Binge Watching ‘This Is Us”

I never want to make it a practice to watch tv during the daytime.  Even in retirement, daytime is for movement, chores, learning new things, getting together with friends.  A guilty pleasure reserved for night time, post dinner time is perfect for binge watching a great program, one that makes you smile.  No longer having the camaraderie of an office environment to discuss last night’s episode of “Game of Thrones” or “The Handmaid’s Tale”, it now was for just little ol me.

One of my daughters had been recommending I watch a program she had fallen in love with, “This Is Us.”  The first season passed and I didn’t get around to it, then the second.  Finally, knowing that the 3rd season was about to start, the pressure was on to commit to 36 hours of tv watching!  With binge watching so popular and the advent of streaming (the only way Millennials watch tv!) I could do this! I had done it before for both Downton Abbey and 5 seasons of Breaking Bad! I got into this program’s human side very quickly and it touched me with it’s beautiful writing about family, support, loyalty, kindness, and just plain ol’ life.

Then I started to read an article about binge watching causing depression!  Could this little guilty pleasure cause me harm and spiral me into a need for Wellbutrin?!! It seems pretty harmless but recent findings on binge watching suggest that folks that make this a habit can in fact be more lonely and depressed.  In addition it may be more difficult to control behavior, like eating, drinking, smoking, etc. Personally, I think if you enjoy the time you are spending ( a good cry at the end of an episode is a good indicator it hit your emotional chords) don’t beat yourself up.  You’re retired and you earned it!

Just like with a great book,  every once in a while a television program (admittedly not often, particularly on broadcast tv) takes us to a special place where we live with the characters, feel empathy for them, think we know them as friends and neighbors.  Jack Pearson is who I want my daughter to marry!

Rotten Tomatoes says it best in describing this show-

“Unapologetically uncynical and definitely manipulative.  But it rarely feels cheap.  All those tears are earned, so go ahead and have a big, cathartic cry.”

Lets hear it for binge tv watching.  Grab a hankie, a bag of microwave popcorn and give into the experience!  You’ll be glad you did! You don’t have to get up for work the next morning!

Today’s Takeaway…

If you want to watch something that pulls at your heart strings, schmaltz at its “best, I heartily recommend “This Is Us”.  Wouldn’t it be nice if all marriages were like Jack and Rebecca’s?!

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

Having “WOW” Eyes — Developing a Gratitude Habit

Arfa Syed was pregnant with her first child and trying to find the strength to leave an abusive marriage.  She writes in Guidepost Magazine, “Life as I knew it was falling apart.”

Then she received the “sweetest gift”.

It was a journal with the word, Gratitude, on the front.  What on earth could she be grateful for during this time of acute stress?

She stretched her mind and came up with what seemed minute happenings in her daily life.  A neighbor giving her a recipe.  A random woman picking up her glove and handing it to her.

Over time Ms. Syed developed a daily practice of writing down what she was grateful for.  During difficult times, she journaled twice a day to remind herself of the good in the world.

In her article, How to Make Gratitude a Lifestyle she shares 3 additional tips to develop such a routine.

We should be present – remembering that time is precious.

We should reframe our view of obstacles – remembering that through them we develop resilience.

And this one I just love –  Ms. Syed says,  We should remember to be wowed.

“After “mamma,” my daughter’s next word was “wow!” I spend a lot of time looking at the world through her eyes—new and fresh and certainly appreciative of little wonders. One afternoon, I was rushing into the house, carrying her, when she started kicking her legs, wanting me to stop—she saw a squirrel on the tree and wanted to sit and watch it eat a nut. So, I stopped and we sat there and watched. I couldn’t help but notice the delicate green leaves on the tree branches, how delightfully the squirrel was eating and how great it was to pause and enjoy that with my daughter. What a reminder that I’m surrounded by beauty. Now, I pay attention to the beautiful river I pass on my way to work and the small joys of being a mom. Through my daughter, God shows me that even my mundane mommy routines can be wondrous.”

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This is surely a WOW life!  As I write, Codie’s tail is thumping on the hardwood floor; an orchid on the table next to me is boasting pink and purple charm; and a robin is pecking diligently on the grass outside.

Ms. Syed’s piece ends with a quote, “Happiness does not bring gratitude.  Gratitude brings happiness.”

So instead of listing our aches and pains, let’s pick up a journal and list our blessings.  Then let’s stare at a squirrel and say to ourselves, WOW!

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Today’s Takeaway –

-Where’s your WOW right now?

-Take after Codie whose WOWs are found in napping, retrieving socks  from the laundry bin, placing tennis balls in strategic places around the house so there’s always quick access, sprawling on a kingsize bed, greeting all strangers as possible best friends.

 

Enjoy the Ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

If you need more structure to your journaling, here’re some templates to get started.  And of course there are apps for that as well.

 

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The Power of Prayer: A Christian and a Jew Walk to A Bus Shelter …

A Joint Post by Barclay and Joy

JOY- Sometimes, a topic resonates so well with both of us that we have to write jointly.  The title sounds like a joke Rodney Dangerfield might have told, or Henny Youngman!  Don’t ask me who they were because if you don’t know you’re too young for this ride!

Barclay and I did indeed meet at the bus shelter in 1981 on the corner of our building on Chicago’s Gold Coast.

While our backgrounds are very different,  we have come to learn over a lifetime of friendship, soul searching, commiserating, kvetching, crying and laughing that we are kindred spirits. You see we both believe in a higher being, the power of prayer, and we  lead spiritual lives that mean a great deal to us.

Coming off the High Holy Days, the two most sacred Jewish holidays of the year, I am in a reflective mood.  I have self examined my past year and asked God for forgiveness for the many actions I took that were thoughtless to a friend, a family member, a neighbor.  I have sat through hours of services, listened to countless sermons, and heard many shofars blown year after year. The one thing that has never changed is my belief that tradition matters, rituals are important, and prayers are heard no matter how silently we utter them.

BARCLAY –  Each Tuesday morning I have the privilege of spending time with a group of toddlers while their moms attend a Bible study.  For September the toddler story has been about Hannah pleading with God to have a baby (I Samuel; chapter 1)  The accompanying verse has been, “Do not be afraid; your prayer has been heard.”  We teachers and toddlers sing this verse to the tune of Frere Jacques (which if you do but a few times – and the verse will be forever stuck in your brain.  Not a bad thing.  Try it!!).

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During my turbulent high school days, my brother Charlie told me that there are 3 things to remember in life:

God exists.  God loves you.  The story ends happily.

To Charlie’s list, I would add a 4th – God hears.  Especially the prayers from deep within our soul.

God heard Hannah’s desperate pleas for a child.  The following year she gave birth to Samuel who became the great Old Testament prophet of Israel.

And over the years God has heard my own prayers – especially during times of loneliness and fear –  the “Scaries” of life.  That’s when He has reassured me of His presence.  He has been faithful when I have not.

At this late date, it seems unlikely that I will give birth to a prophet of Israel.  But I am grateful to God for providing:

Toddlers to sing with.

And a friend to laugh, pray, and commiserate with – beginning in a bus shelter long ago.

 

 

Today’s Takeaway…

. God is omnipresent, as well as omnipotent.  No matter Jew or Christian, Buddhist or Muslim, Hindu, (you get my drift), pray as though you mean it.  Get in the zone. God knows when you do a half ass job!

. Never stop praying.  You will always be heard and your heart will be lighter for doing so.

Enjoy the Ride

xox Barclay and Joy

Chocolate, the Elixir for Long Life

I  have just returned from seeing family in North Carolina.  My aunt is 88 years old and living in an assisted living facility, where my cousin tells me her diet consists of chocolate every day.

I got to thinking about this because I had an aunt many years ago who also subsisted on a box of assorted creams and caramels every day.  She lived to almost 90!  Maybe, this aging stuff wasn’t that bad!  After all the years of watching my intake of sweets, particularly chocolate, which I so love, there was indeed a light at the end of the tunnel!  (literally the end of the tunnel!)

At a certain age, does it really matter if you eat your veggies, fruits, grains?  Maybe chocolate is the new  food group for the geriatric set!  Death by Chocolate? Not so terrible! I think the idea here is,

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

if it gives you pleasure, it makes you happy, and it isn’t doing anything harmful to your body, then why not?

We live our lives constantly watching what we eat, having to lose an inch or two, a few pounds to get into those favorite jeans, depriving ourselves of something we love.  I get it.  At a certain age (and I’m not sure what that age is!) it just doesn’t matter.  If it feels good, do it, if it tastes good, eat it, if it looks pretty, buy it!  It’s a simple theory for that later chapter in life!

I’m a firm believer that if you are lucky enough (blessed) to have good genes, then you can do things that other people can’t with little or no consequences.  I’m not suggesting you light up that cigarette at 85 or eat fried chicken every day, but hey what’s holding you back from doing what makes you happy?

Did you know that the smell of chocolate increases theta brain waves which triggers relaxation.

M&M’s were created in 1914 as a means for soldiers to enjoy chocolate without it melting.

Eating dark chocolate every day reduces the risk of heart disease by 1/3

When it comes to coughs, chocolate is more effective than codeine!

Every second, Americans collectively eat 100 lbs of chocolate

The world’s largest chocolate bar weighed 5.792 kg (12,770 lbs)

So now that we know these very important facts, open up that box or bag of chocolates, cream filled, caramel, or whatever pleases your palate and think what a good thing you are doing to increase your longevity!

Today’s Takeaway…

. Eat, Drink, and be happy!  If a simple pleasure like eating chocolates every day makes you smile and your palate say thank you, then go for it!

. While your at it, have that glass of red wine too!  They pair so well!

Here’s to aunt Jerri and aunt Gussie before her!  My other aunt Rose drank sauerkraut juice and lived to 100!  Another post for another day! Personally, I’d go with chocolate!

Retirement Truth or Dare

Beware of these Retirement Lies:

I am too old to…

No one needs me.

The best is behind me.

I can’t learn anything new.

Ok, it may be too late for medical school.  And your marathon days are likely over.

But here’s the truth about this season of life —

  • You CAN learn new things.  Your brain will thank you. Ballroom dancing?   Spanish?  Cooking?  Painting? Writing?
  • We tend to romanticize the past.  (Oh, when the kids were young…)  THIS could be the best time of all.  It’s all about our attitude.  Jane Fonda, age 80, touts the opportunities of this Third Act. Check out her TED talk.
  • As long as you are breathing, you CAN serve others. Find them in soup kitchens, schools, nursing homes, pet shelters, horse barns.  Check out the RR post, Making a Difference
  • Granted, a 4 hour marathon is gone, but keep your butt moving.  Walking, stretching, dancing, doing jumping jacks. Check out this RR post, Keep Moving!

CNN has reported that older brains are able to “see the big picture”  We are like fine wine. But we cannot just sit on the wine rack.  According to CNN we must, “Nudge our neurons and keep doing different things.”

Have you seen the documentary, RBG, about Ruth Bader Ginsburg?  At age 84, she’s giving her neurons a run for their money – working out with a trainer (we’re talking push-ups and planks), studying and writing until 4AM, going to operas, granting speeches and interviews, and serving on the highest court in the land.  She’s a two-time cancer survivor, a widow, a grandma, and an icon with rock star status.

So let’s live an RBG life.

We don’t have to stay up until 4AM and no one is asking for our dissent opinion – but each day we can say along with the psalmist, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

And in the face of those outright lies about this season – let’s shout with RBG enthusiasm,  “I DISSENT”.

I dare you.

Today’s Takeaway –

-RBG and Jane Fonda are modeling how to leave a legacy.  Let’s try to do likewise.  Millennials are watching us.

-Today is the day.  Choose to rejoice in it.  Sip coffee from an RBG mug. And be notorious!

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

This RBG trailer should whet your appetite for more.

And Jane is equally notorious!

As the leaves turn…

The end of Summer and the beginning of fall bring mood changes for me.  They always have.  I think about the butterflies I had in my stomach every year at this time.  (1st grade through high school) As soon as the fall issue of TV Guide (which I looked forward to, so I could plan my after homework watching of the new shows) hit the newsstands, it was a signal the carefree days were coming to the end.  The Miss America Pageant (pre-Trump) was always a fixture on tv Labor Day weekend as was Jerry Lewis’ Muscular Dystrophy Telethon.  What kid doesn’t love summer?!  It is a time of long days, long nights, few demands, no hard core schedules, anxiety free and just plain wonderful. September is back to business, like clockwork bringing  with it a quick drop in temperatures (please may that happen this fall!  Sick of humidity and heat!), a more serious air, a determination to make things happen, to accomplish goals, objectives, and stop procrastinating.  (my tax extension that seemed months and months away is almost upon me and reality hits that the IRS is calling!)

When you are retired the end of summer has a different meaning. Other people are preparing to get back to business and you’re left out!  Even though I have a regimen and my days are filled, I am on perpetual time off mode.  I have no one to answer to, but me.  Since I worked part time last fall at my old company, this will be my first fall without a return to the work world.  I know that I must keep my pace, stay busy, continue to fill my days with an itinerary, a plan. If I don’t I will lose momentum, sink into a feeling of despondency, and make my family miserable!  So with a little CBD oil  (a topic for another post!) the right attitude, a positive upbeat me, I am ready for my favorite season.  I married in the fall, my two daughters were born in the fall, apple picking, gorgeous color changes, a need for a light jacket or sweater, sleeping with the windows open, the Jewish Holidays, a time of rebirth and renewal.  I see the fall as that time far more than the new year on the calendar.  So with the right attitude, I will move forward, I will find my new pace, and be mindful that no one can make me feel better, but me.  If I feel a little nostalgic or melancholy, it’s okay, but I won’t allow myself to wallow. Make plans, schedule get togethers with friends who were at the beach all summer, and know that every season brings with it an opportunity to make things happen!

Today’s Takeaway-

. Seasonal change means many things depending on what phase of life you are in.  Make new memories, new plans, try not to get swept up in the way life was pre-retirement.

. Remember people are looking at you as though you’ve got it made! You planned, you saved, you picked your exit!  Make the most of it this fall.  Go bake that cobbler that you never had time to make!

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay and Joy

Laughing at Ourselves

It was my first day of work at John Nuveen and I was quite impressed with myself.  Granted, I was a mere secretary (or administrative assistant as I preferred to call it) but hey it was a foot in the door. I was a clueless 22-year-old envisioning myself as Mary Tyler Moore tossing her hat high into the Minneapolis air.  You’re gonna make it after all.

As I walked toward my wee little desk in the research department I noticed a lovely spread of fruit and breads.  What a wonderful company I thought as I took a large bite out of a particularly moist lemon cake. My horrified tongue immediately informed me that I had just ingested a quarter of a stick of butter.  Looking around, my mouth bulging, I saw only fancy offices and boardrooms; no ladies room in sight.  I briskly walked past the executive suites, not making eye contact, until at last I found a bathroom.  My tongue still hasn’t forgiven me.

Then there was the time I went through an entire day of teaching, complete with IEP meetings sitting beside the principal — oh so professional – except for the fact that my dress was on backwards. There was a pocket on the back, butt level.  I became aware of this when 3rd grader Isabelle asked, “Mrs. Marcell, why is there a pocket on the back of your dress?”  I didn’t miss a beat; I turned around and placed a pencil in the backside pocket.  “I keep pencils there.”  Isabelle chuckled.  3rd graders can be quite mean.

I have signed my name, “Barclay Marclay”.  In front of people at a bank.  In pen.

I have driven our car into the garage with great conviction only to remember that there was a Christmas tree tied on the roof of the car.

And one day, late for school, I plowed the car backwards into the the sitting garbage cans at the end of the driveway; and following that, in the presence of my 8 and 10 year old, I emitted a loud utterance that starts with F and rhymes with luck.

And there’s more.  My advice  —

  • Do not talk to inanimate objects like a column, especially during a job interview.
  • It is not advisable to take your 2-year-old to a high-church liturgical service. When he starts grabbing bills from the offering plate, do not get flustered.  And do not yell.  Sound travels in those old sanctuaries.
  • Mascara does not serve as lipstick.

The longer we live, the larger our list of faux pas’s — times we’ve tripped, forgotten names, mistaken sour cream for cream cheese.

The Huffington Post says,

“Being able to laugh at yourself may be a sign of an optimistic personality and a sense of humor, and it might even improve your mood. Humor has also been identified as a possible factor in the development of personal resilience.

And Susan Sparks, the author of Laugh Your Way to Grace says, “If you can laugh at yourself, you can forgive yourself; and if you can forgive yourself, you can forgive others.”

So share your embarrassing moments and laugh out loud.   Think of the personal resilience you’ll develop!

And you may just find joy therein.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Our mouths turn downward as we age making us appear grumpy.  Laughing exercises facial muscles and will make us look younger.  How’s that for a win-win?! (Check out this RR post, Exercising your Face! It’s a Thing!)

-Share your stories here!   What’s your most embarrassing moment?  Let’s laugh together!

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

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