Friday, November 30, 2012

Girlfriend Reunion 2012

What is more fun than a family reunion? The annual girlfriend reunion! We girls (actually mature women acting immaturely) know how to let off steam. When we get together each year we leave all the worries of family, work, and life in general at home. For brief periods we may console and council each other, but for the most part it is time for food, wine, music and laughter.

 This year we rented a fabulous estate among the vineyards of the Napa Valley. Once we passed through two levels of security gates and secured them behind us, we located our enchanting wine country villa. The first order of business was to scramble for the best sleeping quarters. Our general rule is the camp director for any given year gets first pick of bedrooms. The rest of us work it out between us and once settled the good times begin to roll.

This is such a special time for this group of six friends who have known each other most of our lives. If asked what we did while in the wine country, I don’t really have an answer. We don’t do anything. We don’t go anywhere, we eat in, and really, we could be anywhere. It is a time for being together, for reminiscing, strengthening bonds, and learning more about each other. It just so happens we are laughing through most of it, an occasion tear, but mostly laughter.

I am very lucky having these friends in my life for going on 50 years now. I hope you have special relationships that give you a sense of security that a long-term friendship can give. If you have lost touch with people from your past maybe it is time to reconnect. Reach out to an old friend and see what happens. If this turns into a renewed friendship, I would love to hear about it. Leave a comment and I will share your story.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Family Reunion 2012

August brings my family reunion, and this year we met in the High Sierras to camp near the shores of the gorgeous alpine Lake Tahoe. I am always excited to revisit the Sierras where I spent many childhood summers, but tent camping is becoming less and less desirable.

 I used to love sleeping outside in the mountain air listening to the forest sounds, but now, the sound of flush toilets, and heat or air conditioning, are more attractive. However, my husband and I were good sports and joined most of the family at the campsite and slept in a tent. Thankfully there were hot showers and toilets nearby so it was doable. I still love the romance of sleeping outside, but these days we are up several times a night and climbing up off the ground in the freezing cold is not so romantic. I am voting for a lodge next year.

The lake was stunning as usual and hiking and biking in the mountain air was refreshing and restorative. Getting together with my family always results in a lot of laughter and story telling around the campfire, and I wouldn’t miss it for anything.

As the years pass our family is getting smaller making it more important to stay connected to the ones who remain. My family includes friends who are not related, but who have been connected to us for most of our lives and they are as loved as the blood relatives. I am grateful for the love, support, laughter and joy they bring into my life. 

Once the camping trip was behind us, it was time to prepare of one of my favorite events of the year. The Girlfriend Reunion 2012 will be remembered in my next post.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Houston in July?

Today I am making reservations to spend Thanksgiving with family 500 miles away. Thanksgiving? Already? Where did the summer go? It is true that time flies when your having fun, and a fun summer/fall it has been for me with 5 trips in as many months.

July found us in Houston, Texas. Who goes to Houston in July you may ask. We asked ourselves that when we received a wedding invitation from family we rarely see. I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to catch up with long distance relatives all in one place. I had to convince my husband who was not very enthusiastic to travel to a hot, humid, crowded town to be with people he hardly knew. We were both glad we made the effort.

Upon arriving in Houston, we were greeted with unseasonably cool weather and a welcoming party of my delightful cousins. All the out of town guest (and some locals) checked into a trendy downtown hotel where the reception was to take place. Every little detail was planned and executed to perfection. Even distant relatives were warmly welcomed and included in all the family events. What a joy to reconnect with cousins I rarely see and make new friends as we joined with the bride’s family. I wondered which family liked to party more and determined it was a toss up. It really was a spectacular event.

 Once again my theory of always making the positive choice is reaffirmed. I am so grateful for my extended family and now know that the effort to stay connected is more than worth it.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

LIVE the Journey

Life is a journey. We travel along our personal journey every day. When a day is over, it is gone forever. We can never go back and relive that day. Each day is an important part of the journey. Live it for all it’s worth. Eleanor Roosevelt suggested, “Do one thing everyday that scares you.” What thought provoking advice. Jump off a diving board, or eat something you have never tried. Sign up as a volunteer and make a difference. Step outside the box that is your routine and experience a new world.

Our busy schedules keep us within the boundaries of our boxes. The best experiences could be outside the box. What is outside your box? It could be a new hobby, a new sport, or a new friend. Adventures are there for you to discover along your life path. Open your eyes and heart to them and make each day memorable.

Attitude is an important part of a life well lived. You may start house-cleaning day with a pity-party and write the day off as wasted. Or you can dive into your chores and be grateful for your health and ability to maintain a clean and organized home. You can take pride in your accomplishments and gain satisfaction from a job well done. Instead of categorizing housework, shopping and cooking as work, think of them as living.

Tomorrow morning as you open your eyes and ponder the day ahead, decide to do something different, something that will make the day unique and valuable. Make your life a journey of exceptional days and there will be no regrets.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Quote of the Week

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”
                        ~ Dalai Lama ~

It really is a simple concept. If we can introduce it to our brains, keep it there, act on it everyday, soon it will become natural. Small acts of kindness each day can change your life. Not to mention the people who receive your gift of caring. Helping an elderly neighbor by bringing a meal now and then, or offering to pick something up at the store for them is easy and could make their day. A simple phone call to someone who may be lonely could brighten their day while letting them know they are thought of. Take the time to consider your own family members. Do they need support or encouragement? We all need someone to lift us up when we fall, to offer a shoulder to cry on, and to cheer us when we succeed. Remembering to be that shoulder for the people around us can take the focus away from our own troubles.

The second part of the Dalai Lama’s quote reminds me of another quote that goes something like, “Just because you have a pain doesn’t mean you have to be one.” Some of us get cranky when we are in pain or suffering from chronic physical or emotional problems. It is no ones fault and should not be taken out on someone else, especially a caregiver. Complaining and criticizing usually does no good, while a little tenderness and compassion can work wonders. Think about our prime purpose in life, and we can make a difference.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Reaping Rewards

I am enjoying early retirement with my husband. Sometimes I feel guilty when most of our friends are getting up going to work on Monday morning and I can sleep in. It is wonderful to not have to be somewhere every morning after a lifetime of working hard. I love to read and have wished all my life for more time with my books, and now I have it!

Why do I feel guilty enjoying the freedom we planned and worked for? Together my husband and I saved and sacrificed throughout our working years so that we could be exactly where we are today. We did not buy new cars every time we got a raise. We did not wear expensive clothes or jewelry (well, some jewelry). Instead we put that extra income into our future. Now that the future is here, we will have to adjust to our new reality.

What we did not plan so specifically was how we would spend our time once we reached our goal of early retirement. We have always loved to travel and plan to do more, but the time between trips is what is so foreign to us. Waking up in the morning and thinking ‘I can do anything today’ can be overwhelming. Setting a goal and reaching it is to be rewarded. I am learning to sleep in and not feel guilty, to take breaks when I feel like it and to go play when I have the opportunity. I have to keep reminding myself that I have paid my dues and now my time is truly my own. I will use this time wisely and make the most of it.

Lately I have given in to my passion for reading. It is becoming somewhat of an addiction. I am neglecting the few things I still have to do like grocery shopping, meal preparation, and this blog for instance. All I want to do is read, one book after another. Maybe I will get my fill sometime soon and be able to focus more on the big world out there. For now, my book awaits.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Thought provoking passage from native American poet/author Linda Hogan

Walking, I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Missing Dad

Father’s Day brings to mind memories of my Dad who passed on twelve years ago. A World War II veteran, starting his family in 1950, he parented with a firm hand. But my siblings and I never doubted his love and protection. He was a great Dad when we were little, taking us to the beach, on camp-outs, to parks and museums. But as we became teenagers, he left most of the parenting to Mom. I don’t think he could relate to our adolescent shenanigans.

During the fifties and sixties, cigarettes and cocktails were all the rage. My parents were no exception and they smoked and drank along with all their friends. Eventually they gave up the cigarettes. Mom was never a big drinker but Dad continued to indulge in his cocktails, wine, and beer, depending on his mood. I think he was self-medicating to mask the pain and trauma of his own childhood. The depression, and the loss of  his mother at a young age, must have left scares. Enlisting and going off to war at 17 surely robbed him of any remaining youthful innocents. Dad never spoke of his time in the war or of  his childhood. I think it was painful and also considered unmanly to seek help or show emotional weakness. As long as he had his liquor, he was fine.
Towards the end of his life, Dad and I renewed our father/daughter relationship that had been strained for several decades. Our love of nature and sports brought us back together. While I lived in Alaska he visited and we explored the last frontier together. During football season we played Monday morning quarterback over the phone. I miss those phone calls most of all.

My father was imperfect, short tempered, and not always as supportive as he should have been. But he was my dad, and I miss him.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Night the Lights Went Out

 I often find myself reminiscing about the simpler life we baby boomers enjoyed in our youth. We did not have all the modern conveniences, yet our lives were less complicated. When we had free time, we were really free. Free to go outside and explore nature, find the neighborhood kids and play a game, or stay in on a rainy day and play cards or board games with siblings. Young people today, whether indoors or out in the world, have their heads down with eyes glued to their iPads and smart phones, ears plugged with their iPods, rarely interacting face-to-face with anyone. I have tried, unsuccessfully, to impart on my own family the importance of living in the real (unplugged) world.

Last September San Diego and surrounding areas suddenly lost power one afternoon and news reports predicted it could be a long blackout. Not knowing how long we would be without power, we scrambled to find stores open to get ice and essentials. The freeways and roads were grid locked due to the lack of traffic lights and everyone in Southern California leaving work at exactly the same time. My husband and I gathered flashlights and candles and planned sandwiches for dinner.

The next day, after the power had been restored, I met my 24 year-old son for lunch. I know that he spends a lot of time on his computer and other electronic devices, and I asked him what he did during the outage. His reply surprised and delighted me.

“You know Mom, it was really cool. Everyone came outside.” He said. “It reminded me of the stories you tell us of when you were a kid. I was at a friends, and we brought our guitars out on the porch and all the neighbors would stop and visit as they strolled around in the moonlight. Everyone had a friendly attitude and seemed happy to be outside.”

I listened to others making this same kind of comment in the days after the blackout. People realized, if only for one night, that there is much to be gained from turning off our electronic devices and acknowledging the people around us. At least a night without electronics gave my kids a better understanding of my less complicated youth.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Quote of the Week

“Give a girl the right pair of shoes and she can conquer the world”  ~Marilyn Monroe

Females love shoes. It must be in our genes. When I was a little girl, getting new shoes would literally thrill me. At Christmas time my grandmother sent my sister and I matching holiday dresses and my mom would take us shopping for the perfect shoes. I adored my new dress, but it was the shoes that excited me. I couldn’t wait for Christmas to arrive, not for the presents or relatives or parties, but to finally be able to wear my new shoes! I began begging my mother to let me wear them as soon as they were purchased, but she held firm and they remained in the box until Christmas Eve.

At Easter it was all about hats. To go with our new dresses, my sister and I wore wide brimmed hats with flowers and ribbons. How stylish we were. I recently attended a women’s function themed ‘Going to the Races’ where I spoke about my book. This was an opportunity to wear great hats, which you don’t see much anymore unless you are actually going to the horse races, or belong to the royal family.

What Marilyn’s quote reminds us is that when we look good, we feel good. A woman can be feeling down in the dumps, but when she puts her make-up on, she is ready to tackle her day. A good fitting suit can give a man a burst of confidence, just as a bad hair day can throw everything off.

So do the clothes make the man… or woman? The short answer is no. We all know of well-dressed people who have no substance. Looking good comes from confidence and self-worth. Feeling good about yourself, and focusing more on others, are qualities that will make you attractive. However, when you are competing for recognition or want to stand out, appropriate dress and grooming can put you ahead. So get out there and put your best foot forward… and make sure it has a fabulous shoe on it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Last Letter

Snail mail is becoming less important as technology now allows us to pay bills, do banking, shop and correspond from our computers. As I sorted through a weeks worth of flyers, political propaganda, and the stray bill still being mailed, I came upon a treasure, a hand written letter. I turned the delicate stationary over to confirm what I already knew. It was from my long time friend, Doris, who is the only person who still writes me letters. I ran my fingers over the front of the envelope and wondered if this would be the last letter I ever received.

As I unfolded the sheer, pastel stationary, I noticed how Doris’s penmanship had weakened. She is getting quite old and I hear from her less frequently. Having received something that must have taken an effort on her part, humbled me, and I savored each unsteady sentence. What a gift this letter was on this otherwise ordinary day. While I sat quietly reading the letter, I felt very close and somehow connected to Doris.

I was an avid letter writer when I was young. The letters flew across the states to cousins I saw only once a year. Recently one of those cousins scanned and emailed a letter I had written her 44 years ago. We laughed at my immaturity, but relished having this written history of our youth. I was amazed that she still had this old letter, but it took us back to our innocents for a little while.

I will answer Doris’s letter even though letter writing is already considered the way people used to communicate. I doubt that I will receive a reply so I will keep this one and take it out from time to time to feel the intimacy only this ‘last letter’ can give. Getting an email, tweet, or facebook 'like' is a fine thing, but it is nothing like receiving a letter.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Book Signing Wednesday May 13

I will be speaking and signing copies of my book at Ladies Night Out at Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center, CA Wednesday May 13th. It should be a great evening. It is always fun when ladies get together.
Living Fit After Fifty - A Guide For the Post-Menopausal WomanMy book 'Living Fit After Fifty - A Guide for the Post-Menopausal Woman' is also available at   

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother – The Heart of the Home

Sunday is Mother’s Day and for the last three years I have not had a mother to honor. When my husband and I were first married, between us we had two mothers, three grandmothers, and one great-grandmother, all requiring attention on Mother’s Day. I was writing cards, sending flowers, planning meals and visits. It was an effort on my part, but they all deserved recognition and gratitude for all they had given us over the years. We did our best to let them know they were loved.

The last of our ‘mothers’ passed away three years ago and now I feel a little lost when Mother’s Day rolls around. I am a mother and I will be enjoying a visit with my two sons, but even they do not fill the void that our moms left.

 If you still have a mother, enjoy and honor her every chance you get. She probably loves you more than anyone else ever will. I was blessed with the best of mothers. She cared for us, worried about us, and knew when to back away and let us make mistakes. I wish I could have been as wise raising my children.
I plan to enjoy Mother’s Day with my family and be grateful for all the gifts I received from my mother and grandmothers. I wish all mothers a wonderful day because we are all the heart of the home.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Use the Good Dishes

When I was a little girl rummaging around in my mother’s linen closet, I found a pretty little box that sparked my interest. The box was white with pink flowers and tied with a pale pink ribbon which I gently slipped off and lifted the lid. A delicate perfume filled the space around me as I unwrapped three silky smooth bars of soap nestled in layers of tissue. I rubbed one of the bars against my cheek savoring its softness and wondered why these lovely soaps were hidden away. When I asked my mother if we could use them she replied that they were special and not for everyday use. Disappointed, I returned the ‘special’ box of soap to the linen closet.

After my widowed mother passed away, my husband and I began the emotional job of clearing out that same home that I had grown up in. All the memories of my childhood were brought back to life as we went from room to room. There in the hutch were the delicate beer glasses from the 40’s/50’s that had been there all my life. However, I don’t remember ever seeing them being used. Did anyone actually drink beer out those glasses? I have seen actors using them in old movies. Along side the beer glasses I found the hand cut, colored crystal wine glasses, that collected more dust than wine over the years. In my mom’s cedar chest were the baby clothes lovingly crocheted by my grandmother and aunts, untouched since I wore them as an infant.  In the garage we found the old wooden, manual crank ice-cream maker, still on the shelf covered with cobwebs. So many bittersweet memories of my simple, innocent childhood, provoked smiles, laughter and tears.

As I progressed through the house and began pulling tablecloths and comforters from the linen closet, there behind the towels, sat the ‘special’ box of soap. I opened the lid, and as I expected, they were all still there, forgotten after all these years. What had she saved them for? How sad that she never enjoyed the few minutes of luxury the soap could have given her.

In the end, most of my parents prized possessions were given away or thrown out. I brought home a few things (including the beer glasses) that I just couldn’t get rid of. On the way home I found myself wishing my parents had enjoyed all the things they considered too good to be used. Instead, the items became give-a-ways, or garbage. What a shame.

Now the beer glasses and the colored crystal wine glasses are in my hutch. However, instead of collecting dust, I intend to enjoy them. My husband thinks the beer tastes better in the elegant glasses. In fact, I am using my own ‘special’ dishes and glasses more. I intend to make each day that I am healthy and sharing my time with friends and family a special occasion. As I offer a toast to my parents with their ‘special’ glasses, I feel their approval that we are enjoying them. Isn’t that what they are meant for?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

When Life Gives You Lemons…Make Lemonade

Life is tough and then you die. Whether you believe this or not may depend on what you consider a tough life. All of us living in the United States have a pretty great life. However, we tend to complain and feel sorry for ourselves when challenges arise or we think we don’t have everything we should. A woman living in Afghanistan or Congo, for instance, can only dream of the luxurious life that we American women have. Their best of times would be intolerable to us, yet they manage to find joy and happiness in the face of poverty, war and oppression. It’s all relative to what you know and often we do not appreciate the gifts we have been given.

My 59 years of living have taught me that the worst things I have been dealt have made me a stronger, but more importantly, a happier person. When I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, my world was shattered. Coping with my own mortality was a complex and lonely emotional roller coaster. Through the process it became very clear what is important in my life and what is not.

Twelve years have past since this trauma and I have been drinking lemonade ever since. Now I look at life’s events, the good and the bad, with a whole new perspective. I consider everyday an opportunity to live. Irritations that may have upset me in the past are now just that, irritations. When a loved one passes I am grateful I had their love in my life for as long as I did. I am not saying that loss isn’t painful, but it is a natural part of the human experience and something we all must face.

No one ever said life was easy or fair. But it is full of richness, beauty and love. Drink it in and feel every experience with passion and interest. Live, laugh, love and cry, learning all the while, and remember, lemons make lemonade.

Friday, April 20, 2012


I wanted to share this review of my book 
from US Review of Books. 
Living Fit After Fifty:
A Guide for the Post-Menopausal Woman 
by Carol Ann Haines
Bearhead Publishing
"If you raised kids, worked full time, managed a home, sometimes on your own, you can certainly find time to exercise."
A lot of things can conspire to keep a woman over 50 from looking and feeling healthy. Haines convincingly argues that it's wholly your choice whether to succumb. She offers a succinct, common-sense diet and exercise plan to get you on a better path and to keep you there. And she shows through personal experience that it can work. What's stopping you, Haines writes? Certainly not children; they're older or grown.
Haines, who has won awards for her short stories, is a good writer and does a great job of packing a lot of well-organized information into a short, 88-page book. A discussion of how crash dieting can derail your metabolism, bringing weight gain instead of loss. Stress-buster ideas such as meditation, tips for dealing with exercise routine setbacks, and a starter checklist are particularly helpful. An extensive appendix that lists healthy snacks, sample meal plans, and some really yummy-looking, low-calorie recipes reinforces the author's point that healthy eating need not be mundane.
The author's personal success story of getting fit after battling cancer and the success stories of her husband and several friends are wonderfully motivating. You can finish this book in an hour but should read it twice to glean its finer points. Then, keep it on the shelf to re-read when your motivation dampens. An inspiring, comprehensive, well-written primer that will get women off the couch and properly caring for their still-beautiful bodies.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Superstitions - Do You Believe?

My mother-in-law was born in October and she loved her birthstone, the enchanting opal. Over her lifetime she acquired an impressive collection. When I first met her I couldn’t help but notice the stunning black opal ring that was so strikingly set off by her dark Mediterranean skin and the diamonds that surrounded it. To me this was her signature ring, because she wore it so beautifully. Once I got to know her a little better I asked if I could see the ring. She took it off, but before she gave it to me she cautioned that I was not to put it on my finger or I would be cursed with bad luck. According to her and her Italian mother, if opal is not your birthstone, you cannot wear them. I examined the ring but did not put it on.

Even though she passed away 20 years ago, the opal ring was just handed down to my husband. It is as beautiful as I remember. But do I dare wear it? I have never let superstitions interfere with my everyday decisions. I would not walk under a ladder or cross paths with a black cat if I had another option. Why tempt faith, right? I did hesitate booking a flight on Friday the 13th the other day, but went ahead with my plans because I am a rational person. Still, I was a little worried about wearing the opal ring.

I got on my computer to find out why such a beautiful stone was thought to bring bad luck. I found that the opal has a long and interesting history. The Romans believed it brought good luck and Caesars gave them as gifts to their queens. Some time later the stone became associated with the evil eye. Then in 1829 a novel was written about an opal loosing its color when a drop of water spilled on it. In the story the owner died soon after. Apparently this book changed how the world felt about opals. No one wanted such a fate and the price of opals fell by 50%. With the discovery of the colorful black opals in Australia 50 years later, people once again wanted to wear opals.
Other than some in the far reaches of southern Europe (and my husband’s family) the opal is no longer feared. Since I don’t believe in the evil eye, and the novel is a made up story, I am not convinced that I shouldn’t wear the ring. However, I still hear my mother-in-law’s warning when I put the ring on, and that little doubt remains.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Quote of the Week

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”  Dalai Lama

Do you know anyone who is always cheerful? Someone who looks on the bright side of any situation and usually manages problems with ease and efficiency? I once asked a consistently bubbly coworker how she could show up every morning with smiles and compliments for everyone, despite what she had done the night before, or what we were facing at work that day.

“It’s a choice I make every morning,” she told me. “I choose to make each day as good as it can be because we don’t know how many we will have.”

Her response has stayed with me for many years and after pondering the Dalai Lama’s quote, I understand how our actions and life decisions - like choosing to start every day on a positive note - determine if we are happy or not. If happiness is a choice, why do so many of us choose to be unhappy? Why would anyone want to feel bad? The choice is clear to me. If everyone woke up each day and put a smile on his or her face, what a different world it would be.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What Did I Get Myself Into?

The last two months, since the release of my book ‘Living Fit After Fifty’, have been a whirlwind of presentations, signings, and social marketing. I thought writing was the hard part. Now I wish I had time to write, which I enjoy. Sales have been good and the feedback has been wonderful, but when I am not actively promoting the book, sales slow way down. Will I ever be able to write again?

I did not write the book to get rich or even to earn a living. I wrote the book because I write for pleasure, and now that I have (or had) more time, I thought I would complete the process of becoming a published author. The debate regarding signing a contract with a publisher or to self-publish ended somewhere in-between. I went with a small-press publisher, which was very comforting for a first time author, as I received personal attention and did not have to relinquish the rights to the book. However, I am obligated to promote the book -whether I want to or not - as the publisher is in business to make money.

I am not a salesperson, but I am a people person. I enjoy people. I like to meet people and learn what they are about. I first realized this after I left my corporate job in the San Francisco Bay Area (boring) and moved to Alaska. My first job in Anchorage was in a busy medical clinic where I met everyone in town and loved the interaction with the rugged, adventurous population of this booming town. The year was 1976 and the Trans Alaska Pipeline was being constructed to bring oil from the top of the world, Prudhoe Bay, south, across the north-slope and the treacherous peaks of the Brooks Range. The project continued across miles of tundra, more mountain ranges, finally ending at the Port of Valdez, where the oil was pumped into tankers. This immense undertaking brought thousands of opportunists to Alaska from all over the world.  Oil companies, construction workers, engineers, scientist, and anyone hoping to profit from the rapidly growing population, made their way to Alaska.
After a year I left the medical clinic to become a flight attendant for the Anchorage based airline, Wien Air Alaska (I am on the right in the photo taken approximately 1978). Wien was the first airline in Alaska and we serviced the pipeline camps, bringing the workers back and forth from their week-on, week-off, schedules. During the summer months we carried sport enthusiasts to some of the best fishing and hunting spots in the world. Going to work was an adventure. The passengers were a fascinating group of individuals made up of native Alaskans, oil company executives and oil rig crews, naturalist, and tourists. Among the tourist were movie stars, rock stars, sports stars, and many of the worlds’ wealthiest people. I never knew whom I might meet and loved talking with anyone who seemed out of place. I had to know what brought them to Alaska and why they were in route to places with names like, Cold Foot, Lonely, or Dead Horse. His or her stories always interested me and since then I have been curious about everyone I meet. There are so many amazing people, each on a unique path, that I love hearing about.

My point here is I am turning the chore of marketing my book into another opportunity to meet new and engrossing people. This time most of the people I am meeting are women and I am once again intrigued by their stories. I learned so much about life the 12 years I spent in Alaska, the most important being that people are mostly good, interesting, and worth the time to get to know. What I was dreading – pushing my book – is turning into a positive opportunity for personal growth. So far I have met some wonderful people and have had some experiences I otherwise would not have had. My next book will have to wait a while. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Getting Back on the Horse

I just returned from Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort in the Eastern Sierra where I celebrated my 59th birthday. Thankfully I am still in one piece with no broken bones or strained muscles.

Last year on my first and only day of skiing for the season, I took a bad fall and suffered some unwelcome injuries. After 40 years of skiing, I vowed to myself that I would never ski again, despite having recently purchased some pricey new ski boots. As I healed and started getting back in shape I began to reconsider my vow.

When the invitation came to join our good friends at their slope side condominium for a few days of skiing, I decided to replace last year’s bad memories with new pleasant ones. Once again, the positive choice was the right choice.

When we arrived at Mammoth after our six-hour drive across the Southern California high desert, the snow was falling gently and silently, as the light faded to evening. The snow continued to fall as we unpacked and decided to walk to a local restaurant for dinner.

What a joy for Southern Californians to experience the beauty of a winter wonderland. While the new snow crunched under foot and collected in the pines, I was truly happy to be there, even though I was somewhat anxious about what the conditions would be on the slopes come morning.

To my relief, we awoke to clearing skies, calm winds, and a recipe for perfect skiing conditions. Each day was better than the last. The sky got bluer, the snow got better, and my performance on the slopes surprised and delighted me. What had I been afraid of? I couldn’t even remember.

In addition to the skiing, our stay was filled with good food and wine, great companionship, and lots of laughter. What a shame it would have been if I had let my fear rob me of this exceptional experience. Instead, I did indeed replace the old debilitating memories with new treasured ones. A special birthday present to myself.

Monday, February 27, 2012

You Are What You Think You Are

We have all heard “You are what you eat.” But what about what we think of ourselves? A hypochondriac believes with all sincerity that he is sick and in need of medical attention. Upon examination, the doctor usually finds him to be in perfect health, but will never convince the hypochondriac that he is not sick. The hypochondriac may in fact be ‘feeling’ the illness that he has convinced himself he has.

The same can be said for low self-esteem. A person who thinks he is worthless and has nothing of value to offer the world may end up missing out on life changing opportunities, because he doesn’t try, assuming he will fail. Then there are those who expect to succeed at any and all endeavors. Interestingly, they usually do. When they don’t, they move forward and find success elsewhere. Does this mean if you think it, it can be your reality? I believe is does.

‘I can’t’, often means, ‘I won’t because I don’t want to fail’. If you don’t try, you have already failed, so what have you got to lose? None of us wants to be criticized, but in reality, anyone who takes notice might be impressed that you tried. Replacing self-doubt with an open mind could change your life!

When the alarm goes off in the morning, instead of telling yourself how tired and uninspired you are, think about what you can accomplish this new day. Who you might meet, or what you may learn. When negative thoughts try to stop you, replace them with something you are looking forward to or hoping to accomplish, and know that you can! The only thing holding you back from living to your God given potential is you and your own self-doubt. Try thinking about all of your good qualities and make an effort to show these qualities to the world. You do have much to offer and you can succeed in life. You only have to convince yourself!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Perseverance – Do I Have It?

I mentioned a few weeks back that I was adding yoga to my fitness routine in hopes of increasing my flexibility and balance. I have taken several classes, with a few different instructors, but I just can’t get with the program. I always workout first thing in the morning which gets my blood pumping to all the tight muscles and stiff joints, but to take a yoga class before I am sufficiently warmed up is not very beneficial. I tried a late afternoon class and found that I was tired from my long day and didn’t have much energy, and felt out of place with all the regulars. Next I tried at home with a DVD and did better since I could pause it and practice the poses. However, I continue to be frustrated, as I am not noticing much improvement in flexibility or balance. After each session I want to give up.

Upon further evaluation, I think I am making some progress. I was able to balance better today and might be limbering up somewhat. To achieve my goals though, I have a tall mountain to climb. Do I have what it takes at my age to conquer that mountain? It would be so easy to walk away and forget yoga…again. Instead I am going to stay with it and inch closer to the summit with each session.

I am going to step back and find a beginner program that will not discourage me, and realize that yoga is not something you learn in a week or month, but a continuing process. For me it will be slow going, but if I do succeed in making the physical changes I long for, the rewards will be life changing.

As with most achievements in life, the harder you work for something, the more you appreciate it. Someone who inherits money is likely to piddle it away, while money that is earned with blood, sweat and tears, is treated with the respect it deserves. I will continue my quest to flexibility and…persevere. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Finding Personal Peace in an Imperfect World

My mother was the picture of peace. She was always cool, calm and collected in the midst of what I considered a chaotic household. With seven people living in a relatively small house, I struggled to find the quite time I have always needed to read, study, or just think.

As a teenager I remember arriving home one evening planning to get busy on a report due at school the next day. There, on the living room floor, were two of my brothers having a boisterous wrestling match. The television was blaring at no one in particular. From down the hall I could hear my sister and her friends laughing and dancing to window rattling rock and roll music, while my baby brother cried from his playpen in hopes of joining the wrestling match. In the midst of it all, my mother sat quietly reading one of her beloved novels, totally oblivious to the madness. I, however, turned around and headed to the library.

The next day I asked her how she remained forever calm when our home was so disordered and nerve-racking. She quietly explained that this is who she was. “I am the mother of five children and I am most at peace when you are all at home. When you are all around me, I know you are safe and well, and I can relax.” I had to let this sink in for a while, but I came to understand that my mother was comfortable in her own skin. She knew who she was, where she fit in world, and that she had value as a human being. Over the years I have learned to follow my wise and loving mother’s example.

Accepting who I am and being content is at times challenging, but when I can focus on the center of my being, I can find peace there. As humans we tend to waste a lot of our time wishing our lives were different, better, or somehow more fulfilling, when satisfaction can be found within each and every one of us. Rather than wishing your time away, think about your own self-worth and whom you are important to. Enjoy the richness that is family, friendships, and experiences of all types. Accept your place in this crazy world, and know that people do depend on, and value you. Once you have discovered this about yourself, you will have peace.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Practicing What I Preach

In conjunction with the release of my book ‘Living Fit After Fifty’,, I thought I would post about my personal experiences with exercise. I am about to turn 59 years old and have old injuries and miscellaneous aches and pains depending on the weather, time of day, or what I have been up to. I still try very hard to ignore these signs of aging and keep up with my fitness routines. It would be pretty hard to sell a fitness book if I let myself get out of shape, right?

In my book I recommend that exercisers change their workout routines to avoid plateaus and boredom. While considering how I would next change my routine, I decided to try yoga. I have tried yoga in the past but never stuck with it because, by nature I am not a flexible person, and I struggle with balance. These issues made my past attempts at yoga unsuccessful, probably because I gave up too soon. Now I realize that yoga could be exactly what I need to limber up my unyielding body and improve my balance.

I located a class at a gym nearby that worked with my schedule only to discover - once I was well into the class - it was for advanced students. I had a tough time but hung in there to the end. The next day I woke up with a seriously strained neck. My first thought was that yoga was not for me and that I should forget about it. Then I thought I should try going about it differently.

Searching through my supply of exercise videos and DVDs, I found a yoga tape for beginners. After a few practice sessions at home, off I went to another class. This one was more user friendly and I did much better. I plan to return tomorrow morning for another go at it. Follow me on Twitter!/HainesCarol for tweets about my progress with yoga and my complete fitness program.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Release of my book 'LIVING FIT AFTER FIFTY'

Today I can finally announce the release of my book 'Living Fit After Fifty - A Guide for the Post-Menopausal Woman'. Even though it is targeted at post-menopausal women, anyone can benefit from this book. I hope everyone will support me and order this helpful guide. Your mothers, sisters, aunts and friends will all want a copy. Get yours at The e-book version will be available on the Bearhead Publishing site about the middle of February, 2012. The book and the Kindle version will be available on Amazon about this same time. However, I am sure all of you will want a hard copy to use as a guide for living fit. It is compact and user friendly.

This is not a diet book. It is my story of finding a long-term plan that is workable in the real world. The plan address attitude, weight training, cardiovascular exercise and of course eating properly.With sample menus, recipes, and success stories, it is all you need to start Living Fit After Fifty.

Being at peace with your body is important to your peace of mind.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Book Update!

My book “Living Fit After Fifty” is on the UPS truck as I write this. It will be available at long last by the end of this month. I had no idea publishing a book was so complicated or that it would take so much time (my extended trip to Italy didn’t help, but it was worth it). Thanks to those of you who have been waiting patiently. Remember, good things come to those who wait.

As soon as I have the books in my hands, and it is up on the publishers website, I will post purchase information here for anyone interested.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Quote of the Week

“A room without books is like a body without a soul”

                           ~Marcus Tullius Cicero

I finished the book I was reading a few days ago, Ken Follet’s ‘Fall of Giants’, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I also really liked his ‘The Pillars of the Earth’ and ‘World Without End’. ‘Fall of Giants’ was a great read, as I love to read about history and Follet seems to follow the facts pretty closely. During the time I was reading the book I was watching ‘Downton Abbey’ on Masterpiece Classic, which takes place during the same period and involves some of the same situations, making the time before World War I come alive for me. Between the book and the show I immersed myself in the past. As with all good books, it was a let-down when I came to the end.

My mother was an avid reader and as soon as I learned to read she got me started on the classics. I thought I had died and gone to heaven reading ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘Jane Eyer’. I have had a book by my side ever since. I usually have a stack of books on reserve, but for once I am caught up. Unlike all my reading friends, I have not made the switch to an E-Reader because I like the feel of the book, and am slow to accept change. Now that I have nothing to read, I see the value of electronic reading.

I was going to wait to find a new book until next week when my book club meets, and I learn what our new selection will be, but I am lost without a book. When I came across Cicero’s quote, I completely related to it. I don’t know if I can wait five days to start a new book. My birthday is coming up, I guess I will go ahead and ask for an E-Reader. In the meantime I will be going to the bookstore for something to fill the void.

As we move into the electronic age, I wonder if we will lose our libraries and bookstores. Will our homes be barren of bookcases and bookshelves? Will they become, as Cicero wrote, without a soul? I think I will start holding on to favorite books, and maybe even start collecting them. Once I join the electronic reading world, I will still always want to have books around me. Books are part of who I am.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Quote for the New Year

“Before you act, listen.
Before you react, think.
Before you spend, earn.
Before you criticize, wait.
Before you pray, forgive.
Before you quit, try.”

            -Ernest Hemingway

If we could all follow this guide as we begin the New Year our lives would be so much simpler. Lets consider the quote one line at a time.

“Before you act, listen.” So many times we say things we don’t mean because we have not taken the time to listen to all aspects of a situation. Listening can be the most important part of a conversation, argument, or discussion. We already know our side, but unless we listen completely, we may not have all the information we need to form our opinion. Listen carefully, and you may end up changing your mind.

“Before you react, think.” Consider the consequences of a reaction before it is too late to take it back. A moments’ pause to think may save you from yourself. Regrets are no way to start a New Year.

“Before you spend, earn.” What could be more basic, yet so ignored? It seems the whole world is financially irresponsible today. From countries going bankrupt, to friends and neighbors losing homes they should never have purchased in the first place. What is so hard to understand about a budget? For me the stress and worry of living above my means cancels out any pleasure I might gain from buying something I can’t really afford. In 2012 resolve to manage your money instead of letting your money manage you.

“Before you criticize, wait.” Do we really need to criticize at all? It might do more harm then good and you may end up hurting someone. Instead think of something to praise a person about and then offer a positive suggestion. Human beings are so fragile. Be gentle with each other.

“Before you pray, forgive.” Forgiveness will free your heart to pray sincerely. Holding on to anger and resentment will restrict the flow of love coming to and from you. Release your negative energy and make room for peace.

“Before you quit, try.” I hate to hear someone say, “I can’t.” Especially when they have not even tried. How do you know you can’t if you don’t try? Try new things and you may be surprised at what you can accomplish.

Follow Hemingway’s suggestions and give yourself the gift of peace, thoughtfulness and success as you begin this New Year. Best wishes to all.