Great Places to Walk in the O.C.

The Orange County Register  ran a great article about the Best Places for Walking in Orange County. I love that the author distinguishes between a walk, and a hike. A hike, for me, is  on more rugged trails. More remote, less houses and restaurants, more hills, rocks and brush. I like both walks and hikes, most of the time, in the area where I live, a nice long walk is easier to do. So, how do they explain the difference?
-“What’s the difference between a walk and a hike? We pondered this question to help narrow our list of the county’s best walks. A walk, we realized, tends to be within or adjacent to civilization, as opposed to being in the wilderness. Walks often involve paved, or at least well-groomed, pathways. You won’t need a backpack or hiking boots for a walk, though a hat, sunscreen, and a bottle of water are a good idea. And keep an eye out for critters and snakes, even in urban settings. Walks are local by nature. People outside the immediate area don’t tend to know about them—which is why we’re sharing 10 of O.C.’s best with you.”

I think they had some great choices, but one of my favorite walks isn’t on the list! Here in South Orange County, from Laguna Beach, down towards San Clemente, there are several paved and semi-paved trails which lead from local neighborhoods, some go through golf courses, and they each end up down at a beach.

One of my favorite walking paths actually starts in the Marina Hills neighborhood of Laguna Niguel, and meanders on through Dana Point to end up at Salt Creek Beach. You can get on or off the walking trail at several different entrance points, or walk the entire path. I will warn you that it’s mostly down hill heading towards the beach, which also means it’s mostly UPHILL heading back. When you have already walked a few miles to get to the beach, taken off your shoes and walked in the ocean, that uphill trek back home can wear you out. So be careful to save some energy for the trip back home.

Check here for details on this route: DETAILS and to see more about local walking trails: – See more at:”

Enjoy your walk!!

Aileen BrazeauAileen At Del Mar Racetrack Opening Day 2012


Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The Refreshing Beauty of Nature

The older I get, the more I’m drawn to the natural world. The sight of a bird in flight or the trees budding out in the spring just seemed to refresh something deep inside of me. If you’re like me, sometimes our lives just get so busy that we forget to connect to the beauty of an ordinary day. I try my best to make a point of looking for the wonders that are just outside my window, but sometimes I forget to give myself the time to appreciate all that nature has to hold.

The beauty of nature

Our elders need this connection. How many of your older loved ones enjoy feeding the wild birds or making sure the bird bath is filled. For those elders who have lost some of their mobility or are suffering from an illness, it’s harder to get out and be “refreshed.”

A friend of mine helped take care of his ailing grandmother. She was bedfast and couldn’t get outside where she loved to garden and watch the birds. He’s a thoughtful soul and bought her a new feeder for the birds that he placed just outside her bedroom window. She found immense pleasure in watching each little bird come right to her window. 

Perhaps more than anything, the feeling of the mist coming off the ocean makes me stop and behold how the beauty of this world is so amazing. I was born near it, so perhaps I have a special connection to it. But I really think most people find peace and wonder at the ocean’s side. 

I have special memories of the Pacific Ocean.  When I was very young, my parents would take me down to beaches near our Southern California home so I could look for shells and feel the sand beneath my feet. Back then, it wasn’t easy to get down to the beach. Many times my daddy would carry me down the narrow winding trails that came down from the jagged cliffs. 

I know you all have your own special memories of the ocean and other natural wonders. If you are a care giver, then I encourage you to make time for these natural connections. Find ways of sharing nature with your older loved one. You both will be refreshed and we all deal better with life’s ups and downs when we feed our souls.


Tips on Ways to Share Nature with Your Older Loved One –

  1. Take a trip to a botanical garden
  2. Place a bird feeder outside of the kitchen window
  3. Plan a picnic at a favorite park
  4. Have lunch at an outdoor restaurant
  5. Give them a photo album of family outdoor vacations
  6. Fill a pot with butterfly and humming bird favorites for their patio
  7. While visiting, go for a walk
  8. Bring them a bouquet of their favorite flowers
  9. Get a large print of one of their favorite outdoor places
  10. Take them on a boat tour of a harbor or lake

 By Karen Everett Watson – Gerontologist



Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Who Can You Count On?

For the past 10 years, my mother’s been a caregiver to my daddy. After losing his bladder to cancer, his health has fluctuated from being pretty good, to not good at all. It’s been a long road for my mother and it’s not over yet. I worry about my daddy. I worry about my mother almost as much.


The stress of caring can be costly. Did you know care givers are at a high risk of dying, even before the ones they are caring for? This fact was emphasized over and over again in my gerontology classes.


If you are the primary care giver to an aging loved one, I’d like to give you a head’s up – If you don’t get help, you will burn out. It could cost you your health. There are a lot of good reasons to share the load of caring. First, if you don’t get help, you and your loved one will suffer the consequences. Second, caring has its own rewards.


My children love their gramps a lot. But when he gets sick, they seem to avoid even talking about the issue. They’re all grown people with children of their own, but they might as well be in grade school when it comes to facing up to my daddy’s problems. I’m working on them. They’re not there yet. They will have to step up very soon! I don’t want them to have regrets. I want them to cherish the time they still have with both my parents.


So here’s to educating our family and friends –


Sit down with a piece of paper and a pen. Write down the names of your family members who live close enough to help. Leave some space between the names. Now, write down the close friends of your loved one who also live close enough to help. Then write down the names of church members and neighbors who could help you in a pinch. This is your network of caring. Get them involved. They will be better for it, and you will to.

Who can you count on?


Let them all know that your loved one would appreciate a visit, a phone call, or just having lunch with them once in a while. Whether or not they are living alone, or in a retirement community, they still need to be connected to people they care about. Don’t let people forget them. Encourage your family members to make time for them.


While you are at it, ask them if you could count on them for helping you. Sometimes you can’t juggle your life to take mom or dad to the doctor. I bet someone in your network of caring wouldn’t mind helping out. But you have to ask. E-mail is a great way to connect with your network of caring people. Keep them updated on what’s going on in your life and your loved ones’. I started a family facebook page, so all my kids and relatives can get updates from me. It’s been much easier than calling them all and they can also let me know what’s going on in their lives. Only my family members can see the updates. I like that.


Moving them might be necessary – and good for them!

When your folks just have to have more help than you can give, it’s time to have that talk. Most good communities encourage you to visit and have a meal. I’ve interviewed many elders in retirement communities and most of them say it’s the best decision they ever made. The activities and social connections are a new leaf on life. Boredom can ruin anyone’s quality of life. So, don’t die a martyr. Get the help you need so you can be a cheerful care giver!

By Karen Everett Watson




Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather