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It’s Christmas, Again

I’ve just finished putting up the Christmas decorations. Again. A couple of weeks ago, I seriously contemplated the idea of not bothering this year. After all, I’m old and tired. I’ve been hauling out decorations for the past 50 years. I need a break. Bah, humbug.

The kids and grandkids won’t be coming this year, they are too far away. I used to pay for their tickets to come for the holidays, but I can no longer do that. My roommates will all be gone to family celebrations, and I will be here alone. After all, Christmas decorations are for family and friends to enjoy, right?

ornamentBut someone gave me a handmade Christmas ornament as an early gift. It’s lovely and thoughtful with my “Golden Girls Network” logo on it. What do I do with it? I need a tree to put it on. I have an artificial tree in the garage and it’s easy to set up. I have boxes and boxes of ornaments to keep this lonely ornament company!

First off the shelf is the music box. It’s a carousel that plays Christmas songs. When the grandchildren were very young, they sat on cushions and listened to it for what seemed like hours and watched the wooden horses go around and around. I plugged it in this morning and turned on the music as I worked on everything else. “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…” I closed my eyes and remembered the children.

Next are the Santas. I have a collection of Santas. One is “golf” Santa which reminds me of the ex-husband. One is Irish Santa who represents my heritage, another is German Santa…and a very large Santa with an apron who has a toy workbench and two elves to assist, which is my favorite.

Then there are the stockings. I still have the stockings that my children used. No one is coming this year to fill them, but the names are there on the fireplace mantel, waiting. My Santa hat is on the head of a teddy bear who sits on my desk.

The gingerbread house is in its corner; the glittering lights are up; and the wreath is on the door. The nutcracker soldiers have all taken their stations, and the poinsettia towels are in the bathroom.

And finally, the tree…I still have a few ornaments from when my children were still at home. I have ornaments that I collected from trips…the Eiffel Tower snow globe from a long ago honeymoon in Paris, the beach ornaments from the Virgin Islands, my few White House ornaments, the ones that the grandkids made as a Christmas gift. There are six ornaments that I bought my first Christmas alone and I put on a plant in my tiny apartment. There is the collection of Victorian doll ornaments from visiting old plantations in the south…it is hard for me to work on the tree because I am so filled with memories.

I have a toy train. It has tracks and a whistle that blows. My kids thought I was crazy to put it under the tree and play trains. After all, I was a grown woman! This became a favorite of the grandkids. They came to my house to play with my toys and “grandma insists that we all share her toys!” There was method in my madness.

Finally, I put the red and green tablecloth and napkins on the table with the special napkin rings. The Christmas dishes wait on the shelf to be dusted and used.

My plan is to bequeath all of my decorations to my four grandchildren so that they can remember me at Christmas. They are still young teenagers and are twenty years away from having a family and a Christmas tree of their own. At some point, they will come for a visit and will decide which decorations they want. As I put decorations in their places, I wonder who will want the doll ornaments, who will want the Santas, who will get the music box. I guess I will have to keep putting them up until “giveaway day” arrives.

Of course, I didn’t do this alone. My handyman brought the boxes from the garage and strung the lights on the exterior of the house. He put the outdoor elves and tiny trees in my flower garden and connected all of the lights. My north pole still lights up!

And now it is time…I pour a glass of wine and relax in the rocking chair, watching the sparkling lights flicker as the sun goes down. I have had my wonderful memories but am alone at the moment. Since I have decorated, perhaps I should invite some friends over for a holiday party. After all, the decorations are for friends to enjoy also.

Isn’t it interesting how the kindness of one person can make a difference? I invite all of you to share a kindness this holiday season with an older person. You might spark memories, and your kindness may be passed along to someone else.

Golden Girls Gift Guide – Best Gift Ideas For House And Home

It’s time for the next batch of our Golden Girls Network Gift Guide picks! This time we are focused on the best gifts for the home and kitchen. We’ve found some great ideas for making your Golden Girl homes cozier and brighter this holiday season!


Me2015-12-03-1449179022-9516814-Travel_red_front.jpglitta Coffee — Who doesn’t need a caffeinated pick-me-up every now and then?  We love these gift ideas from Melitta. The 1-cup Pour-Over, allows your Golden Girl to brew coffee just like her favorite shop does, but from the comfort of home (i.e., in her cozy slippers and holiday pajamas)! We also love the travel Pour-Over — perfect for brewing a cup to take on the road.



Garden Tote from Premier Home & Gifts — Our Bonnie loves spending time in the 2015-12-03-1449179117-5344450-largegardentote.jpeggarden of her Golden Girls home. So we were really excited to find Premier Home & Gift’s Large Garden Tote, which combines convenience and practicality in a tote anyone with a green thumb would be excited to use all the time. The tote comes with three metal gardening tools secured in an easily accessible pocket. Plus, the bag is really nice looking, made of durable fabric and has a stain-resistant interior. All for $27.95!




Better Muffin Pan — All home bakers should have this muffin pan! Made by the same company as the famous Edge Brownie Pan, this pan is great for baking muffins, cupcakes, cornbreads, and more! Plus it’s only $35.95.




Phone Fetcher — We’ve all been in this situation, hearing a call or text notification and 2015-12-03-1449179345-3263301-bling_family_012.jpgthen not being able to find our phone in the bottom of our purse. Enter the PhoneFetcher! PhoneFetcher attaches to any purse, bag or even a belt loop on one end and the earphone jack of a smartphone on the other. For only $14.99 you can help your friends never lose their phones again.




AquaNotes — Sometimes we get our best ideas in the shower! The AquaNotes notepad suctions2015-12-03-1449179651-7910236-AquaNotesRetailPackagingCP183.jpg to the shower wall and lets shower thinkers to write down their thoughts before they’re gone. The waterproof paper is so durable it can even be written on underwater. The waterproof notepads are only $7 and each one includes 40 sheets of perforated paper so it’s easy to take great ideas from shower to the office or even the grocery store. What a great invention!




AquaCamel — Have a snowbird in your life? Whether your Golden Girl is heading to Florida for the winter or her kids’ houses for the weekend, this self-watering plant pot keeps plants perfectly hydrated for up to 60 days. AquaCamel is available in two sizes, starting at only $24.99.




Tomodachi Photoreal 12 Piece Set — A good set of knives is key to preparing a good meal, and we love the look of this set. These knives have bold, bright-colored, soft grip handles and beautifully detailed photo prints featuring life-like images of your favorite fruits and 2015-12-03-1449179837-7401204-knives.jpgveggies. This set has everything your chef-friend would need, including an 8″ Chef knife with sheath, 8″ Bread knife with sheath, 7″ Santoku knife with sheath, 5.5″ Santoku knife with sheath, 3.5″ Parer with sheath, and 4″ Citrus knife with sheath. And a easy to digest $49.99 price tag!






Flash Chill Iced Tea Maker — There’s nothing quite like a tall glass of iced tea on a hot 2015-12-03-1449179918-8877236-iceteamaker.jpgsummer day and this pitcher will allow your friends and loved ones to brew that cup even quicker! The Flash Chill Iced Tea Maker from Takeya chills freshly brewed tea in seconds, locking in freshness, flavor and nutrients at its peak. This pitcher prepares two quarts of iced tea at a time — and it only costs $29.99.

Golden Girls Gift Guide – Last Minute Gifts and Fun Finds!

It’s the last few days of the holiday season and you find yourself scrambling to complete all your holiday shopping. There are always a few people on your list that are so difficult to shop for. Golden Girls Network is here to help! We have some fun ideas for last minute gifts for every Golden Girl on your shopping list.


ShanaLogic Nail Decals – Of course we couldn’t resist these creative and kitschy Golden Girls nail decals fr2015-12-09-1449682838-7479030-9437_tha_goldengirls_full.jpgom ShanaLogic! We can think of no better way to pay tribute to the original Golden Girls than by wearing them on your fingers. The Golden Girls Nail Decal set comes with 64 decals and you can mix it up with Rose, Sophia, Dorothy, Blanche, “Golden Girls,” and “Stay Golden” designs. We love this idea for a stocking stuffer or as a housemate gift for your Golden Girls roommates. Plus the decals are only $9!



HopeRocks – We love HopeRocks – both its jewelry and message. Each HopeRocks Jewelry piece is made with stones that signify a mood or belief – some jewelry is made w2015-12-09-1449683028-9758730-HRlogo.pngith stones that promote luck and strength, while others highlight positivity and good fortune. Even more important, though, HopeRocks Jewelry donates 10 percent of every sale to Generation Hope, an organization that provides direct sponsorships and one-on-one mentoring to teen parents who are attending college. A beautiful bracelet is priced at $48.



Good Day Socks – Show your holiday spirit from your head down to your cozy toes! Good Day socks were2015-12-09-1449683215-1903190-GoodDaysocks.JPG designed with the uplifting message, “Gonna Be a Good Day,” on each toe. This festive pair features a fun candy cane motif and comes in a coordinating gift box, making it a truly original gift for the holidays! This is the perfect stocking stuffer at only $12.




Golden Girls Network – Know a baby boomer woman thinking about shared housin2015-12-09-1449683494-4111400-GoldenGirlsCover_FRONT_FINAL.jpgg? Give her the gift of companionship and affordable housing! Help your Golden Girl get going on her shared home with dozens of tips and ideas in my book, How to Start a Golden Girls Home. And with membership in Golden Girls Network free through the end of the year, there’s no better time to get started! How to Start a Golden Girls Home is available on Amazon.com for just $14.99 for the paperback or $9.99 for the Kindle version.

Golden Girls Gift Guide – 7 Super Cool Gift Ideas For The Foodie Boomer

Coffee-Lovers BoxNew Mexico Piñon Coffee Company – Looking for a unique gift for the coffee lover in your life? We tried the New Mexico Piñon Coffee Company’s products, and loved their varied and delicious flavors.  Have you even ever tried Dulce de Leche or Apple Empanada coffee?  All coffees are hand-roasted in small batches. Gift Boxes start at only $16.99!


renfro salsa

Mrs. Renfro’s Salsa – You can’t have a party without chips and salsa – and we’ve found the perfect salsa to give as a holiday or hostess gift.  Mrs. Renfro’s Salsa is delicious and fat-free!  You can even spice up dinner, as each salsa jar comes has a recipe printed on the label.  We suggest buying a few different flavors to create a sampling basket – what a great gift!



partybox_exteriorMcCrea’s Candies – For the sweet-toothed Golden Girl in your life, we love McCrea’s Candies Caramels.  Handcrafted in small batches, we think this delicious delicacy makes the perfect gift!  And Martha Stewart agrees, as she selected McCrea’s as an American Made finalist!  Try giving your Golden Girl the gift of McCrea’s flagship product – a Hawaiian black lava sea salt swirled into caramel.  Plus McCrea’s also offers  flavors including vanilla, scotch, chocolate, maple, mocha, and coffee.  These decadent treats range in price from $4-15 depending on selected gift sizes.


SeelyMint_PattiesBox(1)Seely Mints – Or maybe your Golden Girl likes a minty zest with her chocolate?  Try Seely Mint Patties!  Every fall, Seely Mint Farm in Oregon transforms into a candy factory as its kitchen team busily handcrafts a range of all-natural mint confections.  Give it a try – the intense and fresh flavor is delicious and these peppermint patties will only set you back $8.50 a package.


Harry & David Snowman Cookie Jar Gift with Cookies_26444_2015Snowman Cookie Jar Gift with Cookies – The long-standing expert in gift delivery, Harry & David delivers with its Snowman Cookie Jar Gift with Cookies.  The cheerful snowman is sure to brighten the holidays for your special Golden Girl! Complemented by sweet raspberry shortbread cookies crafted in their Southern Oregon bakery, this holiday cookie jar will add a pleasant touch of seasonal décor year after year for only $39.99


JackFrost (2)Harvard Sweet Boutique – You can’t celebrate the holidays without cookies and we can’t pass up these amazing gift boxes from Harvard Sweet Boutique!  There are so many amazing varieties to choose from – opt for the combination that your Golden Girl will like best with the Christmas Build Your Own Gift Set.  It’s only $45 for a box bursting with eight gourmet cookies and six chocolate ganache-covered brownies – all in flavors of your very own choosing.

16806_Sonoma_Mulled_Zin_Shot_In_House (1)(1)Republic of Tea Mulled Zin Sonoma Tea – Imagine curling up on the couch on a cold winter’s day with a mug of freshly brewed Republic of Tea Mulled Zin Sonoma Tea – the name alone is enough to transport your Golden Girl to a sea of relaxation!  This deliciously smelling tea is a hot tea blend made from Zinfandel grape skins infused with warm spices of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and orange zest.  A beautiful tin costs only $7.99.

Now’s your chance to WIN some of the amazing products mentioned in our Gift Guides – be sure to enter the drawing at http://woobox.com/yghzaz to take home an unforgettable prize!

Golden Girls Gift Guide – Top 4 Holiday Gifts for Fun with your Housemates

Celebrating the holidays with friends? We’ve found great gifts for you and your Golden Girls housemates to enjoy together! Create lasting memories and maybe even start some new traditions in your shared home!


Babbel.com – Give the gift of language! We love the idea of Golden Girls housemates learning a new language together. Babbel.com has an easy interface, engaging lessons, and relatable scenarios for 14 different languages! Plus with the Babbel app, you can learn from your ipad or phone! Best yet, babbel.com is affordable, with a 12 month subscription running as low as $6.95 per month.


Paint Nite – Take your housemates out for a unique night of painting and fun at Paint Nite, available at locations across the country! Paint Nite is the perfect gift for a group of 2015-11-25-1448465874-9326503-paintnite.jpgwomen…quality time spent together, you get to take home a masterpiece AND you get sip on cocktails! An individual ticket to a Paint Nite is on special through the end of the year for only $25 – a bargain for a night out, plus you get to bring home a beautiful painting as a memento of the evening!


Loaded Questions – Why not throw a game night at home! We are big fans of the game Loaded 2015-11-25-1448465925-5871334-loadedquestions.jpgQuestions, the hilarious game of ‘who said what?’ that tests your Golden Girls roommates on how well everyone knows each other. This game is a great ice-breaker for housemates that have just moved in together, but it’s also a ton of fun for roommates that have lived together for years. We love games that can spark laughter and create discussion and lasting memories. All that, for only $24.99!




CityPASS – Take a vacation in your own hometown with CityPASS! Living right outside Washington, DC, I know there are landmarks and tourist attractions in your own backyard that you and your Golden Girls housemates can explore together. City2015-11-25-1448465961-1667842-CityPASS.jpgPASS ticket booklets include access to a city’s top attractions in 12 North American cities while providing savings of up to 50 percent. The price per CityPASS ticket booklet varies by city, ranging from $44-$329; Boston and Dallas Golden Girls, heads up – passes are priced under $50!



We’re excited to be giving away many of the products mentioned in our Gift Guide! Enter to win at http://woobox.com/ajtnod!

Golden Girls Gift Guide – 4 Must-Shop Beauty Websites for Baby Boomers

Shopping for a special baby boomer woman in your life this holiday season? Check out our Golden Girls Gift Guide! We’ve curated some fabulous gift ideas! But be careful, you just might want to keep these gems for yourself! Our guide will feature a new category of gifts everyday for the next two weeks. So stay tuned for more great ideas tomorrow!

First up – gifts for the Beauty Buff in your life. The holidays can be a fun time of year, but travel, last-minute shopping, and family visits can also be stressful and overwhelming.  Why not give the gift of beauty and relaxation?  Every woman I know could use some special pampering time!

Survive and Thrive_CropLather.com – We love the products sold by lather.com, because they are of the highest quality and use effective natural ingredients.  Plus, their products can be grouped in easy gift packages, each targeting a specific need.  We particularly like the “Survive & Thrive” package – for only $28, you get an assortment of products, ideal for staying calm and relaxed during the holiday season.  Or, for something completely different, we recommend the “Decadent Duo” package ($36), a chocolate and vanilla treatment plan to transform dull, winter skin.



Instanatural.com – InstaNatural, a leading online distributor of a collection of nature-inspired beauty and cosmetic products, produces all of its products in small batches to ensure safety and quality.  We love the 100% natural and mineral-infused Dead Sea Mud Mask, a deep skin cleanser, pore reducer and natural moisturinstanaturalizer that benefits all skin types.  And at only $14.97, it’s an easy way to turn any home into a luxurious spa.  We also like the Rosehip Seed Oil, a multipurpose moisturizer that helps hydrate the face, skin, hair and nails. This oil hydrates dry skin and visibly reduce the appearance of dark spots, wrinkles and scars, not that we Golden Girls  have any! The Rosehip Seed Oil is available online for $18.97.

wonderlandWonderland Organics – For the Beauty Buff who likes her products with a side of whimsy, we suggest two products from Wonderland Organics, both retailing for under $40.  The Sublime Serum is has warm notes of brown sugar and rose, while the Soothe Serum soothes the senses with love and lavender.  These serums don’t make the skin oilier, rather they help keep aging skin more properly balanced.




Karma_Kit+GroupKarunaskin.com – Give your Golden Girl the gift of a girls night in! We love the Karuna Karma Kit, which has 4 individually wrapped Karuna sheet masks.  Create an indulgent night at home with your Golden Girls Housemates!  And at only $28, these masks are an affordable luxury!



We’re excited to be giving away many of the products mentioned in our Gift Guide!   Enter to win at http://woobox.com/nihzt6!

Are The Holidays Blue For You? How To Celebrate When You Live Alone

While Christmas might seem far off, the store shelves are already bulging. Sometimes our children and grandchildren are far away, travel is not possible, and we find ourselves left to our own devices. Time for creativity! With a bit of planning, your holiday season can be wonderful!

Plan Ahead…
If you know you are going to be alone, make some plans! Perhaps you belong to a social club – maybe you can throw a big potluck dinner for others who will also be alone for the holidays. One year, my Golden Girls household put together a Thanksgiving dinner for our single friends and it grew and grew, until we had 33 people for a sit down dinner and three turkeys! It turned into a really fabulous day with one group watching games on TV, another group handling the kitchen, and a third group setting the giant table that we put together. Another time, we gathered assorted relatives from three different families and celebrated together. Anything works as long as there is a turkey in the oven, pumpkin pie cooling somewhere, and you have dug out the tablecloth and cloth napkins!

Have a Multicultural Housemate Holiday Party!
The holiday season is a perfect excuse to throw a party! Any kind of party! Consider celebrating together and draw on each others family traditions and recipes to create a super-hybrid holiday season. One year, we had a cookie-making party…we invited friends, and made cookies all day, had cookie sheets everywhere, then gave them away. Another year, a Jewish roommate schooled us on Hanukkah tradition and we attended a musical event at a church. And of course, nothing is more magical than going to midnight mass with all of its pomp and ceremony. Honor your traditions and adopt some new ones. With the right planning and a variety of friends, you can make the holidays last from the first day of Hanukkah to Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa and finally, New Years’ Eve.

Spread the Cheer.
Don’t forget those special moments when you reach out to others. Many years ago, I participated with a group called The Holiday Project where we visited people in nursing homes on Christmas Day. It’s still around in some localities and there are similar groups. These seniors often don’t get visitors, and your few minutes with them are priceless, for you and for them. Maybe there is a Secret Santa group that needs a volunteer. Consider helping out at a local food bank or soup kitchen. It’s easy and rewarding. There are many websites, such as Volunteer Match, that are useful resources for finding these connections.

And here’s a thought… do you know a single mother who may be struggling to buy presents for her kids? Or is there someplace where you can adopt a family? You and a friend could surprise them with a bag full of goodies.

Don’t Be Shy!
Now’s the time to put yourself out in the world and try new things. Make the situation work for you. Do you have a close friend that hosts a holiday party every year?Don’t be shy – ask if you can come. I’ve done it many times, and I’ve always brought the wine or champagne. Do you know someone else who might be alone? Why don’t the two of you go to a nice restaurant? A good friend will appreciate that you want to spend the holiday with her.

My first year alone I couldn’t afford much, but I went to the Dollar Store and bought six ornaments and hung them on a plant in my living room. I still have those ornaments and each year, they remind me of how far I have come since those days.

Buy a box of old fashioned Christmas cards and write a holiday letter to everyone you know. Let the world know you are well and happy, and you will be.

Sharing Chores in a Golden Girls Home

Q: What About Chores in a Cooperative Household?

A: Cohouseholding Means Never Having to Scoop the Litter Box**

Contributed by Karen Bush, Louise Machinist and Jean McQuillin

choresThe authors lived in “Shadowlawn,” their 3-woman cooperative household for 11+ happy years until a retirement transition in 2015. Here’s a slice of life from summer 2013.

It’s a typical Sunday night at Shadowlawn– Louise on the porch, feet up, drink at hand, deep into a novel for book group next month; Karen cooking dinner; Jean scooping out Kali’s litter box in the basement. What’s wrong with this picture? Nothing’s wrong.

Everything’s right. Louise will clean up the kitchen—again. And put out the trash for collection. And she already did the daily Tweeting.

Chore sharing is the fourth most frequent subject that people ask us about. Coming right after the biggies—household conflict, romantic relationships, and money–someone usually throws in, “But who scoops the kitty box?” We used to share the scooping, taking turns on a whoever-thinks-of-it-first basis. Imagine Louise and Karen’s relief when Jean decided to take it over. Every week! And also to keep a steady supply of paper towels and toilet paper on the basement storage shelves. So Jean “owns” a specialty job category in our shared home: toileting hygiene. She has a system, a schedule, and the tasks always get done.

We’ve each adopted certain job specialties based on interest, skill or availability. Karen is always tech geek and skilled repairperson. Louise does grunt work (screens/storms, window well cleaning, scullery maid) but also has Martha Stewart home decorating moments.

We share most tasks without assigning them. Interestingly, we’ve found that we don’t need “rules,” because everyone carries a fair share of the load, balanced out over time.
Among us, we have the skills, determination or stupidity to tackle just about anything. Somehow, it seems less tiresome to do chores when it’s part of community. We’re all proactive. Nobody nags, but we might occasionally remind.

Two keys to success with chores are 1. Own responsibility, 2. Always do what you say you are going to do. We’ve got a little healthy competition going on, “Competency Competition.” In other words, I will do my fair share better than anyone else can do my fair share.

Before sharing a living situation with anyone, be sure that they have similar expectations about household lifestyle. (How neat? How clean? Who will do what?) Ed, Louise’s Dad, always said, “It’s the little things that count,” day-to-day. Consider: could an always-overflowing litter box sink your cooperative household?
**If you are lucky enough to have a housemate who chooses litter box scooping for her
own. Thank you, Jean!

Karen, Louise and Jean pioneered a new model of homesharing when they pooled resources and bought a house together in 2004. They coined the term cooperative householding: “two or more unrelated people co-owning and sharing a residence to gain financial, social, lifestyle and environmental benefits.”

Anticipating a growing wave of interest in alternative housing arrangements, they wrote My House Our House: Living Far Better for Far Less in a Cooperative Household, St. Lynn’s Press, 2013.

The authors’ professional backgrounds are in psychology, healthcare, education and consulting. They conduct informational seminars about cooperative householding. Step through the door of this cooperative household at www.facebook.com/MyHouseOurHouse and the My House Our House website: http://www.myhouseourhouse.com/.

Getting Ready to Downsize? Don’t Go it Alone!

There are many events in life that can prompt you to move or downsize to a smaller, more appropriate-sized living space. Some of them, unfortunately, are fraught with stress: divorce, death of a spouse, changing finances, and increasing frailty are just a few examples. Combine this stress with the logistical and emotional struggle involved in sorting through a lifetime of treasured possessions, and you have the makings of a truly unpleasant experience.

That is why if you are considering downsizing or moving, you might think about bringing a professional in to help you deal with all these potential problems.

A move (whether it is to a shared living arrangement, an apartment, or to a smaller house) usually involves getting rid of a lot of personal belongings that may not have a place in your new home. Deciding what to keep and what to sell or donate can be both physically overwhelming and emotionally traumatic for many people. Bringing in a professional organizer – someone who can help make clear, objective decisions about what to keep and what to part with, as well as find the right resources for donating or selling the things you no longer need – can take a huge burden off your shoulders. A professional organizer can also help you determine which items will fit well into your new, Golden Girls home, and which possessions do not.

Another area that some professional organizers specialize in is paper management. In getting ready for a move, you may come across years of accumulated files that are out of date and no longer needed as you transition to your new home. A professional organizer can help you decide which papers you need to keep, which ones you can scan, and which ones can go straight to the shredder or recycle bin. The last thing you need to be doing is packing and moving boxes of useless paper!

Professional organizers can also help you plan the logistical aspects of your move and provide both physical and moral support on moving day (sometimes taking the place of a son or daughter when they can’t be there to help a parent). A professional organizer can help supervise the move itself, and then on the other end make sure that everything gets unpacked and organized into the right spot, so that your new place feels like home right away. Starting out with “a place for everything and everything in its place” can make moving to a shared house, new apartment or home that much easier.

Finally, consider a mental health professional as an essential part of the equation, especially if your move is due to a major life change. There are many professionals that specialize in helping people work through these kinds of transitions. They have the ability to help you through the mental and emotional turmoil that accompanies life-changing events such as divorce, illness or other loss, and make you feel at home in your new life.

There are many experienced professionals who can help you navigate these choppy waters – don’t go it alone!

This post was contributed by Penny Catterall, founder of Order Your Life. Since 2009, Order Your Life has helped clients in the Washington, DC Metro area control clutter, improve workflow and make life simpler. Order Your Life offers home organization services, as well as downsizing, move management and settling in services. They are also available to help you organize ‘virtually’ anywhere in the world.

10 Must Do Health Checks for Women Over 50

Aging is a double-edged sword.  On one hand, our years and experience give us the  perspective to seek out the important things in life, value time with loved ones, and really enjoy our hobbies and other pursuits.  On the other hand, as our bodies change and mature we need to be more mindful of our health and pay close attention to differences we experience.  We’re not getting any younger!  Part of the beauty of the Golden Girls lifestyle is the ability to find housemates with similar interests and goals – in order to make the most of our time with our new housemates, women over 50 should maintain good relationships and with their doctors and keep regular medical appointments.  Early detection is key for the successful treatment and management of a many health concerns.  But where to start?  The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services suggests women over 50 complete 10 essential health checks.

  • Mammogram.  More than 3 million cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States, with most of those occurring in women ages 40 and older.  Regular mammograms are a key early detection tool.  Early detection, combined with new treatments and a better understanding of the disease, have led to much improved survival rates.
  • BRCA1 and BRCA2 testing.  If you have a strong family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or peritoneal cancer, you should speak with your doctor about getting tested for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.  Studies show that BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations account for about 5 – 10% of all breast cancers and 15% of ovarian cancers overall.
  • Pap Smear.   Women are advised to get a pap smear every 3 years until the age of 65.  Pap smears help detect cervical cancer.  Most doctors suggest that women over the age of 65 can stop having pap smears, so long as the patient had at least 3 negative tests in the past 10 years, or if she has had a hysterectomy.
  • Colonoscopy.  Women under the age of 75 are advised to get a colonoscopy to look out for colorectal cancer.  One of the main benefits of a colonoscopy is that doctors can remove small polyps during the procedure before they become cancerous.  According to the American Cancer Society, 9 out of 10 people whose colon cancer is discovered early will be alive 5 years later.
  • Depression.  Its totally normal to feel sad occasionally, but if you find yourself feeling hopeless or having a lack of interest or pleasure in doing things for more than two weeks, you might be depressed.  It’s important to talk to your doctor about being screened for depression.  As we age, emotional health is just as important as physical health.
  • Blood Glucose.  It’s important to have your blood sugar levels tested regularly to see if you have diabetes.  This is especially important if you have high blood pressure or if you take medication for high blood pressure.  Diabetes, if untreated, is a particularly insidious disease that can affect the heart, brain, eyes, feet, kidneys, and nerves.
  • Cholesterol.  Are you a tobacco user or overweight?  Do you have a personal history of heart disease or blocked arteries?  Do you have a male relative in your family that had a heart attack before age 50 or a female relative before age 60?  If any of these factors apply to you, consult your doctor about getting your cholesterol levels checked.  High cholesterol is one of the major risk factors leading to heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
  • Blood Pressure.  Women over the age of 50 should have their blood pressure checked at least every two years.  High blood pressure is a concern because it can lead to coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure , and other health problems.
  • Chest X-Ray.  If you are a smoker, quitting smoking is one of the best health moves you can make.  People aged between 55 and 80, have a 30 pack per year smoking history, or smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years should talk to their doctors about being screened for lung cancer.  Currently, the only approved screening for lung cancer is a chest x-ray.
  • DEXA Scan.  A DEXA scan is critical for determining whether you have osteoporosis.  Screening is recommended starting at age 65.  Osteoporosis cannot be cured, but treatment can help make the condition more bearable.

All of these health checks are important, but it’s crucial to maintain a strong relationship with your doctor or healthcare provider.  Keep up your good health to make the most of your Golden Girls years!