Book Review-Becoming-by Michelle Obama

Joy here –

Loved, loved, loved this book.  So honest, from the heart, and real.  I knew I liked her as FLOTUS, but after reading her book I am totally a fan (and saddened that she isn’t first lady any longer!)

Michelle Obama didn’t come from money or status.  She was an average kid growing up on the south side of Chicago.  Her dreams and aspirations  were similar to those of many young people –  getting into a good college, making her mark on the world, giving back to her community. She accomplished all that and much more.

The book follows her divergent chapters in life, aptly titled, Becoming Me, Becoming Us, and Becoming More.  It’s refreshing to know that she too went through a period of doubt regarding her chosen profession, the law.  After working so hard to get into a top school, Princeton, and landing a fabulous job with the top tier law firm, Sidley & Austin, Michelle wrestled with the fact that she wasn’t feeling fulfilled.  She wanted to give back to her community, to feel purposeful, to do good works, not just for the sake of a great pay check.  At the end of the day, isn’t that what most of us truly want in life?

As I read her memoir, I felt as though Michelle could be my next door neighbor or close friend.  She speaks from her soul and isn’t afraid to be vulnerable.

The book is a wonderful read for a young woman starting out in life or even more so, several years out of college trying to figure out if the path she’s chosen is still what she wants.  I bought the book with my older daughter in mind — Michelle being a great role model, someone who you could trust.

Although Michelle marveled at the heights she climbed and although she savored her time in The White House, her most important role was (and continues to be) as Sasha’s and Malia’s mom.

At the end of the day, her dignity, grace, and fierce determination to remain an equal partner with Barack, holding the highest position in America, is an inspiration to us mere mortals!

 

 

Today’s Takeaway-

– “If you don’t define yourself, you will quickly be defined by others.” Michelle Obama in Becoming

-We are all in the process of becoming and there is comfort in that. If we don’t become, then we are stuck in a rut.

Enjoy the ride and read the book!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

Want a laugh?  Check out Michelle and Ellen in Costco!

 

HELP, I’m Having an Identity Crisis!

It happened again the other day.  Someone asked me, “How’s retirement going?  What do you do with yourself?”

I stammered a response.  “Oh, I’m busy….you know, tennis, errands, church stuff,  tutoring”.

Now to be perfectly transparent … that last part was fake news — I’m not tutoring these days and my church stuff has lessened during the summer months.

And did I really use the word, “errands”???   I may as well have said, “I watch Netflix” or “I’m into Hannah’s season on the Bachelorette.”  Not descriptors of a productive life.

Retirement for me has brought an identity crisis of sorts.  But It turns out I’m not alone.

Joy found this article from Forbes which compares the identity crisis of retirement to that which we experienced in adolescence.

The Second Identity Crisis: 10,000 Boomers Face It Every Day

The author calls it “Starting Older“.   We don’t feel old, but we are definitely not young.  We are asking ourselves,

Who am I anyway, after all this? What kind of work do I want to do now? What is the point of my life now? What kind of stimulation do I need, and what kind do I want to avoid? What have I had enough of and what do I still yearn for?

“The process of confronting these questions –and finding the answers–has all the disruptive hallmarks of an identity crisis.”

But let’s not forget the good news here.  Unlike the prior generation, we generally have 20 years or so post-work – we are living longer.  Plus, we are generally in decent health.  We GET to start older – which, with the proper attitude, can be exciting.

We just have to find our new-selves.  Did George Bush realize he would turn to painting or Jimmy Carter to house building?

Also, contrary to our adolescent selves, we have a lifetime of experience to draw upon and hopefully some great friendships. We are a work in progress.

Just don’t ask us that dreaded question, if you don’t mind!

 

Joy here –

I couldn’t agree more!  I hate when people ask me what I do with my time!  I try to structure my day as much as I can, but lets face it, there is a fair amount of downtime.  There are a lot of hours in between breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

In the beginning it’s fun to sleep in, not be listening for the alarm to go off, but that wears off rather quickly.  I haven’t slept late in years!  I’m lucky if I stay asleep all night without the help of Melatonin or CBD oil.  (check out my earlier post on insomnia)

Last year was my experimentation phase.  I volunteered at an equine center working  with disabled kids, refreshed my Mah Jongg skills, tried new recipes,  played Scrabble late afternoon accompanied by cocktails (this activity I kind of like!) I can’t say my life is meaningful or that I have purpose (lofty goals to be sure), but what I did accomplish is knowing me better, figuring out what makes me happy and, more importantly what doesn’t. We are on auto pilot for so many years that the abrupt halt is a hard one, and all this time that I was waiting to have is now put neatly on my doorstep with no instruction manual.

The good news, as Barclay says, is that we are in good company with many Baby Boomers to come.  My mission is to figure it out as I go along, to get to know this person I’ve been married to for almost 42 years, and to be available when needed for friends, for family, for neighbors.

The next time someone asks you what you do every day in retirement, throw them for a loop and tell them you’re working on a cure for cancer! Who’s to know and it makes your life sound oh so meaningful!

Today’s Takeaway…

Not everything we do has to be meaningful and important.  We’ve worked a long time and deserve a break!

Your plan for retirement is your own and if it doesn’t satisfy you in year 1, hopefully, you’ve got many years ahead of you to figure it out!

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay & Joy

 

You know those funny old folks in the greeting cards?  This will be Joy and me.

 

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Once a Parent, Always a Parent!

I always thought I’d raise my children to adulthood and then they would be independent and live happily ever after.  Seriously, I got married at 23 so what did I know?!

What I have learned is that there is no magic number at which an adult child finds his/her way.  Each child is unique and reaches independence on a different timeline. (It’s not that I was so mature at 28 or even 30, but I had a husband, an in-house therapist, to vent to.)

Now I welcome the fact that my 2 adult children come to me with their problems, that they care what I think about anything!  I am blessed with 2 caring souls who value their mom’s opinion and advice (well, sometimes!)  They probably think that venting to me is better than keeping inside whatever is upsetting them.  Why feel like crap when you can lay it off on your mother?  You get off the phone feeling so much better.  Who cares that your mom wants to walk into oncoming traffic!

I am slowly learning that I can no longer jump into action mode, the way I could when problems were simpler to solve.  These  issues are beyond my expertise.  When a daughter is looking for a new job, I no longer know people who can set up interviews — as I did when my kids were fresh out of college.  I can’t get a bad boss off their backs or find new apartments.  My usefulness is limited, as is my checkbook!

I must remind myself  that my daughters are young women. They will learn by stumbling, getting hurt, being disappointed, not having everything they want or aspire to.  My job in raising them, in giving them a foundation from which to grow, is done.  It’s like sowing seeds in the ground, watering them, weeding them, and allowing them to grow. Every now and then, they may need a gentle touch, a little extra care, but for the most part, if I’ve done the job right, I need to let them reach for their dreams without me constantly being in their faces.  (I will reread that last sentence and maybe commit it to memory!)

My generation has been so involved with their children’s lives that when they grow up, it is hard to put on the brakes. We want what is best for them;  we want to see them happy, laughing, telling us good news  Duh! But our role in this phase of life is to be a sounding board, to be the person they come to for relief from whatever is burdening them.

But being a sounding board is tricky — the issues are bigger than someone not wanting to sit with them at the lunch table!   Recently one of my adult children needed to talk.  She is adapting to a new life style and adjusting to many bumps along the way.  She needed to pour it all out of her, even though all I could offer was a sympathetic ear — something I will make time for, no matter what else is going on in my life.  Till the day I die!

For we are Parents for Life!

And I for one treasure this role more than any other!   My ear is ready whenever the call comes!

With a glass of wine near by.

 

Today’s Takeaway:

. Parenting an adult child is drastically different than when our kids were little.  Don’t expect to be Supermom anymore, swooping in to save the day.

,Being a good listener and hugger may be the most important requirements for our adult children.  Never underestimate how much that can help when they call.

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The World According to Winston-

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I think dogs are so much smarter and cleverer than many people think.  Winston, for example is wise beyond his years. My daughter, Morgan, doesn’t think so, but she’s wrong! He knows he is incredibly cute and charming and he uses that to get under your skin and make you do things that you would never do for any living soul (like get up at 5:15 to let him out and then warm his dog food up in the microwave!).

Human’s relationship with dogs goes way back in time, more than 10,000 years to be exact.  70 million families have dogs, so it must be a pretty good idea!  I truly can’t think of a time in my married life that I was dogless for more than a few months.  They are our confidants, the best keepers of secrets, and they know a thing or two about life.  So, here on a much lighter note than my customary reflections on retirement, are some of the thoughts of Winston…,as told to me privately!

  1. Wake up in the morning after a good night’s sleep refreshed and rarin to go.
  2. Don’t let the weather get to you.  It’s only water and no one ever melted from it!
  3. Eat a good breakfast.  It’s the most important meal of the day and you know you’ve been thinking about it all night!
  4. Don’t let little things bother you, unless, of course, it’s a tick.  If it is one of those pesky things, have someone pull it out immediately!  Winston refuses to be a smorgasbord for those parasitic nuisances!
  5. Sniff, to your heart’s content.  The power of smell brings many memories to mind and you never know when something yummy might be lurking in the grass.
  6. Make sure you get your tummy scratched multiple times a day.  That’s the best part and behind the ears.
  7. Avoid baths at all cost.  You couldn’t possibly be that dirty! On the human side, you might want to ignore this one for the sake of your fellow friends and neighbors.
  8. Snuggle up to someone at night.  The warmth of another human being is very special and it makes for a good pillow or a little extra support for your neck.

Life is a beautiful thing and our furry friends make it complete.  Winston is eternally grateful for being rescued by his family and he thanks me for giving him this time to speak.

Today’s Takeaway…

-My husband David always thought (when he was a little boy) that his dog was a little person in a furry suit.  Just think about it!

-Dogs know our emotions better than we do ourselves. The next time you have a major decision to make, consult your dog, or if Winston is available, he’s more than happy to add his 2 cents!

Time for a walk in the woods with Winston!

Enjoy the Ride.

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

The Importance of Female Friends

There is nothing better than a wonderful phone conversation with a girl friend.  Female friendship is unique.  It truly is.  Guys bond differently than women do,  They sit and watch sports, play cards, do side by side activities.  Women engage.  When we get on the phone we better have at least an hour to gab.  If you haven’t spoken to a particular friend for a while, it will have to cover a broad array of topics.  Lots happens in the course of life!  Even in retirement!  Maybe, more so in retirement!

With no office environment any longer, no kvetching over coffee or the water cooler, you need to reach out and make the interactions happen.  A great female to female conversation is cathartic and a lot cheaper than going to a therapist!  Your close friends will not judge you, your really close friends will listen to whatever it is on your mind and offer advice, suggestions, recommendations.  They are wonderful to bounce ideas off of.  They know your moods and will probe further to see what’s on your mind, why you’re feeling blue, sad, or dissatisfied.

I am so lucky to have the friends I do, many of them lifetime friends of 50 years or more,  1 even longer than that! Childhood friends, junior high school friends, college friends, work friends and now my Mexico amigas and amigos!  If you’re reading this post, you know who you are and what you mean to me.  I cherish all of you and feel very lucky to count you as friends.

During these last 2 1/2 years of retirement, I have leaned on my friendships to get me through a rocky start, not knowing where I belonged anymore.  My friends listened and one in particular became my blogging partner.  To you, dear Barclay, I owe you countless hours back of your time and my gratitude for being my kindred spirit. We have learned things about each other in writing this blog (almost 1 /12 years now with 126 posts and counting!) that we never knew.  I promise I will go to my grave before I divulge anything!

Many articles have been written on this subject. No one will disagree that female bonding is powerful and important.  It helps to make for a well rounded and happy life. Women are truly each other’s emotional support system.  A husband has his place for sure, but he is not a substitute for a close female friend.

So, pick up the phone and call a female friend!  She’ll be glad you called and you will be cementing a bond that needs continual care.

Just like a plant, our friendships need to be nurtured.

Today’s Takeaway...

. Good female friends let you be your authentic self. They are important no matter what age you are.  They  fulfill your emotional needs and love you for just who you are.

. Don’t underestimate your need for them in retirement.  In some respects, their support is more important than ever.

Enjoy the Ride

xox Barclay & Joyimg_0101

 

 

 

 

 

3rd Chapter, 3rd Career: Joy’s Revisionist Retirement!

I’ve now been retired almost 2 1/2 years.  I can’t say the time has flown by, but boy have I learned a lot about myself!  What makes me happy, what I need to make me happy, what works, what doesn’t, how I want my life to be defined going forward, and how to overcome chronic insomnia!  (vape pen with CBD oil!)

I tried volunteer work last year and while I enjoyed it, it didn’t give me that sense of purpose I was looking for.  Truth be told, I like earning money.  Call me crazy, but fulfillment is different for all of us.  For me, as a sales person for the last 25 years of my career, I need to be working towards something —  to write a ticket, as those of us in trading used to say.  I need something tangible.

I started by rewriting my resume.  I hadn’t written a resume  or added to one in years.  Having been at the same company for 19 years, I had gotten comfortable and settled.  Resume writing is so easy today with templates for every style and font you might imagine.

Once this was completed, I was ready to test the waters.  The beauty of looking for a job at this stage of life, my 3rd chapter, is that I don’t feel pressure.  There is no career track. I don’t feel I have anything to prove, except to myself.  I knew I wanted to work again, but not a “big” job with a title and long hours, but rather what I dubbed a “little job.”  I wanted to have purpose again, to have structure, to be in an office environment with people, camaraderie.

Though, I have worked as an independent rep for the last 10 months, my post retirement gig, as I call it didn’t provide fulfillment.  I have enjoyed getting to know my new community selling to small businesses, meeting restauranteurs, shop owners, yoga practitioners, architects, landscapers, organic farmers, etc, but something was missing.  I have never loved working from home.  While one of my daughters enjoys the freedom of working remotely, I felt isolation. There were no people to bitch and complain with about your job, your boss, your work space… Who do you discuss the latest episode of “This Is Us” with?  The dog just wasn’t interested!

I started applying for jobs on various websites, not really sure what I was looking for, but hoping to play off of my skill set.  I am a sales person and I have always believed, once you have sold, you can sell anything!  I knew I didn’t want to be in a boring job, so I thought about the kinds of businesses in my upstate locale that interested me.  Much to my surprise, I actually had people respond to me!! Wow, maybe I wasn’t over that hill after all!  (That’s the proverbial hill!!)

I applied to an auction house, a spa, a yoga retreat center (think discounts!), an upscale customized vacation company that does “glamping” on a local farm (glamorous camping by way of luxury tents) and an organic purveyor of Fair Trade coffee, nuts, dried fruits, etc.

I have been made 2 job offers and I will make a decision next week as to which one I want.  This time, it’s about me.  I’m not supporting a family, paying a mortgage, putting money away for college or retirement.  It’s for my need to be useful, productive, engaged.  This is what I need to be happy.

Some people can’t wait until the day they retire.  They are happy to piddle around.  Maybe, they are better than I am at structuring their day. The beauty of the whole thing is that if it doesn’t work out, it’s okay.  I will try something else.  I’m thankful that people who interviewed me were willing to take a chance on little ole me!

As my mother Muriel always said, you can sleep when you’re dead!

Today’s Takeaway

-Listen to the voice in your head, not to others. Only you know what makes you happy and fulfilled.

-Give yourself time to adjust to this new way of life, but if you do want more, don’t be afraid to get out there and search for it.

-Never underestimate what a senior person brings to the table.  Your wisdom, experience, and guidance just might be the right mix for your future employer.  Old is just in your mind and age is merely a number!

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

 

 

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow-Or Adult Summer Camp Goodbyes

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

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

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

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

Hasta que nos volvamos a encontrat el ano que viene!

Today’s Takeaway:

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

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

https://www.iamexpat.nl

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Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay & Joy