with both groups!
The Szigert Music Festival was on and around 40000 young people from around the world were there to enjoy it. I wish I could share with you a photo I took at the Szechenyi Baths two days ago, but it's on my camera and not yet downloaded. I think the 40000 music festival participants were all at the Mineral spa at the same time as me. But they were so full of the joy of living that I didn't mind the ridiculously crowded pools, instead enjoying their vibrancy and excitement.
But where were the baby boomer travellers? Not at the baths, that's for sure, but undoubtedly enjoying some of the many delights of Budapest. I just hope they didn't avoid the glorious Szechenyi Baths because the youth of the world had taken it over for a few days.
What did I gain from my sardine-like experience with the young and beautiful at the Szechenyi Baths? I was remindered to enjoy every moment of this travel experience, do everything we can, don't let age stop me from trying new things, and basically live life to the full.