It’s all on consignment; Living with the end in mind

My mother’s talent as an interior decorator was on full display in her Florida home.  Orchids and art work, antique side chairs and floral love seats, coffee table books and ash trays – all  were placed just-so.  Her home was stunning.  Yet when my mother passed away, Sotheby’s swooped in and itemized each of her cherished possessions on a stark spreadsheet – valuing it all, even the antiques, at pennies on the dollar.

It’s likely that when we die, no one will actually want our stuff.  And here in Naples, Florida, home to the aging baby boomer, this is especially apparent.

Driving on Tamiani Trail, a major north-south route, one notices a glut of consignment stores and high-end thrift shops.  This is where our precious stuff ends up.  And that’s if we’re lucky – most will get carted off to Goodwill.  People want NEW stuff;  older pieces must be discounted to a fraction of their original cost in order to compete.

Now there’s nothing wrong with creating a beautiful space.  The problem arises when stuff becomes our focus, our void-filler, our source of pleasure.  Because some day, some inevitable day, it’s all headed to the consignment store or Goodwill.

John Ortberg likens this reality to playing Monopoly.  Growing up, he often played Monopoly with his grandmother who lived with them.   She was a lovely woman, he says, but she was ruthless at Monopoly and routinely beat him.   Finally, at age 10, he spent a summer playing the game with a friend, and he learned the secret to winning – that it was all about amassing land and money.

That fall he finally beat his grandmother for the first time, hoarding the land,  the hotels, the cash – taking his grandmother’s last dollar.  After her defeat, he says he asked if they could preserve the board.  Maybe forever.  But his grandma had one more lesson to teach him.  “When the game ends – and it always ends,”  she said.  “It all goes back in the box.”  All the red hotels, all the lovely cash, all the property titles.

All our stuff.

Ortberg urges us to keep the end in mind as we go through our short life.  To remember what is temporary, and to strive to invest in what is eternal –  namely, God and people.

Psalm 90:12 says, ‘Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Jesus said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”  Mark 8:36

 

So how do we number our days?

By giving thanks for what we have, knowing it is a gift from God – on loan.  We are mere stewards.

By investing in people.  Praying for them. Visiting them in nursing homes, prisons, hospitals, Habitat for Humanity work sites,  or simply in our neighborhood.

Remembering that it all goes back in the box.

Or if we’re lucky, to a consignment store…

 

Today’s Takeaway –

January 25 gave us a tragic reminder of life’s brevity – the sudden taking of Kobe Bryant and his sweet daughter.

All we have is today to invest in that which matters.

As always, enjoy the ride

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s in YOUR Love Language?

Barclay here –

One of our favorite pastimes is visiting Open Houses on a Sunday afternoon.  Last week my husband and I met Walter, a 70-ish realtor, white-haired and jovial.  “I am actually retired,” he told us.  “I offered to cover this Open House for the homeowner who is a close friend.”  Then he added, “It gives me something to do and I think my wife is happy when I leave the house.”

I’ve heard versions of that statement many times – from the elderly salesman mixing paint at Lowes to the gray-haired gentleman trying to manage a wordy Starbucks order.  “My wife prefers I get out of the house.

Many married retirees are striving to find balance between getting out of the house and enjoying quality time with their spouse — pursuing outlets enough to add to the conversation-table, but not so much that one spouse feels abandoned.  This is tricky as relationships are dynamic and feelings are fragile.  It takes both sensitivity and intentionality.

Joy and I have recently been exploring the 5 Love Languages .  Have you heard of them? Knowing the primary Love Language (LL) of your spouse and becoming fluent in it can enhance your relationship and draw you closer.

We each have a primary LL – the one that, when received, makes us feel loved.  Mine is Words of Affirmation, while my husband’s is likely Quality Time.  Lately here in southwest Florida, we have been hanging pictures together which, like hanging wallpaper, or any home project, can go different directions when measurements don’t align and words veer toward the colorful rather than the affirming. But since my husband and I have been intentional about filling the LL tank, our wall art stayed straight and we ended up giving each other a high five and admiring our handiwork over a beer.

The key is being intentional about the filling and the receiving.  An empty LL tank makes for a dry relationship.  But a full tank can make even hanging pictures a delightful adventure and 35 years of marriage seem like the honeymoon’s just beginning.

So go for it.  Take the quiz and then put it into practice.  The result may mean that people like Walter won’t have to hide out in Open Houses or mix paint at Lowes — unless of course, they can’t wait to tell their spouse about it over wine that evening as she shares about own excursions!

 

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Joy here:

Barclay had mentioned this 5 love languages stuff to me before, but this being a brand new year and a new decade, I figured it was time to give it more consideration. For me, having been married 42 years (hard to believe…yes, I was a child bride!), I occasionally face many of the same issues that I have always faced with my EPS (Ever-Present Spouse). And I have observed that if you don’t address these issues head-on, they won’t go away by themselves.  A wise friend of mine here in Mexico (no names divulged) said, “If you have problems North of the border, you’re still going to have them South of the border.”

As a newly retired person (especially one who’s worked outside of the house for 40 plus years), you may find yourself suddenly spending an inordinate amount of time with your spouse.   It’s a great time to ponder these questions together.

What are our goals in this new phase of life?

What do we still want to accomplish before we die? 

What do we want to explore together as well as on our own? 

How much space  (Me-Time)  do we each need?

The 5 Love Languages site provides a wonderful quiz that helps you answer how you feel about certain things in your relationship with your partner. (Click HERE) .  I took it and while my score was 3 points away from the highest score you can achieve (meaning I have more than one LL), I knew (and had confirmed) that Affirmation – defined as emotional support or encouragement – is the most important action my spouse can show me.

I had my spouse take the test as well.  Interestingly, his score was only a point different from mine (his was actually higher!) and Quality Time was his number one LL, with Affirmation a close second.  His results surprised me.  I had thought Physical Touch would be at the top of the list, but it was actually third.

What this does for a couple is to make it clear what each partner wants from the other.  It’s also a wakeup call that, maybe, you don’t know this person as well as you think you do.

Take the quiz and see what happens.  If nothing else, it’s an interesting exercise!

LL Quiz

Today’s Takeaway…

-Be open to seeing your partner in a new light.  You are not the person you were when you got married, nor is he/she!

-Bearing in mind that you are going to be together a lot more, make the time interesting.  Think of conversation to engage.

-Give each other space.  Sometimes, your partner just wants to know you’re there.  You can be reading in one room and he can be in another on his laptop, or whatever he chooses to do with his time.  Be mindful that you have come through a lot together and there’s much more to come. G-D willing!  Jewish people must say this after every sentence involving health!

-Be happy you have each other because you won’t always!

So…..enjoy the ride and reach for your partner’s hand!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

Happy New Year!

Happy 2020!

Love, love, love from Revisionist Retirement to you, our faithful readers!!

 

Photo by Asad Photo Maldives on Pexels.com

 

Love, Love, Love from Revisionist Retirement!

 

Barclay here —

When our father passed away in 2004 at the age of 95, my brother Charlie wrote an essay entitled,  Love Love Love .

During our father’s final days, conversation was difficult.  Charlie recounts,

 Two weeks before he died, Dad and I had the following

exchange. I said: “I really love you, Daddy.” He said: “Don’t make

me cry.” Neither of us cried. We held hands. “You know, Dad, when

you get to the other side, there might be lots of questions. I hear

that it’s a good idea to say the word ‘love’ a lot.” He squeezed my

hand three times and said:

         “Love. Love. Love.”

This holiday, may we go out of our way to squeeze each other’s hands.  May Love, Love Love pervade our homes, our hearts, our whole beings, as we spend time with family, give and receive offerings, and perhaps honor that empty chair of a loved one passed.

And may this same Love Love Love carry us all into 2020!

 

This is our wish for you and yours.

 

Love, Joy and Barclay

 

Please note that Revisionist Retirement will be taking a brief  blog-cation in January.  But we will pop back into your email before you know it – filled with Love, Love, Love!

Welcome, 2020! Reflections on a Decade Past and the One to Come

Joy here –

The end of a decade!  As we come upon Christmas and Chanukah (this year, a mere 3 days apart), I have to reflect on these last 10 years.  And what a decade it has been.

2010 – A devastating earthquake in Haiti killing 160,000.  The swine flue pandemic.

2011 – A 10-year manhunt ends with Bin Laden being captured and killed.  Japan’s quake and tsunami resulting in disastrous loss of life.

2012 – US toll in Afgan War hits 2000.  Costa Concordia shipwreck.  Newtown, CT takes the lives of 26, including 20 children, the killer taking his own life and that of his mother.

2013 – Boston Marathon bombings.  Verdicts from the George Zimmerman trial and Jodi Arias.  Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa and leader of the anti-Apartheid movement dies.

2014 – Republicans take control of the Senate in mid-term elections.  Ebola epidemic becomes global crisis.  A new terrorist group by the name of ISIS emerges.

2015 – China devalues the Renminbi in the wake of an economic slowdown.  Greece denied austerity relief by ED.  Refugee crisis hits Europe with the flood of nearly a million people fleeing war and seeking a new life.

2016 – The US presidential election shocks many people (including myself, a lifelong New Yorker who never expected this TV reality star/real estate tycoon to represent America).  The BREXIT referendum.  The Zika virus spreads through the Americas.

2017 – North Korea launches a ballistic missile over Japan.   Women’s March on Washington becomes one of the largest single day demonstrations in US history.

2018 – Democrats win back the House.  Biggest seat gain since Watergate class of 1974.  Me Too movement goes global in the wake of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein being accused of multiple sexual harassment transgressions.

2019 – Government shutdown becomes the longest in history – 22 days – impasse over Trump border wall.  The college admissions bribery scandal.

 

A momentous decade comes to an end.

 

And we look forward to 2020,  (It has a nice ring to it!  Hey, there’s a TV show named for it!) we hope and pray for the best our country has to offer, as we spread peace and love in our own corners.

 

So….

Happy Chanukah!  Merry Christmas! Or Kwanzaa! Or anything else you might celebrate.  Be merry, joyful, and extend good wishes to strangers and friends alike.

 

Barclay and I thank you for your loyalty and devotion to Revisionist Retirement.  We would be nowhere without you!

 

As always, enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

Please note that Revisionist Retirement will be taking a brief  blog-cation in January.  But we will pop back into your email before you know it – filled with Love, Love, Love!

 

 

Let There be Light: Seasonal Affective Disorder is Real!

You open your blinds to see bare and brown tree limbs twisted as if with arthritis, curling gnarled fingers around the few dead leaves that forgot to let go.  The sky is a gray blanket – an impermeable cloud layer that looks like it’s here to stay. And even with the blinds raised, your bedroom is shadowy and let’s face it, gloomy.  You switch on the bedside lamp but it can’t dispel the grayness or the feeling of vague yet palpable sadness that now seems to loom over you.

What you’re feeling is real and it may be Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  Those in retirement who lack the daily structure and social mandates of a 9 to 5 job can fall prey to SAD -particularly those living in northern climates.  SAD is not to be taken lightly.

What are the symptoms?

Oversleeping

Sleepiness during the daylight hours

Low energy

Trouble Concentrating

Low to no motivation to exercise

Carbohydrate cravings

Weight gain

Withdrawal from social situations

A depressed mood during specific months

 

Time.com defines SAD as, “a form of depression that typically coincides with the winter months,”   They say, “The possible causes of seasonal depression are manifold, but an absence of sunlight appears to play a role. “We know rates of SAD vary by latitude, so they’re much lower in Florida than in Alaska,” (says Dr. Korb, a UCLA researcher). Just as shift work or traveling to a different time zone can profoundly mess with your body’s natural rhythms, the lack of light in winter may create a “dyssynchrony” in your body’s sleep-wake cycles and internal clocks. This in turn may lead to imbalances in your levels of serotonin, dopamine and other neurotransmitters that control your mood, appetite and energy levels.”

Joy here –  When my daughter was in graduate school in London, far away from family and things familiar, she felt out of sorts all winter — depressed, blue, not wanting to do anything social.  She now lives in Amsterdam, yet another dreary city in winter, bitterly cold and dark by 4pm.  The beauty of springtime where tulips burst with vibrant colors is long forgotten, overshadowed by gray skies and a dampness that goes right through your bones.

During her London stay, I bought my daughter a lamp that emits light designed to combat SAD.  Amazon lists no less than 30 different lamps!!  I couldn’t believe it.  They are called “Happy therapy”, ‘Light therapy”, Happylight”, ‘Sun lamp light therapy.” People need sun light; they need to wake up and see blue sky, maybe not every day, but certainly at least a couple times a week.  It affects our moods, our dispositions, our energy levels.

As retirees without the structure we once had, bleak winters, especially post Holidays, are challenging.  If we didn’t have get-up-and-go in the spring or summer, we sure don’t have it in winter!

If you have to stay in a cold climate, help yourself by working on projects, cooking more, making big pots of soup, stews,  casseroles, comfort foods; try your hand at baking, build fires and get cozy; wrap a comfy blanket around yourself, snuggle with someone you love or your cat or dog!

If all else fails, go to a warm climate, even for a long weekend! Sunshine does wonders to lift your spirits and recharge your batteries. Know that this is a very real condition and you need to help yourself get out of it and feel better. Pamper yourself, even if it’s just a facial from your local drug store.

Know that spring will indeed come again.  Even now, those tulips are doing their own light therapy underground, plotting their return when they will  burst forth and lift our collective spirits!

Today’s Takeaway:

-We may be addressing this early with the spirit of Christmas and Chanukah in the air. However, we know that winter is about to set in. We want to prepare because January just plain sucks!  What’s to look forward to after the heightened anticipation of the holiday season?!

-Know that a lot of what we as retirees feel is magnified and it’s okay to feel blue.  The most important thing is to bring yourself out of it and know you are in good company!

As always enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay & Joy

 

Happy Thanksgiving, 2019!

Joy here:

As Thanksgiving rolls around yet again, it calls to mind many memories.  It is truly my favorite holiday, always has been.  It is about food, gathering together as a family, whatever that family unit may consist of, traditions, being bored with your relatives, wondering how you could possibly be related!!, falling asleep after the big meal. watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, pretending you like the football game that is on (who’s playing?!) remembering the holiday of the past, particularly if you have lost loved ones along the way. Thanksgiving is about all of these things and more.

Funnily. enough, as my friend CC would say, I donated several pieces of my parent’s furniture to The Salvation Army last week.  In case you didn’t know, mahogany is so out!  Millennials like light wood, (“mid century everything!)  One of them was a mahogany dining room table   (from the 1940’s where you would add leaves to expand it). We had this piece of furniture in the foyer of our UWS apt for most of the year, but opened it up for “company”. My mother, Muriel, spent days ahead of Thanksgiving preparing for family.  It included a trip down to the lower east side for nuts, prunes and apricots (she made this concoction of prunes, apricots and marshmallows with a toothpick as  a sweet treat-have never seen this anywhere else!) borrowing metal chairs for extra guests, polishing silver, getting the “good dishes” down from a shelf way up high in our kitchen (needed a ladder to get down), and putting out white bread to get stale for the famous Weinstein chestnut stuffing.

As Maria Shriver said in her weekly Sunday paper, “Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It is filled with smells I remember, pictures in my head, stories of yesteryear, and a longing for my parents, who I miss every day.”

This year, my first born daughter won’t be with us as she is in Europe, so I will miss her dearly, but my younger daughter and her boyfriend will join us and make new memories.  I can’t wait!

So this year, remember the past fondly, but don’t live in it.  Soak in every moment of this wonderful holiday. Don’t let little things aggravate you.  Let them roll off your back.  They are unimportant.  We don’t know what next year will bring, so be happy for the now.

Lastly, in addition to my love for my family, my friends, my dog Winston, and the life I have led thus far, I am thankful for my dear friend Barclay who I have blogged with for almost 2 years now.  I am truly blessed.

 

Barclay here:

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday as well.    It’s a day of REST where it’s perfectly acceptable to plop on the sofa, eat the leftover pie straight out of the pan, and sip your first glass of wine around 2pm as you monitor the simmering dishes on the stove.

In my teaching days, Thanksgiving would fall right after 3 nights of parent-teacher conferences where you would be so tired you’d worry if you were repeating yourself mid-sentence.  Thanksgiving represented your reward for hard work and a time to reflect on the blessings of your family and your job – even if you had just put your foot in your mouth at 9pm the previous night and called 2nd grader Suzie, Sally, right to her parents’ faces.

Even though we Marcell’s don’t have a big family, on Thanksgiving, we always had every traditional dish represented at the table –  the four of us plus Grandma Rosie would sit down to-  twice baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, sweet potatoes, a giant turkey amply stuffed, alongside green beans and salad  chiming in as the only healthy options, and that being questionable.  This feast was followed by 3 kinds of Bakers Square pies.  You would think we were preparing for a marathon the following day.  No wonder we all plopped on the sofa in a carb coma!

This Thanksgiving, we will have the traditional carb extravaganza – but we will also be overwhelmed with gratitude.  (Our wine may make its appearance at 1pm!)

2019 brought two tiny miracles into our lives – our twin granddaughters who are now home from a lengthy stay in the Neo Natal Intensive Care.   We are praising God for our expanded family and looking forward to joys present and to come.

Maybe this is cause for another potato dish at our table!

 

Gratitude is indeed good for the soul.

The daily devotional that I read says this for November 22nd  —

“A thankful attitude opens windows of heaven.  Spiritual blessings fall freely onto you through those openings into eternity.  As you look up with a grateful heart, you get glimpses of Glory through those windows.  You cannot yet live in heaven, but you can experience foretastes of your ultimate home.  Such samples of heavenly fare revive your hope.  Thankfulness opens you up to these experiences, which then provide reasons to be grateful.  thus, your path becomes an upward spiral; ever increasing in gladness.  Thanksgiving is not some sort of magic formula; it is the language of Love.

Even if your Thanksgiving looks a bit like this New Yorker cartoon, may your heart expand with the language of love.

Thanksgiving.

 

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A Tale of Two Faiths Part Two: The Non-Negotiable’s

Barclay here –

Did you ever see the 1979 movie, The Jerk?  There’s a VERY funny scene when a distraught Steve Martin wearing just a bathrobe is leaving his wife (Bernadette Peters).

“Well I’m gonna go then.” he yells.  “And I don’t need any of this. I don’t need this stuff, and I don’t need you. I don’t need anything except this!”  He picks up an ashtray.   And that’s it and that’s the only thing I need, is this. I don’t need this or this. Just this ashtray.” 

He glances down.

“And this paddle game, the ashtray and the paddle game and that’s all I need.” 

He sees something on a nearby table. “And this remote control.”

The scene continues until he tries to take the dog.  “And I don’t need one other thing… except my dog!”  The dog looks at him and growls.

“I don’t need my dog.”

 

So what do WE need in our faith-walks?

My non-negotiable tenets of faith can be summed up in a made -up song from the toddler room at my church. It goes to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down :

God made me and God loves me. God loves me. God loves me. God made me and God loves me. Jesus wants to be my friend forever. (If you sing it enough times, I guarantee it will get stuck in your brain.  Probably forever.  Not a bad thing!)

God made me. Psalm 139 says, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely.”

God loves me. Isaiah 43:4 says, “You are precious in my eyes  and honored and I love you.”

Jesus wants to be my friend forever. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

 

The very best thing about walking in faith is that when you endure trials. and you can’t even pray, the Spirit of God intercedes on your behalf.   Romans 8:26 says that “The Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

October 31, 2018 was a day where I could not muster prayer.  Our family was facing the “unimaginable” (a reference to the play Hamilton when Eliza and Alexander are mourning the death of their son.)

When you face the unimaginable, and you cannot pray, your very tears become prayers.

Now a year later, I can testify that God does hold your hand through the unimaginable, interpreting your wordless prayers.  As Psalm 23 says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me.”

“I made you.  I love you.  And I will be your friend forever.”

So like the Steve Martin character, I will clutch onto the tenets of my faith –  promises from God that enable you to endure even the unimaginable. And bring beauty from ashes.

That’s all I need.

 

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-With age comes hardship – when prayers cannot muster words. Take heart that the Spirit of God carries your tears into the presence of God Himself.

-Joy and I do not anticipate wearing a gray bathrobe anytime soon!  Much as we love Steve Martin!  We are far too fashion forward!!

Thank you for reading our musings and reflections! Click the blue “Follow” button at the top right of the site to make sure you see Joy’s next edition about all things retirement – from faith to face cream to forgetfulness to fabulous!

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy