A Tale of Two Faiths Part 1 – Spiritual Roots

Now that we are retired, Joy and I have time to reflect on our beliefs and faith practices.  Since we have different spiritual roots, we thought it might be interesting to share our journeys of faith, which are just that – journeys.

Barclay here –

I grew up going to church on Sunday mornings, singing hymns whose lyrics began, What a friend we have in Jesus and  Jesus calls us o’er the tumult of our lives’ wild restless seas.

As young children, Charlie and I were read bedtime stories, but not about Mickey Mouse or the Berenstein Bears.  Rather, our mother read aloud her paraphrased versions of Old Testament stories, written on a yellow legal pad.  We heard about David facing Goliath with but a sling and 6 shiny stones,  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo being thrown into the fiery furnace, blind Samson regaining his strength and crushing the columns of the Philistine’s temple killing himself and all those around him. Our mother eventually published these legal pad stories in a book called, In the Beginning.

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At Christmas time, our mother was counter cultural.  She deplored  the bearded jolly man (She even wrote an article called, “No Virginia, There is no Santa Claus.”)  Her children’s book, The Real Reason for Christmas, reminded Charlie and me that God had gone to extraordinary lengths to stoop down into human existence as a baby in a manger.   Christmas was all about Jesus.

So from a young age, I believed.  My faith was anchored in the stories of a God of love intervening into human life – forgiving sins, (David, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph were hardly perfect) providing strength in weakness, and showing love, mercy, and justice.

But as the hymn says, life has its “wild restless seas” and my mother’s faith, though an undeniable force, did not override her focus on outward appearances and her quick tongue.  And as I broke away from my mother in my teens and 20s, I also broke away from my faith.  Rather than reading the Bible, I read nice devotionals that did not challenge or inspire.  I adopted a lukewarm faith, that allowed me to look inward and not outward.

But then came parenthood.  And the realization that I needed God.  Desperately.  The God of David, Shadrach, Mechak, and Abednigo.  The God who sent his son, Jesus, a fulfillment of prophesy, to die for me so that each day of imperfect parenting could be a “do-over” – grace filled and led by one more powerful than I.  As David says, My sin was ever before me.  And I could no longer do this life on my own power.  That much I knew!

What do I believe today?

Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 

Micah 6:8.

What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.

 1 John 4:9-10.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

 

And when my seas become restless with waves of anxiety, fear, or grief, I believe that I have a friend in Jesus who calls me o’er the tumult.

 

Joy here-

I grew up the daughter of a mother who downplayed her Judaism and a father who came from an Orthodox family of 5 children, with a mother and father speaking Yiddish in their home.  My mother, Muriel, was very Reformed, as was her brother, Morton. Uncle Morty, I was told recently almost missed his Bar-Mitzvah because he was playing stick ball!  (millennials can look that up if you are reading our blog!)  My father was  a first generation American and my mother a 3rd generation American.

I was raised Reform and attended Sunday School for seven long years, attempting to learn Hebrew for most of those years, but definitely knowing my holidays. I was confirmed at 13, not Bat-Mitzvahed (they really didn’t do that in those days for girls) I was very proud to be asked to go up to the bimah ( a raised platform in a synagogue with a reading desk from which to read the Torah, Haftarah)  My parents had been married at this Upper West Side synagogue and my grandparents had attended services there as well, so it was considered an honor to be asked.  I recited a special poem, which I had memorized. I was proud to be turning 13 as a young Jewish woman.

Fast forward and who do I end up falling in love with?  A De Santo, not a Goldstein or a Goldfarb, but an Italian, blue eyed blonde who was raised Catholic!   You fall in love with a person, not the person’s religion, so I married out of my faith.  My parents took it well, although my father certainly would have preferred me to marry a Jewish boy, preferably a doctor or a lawyer, of which my De Santo was neither.  Handsome, promising, and very smart, I hadn’t thought about anything else at 23 years of age.

When we had children, we decided you couldn’t leave it up to them to decide (many people of my generation who  married inter-faith thought they could). At the time. I was a High Holy Days worshipper, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I said my prayers every night,  (the same ones my mother taught me when I was little- “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take) David attended church every Sunday so I balanced the decision in my head and went with bringing up the children Catholic. We celebrated all the Jewish holidays, but did have a Christmas tree and attended  mass on Christmas and Easter. I wanted to expose the children to both religions and have always felt as long as you believe in some higher being and can pray when you need to (or want to), that’s all that counts.

