Your Retirement Identity: I just feel like myself when…

“When I’m on a tennis court, I just feel like myself,”

I knew exactly what Judy meant by that comment.  There is something about the sounds and smells of an indoor tennis facility – balls bouncing and tennis shoes squeaking – that makes me “feel like myself”.   For 50 plus years, this setting has been akin to an anti-depressant, where life’s troubles are shelved for a couple of hours (and no weight gain!!…adds Joy.)

Where do you feel like yourself?

The forest preserve?  Your church sanctuary?  The public library?  A yoga mat?  Or at a Starbucks sitting across from a great friend, over-caffeinated and laughing your head off?  Remember laughter is the best therapy and I’d rather have laugh lines than any other wrinkle anytime!

Retirement offers us more time in such settings.  And time to discover new ones. In fact, the most happy retirees are those who discover new passions, new places to feel like themselves.

For me personally (Joy here) I crave being busy, over programmed, juggling tasks.  I’m not so sure I am ready for so much time to mull over my new state of being.  Perhaps, I just need to adjust.  If it takes me longer, that’s okay.  I will find my special place and I will know it when I see it.

Who better to help us than Oprah who offers a free passion quiz  —  under the enticing title, Who am I meant to be?

And then there’s Maria Shriver, our Mentor – who unfortunately doesn’t yet know she’s mentoring us.  Maria applauds those pursuing passions and making a difference.  Check our her interviews at Architects of Change.

Maria challenges US to be Architects of Change.

“We all have the power to be Architects of Change in our own lives, in our own homes and our own communities… to imagine what can be, then create what you envision. You can make a difference, play a part in moving humanity forward and ultimately, uniting it.  Together, we will create a more caring, conscious, connected and compassionate community.”

 

So for us,  this retirement season is a time to look beyond the tennis court and the yoga mat to imagine more.   More places to feel like ourselves. To forget ourselves.

We don’t need to conform to anyone’s image of who we should be.  Performance reviews are not given in retirement! (If they were though, Barclay and I deserve “much improved”!)

We may not yet be Architects of Change, but we can be Architects of Ending Strong. Whatever that looks like.

Oh and we may have to stalk Maria.  Just a bit.  Don’t tell her.  (She may get a restraining order!)

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-As much as we love Maria, it probably isn’t a good idea to stalk another person.  There are consequences!  Although, I’m sure her home is lovely!

-There really isn’t such a thing as retirement, is there?  It should be called “work in progress”!  We retired from the workforce, that’s all.  We are still the same people as we were when we wore professional attire!  Now my dress code is more yoga pants and a loose fitting tee shirt! Think of the savings in dry cleaner bills!

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Memories

With Thanksgiving this Thursday, Barclay and I thought we would start a tradition of writing our own recollections.  After all, in this first year of publishing http://www.revisionistretirement.com, we want to celebrate with you. To our followers in Mexico, Canada, and elsewhere in the world, it’s the spirit of being with people you care about over a meal that you are fortunate enough to have on your table.  You are all family now since you know far more than you ever wanted to about both of us!! I like to call it blog catharsis!  I digress…

I love Thanksgiving, always have.  It’s an innocent holiday, no gifts, no high expectations (I hope the mashed potatoes come out fluffy.  I hope the turkey isn’t dried out, …) but rather traditions passed down from generation to generation.

Muriel, my mother, labored over Thanksgiving every year.  She ironed the bedspreads (I’m lucky if I make the bed at all!) went down to the Lower East Side to buy nuts, prunes, dates and marshmallows that she made into a confection stacked with a toothpick.  She took that recipe from her mother.  She had to climb on a ladder to get the “good” dishes down from a cabinet in our kitchen too tall for any human being to reach without help. Linen tablecloths and napkins passed down from my great grandmother to her daughter (my grandmother) to my mother with monograms. A bygone era of formality and manners.

The most important tradition was the chestnut stuffing, no recipe, but passed down by observation.  It started with 2 day old white bread, scoring chestnuts, roasting them to sweet nuttiness, and the addition of chicken broth, sautéed onions, celery, salt, pepper, paprika, touch of sage, onion powder, and if a bit dry, a touch of oil.  I can’t give you specifics because they are in my head and only passed on to family members! This one recipe was the hallmark of our family celebration, coupled with watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade while my mother ironed the bedspreads and attended to last minute details before the 3:00 planned feast.

Traditions are wonderful to pass down to our children, make them your own and value them.  The generation they came from will live in the foods you prepare, as well as the smells in your home unique to your own family history.

Barclay…

Peggy was not big on holiday fanfare. I will have to consult my brother on this, but I don’t recall any Thanksgiving feasts or Christmas stockings.  When we moved to Florida she didn’t bother with a Christmas tree.

So when I became a mom I was determined to go to the other extreme.

The only problem was that I was not much of a cook.  My mother in law, Rosemarie, had to resuscitate many a parched turkey or salvage many a side dish of dry stuffing or limp green beans.  Sounds appetizing I know!

For dessert we eventually just turned to Bakers Square since my pie creations were not exactly award-winning.

But we did have FUN in the kitchen and around the table.  Our neighbors would come over for cocktails and appetizers and we’d be a happy group by the time dinner was served around 4pm.

We loved playing games as well.   After dinner, a card game of Hearts would be in full swing while football played in the background.

Joy is right about the innocence of Thanksgiving.

Just family, friends, and togetherness.  A tad drunk – chewing on a dry turkey!

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We welcome your own recollections of Thanksgiving and why you think it’s special.

Your Brain on Games

My mother was a NY Times Crossword Puzzle snob.  She tackled the Sunday edition in pen, disdaining anyone looking over her shoulder offering lame suggestions.  She used the “e word” liberally  — “Oh Barclay, really, it’s so easy.”  Which of course left you feeling completely stupid when 1 Across through 5 Down were as blank as your brain.

But lest we be too hard on Peggy, many of us may have some puzzle-snobism within – (though never uttering the e-word).  Brett is a Jumbles Expert —  who sees beyond LOUEDM and REFTER to their real-word counterparts  – something I am in awe of.  (**Answers provided at  the end of this post; give it a go; I dare you!)

My friend, Debbie, is a Suduko expert; Michelle a crossword aficionado a al Peggy.

I am the master of none.

Sudokos leave me feeling stupid; Crossword puzzles must have the word, EASY, emblazoned on them; and Jumbles — well, all I see is REFTER which clearly describes a person who likes “refting”.

And witnessing me try to parallel park will have you chuckling for days.  (Ask my friend, Jeanne).

But the good news is that we can improve our skills and our brains will be the better for it – particularly if we play different types of brain games.

Dr. Gary Small of the UCLA Longevity Center says, “Just as you’d lift weights AND do cardio, you can maximize cognitive fitness with various types of exercise”.  By “exercise” he means brain games which we rotate according to their targeted focus.

Language: Jumbles, Scrabble

Visual-Spatial: Mazes, Jigsaws

Problem Solving: Chess, Sudoku, Logic games

Memory and Concentration: Trivial Pursuit, Candy Crush

 

 

 

Interestingly, I’ve noticed at the nursing home I visit with Codie, the older folks who seem the most engaged are those who are cradling a Crossword or a Word Search, who never miss a Jeopardy or a Wheel of Fortune.  These folks also prefer books with large print to TV unending.

And one more thing about games, they are FUN.  They provide challenge, satisfaction, a sense of control.

And they just may help in remembering where your keys are (hopefully not in the freezer) or the name of that neighbor of 15 years.

Plus they may provide a chuckle or two — as you “reft” onward.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Find a puzzle to tackle today.  There’s no shame in looking for the word, EASY!

-Celebrate your progress.  I have completed ONE Suduko,  Yes, one.  But I will drink to that!

 

Enjoy the DEIR***!

xox  Barclay and Joy

 

 

** muddle; ferret

*** RIDE

 

Got a minute?  Oprah.com offers this challenge —

Changing Words (language)

Begin with WALL and change one letter at a time until you get to FIRM. Each change has to create an actual word.

WALL

____
____
____

FIRM

14,600 dinners and counting!!!

Just like the lyrics from “Seasons of Love”, Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes, (from the musical Rent, in case it’s a question on Jeopardy) I figure I have prepared at least 14,600 dinners over a 41 year marriage!!!!!!!  Not even counting breakfast or lunch!

My husband, being very thoughtful decided to try one of these meal plans that delivers to the home relieving me (for at least a couple of dinners) of this tedious chore!  Don’t get me wrong.  I love to cook, make new recipes, experiment, but having to get dinner on the table every night is pure drudgery! (along side grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, etc!)

We had tried every meal plan under the sun for our younger daughter who has no interest in cooking. Her New York City size kitchen doesn’t offer much counter space so I get that it’s not easy to prepare food. Her solution to meal preparing, as it is for many New York City apt dwellers is Seamless, otherwise known as take out! I digress since this post is about my husband and I in our attempt to make dinner together.

My husband opted for a company called Plated (www.plated.com) that sends you all the ingredients cut up in nice little packages including spices and a lovely recipe card in color!  Don’t look at the calories because for some reason every dinner is in the 600-900 range. This was something we could do together while at the same time putting sustenance in our bodies!

It brought to mind  the time, as newly weds, we attempted to wall paper one wall for effect in our hallway.  Mind you, this was not even an entire room, but rather one wall!  It was a disaster fraught with yelling at each other, tears, and blaming one another for wrinkles in the pattern. We never wall papered together again! (nor painted, nor shared in any fix it projects in the house for the 25 years we lived in suburbia) In an apartment you call the super!  In a house, you pay for someone to do it for you!  Not related!

With me on one side of the counter and my husband on the other we share the tasks at hand for preparing Chicken Caprese.  Sautéing, roasting, a little more dicing, tasting, a glass of vino  along side.  Maybe, this was what was needed.  A new approach to dinner preparation, one that I was resistant to at first, turned out to be fun! I did my part and he did his to create something yummy, nutritionally balanced, and  required no scouring recipes on the internet!

So I still prepare a few dinners on my  own, unassisted (with our agreement being, if I cook, he cleans up and if he cooks, I clean) Taking a couple dinners off my plate makes me feel freer, breaks me out of my mold.  I’m learning, albeit slowly, that I don’t have to do things the same way I did before.  As my daughter Morgan always tells me, I make dinner the way my mother did.  Potato (a starch), veggies (my mother used Bird’s Eye frozen-hey, it was the 1960’s!) and chicken or steak or maybe even liver and onions! I steam vegetables to preserve their vitamins ,bake sweet potatoes rather than white Idahos, and grill  chicken that has been lovingly cared for in the Hudson Valley!

Today’s Takeaway…

. Do something fun with your spouse.  Preparing meals can be so routine. Spice it up and try one of these plans that can make dinner an enjoyable experience!

. Leave the wall papering to a professional!

. Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Home Chef- the Ubers of meal plans!

Enjoy the Ride

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

Meditation and the Monkey Mind

I (Barclay) downloaded an app called “Insight Timer” which offers 400,000 meditations.  Where to begin?

Then I noticed they had a course called “Learn How to Meditate in Seven Days” which sounded doable.

Day 1: The timer is set for 10 minutes.  A woman’s voice, slow and monotoned, tells me to breathe in through my nose and exhale through my mouth.  Feel your tummy rise with each inhale. After a bit, I peek at the timer.  7 minutes left. My phone says enough-of-this and beeps a reminder to put the laundry in the dryer – which I do.

