Living in the NOW

In her later years my mother endorsed Eckhart Tolle’s best seller, The Power of Now.

Peggy saw no reason for dawdling in the past and rehashing the Done.  She grabbed each day – waking with the sun and attacking her projects – prepping for Bible teaching, planning the next party, volunteering at the day care center.  In her immutable style, she was fond of saying, “You have to get off your ass”.

Tolle would agree. “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”

The Bible also speaks about living in the present.  “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.”

“THIS is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

The latest buzzword for living in the present is “mindfulness”.  And we retired Boomers have ample opportunity to practice this practice.

But first I have to admit – I am lousy at this.  I have befriended anxiety;  fear is my longtime pal.  And my glass is usually half empty.  God must look at me and sigh.

SO, in the interest of evoking a smile from God, I’m going to be intentional about living in the NOW. Want to join me?  Here are some “tricks” offered by  Health Line  to reduce anxiety and promote mindfulness.

 

Set an Intention

“Setting an intention can help you focus and remind you why you are doing something. If something gives you anxiety — like a big speech at work — set an intention before it takes place. You can set an intention to take care of your body before heading to the gym or to treat your body with kindness before eating.”

Turn Household Tasks into a Mental Break

“Instead of obsessing over your to-do list or clutter, let yourself relax into the moment. Dance while you do the dishes or focus on the way the soap runs down the tiles while you clean the shower. Take five slow breaths while you wait for the microwave to stop.”

 

Wish Other People Happiness

“You only need 10 seconds to do this practice from author and former Google pioneer Chade-Meng Tan. Throughout the day, randomly wish for someone to be happy.  You don’t have to tell the person, you just have to send the positive energy.”

 

The author of Health Line, Mandy Ferreira, also suggests we take walks, look up, pause at traffic lights, take a break from social media, lose our phones for a bit.

And then she adds an interesting point.  We can actually feel anxious about  not being mindful enough!  She says that Netflix has its time and place.  (Phew…I’d hate to forego the next season of the Bachelorette!)

So let’s channel Peggy and Eckhart and  enjoy the gift of NOW – while we get off our asses.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

  • Don’t let worry rob you of your NOW moments.
  • Pick one trick and give it a go.  I like the one about dancing while doing the dishes. No one’s looking.  Well maybe my golden retriever, Codie, will turn away in horror.

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

Facing Fear: JOY WALKS ON FIRE!

One Saturday night my husband and I decided to attend an early celebration of the Spring Equinox, which would include fire walking!

I had seen this sort of thing done by Tony Robbins and was familiar with Deepak Chopra  who helped to popularize it. It was either this or celebrating St. Patrick’s Day Mexico style with Irish stew at Funky Finn’s, a local music venue for drinking and dancing.  Fire walking intrigued me. The event was promoted on FB showing 60 other crazy people thinking of doing the same thing on a Saturday night.

My husband and I showed up tentatively planning on listening to the coach, a hippy looking Baby Boomer with long white hair and a casual air.  There were only a few people at first nervously signing a list of attendees and being asked to donate for the evening’s expenses. So, for 300 pesos (about $17) we would tempt the fates and walk on hot coals of between 800 and 1700 degrees farenheit!!!!!!!!

More and more people showed up, both locals and Gringos, which was nice to see and we began. The coach has been doing this with his wife for many years.  (I wondered, does he have a resume that says certified fire walker?)

He spoke of losing your fears, having a relationship with the fire, changing one’s life, etc. A little cult-y sounding, but my interest was piqued. We were asked to write down on a piece of paper the things we wanted to get rid of in our lives on one side and the things we wanted to welcome into our lives on the other. My husband made suggestions!  I wrote down my own flaws (the few I have!) and what I hope to bring into my life after this altering experience.

We then were asked to come up one by one and throw the piece of paper into the burning fire.  Very symbolic to be sure.  As the sun was setting and darkness beginning to envelope the crowd, the fire was deemed ready.  The coals have to be almost ash, but glowing red for the walk to begin.

The coach explained the scientific reasons for why people don’t go up in flames or leave with 3rd degree burns.  There was no ambulance on site so I guess he knew what he was doing! He told the group that each person would come up, stand in front of the coals that had now been placed on a piece of turf, and make the split  decision to walk or not walk. Caminar or no caminar. I thought I was going to walk, but wasn’t 100%, nonetheless my husband was on board.  Being competitive and knowing I may not have this opportunity again  back up North, I was going to walk too!!

A bit scary, but after watching several people do it walking at a comfortable pace (not supposed to run screaming!) I was psyched.  It felt hot, but not unbearable and I stayed fixated on the fire.  Mind over matter at its utmost. With people cheering each person who completed the walk with hoots and hollers, I was on a high!  A fire high! I have a small blister on one foot, that the coach called “fire kisses”.  Many people who do this get them, so I am now officially in the fire walkers club. Oprah has nothing on me!

Today’s newsletter, called ‘I’ve Been Thinking”, by Maria Shriver, whom I read religiously every Sunday, just happened to focus on fear.  How apropos.  “Fear.  It’s one of the scariest and most complex emotions that we face as human beings.  It can paralyze us and stop us in our tracks.  Or, it can motivate us to keep fighting and keep pushing forward.”

Today’s Takeaway

. Maria said it best. We must push through fear.  It is the one emotion that plagues every human being.  The idea is to face it head on and prove to yourself that you can do anything!!

.Take advantage of opportunities that come your way. It could have been an ordinary Saturday night or a celebration of St. Patrick’s Day at Funky Finn’s.  This was so much more, a memory and an accomplishment I will remember forever.  Best part, my husband and I did it together!

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

Making a Difference

In 2002 Jack Nicholson starred in a movie called About Schmidt.

Nicholson played Warren Schmidt, a grumpy curmudgeon retiring from his actuarial career  – facing the fact he’s no longer needed. His wife annoys him, his daughter’s about to marry a “nincompoop”; their new Winnebago bodes travel plans that he dreads.

Then his wife drops dead and he’s alone. Sounds uplifting, right?  Bet you can’t wait to find this on Netflix.

So let’s zoom to the redemption part.

Schmidt responds to an ad and sponsors a boy from an African village.  He starts writing letters to this boy – chronicling his Winnebago misadventures traveling cross-country to his daughter’s wedding.

At the very end, having endured perky campers and wedding weirdness, Schmidt reflects, has his life made a difference?

Now for the good part.  Finally.

Once at home he discovers an envelope  from Tanzania. A nun from an African orphanage tells him that his sponsored child, Ndugu, is only 6 and can’t read or write.  But Ndugu has enjoyed Schmidt’s letters and thinks of him everyday. Ndugu wishes for Schmidt’s health and happiness. He has made a picture for Schmidt which he hopes he likes.

 Schmidt starts crying as he realizes he HAS made a difference in his life.  Click redemption. to see Nicholson at his best. 

Enough about Schmidt.  Now About Us.  

We do NOT want to be remotely curmudgeonly.  And we DON’T want to wait for our final years to be reflecting, have we made a difference?

Each day we can make a difference in small ways.  Anonymous giving is the best!

Last summer Brett and I were sipping wine at a Wisconsin bar.  The bartender told us he was saving money to visit his young son.  After we signed the bill and the bartender had turned his back, Brett snuck a $100 bill under the napkin.  We scurried out. Unfortunately, the bartender, being young, sprinted after us to shake Brett’s hand. At least we tried to be anonymous!

My friend Donna once dropped off a delightful book at my front door and was mute about it for a full year.  She giggled when I finally figured out that she was the gift-giver.

And what’s retirement for, if not more giggling?

 

Today’s Takeaway –

 

  • Small things are big things.  Pay someone a sincere compliment – one  that the person can live on for the next month. 

 

  • Let’s do our best NOT to over-share about those arthritis aches or upcoming bunion surgeries.  Even Schmidt would lose interest!

 

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

Age…Just a Number?

My mother, rest her soul, used to say age is just a number. Yet we never knew exactly how old Muriel was until the day she chose to file for social security!

We never spoke about actual ages in my household. We all knew Muriel was quirky, the most wonderful mom in the world, but someone who was a bit wacky, eccentric, unique. (Thank you, Muriel, for providing me with fodder for my writing!)

I come from a long line of ancestors who didn’t discuss age including my grandmother. It’s not anything terrible and if a little white lie makes you feel better and doesn’t hurt anyone in the process, what difference does it make? At least, that’s what I was always told. Mind you, this is the same person that told me it was okay to take a butterscotch candy or peppermint from the bin at Woolworth’s to taste. (Those of you who don’t remember Woolworth’s or The 5 & 10 have no business reading this blog!) That’s what they were there for. Lucky, I didn’t become a kleptomania!

Muriel never looked her age anyway, good genes, so when she filed for social security ( only because my father made her) it was then made known that she was about 6 years older than we had always thought. The funny thing was that Ben, my father, was always advancing his age, so at 82, he was almost 83! He was proud of the age he had lived to and didn’t care about the number or what anyone thought.

So, following in her footsteps and being a bit nutty myself, I always fudged the number. I had a lot of friends who were a good 10 years younger than I so I  just considered myself just like them.

My husband being 6 years my senior ( for real) was already retired and waiting for me to join him so we could do the things we had always wanted. So at 62 ½ I decided to leave the workforce. I had worked for 42 years, made the sacrifices, got up to an annoying alarm clock, took Metro North into the City when I definitely wanted to stay home and play. This was my time.

Many of my friends thought I was retiring early, maybe I was 50 something, one of those women whom you’re just not sure about. And it really wasn’t that early, a few years ahead of my actual full retirement age. Who knew they pushed the age up a year for us second wave of Baby Boomers. Sneaky those government folks!

So here I am having achieved that status in life that I had been waiting for and now 5 months later and I’m still reflecting on the decision.  

What I am learning is that retirement’s a time of life that requires the right attitude, mental adjustments to freedom and discipline to make everyday meaningful.

 

A weekend just isn’t the same when everyday is Saturday and Sunday!

 

Today’s Takeaway—

. This is a tough one, because I could lie and say age doesn’t matter.  It’s just a number. Blah, blah, blah. I will have to come to grips with this slowly, on my own terms. I’ll get there eventually.

. Always look your best.  Just because you’re not going to an office environment anymore, doesn’t mean you can’t put some blush on, a pair of earrings, a nice blouse or pants.  You are looking good for you! Your harshest critic should also be your best fan!

 

Enjoy the Ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

Early bird specials and “How many specialists are you seeing this week?”

It occurred to me, that even though I wasn’t living in South Florida, many of the patterns of retirement life I had seen my parents undertake, were creeping into my life here in Mexico.  How could that be?!  I tried so hard to be “me”, the generation of “we are nothing like our parents”, activists, protesters, women’s rights, equal pay, gender equality, etc.

These thoughts came to me today as I saw a dermatologist for my yearly body check.  Well, I had to!  I was at the beach for 2 weeks this winter.  What if I had a pre cancerous growth? Beauty marks can be foolers! What about those pesky little red dots you get as you age?  What are they? Web MD can only diagnose so much! So all good on the body check and for 400 pesos, ($21.51 at today’s currency conversion) I have peace of mind until next year.

While I was there, since this particular clinic has all the major specializations one could possibly want (cardiology, hematology, ophthalmology, dermatology, gynecology, neurology, internal medicine, laryngology, oncology, all under one roof!  A hypochondriac’s dream!  Woody Allen, come on down to Ajijic!! I figured before heading back North, I would see as many of them as could fit into my remaining weeks.  I made an appointment for my yearly gyn exam, ophthalmology (checking on cataract progression-something to look forward to!), and last, but not least, the annual mammogram, also known as squeezing one’s breast tissue as tight as humanly possible for the sheer pleasure of the technician administering the test!) For what it costs to see a specialist here, I want to get every body part checked and given the Good Housekeeping seal of health.

On the topic of eating early, most kitchens close here in Ajijic by 8. There are no diners, no pizza joints, no Chinese food at midnight.  You have to make the decision to eat dinner by closing time or make it yourself at home.  I’m retired!  Been there, done that for 40 years!  So, while there may be no menus that say “Early Bird Specials”, a reminder we , are not our parent’s generation, eating early is still eating early. I had read some weeks back that “the early bird special” was dying out with the previous generation. From http://www.eater.com, Jan 29th 2018, “The Extinction of the Early Bird. Baby Boomers  are driving the early bird to extinction.”… Millennials might be killing chains, but boomers and the ailing middle class are killing the mascot of South Florida retirement.” Boomers want to eat on their own time.  We don’t want to skimp nor do we want to eat dinner at 4:30 in the afternoon. I eat lunch at 2 so am not hungry for dinner until 8! I guess my appetite has to catch up with my chronological age!

Today’s Takeaway-

. Try as we must, our lives often mimic our parents.  Not so terrible, as long as we don’t succumb to feeling old!

Good health is so important and we must never take it for granted.  Each day is a gift and the older we get, we realize this more and more.  In a retirement area where people use walkers, canes, and some can’t stand up straight, the gift of  good health is a blessing.

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stepping Off the Treadmill

“Back on the treadmill!” my colleague would announce every Monday morning,

A classroom teacher’s treadmill is set to sprint-mode. No warm-up.  There are staff development sessions that threaten to never end, lesson plans that look great on paper, new initiatives that appear suspiciously recycled, parent-teacher conferences, and 25-plus kids to manage every minute of every day.

Have you seen those Said-No-Teacher-Ever quotes?

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Even the most dedicated, passionate, beloved classroom teacher looks forward to life beyond the treadmill.  Ah, to read a novel, take a walk, have an adult beverage on a Sunday night. Monday night.  Tuesday night.

But stepping off that treadmill is not as easy as it sounds.

Joy and I are in our first post-work year.  And we’re trying to find life-balance beyond the treadmill.  Retirement, we’re thinking is a misnomer.

Whether you’re in the work force or not, there is a human need for productivity.  We are wired to work (just not to be consumed by it.  “If only I had put in more hours at the job” said no person ever at the end of his/her days.)

But working encompasses more than a paycheck. You’ve no doubt heard of the 5 basic human needs in the workplace.

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These human needs are still present in retirement.

In one  fascinating study.  participants sat in an empty room for 15 minutes, alone with their thoughts.  The majority actually chose to give themselves an electrical shock to avoid boredom.  Boredom is unhealthy for the human spirit.

The BBC recently reported that being bored can “push people to harm themselves; a proneness to boredom was linked to a tendency to smoke, drink too much, and take drugs.”

And who has not lingered at the refrigerator door looking for something, anything, to consume – out of sheer boredom?

So, may we ignore that beckoning couch where season 3 of The Crown awaits alongside a Costco size bag of Skinnypop.  (Well, just not that often!)

Retirement means finding the interval setting on our treadmill  — taking naps but also embracing productivity (sports, volunteer opportunities, teaching or taking a class) — activities that would put our couch and refrigerator to shame.

And then and only then do we get to open that Skinnypop bag!

And maybe eat the whole thing.

Today’s Takeaway:

  • Find activities where you matter. There’s a people group somewhere waiting for YOU.  They may be yearning to be read to or waiting for their house to be built.
  • Seek life-balance.  There’s nothing wrong with binging on The Crown, the Bachelorette, or The Voice — which I am recording even now!

Enjoy the ride!

xox, Barclay and Joy

P.S  Check out this video of people falling off treadmills! This will be me someday!

The Getaway from The Getaway

My cousin Wendy commented on FB that she “liked” that my husband and I were getting away from our getaway.  After all, we are retired here in Mexico for the winter months.  Why would we need to get away?  From what?  Everyday life in the Northeast?  Winter temperatures, snow, wind, bitter cold?  I hadn’t really thought about it when I made vacation plans to go to the beach, but I was indeed taking a vacation, the same way people who work do.

Vacations are really different when you don’t work.  The contrast isn’t there anymore to appreciate the difference between work and play, pure relaxation.  Nevertheless, I have always been a big believer in vacation and retirement isn’t going to change that.

We have just come back from a lovely beach week  on the Costalegre, about 4 1/2 hours from where we live here in Mexico. For me the beach speaks to my inner being, it takes me to a place of pure serenity and calm.  Something, I’m not too familiar with, having been an anxious Type “A” personality all of my life.

I love boutique hotels, my husband hates them.  I love Air B&B’s.  My husband hates them.  I love unadulterated, simple, not a flashy resort person, but he is 5 stars or 4 if all the 5 stars are booked!  We couldn’t be more different in our preference for a getaway.  He, being a very good sport, acquiesced and I picked a small hotel directly on the beach halfway between Puerto Vallarta and La Manzanilla.  We all know the wife usually gets her way!

5 days of sun and surf, ocean waves pounding against the shore, walks along the beach, delicious fresh food, and an air of romance that just can’t exist in your everyday life.  That’s why vacations are important, no matter if you are retired or working  They’re different for sure, but they still serve a purpose.  We need to reward ourselves for the hard work we put in all those many working years and kick back.  For me the beach is the answer and I will try to incorporate a week there every winter.  My getaway from my getaway!

Today’s Takeaway…

Vacations are important.  Don’t deprive yourself.  Life becomes routine no matter where you are because it involves routine things.  Paying bills, preparing meals, organizing social events, obsessing, worrying, contemplating!

. The beach is wonderful or the mountains or the desert.  Whatever gives you the respite from everyday life, embrace it, enjoy it and take the time to breathe.

Enjoy the ride

x0x Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

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