Today, one grown daughter is more aligned with Judaism, at least culturally, and the other considers herself a Catholic.

For me, I would describe myself as a Jewish girl from the Upper West side and proud of it!  I light Yarzheit candles, just as my mother did and her mother before her. I worship on the High Holy days, I fast on Yom Kippur, I observe Passover by abstaining from all leavened foods during the holiday, and I pray every night.  My religion is important to me. I feel a swell of emotion when I sit in a synagogue and hear the cantor chant.  It is a religion of tradition, beauty, ancient customs and belief in one G-D who is omnipresent and omnipotent.

I will pass down a very special white bible “The Holy Scriptures” given to me the day I was confirmed in 1968,  one year after the Six-Day War, also known as the Arab- Israeli War. I hope my daughters will carry it on their wedding day and will feel the depth of emotion that I do when I see it and hold it.

Today’s Takeaway…

Barclay and I share a deep commitment to our religions.  Though they are different, we both believe strongly and know that we are always in G-d’s hands.

It gives us both comfort to know that.

Thank you all for reading our musings, writings, perspectives, and very personal stories.

As always, enjoy the ride.

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joy Gets Her Groove Back!

Joy here–

 

So, it’s taken me 2 1/2 years to find my stride, to get my groove back. Retirement has not been an easy transition for me, but I think I have finally figured out what I need as a person in this _____ decade of life. (This is left blank on purpose for those who don’t know my exact age and never will!! I still have to keep that secret because I am quirky about age, as many of my friends know!)

I am a worker bee (as my good friend CC says, as is she.) While some can’t wait to kick back and relax, apparently I need to work in a job capacity.   While some want to try new things, take the time to explore and experiment that they never had time for while raising a family, working, juggling everyday life – I need a 9 to 5 structure.

So, I set out to find post-retirement work.

At first, I thought it was about seeing if I could still get a job. Who would want me? What was my skill set? Old ad sales people are not in high demand!! Then, I thought, what do I really need to be happy? An atmosphere where there is a buzz, a vibe, people coming and going. Chat. Interaction.

My husband does not need any of these things and kept saying to me, “find a hobby, take an online course, read.”  But I’m not a solitary person. I love to read, but I can’t sit there all day and do that. I have read more wonderful novels in the last 2 years than in the previous 5! That’s all well and good, but I need more. No matter what other people tell you, even your spouse, who knows me pretty well after almost 42 years of marriage, you know you best!

I need affirmation, confirmation, to be valued for what I can still bring to the table — an upbeat outgoing personality who wants to engage. People fascinate me, they interest me, I enjoy the banter that comes in a social setting, a working atmosphere.

So, this summer I found work!  (A full employment economy helped  Employers of menial type jobs are so in need of people who can at least add, subtract, and multiply, as well as speak in full sentences!))

My part-time job makes me feel useful, purposeful, responsible. It isn’t about the money. I’m paid hourly!!! I work with young people who have nose rings, tongue rings, and multiple tattoos, and they’re great!! There are also a few old fogies like me and we bring a certain gravitas to the job. We’ve been around and are wise! We give good advice and we listen.

I once worked with a young lady, Anne, years and years ago, who told me her parents made her work at the local Stop & Shop. She wasn’t poor, she didn’t need the money, but they wanted her grounded and responsible. I was so impressed by that and kept reminding myself that work fulfills a need for some — and me in particular.  My working is just what I needed. I feel healthier and happier than I’ve been in 2 1/2 years.

 

It reminds me of my mother, Muriel, who went back to work when I was in high school. She had a part time job at Columbia Health, a women’s clinic for students since we lived near the university. She was so proud of herself and us of her, that at Thanksgiving, she purchased one of those turkey ice cream cakes that Baskin  Robbins used to make ( don’t know if they still do) and when served at the table, proudly announced, “Compliments of Muriel”. She was very proud of herself for buying dessert with her own money! I will never forget that and every year as the holiday ( my favorite) approaches, I think of that and her.

So, Joy is back in her groove, enjoying a part time job, buying tickets to theatre with her own money, and sneaking an extra $100 or 2 to her daughter’s! Shhhhh! It makes me happy and it’s what I needed to do for me! There may be a day when I’m ready to do less, to play more, but I’m not there now.

Today’s Takeaway

– Be true to who you are. You know best what you need to be happy.  A little work never hurt anybody and it keeps your brain alive, no matter what you’re learning. It’s learning!!!

-Barclay and I thank you for sticking with us as we slowed down our weekly writings. Life has been fuller and that’s a good thing!!!

We have so much more to say, so stay tuned!

As always, enjoy the ride!
xox Barclay and Joy

On being a Grandma; Following Rosemarie’s Rules

Barclay here –

In her book, Becoming Grandma, Leslie Stahl describes grand parenting as “an unspeakable joy” where “your heart grows new chambers.”

This year I became a grandma.  And in this new role, I aspire to take after after my mother-in -law, Rosemarie.

You see, Rosemarie could have authored the Grandma playbook.

As a first-time mom, I embodied the “Peter Principle”  — meaning, I was in over my head.  But Rosemarie  kept her mouth shut while I fumbled with baby Jared.  She said NOTHING when I tried in vain to comfort my colicky, squirmy, sweaty infant.  Instead, she just told me what a great mother I was and then demurely asked it she could hold Jared (who must have felt instant relief there was a professional in his midst.)  She modeled what mothering looks like. Without words.

Rosemarie was also a faithful babysitter; a listening counselor; and she never missed a performance, a practice, a game – to which she always brought treats.  Among Alex’s high school tennis teammates, Rosemarie was Grandma to all the girls.

She was also a cool Grandma.  She took Jared to rock concerts,  encouraged Alex in her rock collecting, and made up silly songs and dance moves about Fig Newton cookies, of all things.

Rosemarie now lives in Phoenix, but she remains close to Jared and Alex.  Four years ago, she embraced a new grandchild  – Kathleen, Jared’s wife, whom she adores.

Rosemarie doesn’t bug her adult grandkids with daily texts and calls;  but she’s always got their back.  She prays constantly, and she’s enthralled with news, beaming when her grandkids reach out. Which they do.

So may I exude Rosemarie’s love and wisdom!   As my heart grows new chambers.  And I compose a silly song or two.

 

Joy here –

I am bursting with happiness for my dear friend Barclay!  She will be a wonderful grandmother.  She has learned from a pro! I only know Rosemarie through FB, but Barclay has described a lady who has taught her much and knew when to stay in the background, as well as when to shower special attention on her grandkids.

I, sadly, did not have grandparents growing up.  My father’s parents both died before I was born and my mother’s father died before I entered the world as well.  I was named for grandpa Jack, as is the custom in the Jewish religion, a great honor.  My mother’s mother was an invalid with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and was in pain most of the time when I visited her in a nursing home  as a very young child.

Many articles have been written about the positive effects of a having a grandparent close by who is involved in their grandchildren’s lives. (Research out of Switzerland and Germany has been published in the journal,  Evolution and Human Behavior.) It’s the caregiving, apparently that makes the difference —   not just being a grandparent who visits occasionally, but one who actually helps out.   No pressure on my children, but I’m counting on you for my longevity!

Just like I couldn’t wait to become a parent, I am hoping and praying that one day I will be called Grandma by some little kid.

So, in the meantime, congratulations to Barclay and Brett.  So happy for them both!  They will be amazing grandparents.

Today’s Takeaway –

Life is filled with many ups and downs, but becoming a grandparent is one of life’s pleasures (so I hear). Never take grandchildren for granted because not everyone gets to have them.

 

As always, enjoy the ride.

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

 

 

Get Thee to a Rock Concert (before all the rockers of our day die!!)

Joy here –

A couple of weekends ago our neighbors and good friends of 25 years
came up to our neck of the woods for a rock concert.  Our friends had
purchased the tickets months ago to see the great Santana with an
opening act by The Doobie Brothers.  (If, by some chance you are a
millennial who has found his or her way onto our Revisionist Retirement
site, don’t worry, way, way before your time!)

Having not been to a concert for a few years, I forgot how much fun
they can be. You instantly regress to your early 20’s with a little
swaying of your hips and a couple of glasses of wine.

On a summer evening in Saratoga Springs, a venue I had never been to before, our
little group and another 25,000 people, mostly looking to be in their
50’s, 60,s, and beyond, got lost in the hypnotic Latin rhythms of the
one and only Carlos Santana.  We knew all the words to the songs of
the 70’s, whether in Espanol or English.  It brought us back to a more
innocent time in our lives, uncomplicated, exploratory, one in which
we had our whole lives before us.  For 2 solid hours Santana played the
music of our youth, and with a nod to the 50th anniversary of Woodstock
(having taken place the weekend before), strangers danced on the grassy
knoll barefoot and lost in time.

 Music has a way of transporting us to a time and place that feels
familiar.  It brings back memories of another era.  Inhibitions melt
away as many of us got up to shake our hips and bop our heads in a way
that feels oh so familiar, but not moves our bodies make on a routine
basis!

With Elton John performing his farewell tour this year, the Stones
doing their 5th (I’ve lost track!) final tour, plus Barbara Streisand and
Queen, the price of a ticket is a magic carpet ride that will leave
you smiling all night and, maybe it will help you to remember the
person you once were (and can still be) when no one’s looking!

So, for all of us of a certain age, don’t be afraid to admit your love
for Barry Manilow or heaven forbid The Bee Gees (just watched a
special on PBS last week of a concert from 1997!)  It was a great time
to be young and I wouldn’t have wanted to come of age in any other
era.

Today’s Takeaway…

– Go buy a ticket to a rock concert.  Take off your shoes and dance, dance, dance.
Nostalgia is good, unless you get stuck in time.

-Allow yourself a ride back there whenever you feel like it, but always live in the
present, not the past.

As always, enjoy the ride
xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

Sleep, oh sleep, wherefore art thou?

(Barclay here)  It’s 3AM, and I am wide awake.  My mind replays the less than brilliant utterances of the previous day; following that, it imagine the day ahead with all its embarrassing possibilities.  And then, I begin my tossing and turning dance moves, trashing actually, much to the annoyance of Codie, our usually patient golden retriever, who groans audibly, detangles herself from the bundled sheets, and jumps to the floor, weary of my flailing feet and their impact on  her beauty sleep.

Does anyone actually sleep through the night?  When I ask my friends in their 60s and beyond, most report being night “thrashers” as well.  Some can’t get to sleep in the first place; and others wake up and can’t get back to sleep.

 

(Joy here) Sleep, something that should be so natural and uncomplicated has become my biggest health issue in this 6th decade of life!  Why didn’t someone write a manual on what to expect?!    Sleepless in Chicago and sleepless in Claverack New York, should be the retitled name of our retirement blog.

If I knew this was going to be a problem when I was a lot younger, I would have slept a lot more and had hours in the bank! TOO LATE NOW!  I’m trying to help the next generation here!

I have tried most over the counter medications including ZZZquil, Melatonin, both time release, which I was sure was going to work, Unisom, Avinol p.m. (Shark Tank liked the product so much they put money into it!  Clearly, they don’t have insomnia!)  and finally succumbed to seeing my doctor for a prescription.  I did this with great reluctance, although the deep circles under my eyes told me I better do something!  I have had great hope for all of these sleep aids and they have all let me down.  This week I went back to my old favorite, Sleepy Time tea with a chaser of a sleep aid an hour later.  I Googled this cocktail combination to make sure I wasn’t going to overdose and it turns out other people do the same thing.  The results were pretty good –so with an eye mask, a white noise sound machine, and my cocktail of choice, I caught some decent zzzzzz’s. One night does not make up for months of insomnia!

One of my friends suggested seeing a hypnotherapist.  I’d never thought of that, but I wanted to get to the root cause, not just put a band aid on it.  So, in 2 weeks (she was booked solid!) I will try my first session.  I’m up for treating this in a non drug way, if at all possible.  The issue with long term insomnia is that it gets embedded in our subconscious and you begin to think that you are supposed to wake up at 3.  You go to bed expecting that you will not sleep through the night and that is exactly what happens, like a little alarm clock going off.

Alfred Barrios, a psychology specialist compared the benefits of psychoanalysis to hypnotherapy for sleep disorders and found hypnosis helped 93% improve their sleeping after only 6 sessions compared to psychoanalytical therapy which required 600 sessions to achieve a 38% improvement!  Certainly, worth a try!  If nothing else, I figure I will get an hour’s worth of sleep!

To all our readers who sleep peacefully through the night, consider yourselves very lucky and for those who don’t, call or text Barclay and I, we’re probably awake!

Today’s Takeaway…

Sleeping is a blessing.  Deep sleep, uninterrupted with the exception of an occasional pee, is divine!

Talk to other people, share your experiences, it will at least make you feel better -you are in really good company! 60 million Americans have insomnia and can be counting sheep any night of the week!

As always, enjoy the ride

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does God think of retirement?

Is the concept of retirement in the Bible?

There’s one reference to retirement and it’s in the book of Numbers.  The Levite priests were to retire from their priestly duties at the age of 50.

Besides that, God is silent on the matter.

