Think About Dying While You’re Still Living!

It may sound funny or macabre or morose, but I mean it!  Being retired gives you a lot of time to think, to reflect, to ponder, wonder, question.  Do it while your mind is awake, alive, inquisitive. My cheerful topic was prompted by a text I received this weekend from a very close friend of mine regarding her dad.

Her dad at a very advanced age of 94 has decided he is ready to die.  There is no disease, per se, like cancer or Parkinson’s or the many other maladies that one might succumb to in these final years.  He is tired, frail, short of breath, not feeling the way he might have last year at 93.  We can fix so many things through treatments, organ replacements, medication, until we get to a certain point in life where the options don’t provide the same results.  It struck me, knowing this man for over 50 years, as a thoughtful, well analyzed decision.  This is not someone who feels sorry for himself or is depressed.  He has lived a long full life.  At 94, what more can you say?  If this is someone’s wish and they are of sound mind, then we as family members should honor it and respect what it took to get the person to that point.  It’s a tough one for sure and there will be many followers who will not agree with me.

He is one of the lucky ones, not suffering, not bed ridden, not in a memory care facility unable to remember his daughter’s face or name. With so many of my friend’s parents living into their 90’s, an age most never would have expected to see, it is something to give thought to.  We are all individuals and life is precious, every breath, every morning that we wake up, but why can’t we decide on our own destiny if we choose? Go out on your own terms according to your own plans.  We will all die of something someday, just a question of when.

I saw a post this morning that made me laugh:

Welcome to your 60’s!

 

If you don’t already have a mysterious ailment, one will be assigned to you shortly.

Today’s Takeaway…

Health is truly a gift.  Everyday you wake up without a body pain or ache, is wonderful! Treasure it.  Never ever think it’s trite to say- “When you have your health, you have everything”

Oh, and did you know you can buy a coffin on eBay?  I wonder if they’re new or used?!!!

Spend your children’s inheritance!  Hopefully, they’ll make their own money!

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a snowflake on my nose! Finding childlike joy in ordinary moments

I’m trudging through the snow, boots crunching, head down.  Late for an appointment because of time spent scraping ice off the car.

There’s a school next door to the office building and I see a mom corralling her three kids toward the entrance. 

“Hey mom, there’s a snowflake on my nose!”   The kindergartener is delighted.  Pure joy in his exclamation.  He cares nothing about being late, about cold temperatures, about ice on a car, or a midwestern winter that seems never to end.  Even his harried mom smiles.

Clearly I need to channel this joy.

For winter will yield to spring.  The sun is making every attempt to peek out.  And the snowflakes are indeed beautiful, a metaphor for the uniqueness of each person, a work of art vanishing too soon, noticed only by a 5-year-old.

 

The Huffington Post offers 40 suggestions for finding joy in everyday life.  What follows is the article by

1. Play with kids.

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2. Play like a kid.

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3. Learn something new (play a new sport or game, learn how to cook a new dish).

4. Get out in nature.

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5. Help someone in a small way (by carrying their groceries or paying their toll on the highway).

6. Count your blessings.

7. Spend time with your pet.

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8. Travel.

 

9. Nurture romance (spend time just kissing your partner, buy a surprise gift, write a love letter).

 

10. Dress up in costume for no reason.

 

11. Lose yourself in a great book.

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12. Laugh and smile, no matter how you’re feeling.

13. Sing out loud.

14. Connect authentically with friends and family, sharing your vulnerabilities.

15. Dance. If you can’t dance, just skip.

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16. Pay a compliment to a total stranger.

17. Listen to uplifting music.

18. Serve others. Volunteer.

 

19. Exercise.

 

20. Set a goal, then reach it (run that marathon, pass that test, lose those five pounds).

21. Meditate and enjoy the silence.

 

22. Write a thank you letter or Facebook post to someone for no particular reason other than just to say “I appreciate you.”

23. Get messy (go barefoot, play in the mud).

 

24. Prepare and slowly eat a healthy meal.

 

25. Offer to teach someone a new skill.

26. Memorize a poem.

27. Turn your errands into an adventure (by making a game out of finding certain items at the store or spotting yellow cars while driving there).

 

28. Take a nap.

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29. Ask someone for help (and express appreciation for their guidance).

30. Watch a favorite old movie for the hundredth time.

 

31. Discover a new smell (in the form of a candle, flower, or massage oil).

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32. Snuggle.

33. Get rid of stuff. (Take it to a homeless shelter. Lighten your load and make someone else’s life better at the same time.)

 

34. Watch a sunrise or sunset.

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35. Make a commitment to change a bad habit, then do it.

36. Create something.

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37. Eat a cupcake.

 

38. Spend an evening by candlelight.

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39. Take a walk in the rain.

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40. Surrender (give it up to God).

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I’m not sure about dressing up or walking in the rain.  But certainly I can eat a cupcake, light a candle, offer a compliment, take a nap, ask for help, write a note, exercise, snuggle with Codie.

 

And maybe even skip a little,

while noticing with glee if a wayward snowflake lands on my nose.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Pick one of the 40 suggestions and try it today.  Each day is a gift, even when you have to scrape ice off your car.

– And try skipping.  Just don’t slip on the ice and break a hip!

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

Burger King is hiring!!

close up photo of a cheese burger

Photo by Rajesh TP on Pexels.com

We are in a very healthy job market that is witnessing unemployment stats we haven’t seen in 49 years!  Mind blowing that this is true when several of my retired friends want to continue contributing to the work force and are having trouble doing so.

A dear friend of mine has been diligently sending her resume out looking for a job that will carry her for the next few years.  She is super qualified for every post she responds to and writes one hell of a cover letter! 

What’s wrong? One would think in such a robust environment anyone who wanted to work could!  Not true.  Age discrimination sucks!  It’s something we will always have to deal with and it’s not okay! We can make excuses that we have only a limited number of years to give, like an expiration date on a can of soup! 

We can argue that our skill set is not as good as a millennial when it comes to Excel, PowerPoint, or some data management system. But the fact is many of us learn quickly, get with the program and know what we need to do to fit in with a younger office culture.  How did the world move so quickly, were we not paying attention when trends shifted in our industries?

I, for one, was in the publishing business.  Publishing has gone through cataclysmic changes just like many other industries.  The migration from print to digital came at such an amazing speed that even though we could see it coming, we could not prepare fast enough to develop the new skills we would need.  If only, I had worked in the digital space 15 years earlier, I would never have felt the lack of comprehension I experienced.  Jargon was different, metrics, completing proposals.  I felt dumb, inadequate, at a loss.  For an Alpha female this is not my preferred sense of self!

Age discrimination in the workplace will always be an issue.  Whether we are in a strong job market or not, no one wants someone who is well past their prime.  While 70 may be the new 60, that truly does not apply in the traditional work environment.  For every Nancy Pelosi, Glenn Close, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, there are many more faceless women (and men) who would tell you otherwise.

My solution at this stage of the game is to take whatever I want as a “little job”.  I have nothing to prove at this point.  I’ve succeeded in my field, hit my bogeys, met my objectives, been the #1 sales person.  I suggested to a friend of mine that I might take the civil service exam and become a mail person!  For a nosy person, this could be my best gig yet!  I get to see other people’s mail!  Good benefits and pin money for entertainment.  I’m not seeking a career, but rather structure, routine, camaraderie with other people.

I’m one of the lucky ones who got to leave on her own terms. If it happens in your 50’s it’s a whole other story.

An article that appeared in AlterNet says it best, see below.  It’s a dose of reality that we need to pay attention to because it creeps up fast!

50 Is the New 65: Older Americans Are Getting Booted from Their Jobs and Denied New Opportunities
written by Lynn Stuart Parramore / AlterNet December 24, 2013

Age discrimination could be headed your way, sooner than you think.

Editor’s note: This article is part of Lynn Parramore’s ongoing AlterNet series on job insecurity and part of the New Economic Dialogue Project.

In every corner of America, millions of people are terrified of losing their jobs and falling into financial ruin. Men and women with impressive professional achievements and credentials are being let go, nudged out and pushed aside. They are pounding the pavement and scouring the job sites, but find themselves turned away even for the most basic retail jobs. Not because they aren’t competent. Not because they lack skills. But simply because they have a gray hair or two.

