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Lois Joy Johnson
What does authentic beauty mean to you?
Fashion & Beauty
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There’s a school of thought that says being authentic means allowing your hair to be whatever color and texture it naturally is and forget about color and styling regimens. Then there’s another school of thought that says being authentic means being true to what feels right and what makes you feel good…and that just might include being blonde rather than gray or spending fifteen minutes with a blow-dryer and flat iron in the morning.

My opinion? Choosing the second path doesn’t make you any less genuine than someone who chooses a more chaste ideal of beauty. Your aesthetic sense of who you are is a choice that remains fluid and flexible—enabling you to decide as you go what to add, refresh, change, or leave behind in the looks department.

While the emotional pull of aging naturally and gracefully provides us with enormous satisfaction, it can also leave us with unrealistic expectations. That’s because our looks, including hair care, matter the same way diet, exercise, and health matter.

What does true beauty mean to you?

Cindy Laverty
Stop Settling for Fine!
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Are you okay with being just fine? I’m not and I’m going to share with you why we should stop settling for fine.  Is fine just a pat answer to avoid looking at how you really are? What does it actually me to be FINE? One of the dictionary’s definitions of fine as it relates to the human condition is – “satisfactory or acceptable.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m not happy with satisfactory. When I was struggling with high school physics, satisfactory was GREAT…but for life, NO…I don’t want to be fine. I want to be real and authentic and live BIG and in order to do that, I have to make a decision every, single day to not settle for FINE!

Fine says that you’re okay with the status quo. Are you?

Fine says that you’re okay with things staying the same. Are you?

Fine says you’re okay with everything just the way it is. Are you?

Some people are perfectly okay with fine, but there’s so much more on the horizon waiting for the individual who doesn’t want a fine life.

What happens if you settle for fine? Only you can answer that question, but take a moment and really think about it.  For me…I’d rather disappear than to just live a fine life. Fine is for someone who’s content to “just go along”…never have an opinion…never set boundaries…never explore passion or desire…never get uncomfortable. Fine doesn’t ask much of us.

Too many women who are living a fine life. We’re taught not to rock the boat. We’re taught to fit in. We’re taught to just be okay. And that’s what we settle for until.. fine doesn’t work anymore. On the day that happens to you, everything changes, because you’re no longer content with the status quo. There will be a voice that says,”Go be YOU. Go out into the world and do what you were meant to do!” And pretty soon, you won’t be able to ignore it.

Here’s how to set Fine free…

1. Step up and declare it! “I’m no longer content with Fine!”

2. Decide what it is that needs to be changed.

3. You have to get comfortable with what’s uncomfortable. Change requires us to be uncomfortable.

4. Accept where you are right now because everything that you’ve ever done has meaning and relevance and has shaped who you are.

5. Take small steps each day towards your new way of living your life and be gentle with yourself.

Leaving fine behind does not happen overnight. You’ll have days of happiness and sadness and bliss and frustration and days when you’re just GREAT. But FINE won’t be an option.

Here’s a good exercise to get you started. Grab your journal and quickly write all the ways that you allow fine to enter your life. And then once you’re finished with that, highlight one thing on your list that you won’t allow to be fine anymore; and then make a decision to start changing that.

If you want more inspiration, go here and grab a copy of Becoming a Lionhearted Woman.

Live BIG!



Flower Bear
All That Remains
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Sometimes I see an exquisitely landscaped garden by most people’s standards but somehow when I look at it, it just leaves me cold. It has no personality, no depth. It might just as well have been a movie set for all of the authenticity and personality it reflects. Who are the people who own this garden? What does it tell me about them? Are they the old-fashioned, English country garden type? Do they love tropical plants and warm breezes? Are they committed to sustainable, organic gardens, or do they just hand over some money and tell the landscaper, “Make it gorgeous so the neighbors will rave?”

I think what a garden looks like says a lot about the people who planted it. When you take away all the frills and do-dads, all that really remains is the love that is put into it. With each rose, with each tomato, with each hummingbird feeder, the love of the earth, and of all of us who live on it, reflects out from the garden to all who see it.

