Got an EPH?

EPH-no it’s not an acronym for a PH balance shampoo!

EPH stands for Ever Present Husband.  Got one? 

My (Joy’s) husband retired several years before me, patiently waiting for me to join him in this next phase of life.  By the time I joined him in retirement, he was master of the home front.

He had always worked from the home and had taken the lead role in the chores that stay at home moms usually do — helping with homework, preparing meals, being the voice of reason when the kids fought with each other, taking the dog for walks.   

I commuted daily and often stayed late in the office; so ours was not the typical scenario for suburban New York during the 80’s and 90’s.  I was out of the house from early morning until evening.

So a career later and the fanfare of retirement gone —  I came face to face with my EPH.

I had heard of women complaining that they couldn’t be alone anymore, that this person that they shared a bed with was always there, omnipresent. When you go to work everyday and only share weekends with this EPH, you don’t appreciate your space and independence.  It’s just what you know as life.  

I began to notice that my husband doesn’t have a lot of hobbies —  no golf,  no tennis,  no gym rat is he.  My EPH is an intellectual type who can linger on his laptop all day working on projects, broadening his knowledge base for the sake of learning.

I on the other hand have always been a transactional person, someone who needs to see the payback before I put the time into it.  Black and white, so to speak.  That’s why I was a good trader and a natural born salesperson.  You buy a stock, you sell it, you book a profit.  You have a sales quota, you achieve it, you earn a commission; you sell more than your quota and you earn a bigger commission!  It’s so simple to see the payback, the fruits of your labor.

Naturally, my EPH and I entered into this retirement chapter quite differently, me Type A, and he, well, a letter further down the alphabet.

So, what do you do with this EPH?  

The funny thing is that the EPH doesn’t know he’s an EPH. He doesn’t have anywhere that he needs to be and after all, it’s his house too.  Retirement tends to create a level playing field so, at some point whether you were a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, an entrepreneur, a doctor, lawyer, Indian Chief, you just become an EPH eventually!

Today’s takeaway  —

  • Continue to have your independence —  have lunch or dinner with friends, attend cultural activities, find and follow passions.

 

  • Find common activities that you can do with your EPH.  In our case, we have taken up hiking, getting those legs and arms moving; we’re talking  inclines, intermediate to advanced hikes that make you catch your breath and sweat. All good and something we can do together until we can’t!

 

I also really never thought about it, but was I now an EPW?  An Ever Present Wife?  Admittedly,  I have my own quirks, my annoying habits (albeit fewer than my EPH!) I have been selfish in only viewing life from my own looking glass.  ‘It takes two to tango’, my mother always said and she was wise beyond her 1950’s housewife years.  

I finally get it.  

This is an opportunity to see each other in a new light —  accepting our faults, but most importantly, reigniting that sparkle, that chemistry – with intentionality.

Go for it!  You have the time!

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox, Barclay and Joy

 

Of Leisure and Lobsters

The dictionary’s synonyms for retirement sound bleak — pullout, retreat, withdrawal.  Related words are even worse — recoil, rout, disengage.  And how about these uplifting phrases – seclude oneself, sever connections. Antonyms to retirement connote positivity —  advancement, increase, join, begin.

This retirement season may be trickier to navigate than we thought.

Of course Joy and I (Barclay) counted the years.  It’s the American Dream.  Only 8 more years.  5 more.  Only 2!!  We can do this.  Then BAM…it happened.  2017.

And we left our posts with fanfare.  Joy had a reception with applause, cake, and a speech.  I had no less than 5 celebrations — one on a boat!  Much toasting and clinking. 

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Then the limelight left and reality settled in.  

Our nests are empty.  Our kids don’t return our texts.  Facebook boasts photos of babies with 2 month plaques; soccer kids holding trophies; engagement photos that look like they came from a frame in Target’s home decor aisle.  Our FB pictures consist of us and a glass of wine.

Our mom-hood days are over.  We’ve never been less needed. Our to-do list gets done. By noon.  And annoyingly, no one bats an eyelash when we say we’ve retired.  “No, that just couldn’t be; you’re too young!”

But let it be said, we are the lucky ones.  We GET to retire. 

Yes, we scrimped and saved. But things worked out.  We were not downsized (at least that often).  Our 401ks survived the recession; Social Security and Medicare are not yet on life support.

So we’re grateful — AND we’re going to take issue with Merriam Webster.

May we never sever.  

May we refuse to seclude. 

Instead, we will advance and engage!  In what, who the hell knows —  and there lies the tricky part.

My dad,  a retired Pan Am pilot, said you have to earn your weekend.  In other words, leisure is only fully enjoyed when preceded by labor.  Someone else observed that lobster starts tasting like soap when you’ve overindulging.

So join Joy and me, your Baby Boomer retirement partners, as we embark on a mission to discover new passions, create new opportunities, and hopefully along the way, earn our leisure and our lobster.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

  • Take a Gratitude Walk.  Check out birds, colors, trees.  Count 10 blessings.  Silence any whining or worry that tries to creep into your brain.
  • And if you can’t think of anything you’re thankful for, be grateful you’re breathing!

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox, Barclay and Joy

The Power of Friendship

Okay, so who would guess that 36 years later, this woman who lived in the same Chicago apartment building and I would write a blog on retirement!  After more than a couple of marriages, 18-plus jobs (only 6 on my resume, but who’s to know?), 5 dogs, 2 houses, 4 children (between the two of us) and here we are!

Why us? Well, if we survived all that life throws your way and still remained such good friends, though we haven’t lived in the same state for 31 years, then we were meant to write our musings on retirement together! In Yiddish, one would say it was Bashert! Meant to be, destiny!

Our friendship was cemented when we trained for the Chicago Marathon one extremely hot summer.  As 26 year olds (God, we were young!) we talked about our work day, our husbands, parents, what we were doing for weekend.  We somehow breathed and kept our training pace even though we gabbed the whole way. It was a great relief from daily stress, both of us being in the finance industry, Barclay in municipal bonds and me institutional equities.

How we loved our 80s business suits and bows – a short lived fashion trend.

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This would become a great friendship! 

Fast forward and I retire at 62, Barclay 6 months later, me from financial publishing, she from teaching. The two young girls had grown old together, had a full life of achievements, accomplishments, disappointments, joy mixed with frustration, in other words, LIFE!

This chapter we’re now in –  post-job –  well, you just don’t know what it’s going to be like until you get there!   Barclay and I are seeing it similarly — and hence the idea of the blog was born!

Who better to write than two great friends!

Today’s Takeaway –

  • Foster friendships!  Reach out.  Have a drink or coffee with a buddy.  Be intentional. 
  • Listen more than talk.

Enjoy the ride!

xox, Barclay and Joy

Retirement – It ain’t all it’s cracked up to be!

Maria is a veteran teacher who turned down the retirement incentive package offered last spring – something I (Barclay) and 25 eligible others jumped at.   

This was perplexing.  Maria had tons of retired friends who kept busy lunching, volunteering, reading book club selections with time to spare.   

And it wasn’t as if she was passionate about the daily grind of work. So why did she leave money on the table?

Her response?   How many times can you clean the house?

She anticipated isolation.  Watching too much CNN or MSNBC.  Waiting for an invitation to visit her grandkids.

Did Maria have a point?  5 months into retirement, I get it.

On the one hand, I have been liberated from team meetings (no more role playing!), evaluations, testing.  I’ve said good-bye to jarring alarm clocks, anxious rush hours, Monday angst, and Sunday blues.  

But oh how I miss the kids.  The magic of a first grader sounding out a word, a second grader reading a sentence with expression.  Even conferencing with parents.

Where’s my purpose now?  To Maria’s point, it’s not vacuuming the dog hair that rolls like stage brush through our living room.   And lunches, though wonderful, simply don’t cut it.

 

Today’s Takaway –

  •  Find your sweet spot of service.  
  • Who are your new “people”?  From toothless babies to toothless dementia patients – someone needs us.  Right? 

 

I think I’ve found my people.  Some mumble incoherently and some lick their paws. Every Friday I take my crazy Codie to visit a nursing home. She has made friends with Sylvia shaking with Parkinson’s, Father Edward battling throat cancer, Doris who tells the same story each visit, and Anna who gushes Polish love.  

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Maybe the word, retirement, is a misnomer.  Look at Jimmy Carter and Rosalyn’s second chapter of life-  putting Habitat for Humanity on the map.  Recently President Carter was chomping at the bit to get his hammer back after undergoing treatment for an annoying brain cancer.  

90 something.  In their sweet spot of service.

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Maria was right about one thing.  Vacuuming is overrated!

 

SO… WHAT’S YOUR SWEET SPOT?

unnamed     Codie chilling.

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox, Barclay and Joy