This is not just a story of people in their 60s or 70s. Workers as young as 50 are shocked to find themselves suddenly tossed onto the employment rubbish heap, just when they felt on top of their game. They’re feeling stressed, angry and betrayed by a society that has benefited greatly from their contributions.

As the global population grows older, age discrimination is on the rise. It could be headed for you, much sooner than you think.

“I Got Thrown Away”

Jan, a marketing executive from Southern California, is just 51, and she has already learned the heartbreak and frustration of age-related job insecurity.

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She was flying high as the head of marketing for a large financial planning firm when she was laid off in 2009 at the age of 47. The recession had done its damage, and her firm had to let some people go — mostly the youngest and oldest employees. Jan understood why the layoff happened, as sad as it was. Her firm gave her great recommendations and kept her on as a consultant for a year.

But she was not prepared for what happened when she tried to find another job.

First Jan applied for positions similar to her previous employment at banks and other financial institutions. Nothing. Keeping upbeat, she widened the net, applying for all marketing and communications jobs advertised in a 40-mile radius of her home. Still nada. Finally, she started applying for retail jobs and was shocked to find that she could not even land these. Jan got an interview at Barnes & Noble, but the store didn’t call her back, and she wondered if all the young people on the floor had something to do with it. She tried a local bridal shop, thinking that she was the same age as the mothers of the brides and would be a good fit. They didn’t hire her. Even Target turned her down for a job as a store clerk. No reason was given. That’s when she started to panic.

“It’s been difficult on my family,” Jan says. “My husband was a lawyer, but he has become disabled. My daughter felt embarrassed that I couldn’t find a job, and I’ve had to explain to her why she shouldn’t be. I had to explain to her that I was not ashamed, that I was mad. I had done everything I was supposed to do. I had gone to college, then to grad school. I worked very hard and I had a lot of success. Then I got thrown away.”

In researching this article, I heard many stories like Jan’s, from Americans from all walks of life. A commercial fisherman with 30 years experience from Tucson, Arizona has sent out dozens of applications, but gets zero bites. An Ohio IT professional with over 30 years experience was let go after 15 years at his company, and now finds himself working in a bottom-tier customer service position with 20-year-olds.

These are downwardly mobile Americans whose dreams of stability after decades of a job well done and a comfortable retirement are vanishing before their eyes.

Bigotry That Knows No Boundaries

Today’s Takeaway-

. Be prepared for anything life throws your way.  If working is still something you want to do, screw what other people think!  It’s about what makes you happy!

. Burger King is always looking for good people!  A few lines around your eyes just makes you wiser and you probably get all the fries you can eat!

Enjoy the Ride.

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Factually

I recently had dinner with Sandra (pseudonym), a woman who personifies love and joy.  And not the Pollyanna kind.   Over her 60 plus years, Sandra has battled cancer more than once, heart disease, brain surgery, and broken bones.  She’s the mother of two boys with special needs, now approaching their 20s, her constant companions..

But despite her challenges, Sandra is always on the lookout for others in need. She smiles a lot and basically, shows off God.   “Tell me about your life,” she says.   “How can I pray for you?”

During dinner Sandra brought out her ring of Bible verses on Love which she and her sons are memorizing – Verses for Purses.

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Her son, Mike, with hand signals and guidance from his mom, quoted the first verse on the ring — Romans 12:10 –  “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”   Mike returned to his video game and Sandra beamed with pride.

Later that night, sitting in my car, I reached for the keys.  Wouldn’t you know it – Sandra being Sandra – had slipped her Purse-Verse ring into MY purse!  I smiled all the way home marveling at this woman who honors others above herself.  (She also enjoys wine and a good joke, by the way — lest you think her too angelic!)

So how to be more like Sandra, a Baby Boomer who is relishing her life even in the midst of weighty challenges?

 

Back to Verses for Purses.   Be devoted to one another in love.

But to be devoted to one another, we may need to love ourselves first.  And that takes intentionality.  Best selling author, Louise Hay, has written a book called Mirror Work which entails a 21 day program for learning to love yourself better – without slipping into narcissism.  One reviewer writes,

“Our experience of life mirrors our relationship with ourselves; unless we see ourselves as lovable, the world can be a dark and lonely place. Mirror work—looking at oneself in a mirror and repeating positive affirmations—is Louise’s powerful method for learning to love oneself and experience the world as a safe and loving place.”

 

OK, apologies to Ms. Hay, but I will not be looking in a mirror and saying affirmations (a la Stuart Smiley on SNL).  However, I will give myself the occasional talking-to, especially on Valentines Day.

I am a child of God.  I am dearly loved.  I am also a work in progress!  And today, I will smile more, love more, live better – because the days are short and life is a precious gift.

And I will also look for someone else’s purse to drop a verse ring into.  (I ordered an Amazon shipment!)    So when we’re together, if you’d rather not find a surprise the next day, may I suggest you keep your purse on your lap!

Today’s Takeaway –

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Happy Valentines Day, Loved Ones!!

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women Aging Well: The Intentionality of Happiness in Your 60s and 70s

Psychologist Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia, has written a new book called, Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We Age. It is number 10 on the hardcover nonfiction list and climbing fast.

The NY Times Book Review writes,

“In her book, which has entered its fifth printing since it was published on Jan. 15, Pipher cites research… suggesting not only that people become happier as they age but that the happiest people are women aged 65-79.

Contrary to the cultural scripts that say women are old and useless and in the way — diminished versions of their former selves — in reality older women are the happiest demographic in the country,”

 

In a NY Times Opinion entitled, The Joy of Being a Woman in her 70’s, Pipher describes us older women–

“We are resilient and know how to thrive in the margins.”

I love that phrase, “thriving in the margins.”

Pipher, alongside Glenn Close and Nancy Pelosi, is jarring long-held stereotypes of aging American women slipping into lonely, unproductive obscurity.  Before the iconic Jane Fonda, all we had was Grandma Moses to emulate – the folk artist who famously began her painting career at the age of 78, staying current until her death at 101.

In 2019 we are fitter than our predecessors; we are living longer; and we are redefining retirement, if there is such a term these days.   Pipher says, “Many of us have learned that happiness is a skill and a choice” and as we enter our 60s and 70s we are perfecting our skill set.  According to Pipher, true happiness stems from things like self-knowledge and emotional intelligence.

So, barring illness or catastrophic events, it is up to us to choose these happiness-links, which were not esteemed by our Younger Selves distracted as they were by parenting perfection, job achievement, marriage fulfillment.  Although American society may still devalue mature women, Pipher says that we are increasingly happy and  vibrant.

 

But back to intentionality — the self-help literature on aging says it comes down to 3 E’s.

 

Exercise

Empathy

Engagement

 

Notice the word, Easy, did not make the cut.  It would be far easier to sleep instead of exercise, to pursue our own ends rather than the ends of others, to disengage rather than engage (in others, in activities, in learning).  Grandma Moses did have to pick up that paintbrush and prep a canvas. Jane Fonda did have to don her tube socks and leotards for her aerobic workouts.

 

So let’s strive to thrive.   Even in the Margin, which it turns out is the place to be – paved by Grandma Moses, and unabashedly inhabited by Pelosi, RBG, Close, and Fonda.

Pretty good company, I’d say!

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-No offense to Grandma Moses, but we should definitely not go out our front door au-naturel.  We of 2019 have make-up, hair coloring, and fashion at our disposal.  And as my friend, Cathy, says, “Let’s wear make-up for the good of the world.”

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Sorry, Grandma Moses, the hat may have been ill advised.

-Check out this post on RBG.  Whatever your politics, you have to agree she embodies vibrancy and resiliency.

 

Enjoy the Ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

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Honey, My World Has Shrunk!!

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Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

One of my friends used the phrase, “My world is so much smaller now.”  I thought about the meaning of this phrase and how it applied to my own life.  No question the plate I had in front of me had a full time job, caring of children, running a household, keeping in touch with people for social events, finances, etc.  There were many different balls in the air, all the time, and I liked it that way!

My friend who put this new world into perspective worked for the same company I did and traveled the globe.  She was always on a plane going somewhere, meeting important people, managing directors of major investment banks, Central Bank ministers, Presidents of emerging market countries, people with discretionary budgets to spend money.  She loved her job and she did it so successfully.

When it all comes to an end, your world does shrink!  It’s a smaller world filled with more mundane routines, like getting out of bed in the morning and making the bed, scheduling a game of pickle ball or mah jongg, a coffee date, a lunch date, a drink date, reading, getting in touch with friends.

Small is relative, I guess.  “Good things come in small packages.” “It’s a small world after all.”  “Only small minds are impressed by large numbers.” ~Arthur C. Clarke. “Small children give you a headache; big children heartache” ~Russian proverb. “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” ~Neil Armstrong.  “If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”~Napoleon Hill.

You get the picture!

So, maybe smaller isn’t that bad.  It’s different.  It’s not the same world that I had.  It takes getting used to and tweaking, moving the deck chairs around, moving the chess pieces across the board.  Small in the end is okay, as long as it’s meaningful and enjoyable. Anyway, it doesn’t mean my best days are over!  Whenever you, Ms or Mr. Retiree, think that way, just look at Ruth Bader Ginsburg (The Notorious RBG).  She isn’t going anywhere anytime soon!

Today’s Takeaway..

. A smaller world (space) is not all bad.  It’s easier to find your lost keys!

. Readjust your thinking!  Get to like your new digs.  Like little houses;  a smaller world might not be half bad after all! Less to clean!!!!

Enjoy the Ride

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morning Routines: Developing Habits to Invigorate Your Day

What’s your morning ritual?

We retired folks want to make these last laps meaningful and energized.  When Laziness and Apathy knock on our door, we want to send them packing.

It all begins with how we start our day.  Without a 9 to 5 job, we Baby Boomers must  be intentional about adapting a productive morning routine.

Author Bryan Adams has written a piece for  Inc.,  in which he shares the morning habits of the highly-successful.

Oprah starts her morning with 20 minutes of meditation that, “fills her day with hope, a sense of contentment and deep joy.”   She then hits the treadmill to activate her body.

Tony Robbins performs breathing exercises.  With his eyes closed, he expresses gratitude for what he has, while taking 30 deep breaths.  He then prays for guidance for the day ahead.  Robbins says, “If you don’t have ten spare minutes to work on yourself every morning, then you don’t have a life.”

The late Steve Jobs always made his bed immediately upon waking.  Many say that this seemingly insignificant habit sparks a feeling of accomplishment.

My doctor says that upon rolling out of bed, she forces herself to do 25 push-ups. This, she says, wakes up both brain and body.

Personally, my brain and body are not so aligned.  My body has me eating cereal rather than doing push-ups and my brain advises that an hour more of shut-eye will be good for my skin.   My bed looks like a 5-year-old tried to make it.  And if I do meditate, 5 minutes feels like 5 hours during which my brain has buzzed from anxious thoughts about family to laundry.

So recently I was delighted to hear Rich Roll’s interview with David Clear , the author of Atomic Habits.  The content has given me hope for a more disciplined morning and a more productive day.

Here are 5 points from Mr. Clear that my brain and body are currently pondering.

“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you believe that you are.”  Even if you do one push-up or 2 measly minutes of meditation, this plants the mental seed that you, yes you, are the type of person who exercises and meditates.

“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.”  You ARE your habits.  You may not deem them significant but each morning you write in your journal, you do your breathing exercises, you pray – over time these habits become who you are.

“Never miss twice.”  If you work out on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and then have to skip a day because of illness or travel, make sure you do not miss the next time.  A good habit can vanish if you miss twice.

“Design your environment” for success.  If you want to develop a morning habit of flossing, place the floss near your toothbrush.  If you want to drink more water, pre-pour a bottle to carry with you.

Perform the first 2 minutes of a habit you want to develop.  Write down your accomplishments.  Small is good!

 

So, here’s to —

2 minutes of meditation, 5 push-ups, a bed that looks like an adult made it, and being a flossing water-drinker.

It’s a start!

 

Today’s Takeaways –

-It takes 21 days for form a habit. Go easy on yourself!  Celebrate the small.  Remember that 2 minutes is better than no minutes.

-One great habit can lead to more.  If you work out, you may just say no to Ben and Jerry next time they invite you to the freezer.

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy