In A Split Second

I volunteer at a wonderful therapeutic riding center in upstate New York twice a week.  Therapeutic riding offers kids and adults who have cognitive, physical and emotional disabilities the opportunity to strengthen their muscles, follow instructions, and bond with a beautiful animal. Sadly, most of these programs are not covered by insurance, but that’s another discussion entirely.  (for when Barclay and I decide to become political and alienate some of our beloved readers!)

This week I was tasked with spotting a child who is severely disabled with the aid of another volunteer on a trail ride. Since daylight savings is around the corner and darkness will be descending upon us way too early, this was to be the last trail ride for the season.  (the class takes place late in the day)

The child sits in a chair much like a throne on top of the horse strapped in so she doesn’t fall, but able to use her hands for steering and holding the reins, as well as her leg muscles as much as she possibly can.  I had seen this rider enjoy her time in the arena looking happy and proud of her accomplishments.  (how wonderful is that for anyone, but particularly a child with a serious handicap)

To set the stage and allow you our reader to visualize what happened next, picture this.  There are about 6 kids of varying abilities on horses being spotted by volunteers in case their quick response time is needed or the horse needs a little reminding of what he or she is supposed to be doing. The child at the back of the line is a confident rider and decides to move up rather than being at the back of the line. That particular day there aren’t enough volunteers  so she is on her own, but she is a more experienced rider.  Horse A (I am using fictitious names to protect the innocent!) gets a wee bit too close to Horse B and is in his space.  Horse B (I’m the spotter for Horse B) bucks and the child falls to the ground while I am kneed by the hind quarter of a 300 lb animal who is pissed off!  I attempt to block the child’s fall to the ground, but due to my lack of upper body strength I can’t hold her back.  It happens so fast and in the blink of an eye a pleasant trail ride turns into an accident.  Thank God I am the only one injured (a black and blue and an egg sized lump on my upper thigh which looks like cellulite)  The rider is a bit shaken, but not a tear in sight.  I marvel at this trooper, who after a few minutes of catching her breath is ready to be positioned back in her chair and continue riding.  What was an uneventful afternoon trail ride has taught me to expect anything that comes your way, keep those reflexes sharp, and don’t invade a horse’s personal space.

Today’s Takeaway…

. Always be on your guard.  Expect the unexpected. Never underestimate what volunteering your time means to someone else.

I was beginning to think my time at the riding center was routine and that no one cared if I showed up or not.  Yesterday, made me see how one person can make a difference in someone else’s life.

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay and Joy

 

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Join the Pickleball Craze!

It’s the fastest growing racket sport.  Maybe the fastest growing sport ever!  And it has our name all over it..

BOOMERs!! As usual we are leading the pack in a sport that is gentler on our knees, but still allows that competitive spirit that many of us thrive on. It’s social and it gets the body moving, something we have reiterated over and over,  Get that blood circulating!

When I tell friends I’m playing this game with the funny name, many have never heard of it.  Now that Barclay and I have this incredible following  (thank you readers) we thought we would take the opportunity to tell you more about what we are so excited about.

The game started during the summer of 1965  (clearly, it took a while for it to catch on considering I hadn’t heard about it until 2 years ago!) on Bainbridge Island, Washington.  at the home of former state representative Joel Pritchard.  He and his two friends, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum, retuned from golf to bored families.  They attempted to set up a badminton net, but the shuttlecock could not be found.  Instead they improvised with a wiffle ball, lowered the net and constructed paddles from plywood from a nearby shed.  Ingenuity is the mother of all invention for sure!  So, basically for lack of a shuttlecock pickleball was born!  Good to know boredom can lead to something positive!

So you’ve never picked up a racket?

You’ve never even played ping pong, much less tennis?

NO worries!

Within 5 minutes, you CAN play this fast-moving, fun, engaging game!

Why, you ask?

It’s social.  You’re close to your teammate and opponents.  Lots of fun interaction.  Next thing you know and you’re out having a beverage with your new pickleball pals.

It’s a great workout.  You can work up a sweat with a smile on your face!

It’s like a chess match.  Tons of strategy which means your brain cannot sit on the sidelines minding its own business.

It’s something NEW to learn.  Your brain will be grateful.

Check this out —

ANYone can play with ANYbody.  I have a retired girlfriend, a former tennis player, who is a pickleball ambassador – going to tournaments, making new friends, staying in great shape.  And she has a bad knee!

Did we mention, pickleball is cheap!?   You can buy paddles and balls at Pickleball Central.

Many park districts have dedicated courts outside where you play for free and indoor courts during the winter with portable nets and lines on a basketball court  – practically free – maybe $6 for a couple of hours.

OK, the rules and the scorekeeping seem a bit funky at first.  But after a single game and you’re good to go.

No offense to conventional tennis or paddle tennis   – BUT pickleball wins in terms of accessibility and learning curve.  Perfect for family gatherings.

And perfect for us BBs with our ongoing battle with arm flab, treadmill fatigue, and isolation.

Intrigued??

Here’s how to play –

See you on the court!

Today’s Takeaway –

.Never ever think you are too old to learn something new.  You can teach an old dog new tricks!!  As long as he or she wants to learn!

.We are too young to be sedentary and we need to challenge ourselves physically and mentally in as many ways as possible.

Pickleball is supposedly becoming an Olympic sport. So my best running days may behind me and I may never do a head stand like my show off yoga certified daughter, but watch out world, we may be the next pickleball champs!!

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

Forget the Treadmill – Take a Bubble Bath!

You’ve heard that exercise alleviates depression.  Well, it turns out that taking a hot bath works even better!

A new study found that taking a hot bath twice a week can significantly lift your mood – more so than exercise. It has to do with altering the body’s temperature and circadian rhythm. Plus a hot bath is more appealing for some folks than an arduous sweat-filled workout. (Acupuncture, massages, and hot showers by the way also release endorphins – as does laughter!  So maybe laughing your head off while soaking in a hot bath might be the medicine for chasing away the blues!)

You can also read in the tub and thereby escape the grasp of that incessant cell phone.  No cable news. No email. No political ads. Just you in sudsy bliss in the company of a great book.

And speaking of books, C.S. Lewis famously said, “We read to know we are not alone.”    Reading is an additional antidote for depression whose best friend is isolation.

What are Joy and I reading these days, you ask?

We highly recommend Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. It’s light reading and it makes you smile, even chuckle. It’s on Reese Witherspoon’s list and may soon be a movie. That gives us the opportunity to envision who might play the characters we have come to know. It’s an account of growth and courage;  reinforcement that we are not alone. Reading a book such as this is like being invited into someone’s home you don’t know and hiding behind the curtains as they tell their story.

A word about book clubs… I (Joy) am finding that if I have to convince myself to read the book, perhaps I should come up with my own selection! On the other hand, book clubs force us to read something outside our usual genre.  If it’s a good discussion group, maybe a probing question or two might be raised and debated.

 

So run that bath, grab a book, pour a glass of vino, light a candle. Bubbles add another dimension to the overall experience.  Now that we know the heat of the bath is key, make sure it’s hot before you get in.  I hate tepid anything!  Turn on music.  Music soothes the soul and it puts us in the mood to relax. Think of it as water therapy.    Close your eyes and indulge.

Who had time for a bath pre retirement?!!

And in the immortal words of L’Oreal, “You’re worth it!”

Today’s Takeaway…

. Be open to exploring new ways to relieve stress, anxiety, depression. If all it takes is a dunk in a hot tub and the world’s problems melt away, why not?  What’s the worst that can happen?  Shriveled toes and fingers! No prescription needed!

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay & Joy

 

Check out The Great American Read for more bathtub books!

 

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Marathons, Memories, and Metaphors

“Looking good!”

“You got this!”

“Go, runners!”

It was mile 23 of the 2018 Chicago Marathon – a drizzly, 50-degree Sunday afternoon.  Some of the runners looked like they had no business signing up for this endeavor.  It was 4 hours into the ordeal and they clearly needed all the encouragement we could muster.

Plus a little levity.  One sign read,  “Hell, you’ve come this far.  Might as well finish!”

Finally we saw Alex. Looking strong and spirited. She turned to her older brother, “Jared, jog with me. Give me a pep talk!”   Which he did.  Enough to melt a mother’s heart.

If nothing else, a marathon conjures up memories and metaphors.

It seems like yesterday Joy and I ran a marathon together. We were 27. Alex’s age. On the cusp of careers, parenting, and life events we never anticipated.  Spending hours on that jogging path set the stage for a lifelong friendship.

Now for the tired metaphor.  We Baby Boomers are at mile 23 and we want to finish well.  Leave a legacy.  End strong.

According to Jonathan Rauch’s  Happiness Curve, we may have fallen prey to discontent and malaise in our midlife —  but come Mile 23 — in our 50s/60s, we can experience a sense of well-being – a deep satisfaction with life (major caveat here says Mr. Rauch — he is assuming all things have remained equal, meaning crisis-free).  We savor relationships and value community; we put the corporate ladder aside in favor of pursuing passions.  The author says we substitute “competition for compassion”.

We retired folks (or TRBs — “Those Retired Bitches” – as one working friend describes us)  have time for compassion.  (Oh and also for watching Hallmark Christmas movies in our PJs!  9 days to go as I write this!)

