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.

Have Luggage Will Travel

Many of you have cards that give you frequent flier miles on the airline of your choice. Most of us now select our cards by what they can give us. So I want to see how many miles my cousin and I have accumulated or at least our luggage has.

When I purchased my Samsonite luggage many years ago I was told that it would travel the world. Little did I know that it would, but it would go without me.

On June 9, 2019 with our perfectly packed luggage we arrived at DFW International Airport at the appropriate time to catch our 2:30 pm flight to Atlanta, Georgia with a connecting flight to Rome, Italy on Delta Airlines. Did I say our luggage was perfectly packed? It was.

At about 5 pm we were still waiting in the lounge at DFW International when this very nice person by the name of Mr. Okello who worked at Delta Airlines found us a flight on American Airlines that would be leaving soon. We would then fly to Paris, France and then onto Rome, Italy. We gladly accepted. He assured us that our luggage would be put on the American Airlines flight.

The American Airlines flight boarded at the stated time, but decided to try and wait on others who would miss their connecting flights. We all understood this. After almost an hour wait and no other passengers boarding we were on our way to Paris. Since no other passengers boarded we had room to spread out. I hit the mother lode with an entire row to myself–first class at coach prices.

Since we were about an hour late leaving, we arrived in Paris late. Then we taxied for what seemed like forever. We got off the plane and promptly boarded a bus that dropped us at customs with a long line. According to our watches, there was no way we were going to make our connecting flight so after clearing customs we walked (fast) to our terminal and gate and asked to catch the next flight on Air France to Rome.

We were lucky they had just closed the door and opened it for us. At that time my cousin, sister and I all said together, “our luggage will not make this flight”. Sure enough, we were correct.

Air France was given the information about our missing luggage by all three of us. My sisters’ luggage arrived on day 3 of our trip. Seems kind of strange since we all started out together.

There were exploits with not having luggage as you can imagine. Since we are from East Texas, Longview and Tyler we knew to pack extras in our carry on, and we did. We may have had a detour with lost luggage, but we were determined to get back on the road of vacationing.

After a wonderful trip to Italy where we were in Rome, Florence, Tuscany, Pisa, and Venice we were waiting at the Venice airport when they called and said our luggage was located, and it was waiting for us in Rome. After a good laugh, we informed them that we were on our way back to the states, and they said they would send our luggage to us. We should get it in about a day. The three of us arrived back in Texas on Monday, June 17, 2019. Our luggage arrived June 22 courtesy of Mr. Humphrey.

Since I wanted to see my cousin I decided to take her luggage to her, but life got in the way so on July 3, 2019 I sent her luggage by FedEx which meant it would arrive on Friday, July 5, 2019–but they were closed that day. So hopefully, she will have her luggage on Monday, July 8 almost a month to the date.**

Upon looking at the tags, our luggage was expedited–not sure what they meant by that. It also went to JFK Airport in New York. To top it all off Air France says it will have to review our case which may take up to three months because of the complexity of our case. Complexity??

The luggage looks like it had a good time and should have a lot of frequent flier miles. Everything is still perfectly packed. Since I have another trip in a few weeks, I just put the luggage in the closet until needed. Samsonite was correct–their luggage will travel the world. Remember “thisisyourbestyear”. Even with lost luggage, we had a great time exploring Italy with new friends and family.

**My cousin’s luggage is finally home in Tyler, Texas. It should have a few more frequent flier miles than mine. The picture says it all.

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.

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.

At The Texas Conference For Women–Women Rock

It is always great to be in the presence of women, especially smart women.  The Texas Conference for Women has so much to see, hear and do that it is hard to decide which way to go. That is why you see me rushing almost running in the halls of the Austin Convention Center with my two bags, comfortable shoes, and phone. I was off to races.

Texas Conference 2 Photo by Getty

I was able to snag two great interviews with two amazing women.  My first interview came as a surprise.  We just struck up a conversation, and I knew women would love to know about her company “iFundWomen”.  Below is the interview that I did with the CEO and founder of “iFundWomen”, Ms. Karen Cahn. For women who are looking for ways to fund their startup, she is the person to know.

20171102_120111 (2)

My second interview was with the Emmy award winner, Ms. Gaby Natale.  She is the host of the Emmy award-winning show Super Latina, and now the author of the book El Circulo Virtuoso.  Her story is one that a lot of people can identify with. She is inspirational.  My interview with Gaby is below.

Both women are successful entrepreneurs who have found their passions and turned them into their careers.  As each would tell you it has been a journey that has taken some unexpected turns.  They epitomize the women that attended and participated in the Texas Conference for Women.  This year there were 7,500 women in attendance from all over the United States.

Each of the women had their own schedule to adhere to and knew which sessions they wanted to attend and why.  All of us were able to hear the three keynote speakers, Ms. Anita Hill, Ms. Sheryl Sandberg, and Ms. Viola Davis.  Their presentations were informative and more.  You can see some of Ms. Anita Hill’s talInstagramFacebook Page–thisisyourbestyear, Instagram–thisisyourbestyear and Twitter–@mariciajohns.

If you have never attended this conference, you should think about it for next year.  There is something for everyone from, pitching your product to QVC, working on your Linkedin Page, coping with grief, fitness and much more.

This is one of the highlights of my year, seeing and hearing the speakers and meeting up with other bloggers, photographers, and other media again.  Hope you will take advantage of this great gathering of women.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

To find out more about how to fund your business go to the “iFundWomen” website.

www.ifundwomen.com

If you would like to know about Gaby Natale, and how to contact her for speaking engagements, book signings and more please visit her website.

www.gabynatale.com

Join me on Instagram!

We’re on Instagram as @thisisyourbestyear. Install the app to follow my photos and videos. https://instagram.com/download/?r=380485317

You can also follow us on Facebook–thisisyourbestyear, Twitter–@mariciajohns and of course our website–www.thisisyourbestyear.com.

          Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

The Super Bowl And Everything That Goes With It

We are going to broadcast live on Facebook and Periscope–tweet and post on Facebook about all the festivities happening at Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas–The Taste of the NFL, the NFL Experience, Ditka & Jaws Cigar Party, the game and more.  Can we say “excited” Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Who knows maybe next time we can say “We’re going to Disney World”.

“thisisyourbestyear” Is Ready For Some Football And More!!

“thisisyourbestyear” is covering the NFL Kickoff game between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers.  Also covering the Denver Food and Wine Festival. We are excited!! 

nfl-kickoff

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  We are ready for some football, good food and great wine!

The World In A Box

See, smell and taste the world through food–sounds interesting doesn’t it.  You can do it! Every time I fly I take a look at the airline magazine, and try to do the puzzles.  This time while flying on American Airlines I ran across an article on Try The World and it caught my attention.

One thing that it seems most people can agree on is food.  The world is always interested in trying new and exotic taste.  Home cooks are trying to amp up their standard recipes by using different herbs and spices.  Try The World gives  you that opportunity in a cute box.

The box not only comes with ingredients, it comes with recipes, and a cultural guide to the country that the box features. If you only want snack foods, you can order their snack boxes.  My box is shown below–it came from Thailand.  My sister and I could not wait to taste some of the things that came in it.  Our first try was the Coconut Flower Syrup. She put it in tea and I tried it on toast.  We gave it 2 thumbs up. We’re kind of on a schedule to try the other items.  Each trying it a different way–Soft Dried Jackfruit is next.

You can find out more about this wonderful taste experience by going to Try The World and starting your adventure.  It’s the next best thing to traveling there.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear“.  Try The World in a box.

Addendum To 5 Tips For A Great Vacation 

Keep living, and you will keep learning. This is just a small addendum to my 5 tips for having a great vacation especially when you are away for more than 5 days.

Again it will depend on your accommodations. I don’t like bringing back luggage filled with dirty clothing. When staying at timeshares there are laundry facilities so there are no worries. But what if you are staying somewhere where there are no laundry facilities or you just don’t want to do laundry? Here is my suggestion.

  • Throw Away Clothing! What am I talking about? You know that blouse, those pants, that skirt, dress and yes that underwear that has been sitting in the closet or drawer for some time. Wear it and throw it away. About once a year when I was wearing pantyhose on a daily basis I would go through the drawer they were in and throw away every pair that was open, and start again.

My new rule since having Lifestyle Consierge help me get my closets and drawers organized is when something new comes in, something old or not being used comes out. If you do the throw away clothing then you will have room in your luggage for all of the great new stuff, or at least you have started cleaning your closets and drawers. It’s a win-win situation. 

Remember “thisyourbestyear” why spend it doing laundry after your great vacation?