Music is Chicken Soup for the Soul

Plato must have known a thing or two. The quote above resonates today and will as long as there is music to be played. Not bad for a philosopher who died in 347 B.C.  I wonder if anything I’ve said will be remembered long after I’m gone!

My memory of music in my home goes way back to my dad listening to cantorial records , as well as Herb Albert’s Tijuana Brass (Whipped Cream, my favorite cover of his!) in the living room piped out of a human size speaker and hi-fi equipment.  My children will read this and go, what’s a hi-fi?!!

Much has been written about music having the ability to move us, emit emotions, joy, sadness.  It crosses boundaries, it doesn’t require words  nor pictures. You feel it in your core, your bones, your heart.

Stanford University Study  shows that music helps us make sense of a chaotic world and soothes our senses.

This is meant for one of my very dearest friends (no names mentioned) who is suffering through a very difficult period of time in her family’s life.  It struck me that my love for music might resonate with her. We all go through grief in different ways and how we deal with it is very unique to our own individual personalities. People feel all kinds of emotions during the course of a day, a week, a month. No one is happy all the time, or despondent all the time. Music is almost an emotion in itself. I see music as an escape for a minute or two. It can be for however long you desire. I used to lie in the dark in my living room and play records (mostly show tunes that I knew every word to!)

Music has been called a way of life for certain human beings. Some of us have musical talent and others don’t, ( I played the violin in the school band only because there were no more flute parts! First chair was never going to happen!) but those who do can share their emotions through  expression. The way music effects our everyday lives can be almost incomprehensible at times.

One time in particular stood out to me when I thought of examples of what impact music can make on our lives. The concert held in New York for the September 11, 2001 tragedy, in a sense, brought our country together. So many famous musicians wrote songs dedicated to the tragedy. Through music people were able to express their feelings easily in a peaceful, yet effective way. It wasn’t for money or publicity, it was simply for a good cause. Also, it was one of the best ways to prove that our country can come together in a time of crisis. The concert helped people who were grieving and even touched those who were not directly involved with the attack. Not only did it bring New York City together, but also it brought our entire nation together as one.

The same was done for World Aid’s Day and Coca Cola used it beautifully in its ‘ I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing- several variations on this iconic commercial, which was created in the early 1970’s. Now, try to get this tune out of your head!~!!

 

 

Today’s Takeaway…

. Hum a few bars of a melody that you hold dear, roll down the windows of your car and sing, or resort to the proverbial shower aria!

. It’s always available to you and it will put a smile on your face, I promise.  A lot fewer calories than eating a bag full of Oreos!

Enjoy the Ride

xox Barclay & Joy

In A Split Second

I volunteer at a wonderful therapeutic riding center in upstate New York twice a week.  Therapeutic riding offers kids and adults who have cognitive, physical and emotional disabilities the opportunity to strengthen their muscles, follow instructions, and bond with a beautiful animal. Sadly, most of these programs are not covered by insurance, but that’s another discussion entirely.  (for when Barclay and I decide to become political and alienate some of our beloved readers!)

This week I was tasked with spotting a child who is severely disabled with the aid of another volunteer on a trail ride. Since daylight savings is around the corner and darkness will be descending upon us way too early, this was to be the last trail ride for the season.  (the class takes place late in the day)

The child sits in a chair much like a throne on top of the horse strapped in so she doesn’t fall, but able to use her hands for steering and holding the reins, as well as her leg muscles as much as she possibly can.  I had seen this rider enjoy her time in the arena looking happy and proud of her accomplishments.  (how wonderful is that for anyone, but particularly a child with a serious handicap)

To set the stage and allow you our reader to visualize what happened next, picture this.  There are about 6 kids of varying abilities on horses being spotted by volunteers in case their quick response time is needed or the horse needs a little reminding of what he or she is supposed to be doing. The child at the back of the line is a confident rider and decides to move up rather than being at the back of the line. That particular day there aren’t enough volunteers  so she is on her own, but she is a more experienced rider.  Horse A (I am using fictitious names to protect the innocent!) gets a wee bit too close to Horse B and is in his space.  Horse B (I’m the spotter for Horse B) bucks and the child falls to the ground while I am kneed by the hind quarter of a 300 lb animal who is pissed off!  I attempt to block the child’s fall to the ground, but due to my lack of upper body strength I can’t hold her back.  It happens so fast and in the blink of an eye a pleasant trail ride turns into an accident.  Thank God I am the only one injured (a black and blue and an egg sized lump on my upper thigh which looks like cellulite)  The rider is a bit shaken, but not a tear in sight.  I marvel at this trooper, who after a few minutes of catching her breath is ready to be positioned back in her chair and continue riding.  What was an uneventful afternoon trail ride has taught me to expect anything that comes your way, keep those reflexes sharp, and don’t invade a horse’s personal space.

Today’s Takeaway…

. Always be on your guard.  Expect the unexpected. Never underestimate what volunteering your time means to someone else.

I was beginning to think my time at the riding center was routine and that no one cared if I showed up or not.  Yesterday, made me see how one person can make a difference in someone else’s life.

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay and Joy

 

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Forget the Treadmill – Take a Bubble Bath!

You’ve heard that exercise alleviates depression.  Well, it turns out that taking a hot bath works even better!

A new study found that taking a hot bath twice a week can significantly lift your mood – more so than exercise. It has to do with altering the body’s temperature and circadian rhythm. Plus a hot bath is more appealing for some folks than an arduous sweat-filled workout. (Acupuncture, massages, and hot showers by the way also release endorphins – as does laughter!  So maybe laughing your head off while soaking in a hot bath might be the medicine for chasing away the blues!)

You can also read in the tub and thereby escape the grasp of that incessant cell phone.  No cable news. No email. No political ads. Just you in sudsy bliss in the company of a great book.

And speaking of books, C.S. Lewis famously said, “We read to know we are not alone.”    Reading is an additional antidote for depression whose best friend is isolation.

What are Joy and I reading these days, you ask?

We highly recommend Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. It’s light reading and it makes you smile, even chuckle. It’s on Reese Witherspoon’s list and may soon be a movie. That gives us the opportunity to envision who might play the characters we have come to know. It’s an account of growth and courage;  reinforcement that we are not alone. Reading a book such as this is like being invited into someone’s home you don’t know and hiding behind the curtains as they tell their story.

A word about book clubs… I (Joy) am finding that if I have to convince myself to read the book, perhaps I should come up with my own selection! On the other hand, book clubs force us to read something outside our usual genre.  If it’s a good discussion group, maybe a probing question or two might be raised and debated.

 

So run that bath, grab a book, pour a glass of vino, light a candle. Bubbles add another dimension to the overall experience.  Now that we know the heat of the bath is key, make sure it’s hot before you get in.  I hate tepid anything!  Turn on music.  Music soothes the soul and it puts us in the mood to relax. Think of it as water therapy.    Close your eyes and indulge.

Who had time for a bath pre retirement?!!

And in the immortal words of L’Oreal, “You’re worth it!”

Today’s Takeaway…

. Be open to exploring new ways to relieve stress, anxiety, depression. If all it takes is a dunk in a hot tub and the world’s problems melt away, why not?  What’s the worst that can happen?  Shriveled toes and fingers! No prescription needed!

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay & Joy

 

Check out The Great American Read for more bathtub books!

 

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The Last Time I Saw You We Were 7!!

What do you say to someone you haven’t seen since you were 7 years old?!! It’s a mind blowing experience and one I had to share.

In one of my many unaccounted for retirement moments, I was thinking of people who have come and gone in my life.  Names from the past, childhood, in particular.  I had two very close friends in elementary school, one who I have been friends with since kindergarten (with a hiatus of about twenty years, but that’s a post for another day) and another who I met at about the same time.  Friend #2 moved away at the end of 2nd grade and we lost touch. I put in her maiden name, not knowing if she was married or divorced or never having been married.  A gap of this much time means you missed out on her growing up, graduating from junior high school, high school, a first boyfriend, the prom,  applying to college, getting married, a first job, a career, having children, the list goes on.