But he is not silent regarding the concept of work and purpose.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you, not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

Crown Financial says that we should view retirement as  an opportunity for “repurposement” rather than a cessation of work.

“The problem with today’s attitude towards retirement is that it completely negates an integral aspect of God’s design – that we were created to work. It also normalizes something that was never intended to be normal – not working.”

So what is our new work?  Our new purpose?

Crown says that the Biblical view of retirement is —

“Freeing up our time to devote to serving others more fully without the necessity of getting paid for it.  It is time to repurpose how and why we invest our time and resources.”

Back to those Levites from the Old Testament.  Upon being released from their duties, they did not join a golf club and work on their chipping and putting; they did not devote hours to perfecting their down-the-line backhand.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with those activities.  I am still trying to get out of a sand trap in less than four attempts!)

The Bible says that the  retired Levites were to “assist their brothers in performing their duties.”

So we retirees can “assist”.  We can assist our church, our neighbors, our families, the homeless, or a cause we are passionate about.

The Bible also says we are to think of the next generation.

“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.”  Psalm 71

So maybe you want to become a “cuddler” — a holder of babies in the NICU of a hospital.

Maybe you want to work with therapy horses, as Joy has done.

Or maybe you can simply devote extra time (which we have) to praying for the sick.

Or if you are a knitter (which I am not), you can make hats or blankets for those in need.

Whether we are knitters, pray-ers, cuddlers, God seems to be saying that our re-purposement is to assist others.

We should, however, take exception to that phrase, “old and gray”.   We may be old, but we don’t HAVE to be “gray”, right?

In fact, I find myself getting more blonde as the years go by — a miracle of Red Sea proportions.

Or a testimony to the skill set of my hairdresser, whom I see with increasing regularity.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-I just discovered that being a NICU “cuddler” is a sought after role.  Se we need to apply today!

-And it’s OK to get better at exiting a sand trap or becoming blonder with the passing years.  It’s just a matter of knowing what truly matters when it’s all said and done.   And most likely it’s holding a sick or premature baby while sitting in a rocking chair in a NICU.

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox

Barclay and Joy

Know Your Body!!! It’s Speaking To You.

woman standing on mat

Photo by theformfitness on Pexels.com

As a woman, you probably can relate to the dreaded annual tests we all should undergo , that of a mammogram, ultrasound for those of us with dense breasts, perhaps, a PSA, if you are a man of a certain age, and even, my favorite, the colonoscopy.  All joking aside, this was a very tough week for me because I had experienced symptoms associated with colon cancer.  Thank you internet, thank you Web MD, and thank you to my father who helped make me a hypochondriac.

When you know your body well (as you should) you notice subtle changes, patterns, variations from the norm.  From the research I did online, I thought my body was telling me something. GO SEE A GASTROENTEROLOGIST!

With this in my head, I became fixated on the disease and became convinced I had something seriously wrong with me!

Though the prospect of a diagnosis is very scary, it is something you must do if you suspect something is going on in your body.  Early detection is key.  According to WHO (The World Health Organization) each year 8.8 million people die from cancer, many of them are in low income and middle income countries without access to adequate testing. In the United States, we have no excuse and owe it to ourselves and our families to take advantage of diagnostics.

So after preparing with a delicious cocktail of laxative and Gatorade, 32 oz bottles no less, twice (how can anyone consume this much liquid and not barf?!!) As anyone who has ever undergone a colonoscopy, (thank God, they changed the thinking to every 10 years now!) you know being near a toilet the day before is critical!

The day of the test came and I soldiered on. With butterflies in my stomach and negative thoughts of doom and gloom, I drove myself with my husband at my side an hour away to make sure my colon (now  extremely clean!) was healthy.

I didn’t even get a solid sleep during this procedure since no anesthesia was used. I guess this hospital has a shortage of this specialty! It’s Albany, not New York or Chicago!  A sedation of some sort, but I still felt the scope being turned around inside of me and talking between the 2 nurses.  Before I knew it, the procedure was over, routine I’m sure for any gastro doctor.  Diagnosis- all clear!  No polyps, no growths, phew!  I was soo relieved to hear and knew that I could put my worries to bed, at least until some other symptoms crop up pointing to another disease. I am, after all, my father’s daughter.

Today’s Takeaway…

Know your own body.  Don’t ever dismiss anything that seems out of your normal pattern.  That goes for pooping too!

You have one life to live and it’s precious.  Take your annual diagnostic tests every year without fail.  Remember,  early detection can make all the difference.

Enjoy the ride.

xox Barclay and Joy