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

 

 

 

Father’s Day 2018

Joy

As homage to our fathers and the role they have played in our lives, only fitting that Barclay and I write a tribute to Ben, (my father) and Champe (Barclay’s father).

Ben, full name Benjamin, known as “Budy” (Buwdy not Buddy) by family and friends, was a character! I have never met nor will I probably ever meet  a person quite like my father.  He was my Jewish mother!  He worried about me from the day I was born.  He went around the house tightening medicine bottles so they couldn’t be opened  by my little fingers, worried that I was going to fall out the window of our ground floor apt,  (with bars on it!!), that I would ingest rat poison or be kidnapped by an intruder!

We had a radio on a shelf in the kitchen when I was growing up that had a long cord dangling from it.  One day, in my infinite two year old wisdom, I pulled the cord down with the radio tumbling hitting my lip and causing a profuse amount of bleeding to ensue.  I was taken to the emergency room of the nearby hospital and after a bunch of stiches left with a permanent scar on my upper lip.  (much later lasered by a dermatologist) After that incident, my very obsessive father became even worse, if that was possible, and hovered over my every move.  It is a wonder I grew up half way sane!  (I did say half way!)

Ben loved me dearly and I always knew that.  He was a wonderful father and I always knew I could count on him for anything and everything.  Nothing was a bother, nothing was silly or pointless when it came to me. (looking for monsters under my bed or in this case burglars.  (Upper West Side in the 60’s, not the UWS of today!)  I was blessed to have this person in my life until he was 88 years old and I still smile when I think about him.

His image brings a tear of longing and a flood of memories to mind.  I am the person I am today mostly because of him. I have, unfortunately passed on traits of worry, anxiety, and obsession to both daughters.  He also passed on traits of extreme loyalty, kindness towards others, and generosity.  Ben, Happy Father’s Day to you.  I know you hear me!

David is a wonderful father and I toast to you too sweetheart for now and many years to come.  Without you, there would be no Morgan nor Dana!

 

Barclay

“You’re my favorite daughter!”  Dad loved to say.

“But, Dad, I’m your only daughter!”

I received unconditional love from my father.  Even through my eating disorder days and wild weight fluctuations, he told me I was beautiful.  He also taught me tennis, dancing, and reading.  He was the car pool dad who made Dairy Queen stopovers.  He was a gentleman to his core.  And in the words of my half-brother in dad’s eulogy, “He was just plain nice.”

Champe was 46 when I was born and had seen a lot of life.   He had endured a painful divorce and had lost a son to leukemia.  He had weathered a difficult relationship with his own father who reportedly made poor financial choices and may have been alcoholic.  Champe, the only child, left home at 16, having caught the flying bug.  He went on to be the youngest airmail pilot in the US.

He retired from Pan American when I was 10.  So I had the benefit of his “mellow” days when he relished life and was devoted to Charlie, me, and mom whom he patted on the butt in front of us, stole kisses, and exclaimed, “Isn’t she beautiful?”

Brett is every bit a Champe.  A true gentleman, a great storyteller, wise, winsome, humble, full of integrity, and just plain nice.  He has relished his dad role, even though such a role was not modeled for him. I am in awe.

Champe is smiling now, probably swatting my mom on the butt, licking a Dairy Queen chocolate cone, and looking down on Brett, saying “Well done, son!”

Happy Fathers Day to Champe and Brett!

 

Today’s Takeaway –

. Cherish this person called father for they will not be around forever.  Try to be understanding as they age, treasure their memory forever.  They, just like your mother made you the person you are today.

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox  Barclay and Joy

 

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Your Mind on Retirement – Ruminate No More!

Some of us are all too eager to open those one-on-one date cards sent from our minds.  (Can you tell I am deep into Season 14 of the Bachelorette?) We know full well our minds will betray us — telling us half-truths or outright lies, shrouding us in shame over past mistakes, and then showing a compelling movie trailer that previews catastrophes yet to come.

Our crafty minds know how to play the Getting Old card.  How many years do you think you have left?  What have you really done with your life?  A glance in the mirror reveals a new wrinkle, sag, spot, pouch. Your mind has ample material to draw upon.

Soon your mind is questioning your friendships (not good), your calendar (too full or glaringly empty), conversations after one glass too many (you said THAT?), childhood memories unresolved; degrees, titles, goals – yup, all unreached.

Your mind also invites you on group-dates – social situations where loneliness is ironically at its worst – where your mind plays the Comparison Card culminating the big reveal of your fraud status.

