What day is it again? The DO’s and DON’Ts of a Happy Retirement

Sandy received a wall clock as a retirement gift.  This clock doesn’t tell time. however; it reminds Sandy what day it is!

You non-retired folks are thinking,   So, let me get this straight…. your big stressor is remembering the day??  Do you know how lucky you are???   You don’t have meetings, quotas, due dates, alarms  jarring you awake, business trips to places you don’t want to go, airport fast food, 5AM Ubers,  middle of the night terror over a sale not executed, an evaluation gone awry,  imminent termination.

So retirement is indeed none of those things.  And we know we ARE fortunate.

But, retirement has its own set of pitfalls.  Did you know that depression is a widespread occurrence among retirees?  The American Psychological Association tells us that those who have not paid attention to  their “psychological portfolio” alongside their financial one, can succumb to social isolation, identity loss, and even suicide.

So now that Joy and I are well past the retirement-euphoria stage, we would like to share some tips to keeping that psychological portfolio performing optimally.

DO find balance between “work” and play. 

When my dad retired from being an airline captain, he found “work” in talking on his ham radio, connecting with like-minded devotees across the globe, practicing morse code, and sharing weather movements. This gave him “appointments” to adhere to and human connections beyond that of the tennis court.

DON’t succumb to an empty calendar. 

Plan activities.  Find that volunteer role that makes you smile.  My friend’s husband, newly retired, teaches 3-year olds ice hockey.  Emily reports that when Dave returns home, he is all smiles.

DO maintain your social interactions. 

Introverts may need a push out the door to make this happen.  Most churches offer small groups that meet regularly around a common focus.  Sally goes twice a week to Faith and Fitness.  They walk/jog in place while gabbing about their families and prayer requests.  Michelle takes her berne-doodle, Beatrice, to a neighborhood dog park – at the same time each day – where she and Bee have made easy friendships.

DON’T answer Netflix every time it calls.

Pick up a book instead.  Or better yet, take a trip to your local library.  Get out of your space.

DO tend to your diet and exercise routine.

Just don’t get obsessive or self-damning when you fall short.  Find a friend to do a 30-day challenge with you.  Those Hi-Jane arms of ours are not getting any firmer! We want them to be more like Michelle Obama arms!!

DON’T talk about aches and pains.

No one wants details about your colonoscopy – as fascinating as it may be! And by all means, do NOT share those photographs! There’s plenty of time in your 80’s to talk about your medical procedures!!  We’re far too young to focus on this now!

DO exercise your brain. 

Learn a new vocabulary word.  Do your crosswords.  Memorize Bible verses.  Start or join a book club.  My brother, Charles, reads a dictionary page each day.  My dad memorized the US presidents.

DON’T feel like you have to finish every book you start.

If it doesn’t grab you, give yourself permission to  put it down and find something that does.  Time is short!

DO encourage others.

Diane finds purpose each day in “being available”.  She is open to random conversations and encounters where her open smile can bring joy to others.  She listens to God who provides marching orders.

DON’T frown too much. 

We may lose our ability to smile.  I have zero research to back this up — only the observational evidence of Baby Boomers whose attempts at smiling look pained. Smiling takes practice.  Don’t let your smile get sloppy.

 

And finally…

DO remember what day it is!

Non-retirees may slap you if you say something like, Every day is a Saturday!! And they would have every right to do so!  ūüôā

 

Today’s Takeaway:

-How is your psychological portfolio doing?  If you are having trouble finding your purpose, then adopt Diane’s simple philosophy and just Be Available.  That is enough!

– You are NOT alone!  Find your people.  They may be knitting as we speak.  Or talking on a ham radio.

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

3rd Chapter, 3rd Career: Joy’s Revisionist Retirement!

I’ve now been retired almost 2 1/2 years.¬† I can’t say the time has flown by, but boy have I learned a lot about myself!¬† What makes me happy, what I need to make me happy, what works, what doesn’t, how I want my life to be defined going forward, and how to overcome chronic insomnia!¬† (vape pen with CBD oil!)

I tried volunteer work last year and while I enjoyed it, it didn’t give me that sense of purpose I was looking for.¬† Truth be told, I like earning money.¬† Call me crazy, but fulfillment is different for all of us.¬† For me, as a sales person for the last 25 years of my career, I need to be working towards something —¬† to write a ticket, as those of us in trading used to say.¬† I need something tangible.

I started by rewriting my resume.¬† I hadn’t written a resume¬† or added to one in years.¬† Having been at the same company for 19 years, I had gotten comfortable and settled.¬† Resume writing is so easy today with templates for every style and font you might imagine.

Once this was completed, I was ready to test the waters.¬† The beauty of looking for a job at this stage of life, my 3rd chapter, is that I don’t feel pressure.¬† There is no career track. I don’t feel I have anything to prove, except to myself.¬† I knew I wanted to work again, but not a “big” job with a title and long hours, but rather what I dubbed a “little job.”¬† I wanted to have purpose again, to have structure, to be in an office environment with people, camaraderie.

Though, I have worked as an independent rep for the last 10 months, my post retirement gig, as I call it didn’t provide fulfillment.¬† I have enjoyed getting to know my new community selling to small businesses, meeting restauranteurs, shop owners, yoga practitioners, architects, landscapers, organic farmers, etc, but something was missing.¬† I have never loved working from home.¬† While one of my daughters enjoys the freedom of working remotely, I felt isolation. There were no people to bitch and complain with about your job, your boss, your work space… Who do you discuss the latest episode of “This Is Us” with?¬† The dog just wasn’t interested!

I started applying for jobs on various websites, not really sure what I was looking for, but hoping to play off of my skill set.¬† I am a sales person and I have always believed, once you have sold, you can sell anything!¬† I knew I didn’t want to be in a boring job, so I thought about the kinds of businesses in my upstate locale that interested me.¬† Much to my surprise, I actually had people respond to me!! Wow, maybe I wasn’t over that hill after all!¬† (That’s the proverbial hill!!)

I applied to an auction house, a spa, a yoga retreat center (think discounts!), an upscale customized vacation company that does “glamping” on a local farm (glamorous camping by way of luxury tents) and an organic purveyor of Fair Trade coffee, nuts, dried fruits, etc.

I have been made 2 job offers and I will make a decision next week as to which one I want.¬† This time, it’s about me.¬† I’m not supporting a family, paying a mortgage, putting money away for college or retirement.¬† It’s for my need to be useful, productive, engaged.¬† This is what I need to be happy.

Some people can’t wait until the day they retire.¬† They are happy to piddle around.¬† Maybe, they are better than I am at structuring their day. The beauty of the whole thing is that if it doesn’t work out, it’s okay.¬† I will try something else.¬† I’m thankful that people who interviewed me were willing to take a chance on little ole me!

As my mother Muriel always said, you can sleep when you’re dead!

Today’s Takeaway

-Listen to the voice in your head, not to others. Only you know what makes you happy and fulfilled.

-Give yourself time to adjust to this new way of life, but if you do want more, don’t be afraid to get out there and search for it.

-Never underestimate what a senior person brings to the table.  Your wisdom, experience, and guidance just might be the right mix for your future employer.  Old is just in your mind and age is merely a number!

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day, 2019!

Love this picture of Peggy

The hospital bed had been removed and her medications cleared out.  I opened the top drawer of my mother’s dresser.  I wanted to have a tangible reminder to take back with me to Chicago.

My mom had loved her jewelry.  Though none of it expensive, her pieces were statements — large, clip-on, seashell earrings, a garnet ring the size of an i-watch.

Then I found what I was looking for.

My socialite mom, who wore Armani, Prada, and Calvin Klein, taught a Bible class every week at the local child care center.  They called her Mrs. T.    She was a regular there, well into her 90s, acting out stories and singing Bible songs.  And though never a hugger, my mom was a hit with the preschoolers who lavished her with hugs and kisses.

And so when she finally bid farewell to them, knowing the end was near, Peggy was presented with a silver charm bracelet with a tiny Bible and a cross.  This was definitely not something she would have worn to her country club cocktail parties, but I think it was her prized possession.

I picked up the bracelet and thanked God for giving me a mom who knew what was important.  And it was not shell earrings or an Armani blazer.

It was teaching 4 year olds about their heavenly Father.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mrs. T!

Joy here:

Lilacs everywhere.  Mother’s Day beckons the lilac bushes to bloom.  Every year, at about this time, very close to Mother’s Day, the beautiful lush purple flowers bloom.  I am reminded of my mother who loved them.  Their fragrance filled our house and Ben (my dad) knew this was a must for this special day.

It’s funny how smells trigger memories.  In some ways smell is stronger than any other sense.  We connect odors with pictures in our minds and it makes us smile.

On this, yet another Mother’s Day ( the 29th without my own mother) I have no call to make, no card to buy, no lilacs to pick, but I remember her voice, her touch, her enduring love for me.

Muriel, like Peggy, was quirky, a character.  I’ve already told you that she sewed designer labels in her clothes, took Tuesdays off to go shopping for no particular reason, kept a Band-Aid box with “pin money” for splurges, and wore toilet paper to bed to preserve her beauty parlor coif!

She ate to live (covered in a previous post), loved the arts, exposed me to music, theatre, and the ballet, and loved getting dressed up in her mink coat (she originally wanted to be buried in it, but ended up going for cremation and the thought of burning the coat she loved, just wasn’t going to fly!) alligator shoes and lizard bag. She only wore her “good jewelry” when she went out (that included a diamond engagement ring and diamond wedding band)  She was a class act all the way and I miss her dearly.

She taught me to be a good listener, to have compassion for others, to appreciate the physical beauty of my surroundings, to be thankful for every day we wake up to see a new day.

As we said, last year, no takeaways this Mother’s Day.  Just reflect, treasure your memories, spend a few minutes thinking of your mother, if she is gone and if she is still alive, call her.  She wants to hear your voice.

Happy Mother’s Day to all our wonderful readers. We love you!

Enjoy the ride.

xox Barclay and Joyimg_4275

 

 

 

 

Feeling Stuck? Clean a Toilet!

Sometimes we feel stuck.

This can be particularly true in retirement, when our 9 to 5 work, with its built-in sense of purpose, is behind us.

We may wake up and wonder, “What is my purpose today?”

Yoga classes and lunch dates do not a purpose-filled life make.  And that to-do list may vacillate between over busy-ness that has us frazzled and boredom that has us opening the refrigerator door way too often.

How to get unstuck?

The self-help books have many good and practical suggestions.

But what if we are too overwhelmed to make a gratitude list, or take a walk, or even say a prayer?

Look no farther than the bathroom.  There lies a toilet.

The seemingly insignificant act of cleaning a toilet can offer a sense of accomplishment, albeit small.  And this toilet-time may just propel us to do a push-up, make a phone call, or name something we are grateful for.

James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, advocates starting small – doing something eminently doable that guarantees success and evokes healthy habits.¬† He tells the story of one man who “resets his room” —

“When he finishes watching television, he places the remote back on the TV stand, arranges the pillows on the couch, and folds the blanket. When he leaves his car, he throws any trash away. Whenever he takes a shower, he wipes down the toilet while the shower is warming up.

This might sound like he’s just ‚Äúcleaning up‚ÄĚ but there is a key insight that makes his approach different. The purpose of resetting each room is not simply to clean up after the last action, but to prepare for the next action.”


 

So, feeling stuck?  Unmotivated?  Overwhelmed?  Start small.  Grab that clorox and clean a toilet.

This may not be the day you write a novel, complete a marathon, or even vacuum up the dog hair that’s rolling like sage brush across your rugs – but hey, you will will have a clean toilet!¬† And that’s something!

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Think small.¬† And do SOMEthing.¬† ¬†Don’t answer the refrigerator when it beckons you.

-Play loud, joy-filled music during your toilet-time.  Why not?

-Codie is chiding me now.  Get off your butt and take me for a walk.  She is right.  And Codie never feels stuck!

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

Screen Shot 2019-05-07 at 1.19.26 PM

Bind your Mind: Discovering Peace in the Midst of Stress

Life is stressful.

There is always an interview, a presentation, a trip, a to-do list, an illness, a difficult boss, a fractured friendship, unkind words, forgiveness that seems to stretch our ability to grant and now simmers below the surface of our smile.

Does it seem that your stress outweighs your peace?

Our bookshelves, Kindles, and podcast apps are littered with advice.

Brene Brown says we should divulge our vulnerability.

Marie Kondo says we should declutter our spaces and our lives.

Oprah and Dr. Phil¬†say,¬† “Name it to claim it”.¬† Claim happiness. Then go out and serve, read, exercise, and eat delicious food.¬† ¬†(And we have to admit Oprah looks mighty happy on her monthly magazine covers!)

Abraham Lincoln said,¬† ¬†‚ÄúFolks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.‚ÄĚ

The Bible too offers advice, though not the self-help kind, more the God-help kind.  The apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian church,

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable‚ÄĒif anything is excellent or praiseworthy‚ÄĒthink about such things.”¬† (Philippians 4:8)

I agree with all of the above.  But how to bind my wayward mind in order to attain peace?  Here are my top six practices.

-Make time to meditate.¬† Here’s a 3-minute¬†¬†breathing technique

-Focus on one-step living.  All you have is this very moment.

-Forget the “C” word.¬† Relinquish CONTROL¬† Ride the waves of life in the hand of God which could be the safest place to be.

-Follow Oprah’s advice and serve others.¬† Perhaps write a note (who does that these days??).¬† Go to Compassion International and select a child to sponsor.

-Pray in a palms-up; palms-down manner.  Are you worried about a wayward child, an upcoming social event, an unfriendly bathroom scale, or a scary test result on the horizon?  Turn up your palms and mentally place your concerns there, pray over them, then turn your palms downward.  I believe a power greater than any you could ever muster wants to carry your burdens.  (How do I know?  He is holding my own tears and redeeming my own sadness, even as I write this.)

-Give your mind a stern lecture.  Sing a song that makes you happy.  Name your gratitudes.  Check out a new recipe.  Declutter just one teeny weeny drawer.

 

Eleanor Roosevelt said,

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

 

OK, Mind, you have your marching orders for today.¬† Dream big; find beauty, and don’t let stress get the upper hand.

You’ve got this, Oh Mind of Mine.

 

 

Today’s Takeaway:

-Claiming happiness sounds great.¬† But really, it’s all about Doing Happiness.¬† Hey Mind, are you listening?¬† Get over yourself and make that call; try that recipe; sing.¬† Splurge on a new face cream or a nice bottle of red.

-Channel Eleanor Roosevelt.¬† A life well lived amid stress we cannot imagine.¬† Here’s her book on 11 keys to a more fulfilling life.

 

Enjoy the Ride!

xox

Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Younger Me…

 

Barclay here…

 

Dear Younger Me,

I’ve been meaning to share a few thoughts with you.

#1 – Worry less; Pray more

All that time spent worrying did not change a thing except to make you live inside your head and not in the world.  When Jesus sighed, “Oh you of little faith,” I think he was referring to YOU.  Yes you.  So, have faith in your God and stop being a worry wort.  It will cause you wrinkles and we DON’t want that!

#2  – Vulnerability is OK

Someone with a cool name will become very famous speaking and writing about vulnerability.  (Unfortunately, this woman will not be you.)  But take her message to heart.  Remove your mask and share your struggles (appropriately of course….a job interview for example may not be the right setting.)  Be vulnerable and seek community.

#3 – Avoid Mom-Guilt 

You may feel guilty for being a working mom, a stay at home mom, a mom who just prays that she doesn’t mess up her kids.  Seek the path that’s right for you; stop comparing yourself to those oh-so-perfect moms.  They don’t exist.  Do your best and spend time on your knees in prayer.  (And accept the fact that you will do stuff that does indeed mess up your kids.)

#4 – Be braver

Take risks.  Someone named Joy will want to blog with you.  Someone named Gina will ask you to jump out of a plane.  Someone named Brett will take you on a glorious marriage adventure.  And those kids whom you will undoubtedly mess up — will both bless and break your heart.  They will seek their own adventures, apart from you.  Don’t let them see your tears…be happy for them.

#5 – Drink more water

You really should turn your wine into water.  Drinking water is good for you and your skin will thank you.  Coffee and wine do not hydration make.

#6 – Slow down; Meditate; Look for blessings 

Breathe deeply; Look for beauty; Make time for pausing and reflecting.

#7 – Make the first things, first things

Find opportunities for volunteering.  Give of your time and money and don’t tell anyone.  God sees it all.  And His opinion is the only one that counts in the end.  By the way, this will be the LAST thing you want to do.  You will have to force yourself.  But trust me,  you will be refreshed more that you will refresh others, which probably is very little!

#8 – Forgive quickly

Don’t hold onto resentment from your childhood.  Keep short accounts with God.  Know that YOU are in need of forgiveness!  And I mean, daily.

#9 – Cherish friendships

Listen more.  Laugh a ton.   Oh, and of course, get a doggie!!

#10 – Wear sunscreen

You knew I was going to say this!!  That tan isn’t worth it.  You will be a regular at the dermatologist if you don’t wear sunscreen.  And those tanning booths of the 1980s were a BAD idea!  Your mother was right.  Of course.

 

More to come, YM.  You are not off the hook!

 

 

 

Joy here…

Dear Younger Me:

I could totally echo my fellow blogger and dear friend Barclay on the worrying.  If I could tell my younger self anything, it would be to stop the incessant worrying! STOP IT!!!!!!!!!

Listen up, YM,

It’s a complete and utter waste of time.  It never got you anywhere.  It didn’t make you feel better and it probably added a wrinkle and grey hair for each year you did it!!!

Listen up, YM,

Stop futurizing.  Another one of my very bad habits.  I once visited a house that friends of ours had bought in the early 80’s.  At the time, my husband and I were living in Chicago (where I would meet my dear dear friend Barclay).  I loved the Chicago suburbs and visualized a life there, in Winnetka or Highland Park or maybe Wilmette. White picket fence, Volvo station wagon, dog, 2 children…  I couldn’t get it out of my head and I drove my poor husband crazy talking about it incessantly!  Appreciate what you have in the here and now.  If it is meant to happen, it will, in time!  PATIENCE!!!!!

Listen up, YM,

Love your parents with all their faults and annoying habits!  You too will be a retiree one day (who knew?!!) and drive your children crazy with your habits! I loved mine with all my heart and being, but I truly thought they’d be around forever.  My mother, Muriel, passed away at 71 years old of diabetic complications. I never expected it and I was devastated.  She was my best friend and I would miss her so.

Listen up, YM,

SAVE, SAVE, SAVE.  I was a good saver, but when I started making money, real money, I went a bit crazy.  I bought my husband a gold Rolex watch and myself a fur coat.  I loved material things, which there is nothing wrong with, but, at the end of the day, a few more shekels in the bank wouldn’t have hurt!  Possessions do not make you happy.  They are just things.

Listen up, YM,

Echo on the breathing and drinking water.  Hydrate, take a few moments every day to think, get in touch with your inner soul  I was always rushing around. I stopped exercising for about 10 years after I had children.  I couldn’t find the time.  REALLY?!!  C’mon YM, not a very good excuse!  Make the time for you, no matter what!  Every day.

Listen up, YM, 

Don’t go to bed without washing your face and brushing your teeth!  Keep good hygiene habits and they will pay off later in life. I have great skin, primarily good genes, but I tried to do this religiously and it has, indeed, paid off.  Good job YM!

EAT BROWNIES!  They’re delicious!  No rationale needed here!

Today’s Takeaway… 

If only we could write letters to our  younger selves.  It’s not too late because at this age we are younger than we will be next year and the year after and the year after that. Think about what you want to tell yourself today.

You are the recorder of your life, the director, the producer, the author, your harshest critic.  It’s never too late to write those letters, but remember to read them.  They don’t do you any good if they are sitting on your hard drive!

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay & Joy