Thinking About Generations


Recently, I found myself explaining the term “Milliennials” to my mom. Millennials seem quite alien to me since I have not embraced the technology that has been at their fingertips pretty much since they were born. I imagine that the way I feel about Milliennials is similar to how people born in the 1920s felt about the new-fangled television that was sure to rot everyone’s brains.

Anyhoo. As my mom and I talked, she noted that she wasn’t sure which generation she belonged to. She thought that she belonged in the generation before the Baby Boomers. Intrigued, I turned to the very technology I like to poo-poo. I searched for names of the different generations on the Internets and discovered that my mom was a part of the Silent Generation, or the Lucky Few. (Through my research, I found that the names of and time periods for generations vary.)

I myself am definitely smack in the middle of Generation X. I like to call it the “MTV Generation” as well, because I remember spending a lot of time parked in front of the TV, watching music videos on MTV.

I found a nifty chart in a article. I was shocked to read the population numbers for the generations. I knew that Baby Boomers were so named because there was a drastic increase in baby production. I didn’t know that the population was 74 million, compared to 33 million in the previous generation! That’s a boom all right. And, wow…my generation is outnumbered by the Millennials by a lot (20 mill). Yikes.

I also found this article about naming the generation after the Millennials. The ideas presented make me shiver: Generation Like, Selfie Generation. For some reason, I think the Swipe Generation has a nice ring to it.

It’s interesting to think about generations—your own, your parents’, your grandparents’—and how they’ve shaped your world view, your economic success, and so on. If you’ve read any good books or articles on this subject, do share. Have you read Tom Brokaw’s book The Greatest Generation?


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Top 10: Part 2


So here is the long-awaited second segment of my top 10 birthday list items:

4. Age 36: Take a glassblowing class

There are a few standouts from this year. But in the end, I’m going with the glassblowing class, because it was the biggest surprise. Mary and I arrived at Diablo Glass School early on a Saturday morning, expecting to spend the morning sitting at a table with a blowtorch, making a small cat or flower.

I was not expecting to be Dale Chihuly. I was not expecting to put a long, heavy, metal rod into an oven that was a bazillion degrees and turn it for a length of time. And then sit down on a work bench made for right-handed people (I’m a lefty) and shape the glass into a circular shape with my right hand. (We made paperweights.)

We survived unscathed, which I still call a miracle. I have a nice albeit egg-shaped paperweight to display. Mary and I also walked away with a newfound appreciation for artists who work with glass. We eagerly watched Chihuly in the Hotshop afterward and visited his exhibit at the MFA, Boston, a few months later. The exhibit was phenomenal.

I’d like to try the blowtorch method someday. I think that’s more my style.

3. Age 37: Meet Andrew McCarthy

My friend Linda and I met Andrew McCarthy. He of Mannequin and Pretty in Pink and Weekend at Bernie’s. Did you know that he is a travel writer? I didn’t realize it either, until I saw that he was coming to the annual Boston Globe Travel Show.

I had noticed his name in the National Geographic Traveler magazine’s masthead, but hadn’t thought anything of it. It’s a common enough name.

Being a child of the ’80s I naturally love the man, so I counted down the days till the show. At the show, he gave an engaging talk about his new career in travel writing. Afterward, he was signing a new book that he had edited, but the line was daunting. So Linda and I walked around and visited some booths for maybe an hour. We headed back to where he had been signing books, and there he was. He had finished signing and was standing and chatting with people. Linda bought his book, and then there we were, talking with Andrew McCarthy. I don’t remember what I said, but it was something about his travel writing. He was very nice and seemed down-to-earth. Whenever I see his byline on a story in Nat Geo Traveler, I smile.










2. Age 38: Geeked out on genealogy

This was another toughie, but I have three genealogy-related items on the list. And through them, I started a new lifelong hobby. I had dabbled in genealogy but embraced it full force last year. I attended an all-day genealogy workshop, became a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and had my DNA analyzed.

I’ve found out some very interesting things about my ancestors and have endless mysteries to solve. I have 408 people in my family tree on People who have been researching for decades have thousands of people in their trees. Genealogy research could be a full-time job. It’s a job that seemingly never ends. I remember my shock at hearing a presenter at the workshop say that she’s been researching for 20+ years and still has family mysteries to solve.

I need to carve out more time for this research! I am determined to find out more about my mother’s maternal side, which is Italian. Everyone in the family is long gone, so it’s all about finding and combing through records…

1. Age 39: Three-way tie?

This year is difficult because I went to England and New York City. So I saw an absolutely amazing cathedral in Winchester, England…but I also went to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island…

And if I had to choose something that I did at home, it would be HOLI!!! My friend Abby and I went to a Holi party and had no idea what to expect. It ended up being incredibly fun and I can’t wait to go again next year.


I need a bonus because starting at age 31, I’ve traveled to a place I’ve never been every year. My favorite trip was the one I took to Aruba before my 31st birthday. It was my first time visiting the Caribbean. I went on a wonderful tour of the island, laid out on the beach for hours every day, explored Orenjestad, ate good meals, got a massage on the beach…blissful.

So that’s it, friends. I’ve done 345 new things over the past 10 years. Thanks to all who have accompanied me on this journey.

40 has to be a complete blowout…start sending your suggestions now! I do have my trip destination figured out already. Pretty sure that I am going to Hawaii because I have enough frequent flyer miles. Aloha!











Enjoy the Silence


A few weeks ago, I went back to the monastic community that I visited last year. It was just as peaceful and restorative, if not more so, since I stayed longer this time.

I volunteered in the garden again. This year, I picked strawberries and did lots of weeding in herb and garlic beds.









I was placed in one of the “hermitages” this year. It was so sweet! There is a cluster of 8 hermitages about a 10-minute walk from the farmhouse, where the chapel, dining area, and additional accommodations are located.  I had my own bathroom and mini-kitchen.









I really got into the rhythm of the day:

Wake up around 8:00, make breakfast, listen to the birds sing.

Work in the garden for a couple of hours.

Have lunch with the brothers and guests.

Do a little more garden work. Visit with the pigs, ducks, geese, and chickens.

Collapse in my hermitage (from the heat).

Clean up and read until the even song service.

Attend even song and have dinner afterward.

Sit in one of the sitting rooms and read a book from the library until compline, the final service of the day.

Attend compline and watch the sunset afterward.

Return to my hermitage and read before going to sleep.









Such a profound joy is found in this simple life. I longed to stay for a few more days. Now the trick is to figure out how to make time for such quiet reflection amid the myriad distractions of everyday living. I’m working on it.

I found it so refreshing to be “offline” for a few days. To think about nothing but pulling the next weed or watching the gaggle of geese waddle through the garden. To get perspective on my life.

So I was shocked when I read this news the other day. In a recent study, researchers found that participants who sat in a room for 10 minutes with “just their thoughts” were very uncomfortable, and some of them even shocked themselves for something to do!

Wow. I think we could all use some more silence and “offline” time these days. I challenge you to carve out some quiet time for yourself every week. And enjoy the silence!







Top 10: Part 1


This year was the 10th anniversary of my birthday list, so I decided to look through the list and choose a “top 10.” Here are 10–5!

10. Age 30: Dye my hair fuchsia

I started dyeing my hair in high school. It started out as highlighting and soon my hair was medium blonde. (I have medium/dark brown hair.) I look back at this time and am amazed that I have any hair left on my head. I must have seen fuchsia in the hair color aisle in 2005. I loved the color! Not sure why I LOVE changing my hair color, but I do.

I’ve only tried a crazy color one other time: the following year, I tried blue. I didn’t bleach my hair beforehand, so it didn’t really come out. One day I will dye it a crazy color again. Katy Perry is my hair color idol and I live vicariously through her.

9. Age 31: Visit the Boston Harbor Islands

There are 34 islands in Boston Harbor. The public has access to two of them, and there are special trips to some of the other ones. I’ve been to five or six islands. Different groups work together to maintain the islands (National Park Service, Friends of the Boston Harbor Islands, Boston Harbor Island Alliance…) and I can understand why so many people cherish them.

8. Age 32: Be an extra in a movie

This is a lost year, I’m sad to say. I don’t have a complete list and I don’t remember why. I think it has something to do with having the list on a computer that died or got replaced. Even if it were a complete list, I would probably still choose the same. I totally lucked out with my first experience as an extra in a movie. My friend and I were at the right place at the right time on the set and I can be seen in the movie for about a second (my friend longer).

It was fascinating to witness how much work goes into making a film. We worked for 12 hours on a scene that was maybe a few minutes long. When the movie was released, I went to see it with a bunch of friends, and I remember all of us exclaiming when I came on the screen for my one second of fame. So fun.

7. Age 33: Visit historical sites

This was one of the more boring years. I’m combining a couple: visiting Adams National Historical Park and the Paul Revere House. It took me nine years, but I finally made it to these great historical sites. When you live somewhere, you take its history for granted sometimes. I’m reminded of when I worked in London and my coworker, who was born and raised in London, told me that he had never seen Buckingham Palace. Really?? Well, we’re all guilty of this, so I can’t judge.

6. Age 34: Get a tattoo at a tattoo convention

I already had two tattoos by the time I attended the convention. But I really enjoyed walking around the convention and seeing all of the different work being done. Was this my first convention ever? I’ll have to think about that.

So I won tickets to this convention. I wasn’t planning to get another tattoo at that time necessarily, but when in Rome! I got my second Chinese character done, on the back of my neck. I now have four small tattoos and have one more in mind.

5. Age 35: Meet some inspiring people

I have to cheat again. I was in the same room as David Sedaris, Arthur Frommer, and Oprah in 2010. Don’t make me choose a favorite!

I can’t remember if this was my first David Sedaris reading or not, but it must have been the first time I met him and had a book signed. David is one of my favorite authors. I think he’s a comic genius and love the way his brain works. If I’m remembering this book signing correctly, we talked about grocery stores in England. I’ve met him a few times since and am over the moon that he is making two stops in Massachusetts this year!

Arthur Frommer is naturally a hero of mine. If you don’t know of him, he is the father of budget-conscious travel. He came out with a book around that time and did a reading and signing at the Boston Public Library. The one thing I remember him talking about at the reading is the fact that the States does not require employers to offer paid vacation time. Just add this to the list of reasons why I should not be a resident of this country.

Oprah. Some people hate on her, but I am not one of them. I think she has done a lot of good for a lot of people. She is all about self-discovery and helping people live a better life. What’s to hate about that? I won tickets to a special taping in NYC that year. I won four or five tickets so went with a group of girlfriends. I don’t remember what was talked about, but I remember having a good time.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for Part 2.