Our USA Today Best Years Magazine Interview

We were interviewed by the award winning journalist Jennifer E. Mabry for the USA Today Best Years (Fabulous Living at 50+) 2019 Fall/Winter edition. The topic of the discussion was “50–Embracing Midlife”. It is a topic that “thisisyourbestyear” is very familiar with.

Adding to the conversation were three other women of a certain age. They were Amy Yontef-McCrath who is a volunteer extraordinaire who sat a goal of volunteering to at least 50 projects between birthday 49 and 50. She completed it with time to spare, and is now deciding upon the next goal for this part of her life.

Also included in the conversation was relationship expert and therapist Dr. Audrey Chapman. She gave insight into being mentally and physically healthy as we mature. Brigid Schulte who is an author and journalist discussed work-life balance as we enter different phases of our life.

It was our honor to be included in this conversation. The link to the article is below. You can purchase the magazine at your local news stands or on line on the USA Today Magazines site.

Embracing Midlife

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”. You are never too old to live your best life and do the “happy dance”–we are proof. Just go for it.

Rest–It Does A Body Good

You get that phone call and the voice on the phone ask what you will be doing later on. They seem confused when you say nothing. They are even more confused when they ask if you would like to go with them to their favorite restaurant, the movies, a concert–you get the picture, and you say no.

They want to know what you will be doing, and you tell them nothing. Nothing at all. You want to stay around your house in your pajamas and do nothing. You want to rest. You want to be left alone for a while.

Rest is something that most women of a certain age have to learn how to do. Women of a certain age can find something to do, something to fix, somewhere to go when others are struggling to do anything.

Now I’m not talking about that awful thing called a power nap. Which never gave me any power–it just made me want to sleep more. Meaningful rest is different for different people.

It could be:

  • Reading a book
  • Listening to music (that no one else in your house likes)
  • Wrapping up in a blanket and laying on the couch
  • Enjoying a glass or two of wine
  • Enjoying a cup or two of coffee
  • Just sitting and meditating
  • Just sitting
  • Sleeping

Meaningful rest is when we can rejuvenate our minds and bodies. Meaningful rest goes by many names such as self-care, self-love, self-compassion and more.

As our bodies and brains mature it takes longer to reenergize, heal and rejuvenate. We have to learn to turn the outside and inside world off.

Some of us have to go away to truly get meaningful rest, but with the state of travel now the rest will be lost because of transportation issues.

Meaningful rest is like a battery, you must leave it plugged up so that it can recharge fully. It can be used with only a little power, but it will soon cut off again. The same holds true for all of us.

Every so often “do nothing” just for you. You will feel better, look better and be better. Sometimes you just need to stop and smell the flowers. Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

*Yep, I’m a cat person.

Things They Don’t Tell You About Growing Up

Remember when you were growing up, and at each step of the way there was someone there to give you guidance on what would happen to you as you aged. There was someone who would answer questions before you asked them. How to shave your legs, underarms and more.

It seems as time goes on, you have to figure out things for yourself. There are things that you never thought about that are happening to you as you mature (age sounds so old).

No one told you that a pair of tweezers would become a beauty necessity. One that you have to have multiple pairs of. One in each bathroom at home, and especially one in your carry on if you can get it past TSA, or at least one in your checked baggage. The hair on your head may start to thin, it just grows somewhere else–your face.

We can all remember when we wondered what the hell a lip wax was–well now you know. It’s not so much about shaving your legs as it is keeping hair off of your face.

No one told you that you would return to your childhood and remember that statement that your mom uttered many times when she would ask you if you had to go to the bathroom–“just go and try”. As you mature, it seems like you decide to check and see if you do have to go all the time. It’s better to be safe than sorry. There is no drinking soda or even water while traveling–especially on planes (bathroom is too little).

There are so many things that they forgot to tell us as we mature, but it’s okay, we were always quick learners. Share with us some of the things you’ve learned on this journey of maturing. You can now color coordinate your tweezers just remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

On The Water To Venice

From the moment I caught a glimpse of Venice I was excited. I loved everything about it. From the water taxi to it to the water taxi to the airport as we were leaving.

Venice is one of the most visited places in the world, but it seemed there were less people than in Florence. You could see the cruise ships lined up near the shore, and our guide also showed us where the cruise ship had collided with the dock a few weeks earlier.

The water taxi ride was great, you could sit inside or outside so I chose the outside. All the while we were in route the scenery grew more beautiful by the minute. It was a great cab ride–just beautiful and fun.

Upon arriving on the island, we gathered our baggage (what little we had–bags still lost) and walked a short distance to our hotel–Hotel Violino D’Oro which sat right next to the gondola rides. As soon as we dropped our luggage, we were on our way to see more of Venice.

It is amazing to see a city with no moving vehicles, and yes the streets are very narrow. We were informed that we had come at a great time because no rain was in the forecast–Venice is prone to flooding.

The next morning after breakfast we inquired about a gondola ride, and decided we were going to take one. The gondolas can hold up to six people not counting the gondolier–there were four of us. They do tilt a little. All of us enjoyed the ride through the city where we saw Mozart’s house and all of the beautiful bridges in Venice. The gondolier pushes with his feet and oar to guide his beautiful gondola. There were a few water taxis, but there was no road rage. When we got to the Grand Canal it took our breath away. The Grand Canal offered us an opportunity to see a young lady say yes to a marriage proposal, and to see another gondola with its occupants singing in Italian. Before we knew it, we were back at our starting point near the hotel.

We met up with our guide Igor at the end of the gondola ride, and he took us on a tour of the city. He did inform us that the people who live in Venice walk on average about ten to twelve miles a day. The beauty of St. Mark’s Square was something to behold.

Since we were on an island that was densely populated there was very little green space, but we were able to see some, and it was beautiful. Igor took us through the neighborhoods, local shops and more.

Our tour included a stop at the Murano Glass Company where we were given a demonstration, and a tour of their beautiful showroom. It was a sight to behold.

Afterwards we walked the high end shopping area which was nice. We seemed to gravitate more to the shops that were owned by the locals, and bargains could be found. Our last outing together was a group dinner where we laughed, talked, ate, drank wine and enjoyed the company.

It seemed that as soon as it started it was over. The following morning we checked out of the hotel, caught a water taxi and were on our way to the airport. Seeing Venice and some of the other islands at night (we left before day) was great. There was a full moon that guided our path. At the airport we went our separate ways, but it was a group of people who have exchanged information and hopefully will stay in touch.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear” the lemonade you make can be as sweet as you wish. Even with lost luggage, my cousin and I along with my sister whose luggage was found had the sweetest lemonade.

**A special thanks to Ms. Fallon Alford for her beautiful photos. Fallon is a full time educator in Atlanta, Georgia where she also freelances as a photographer.

Tuscany, Florence and Pisa

The trip to Italy was about to leave Rome, and we were headed to Tuscany where the landscape changed. Even while just looking out of the window of the van as the country side zipped by you could see the beauty of Tuscany. Marco pointed out the olive vineyards and grape vineyards–both of them were beautiful. Another thing that we noticed was that cars were getting larger. In Rome it seemed like everyone drove something similar to a Smart Car and/or a scooter. On the way to Tuscany, the cars became larger, and scooters were not seen very much.

I’ve been to beautiful wineries in Texas, Napa and Mendocino, but Tuscany was always on my radar–it lived up to my expectations. From the moment we entered the gates to Tenuta Torciano I was in the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun”. The only thing missing was Diane Ladd.

After being greeted and given the history of the beautiful property, we were off to our wine tasting. The setting let us know that this would not be your run of the mill tasting. First of all it was set outside under a huge tent. The tables were beautifully set with each setting having a plate that had food that you were instructed to match with each wine. I have always been under the impression that if you like it, then you drink it.

The tasting was a lot of fun with everyone picking out their favorite wine. Then we had the honor of eating even more when they bought out what the host called “his mama’s lasagna”. With this dish he served a wine that he called the “Big Boy”.

The wine, food, olive oil and balsamic vinegar were all good, but the host made the experience even better. We even had fun with another group that was from Canada. Good food, excellent wine and great conversation made for an amazing experience.

Our next stop was to the the quaint looking town of San Gimignano. It seemed that each store had some likeness of Pinocchio in their windows or showcase. It was here that I finally purchased items that were needed (my luggage was still somewhere else).

After a leisurely walk through the town, we were on our way Impruneta which is a few miles outside of Florence. We would stay at the Bellavista Hotel in Impruneta which was situated in a neighborhood that was easy to walk around and see the sights. The Hotel Bellavista had a great rooftop where you could enjoy a glass of wine and look out over the town.

Florence was crowded with people, but not all of them were tourist. As soon as we stepped out of the van, we ran into a protest–it was very organized and seemed more like a parade. Florence is filled with great sculptures many of which are located in Piazza della Signoria. Most people would probably say that the replica of David was their favorite, but I think that my favorite was the one of Neptune. It’s just how he is looking at David–you have to see it to understand it.

Now many people go to Florence to shop for leather and jewelry, and there was no shortage there. ln fact so many people in our group purchased items that they shipped them home. There was so much that it all seemed to go together. The crowds seemed to grow larger because there was construction and preservation work everywhere. One of the highlights to Florence was an amazingly simple salad that we had. It featured watermelon, avocado, red onion, feta cheese and a little something drizzled over it. It doesn’t sound like it should go together, but it did. I’ve even made it since I have been home. We did have a Russell Crowe sighting–I only saw him walking away.

After two nights in the Hotel Bellavista we would be on our way to visit the city of Pisa. Before we were to leave Imprueneta there would be a Farmer’s Market in this huge parking lot in front of the hotel. My cousin and I took a quick look at the Farmer’s Market as they were setting up. There was the most beautiful fruits and vegetables that we had ever seen. The stems were still on the plants. There were food trucks starting to cook their foods. You could purchase clothing, cosmetics, plants and so much more. Our one regret is that we had to leave before they finished setting up.

Our visit to the town of Pisa was just that–a visit. A choo choo train took us to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Cattedrale di Pisa, Piazza dei Miracoli and more. One thing that we discovered was that after we saw the sites, we could just walk through the lovely area around it which had horse drawn carriages, restaurants, shops and more.

We had experienced wine, more wine, food, shopping til we dropped, history and more. It was time to move on to our next stop.

There is a disclaimer that I forgot to mention. All pictures of me are makeup free–it was in my lost luggage. So remember “thisisyourbestyear” you can get a natural glow without cosmetics.

**A special thank you to Ms. Fallon Alford for allowing us to use some of her photos. Fallon is a full time educator in Atlanta, Georgia who freelances as a photographer.

First Stop Rome

Going to Italy has always been on my “to do” list, and this year I was able to visit and had an amazing time with my cousin, sister and new friends. We did five stops with the first one being Rome.

We won’t talk about my lost baggage–that’s a post in itself. But I will tell you that nothing was going to stop me from enjoying this trip–even the weather cooperated.

The cab ride through the streets of Rome actually took my breath away. It was not as pretty as a picture, it was better. Sure there was graffiti, but even that had an artistic look to it. The cab driver in his comfortable BMW taxi, nice suit and wonderful accent was a tour guide all by himself. He pointed out historical sites as we traveled to our hotel. It’s one of the times the cab ride could have been longer.

Our hotel was situated on top of a hill. The Hotel Barberini did offer a spa, but I don’t know of anyone in our group that took advantages of these services. The hotel itself was very nice. Every morning we gathered there to talk and have breakfast. The dining room was covered with windows that allowed you to have amazing views of the city below. There was a great balcony that we sat for cocktails in the evening while music flowed from below. The one thing that got me was that beds in Italy are very low to floor, and hotel rooms are small. But who goes to Italy to stay in a hotel room?

Rome reminded me of San Francisco with its hills, and shops everywhere. Our hotel was in walking distance to the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, high end shopping–even discount shopping, and great restaurants. We were in the perfect location. Since I went with a tour group, when we went to places like the Colosseum we had transportation. All of our tours were scheduled. We had the best tour guide in Eladia. She was informative, funny and oh so helpful.

Our tours included the Roman Forum which included many structures that were still standing. Through the words of our tour guide, we could picture how it looked during the time of Julius Caesar.

As we continued to learn the history of Rome, we were on our way to the Colosseum which was not to far from the Forum. We were able to skip the long lines and go directly in to start our tour. At this time, they are still excavating at the Colosseum. As Eladia pointed out that there had been a covering at the Colosseum we all thought of old Texas Stadium with the hole in the middle–at least I did. Even though it is only a shell of it’s once grandiose self it is still something to see.

Vatican City is something to behold. Once again we were able to skip the long lines and go directly in. You need days to see everything that is in Vatican City. Again we were lucky to have Eladia as our guide. She showed us what she considered the “must see” items. You are not to touch the sculptures, but Eladia had permission to allow a member of our group that was visually impaired to touch them as she discussed them. Be prepared for a lot of people, but it is well worth it.

When you enter the masterpiece–the Sistine Chapel there are no words. The artwork before in other parts of Vatican City was amazing, but Michelangelo’s work is something to behold. Eladia had informed us on how to look at it chronologically.The only thing that could have made it better was if there were no crowds, and we could have sat and enjoyed the sheer splendor of the chapel. Even though you could take pictures without flash throughout Vatican City, you could not take pictures/videos of the Sistine Chapel.

Upon leaving the Sistine Chapel our guide Eladia left us, and our overall tour guide Marco took over. He took us to St. Peter’s Basilica. Be aware there is an enforced dress code. Women must cover their shoulders and everyone including men must wear clothing that covers the knees. When entering and going through men must remove their hats/caps.

This place is enormous and so ornate–again you need a while to go through it. One of my favorite places at Vatican City was St. Peter’s Square. I could just imagine the Pope coming out on the balcony.

After catching a little rest most of my group went off on their own to explore more of the city. Many walked since the hotel was centrally located, but others took taxis to places of interest. We decided to go to the balcony, sip a glass of wine and listen to the music.

Rome at least to me lived up to my expectations.The food was great, the history was amazing, the wine was good, and we even got our steps in each day. Remember “thisisyourbestyear”. Sometimes things live up to your expectations.

**A special thanks to Ms. Fallon Alford for sharing her photos with us. Fallon is a full time educator in Atlanta and a freelance photographer. You will see more of her work as we travel through Italy.

Dior At The Dallas Museum Of Art

Imagine the most beautiful clothing that you have ever seen and then multiply it by 100. This is what it felt like at the Dallas Museum of Art exhibition of Dior: From Paris to the World. As the song says, “I can only imagine”.

The House of Dior was created by Christian Dior in 1947, and this empire still stands today. Since his death there have been six designers including Yves Saint Laurent, and recently the first female was selected to head the house, Maria Grazia Chiuri. Dior’s legacy continues with his wishes “to make women happier and more beautiful”.

If you get a chance to see this wonderful exhibition I suggest that you attend one of the talks and/or movies that are shown before some of the tours of the exhibition. The talk that I attended was “Dior: From the Inside Out” by Anita Becker. It gave a synopsis of what it takes to create a garment for the House of Dior. If you can’t make any of the talks or movies, there are many on YouTube including the highly acclaimed “Dior and I”.

The beautiful exhibition is divided into sections with the culmination being the breathtaking “From Paris to the World” and “Ladies in Dior” room. It will literally take your breath away. Just a hint–when watching Ladies in Dior” turn around and look up. You will understand when you get there.

All seven who have headed the House of Dior are featured with some of their fashions that show how they steered fashion in their own direction.

Even though some of it looks like the clothing worn to the Met Gala, you see how beautiful it is. It’s kind of like a good mystery movie–you need to go back because you know you missed something. You have until September 1, 2019 to see this glorious exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art.

When it comes to fashion make your own personal fashion statement–remember “thisisyourbestyear”

Fashion, Food, New And Old Friends

What do you do when you are on your way to one of the most amazing runway shows this side of New York or maybe Paris? You make a stop that has been on your to do list.  First of all you take back the rental car and exchange it for a pickup.  We like to sit up high (thanks Enterprise Rental), and then we hit the road to Austin, Texas to cover Austin Fashion Week–Fashion X Austin and their Celebrating Texas runway show.

On the way we decide to stop at Magnolia Farms and see what Chip and Joanna have done to the place.  After window shopping for a while we were a little thirsty so we decided to go get some original Dr. Pepper at the soda shop next to the Dr. Pepper Museum.  Yes, it does taste different than the regular ones.  Then we were off to Austin, Texas.

This was our second time covering a show at Fashion X Austin, and this was being presented at the Austin American Statesman building.  At first glance you think that it can’t be a lot of difference between Austin and Dallas, but there is.  There were vendors in the gallery, free food and drinks and even photos to be taken.

All of the vendors, food and drinks were staged along the walls of the room which made it seem easier to walk.  The runway was set in the middle of the room with raised seating on each side which made it easier to see and even to take pictures and record the show.

Now most shows don’t want you to talk, but not Austin, they want you to be loud, show your love for the designers and all of their hard work.  The people who came to celebrate the designers of Texas did just that.  It kind of reminded you of the excitement of Friday Night Lights–no band, but still great music.

From the beginning it was not your typical runway show.  The first models to come down the runway were not professional models, and Texas designers did not dress them. They were modeling for the ARC of Texas and Nordstrom’s Department Store provided the outfits.  Austin was electrified.  Showering the models with love and respect.  It was great.  Even those who were so shy as they started their walk down the runway gained so much confidence as they continued their way.  We love Austin for this part of the show.

The excitement continued as each designer sent their models down the runway.  There was no polite applause, there was stadium sized enthusiasm which made it a great experience.  Austin does fashion different than most, but it is a good difference. 

After the show there was a party given at a local hotel with the models, and designers among the many guest.  They did it Texas style.

Since we were in Austin, we wanted to eat like the locals, but semi healthy.  Friends told us to go to Jack Allen’s a farm to table place.  It was funny, but we knew we couldn’t go wrong when our server informed us he was from Fort Worth. Great food and great service. While eating we were still discussing our favorite designers from the night before.

After lunch we decided to see the sights of Austin, but not the usual sights, we decided to walk the trails of Mount Bonnell which overlooks the Lake Austin portion of the Colorado River.  They say it is a popular tourist attraction, but neither of us had ever been. 

We met up with old friends.  Some we were able to see and sit and talk with for a while.

On Sunday we were going to sleep late, and then catch breakfast and head back home, but we were invited to attend church at Greater Mt. Zion Baptist Church, and we accepted. It was a spirit filled service lead by Rev. Gaylon Clark. A big church with a small church feel.  Meeting the minster and the members was a blessing that we enjoyed.  Then off to lunch with a friend for more great conversation.  Finally off we went–home. 

We saw great fashion at Austin Fashion Week, ate great food at Jack Allen, fun exercise at Mount Bonnell, wonderful church at Greater Mt. Zion Baptist, and did we forget to say wonderful bed pillows at the JW Marriott. I could go on and on about the pillows since I have not slept on one for over 10 years until Friday.  The best pillows ever.

Remember “thisisyourbesyear”.  You can put a lot of enjoyment into one weekend. Work can be fun!

New Isn’t Always Better

I am a sentimental person I will admit, but I can let go of certain things.  There are some things that make my heart smile , and I will always keep them. My husband does not understand this sentiment.  He believes new is better.

Take for instance this quilt that goes at the foot of our bed each day, and when the weather gets a little chilly it warms better than anything electric.

This quilt has been with me since moving to Fort Worth some 44 years ago, and was probably not new when I received it.  As I packed my car to come to Fort Worth, my neighbor Miss Callie came across the street with this beautiful quilt to keep me warm when I needed it.  It was not only meant to keep me warm during cold nights, it was meant to keep me warm from cold people, cold circumstances–it was meant to ward off the coldness of the world.  This quilt was meant to wrap the love of Della Lane around me. It has done all of this and more.

Over the years it has warmed my daughters and now my grandson.  This quilt has warded off all evil spirits. Everyone reaches for this one quilt.  It seems to warm you from the inside to the outside.  Miss Callie’s quilt warms your heart.

Maybe it’s the love that it was made from. Someone made it with love for Miss Callie, and she lovingly gave it to me. 

As the years have come and gone, we’ve had to mend “our” quilt.  My husband once, and only once told me that we should buy a new one.  But now even he knows that the coldness of life can only be warmed by a quilt made with love.  Each time I spread it, or wash it I think of my street on Della Lane, and it warms my heart.

Do you have a keepsake that warms your heart–if so share with us? Remember “thisisyourbestyear”. When you warm your heart it shows.

The Scars Of Breast Cancer Are Not Pretty In Pink

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and everyone will be wearing pink in the form of ribbons, shirts, tee shirts and more.  What we see doing this awareness month is everyone being “pretty in pink”.

We have all known someone who has been affected by this horrific disease, or we may be that person. Most survivors carry scars from their treatments to defeat breast cancer.  Some of the scars are physical, but some are mental and not only affect them, but their loved ones too.  There are those women and men who carry both types of scars. Breast cancer is an equal opportunity disease, it does not discriminate when it comes to who is affected by it.

Sometimes the chemo may cause the hair to fall out, it can even affect the color of ones skin tone.  The scars of mastectomies may be covered, but they are there nonetheless.  Some survivors have lymphedema in their arms after the mastectomies.

Mammograms do not catch every type of breast cancer, but they do aid in the detection of many.  This imaging can be expensive if you do not have health insurance.  There are places in every community that offer free or low cost services.  Below is a list of  some of the ones in Tarrant County and the surrounding counties in Texas.  Please share with us those in your area so that everyone can benefit from these services.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Breast Cancer Awareness Month is about more than being “pretty in pink”.  It’s about being informed and finding a cure.

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