Day 2:  The woman suggests we “explore the mind”.  Let your thoughts drift past, she says. Watch them but don’t attend to them.  Wait! What’s that? An ant scurrying for cover. If I don’t nab it, word will spread to other ants.  Good-bye Ant.  And good-bye morning meditation.

On Day 7  I mute the voice.

So there’s this thing called the Monkey Mind that Psychology Today suggests is our inner critic.

“It’s the part of your brain most connected to the ego, which contends that you can’t do anything right. It’s also the part of you that stifles creativity and prevents you from moving forward with your passions. The monkey mind insists on being heard, and sometimes it takes a lot of self-control to shut it down. It is also the part of your brain that becomes easily distracted, so if you want to get anything done in life, your challenge will be to shut down the monkey mind.”

For some of us, this is near impossible.  I think my mind is more elephantine than monkey.  My thoughts are constantly racing-what medicare  plan should I take when I turn 65, what should I make for dinner, what if my children never get married, will I have enough money if I live to 90!!-just to be clear-Joy chiming in here.

They say that to tame our monkey mind we need to practice ……..wait for it……mindfulness.  A buzz word that’s lived its full 15 minutes of fame.  (Wouldn’t you just love to coin the next buzz word or phrase that means exactly the same thing??)

But that said, we should give mindfulness its due especially in tackling a monkey mind that’s bent on hijacking our meditation.

Author, Marelisa Fabrega, offers practical suggestions at her website, Daring to Live Fully.)

Let your monkey mind “run amok” for 10 minutes a day, she says.  Journal your thoughts.  Then if the MM starts up again, you tell it,

“Your session for today is over. Wait until tomorrow’s session. I’ll listen to you then.” Soon, your monkey mind will realize that it’s completely futile to make a fuss at any time other than during your journaling sessions.

We should also question our MM.  When it raises a grievance, ask why it’s upset.  Counter your MM’s points using the ABC method.

Day 8:  I am breathing to the count of 4, holding for 4, exhaling for 4.  I have the sound of a babbling brook on my phone.  My Monkey Mind tells me that I am late in paying a bill, but I ignore it.  5 minutes passes.  Victory.

Clearly, I won’t be hosting a seminar on meditation any time soon.

But hey, it’s a start!

Today’s Takeaway:

-Set apart time for daily reflection and meditation – whatever duration and practice is right for you.

-Let’s put some serious thought into inventing the next buzz word to replace “mindfulness”.  Just think of the best sellers we will write and the talk shows we will grace!!

Enjoy the ride!

Ommmmmm…..

xox Barclay and Joy

Music is Chicken Soup for the Soul

Plato must have known a thing or two. The quote above resonates today and will as long as there is music to be played. Not bad for a philosopher who died in 347 B.C.  I wonder if anything I’ve said will be remembered long after I’m gone!

My memory of music in my home goes way back to my dad listening to cantorial records , as well as Herb Albert’s Tijuana Brass (Whipped Cream, my favorite cover of his!) in the living room piped out of a human size speaker and hi-fi equipment.  My children will read this and go, what’s a hi-fi?!!

Much has been written about music having the ability to move us, emit emotions, joy, sadness.  It crosses boundaries, it doesn’t require words  nor pictures. You feel it in your core, your bones, your heart.

Stanford University Study  shows that music helps us make sense of a chaotic world and soothes our senses.

This is meant for one of my very dearest friends (no names mentioned) who is suffering through a very difficult period of time in her family’s life.  It struck me that my love for music might resonate with her. We all go through grief in different ways and how we deal with it is very unique to our own individual personalities. People feel all kinds of emotions during the course of a day, a week, a month. No one is happy all the time, or despondent all the time. Music is almost an emotion in itself. I see music as an escape for a minute or two. It can be for however long you desire. I used to lie in the dark in my living room and play records (mostly show tunes that I knew every word to!)

Music has been called a way of life for certain human beings. Some of us have musical talent and others don’t, ( I played the violin in the school band only because there were no more flute parts! First chair was never going to happen!) but those who do can share their emotions through  expression. The way music effects our everyday lives can be almost incomprehensible at times.

One time in particular stood out to me when I thought of examples of what impact music can make on our lives. The concert held in New York for the September 11, 2001 tragedy, in a sense, brought our country together. So many famous musicians wrote songs dedicated to the tragedy. Through music people were able to express their feelings easily in a peaceful, yet effective way. It wasn’t for money or publicity, it was simply for a good cause. Also, it was one of the best ways to prove that our country can come together in a time of crisis. The concert helped people who were grieving and even touched those who were not directly involved with the attack. Not only did it bring New York City together, but also it brought our entire nation together as one.

The same was done for World Aid’s Day and Coca Cola used it beautifully in its ‘ I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing- several variations on this iconic commercial, which was created in the early 1970’s. Now, try to get this tune out of your head!~!!

 

 

Today’s Takeaway…

. Hum a few bars of a melody that you hold dear, roll down the windows of your car and sing, or resort to the proverbial shower aria!

. It’s always available to you and it will put a smile on your face, I promise.  A lot fewer calories than eating a bag full of Oreos!

Enjoy the Ride

xox Barclay & Joy

To Nap or Not to Nap

My mother was a professional napper.  Peggy would retreat to her bedroom, take a 20-minute snooze, then reappear in heels and lipstick ready to discuss politics, books, shopping.

When I try to nap, I either fall into a deep sleep, arising with puffy eyes, a lovely wrinkle in my cheek from face scrunching, and a fuzzy brain.  Or I simply stare at the ceiling while my inner critic takes great pleasure in replaying life’s regrettable moments.

Post nap, I am beyond the intervention of heels and lipstick.  I am done for the day.

We know that research has shown the benefits to taking a snooze.  The National Sleep Foundation tells us that we are actually sleep deprived.  And though a nap can’t make up for a poor night’s sleep, the NSF says napping can “improve performance, mood, and alertness.”  Did you know that Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison, John F. Kennedy were nappers?

Napping does NOT connote laziness.  Author Brendan Brown says that taking daily naps will NOT turn us into George Castansas from Seinfeld!  “The humble nap,” he says, “will help you get more stuff done later that day, and make you feel a whole lot better in the process.”

So how do we non-nappers get started?  Is there an art to napping?  Is it a skill we can learn and practice?

Brown provides 7 steps to achieve the Perfect Nap.

First, we must decide on the duration.  This visual from his blog site can be our guide. Notice that there are unique benefits to each nap duration.

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He suggests that the ideal time frame for napping is between 1pm and 3pm.  A nap at that time will not disturb our nighttime sleep and can help revitalize us for the rest of the day.  (Companies such as Zappos, Google, and the Huffington Post are snooze savvy and have created rooms for power napping.)

We should also set an alarm and make our surroundings free from distractions.

Then how about this fascinating tip…..  to avoid post nap fogginess, Brown suggests we drink a cup of coffee before napping.  Yes, coffee.  The caffeine will kick in 20 to 30 minutes after drinking – the perfect time for waking up.

Check out his site for more suggestions.

 

 

So, I hate to admit it, but Peggy was right, yet again.   Napping reduces our blood pressure and can ward off heart disease.  She lived a vibrant life to the age of 96, napping throughout!

 

Codie, too, is a proficient napper.   And I challenge you to find a happier creature in all the earth!

 

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Today’s Takeaway –

  • Napping is good for us!  And anyway, George Castansas was a funny guy…
  • Peggy reminds us to sleep on our back to avoid face scrunching. That way we won’t need an alarm.  Our vigorous snoring will jar us awake.

 

Enjoy the Ride!

zzzzzzzz   Barclay and Joy

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