Four Words to Change your Life

How’s that for a catchy title?

The NY Times just came out with four words to achieve a happier and healthier life.    (They also offer a 30 day well challenge.)

Move, Nourish, Refresh, Connect

Dean Ornish (the legendary physician/researcher who says we can reverse disease through diet) offers four equally weighted pillars to living your best life.

Nutrition, Fitness, Stress Management, Love and Support


 

So not to be outdone by any NY Times or some world renown surgeon, Joy and I thought we’d come up with our own four words for living your best Retirement Life.

Think of the acronym, ROLL.

Reflect until you attain a grateful heart

Own your past until you are at peace

Laugh until you pee or feel like you might

Love until you can’t love anymore

 

On Reflecting – Give yourself a high-five.

Hold up your hand and list the top five blessings – from big to mundane.  You can start with the fact that you are taking in air.

 

On Owning your past – Forget regret!

Those poor choices, those mistakes, those faults that seem bent on hanging around — let’s reframe our past – it has been the catalyst to who we are today – hopefully still in a growth mode – since we are remain prone to daily mistakes.  Which leads to humility – a good thing.

 

On Laughter – hang with those who freely laugh.

For close to 20 years I had the pleasure of working side by side with Jeanne who knows how to laugh in that pee-inducing way.

My husband, too, has that ability, though there’s no need to share the peeing part.  He has an annoying tendency to crack me up at inappropriate times – say, in a somber church service where I see his shoulders shaking as he tries to maintain control.

 

On Loving –  John Lennon was right.  It’s all we need.

But what does it look like?  It’s the familiar wedding reading from 1 Corinthians – Love is patient, kind, long-suffering, and it doesn’t keep a record of wrongs.  Yikes, that’s a high bar.  But at least we can daily lean in that direction.

 

Join us in 2019 as we hopefully induce some laughter, share our failures, and ROLL onward toward finishing this journey well –

Reflecting on our blessings – with love in our hearts.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-While ROLLing – we probably should check out that NY Times article.  They are the NY Times after all and may know a thing or two.

-Maybe the laugh-till-peeing phenomena is more an age thing and something I should address.

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox

Barclay and Joy

 

screen shot 2019-01-06 at 12.58.26 pm
This photo is from the amazing Dean Ornish site. Check it out! https://www.ornish.com/ornish-living/team/

 

 

Of Push-Ups and Pull-Ups: Goal Setting for 2019

One of the joys of blog writing is exposure to other people’s posts. Alanna, a poet-blogger, recently wrote about the  “The Art of Getting Out of Bed”.  I love that title.  And I think it summarizes my goal setting agenda for the New Year.

Setting the bar a wee bit low, you may be thinking.

I agree.  Not the loftiest of goals.

And certainly not in the same vein as my goals of prior years —

Meditate for 30 minutes every morning; read a book a week; write that novel, learn to cook, speak Spanish. Read the Bible from front to back.

Hey, why stop there?

Join CrossFit and start weight lifting in earnest.  (Forget those teeny weeny 6-pound barbells; I am ready for the big time.)  Sign up for the Chicago Marathon.  Go to Peru.

As you may surmise, in 2018 I read but a few books  (whose titles I would be challenged to remember).  My novel was not given an iota of  thought; there was no prowess to be had with cooking or Spanish.  And I did not cross CrossFit’s door.  I still can’t do one pull-up; and my arms giggle when I do a push up or two – which I’ve been told by a certain husband are not legitimate.. meaning, not army-grade.  No military school for me.

 

So that brings me back to the art of getting out of bed.

For 2019 my goal is thus —

Before Codie sticks her nose in my face and demands breakfast, I will pause and reflect on what I’m grateful for.  It could be the very dog nose approaching my face; or the cranky 14-year-old shih tzu at the foot of the bed unaware of where she is; or that certain husband of mine who isn’t a fan of my push-ups but is quite the life-companion; for friends old and new, for just plain breathing.

 

I guess 2019 won’t be the year of the Pull-Up or the Army-Grade Push-Up. And CrossFit would be just plain embarrassing.

But hey, in 2019, may I get out of bed with a grateful heart.

And call it a Great Life.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-This is a Get-To life.  We get to spend time with friends, take walks, revel in the mundane such as taking a deep breath.

-Pull-ups are overrated.

 

Enjoy the Ride!  And Happy New Year!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Messiness

 

One Christmas I proudly mailed out our family Christmas card, only to realize after the fact that 4-year-old Jared’s hand was placed comfortably (yet firmly) on his crotch, center stage.

Then there was the time Grandma and I were happily preparing a feast, wine in hand, when she looked out the window at our neighbor’s Christmas lights, and exclaimed “Look at the donkeys!”  To which I responded, “Perhaps they are reindeer.  But I could be wrong.  Maybe Santa uses donkeys.”  We still giggle at our inebriated discussion!

And I’ll never forget the Christmas I briskly drove our SUV to the tree lot, fuming that I was doing this chore all by my lonesome.  And in this state of angry self-justification, I subsequently plowed this same SUV into our garage, forgetting the small fact there was a tree tied to its roof.  I can still hear the violent crunching sound.

Another year Alex and I brought home a complete Christmas village, with snow, miniature people, benches, trees, and intricate buildings lit up from within.  “We have to be very careful,” we said.  “They are so fragile”.  Upon the word “fragile” we turned at the exact same time and crashed the village churches into each other, teeny windows, roofs and doorways falling on the living room rug.  They were indeed fragile.

And finally there was that Christmas night we went to the movies, a certain-family member having selected the film.  Imagine sitting next to your daughter’s boyfriend, age 25, and watching the first (close-up) scene from The Wolf of Wall Street – it is not A Wonderful Life.   That certain-family member still gets teased about this selection.

Do you have some messy Christmas memories?

Well, take heart that the very first Christmas was also messy.   A teenage mom.  Stinky barnyard animals.  Straw.   Refugee status awaiting.  An evil ruler.

 

So don’t let a ruined tree, an embarrassing card, drunk cooks, or an awkward movie experience get in the way of marveling at the miracle of Christmas.

God coming down.  Messy and marvelous.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Read Joy’s reflection.  My Favorite Christmas Memory (still)    Relish the messiness!

-And don’t forget to marvel!

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letting Go

Thanksgiving is over and I’m driving my daughter home. The car pulls up to her apartment.  There’s a quick hug. “Keep in touch!” I say as she bolts from the car. “Yeah…mom…keep in touch.”

After holiday togetherness, I fight sadness with saying good-bye.  And I am fortunate that – presently- my daughter, son, and daughter in law live close by.

But they have their own lives.

As they should.

Why do I cling to moments when we are under the same roof?  Why is letting-go so hard?

Richard Rohr says that “All spirituality is about letting go.”  (I think he means LIFE itself is about letting go.)

Father Rohr would probably recommend that Clingers like me investigate the spiritual discipline of Detachment.  In The Power of Spiritual Detachment we are told more about this ancient practice,

Spiritual detachment is a process that frees us from whatever interferes with our spiritual growth. Detachment helps us avoid disordered inclinations and relationships with persons or things. Detachment can help us avoid negative memories and thoughts that keep us from God’s love.”

So what does this look like?

For me, it means letting go (or detaching) from that which I can’t hold on to – so that I can grab (or attach) to that which is eternal, to God Himself, who actually may not be repelled by my abject clinginess.

I am a slow learner though.  But I do know one thing..

When cars pull away from apartment doors. when hugs dispatch in front of  bustling United terminals – that’s when the practice of Detachment comes in handy.  That’s when I need to reach out and attach to the hand of God.

Who thankfully is reaching toward me.

 

=====================================================================

 

Barclay and I are so in tune with each other on this topic.  It is especially hard for me to let go as well. Like a true Cancer (my astrological sign) I am tenacious, a lover of home and hearth, and slow ( I mean slow!) to accept that life isn’t what it used to be!

I love being with my daughters and am blessed to have one of them living with us (still!  re-read “The Boomerang Daughter” for clarity) I know that there is a reason she is with me now.  It could be she will move to a foreign country for her career or marry someone from abroad. I have always believed that things happen for a reason, though we may not understand the why’s until many years later.  There is a bigger plan and if you believe in a higher being, then trust that the pieces of the puzzle will be revealed in due time.

Many of my friends who have grown children have been able to let go because their offspring are engaged or married. If they haven’t entered into that next phase of life (mine have not), then you (make that me) tend to see them as an extension of their younger selves. So my goal, as a Jewish mother is to hover ever so lightly, trying to loosen the reins as much as my personality will allow, and hope that they tell me when I have stepped out of line!

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-It turns out that if you pay for dinner or for vacations, the whole family will come!  Something to think about!

-If a roll of the eyeball is directed at you, if your grown child has to peel himself away from your hug, if  a stray tear is seen rolling down your cheek – well, as Joy says, it’s time to loosen those reins lest your kids run, not walk, in the other direction.

-If you need some sappiness in your life, just park yourself in front of the Hallmark channel with a glass of wine in hand.

Disclaimer-We know this is what we should be doing.  This does not mean we’re very good at practicing it!

Enjoy the Ride

xox

Barclay and Joy

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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