On being a Grandma; Following Rosemarie’s Rules

Barclay here –

In her book, Becoming Grandma, Leslie Stahl describes grand parenting as “an unspeakable joy” where “your heart grows new chambers.”

This year I became a grandma.  And in this new role, I aspire to take after after my mother-in -law, Rosemarie.

You see, Rosemarie could have authored the Grandma playbook.

As a first-time mom, I embodied the “Peter Principle”  — meaning, I was in over my head.  But Rosemarie  kept her mouth shut while I fumbled with baby Jared.  She said NOTHING when I tried in vain to comfort my colicky, squirmy, sweaty infant.  Instead, she just told me what a great mother I was and then demurely asked it she could hold Jared (who must have felt instant relief there was a professional in his midst.)  She modeled what mothering looks like. Without words.

Rosemarie was also a faithful babysitter; a listening counselor; and she never missed a performance, a practice, a game – to which she always brought treats.  Among Alex’s high school tennis teammates, Rosemarie was Grandma to all the girls.

She was also a cool Grandma.  She took Jared to rock concerts,  encouraged Alex in her rock collecting, and made up silly songs and dance moves about Fig Newton cookies, of all things.

Rosemarie now lives in Phoenix, but she remains close to Jared and Alex.  Four years ago, she embraced a new grandchild  – Kathleen, Jared’s wife, whom she adores.

Rosemarie doesn’t bug her adult grandkids with daily texts and calls;  but she’s always got their back.  She prays constantly, and she’s enthralled with news, beaming when her grandkids reach out. Which they do.

So may I exude Rosemarie’s love and wisdom!   As my heart grows new chambers.  And I compose a silly song or two.

 

Joy here –

I am bursting with happiness for my dear friend Barclay!  She will be a wonderful grandmother.  She has learned from a pro! I only know Rosemarie through FB, but Barclay has described a lady who has taught her much and knew when to stay in the background, as well as when to shower special attention on her grandkids.

I, sadly, did not have grandparents growing up.  My father’s parents both died before I was born and my mother’s father died before I entered the world as well.  I was named for grandpa Jack, as is the custom in the Jewish religion, a great honor.  My mother’s mother was an invalid with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and was in pain most of the time when I visited her in a nursing home  as a very young child.

Many articles have been written about the positive effects of a having a grandparent close by who is involved in their grandchildren’s lives. (Research out of Switzerland and Germany has been published in the journal,  Evolution and Human Behavior.) It’s the caregiving, apparently that makes the difference —   not just being a grandparent who visits occasionally, but one who actually helps out.   No pressure on my children, but I’m counting on you for my longevity!

Just like I couldn’t wait to become a parent, I am hoping and praying that one day I will be called Grandma by some little kid.

So, in the meantime, congratulations to Barclay and Brett.  So happy for them both!  They will be amazing grandparents.

Today’s Takeaway –

Life is filled with many ups and downs, but becoming a grandparent is one of life’s pleasures (so I hear). Never take grandchildren for granted because not everyone gets to have them.

 

As always, enjoy the ride.

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

 

 

Get Thee to a Rock Concert (before all the rockers of our day die!!)

Joy here –

A couple of weekends ago our neighbors and good friends of 25 years
came up to our neck of the woods for a rock concert.  Our friends had
purchased the tickets months ago to see the great Santana with an
opening act by The Doobie Brothers.  (If, by some chance you are a
millennial who has found his or her way onto our Revisionist Retirement
site, don’t worry, way, way before your time!)

Having not been to a concert for a few years, I forgot how much fun
they can be. You instantly regress to your early 20’s with a little
swaying of your hips and a couple of glasses of wine.

On a summer evening in Saratoga Springs, a venue I had never been to before, our
little group and another 25,000 people, mostly looking to be in their
50’s, 60,s, and beyond, got lost in the hypnotic Latin rhythms of the
one and only Carlos Santana.  We knew all the words to the songs of
the 70’s, whether in Espanol or English.  It brought us back to a more
innocent time in our lives, uncomplicated, exploratory, one in which
we had our whole lives before us.  For 2 solid hours Santana played the
music of our youth, and with a nod to the 50th anniversary of Woodstock
(having taken place the weekend before), strangers danced on the grassy
knoll barefoot and lost in time.

 Music has a way of transporting us to a time and place that feels
familiar.  It brings back memories of another era.  Inhibitions melt
away as many of us got up to shake our hips and bop our heads in a way
that feels oh so familiar, but not moves our bodies make on a routine
basis!

With Elton John performing his farewell tour this year, the Stones
doing their 5th (I’ve lost track!) final tour, plus Barbara Streisand and
Queen, the price of a ticket is a magic carpet ride that will leave
you smiling all night and, maybe it will help you to remember the
person you once were (and can still be) when no one’s looking!

So, for all of us of a certain age, don’t be afraid to admit your love
for Barry Manilow or heaven forbid The Bee Gees (just watched a
special on PBS last week of a concert from 1997!)  It was a great time
to be young and I wouldn’t have wanted to come of age in any other
era.

Today’s Takeaway…

– Go buy a ticket to a rock concert.  Take off your shoes and dance, dance, dance.
Nostalgia is good, unless you get stuck in time.

-Allow yourself a ride back there whenever you feel like it, but always live in the
present, not the past.

As always, enjoy the ride
xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

Sleep, oh sleep, wherefore art thou?

(Barclay here)  It’s 3AM, and I am wide awake.  My mind replays the less than brilliant utterances of the previous day; following that, it imagine the day ahead with all its embarrassing possibilities.  And then, I begin my tossing and turning dance moves, trashing actually, much to the annoyance of Codie, our usually patient golden retriever, who groans audibly, detangles herself from the bundled sheets, and jumps to the floor, weary of my flailing feet and their impact on  her beauty sleep.

Does anyone actually sleep through the night?  When I ask my friends in their 60s and beyond, most report being night “thrashers” as well.  Some can’t get to sleep in the first place; and others wake up and can’t get back to sleep.

 

(Joy here) Sleep, something that should be so natural and uncomplicated has become my biggest health issue in this 6th decade of life!  Why didn’t someone write a manual on what to expect?!    Sleepless in Chicago and sleepless in Claverack New York, should be the retitled name of our retirement blog.

If I knew this was going to be a problem when I was a lot younger, I would have slept a lot more and had hours in the bank! TOO LATE NOW!  I’m trying to help the next generation here!

I have tried most over the counter medications including ZZZquil, Melatonin, both time release, which I was sure was going to work, Unisom, Avinol p.m. (Shark Tank liked the product so much they put money into it!  Clearly, they don’t have insomnia!)  and finally succumbed to seeing my doctor for a prescription.  I did this with great reluctance, although the deep circles under my eyes told me I better do something!  I have had great hope for all of these sleep aids and they have all let me down.  This week I went back to my old favorite, Sleepy Time tea with a chaser of a sleep aid an hour later.  I Googled this cocktail combination to make sure I wasn’t going to overdose and it turns out other people do the same thing.  The results were pretty good –so with an eye mask, a white noise sound machine, and my cocktail of choice, I caught some decent zzzzzz’s. One night does not make up for months of insomnia!

One of my friends suggested seeing a hypnotherapist.  I’d never thought of that, but I wanted to get to the root cause, not just put a band aid on it.  So, in 2 weeks (she was booked solid!) I will try my first session.  I’m up for treating this in a non drug way, if at all possible.  The issue with long term insomnia is that it gets embedded in our subconscious and you begin to think that you are supposed to wake up at 3.  You go to bed expecting that you will not sleep through the night and that is exactly what happens, like a little alarm clock going off.

Alfred Barrios, a psychology specialist compared the benefits of psychoanalysis to hypnotherapy for sleep disorders and found hypnosis helped 93% improve their sleeping after only 6 sessions compared to psychoanalytical therapy which required 600 sessions to achieve a 38% improvement!  Certainly, worth a try!  If nothing else, I figure I will get an hour’s worth of sleep!

To all our readers who sleep peacefully through the night, consider yourselves very lucky and for those who don’t, call or text Barclay and I, we’re probably awake!

Today’s Takeaway…

Sleeping is a blessing.  Deep sleep, uninterrupted with the exception of an occasional pee, is divine!

Talk to other people, share your experiences, it will at least make you feel better -you are in really good company! 60 million Americans have insomnia and can be counting sheep any night of the week!

As always, enjoy the ride

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does God think of retirement?

Is the concept of retirement in the Bible?

There’s one reference to retirement and it’s in the book of Numbers.  The Levite priests were to retire from their priestly duties at the age of 50.

Besides that, God is silent on the matter.

But he is not silent regarding the concept of work and purpose.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you, not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

Crown Financial says that we should view retirement as  an opportunity for “repurposement” rather than a cessation of work.

“The problem with today’s attitude towards retirement is that it completely negates an integral aspect of God’s design – that we were created to work. It also normalizes something that was never intended to be normal – not working.”

So what is our new work?  Our new purpose?

Crown says that the Biblical view of retirement is —

“Freeing up our time to devote to serving others more fully without the necessity of getting paid for it.  It is time to repurpose how and why we invest our time and resources.”

Back to those Levites from the Old Testament.  Upon being released from their duties, they did not join a golf club and work on their chipping and putting; they did not devote hours to perfecting their down-the-line backhand.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with those activities.  I am still trying to get out of a sand trap in less than four attempts!)

The Bible says that the  retired Levites were to “assist their brothers in performing their duties.”

So we retirees can “assist”.  We can assist our church, our neighbors, our families, the homeless, or a cause we are passionate about.

The Bible also says we are to think of the next generation.

“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.”  Psalm 71

So maybe you want to become a “cuddler” — a holder of babies in the NICU of a hospital.

Maybe you want to work with therapy horses, as Joy has done.

Or maybe you can simply devote extra time (which we have) to praying for the sick.

Or if you are a knitter (which I am not), you can make hats or blankets for those in need.

Whether we are knitters, pray-ers, cuddlers, God seems to be saying that our re-purposement is to assist others.

We should, however, take exception to that phrase, “old and gray”.   We may be old, but we don’t HAVE to be “gray”, right?

In fact, I find myself getting more blonde as the years go by — a miracle of Red Sea proportions.

Or a testimony to the skill set of my hairdresser, whom I see with increasing regularity.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-I just discovered that being a NICU “cuddler” is a sought after role.  Se we need to apply today!

-And it’s OK to get better at exiting a sand trap or becoming blonder with the passing years.  It’s just a matter of knowing what truly matters when it’s all said and done.   And most likely it’s holding a sick or premature baby while sitting in a rocking chair in a NICU.

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox

Barclay and Joy

When Lobster Tastes Like Soap: Don’t Get Attached to your Stuff!

Financial guru, Dave Ramsey, says, “There’s nothing wrong with making money or with spending it on some cool stuff for yourself.”

But he adds,  “If you eat enough lobster, it starts to taste like soap. Having stuff will never satisfy you.”

We know he’s right, right?  We have all experienced that titillating rush after a new purchase — a piece of furniture, an outfit.  But how quickly that rush dissipates..  The furniture collects dust; the outfit goes out of style.

It’s all about balance. Ramsey reminds us that the Bible is often misquoted to say that “Money is the root of all evil.”  What it actually says is, “The LOVE of money is the root of all evil.”

In and of itself, money or that new outfit is amoral. Neither good or bad.  (That said, have you tried Stitch Fix??)  It’s when the pursuit of money and the accumulation of stuff becomes our paramount focus, that  we are destined for unhappiness. Stuff does not satisfy and money is never enough. Our lobster tastes like soap.

Ramsey says that the goal of attaining wealth is so we can be generous. And he’s right. Sure, opening that Stitch Fix box is fun, but it can’t begin to compete with anonymous giving, or reaching out to a sick friend,  extending a sincere compliment, or writing a note of encouragement.

That is the currency of heaven.  Lobster dipped in butter.

 

Today’s Takeaway

– Generosity is your lobster!

-Having said that, check out Stitch Fix!

 

And enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

De-Friending Procrastination

Hello, Retiree.   My Name is Procrastination.  We can be great friends.

We both know what you SHOULD be doing right now.

Emails.  Laundry.  Meditation. Jogging. Bill paying.  Bible reading. Writing. Facing clutter that would make Marie Kondo blush.

Your dog sits at the front door with a leash in her mouth.  And that yoga mat and weights aren’t going to get off the shelf on their own accord.

All I have to do is turn your gaze to Facebook, chocolate, another cup of coffee, the news.  You need to be informed, right?  Perhaps your IRA needs tending.

Did an hour just slip by?   Your dog sighs and returns to bed.

—————————–

In the absence of traditional work, retirees need strategies for sticking to daily disciplines, de-friending procrastination, and making first things first.

James Clear has written extensively on how to form good habits.  He recommends we incorporate the “Seinfeld Strategy” described as follows —

“Brad Isaac was a young comedian starting out on the comedy circuit. One fateful night, he found himself in a club where Jerry Seinfeld was performing. Isaac caught Seinfeld backstage and asked if he had “any tips for a young comic.”

Here’s how Isaac described the interaction with Seinfeld…

He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day.

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker. He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day.

“After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain.”

You’ll notice that Seinfeld didn’t say a single thing about results.

It didn’t matter if he was motivated or not. It didn’t matter if he was writing great jokes or not. It didn’t matter if what he was working on would ever make it into a show. All that mattered was “not breaking the chain.”

And that’s one of the simple secrets behind Seinfeld’s remarkable productivity and consistency. For years, the comedian simply focused on “not breaking the chain.”


 

Clear and Seinfeld are right.  The secret is the “every day” part.  Putting that X in the calendar square and not breaking the chain.

Want to incorporate a morning time of meditation and prayer?

Want to have a more grateful heart?

Want to get rid of those “hi Jane” arms?

Start building that chain today.  And say good-bye to Procrastination!

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Don’t worry if you skip a day. Just don’t skip two if at all possible.  Good habits have a way of evaporating.  And then Procrastination comes knocking at your door!

-Don’t feel badly about dating Procrastination -who is awfully cute and entirely familiar.  This post is late in coming because I have been VERY busy — spending time with Hannah, the controversial bachelorette.  🙂

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Failing Better: Learning and Growing

Back in my 20s I held 7 different jobs in 11 years.  That meant 7 “first days” — finding the coffee machine,  meeting colleagues, imprinting names while shaking hands, signing forms, training, ever smiling, trying not to walk into a wall or closet.

One first day stands out.  I had to enter the trading room of Dean Witter, not only late, but also  wearing a large white bandage on my chin, having tripped while jogging along Chicago’s lakefront at 5AM that morning, certain that I was outrunning a mad rapist, which was actually a puzzled squirrel — it was a bloody affair necessitating a trip to the ER to get stitches.

Then there was a new job where I apparently slipped through the cracks of Human Resources.  I had been hired by a regional manager in Chicago and I thought it would be important to visit the NY office to meet the traders.  After my visit, I returned to Chicago where the manager who had hired me was no longer an employee.  And when I called the NY office to chat with my new trader-friends, those whose hands I had just shook were gone as well.  It gradually dawned on me that they had forgotten to fire me.  Paycheck or not, it was time to quit.

I hated first days and new jobs.

But I also knew that if I didn’t take risks, face challenges, I’d never find fulfilling work.  I would remain in my first role — not even a secretary, a secretary to a secretary.  (I took a mean short-hand, by the way – a skill set I am quite proud of!)

There is such a thing as good stress in which you stretch yourself.  You put on a brave face and take on uncomfortable challenges where you can learn and grow — even if you wind up being forgotten, fired, or embarrassed.

Failures are harsh but instructive.

The Swiss tennis player, Stan Wawrinka, has a tattoo on his left forearm that inspires him to take risks and learn from  life’s  failures.  It’s  a Samuel Beckett quote  that reads –

 

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No Matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

 

 

 

 

That saying, Fail Better, speaks volumes.  It reminds us retired folks that life still entails learning and growing. IF – and it’s a big IF – we take risks.

Volunteering.  Socializing. Reading. Calling friends and family. Writing notes.  Trying recipes.  Taking classes.  Traveling.   Even finding new work at Jewel, Starbucks, the Library (surely, SOMEone wants us?!).

 

So when failure slaps you in the face, remember Stan Wawrinka, and say, No Matter!  Fail again!  Fail Better!

 

You don’t have to get a tattoo, however…

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Stress can indeed be good, if it propels you to take a risk.

-Hey, maybe a tattoo is in your future… no judgement here!!

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy