Finding your Zen

We were the generation that was always looking for something else, a higher power, peace, contentment, Zen.

After all, it was the Beatles who introduced us to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Transcendental Meditation. I certainly can’t see parents of the 50’s questioning the here and  now, wondering if there was more to life, spirituality. They were too busy coping with day-to-day life. For most typical 1950’s families, the father earned a living, the mother took care of the children, grocery shopped, managed the household, prepared the meals. Who had time for philosophical discussions with oneself!

We started the exercise craze with running, walking, stretching those limbs, bicycling, roller blading.  We wanted to keep moving, get our figures back fast after childbirth, be relevant, be vital,be in touch, be present, mindful.  

Suddenly, yoga mats were everywhere, apps for meditation, supplements for de stressing one’s life, retreats to get in touch with yourself, spas to unwind, massage therapy, aromatherapy, pet therapy, …  

A newly released study conducted by the Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance shows that U.S. yoga practitioners increased to more than 36 million up from 20.4 million in 2012. That’s a lot of rubber mats being sold!

Many Baby Boomers returned to the religion they were raised with, having veered from it as young twenty somethings.  It answered that need for more. Maybe we couldn’t do it all without a little help from a higher being? Maybe praying brought peace and hope.  It all makes sense when you think about the tumultuous times we grew up in and the rapid changes we were witnessing.

A 2000 New York Times poll reported that 70% of Americans described themselves as more or equally observant of religion as their parents.  81% expressed a belief in the after life, and 30% say they meditated regularly. To cap it off 90% participated in private religious experiences and a majority believe in miracles.  Wow, is the life we lead on a day-to-day basis not fulfilling enough, lacking in someway? I ask myself these questions because I have the time now! I didn’t before and so while they may have entered into my head, they were tucked away for a later date.  Retirement!

I remember my father in law’s wife (whom my husband and I never liked -another family story for a future blog) reading books on Buddha and Hinduism. I thought it odd, but now that I reflect back, I realize she was seeking something too. Though not a Baby Boomer herself, she was a person searching for more, not content with the present. This being about twenty-five years ago, it became clear to me that I am the age she was then!! So my conclusion is that we push these big thoughts aside until we have the time to reflect on them. This desire to achieve contentment and peace of mind is in our DNA.  How could we, the doers, the activists, the advocates, be anything but searchers in this next chapter of life?

Following in our footsteps, but getting a jump on the future, Millennials are not waiting . They are seeking happiness from the get-go.  I’d like to think it’s because we were good role models, but maybe it’s because they see how stressed out we are (were) and how we cope – in this technological world of split second  decisions and expectations of immediate gratification,

Interestingly, more Yale undergrad students registered for a first class on happiness  than any other course in the university’s history.  Nearly ¼ of Yale’s undergrads enrolled.

Now, if that doesn’t give us hope for the next generation, nothing will!  

Bravo Millennials!

Today’s Takeaway—

.Be a searcher, a seeker, always look for that place that gives you peace and contentment.  Don’t accept things the way they are. Unless you are in Nirvana already, there’s always room for improvement!

.Don’t judge other people’s practices, whatever they may be.  What’s right for one person often doesn’t work for another. Find your Zen and embrace it. 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

De-Friend your Scale and Boost your Metabolism

My scale and I go way back.  You might say we have a love-hate relationship.  In fact, my scale is a bit of a narcissist – demanding center stage in my mind where it wields more power than it should.

It’s fond of reminiscing about the previous day’s consumption.

Nuts, yeah they’re healthy, but probably not when you eat 5000 calories of cashews.  And speaking of calories, wine has more than you think. 

It’s time to de-friend this time guzzling device.  But first –  a word about our changing metabolism.

Yesterday a woman at my hair salon  lamented, “Once I turned 50, it seems I gain weight after just two bites of cake.” She’s right.  According to Women’s Health“Our metabolism takes a nosedive over the years.”

In our 20s, our metabolism peaks.  We burn the maximum amount of calories just by being alive.  In our 30s, muscle mass reduces and our metabolic rate drops. By the time we’re in our 50s and 60s, our hormones are depleted and we need to reduce our caloric intake substantially just to maintain our weight.

That scale gleefully reminds us Boomers that we are not in our 20s anymore. Or 30s. Or 40s. Or 50s.  Thank you so much.

But there’s a silver lining.

We don’t have to run a marathon or swim a mile, or even jump rope.  We can give our metabolism a kickstart by building muscle through strength training.

Women’s Health says, “Building Muscle is Non-Negotiable!   People who lift weights put on less belly fat as they age than cardio bunnies. Strength training gives your metabolism the biggest boost after your workout ends.  A woman who was sedentary in her twenties and thirties can actually have a higher metabolic rate in her forties if she exercises.”

OK, a personal trainer is expensive.  And so is a membership to a gym where we may not darken the door.

How about trying this 15-min workout?  All you need is a couple of 3-10 pound weights.

In addition to trying this workout,  I’m going to give my scale a talking-to.

Hey Scale,

You are not even in the Friend Zone.

You are free to date other people.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Let’s skip the scale and be nicer to ourselves.

-Let’s dust off the dumbbells and try for 15 min a day while watching Good Morning, America.  Our bodies will thank us. Plus, we get to drink more wine!

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

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Sophie says…

photo of Jessica and Sophie

Homage to Sophie

This post is written for my dear friend Jessica, whom I have known since we were 14 years old.  I am blessed to have several very long term friendships. I treasure them for one cannot duplicate the experiences a person shares when going from child to teenager to young adult, to 3rd chapter Boomer. Jessica and I have shared many memorable experiences together, but this is not about us, but rather her dog  Sophie.

Sadly Sophie was diagnosed with an aggressive tumor, quite out of the blue and at the tender age of 8. She was this little mop of a dog – furry, sweet, lovable, and adored by neighbors and kids on the UWS of New York City. In Jessica’s own words, “She was a puppy at heart until the end-bouncing around, behaving silly and making everyone laugh.  She was the mascot of her building-loved hanging out in the lobby to greet everyone.”

Sophie was trained to be a therapy dog and participated in an amazing program teaching empathy and building self esteem for middle school kids-a fair shake for youth.  She flirted with the other therapy dogs, used every opportunity to inch her way over to them and nuzzle.  It made everyone around her laugh.

What better role can a dog play (besides giving their owners unqualified love) but to bring joy to others who have so little, whether emotionally or physically impaired?  This was Sophie’s gift, her special talent and she did it with humor, tenderness, and compassion.

She came into Jessica’s life when she needed it most, having gone through a very difficult time. I truly believe dogs (cats too, if you are a cat person) are little people in fur suits who know us better than we sometimes know ourselves.  (metaphorically speaking of course)  They snuggle when we need a hug, nuzzle up to us when we need an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on.  They are there for joy, as well as sorrow and are never too busy to be there for you.  No dog has said, “Sorry, can I call you back later, I’m in the midst of something.”

To add a bit of levity to what is a very sad story, I must include the animal communicator tale. What’s that you said, “animal communicator?” “Put simply, animal communication is a silent, telepathic language that functions via deepened intuition.” (SheKnows)

 

An animal communicator was contacted (Jessica’s sister had suggested this in her hour of need) and a conversation took place via phone. The communicator informed Jessica that Sophie was stressed out and that she, Jessica, needed to lighten up.  “Too much negative energy!” Now this animal communicator was not told anything beforehand about Sophie’s tumor or that Jessica was faced with this life or death decision.  STRESSING HER OUT!!!  Really?

As Jessica told me this story over lunch at Barney Greengrass on the UWS, I was ready to fall off my chair laughing. Jessica knew that  out of all her friends, I would be the one to appreciate this the most.  I, who have always been superstitious, a believer in astrology, psychics, reincarnation, etc.  (We once went to Staten Island on a bus for an incredible reading by a woman that occasionally would be hired by the NYPD to help find missing children!  I digress…)

The animal communicator was then told about Sophie’s diagnosis to explain why there was stress and she proceeded to take a different approach.  She couldn’t make the decision for Jessica, but she did assure her that all Sophie wanted was to be near family and to feel loved.

Reiki was administered to both dog and human.  Jessica reported that suddenly Sophie started running around like the puppy she had always been.

Jessica knew that she had done everything she could and that Sophie understood and felt loved.

Todays Takeaway- 

.. Dogs (cats) are special.  They bring us joy and comfort.  As we age, perhaps, ever more importantly, they give us a reason to keep to a regimen, to let them out in the morning, to feed them, to walk them,to provide company, solace.  Never underestimate the power of a pet! Who knows, it might be someone’s soul inhabiting the body?  But that we will save for another post!

-Kacie and Colby (Barclay’s and my senior citizen dogs) are respectively 14 and 17.  We know their time with us on earth is limited.  Love them with all your heart and be sensitive to their needs, as you would want someone to understand yours.

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

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Can We Tawk?! WARNING: This post contains content that may be unsuitable for our immediate relatives, members of the opposite sex, and the more *ahem* puritanical.

Take a seat, because this is going to be an honest and frank discussion about a topic that doesn’t typically get the attention it deserves – not for our demographic at least. But this is 2018, and we’ve prided ourselves on being modern women all our adult lives – let’s buck up and be honest!

If you’re squeamish about women’s sexuality and sexual health (and let’s face it, many sadly are) proceed with caution.

Here we go…

There are some developments  Down There which become hard to ignore once you hit a certain age.

Down There may become a desert. That is, unless a laugh or sneeze causes an unwelcome squirt from not-the-right source.

Down There may turn on you and cruelly become a source of discomfort versus pleasure.

Down There may taunt you, saying “Use it or Lose it!” Yet who wants to use it if ones skin is akin to tissue paper and ones libido is gone with the wind. (And speaking of wind, let’s just say our control isn’t what it used to be.)

After all, IT is a muscle that needs to be flexed, exercised. We thought it would last forever! Why didn’t anyone tell us?!! We would have used it more at an earlier age! Wherefore art thou, Oprah? You helped us through menopause – now what about our post 60 sex lives?

Men have long had Viagra. But options for extending female sexual longevity are limited, to say the least. In the case where options exist, information is scarce, lacking in scientific evidence and largely inaccessible. Despite taboo, existing research has found that sexual activity in older age is strongly associated with improved mental health and overall wellbeing. (J. DeLamater, E. Koepsel. Relationships and sexual expression in later life: A biopsychosocial perspective. 2015; 3759.) Making the case for this important aspect of self care!

Thanks to modern medicine, we’ve been bestowed with the gift of “cosmetic gynecology”. You may be familiar with the euphemism, “vaginal rejuvenation”. If you think about it, one can lift droopy eyelids, sagging turkey necks, and cheeks on both your face – and your behind – so why not other parts of the female anatomy?  As it turns out, whatever you want rejuvenated can be! Like Miss Clairol used to say, “Only your hairdresser knows for sure…” Now your gynecologist knows too!

We’re all for doing what we can to improve ourselves – with the caveat that it’s not just about aesthetics. Many women experience pain with sex due to a variety of reasons, some of which can be treated with a simple surgical procedure. And an important side note – inner beauty is key… many past RR posts have echoed that. However, if it makes you feel better, inside or out, then we say –  get over the embarrassment, squelch the giggles, and go for that rejuvenated whatever!

One such procedure is the Mona Lisa. Click her innocent face below to find out more. Maybe Mona will share the secret behind that sly smile of hers!

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The website touts pictures of happy Baby Boomers who seem to have sparky and uncomplicated sex lives.  5 Things Nobody Tells You About Sex After 60 | Prevention
https://www.prevention.com/sex/g20432982/sex-after-60/

So did our coy ML have her namesake procedure? Only her gynecologist knows for sure!

We have to admit, she looks quite content!

Today’s Takeaway:

– See someone you can talk to, who is trained in Down There. There is very limited info out there on the safety and efficacy of  these treatments – so do your due diligence! Dr. Adam Ostrzenski is credited with discovering the G-spot, so our money is on him… Funny, we could have sworn it was discovered by a woman!

–  If Oprah isn’t chiming in, then we Baby Boomers should start being transparent about what’s happening and what’s not. Our health – even our sexual health – matters!

Be on the lookout for more Can We Tawk? posts!

Muriel and Peggy, you can come back now.  

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

Ye Ole Comfort Zone

My daughter, Alex, needed to produce a favorite quote to be published in her company’s news periodical – alongside a photo and an interview.  She selected one by Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In.

“What would I do if I weren’t afraid?”

When I googled Sheryl Sandberg, I discovered a plethora of inspiring quotes that someone like me needs to heed.

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Here’s my favorite –

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If offered such a seat, let’s just say I’d be running the other direction!

I love my Comfort Zone.  And now that I’m retired, it’s all too easy to bask in it.  To be a lazy bum and then condemn myself for being so, then open the freezer and reach for a Ben and Jerry’s Coffee Chocolate carton to seal the deal.

You get the picture.   Ms. Sandberg is not exactly my doppelgänger.  (Never used that word before.  How’s that for risk taking?!)

As we age, we need to guard against social anxiety (my middle name), self-induced isolation, and lazy bum-ism.

We don’t have to board a rocket ship, but we do have to MOVE.

In fact, the word, MOVE, can be a Rules-for-Life acronym for us Baby Boomers who are leaning-in – just not as Ms. Sandberg advocates.

M =  Mindful (THIS is our one life; And Time, she’s a mover.)
O =  Own your age (As you thinketh, so you are-eth – a loose Proverbs translation – by moi)
V =  Volunteer (even just a smile or kind word; a note; an hour a week with the elderly, the homeless, the “least of these”)
E =  Exercise (remember Peggy in her high heels?)

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We of an introverted nature may need a kick in the butt.  Reuters News published this 2017 piece that could be our butt kick.  Check it out if you have a minute.

Exercise linked to lower risk of premature death in older women

So goodbye, Comfort Zone, I’m heading out to play paddle tennis.  Then Codie wants to go to the nursing home.  And then I may meet a friend for a beer while Codie contemplates her canine life (food) alongside.

No need for a trip in a rocketship however.  Sorry, Sheryl!

Today’s Takeaway –

– MOVE – Be mindful of your days; own your age; volunteer; and exercise.

-Take that seat in the rocketship if that’s your thing.  I’ll drink my beer and applaud you from a safe distance!

Enjoy the Ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

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Just when you think…

Just when you think the memories you create with your offspring are long forgotten, something triggers a recollection from years gone by. When it happens, treasure it because it doesn’t happen often.

Such a thing happened a couple of weeks ago when my 30 year old daughter and I went on a shopping spree at Woodbury Commons. We had not done this for years and I knew it could go either way.  It could turn out to be a lovely afternoon looking for good buys on designer duds or a frustrating experience of a lot of window shopping, but no deals!

We arrived at 3:00 in the afternoon, which is kind of late for such an excursion, me not realizing this was 1 1/2 hours away from where we live. It was a Friday afternoon so I thought how many people could there be, not realizing that it now targets a huge Asian tourist demographic.  Since it is also close to several Chasidic communities, it was packed with them, although not sure why they weren’t rushing home to prepare for Shabbat!  I guess when a bargain calls you, one must answer-it’s in the Talmud!

My daughter is a big looker and knows her labels.  She was born into a family of designer conscious women, preceded by my mother Muriel (if you  have been reading http://www.revisionistretirement.com for the last five months) my grandmother Francis, and my great grandmother Sarah.  Her mission was initially a pair of Celine sunglasses, which she did find at Saks Off Fifth, but she managed to score a big coup with black suede Yves St. Laurent short boots reduced from $900 to $200!  My mother and grandmother were surely smiling! We had a lot of fun looking and she trying clothes on, best part being for the first time she bought everything herself! As we were walking, exhausted to the core, she asked me if I remembered a trip to Arizona where I was staying at the Biltmore for a work related conference. She had flown in from Southern California, where she was attending college and met me for a few days relaxation.  We drove to Sedona to see the beautiful red rock formations that it is famous for and bonded, as we had many other times. She brought it up out of the blue, as well as another memory of us going to Point Pleasant Beach in New Jersey on a work day (me playing hooky) to catch the last vestiges of summer on a September morn.  We then found a wonderful fish shack for lunch and ate steamers and drank wine.  My daughter, who I always think forgets these memories brought them up to the surface, related them to me, and touched my soul.  It made me smile to think of how much what I had experienced with her had meant to her. I always knew they meant a lot to me!  So when you think that it’s all forgotten by your adult age child, something magical happens and you are brought back to that special place!

Today’s Takeaway…

Treasure your time with your children and give them credit for remembering special times.  You may not think what you do will be remembered or even acknowledged, but it is and it will.

Make new memories for both of you!  It will make you smile in old age!

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

The Empty Nest – A Syndrome or a Celebration

I knew if I blinked the tears would fall.  So I widened my eyes and briskly hugged Alex, turning quickly so she wouldn’t see me cry.  She walked resolutely across the park-like Denison campus, keeping stride with a freshman roommate who had confessed to being ADHD and a slob within the first 5 minutes of meeting her.

I cried most of the 7-hour drive home.

With Alex gone, our nest was officially empty.  Wasn’t it just moments ago my daughter was a cheery toddler belly flopping on her bed, shoving a Goodnight Moon board book my way while arranging Bunny and Bankie alongside Chelios the dog (not too close as they didn’t get along)?  Wasn’t it just the other day 5-year old Jared was waving his Ninja Turtle numchucks in a carefully crafted routine – Brett and I applauding with appropriate seriousness?

I remember when our basement was loaded with Little Tykes molded plastic – that basketball net filled with sand at the bottom so it wouldn’t break in half from energetic dunking.  That Flintstone-like car that Alex beeped on her way to indoor destinations.

From now on our house would be uncluttered.  Laundry would be doable. Dinners would be simple.  And as for that crowded wall calendar we used to complain about – there would be no more games, practices, matches, recitals, or birthday parties.  No more visits to Chuckie Cheese or Great America  (thank goodness).   Its boxes would be stark.

This was the plan, right?  Parenting is about letting-go.  First to babyhood and bedtime stories and then all too soon – you’re handing over car keys taking them to see friends you don’t know about at events you’re not sure about.

For us clingers (we know who we are), the empty nest is bittersweet – even downright depressing. You’ve lost that motherly identity and day to day sense of purpose.

The Mayo Clinic  cites the Empty Nest Syndrome as the profound sadness some parents feel when their last child leaves home.  If left unchecked, it can lead to depression and anxiety, even alcoholism.

They offer the following suggestions to deal with this parenting inevitability.

  • Accept the timing. Avoid comparing your child’s timetable to your own experience or expectations. Instead, focus on what you can do to help your child succeed when he or she does leave home.  (Easier said than done – says me not Mayo Clinic.)
  • Keep in touch. Maintain regular contact through visits, phone calls, emails, texts.  (Be prepared that they won’t answer you, says me not Mayo.)
  • Seek support.  Lean on loved ones for support. Share your feelings.(Not a  chance, says me, not Mayo).
  • Stay positive. Thinking about the extra time and energy you might have to devote to your marriage or personal interests.  (OK, I’ll try, says me.)

 

Psychology Today adds, “Don’t expect to feel ‘excited’ per se at first. However, getting involved in new activities and interests will help accelerate your emotional adjustment.”

So whether you’re sad because of the empty nest or you’re distressed that your nest will NEVER be empty, the same game plan holds true–

-Practice self-care.  Meditation, yoga, walking, volunteering, reading, having drinks, coffee, a meal, anything with friends.

– Do NOT linger on Facebook images of perfect families, perfect lives!

-Stay curious. Plan trips. As hard as it is, tell your Comfort Zone to get lost.

-To the best of your ability, don’t seek out chocolate or cheesecake as solace.  Here’s a duh-thing from the NYTimes Smarter Living section  — giving in to food-temptations is oh so human.  Don’t beat yourself up. The trick is to NOT have the temptation within physical proximity.  If Ben and Jerry’s is in your freezer, then assume it will be in your mouth at 11pm.  Click the picture below for more.

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I am trying to practice what I preach.  (I love my comfort zone.) Our nest has been empty for a while, though Codie and Kacie are staring me down right now, obviously insulted, “What about US???”.  When I start to romanticize those Little Tykes days, I vow to open my Gratitude Journal — this IS a time to celebrate!

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Whether you have a full or empty nest, rejoice in the NOW.  It’s a gift from God.

-Also, remember that adage, “This too shall pass.”  Your Boomerang kids will eventually leave.  Make memories with whatever stage you’re in and KEEP BUSY!

 

Enjoy the Ride!  It’s the ride of your life!

xox

Barclay and Joy