Small and big acts of kindness.  Brett plowing snow beyond our house – anonymously;  Joy at the horse barn assisting kids smiling ear to ear from their high perch;  Stef tutoring a teenager from Syria; Jim, unasked, driving us to the airport; Jeanne raising money for adults with challenges; Cathy honing her social work skills at grocery stores; Sally taking doggie love to the nursing home, Joy and David volunteering at a dog shelter and naturally leaving with a puppy.

That’s Mile 23 living at its best.

So as the sign said, “Hell, you’ve come this far…you might as well finish!!”

And finish strong!

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Look for ways to spread joy today.  You don’t have to come home with a puppy.  (But maybe that’s not the worst idea ever!)

-Savor friendships.  Like red wine, they get better with age.

Enjoy Mile 23!

xox Barclay and Joy

The Last Time I Saw You We Were 7!!

What do you say to someone you haven’t seen since you were 7 years old?!! It’s a mind blowing experience and one I had to share.

In one of my many unaccounted for retirement moments, I was thinking of people who have come and gone in my life.  Names from the past, childhood, in particular.  I had two very close friends in elementary school, one who I have been friends with since kindergarten (with a hiatus of about twenty years, but that’s a post for another day) and another who I met at about the same time.  Friend #2 moved away at the end of 2nd grade and we lost touch. I put in her maiden name, not knowing if she was married or divorced or never having been married.  A gap of this much time means you missed out on her growing up, graduating from junior high school, high school, a first boyfriend, the prom,  applying to college, getting married, a first job, a career, having children, the list goes on.

Is it curiosity, getting older and wanting to connect with people from our past or the fact that FB allows us to be super sleuths? The ability to find just about anyone from our past exists. When you find someone who was a best friend, no matter what age you are, it’s a gift.  It’s a renewal of something you once shared that only the two of you remember.

Ironically, my friend has a sister who has a weekend house less that an hour and a half  away from where I live.  What are the chances?  So,  last weekend we made a plan to meet at a local restaurant for a glass of wine.  She would be with her husband and I would be with mine. I walked into the restaurant and a big broad smile came over her face.  I recognized her immediately and she me, though we hadn’t seen each other in over 50 years!!!!  The face of the child I knew was still there.  It brought a flood of emotion to us both and we knew this was going to be a night of reminiscences, laughing and scratching the surface of two lives reconnecting.

At this phase of life friendships are more important than ever.  We have the time to see people that we may not have had while raising families.  If someone has been lost along the way, reach out.  FB and other social media make things possible and it’s an amazing tool that I still marvel at.  (no matter how lame that sounds!)

Today’s Takeaway…

There is no time like now to reach out and make someone’s day.  If you’ve lost a friendship over the years, take a chance and try connecting. The memories you shared are still there and it can be so worth the effort.

Barclay and her husband just visited us in upstate New York and I am still smiling.  It was an opportunity for our husbands to get to know one another and we could commiserate in person over our still unfigured out state of retirement!

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay and Joy

Where did my UWS go????

A few months back I met one of my long time friends for lunch at an UWS (Upper West Side) establishment, Barney Greengrass.  Greengrass is a long long time (since 1908!) establishment on Amsterdam in the 90’s known for it’s smoked fish (it’s a Jewish thing!) and not taking credit cards! We walked for blocks and talked, as we always had.  I couldn’t help but notice the many “For Rent” signs in windows.  The small businesses of my childhood, ones where the proprietress or proprietor knew you by name or your family by name were long gone, but now even their replacements were being shuttered.  High rents have made it nearly impossible to own the type of shops that made the UWS my UWS of the 1960’s and 70’s.

Map of 410 Riverside Dr, New York, NY 10025

 

I grew up on Riverside Drive by Columbia University.  My building was one of those grand limestones with a carriage drive, pillars and huge picture windows across the street from the park.  I lived there for 23 years with my parents until I got married.

I knew Tom’s Diner long before there was a Seinfeld, Mama Joy’s for deli sandwiches, The Columbia Men’s Shop for college clothes to wear when your parents came to visit, the stationery store on the corner of 113th and Broadway that my father nearly bought, Simmons Gift Shop for presents that a 10 year old might buy mom for her birthday or a house warming gift, Daitch Shopwell where my mother did her “big” grocery shopping and Party Cake on 110th Street for linzer tarts and special cupcakes for each holiday!  (a Valentine cupcake, a Chanukah cupcake, a Christmas cupcake)  Of course, there was the 5&10 or Woolworth’s on Broadway and 110th for literally everything from Maybelline makeup to buttons to underpants and bras! This is where my mother told me it was okay to sample their hard candies in baskets because that’s what they were there for!  Luckily, this didn’t lead to a life of crime! These are some of my memories of a childhood spent on the UWS, 113th street, too far uptown for  many people who felt uncomfortable going higher than 86th Street in those years. Riverside Drive was always special, it was my playground, it was where I learned to ride a bike, where my mother sent me to hang when our apt was being painted or wall papered.  It was where I played in the dirt or in the sandbox, went down below (that’s what we called the lower level of the park) to later study in high school or to hit a ball against the wall to practice tennis, picnic on a hot summer Sunday and read The New York Times.  Life was simple, or so it seemed and I loved it.  It felt like a neighborhood, people lived in their rent controlled apartments forever!  Why would you leave when you were paying $350 for a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom apt with a huge living room and full kitchen!

Today, every corner has a bank or a Duane Reade Pharmacy.  Small businesses stopped being able to afford the UWS a long time ago.  A few still remain from my childhood, but they are very few, Mondel’s Chocolates, which my best friend’s aunt and uncle owned,  The Town Shop further down on Broadway, Zabar’s  of course, the V&T for pizza (every Columbia student knows it well, and The Hungarian Bakery for dessert after you eat pizza! They have withstood the test of time.

We were middle class and everyone I knew was just like me.  Perhaps, they had a little more or a little less, but we were so similar in values, in philosophy, in morality, in politics.  It might have been the most integrated area in the U.S.  I went to school with Hispanics, Blacks, Poles, Irish, Jewish, Catholic, and a few Chinese. I can’t remember any WASPS, but they probably lived on the UES! Too many halfway houses, slum lords, and SRO’s at that time. The cuckoos kept to themselves.  Mental health wasn’t well understood  and if you didn’t bother them, they didn’t bother you.

The question is do you remember life a certain way because that’s how it was? Or are your childhood memories viewed through rose colored glasses with the soot and grime removed?

I feel fortunate to have grown up when I did and in the place I still love best.  I scattered my mother’s and father’s ashes over Riverside Drive Park at 113th Street because it was their happy place too.  (Don’t tell anyone!  I’m sure I needed a permit!)

Today’s Takeaway… 

. “Nostalgia can be a treacherous mistress because she glamorizes the past and downgrades the present in a way that threatens to make them both intolerable.”

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay and Joy

Warding off Depression in Retirement

It can sneak up on you.  Especially if your self-image has centered around your career.  Especially if you don’t have an established routine. Especially if your mind has time on its hands.

You used to have that go-to identity.  I am a _____.   

Now when asked what you do, there’s a caveat.  I used to be a _______ .  Or   I am a retired-_________.

Then there’s the auspicious question,  So now that you’re retired, what do you do all day??

Self-doubt can creep in, especially after the euphoria passes.  And with that self-doubt, depression can make a surprise appearance.  You may feel that no one can relate.  After all, you are the lucky one.

It may be a case of expectations being derailed.  This is supposed to be the best time of your life.  The time you’ve saved for, planned for.  Upon its arrival, you’ve traveled, you’ve mastered the strudel recipe, you’ve taken the dancing class.  Now too much leisure coupled with too little structure leaves an emptiness not anticipated.

You are not alone.

According to the London-based Institute of Economic Affairs, “The likelihood that someone will suffer from clinical depression actually goes up by about 40% after retiring.”   Work-life has provided the ingredients to life satisfaction — social connections, a steady routine and a sense of purpose.   When work is taken away – even by design and desire, depression can ensue.

So what to do?

Investopedia cites 6 ways to overcome depression in retirement.

Staying in shape. Being social. Developing a schedule. Giving back.  And maybe hitting the classroom or finding part-time work.

The bottom line, they say, is to get a plan.

If the depression becomes too much to handle, this plan may involve medication, talk therapy, or a combination of both.  And that’s not something to be embarrassed about.

So be aware that an abundance of leisure has to be balanced with purpose and routine — a plan to be occupied mentally,  physically, and spiritually.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “It takes as much time to worry as it does to plan.”

What’s my plan?

First, when I feel anxiety creeping in, I do SOMEthing productive and tangible — cleaning a bathroom, getting on the elliptical, taking Codie for a walk, calling a friend.  Then I make sure my calendar has a pre-planned activity each day — this, alongside exercise, Bible reading, the occasional book club, the strategic getaway – and usually depression/anxiety is held at bay .

When someone asks, “What do you do all day?”  I can say, “I’m enjoying my one an only life!”

Today’s Takeaway –

-Depression is sneaky.  And it’s the last thing you expect during this long awaited time of freedom from traditional work.  Don’t be surprised by its appearance.

– Seek help if needed.  You are not alone.

-Codie thinks that you should definitely get a pet – preferably, a golden retriever.  Codie is a therapist on the side.

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

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