We need to silence such unproductive ruminations once and for all.  But first a couple of reminders.

We are not alone.  

Consider the plethora of TED talks and self-help books – The Power of Positive Thinking, The Secret, The 7 Habits, The Power of Now, Mind Shift, Minding Your Mind; Outsmarting your Brain, Mindfulness.  I love this recent title, Unfu*k Yourself – Getting out of your Mind; Getting on with your Life.  (Really…why didn’t we think of that?)

It seems we are the reluctant star of the summer hit movie, Mind Gone Wild.  (Ah, wouldn’t you know it…that’s already a book title!)

Secondly, our mind is the ultimate unreliable narrator who filters out the good and highlights the regrettable.  It is time to call it out. We CAN tell our mind to mind its manners. (Now there’s a book title!)

 

Psychology Today offers practical suggestions for combating rumination.  These are my top 5 which I am trying to implement when my mind starts on its awful-izing path.

  • Distract your mind with a walk, a movie, a book or exercise. (Your mind has ADHD and is easily distracted.) When your mind is otherwise occupied, it has a chance to regroup.  
  • Recite Bible verses or poems; sing a song; say out loud, STOP.
  • Write an encouraging note or email.
  • Keep a gratitude journal.  Review the events of the prior day and highlight what went well.
  • DO something – clean a bathroom, cook a meal, pay a bill.  Accomplish SOMEthing – albeit small.

Changing your outlook IS possible.  Here’s what wonderful Maria Shriver has to say in her latest  “I’ve Been Thinking” Sunday Paper —  

“Shifting your thoughts can shift your perception of a person, of a place, of an event, or most importantly, of yourself. How you view yourself is truly dependent on how you think about yourself and your life.

Do you see yourself as a victim? If so, try shifting to survivor. Tell yourself, “I am a survivor.” Just use the word over and over again.

Do you see yourself as weak and indecisive? Then tell yourself that you are brave, clear and confident instead.

Do you see yourself as someone over the hill and no longer relevant? Then shift your take on that, too. Tell yourself, I’m in my prime. This is my time. Say this out loud. Say it clearly and confidently.”

 

So the next time you see that date-card with your name on it, tell your mind that you have other plans.  Take a walk. Read a book. Cook an amazing dinner. Clean that toilet. (Well, let’s not go too far!)   Treat yourself as your best friend. Say along with Maria, “This is my prime!”

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Sometimes the very thing you DON’T want to do is the thing you probably should do and will feel better for having done it.   Vacuuming, walking the dog, simply moving have the ability to unfu*k your mind!

-Another Maria-ism — Instead of saying, “I have to…”  , say “I GET to…”

 

Enjoy the Ride!  You GET to!!

xox

Barclay and Joy

What do I want to be when I grow up?

high and mightyThe song by The Beatles is going through my head as I type. You know the one, “When I’m Sixty-Four”-“When I get older losing my hair…will you still need me, will you still feed me…  I’m not there yet, but it’s getting closer!  Paul actually wrote that song when he was 16 years old! The naiveté of the young!

Now that I am back from Italy and settled into my real life in upstate New York, I knew I had to have a regimen.  If I learned nothing else from last year’s slump in my normally upbeat personality, it was that too much time on my hands is very unhealthy.  I decided I didn’t want a full time job, nor a true part time job like last year, but rather a schedule of things I would be doing on a regular basis.

Being a very fortunate person, a job kind of landed in my lap after some initial inquiries to my next door neighbor.  What did I know best?  Selling advertising.  I had done this , selling space as it is called, for over 25 years. A beautiful quarterly publication catering to the Hudson Valley was the perfect fit.  It would allow me to set my own hours, work as much as I want or as little as I want while getting to know my neighbors, community.  I was used to selling $50k print pages and $100k digital programs, whereas now I would be calling on local cheese shops, yoga studios, farm to table restaurants.  I thought it could be fun! I am ready to hit the pavement next week and set Columbia County on fire!

Mondays are mah jongg. mah jongg Mondays (how alliterative!) I really do love this game!  It’s challenging, fun, and it gets the brain waves flowing. Tuesdays and Thursdays I will sell advertising, Wednesday is pickle ball at the local Y.  My husband and I will play in a tournament this weekend.  Watch out Hudson Valley! Friday is my latest addition.  I will be volunteering at an equine center called “High & Mighty”, therapeutic riding and grooming for children with disabilities.  I love horses, I like children, and it’s eight minutes from my house.  Doing good really does make people feel good.  25% of folks who volunteer say it helps them manage a chronic illness, 78% say it helps lower stress levels, 84% say it improves their mood ,95% say it makes their community a better place and 96% say it enriches their sense of purpose in life. These stats come from a study by happify.com.  (now, tell me could they be anything but positive with a URL like that!)

That’s my week, that’s my regimen, with a sprinkling of yoga, preferably hot yoga, thrown in, long walks down country lanes with my dog and my husband, a bit of hiking, a bit of baking, and making great dinners now that I can! Duh, and blogging, of course! I have learned things about myself and my dear co-blogger that I never would have known! It’s a good start and I am happy to be where I am in life. I am in this third chapter of life full of energy, stamina, dreams yet to be realized, and a zest for all life has to offer.  Don’t put things off.  Live it to the fullest and enjoy!

Today’s Takeaway…

. Take that first year of retirement to get to know you!  You are not the worker bee anymore, not the 9-5 or 6 or 7 career woman rushing home to make dinner, chores, etc.  You don’t need a time table to figure things out.  It will come to you.  Be patient with this new you.

. Have a regimen.  Volunteer, work at a cheese shop, take dance lessons, play pickle ball.  Whatever it is you’ve wanted to and couldn’t.  Now’s the time!

Enjoy the Ride

xox Barclay and Joy

 

Reading as Therapy – The Healing Power of Books

I love that moment after you’ve trudged through the first 20 pages or so and you are abruptly grabbed wholeheartedly by a book.  It robs you of sleep.  It keeps you from vacuuming and dinner may be late. Your email inbox is bloated to the point of rudeness or job threatening but will go unread, knowing full well it can’t compete.

You are on a journey to places, times, experiences – cathartic and transformative – where no plane will ever take you; you are empathizing with characters far from your sphere.  You can’t put the book down yet you dread the inevitable – that last turn of a page marking the end of your journey when you bid farewell to characters who have shared  their innermost thoughts with you.

But their voices may still ring in your head, some for the remainder of your days.  Perhaps it’s 6-year old Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird, or Wilber pleading with Charlotte, or Holden Caulfield, or for me most recently, the haunting prose of Tara Westover from her memoir, Educated.

In an article called Your Brain on Fiction, The NY Times says, “The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated.”

So reading grants us new experiences and increases our ability to empathize.  But here’s something you may not have known about the benefits of reading (I didn’t) — books are a therapeutic tool.  It’s called “Bibliotherapy”. There’s even a list of titles used as prescriptions for different ailments such as depression, apathy, fear, grief  (The Novel Cure).

In her 2015 New Yorker piece, Can Reading Make You Happier?, , tells us that  reading improves our mental health.  And some of us, she says, have been self-medicating our whole lives. “Reading has been shown to put our brains into a pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation, and it brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm. Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers. ”

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Reading can also be a social affair.  My book club features all the important ingredients — zero pressure to have read the book, ample wine and food, and fun conversations usually unrelated to the book itself.  We have covered many different genres and most have been page turners.

So now that we retired Baby Boomers have more time to read, how should we pick books?

PBS just aired a show called The Great American Read. with Merideth Vierra who “takes viewers on a journey across the country to uncover the nation’s 100 most-loved novels.”   Chosen by a national survey, these books are featured with descriptors and endorsements by authors, celebrities, and regular book lovers.  There are 6 shows to be aired that will dig deeper into book themes and why we love this diverse list.  There’s also a Facebook page where people like us share and recommend titles.  (By the way, lest you think this is a high-brow list, 50 Shades of Grey made the cut right alongside War and Peace, and is not a tad embarrassed.)

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Also, PBS Newhour has joined forces with the NY Times Book Review to form an online book club called Now Read This.  They select a book per month and post discussion questions on Facebook.  You can also ask questions of the author who appears on the PBS Newshour at the end of the month to be interviewed by Jeffrey Brown.

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So let’s get lost in a book.  And not feel a bit guilty about doing so!

Oh the places we’ll go!

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Today’s Takeaway –

-If you’re like me, you have an annoying tendency to forget what you read! (Scary)  I recently started a google doc with titles and brief summaries.  This will hopefully prevent me from reading the same book twice!

-Find a fun book club if you don’t already have one.  Look for those key ingredients – no pressure, wine, food, friends.

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

Want to take the quiz (below) and see how many of the 100 books you’ve read?  You don’t have to share your results!  I’m certainly not going to share mine!

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