Dear Younger Me…

 

Barclay here…

 

Dear Younger Me,

I’ve been meaning to share a few thoughts with you.

#1 – Worry less; Pray more

All that time spent worrying did not change a thing except to make you live inside your head and not in the world.  When Jesus sighed, “Oh you of little faith,” I think he was referring to YOU.  Yes you.  So, have faith in your God and stop being a worry wort.  It will cause you wrinkles and we DON’t want that!

#2  – Vulnerability is OK

Someone with a cool name will become very famous speaking and writing about vulnerability.  (Unfortunately, this woman will not be you.)  But take her message to heart.  Remove your mask and share your struggles (appropriately of course….a job interview for example may not be the right setting.)  Be vulnerable and seek community.

#3 – Avoid Mom-Guilt 

You may feel guilty for being a working mom, a stay at home mom, a mom who just prays that she doesn’t mess up her kids.  Seek the path that’s right for you; stop comparing yourself to those oh-so-perfect moms.  They don’t exist.  Do your best and spend time on your knees in prayer.  (And accept the fact that you will do stuff that does indeed mess up your kids.)

#4 – Be braver

Take risks.  Someone named Joy will want to blog with you.  Someone named Gina will ask you to jump out of a plane.  Someone named Brett will take you on a glorious marriage adventure.  And those kids whom you will undoubtedly mess up — will both bless and break your heart.  They will seek their own adventures, apart from you.  Don’t let them see your tears…be happy for them.

#5 – Drink more water

You really should turn your wine into water.  Drinking water is good for you and your skin will thank you.  Coffee and wine do not hydration make.

#6 – Slow down; Meditate; Look for blessings 

Breathe deeply; Look for beauty; Make time for pausing and reflecting.

#7 – Make the first things, first things

Find opportunities for volunteering.  Give of your time and money and don’t tell anyone.  God sees it all.  And His opinion is the only one that counts in the end.  By the way, this will be the LAST thing you want to do.  You will have to force yourself.  But trust me,  you will be refreshed more that you will refresh others, which probably is very little!

#8 – Forgive quickly

Don’t hold onto resentment from your childhood.  Keep short accounts with God.  Know that YOU are in need of forgiveness!  And I mean, daily.

#9 – Cherish friendships

Listen more.  Laugh a ton.   Oh, and of course, get a doggie!!

#10 – Wear sunscreen

You knew I was going to say this!!  That tan isn’t worth it.  You will be a regular at the dermatologist if you don’t wear sunscreen.  And those tanning booths of the 1980s were a BAD idea!  Your mother was right.  Of course.

 

More to come, YM.  You are not off the hook!

 

 

 

Joy here…

Dear Younger Me:

I could totally echo my fellow blogger and dear friend Barclay on the worrying.  If I could tell my younger self anything, it would be to stop the incessant worrying! STOP IT!!!!!!!!!

Listen up, YM,

It’s a complete and utter waste of time.  It never got you anywhere.  It didn’t make you feel better and it probably added a wrinkle and grey hair for each year you did it!!!

Listen up, YM,

Stop futurizing.  Another one of my very bad habits.  I once visited a house that friends of ours had bought in the early 80’s.  At the time, my husband and I were living in Chicago (where I would meet my dear dear friend Barclay).  I loved the Chicago suburbs and visualized a life there, in Winnetka or Highland Park or maybe Wilmette. White picket fence, Volvo station wagon, dog, 2 children…  I couldn’t get it out of my head and I drove my poor husband crazy talking about it incessantly!  Appreciate what you have in the here and now.  If it is meant to happen, it will, in time!  PATIENCE!!!!!

Listen up, YM,

Love your parents with all their faults and annoying habits!  You too will be a retiree one day (who knew?!!) and drive your children crazy with your habits! I loved mine with all my heart and being, but I truly thought they’d be around forever.  My mother, Muriel, passed away at 71 years old of diabetic complications. I never expected it and I was devastated.  She was my best friend and I would miss her so.

Listen up, YM,

SAVE, SAVE, SAVE.  I was a good saver, but when I started making money, real money, I went a bit crazy.  I bought my husband a gold Rolex watch and myself a fur coat.  I loved material things, which there is nothing wrong with, but, at the end of the day, a few more shekels in the bank wouldn’t have hurt!  Possessions do not make you happy.  They are just things.

Listen up, YM,

Echo on the breathing and drinking water.  Hydrate, take a few moments every day to think, get in touch with your inner soul  I was always rushing around. I stopped exercising for about 10 years after I had children.  I couldn’t find the time.  REALLY?!!  C’mon YM, not a very good excuse!  Make the time for you, no matter what!  Every day.

Listen up, YM, 

Don’t go to bed without washing your face and brushing your teeth!  Keep good hygiene habits and they will pay off later in life. I have great skin, primarily good genes, but I tried to do this religiously and it has, indeed, paid off.  Good job YM!

EAT BROWNIES!  They’re delicious!  No rationale needed here!

Today’s Takeaway… 

If only we could write letters to our  younger selves.  It’s not too late because at this age we are younger than we will be next year and the year after and the year after that. Think about what you want to tell yourself today.

You are the recorder of your life, the director, the producer, the author, your harshest critic.  It’s never too late to write those letters, but remember to read them.  They don’t do you any good if they are sitting on your hard drive!

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay & Joy

 

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow-Or Adult Summer Camp Goodbyes

We have exactly 1 more week left here in Ajijic, Mexico.  It is hard to believe that 4 months have gone by.  The winter season has ended and spring is upon us, even in upstate New York and Chicago!

I wouldn’t have felt this way last year, the year before, but this year being our 3rd winter, I am sad to see it end.  Being a crab, a true Cancerian, I am a clinger.  It may take me a while, but then I get comfortable.  I hate change and everything about it, though I have advised others that they must go with the flow and adapt.  It doesn’t mean I heed my own advice!

Being an ex-pat, one has a common bond right off the bat with people who think like you do.  They have jumped off the diving board into cold unfamiliar water, not sure what to expect.  They are out of the box thinkers, probably protested during the Vietnam War years, marched for women’s rights, knew every Joan Baez, James Taylor, and Peter, Paul and Mary song! We have gravitated towards people who march to the beat of their own drum, don’t care what other’s think, and are confident in their own skin.  We have met people from Oregon, California, and Florida, all unique and wonderful in their own right. They are our peeps in Ajijic and, now, for the first time, because time is what you have a lot of, we have gotten to know them. We are no longer rushing for trains, rushing to get home to make dinner, helping with home work, paying bills, crashing into our beds at 10 while watching the nightly news. We have quality time every day to form relationships, bonds with other human beings.  How very fortunate we are and blessed to have found this little paradise filled with free spirits!

So, as we prepare to go back upstate, return to the U.S. for summer and fall, we say thank you for accepting us little village of Ajijic.  We have learned to appreciate a new culture, different ways of doing things, the pace that our Mexican neighbors move, and the best margaritas for 60 pesos anywhere!  (about $3 U.S. dollars!)

Hasta que nos volvamos a encontrat el ano que viene!

Today’s Takeaway:

If you’re lucky enough to try a new country, state, city, go for it!  If not now, when?  Break out of your comfort zone and go for it.  The friends you have from wherever you are coming from will be your friends no matter where you reside.

Thank goodness for the internet!  Communication was never easier.  I wrote multi page letters to my college roommates when I graduated to keep the friendships going.

https://www.iamexpat.nl

https://www.internations.orgimg_4022

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

 

 

Want to get in shape physically AND spiritually? Take Rosie’s Gratitude Walk!

We know we need to keep moving.

We know we need more contentment in our life.

So why not channel my vivacious mother in law, Rosemarie (AKA Rosie), age 79, and take a Gratitude Walk each morning?

First, get up as early as you can. And get out the door before your brain has a chance to notify your body that there’s the option of sleeping in.

Then consider Rosie’s Routine –

Rosemarie starts by saying, “Thank you, Father. ” (She tells me, “Since I never really had an earthly father, this small phrase touches my heart in a deep manner.”)

Then she may sing a hymn such as “It is Well with my Soul”  or “How Great Thou Art.”

As she walks around her neighborhood, Rosemarie notices the beauty that surrounds her.  (And there is always beauty to be acknowledged….a blade of grass, a leaf, a squirrel…even the rain and wind are cause for a grateful heart.)

Rosemarie thanks God that she is able to walk and prays for those who can’t.

Then she names each family member and expresses gratitude for that person being part of her life.  She asks God to bless everyone spiritually, physically, and financially.

She expresses her thanks for God’s protection.

She tells God how grateful she is that she has a relationship with him and that she is aware of his love and presence.

She expresses gratitude for our country.

And she asks for angels to be with us.

 

When she returns to her apartment, Rosemarie is refreshed spiritually and physically.

 

So, ready to take the challenge?  How about incorporating a Gratitude Walk for the next 10 days?

If the weather doesn’t cooperate, we can always walk around our house or apartment, humming a hymn, and raising our hands in thanks. (Here in Chicago, mid-April has brought snow —  in response to which a recent Facebook post read, “April, you’re drunk!  It’s time to go home!”)

Personally, my first thank-you will be to God for giving me a mother in law who models resilient faith, abundant love, authentic joy, and self-deprecating humor.

God bless you, Rosie!  And keep walking!

Today’s Takeaway:

As we celebrate Passover and Easter (at the same time this year) let us be thankful for all that we have.  Our families, first and foremost, great friends, love, and good health.

Barclay and I thank each and every one of you for your support, your belief in us, and your devotion to what we write. They are our most personal thoughts and musings as we navigate this retirement road of life.

Reflect, walk, and listen to Rosie!  Wisdom comes from living a life well lived!

Enjoy the Ride!

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crying: Cathartic or Debbie Downer?!

Crying-the act of crying, feeling sad, despondent, depressed, melancholy, sentimental, nostalgic, reminiscent.  We cry for so many reasons, but for me, it’s usually sadness or an event that provokes this emotional outpouring.

I have always been a crier!  In my twenties, I cried easily.  Sad movies made me cry.  I cried rivers when I saw “Love Story”, ‘Terms of Endearment”, (multiple tissues required!) Sophie’s Choice.  I don’t know how or why, but I hardened my emotions as I aged into my 30’s  and crying didn’t come to me as easily. I have always felt it cathartic to cry, a cleansing of the soul and body, a purge and surge at the same time.  It made me feel wrung out and ready to move forward.  I had no idea that my dear friend Barclay saw it differently until we began to discuss it.

WebMD actually tells us that crying can be good for you.  ‘Crying activates the body in a healthy way”, says Stephen Sideroff, , Ph.D, a clinical psychologist at UCLA and director of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics. ‘

adult alone black and white blur
Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Letting down one’s guard and one’s defenses and (crying) is a very positive healthy thing.  The same thing happens when you watch a movie and it touches you and you cry… That process of opening into yourself…it’s like a lock and key.”

In Japan they actually have something called a crying club.  I kid you not!  The term “rui-katsu” means “tear-seeking.’  In Tokyo, adult men and women watch sad videos and listen to depressing music resulting in communal bawling.  Japan has brought us many strange concepts (think Lolita fashion!) so why not crying clubs?!  Instead of being sad alone in your 600 floor Manhattan apartment, go to a club and cry in good company!  https://www.afr.com for more details.

Bottom line is we all feel things differently.  Crying can indeed be cathartic or it can be downright depressing and make one feel much worse.  Wallowing in self pity is an expression that aptly fits this state of mind.  Whatever it does for you or doesn’t, go with it.  Let it come naturally.  Be glad you can cry and express emotion.  There are many people that can’t.  Studies actually show that often when one is severely depressed tears do not come, even though you might want them to. This can be melancholic depression and can be extremely serious. A person who is in this state feels nothing, though they are sad.  Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote a poem that describes this state and likened people suffering from this type of depression to marble statues. Depression is weird like that.

So, as not to make this post too terribly morose, Spring is in the air, both here in Mexico and finally, home in upstate New York. Get out, breathe the fresh air, look at the beauty of the flowers budding, and if you feel the sensation to cry, you can always blame it on allergies!!

Today’s Takeaway:

.Let your emotions hang out, whatever they are.  It’s okay! Crying can be a good thing.  It might actually make us live longer!

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay & Joy

 

adult black and white darkness face
Photo by Juan Pablo Arenas on Pexels.com

Aim Low and You’ll Never Be Disappointed! How to Manage Expectations

This may sound like the advice of a low achiever or someone with no goals or aspirations.  Anyone who knows me can tell you, that is not who I am.  I have always been competitive.  My grades mattered to me, as did the college I got accepted into, the jobs I had, my career path, promotions, awards, accolades, etc.

So, that’s not what I’m saying.  What I am saying is that I have always had high expectations of, well, everything!  When you have a personality like that, chances are you’re going to be disappointed.  People disappoint, family disappoints, friends disappoint, bosses disappoint, situations disappoint.  I know this full well and, yet, I continue to set the stage with a script written for perfection.

My husband, on the other hand, has always set the bar low, so that he rarely is disappointed.  If you aim low, you’ll never be crushed when things don’t turn out the way you thought they would! Do I want to be like my husband-no, definitely not!

As a follow-up to my “Mrs. Grossman, Is That You?” post of a few months back, my very dear friend Paula (the one I hadn’t seen since I was 7) followed through and arranged for a dinner with our 2nd grade teacher and her husband.  She had been planning this get together since she first made contact with Mrs. Grossman over the phone several months back.

Think about it… Mrs. Grossman was a woman she admired, looked up to, modeled her career after, who was now in her early 80’s.  She had been a young woman of 22 when she taught our class on the Upper West side of Manhattan.  Paula had built up such high expectations of what this meeting would be like–  the emotions that would be flowing, the warmth of connection and memories from an innocent child’s perspective. Well, the evening was enjoyable, but it was a let down.  How could it be anything but, with expectations so unrealistically high?

I have always set the bar high – so I totally got it when this encounter was related to me over the phone.  I wondered what had gone through Mrs.  Grossman’s head?  How did she feel about seeing a student, a little girl from her distant past, and thinking back to her own beginnings of womanhood and career?

There are many articles that have been written on high expectations.  In the Elite Daily , we are told that the management of expectations is key to our happiness.  The article goes on to say that if we don’t have any expectations, we can’t be disappointed.  Makes sense, but easier said than done. The article summarizes that “There are two ways to be happy :  improve your reality or lower your expectations.”

Also good reads:  “How High Expectations Can Lead to Disappointment and Anxiety” by Carolyn James; ‘High Expectations: When to be Unreasonable (And When To Take It Easy)” by James Clear, and ‘How High Expectations Enable Success” by Stephen Guise.

It’s a tough personality to have, much like perfectionism.  If you’ve been this way your whole life, pretty hard to change now.  The key, I think, is to know when you are going into a situation that this is your makeup.  Be mindful of the scene you are creating and set your expectations appropriately for the specific event, person, destination, encounter.

If I haven’t learned anything, I know this is my cross to bear and I alone have the power to set the bar a little lower.  Not rock bottom, but maybe a couple inches off the ground. Kind of like doing the limbo!

Today’s Takeaway… 

. Set expectations realistically. Don’t expect more from people than they are capable of giving.

. Know that there are a lot of people just like you and be there to support their let-down if it comes.

Enjoy the Ride!

xox Barclay & Joy