Posts tagged ‘self-help’

Conquer Your Inner Hoarder!

I’ve become fascinated with the hoarding shows on television. A&E offers Hoarders and TLC airs Hoarding: Buried Alive. The basic premise of both shows is that hoarding is a type of obsessive compulsive disorder whereby people become incapable of throwing out anything, and I mean anything: broken hangers, empty soda cans, and the hoarders’ classic, old newspapers. Their stuff has taken over their homes, their lives, and their relationships. The hoarders often fight their families, well-meaning organizers, and professional therapists about why they need to keep such items as a ceramic bunny that was bought five years ago and still has the sales tag on it.

Besides the television shows, the recent nonfiction book Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee uses case studies to explore the world of hoarders and tries to understand why more than six million Americans suffer from the disorder.

Why am I so fascinated with hoarding? It’s quite possible that these shows allow me to look around my home and think, “I’m not that bad…even though three loads of laundry need to be folded, and this morning’s dishes are still in the sink, and the pile of papers I need to shred date back to 1998.”

Boomers were born during one the greatest eras of prosperity in the history of the United States. Boomers were also the first generation to grow up with television, a great peddler of stuff; so we bought stuff…and lots of it, for example, McMansions, SUVs, and complete DVD sets of M*A*S*H. The late, great George Carlin even had a bit on what our stuff means to us.

Most of us aren’t classic hoarders but we certainly can use a little more organization in our lives. We posted about decluttering on the blog before, and maybe it’s time for a refresher. There are books available at the Library to help get yourself organized and finally get rid of that stuff:

Throw Out Fifty Things by Gail Blanke

Go Organize!: Conquer Clutter in 3 Simple Steps by Marilyn Boh

How to Cheat at Organizing: Quick, Clutter-Clobbering Ways to Simplify Your Life by Jeff Bredenberg

Clutter Busting: Letting Go Of What’s Holding You Back by Brooks Palmer

Kick the Clutter: Clear Out Excess Stuff Without Losing What You Love by Ellen Phillips

Are you ready to conquer your inner hoarder? What belongings are you ready to finally let go of? What organizing tips do you have for others? Leave us a comment and let us know!


October 26, 2010 at 10:36 pm Leave a comment

Ultimate Guide to Productivity

In our always-on, always-connected, time and cash-strapped world, we need to get things done quicker and better.  While there is definitely something to be said for slowing down, doing less, savoring the moment, and increasing our focus, the almost universal desire to be more productive is a natural one.

We recently stumbled upon a helpful guide to hints and hacks that caused reflection on how we might use our limited time better and the concept of productivity.

What does “productivity” really mean anyhow?  Here is a somewhat complex definition beyond productivity = value/time that takes into consideration other factors such as impact, endurance, essence, and volume.  I feel productive when I have had a day filled with activities I enjoy, met goals I have established, avoided energy-sucking distractions, and moved through my day with purpose and ease.

One of my favorite gurus of productivity, David Allen, author of the business self-help classic Getting Things Done: the art of stress-free productivity, has elevated the discussion of personal productivity to an art. I especially love Allen’s definition of work – “anything you want to get done that’s not done yet”1 precisely because it is broad enough to encompass both our professional and personal lives.

As Boomers, whether you want to work more effectively on projects at work or find the time to learn a new language or other skills, there are many great thinkers and writers on the web to help you. Check out the blogs featured on the Alltop Lifehacks news page. This aggregator site compiles recent posts from a range of productivity and lifestyle blogs from big-hitters like Lifehacker, Zen Habits, and 43 Folders as well as posts from blogs you may not have heard of. Cruising Alltop saves you valuable time jumping from blog to blog!

1Allen, David. Making it all Work: Winning at the Game of Work and the Business of Life, New York: Penguin Books, 2008.

– rs

April 7, 2010 at 10:26 pm Leave a comment

The Generation M Manifesto


Tree of Life painting by Tim Parish

There are many articles out there written about the generations – Baby Boomers, Gen X, the Millenials, and the differences and conflicts between all of us.

This past week, I stumbled upon a different generation – Generation M and their manifesto. What does the M stand for?  The author of this post, Umair Haque, says, “The first is for a movement.  It’s a little bit about age — but mostly about a growing number of people who are acting very differently.  They are doing meaningful stuff that matters the most.”

As such, this sounds like something that Boomers could relate to, and already have in many ways through their past experiences innovating, rejecting cultural norms, and participating in social movements.

At its core, this manifesto espouses the importance of community, localized economies, accountability, democracy, and returning to our humanity.  At least, that’s my interpretation. Check it out and let us know what you think.


August 11, 2009 at 8:22 pm Leave a comment

Doing Good

387828In a previous post, Create a Wave of Good Feeling, we talked about the pleasure of doing something nice or showing a special kindness for another person. We recently received a book, 1001 Ways to Do Good, that is filled with ideas for performing small acts with great consequences. The author, Meera Lester, points out it doesn’t always take a lot to make a difference and there are many things individuals can give that require little or no expenditure of time or money.

The book is divided into four major sections, Do Good Globally, Do Good Locally, Do Good Around You, and Do Good for Yourself. Since it’s the heart of summer and many folks are on vacation, I turned to Chapter 15 to get some tips on Having an Impact While Traveling. One of the author’s suggestions is to help a young family off a plane. She points out that parents traveling with small children frequently have many items to carry including their children, diaper bags, toys, a stroller or baby carrier, extra clothing, etc. They are allowed to board first but when a plane lands, they have to disembark in the order they are sitting on the plane. Ms. Lester suggests that if you are seated near such a family, you “do what you can to help them get off.” I certainly would have appreciated assistance when my two daughters were younger. Another tip is to stay at an environmentally conscious hotel or inn and she provides a link to the website Greenhotels.

In the chapter on Protecting Your Environment, Ms. Lester provides 101 good ideas for taking positive actions to preserve and conserve resources. She covers one of my pet peeves, store bags, and recommends saying no to using the paper or plastic bags that are used at bookstores, hardware stores, etc., since so many of the products sold there can be hand carried or dropped into a purse or pocket. My own personal suggestion is to always have a few bags in your car (paper, plastic, or my favorite, canvas) and bring them with you whenever you shop. And if you’re like me and you occasionally forget to carry them with you, don’t be too lazy to go back to your car -you’ll be doing the Earth a favor!

The book has a helpful appendix that includes Internet sites and resources organized by chapter topics, such as keeping the planet healthy, helping those in need, supporting a worthy cause, standing up for your beliefs, providing worldwide medical aid, helping local business thrive, protecting your environment, seeing what you can do for medicine and science, and many others.

It may seem silly to check out a book from the Library to get ideas about how to be nice or how to do the right thing, but during these troubled times why not get some inspiration and encouragement for helping others? And for Boomers with grandchildren, the book is simple enough to read and pick out some activities to do together. As the author says, “If each of us tried to do good deeds every day, we can make our neighborhood, our country, and our world a better place. And, at the same time, create some good karma.”

August 6, 2009 at 5:21 am Leave a comment

Create a Wave of Good Feeling

disneyland birthday pinThe post on June 9, Generations Go To Disneyland was not an accident; I was actually researching the amusement park in preparation for spending my birthday there. This year, Disneyland is offering free admission on your birthday, so on my big day I visited the “happiest place on earth.” 

The birthday fun started in the parking garage, when the attendant recognized the voucher I had on my passenger seat (you register on the web site and print out the voucher they send) and wished me a “happy birthday!” At the ticket booth, the staffer there also wished me a happy birthday, gave me a birthday pin to wear, and she wrote my name on it.  I put on my pin and went into the park.  At least one attendant on almost every ride wished me a happy birthday, most calling me by name.  The guy who sold me food and the nice lady who told me where the ladies room was both wished me a happy birthday.  It was like Disneyland knew it was my birthday (with the pin, of course, they did!)

In addition, everyone wearing the pins started wishing each other a happy birthday.  Adults of all ages were wearing pins, from grandfathers to young dads, and nobody got away without at least one “happy birthday” while waiting in line.  I started making a point out of wishing happy birthday to little kids next to me in line, if they were wearing a pin.  Kids would notice my pin and wish me a happy birthday.  A group I was riding with on a ride wished me a happy birthday.  I met another woman in line who spends every birthday at Disneyland, and I wished her a happy birthday.  This continued all day long, and the wave of good feeling overrode the heat, the waiting, the sore feet, and everything else.  None of that mattered, because it was my birthday and everyone knew and everyone cared.

Does it take Disneyland to do this? A huge marketing campaign, infrastructure to create the incentives, and an entire cast (as all Disneyland employees are called) trained in being super nice? Of course not! If you wish, you can create or participate in a wave of good feeling every day. Start “the wave” at a rock concert or sporting event with a group around you and see who picks it up and carries it around the stadium. Start an alternative Secret Santa campaign at the office, such as leaving funny poems for people instead of expensive gifts.

Participate in a “pay for the person behind me” line (also known as “pay it backwards”) at a toll booth, or in line for coffee. This begins when someone starts by paying for themselves and the person behind them, then when the next person finds out they have been paid for, they pay for the person behind them, and so on until someone who really needs the break gets a free toll or free coffee. Or just pick someone in a restaurant who looks lonely, or lost, and tell the waitress you will pay for their dessert – I haven’t seen anyone yet in a military uniform get away with paying for their own coffee in my local Starbucks.

Tell someone thank you, that you appreciate them, that their assistance was useful, and end your phone calls with “have a nice day.” And if you know it is someone’s birthday (I’m really bad at remembering), it doesn’t take a card or a present to celebrate. Just drop a note on their desk or just say hi and happy birthday.

July 21, 2009 at 6:24 am 2 comments

Clearing the Clutter


Curb the Clutter by lylamerle (flickr)

Many Boomers choose to downsize as their children leave the nest and less space is needed, or to reduce expenses during retirement. Whatever your motivation, downsizing requires getting rid of all the stuff that has accumulated over decades.

Check out this video on clutter at Boomer Alley to help you determine whether what you have is truly a collection or really just clutter. See the rest of the site for more funny videos.

One of my favorite blogs on this topic is Unclutterer. The blog Zen Habits also has great advice on creating a minimalist environment, clearing clutter, and developing routines to help streamline routine tasks.

There are many books at the library on how to get organized, rid yourself of clutter, and free up your life and space for more joy, ease, and happiness. Read Peter Walsh’s It’s All Too Much: an Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff or Julie Morgenstern’s  When organizing isn’t enough:  SHED your stuff, change your life.

Share with us how you deal with clutter – what are your strategies? Your most prized collections? Have you downsized recently?


July 18, 2009 at 9:35 pm 2 comments

ReFiring and Refining Retirement

This post is the last in a series about new books at the library. Look for the  LINK sticker!


In addition to traditional retirement planning books that focus mostly on finances, the Torrance Public Library owns books that address the entire spectrum of experiences Boomers face upon leaving their jobs.  In the following books, you will find not only financial advice, but books that address your life purpose, finding meaning and joy, maintaining health, and all of the pursuits and activities you can pursue when you finally leave that 9-to-5.

ReFirement: A Boomer’s Guide to Life After 50 by James V. Gambone, PhD

refirementA socially conscious book encouraging Boomers to abandon traditional notions of retirement, and join the reFirement movement, pursuing their values, passions, and a search for meaning.  Gambone offers not only activities for reFirement and a personal game plan to reFire, but also helps readers understand major societal shifts that affect us all.

How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won’t Get From Your Financial Advisor by Ernie J. Zelinski

zelinksiUnconventional widsom from best-selling author Zelinski. This book is filled with funny drawings, quotes, and  practical advice on how to make friends, travel, pursue meaningful activities, and follow your dreams. I especially love the list of things to do, which includes “be nasty to politicians,” “write a fairy tale,” “volunteer,” and “truly communicate with someone special today,” among other practical, creative, whimsical, and intriguing suggestions.

The Boomer’s Guide to a Great Retirement: You Can Do It! by Jonathan D. Pond

boomerAdvice from a financial expert on all financial matters related to retirement. Full of helpful tables, retiree reflections, tips, and worksheets to walk you through the planning process. Although written specifically for Boomers, this book would be helpful for anyone who wants to plan for retirement, regardless of the stage of life you are in!

Other titles you may be interested in:

You’ve Earned It, Don’t Lose It: Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make When You Retire by Suze Orman

The Retirement Catch-Up Guide: 54 Real-Life Lessons to Boost Your Future Resources Now! by Ellen Hoffman

The New Rules of Retirement: Strategies for a Secure Future by Robert C. Carlson, JD, CPA


July 7, 2009 at 10:58 pm Leave a comment

What is Your Passion Project?

j0433055Many of us have a job, and for some (myself included) our job is our passion. Others have a passion project, something that they devote countless hours, attention, and devotion to that does not bring them money or fame but that they truly enjoy or believe in.

Greenpoint Poetry Sites (GPS) strikes me as a passion project. A little computer programming, six 2D barcodes, and a website create spontaneous crowdsourced (remotely blogged) poetry. Veronique, a now out-of-work reporter, blogs about her hometown of Malibu because she loves it and, for those who have never lived there, her pictures and descriptions give a much more realistic look at the community than television ever produced. Passionate people create a reason to give to causes and make it fun, as with Free Rice. Useful advice doesn’t come any better than from the website Dumb Little Man started by a harried parent who sought ways to make life easier. Are you a fan of words? So is John McGrath and he started Wordie in addition to his day job as a programmer.

Do you have a passion project? A group you devote some time to even when work taxes you? A place in which you invest your energy on the web, in person, or by loaning a skill or talent? Or just something you think is really interesting, for example Harry Potter or Nancy Drew collectibles, and you want to share your interests with others?

Boomers, if you have a passion, why not start a passion project? Collecting, creating, connecting with others … the Library can help with it all!


June 21, 2009 at 1:52 am 1 comment

The Creative Age

This post is the second in a series about new books at the library. Look for the LINK sticker!


Older notions of  work, retirement, and middle age are giving way to newer, fresher, and more life-affirming ideas. Instead of placing the burden of work on young people who have competing demands for their energy, why not redistribute employment over several generations of workers?  Rather than following a conventional path to fulfill prevailing definitions of success, why not do what you love to earn a living and define success for yourself?  These are some of the questions explored in the following books.

The Element: how finding your passion changes everything

indexThe “Element” is where natural talent and personal passion meet.  This book is all about helping you find that place, discovering your strengths, and living a more fulfilling, richer life.  The author, Ken Robinson, argues that we are all creative and that age is not a barrier for growth and development. An uplifting and motivating read!

Encore: finding work that matters in the second half of life

encore2Imagine a future where Baby Boomers are not burdens on a deteriorating social welfare system, but active participants in supporting  themselves and the creators of a better future for all.  Baby Boomers can do just that in an “encore career”  where the emphasis of work is on contribution, social change, and purpose.  This book offers tips on how you can start your own encore career, personal success stories, an abundance of resources to consult, and an interesting social history of retirement.

The Creative Age: awakening human potential in the second half of life

indexCA0JMYM3The Creative Age examines the relationship between aging and creativity in all of its many facets.  Filled with mini-biographies of artists, activists, businesspeople, and others who have continued to achieve and make great impact on the world in later life, this book is an inspiration.  Tips on practicing creativity in everyday life and documenting your legacy through biography are included.

You may also find these titles interesting – check them out at the Torrance Public Library!

225 Best Jobs for Baby Boomers

Don’t Retire, Rewire


June 18, 2009 at 1:06 am Leave a comment

Life Lists

Many Baby Boomers, myself included, reach a point when we choose to reflect on the life we’ve led and begin planning for our future – whether that brings retirement, the beginning of an encore career, or pursuing a life dream.  Check out one of our new titles to help you get started!

Creating Your Best Life: The Ultimate Life List Guide by Caroline Adams Miller, MAPP & Dr. Michael B. Frisch

51omUJg6PAL._SL160_AA115_According to the authors of this book, life lists can help us achieve our goals and live happier, more meaningful lives. They are popular among adults who have the money and time to pursue their dreams, changing the “midlife crisis” into a “midlife opportunity.”

Why does this approach work? The primary argument of the book is that accomplishing goals that are meaningful and important to us leads to life satisfaction. The authors draw upon years of research demonstrating that making progress toward attaining clear-cut goals that reflect our needs, wishes, and values creates well-being.

The goals of some of the adults featured in the book are:

  • traveling to Nepal
  • writing a novel
  • experiencing true love
  • wearing a bikini at age 60
  • making other people laugh every day

What are some of your life lists?  What are some of the items on your “100 Things to Do Before I Die” list?

Look for these other titles on personal development:

The Creative Age: Awakening Human Potential in the Second half of Life

The Portfolio life: the new path to work, purpose, and passion after 50 

Generation ageless: how baby boomers are changing the way we live today–and they’re just getting started .

May 23, 2009 at 10:28 pm Leave a comment



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    Listening to NPR this week, I heard a story on the dangers of too much sitting,” Sitting All Day: Worse For You Than You Might Think” that reminded me of Baby Boomer, Gloria Estefan’s great song, Get On Your Feet.  So many of us have sedentary jobs and/or we come home from work (whether required […]
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  • ‘Tis the Season to be Reading December 9, 2010
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  • Cooking Light (and Veg!) for the Holidays November 22, 2010
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  • Rich Retirement – Smart Retirement November 14, 2010
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  • How to be an Empowered Patient November 5, 2010
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  • Film Festivals Part Deux – AFI Fest October 30, 2010
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  • Conquer Your Inner Hoarder! October 26, 2010
    I’ve become fascinated with the hoarding shows on television. A&E offers Hoarders and TLC airs Hoarding: Buried Alive. The basic premise of both shows is that hoarding is a type of obsessive compulsive disorder whereby people become incapable of throwing out anything, and I mean anything: broken hangers, empty soda cans, and the hoarders’ classic, […] […]
  • Boomers Got a Bum Rap? October 22, 2010
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