Ode to Olivia

Last week the world became a little less colorful as my first cousin, Olivia, slipped away and entered a permanent place in heaven.

She was not supposed to die at her age, not quite 64, oh so young by today’s standards. She was unwell, and dealt with the side effects from chemotherapy for many years as she battled cancer. She had neuropathy, heart issues, depression, anxiety, and a host of other ailments, in addition to just pain and discomfort. She suffered from conditions more common in later years.

I reconnected with Olivia about ten years ago through the effort of her step sister, my cousin, Fran Lisa. She very thoughtfully initiated a reunion, which brought Olivia and me back together, women now well past middle aged. I had had a hiatus of 20 years where we hadn’t communicated. No reason, just the usual drifting of family, particularly when one is an East coaster and one a West coaster. I owe a debt of gratitude to Fran Lisa for this special rekindling.

Olivia had lived quite a life as a true love child, leaving home at 18 never to return again. She followed her heart and her passion for music and art. She wrote poems and designed greeting cards expressing a oneness with nature. She even had praying mantises as pets, in addition to dogs and cats.

She was a real groupie, following Bob Dylan around the country, writing to him, composing poetry, and painting him. She once waited for him in front of the men’s room so she could personally hand him a piece of her art. He told her to stick to her poetry!

Olivia was also a weed distributor way before Mary Louise Parker ever smelled pot! Based out of tony Marin County, she had a client list of writers and Hollywood folk (maybe B or C list, but nevertheless!!) who counted on her for her quality product. She knew everything there was to know about cannibis before I ever smoked a joint.

I was a goody two shoes who always did what was expected. As little girls, she brought the mischief out in me. I looked upon Olivia as a sister since we were very close in age. We shared secrets. She complained to me about her family, asked for advice, bounced ideas off me. It was a special bond.

Olivia wore a hibiscus in her hair, bright stenciled designs like butterflies on her red polished nails, and had Sharon Osbourne hair. You couldn’t miss her if you tried! She leaves two grown daughters, a grand child, and a husband who loved her for the unique character she was. They were partners for 20 years before marrying only seven years ago. Better late than never.

So, Olivia, as you are laid to rest today, Sunday, the day that would have been your birthday, know that you left your mark. You touched people’s lives, made many people smile. You, who lost your mother at the tender age of two, will be reunited with her, alongside your dad, and grand parents.

May Bob Dylan be singing Blowin’ In The Wind to you as a serenade and flowers come to life everywhere.

Rest in peace.

Love forever from Cousin Joy.

Takeaways

-My cousin. is the first close family member I have lost and it hit me as a little too close to home. I am fortunate to have not lost any dear friends to disease or accidents. I know that this will be the first of many more to come as I age and those around me as well.

-We need to reach out to family and friends that we may have disconnected from.

Egg Roll for One

Eating Chinese food alone in front of the tv is acceptable. It’s okay. It’s when isolation is thrust upon you and it becomes a day in and day out occurrence, that the effects become very real.

After almost five months of social distancing, quarantining, and separation from loved ones far away (or worse in nursing homes or assisted living facilities), we are at the end of our proverbial ropes! Life is not normal. Who knows when it will be? For me, I am fortunate to have my EPS (Ever Present Spouse)! But others are not so lucky and isolation has become their new normal.

We, as humans, are social by nature. Sure, it’s good to have space, to have “me” time, but many of us crave some type of social interaction. Studies show that most people would rather experience electric shock treatment than be in isolation! (I kid you not! Heard it on the radio the other day.) “Human beings are an ultra-social species and our nervous systems expect to have others around us,” says Emiliana Simon-Thomas of The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

No other time has this been more painfully clear than now. I have a daughter who is living in Europe, whom I can’t see. I miss her terribly. Absence does not make this heart grow fonder. It makes it ache!

So during this time of aching, let’s not forget about those who are truly alone and may even now be sitting in front of the TV with their take-out egg roll. How are they dealing with this forced social isolation? This is a time for us to reach out to one another. To make a call. Send a text. Let someone know we care.

Barbra Streisand said it best in the 1964’s classic film, Funny Girl, “People, people who need people are the luckiest people in the world.”

xox

Barclay and Joy

The Power of a Dust Rag

(Joy here.) In addition to the many things we have learned and adjusted to living in a Covid world, one of them is — your house or apartment still gets dirty! And you are there to witness it in real time!

Cleaning… it’s a thankless job, my mother used to say. When my mother started a part time job, the first thing she treated herself to was a maid! Who doesn’t love the pleasant smell of a clean house when it is spic and span, but how many of us really enjoy actually doing the work that needs to be done to get it to that place?! With people not wanting to go into someone’s home for socializing, the likelihood of getting your cleaning person to come, is slim. The conundrum is… do you live in filth or get down on those hands and knees and do it yourself?

The funny thing is that I actually enjoy physical labor. I like weeding gardens, though it is frustrating as hell that the damn things keep coming back! I like getting down on all fours to give the bathroom floor a thorough wash. Call me crazy, but I refuse to use that beloved Swiffer floor mop (though easier on the back and knees) because it just doesn’t give me that same sense of physicality. A little sweat never hurt anyone and the results are ones that quickly illustrate what a good job you’ve done!

Studies show that cleaning is actually therapeutic. An article on the website Organicauthority.com points out five suggestions for turning housecleaning into a mood enhancer:

  1. As you clean the kitchen sink, you can practice deep breathing and meditation.
  2. Cleaning a drawer can give you a feeling of being in control.
  3. Scrubbing has been shown to release stress levels.
  4. Count your blessings while dusting -after all, you are one of the lucky ones to have a house to clean!
  5. Cleaning can purge more than just dog hair. As you dispose of dust and grime, visualize your negative emotions being tossed out as well.

Covid is not going away anytime soon, so you might as well bite the bullet, pick up the dust rag, and sing show tunes while you clean! Your home will reward you as a place to be proud of and continue to social distance in!

Today’s Takeaways

-Feeling isolated? Sad? Overwhelmed? Cleaning SOMEthing could just make you feel better. Start small. Try for drawer a day.

-Okay, who could possibly get excited about cleaning a toilet?! Run, don’t walk, to Target or Amazon ASAP and order this product! It’s amazing! Your toilet will smile back at you!! ToiletWand

Enjoy the ride!

xox

Barclay and Joy

Silver Linings

These are hard times. The word, unprecedented, does not come close to describing what we are going through. COVID has swept our globe with tsunami force leaving in its wake overrun ICUs, death, unemployment, food lines, isolation, and stress that for lack of a better descriptor is… well, unprecedented.

We hesitate to inject positivity here. For we know we are among the privileged. Our zip code has not been ravaged; we have not had to wait hours in a food line. We are not essential workers; nor are we on the front lines in a hospital emergency room.

However, COVID has interrupted our privilege with loneliness and longing. We cannot hug a grandchild, or meet a grown daughter for a drink, or visit a mother in a nursing home. Yet we have also recognized a few silver linings, for which we are grateful. We are recording them here, so as not to forget.

Silver Lining 1: Reuniting family

My family of origin is spread across the states. One sister lives in Vermont, four brothers reside in New York, Minnesota, and California, and nieces and nephews are dispersed. We see one another once a year at best and talk mainly on holidays and birthdays. Since COVID, however, my nephew has organized a weekly ZOOM call that has enabled us to connect. Yes, there are awkward silences and interruptions, but there is also laughter. Our family, however flawed, knows one another’s backstory and can speak in shorthand, referencing people and places only we know. We are closer now than ever before.

Silver Lining 2: Slowing down

Walking the dog, chatting with a neighbor from across the street, reading a book, journaling, planning a recipe, calling a friend – time during a quarantine has made us stay more present. We might share a smile with a fellow dog walker, or gaze at a hidden garden, or marvel at a cleverly disguised robin’s nest.

Silver Lining 3: And this is a big one. Examining systemic racism

We have COVID generated time now to learn and to listen. We are reading White Fragility and Just Mercy as well as the signs held aloft by the protesters in our streets. We watch and rewatch horrifying videos. We are trying to understand more and speak less, and to call out our myopic and generationally unresponsive eyes and ears. COVID is urging us to practice humility.

Silver Lining 4: Thinking about what matters

We can’t zip over to the store. We can’t have coffee with a friend. We can’t stroll an outdoor mall, or get our hair done. We are sick of our own cooking and we have saturated all Netflix options. We wear the clothes we slept in, and showering is, shall we say, less frequent. But at the same time we are grateful each morning when we wake up and discover we are not sick. We are thankful we have dogs to keep us company. And the weather…winter has passed and we are uplifted by the blue sky and the bright light that extends well into evening. All the trappings of our lives are stripped away and we are thankful for our family and friends. Needs and wants are more clearly delineated. Perhaps we can live without those skinny margaritas or that blow dry with the beach-y waves.

—————————————–

I concur with my dear friend’s observations. Life IS different. I don’t want to say, it will never be the same again, because that’s been said before, after 9/11, after the Great Recession of 2008, basically after every major crisis or shattering event.

Some of us will learn lessons from these last few months and some of us won’t. For me, as a sixth decade-er, it will leave its imprint, its message to wake up, that time’s a fleeting. It has made me think more deeply. I was already in heavy thinking mode, having retired and struggled with a new chapter (those of our blog readers know this), but this COVID message is both physical and mental. My husband and I are considered “elderly”!! Who? Me? Couldn’t be. The disease could be lurking in coughs, on Amazon delivery boxes – a facial-touch away. We are vulnerable, but we are also profoundly thankful.

May we hold onto this gratitude for as long as we can. May we treasure our children, our grandchildren, our spouses, partners, and friends – we realize now more than ever that they could be taken away from us at any time.

As for racial tensions, we need to stop and think before we open our mouth; we need to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. And we must be kinder, more tolerant, and ever mindful that not everyone has the privilege of being taken at their word.

There are no “Takeaways” today. Just read our words which, hopefully, will leave a tiny imprint. We bare our rawest feelings when we blog and we hope just one person may walk away, saying, “Wow, I feel that way too.”

Enjoy the ride,

xox Barclay and Joy

Don’t Climb that Ladder! Living out the Cycle of Life and Love

I’ll love you forever. 

I’ll like you for always. 

As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.

This is the  lullaby of a mother to her son in Robert Munsch’s beloved picture book, Love you Forever.

This mother crawls across the floor of her son’s  bedroom, and if he is fast asleep, she cradles him on her lap while reciting the lullaby.  She does this when he is a baby, a toddler, a 9-year old, a teenager, and ultimately an adult.  Yes, an adult.

Finally the mother is too old and sick to come to her son, so he visits her.  And as he cradles and rocks his mother, he repeats the familiar words, “I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always.  As long as I’m living, my mommy you’ll be.”

After his mother dies, the son goes into the room of his own baby daughter, picks her up from her crib, cradles her, and recites the lullaby.  And so the cycle continues.

Now, it is pure sacrilege to utter a word of criticism regarding this beloved classic. Maria Shriver has praised the book, saying she could not read it through without crying.  It was even featured in an episode of  “Friends”  when Joey gives a dramatic reading at Emma’s 1-year birthday, leaving everyone overcome with tears.

But as for me, my tears dry up at the scene where the mom goes to her adult son’s house.

She brings a ladder and climbs through his bedroom window!

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Publishers Weekly said about this part of the story, “Either it moves you to tears and you love it, or it makes your skin crawl and you detest it.”   Another critic said, “It’s either a touching account of a mother’s unending love or the ultimate helicopter parenting gone bad.”

I find this scene downright creepy.  But maybe that is because, if I’m truly honest, my heart’s desire is to do the very same thing.  I am jealous of those mother-daughter relationships where they talk or text each other multiple times a day.

But I also know that healthy detachment allows grown children to find their own path and parents to find their own lives while remaining cheerleaders, pray-ers, safety nets, listening ears.

So we should probably resist the urge to climb into our kid’s bedroom window in the dead of night.  Much as we want to.

That said, I am going in the garage right now to make sure the ladder is in working order and will fit in the back of our SUV.

Joy here: 

Where was I in 1986 when this children’s picture book was published?? I don’t remember it at all.  In fact, I never heard of it.  I was a bit busy at the time, having made the decision to move back to New York City and finding out I was pregnant with our 1st child.  Nevertheless, a book that so many people know and love (some hate) and that won The Parent’s Choice Gold Award, as well as selling 30 million copies worldwide, is hard to miss!

I listened to it being read on a You Tube video this morning. While sweet, endearing, and touching, it’s a bit of an over the top obsessive mother child story (in my opinion). Cradling your teenage child at 17?!!  Child services might be called in today!!!

I could picture SNL doing a skit on this and having a blast doing so, but I also smiled to myself.  It dovetailed so well with my thoughts on letting go and over texting my adult children.  What’s the right amount of space?  Will they reach out if they really need me or should I be happy that they are trying to work out their own issues?

I wonder how tall a ladder I would need to reach my daughter’s 2nd floor apt?  Kidding!!

Today’s Takeaway…

-A bond between a mother and child is powerful, and for most of us, lasts until our last breath of life.

-Know when to pull back and when to dive in.  It takes practice!  Maybe, by the time your children have children of their own, you’ll get it right!!

As always, enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

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