Isn’t that a great metaphor for life? When you strip away all of the fancy outer layers – the cars, the clothes, the makeup, the houses, etc – all that remains is the pure, authentic person underneath, and the core of each and every one of those authentic people is love. When we love ourselves full out, with no reservations or stipulations, the outer self blossoms. Our smiles are beautiful, our joy is palpable, and our thirst for life is contagious. When someone passes us on the street or sees us in a store, they are drawn to our energy like a bee to a flower. We don’t need all of those outer trappings that our culture says we need to shine. Self love has more power than a roof full of solar panels! A beautiful rose starts from the same kind of  seed as every other rose. Whether it grows or doesn’t grow only depends on the amount of love and attention it gets from Mother Nature and the one who planted it.

So I guess my question for you is this: what are you planting in your inner garden? Are you loving all that good, rich soil in which to plant your field of dreams? Are you reaching for the sun with your face turned up in expectation? Or is your garden a cold copy from a magazine just like a hundred others? The love you give your inner garden will yield bounty in your outer garden beyond your wildest expectations!

And so it is.




Lisa Copeland, The Dating Coach Who Makes Finding Love After 50 Fun and Easy!
The 9 Essential Rules For Writing Your Online Dating Profile
Love & Sex
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woman online datingYour online dating profile is the first introduction a man has to you. You are literally marketing yourself to the male population online. For some women that sounds horrid but in real life we do it all the time.


If you met a man at a party, you would be doing the same thing; showing him your best side. The only difference is in real life you have time to immediately correct a faux pas.


Online, you don’t have that luxury so you need your profile to show you off in a way that will catch a man’s eye and interest right away. Since this is your first meet and greet, you want your profile to sound flirty and fun. That’s how you would be in real life.


Think again about when you met someone in person. You might laugh more at his jokes, you pay closer attention to what he says, and you show your best side. Here are the 9 rules for doing the same thing online.


1. Be exciting.


Excitement is what you want a man feeling when he’s done reading what you’ve written. You want him to push that email button as fast as he can to contact and meet you.


When determining what you want to put in your profile, you need to first know what your best qualities are. There’s nothing sexier to a man than your confidence. When you feel good about yourself, you will become a male magnet.


2. Be creative.


Come up with ideas or small stories that paint a picture of the two of you that a man can imagine himself in. You want to use a scene like this to capture the interest of a man. He won’t see the scene exactly like you do, but he is capable of visualizing the story you’ve created with him in it. And if he does, you’ve hooked him. If he can picture himself in your story, more than likely he will write to you.


Make your profile flirty. He doesn’t need to know everything about you in this first introduction.


3. The fewer “I’s” the better.


Think about it. When you go to a party and you meet someone who keeps saying, “I do this, I like that, I am this,” don’t you get bored? You might get stuck with that person for a long time unless someone rescues you.


Online, you have fewer than 10 seconds to get his attention before he moves on. Make them count! Try making your profile title catchy, using activities you’re involved with to create your online name. They can be kind of silly, but that’s okay. Your goal is to get a man’s attention quickly. Between your smile, a great picture and a goofy or clever name, you’ve got a chance to stand out from everyone else and be noticed.


4. Use proper spelling and grammar.


One big pet peeves for many men is horrible spelling and grammar in profiles. You can write your profile in Microsoft Word or other document programs so that it highlights any mistakes, and then cut and paste the paragraphs you’ve written to your profile online.


Little things like typos can be enough to make men quickly move on to someone else’s profile.


5. Don’t include these common faux pas.


I want you to know that in my 40’s, I made some of the dumbest mistakes when it came to profiles. I wrote things about making love on a beach with my soul mate. What in the world was I thinking? It sounded romantic to me. Leave sex out of your profile. It gives men the wrong impression and encourages those you probably aren’t interested in to write to you.


Leave out the words I’m looking for my soul mate from your profile. Men have told me they see it in every woman’s profile. Your goal is to look unique; not the same as everyone else.


6. Don’t brag.


Particularly, don’t brag about your out of this world looks. Men see what you look like but if you tell them in a bragging way, they’ll think you’re stuck up and move on.


7. Don’t make demands.


Try not to make demands in your profile about salaries and how you’d like to be entertained at the most expensive restaurants in your area. Even guys with money don’t want a woman telling them where to go and what to do.


They’ve had enough demands in their life including those put on them by ex-wives and families. They’re not looking for a repeat of what they just left.


8. Be true to who you are.


Otherwise it’s like false advertising, which is hard to keep up. Don’t try and pretend to be a certain way just to attract a Quality Man, when in reality, you are not that woman.


You have no control over who he ultimately wants or is looking for. You only have control over what you want in a Quality Man.


In fact, you do yourself a disservice pretending to be who you think a man wants. It actually sets you up for the wrong type of man to come into your life. Plus, it starts the relationship off in a false way. Be your authentic self and convey that in your profile.


9. End with a hook.


End your profile with a sentence that asks a man to show you he is interested. For example, “If romance and passion appeal to you like they do to me, let me know.” In other words, if he likes what you like, let you know by writing back.


I’d love to hear what you think in the comments!


Lisa Copeland, best-selling over 50’s dating book Author and Dating Coach who makes finding a great guy fun and easier after 50, is the founder of Find A Quality Man. To get your FREE Report, “5 Little Known Secrets To Find A Quality Man,” visit


Flower Bear
The Gift of Giving
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Peace Dove Outdoor Ornament - Free High Resolution Photo

Some of the most meaningful gifts I’ve received over the years were in response to something I gave to someone else. These weren’t always the kind of gifts that were wrapped up in paper and ribbons, although some were. The ones I’m speaking of were gifts that touched my heart and changed my life in some way, and all because I had given a piece of myself to others.

One particular gift came to mind recently. Years ago when I was in my early 30’s I became a community outreach worker for an inner city church. The church sat in a neighborhood that had fallen on hard times.The area was mostly African American and Latino.  Unemployment was high as was drug and alcohol use, and child abuse or neglect was all too familiar. Along with providing a Mothers’ Morning Out program. which gave at-risk women some much needed free time to themselves while we ran a nursery school of sorts, it was my task to visit the elderly in the neighborhood to make sure that they were being taken care of and that their needs were met. I was also trained to offer to pray with them and, more often than not, just be a friendly ear for those who had no one to talk to.

My very first home visit was to a woman named Blanche. That should have been my first clue as Blanche was my mother’s name. Blanche lived in a very run down but very well kept little home that she shared with her adult daughter. Her daughter eyed me suspiciously when I knocked on the door, but when I explained that I was from the church down the block and just wanted to visit with Blanche, her eyes softened. She said that her mother would be so pleased to have someone from church to talk to as she could not get out much any more and that she, the daughter, often worked nights and weekends in housekeeping at a local hospital and couldn’t take her mother to church. Blanche was 92 years old.

I found her seated in an old tufted armchair. She was the tiniest African American woman I’d ever seen, with snow white hair pulled back in a bun and dressed in a faded but clean cotton house coat. When her daughter explained why I was there, the smile filled her face.

I was so very nervous. I had never done anything like this before despite all of my training. I was suddenly tongue tied. I didn’t know what to say to this beautiful lady and didn’t want to let her down. I started pulling out brochures about the programs our church was offering and going into my learned speech. But somehow she knew what was going on in my head, and in my heart. She reached over and took my hand in her two small ones and thanked me for coming to visit her. She asked me to tell her about myself, about my children, and the work I was doing in the neighborhood. She then told me all about herself and how grateful she was for her daughter, for taking her in and taking such good care of her. We spoke of her fond memories spending time at church and we prayed together. Before I left, she leaned over and said, “you did very well, dear. You’ll do just fine. Just remember to be yourself because that is beautiful enough for anyone.”

I cried all the way back to my office. I had gone there to be a comfort to this lady, and she had comforted me. Blanche made me a better person, and all the work I did after that visit came from my authentic self. She passed away peacefully in her sleep a few months later. I was richer for having known her, and the community poorer for having lost her.

Christmas doesn’t come in ribbons and paper. It doesn’t come in gift cards and parties. It comes wrapped in love and genuine compassion for others, and for every gift of yourself that you give to another, it comes back ten fold. May your gifts be many and, as the song says, “let your heart be light.”

And so it is.

Flower Bear
The Gift of Story
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type the end


Every year for Christmas I give myself a gift. I know that may sound a little selfish, but really, who is more deserving than you of receiving something that speaks to your true, beautiful self? I don’t necessarily mean something like a trip to Aruba or a new car (although both would be lovely). I’m talking about a gift that touches the real you, the you that struggles year in and year out to be the best “you” that you can be? One year I gifted myself a sponsorship of a wolf in Idaho. The connection with that animal gave me something more precious than money. Another year I gave myself a DVD set of a weekend workshop with Louise Hay and Cheryl Richardson that also had life-changing results.

This year I thought I would do it a little differently. First, I decided that I would give myself four gifts, one for each of the weeks leading up to Christmas. Second, I decided to share those gifts with all of you, for all of the wonderful gifts you have given me over the years. So, here we go with Gift #1: The Gift of Story.

Where would we be without our stories? Who would we be without our stories? All the experiences, the joys and sorrows, our upbringing, our cultural environment, our illnesses, our losses and our gains. But do all of these things really tell the story of who we are, or are they simply a list of experiences that happened outside of ourselves and our reactions to them? Are we still living our lives in reaction to the things that happened to us in the past? And what kind of a story about ourselves are we passing on to our children and grandchildren as they venture out into the world to write their own stories?

I don’t believe that our stories have to be about why we are the way we are, as if it is all the fault of someone or something else. We can certainly tell a story of how we experienced these things and, good or bad, what we learned from them that can benefit us going forward as we write the next chapter. I would certainly prefer to tell my grandchildren stories of the experiences of my life that touched my authentic self and how that made me a better person. I want them to know what is best about Grandma. I want them to remember holidays filled with magic and cookies, of playing in the snow, of helping them write their letters to Santa. I want them to remember the stories that came from special moments spent together, and about the wisdom about the world that they learned at my side. I’m not tooting my own horn here. I’m writing my story.

So for this week, I give you all the gift of story. You are the author and you can write it any way you want. It doesn’t have to be a fairy tale. Even real stories can end with “and she lived happily ever after” if you’re the one who is writing it. What will you write?

And so it is.



Flower Bear
Is This What Happy Feels Like?
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The other day I found myself dancing in the kitchen like Ginger Rogers without Fred Astaire while cookies baked in the oven and turkey stuffing was cooling in a bowl on the counter.

Let me go back about two hours.

I was tidying up in the kitchen after breakfast and getting out the supplies I needed to make a turkey stuffing that was my contribution to our church’s pot luck Thanksgiving meal on Sunday. This batch would be baked in the oven outside of the turkey which was being provided by someone else. As I passed the kitchen window I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye; something white was flying around outside. Since it was a brilliantly sunny morning, I figured it wasn’t snow. I went over to the window to take a peek and saw … sea gulls, hundreds of sea gulls, landing in the farmer’s field next door. I grabbed my jacket and headed outside.

The wind was whipping around something fierce out there and the brilliant blue morning was quickly turning into a freezing wind and a promise of bad weather to come. I reasoned that the gulls had come inland because they knew more than we did about the change coming in the weather. I could hear the frenzied honking of the geese on the pond beyond the field letting our visitors know in no uncertain terms that the pond was already taken, thank you, and there was no room in the neighborhood for new comers! Despite the cold, I stayed a while to watch the gulls dig around in the field  until they had picked it clean, then as if on cue, they took off like a giant blanket of white and headed for the opposite hill where the remnants of the blueberry bushes and surrounding fields offered the possibility of a snack.

I went back inside where it was nice and warm, and continued working on my stuffing. Something made me go and get my laptop where I clicked into Pandora and brought up a jazz station. As the stuffing cooked I got the sudden idea to bake vanilla drop cookies. For those of you who know that the cooking gene skipped me and went on to my sister, daughter and granddaughter (an example of which were slice and bake cookies that somehow came out so hard the NHL could have used them for pucks), the sudden desire to bake could only have been planted there by some unknown source – either God or aliens.

I measured and poured, scrapped and beat, and before you could say Betty Crocker, two cookie sheets were in the oven filling the apartment with the most wonderful smell … and I started dancing. It was Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald doing Cheek to Cheek. Look out Ginger, her comes Barb. In the middle of what I thought was some pretty fancy footwork (I absolutely loved ballroom dancing when I was young), it suddenly hit me: is this what happy feels like?

What does it say about how we live our lives if we have to ask ourselves that question? We are so busy searching for happiness that we miss out on those moments when happiness is right at our fingertips. Had I been so wrapped up in the move to the new place, and the unpaid bills sitting on my desk, and stressing out about the upcoming holidays that weren’t even here yet, that I was missing out on all the really good stuff in my life that was happening right here, right now? Happiness is an inside job, and if we don’t occasionally go to the window of the soul and look out, we just might miss the sea gulls, and the geese, and the pond, and the blueberry bushes, and our true, authentic lives. Of course, being a jazz fan, I like to think that the Count and Ella contributed a lot, too.

And just to let you know, the cookies came out just fine! Yum!

And so it is.







Flower Bear
A Story About Tranformers and Transformation
Family & Relationships
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This is my “almost 5 years old but still 4 for a few more days” (his own words) grandson Stanley Jr., affectionately known as Bubba. Bubba’s favorite things are robots, specifically Transformers. For anyone who has not been around children for a while, Transformers are Superhero robots who can transform themselves into some pretty nifty super vehicles like trucks, planes, helicopters and such. The head of the good-guy Transformers – because every superhero needs some bad guys to save the world from – is called Optimus Prime. Good old Optimus can change himself into a huge, shiny, silver tanker truck. This is the gold standard of Transformers. So imagine my grandson’s amazement when we were pulling out of the parking lot of the supermarket in my new home town when a big, shiny, silver tanker truck came zooming by.

Now his mother and I knew that this was just an ordinary milk tanker on its way to pick up milk from the local dairy farms. However, from the backseat came a loud gasp, followed by, “Grandma, look! It’s Optimus Prime!” Not missing a beat, I replied, “Yep, it sure is.” Bubba strained against his seat belt to watch his hero make a turn and head up the road to my place. “He’s going up your road! Quick, follow him!” Like a good mother (and because we were headed that way anyway), my daughter swung out of the lot and took up the pursuit. Since my place is just before the crest of a hill, and our neighbors are dairy farmers who are currently building a huge, new dairy barn, I figured that was our hero’s destination. Sure enough, as soon as it crested the hill, it disappeared into the farm’s driveway to make a pickup. My grandson was beside himself. “Is that where he lives?” he asked. “You bet,” I answered. “That’s why they’re building that big new barn. But it’s a secret because he doesn’t want the bad guys to know where it is.” (This is called covering my butt in case he took it upon himself to walk up the hill for a visit). When we got out of the car, he just looked up the hill at the barn and then at me in awe. “Wow! Optimus Prime is my grandma’s neighbor!” My own grandma status had just risen to the top of the meter.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all transform ourselves into a sleek, shiny superhero so we could save the world and have that kind of effect on someone’s life, especially if it’s someone we love? Here’s a little secret: the most powerful transformation we can make is to become the best version of who we really are and watch how it transforms those around us. Think back in your own lives to that one person, be it a parent, teacher, or friend, who lived a truly authentic life and what kind of effect that had on you.  We often forget that everything we do causes a ripple that spreads out and touches everyone around us just like a pebble tossed in a pool of water. When I am out in the garden tending to my plants, or working on a piece of writing, everyone around me sees a happy, contented, whole person. That is the very best version of myself that I could possibly share with those I love … even if I do live next door to a superhero.

So take a few moments and think about how you can be a superhero to those around you by being the best version of you that you can be, and imagine what kinds of ripples you can send out. Somebody some day is going to thank you for it. Let Optimus Prime try and top that!

And so it is.

Flower Bear
The Long And Winding Road
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The boxes are packed. The walls are bare, only the shadows of pictures and paintings remain. Living off of microwave food and fresh fruit for three more days. October 1 begins a new month and a new chapter in my life. My long and winding road is bringing me back to where a new me was planted and blossomed.

Here at the age of 65 I am continually amazed when I look back at the journey I have been on and how I somehow arrived at my authentic self. When I think about some of the pivotal moments of my life, like two divorces, a college degree at 36 (with three kids, a home and a job at the same time), two major out-of-state moves, an accident and a chance encounter with a teddy bear that led me to my true home, I stand in awe of the strength of the human spirit and the love of the Creator for its creations. If anyone had told me years ago that I had the power to create the life I wanted regardless of outside events, I would have said they were crazy… and yet, on some level, I always knew that there was something more and my curiosity refused to let go of that idea. An idea is a powerful thing. If you give it full rein, it can take you anywhere.

Is there some sadness connected with leaving where I am now? Sure there is. Regardless of the fact that from the moment I moved here I was already trying to plan my escape, my long and winding road had to make a stop here so I could learn what I had to learn and for that I am grateful. I will miss my little nature spot outside of my window. I will miss squirrels coming up and scratching on the window when they see me at the computer. I will miss the sparrows and finches that came to the feeder, the antics of Freddy the Blue Jay and the devotion of Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal for each other. As I take down the feeders and watch them as they search for what is no longer there, I tell them that there is a new feeder and a new home for them if they would only take that leap and look for it.

Never lose hope that your long and winding road will end up in a dead end, or go on aimlessly forever. It will take you where you need to go, teach you what you need to learn, and then it will take you home.

And so it it.

P.S. I will be offline for a while until my internet connection is hooked up. I will respond to your sweet comments as soon as I can!







Flower Bear
Going With The Flow: Part Two
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Back in October I shared the experience of putting out positive thoughts and vibrations to the Universe and in return receiving the opportunity to leave a job where I was terribly unhappy, as well as being 50 minutes away by bus,  in exchange for one that was across the street from where I lived. I said at the time that when we “go with the flow” instead of fighting against our experiences, things can come to us that we might never expect. In my case this was especially true. The update is even more amazing than the original experience although not without some drama.

Less than three months into the new job it was apparent that the job described to me during the interview and the job in reality were two different things. I am not pointing blame at anyone. It may well have been the case that they were so desperate to find a replacement for my niece, and I was so desperate to leave the other job, that we each heard what we wanted to hear and not what was actually being said. While most of the job description was accurate, one duty was sort of glossed over and that involved acting like a collection agency for counseling services. There are many things that I am good at and feel comfortable doing … hounding people for money is not one of them, especially if those people are in emotional or spiritual pain which is why they needed the services in the first place. In any case, at the same time that I realized I was having to force myself to go to work, my niece unexpectedly became pregnant and could not work the grueling hours demanded by her new job. Here was an opportunity to correct a mistake and make everyone happy. So I agreed to be let go in exchange for them hiring my niece back (who has no problem collecting money from people) and decided to take a few months off to just breathe for the first time in seven years. I figured that by the end of the summer I would sign up with a temp agency and continue to work part time.

There is a saying that goes, “when people make plans, God laughs,” or something to that effect. If you go back to my posts from late June you will remember that I took a tumble outside in the middle of June and fractured my left hip and shoulder, requiring surgery to put two pins in my hip. There would be no going back to work. At first I was upset and let myself get carried away by the injustice of it all. Slowly, after much prayer and sitting in silent meditation to try to hear the lesson in all of this, I came away with this: what would you be willing to let go of in order to have what you’ve always wanted? I recognized that I would be willing to let go of a great deal in order to be able to retire, at least for now, and focus on writing, gardening and living an authentic life once again. So that is the decision I made. It may not be forever. It may only be for a while. But for now, despite the pain of my injuries as I continue to mend, I feel alive for the first time in 15 years.

I recognize that this will not be an easy road. There will not be much disposable income. But I have come to recognize how little I need to be happy. For the past few weeks I have been spending several hours a day going through old papers, books, music, movies, etc. Some were sold off, some donated to the local library for their book sales. The clothes, when I get to them, will go where they will do someone some good. The “good” china that has not come out of the closet in more years than I can remember is going on Craigslist. I may even entertain the notion of finally fulfilling my dream of moving back home again to that little town where life is simple and people say hello to you on the street. For now it is enough that I have uncharted territory ahead of me and it feels good to be on an adventure again after all this time. Where is your uncharted territory?

And so it is.





Get a Pocket-Friendly Home Garden
Home & Garden
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Synthetic grass may have been around for more than 45 years but it is only now that it has begun to come into its own. With massive growth in the fields of materials, manufacturing and technology, many an artificial turf company has found its variants of synthetic grass being widely accepted. Softer strands being developed with varied hues of green and brown give the turf a more authentic feel. Synthetic grass is low maintenance, highly versatile, and reassuringly green all year.

The question though that most people ask is whether a synthetic lawn would work in their home garden. The answer is a resounding yes. Most dedicated gardeners often feel the lawn takes up too much water and is a waste of time and space but with synthetic grass you can get yourself a lawn without the maintenance that goes into it. Not to mention, synthetic grass can last for almost 15 years.

There is a higher initial cost to the synthetic lawn but it most definitely pays off in the long run in terms of time and effort. There are various ways in which you can use synthetic grass in your home garden:

On Balconies and Terraces

Loft apartments and rooftop terraces are perfect candidates for installing faux grass. A hot concrete terrace can be converted into a cool sun-terrace for year-round use. Having the correct gradient to ensure water run-off though is crucial.

Under Trees

One of the biggest benefits of having a synthetic lawn is that you can have a flawless lawn under trees, without the fear of unsightly dead patches. To top off the look try and add elements like pebbles or colored rocks under the trees.

Green up Your Courtyard

There is no better pick-me-up than a small patch of grass — even if it is synthetic. Add to it the almost real life feel of the grass and it is perfect for dressing up small courtyards and backyards. You can always keep it as a temporary ornament and later revert to tiles.

Between Pavers

You can install synthetic grass between your pavers and achieve those perfect edges to round off your pavers. Make sure that your lawn and the turf between your pavers is of the same height.

Balcony Lawn

Synthetic turf is perfect for creating small balcony gardens. Lay down a synthetic turf in your balcony, add a few pots full of ferns and leafy plants, and lo and behold — you have yourself your own private garden.

How to Install Faux Grass

1. Synthetic turf can be expensive. Make sure you get your contractor to take the exact dimensions with room for a little extra to ensure you cover the area you intend to

2. Ask your supplier to inform you about the best type for your specific site and use

3. When applying faux grass to concrete surfaces, make sure there is a gradient to allow for water run-off

4. For garden application, the existing grass must be removed to create a compacted recess. A mix of crusher dust and river sand is applied.

5. A weed barrier is also created to ensure a stable, porous base. Seaming tape is applied at the edges and silica sand in-fills are added to weigh the turf down, cool it and keep the tufts vertical.

6. Hose it down regularly and make sure no water or other muck accumulates

Do It Yourself

Almost 50% of artificial turf is now laid by customers themselves. Synthetic turf, like a carpet, has a directional pile, so you need to make sure it is all running the same way. It is vital to have the edges properly butted up before sticking them to the joining tape. Most suppliers give plenty of instructions to help you do it yourself.

The bright color of the synthetic grass all year round makes it a cheery addition to your home garden. Add a few bird-feeders and plant herbaceous borders, preferably with cornflowers and lavender for the bees, or phlox and buddleia for the butterflies. Your home garden can be a beautiful little paradise all year round, and at the same time save you time, effort and money!

Stephen Reily - VN Founder
Where to Launch a New Boomer Product? Don’t Forget Google
Other Topics
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I recently met with a company launching a new beauty product for Boomer women.  They had tested it via direct-response television, and wondered why women were watching their infomercials but not buying their products.  The commercials directed women to a toll-free number and to the brand’s proprietary website to buy the product.  They asked us if women 50+ were reluctant to buy beauty products online?

Of course not. Women 50+ are shopping for beauty products online more than they are using any other single distribution channel for the same purpose.

This company’s innovation team had done so many things right – brand name, formulation, packaging, messaging, and their own website – but they had forgotten something important.

They had assumed that engaging women on television and then directing women to a website was enough.  What they had forgotten was that Boomer women are just like the rest of us.  The way we go to a website is through Google.  And what do we expect to find?

We expect to find a range of search-engine results, including a brand’s own website but also including content and e-commerce options in the form of blogs, review sites, Amazon, and more.  If the only result we find is a brand’s own site, the brand immediately loses credibility.  We have come to expect a multitude of results that provide specific information but, more importantly, also give us a frame of reference for a new product or service.

This brand had made no investment in building the kind of content and e-commerce options that would have made it seem real and believable to Boomer women.

Boomers describe their path to purchase, but are brands listening?

In recent research, 92% of Boomer women told us they use a search engine before making a purchase.  What brands have been slow to realize is that shoppers who use a search engine also expect to find the full range of search results (pointing to both content and commerce) that they find for established brands.

In looking for content – reviews, stories, experiences – that make a new product real and make its claims believable, these Boomers aren’t just passive receptacles for online content.  They believe it because they create it, too.

85% of Boomer women tell us that they share information online about their experiences with new brands, products or services if that experience was either great or awful.  And they are assuming that other women – the references they trust most – will do the same.

As this pattern has developed, their reliance on content from peers has grown, and their reliance on branded content has declined.  71% told us that they do not trust what they hear on television and radio.  That doesn’t mean that running a commercial or an infomercial is a bad idea; but it does mean that it won’t be more than a starting-place for most consumers, who will turn to Google for the next round of information they need next.

What it means when Google is your homepage

As I’ve written elsewhere, brands need to treat Google as their homepage. No longer satisfied with information in a vacuum, consumers now expect to see all brands and products (even new brands and products) immediately surrounded by content that make them credible and by shopping options that make them accessible.  It’s true for non-Boomers and Boomers alike.

Don’t bother investing in a marketing plan to launch a new product for Boomers that doesn’t include a plan for generating authentic content, reviews and shopping options online.

Boomers won’t believe in you without it, or find an easy way to make others believe in you, too.

[This post was originally published on MediaPost. ~ Eds.]

Flower Bear
Growing Myself Week 7: The Seed of Enlightenment
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How beautiful our inner garden looks! Our secret sanctuary is filled with the colors and smells of a garden in bloom. Look at what we have created:

  • We’ve discovered our self-worth and learned to value ourselves
  • We’ve discovered that inside each of us is the capacity to create something wonderful
  • We’ve gone through the cleansing fires of transformation and come out strengthened
  • We’ve discovered our voice and heard ourselves speak our truth out loud
  • We’ve learned that love begins with loving ourselves and watching the ripples spread
  • We’ve learned to trust our intuition and know that our inner wise self always has our back
Finally, we come to the center of the bouquet of an authentic life … enlightenment. This seed is a brilliant violet-white and blooms as a lotus flower with hundreds of petals. Each petal is a present moment, a knowing that what we seek, we already are; that every moment is an opportunity to create, speak and live our individual truth instead of what our society or our family tells us our truth should be; that we are whole and perfect just as we are, and that there is nothing that we cannot be, do or have if we believe we can.
I want you to take a mental picture of this garden in all of its glory and keep it with you wherever you go. When you find yourself going through a difficult time, or are faced with an important decision regarding your life, take a moment and look at that picture. See which color stands out for you and focus on what that color is trying to tell you. Are you selling yourself short? Are you holding on to things or people that no longer are in your best interest? Are you not speaking your truth? Whatever it is, sit in your secret sanctuary with it until your intuition leads you where you are meant to go. In the mean time, enjoy this garden that you have created. Even when the storm rages outside, inside your garden blooms!
And so it is.



Flower Bear
Growing Myself Week 6: The Seed of Intuition
Healthy Living, Spirituality
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Our inner garden is really beginning to bloom beautifully. We are surrounded by the colors of value, creativity and rebirth, transformation, love and truth. Only two more seeds to go to complete our garden.

Today we are planting the the purple seed of Intuition. Everyone is born with intuition. It is that inner knowing when something does or does not ring true for you. It’s that pull to take one path over another, make one choice over another. It is the outward manifestation of our inner wisdom. When you get that little twinge in your stomach, that’s your intuition telling you that something isn’t quite what it appears to be, or you aren’t following a path that is true for you.

So many of us don’t follow our intuition. We don’t trust ourselves to know what is best for us. If we are being drawn to something that is not the “norm” as our culture dictates, we question ourselves rather than the message we’re receiving from the outside world. Our intuition, our inner wisdom, is our direct connection to the Wisdom that created us. It is the GPS to our authentic life. Not following what our intuition tells us makes as much sense as shutting off your GPS while trying to drive somewhere that you’ve never driven to before.

Sure, it’s scary sometimes to take the plunge and step off the beaten path that everyone else is following, but your intuition is as true for you as true north is on a compass. It will never lead you astray or get your lost.

All living things have intuition although with animals it is sometimes called instinct. A fish knows enough not to try and live above ground, and a bird knows that the sky is his natural home. But even animals can misread the signals sometimes. Case in point: The Tale of Two Squirrels:

“Two squirrels were trying to get to a brick of seeds and nuts that a kindly lady (that would be me) had hung from the top of a shepherds crook that was planted in a patio pot on her back porch. The first squirrel kept trying to climb up the pole only to slide back down before she reached the prize. Try as she might, she just couldn’t maintain her grasp on the pole. The second squirrel sat and studied the situation. Standing on his hind legs on the porch railing, he took a giant leap and jumped to the top of the pole, wrapped his tail and hind legs around the curve in the crook, and hung upside down, freeing his hands and mouth to reach the block. Fortunately, he was a very nice squirrel and dropped some seeds and nuts on the porch floor so the first squirrel could share in his bounty.”

Okay, maybe this is a strange way to make a point, but my intuition tells me that a story sometimes demonstrates an idea better than just stating the idea. In this case, the first squirrel saw only one way to accomplish a task, while the second squirrel looked at it from all sides and followed his intuition, taking a “leap of faith” that his intuition wouldn’t fail him.

The next time your are faced with a situation where you have to make a decision between more than one choice, sit in silence with yourself, close your eyes, and mentally check in with your body. Is there a tightness anywhere when you consider one choice over another? A knot in your stomach? Or is there a feeling of excitement and possibility? Trust your inner wisdom to know what will make you happy and then take that leap of faith. Sometimes it’s worth hanging upside down to get the best seeds.

And so it is.