Category Archives: For Those 50+ Years of Age

RECAP OF QUARTERLY ACTIVITIES — THIS I DO FOR ME

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Since my last quarterly recap, I have been ultra busy.

Here’s what I’ve been doing:

THEATER, PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT, TRAVEL, OUTINGS, BOOK LAUNCHES AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, Oh My!

  •  I and a group of friends took in “Leavings,” an   outstanding theater production written by playwright Gail Parrish!  This is one of those works that have you immersed in deep thinking long after you’ve seen it;
  • Attended Chicago’s Steppenwolf the play “Fundamentals.”  This work humorously examines the world of Upward Mobility for women;
  • I enrolled in a six week photography class offered by Blue 1647, a tech and business incubator program dedicated to increasing the number of tech savvy people of color; our instructor, Amber, quelled my fears and emphasized how important it is to let my personality come through my work. I now feel more confident, and I look forward to utilizing what I’ve learned.
  • After running a contest on Facebook where the winner had to guess my favorite American city, I and winner Twanda Gates, took a Helicopter Tour of downtown Chicago. The prize was sponsored by Mighty Mongoose, a company that specializes in curating exciting outings in big cities like Boston and Chicago.  Rotorzen Helicopter Tours was the operator;

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  • THIS…I…DO…FOR…ME (TIDFM) celebrated its first year anniversary in August 2015. It’s hard to believe that an entire year of fun and growth has gone by;
  • Artwork and graphic design were created for an imminent TIDFM T-shirt (to be unveiled in early 2017).  Also, a logo was created;
  • I announced TIDFM’s 2018 International Excursion to Athens, Santorini and Mykonos, Greece!

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  • I attended the book launch and release party for new author  Marilyn D. Willis’ book “Winning Through Early Detection and the Beauty Behind It.”  I am convinced that this book with save lives and inspire women to live their best lives despite a cancer diagnosis;

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  • Most excitingly, I created a group for over 200 age 50+ women. The goal of the group is to uplift, share successes and remind this age cohort that there is still plenty of beautiful life to live and EXPERIENCE!
  • I booked a January 2017 trip to beautiful Atlanta, Georgia. I will have the pleasure of spending The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend in King’s hometown with 10 cousins for our annual “Cousin’s Weekend!”

I am so excited about what is in store for TIDFM.  I look forward to continuing to share this journey with you.

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NOTE:  Do you have suggestions for a TIDFM outing or activity?     Please feel free to email me any ideas at robin@thisidoforme.com

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TRAVEL TIPS SERIES: PART 2 — STRATEGIES FOR FINDING AFFORDABLE ACCOMMODATIONS

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NEW BLOG POST!

Now that you have some ideas about the various ways to travel to your destination via assistance from various airline/flight hacks, let’s explore the multitude of ways to secure affordable accommodations.

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I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to not to be tied in to staying in one type of accommodation. Here are a few:

  •  Airbnb, HomeAway,VRBO — as part of the “sharing” economy, these three peer-to-peer online home stay networks are wonderful ways to experience a destination as if you are at home.  They come in the form of private homes, condos and apartments — fully furnished! I have used both VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) and Airbnb in cities like New York City, San Francisco and Boston). They are even available for international destinations. I plan to rent one the next time I travel to Paris or London.  To secure, you merely have to check availablity, place a deposit for the dates you desire, and look forward to your adventure.   I find that I prefer these arrangements over hotels, not so much because I dislike hotels, but because I get to cook my own meals in a fully stocked kitchen, launder my clothing and relax in a homey environment.  They are equipped with towels, pots/pans, wifi, and modern appliances. There are a variety of price ranges depending on the pricing assigned by the owner.  I’ve stayed in high end ones, and I’ve stayed in ones that were more economical — all were class acts. Payments are made online. Please visit each entity’s website for more information.  Below are pics from an Airbnb in New York City.
  • Hostels — this arrangement is often more economical; here guests can rent a bed (dormitory style), share bathrooms, and there are usually common area lounges and kitchens.  Unlike hotels, hostel rates are incredibly lower than hotels, and in many you can find book and music sharing  programs. It’s very communal, and opportunities to meet, socialize and hang out with other hostelers is very prominent. If you are one for privacy, you won’t find it in a hostel. EVERTHING IS NOT FOR EVERBODY. I’ve done it once, and although I have met and maintained relationships with some great people from Malta, Sweden, Canada and England while staying at a hostel in Paris, I probably won’t do it again — only because I am past dormitory style living. However, if you are on a tight budget and don’t mind communal living and interaction, this arrangement is a viable one. Additionally, there are systems in place for securing valuable items.  Many even provide airport shuttle services, along with internet lounges and a means for booking city tours. Despite the age old stereotype that hostels are best suited for students, and nomadic types, there are high end hostels and ones that offer private rooms (albeit at an additional cost).  Be sure to check out Hostelworld.com  Below are pics of a hostel in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Couchsurfing — I must admit that I have not experienced this one first hand. Every time I vow to try it, I chicken out! I can’t seem to muster up the courage to sleep on a total stranger’s couch.  However, a couple of friends have couched surfed, and they found it safe and convivial. Although a guest could conceivably stay on a host’s couch, private rooms in homes are often provided.  One of the most attractive features of Couchsurfing is that it is free; there is an annual membership fee, however. If you have a skill or talent or other interests, these can be shared, also, with your host.

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If you still prefer staying in a traditional hotel, I strongly suggest that you make arrangements through booking.com, a great site!  Whenever I have used this site, I have had pleasurable results.  For example, for an overnight layover in Dublin, Ireland, I booked a room through this website, and I landed a beautiful room in The Clayton Hotel (really luxurious) for a mere $79.00.  When I arrived — super exhausted, I might add, the hotel agent kindly informed me that the Clayton was providing me with an upgrade to a suite.  When I asked him how much it would cost, he gently replied “courtesy of us.”  Needless to say, I’m going back to Dublin soon, AND I’M STAYING AT THE CLAYTON!

CHECKOUT THESE WEBSITES:

airbnb.com, couchsurfing.org, hostelworld.com, homeaway.com, vrbo.com

NOTE:   Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series where I will talk about tips for “Traveling Comfortably.”

 

 

 

TRAVEL TIPS SERIES: PART 1 — Strategies on Finding Affordable Airfares!

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If you’re hell bent on traveling the world in the same old way each time you do it, these tips may not be helpful to you. What I’m sharing here is for the OPEN-MINDED traveler that is willing to explore different and unique approaches to travel.

Although I have experienced travel where I’ve stayed in top notch hotels, ate numerous gourmet meals and taken my share of spacations, I am equally at home in an AirBnB, where I can prepare my own meals and still have very nice amenities at my fingertips.

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What I would like to share with you over the course of several posts, are travel tips that allow you to travel economically thereby allowing you to maximize your dollars!

So let’s start in this post by examining a number of ways to secure deals on your flights.

I strongly feel that being flexible and not relying on one mode of securing flight arrangements, no matter how it has worked for you previously, opens you up to the best opportunity in the moment.  For example, I once found a round trip ticket to New York City for $150 USD inclusive of taxes and and all typical fees! How?  That time through a travel agent.  Ironically, that same trip was pricing out at $100 more not more than a month later.  The next time that I needed to book a trip to NYC, I searched for another travel arrangement through Travel Zoo.  Although the cost was more expensive than the $150 ticket I secured on that first example I spoke of, it was still less expensive than the instance that cost me an additional $100.  This time it cost me $177.00.

Another tactic in your air fare search arsenal is to keep your ears and eyes open on special and often unbelievable deals that the airlines offer.  For example, recently Southwest Airlines ran a 72 hour promotion for its shortest routes in the United States.  My cousin got her ticket for NYC to Atlanta for $104 round trip!  Although I purchased my ticket prior to Southwest’s special promotion, I was able to find a great deal for $222 by going directly to Delta’s website!

What about International flights? Well, I needed to get to Madrid back in June, and I found one hell of a deal from Chicago to Dublin to Madrid on Expedia for $893.72.  For this flight, I had a seven hour layover in Dublin (going to Madrid), and although I had a 17 hour layover in Dublin (on the return to Chicago), I had enough time to experience some of this fun Irish city! I met some great people, hung out on O’Connell Street had had a fantastic meal, along with  beer at a local pub — The Temple Bar!

This mini excursion gave me enough to know that I would like to return for a longer visit. I have never had a layover that long, but I made the most of it by not spending it in the airport.

Dublin has a wonderfully vibrant airport with over 200 businesses, eateries, chocolatiers, perfumeries and designer stores.

NOTE:  Literally two minutes ago, a notification from TRIP Advisor came up n my feed informing me of an airfare for $734 from Oakland to Madrid (as you have probably guessed, I love Madrid)!  Now that is a deal.

CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT FLIGHT RESOURCES

The following are search options that I have not only researched when looking for a good fight price, but these sites have produced for me some results at wonderful prices:

Fareness.com — Where should I go in April for the best flight destination?  This site offers a wide range of destinations and travel periods (e.g. check where to travel to from October to February) and receive immediate results highlighting the lowest air fares. Then you can build the rest of your vacation based what is most economical for you versus making that decision based on locale only;

Yapta.com — A very underutilized resource — tracks pricing for millions of flights worldwide allowing you (like Fareness.com) to first pick a travel spot, then creating your activities around that.

The Flightdeal.com — Targeting flights to cities that are six cents or less per mile — Chicago, Seattle, NYC, Baltimore, Philly, D.C., Portland, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco!

Airfarewatchdog.com — The airlines reduce airfares daily, but they don’t advertise them. This site notifies you of fare glitches and/or bargains.

Expedia.com — I have had really good success with this site.  If you don’t mind layovers (sometimes long ones), Expedia can become your best friend! You can find really good deals, and you can access by internet or telephone agents.

In summary, here are the things you must be willing to do to snag great deals:

  •     Search Often;
  •     Sign Up for Email Alerts;
  •     Use Twitter;
  •     Use Priceline for Last Minute Trips;
  •     Combine Two Separate Fares Versus Booking One Fare (can be cheaper)

To utilize my consulting services on economical trip planning, please contact me at robin@thisidoforme.com

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SOUL SOOTHING ACTION BY KEEPING THE HOMELESS WARM AND SECURE AND REPURPOSING THROUGH ART

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NEW BLOG POST

Below highlights how Musa Macenyane soothes her Soul by making hats and mats for the homeless.
For as long as I can remember, I have been a crafter. I was always looking for a new project, new craft or a new creation. In 2010 while working in corporate America, I began to look at waste and think “how can I create something from all of this waste?” I began to look at everyday items in a new way.  I began ‘repurposing’, creating creations from everyday items. I began making coasters from cardboard, bags from plastic grocery bags, and jewelry from various paper products. Utilizing my craftiness in a new way was exhilarating.

Then in the fall of 2015, I saw a news story about a lady who was feeding the homeless in Humbolt Park out of her own kitchen. I was amazed by this sister’s spirit of service. I reached out to Carol Boyd of Humble Heart and asked what I could do to help. She said whatever assistance I could provide would be greatly appreciated.

I knew I couldn’t feed the homeless three times a week like Carol did, but I could craft. So I started on my “Hats for the Homeless” project. Last winter, I made 35 hats and donated them to Carol to distribute while she was in the park feeding. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I began using my crocheting plarn (plastic yarn) skills to create mats for the homeless to protect them from sleeping directly on the ground. In the spring of 2016, I, along with a group of Sistahs, who wanted to make an impact on the lives of others, organized a purse project to distribute hygiene products to our Sistahs affected by homelessness.

We filled over 40 purses with hygiene products, and Carol was able to distribute to the ladies on the street. Currently, I am again in the throes of the Hats for the Homeless project. This year, my goal is that with the help of my happy hookers (crocheters) and chicks with sticks (knitters) we can make 100 hats to donate to Humble Hearts.

I continue to craft and create gift items from repurposed materials, but serving others makes me tick. I enjoy utilizing my craftiness to serve others. Crafting to serve is what I do for me.

Musa is a social worker and dedicated and creative crafter. She is the owner of Chiseko Artistic Endeavors, a company dedicated to crafting through repurposing. 

DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT! Musings on a Helicopter Tour and Being Daring at 50+ Years Old!

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NEW BLOG POST!

Recently, at a conference I attended in California, I met Katie Wilks, a representative from the travel and ticketing resource company Mighty Mongoose. This company has developed a reputation for offering exciting and fun ways to explore major cities across America through a wide range of attractions, tours and events.

After being given the opportunity as a blogger to experience one of their tours, I set out to select something different  — something that I wouldn’t ordinarily position myself to do.  I could have picked any one of their great offerings — a Walking Italian Food Tour, The Botanic Gardens (I’ve never visited there) and several trolley and bus tours. Although these were all packaged nicely, the one that stood out was The Helicopter Tour of Downtown Chicago. It was as if neon lights encircled it.

I have wanted to do something daring for quite some time!  When I was a child, I vowed that I would be a skydiver when I grew up.  I was that kid who was always enamored with people who were mountain climbers or something that had an element of risk.

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Photo: We (that’s me on the left) are in the cabin of the “copter”

Now, I must admit — I had to give taking advantage of this helicopter excursion a second thought.  After all, when I first dreamed of skydiving, I was a kid.  Now I’m a 50+ woman, who likes daring, but with caution. After I did due diligence, but more importantly after I thought about how I would feel if I didn’t go on the ride, I said yes!!!  I’m at that stage in life where I don’t want to let fear hold me back — it’s now or never!

Mighty Mongoose was gracious enough to allow me to bring a guest along for this exciting opportunity, so I ran a “Can You Guess My Favorite American City Contest” on my  This…I…Do…For…Me (TIDFM) Facebook Page!

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Twanda Gates of Milwaukee, Wisconsin guessed correctly — San Francisco!  Love that city!  Twanda, like me, loves to travel, and even more ironic, she has a bucket list of things to experience and a helicopter ride was on it!

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I just love when a plan comes together, especially when it involves playing a role in helping to bring someone’s dream to fruition.

Upon arrival at Chicago’s premier helicopter tour company Rotorzen, located at 1339 S. Wood Street,  we were given an orientation by its professional staff.  We were given an overview of the helicopter that we would ride in and the iconic Chicago sites we would see.  We then met the man of the hour — our experienced pilot, Travis, who would guide us on this excursion! By the way, Rotorzen operates out of the largest heliport in North America.

As we took off on Saturday, September 10, 2016, at 2:30 p.m., I and Twanda took a deep breath, then relaxed long enough to enjoy a new experience.

It’s one thing to see The Willis Tower, Millennium Park, The Hancock Building, Museum Campus, Soilder Field, Navy Pier, Trump Tower and even Lincoln Park Zoo all on ground level, but to see these well known sites well above 1,000 feet, is awe-inspiring.  All I could keep thinking was “I AM ACTUALLY DOING THIS!”

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TIDFM contest winner Twanda Gates put it this way, “The helicopter ride was such an exhilarating experience.  The pilot was personable and professional, and he was an excellent tour guide. Thanks to TIDFM and the excursion sponsor Mighty Mongoose for my first helicopter tour.”

As I reflect on this wonderful day, I can’t help but to feel encouraged by the fact that just because you’re 50+ years old, your dreams (both postponed or denied) can still manifest.

Too many times we look at situations and opportunities from the view point that we are way too old to try something new and daring.  We feel it’s too late, so we over enmesh ourselves  in other things and other people to compensate for our fear.  This is not healthy.  We want a balance between doing our thing and assisting others to do theirs.

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Too many times we say we are going to do something after we lose some weight, or after the kids are off to college or some other moment in time.  The time is now! Stop putting things off and LIVE!

Make a list of those things you want to do, do them, and add new items to the list on a regular basis. You will be amazed at yourself.

Thank you Mighty Mongoose and Rotorzen Tours for playing a role in me living my dreams.

 

All Photos Were Taken by Robin Tillotson and Twanda Gates