Is it curiosity, getting older and wanting to connect with people from our past or the fact that FB allows us to be super sleuths? The ability to find just about anyone from our past exists. When you find someone who was a best friend, no matter what age you are, it’s a gift.  It’s a renewal of something you once shared that only the two of you remember.

Ironically, my friend has a sister who has a weekend house less that an hour and a half  away from where I live.  What are the chances?  So,  last weekend we made a plan to meet at a local restaurant for a glass of wine.  She would be with her husband and I would be with mine. I walked into the restaurant and a big broad smile came over her face.  I recognized her immediately and she me, though we hadn’t seen each other in over 50 years!!!!  The face of the child I knew was still there.  It brought a flood of emotion to us both and we knew this was going to be a night of reminiscences, laughing and scratching the surface of two lives reconnecting.

At this phase of life friendships are more important than ever.  We have the time to see people that we may not have had while raising families.  If someone has been lost along the way, reach out.  FB and other social media make things possible and it’s an amazing tool that I still marvel at.  (no matter how lame that sounds!)

Today’s Takeaway…

There is no time like now to reach out and make someone’s day.  If you’ve lost a friendship over the years, take a chance and try connecting. The memories you shared are still there and it can be so worth the effort.

Barclay and her husband just visited us in upstate New York and I am still smiling.  It was an opportunity for our husbands to get to know one another and we could commiserate in person over our still unfigured out state of retirement!

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay and Joy

Where did my UWS go????

A few months back I met one of my long time friends for lunch at an UWS (Upper West Side) establishment, Barney Greengrass.  Greengrass is a long long time (since 1908!) establishment on Amsterdam in the 90’s known for it’s smoked fish (it’s a Jewish thing!) and not taking credit cards! We walked for blocks and talked, as we always had.  I couldn’t help but notice the many “For Rent” signs in windows.  The small businesses of my childhood, ones where the proprietress or proprietor knew you by name or your family by name were long gone, but now even their replacements were being shuttered.  High rents have made it nearly impossible to own the type of shops that made the UWS my UWS of the 1960’s and 70’s.

Map of 410 Riverside Dr, New York, NY 10025

 

I grew up on Riverside Drive by Columbia University.  My building was one of those grand limestones with a carriage drive, pillars and huge picture windows across the street from the park.  I lived there for 23 years with my parents until I got married.

I knew Tom’s Diner long before there was a Seinfeld, Mama Joy’s for deli sandwiches, The Columbia Men’s Shop for college clothes to wear when your parents came to visit, the stationery store on the corner of 113th and Broadway that my father nearly bought, Simmons Gift Shop for presents that a 10 year old might buy mom for her birthday or a house warming gift, Daitch Shopwell where my mother did her “big” grocery shopping and Party Cake on 110th Street for linzer tarts and special cupcakes for each holiday!  (a Valentine cupcake, a Chanukah cupcake, a Christmas cupcake)  Of course, there was the 5&10 or Woolworth’s on Broadway and 110th for literally everything from Maybelline makeup to buttons to underpants and bras! This is where my mother told me it was okay to sample their hard candies in baskets because that’s what they were there for!  Luckily, this didn’t lead to a life of crime! These are some of my memories of a childhood spent on the UWS, 113th street, too far uptown for  many people who felt uncomfortable going higher than 86th Street in those years. Riverside Drive was always special, it was my playground, it was where I learned to ride a bike, where my mother sent me to hang when our apt was being painted or wall papered.  It was where I played in the dirt or in the sandbox, went down below (that’s what we called the lower level of the park) to later study in high school or to hit a ball against the wall to practice tennis, picnic on a hot summer Sunday and read The New York Times.  Life was simple, or so it seemed and I loved it.  It felt like a neighborhood, people lived in their rent controlled apartments forever!  Why would you leave when you were paying $350 for a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom apt with a huge living room and full kitchen!

Today, every corner has a bank or a Duane Reade Pharmacy.  Small businesses stopped being able to afford the UWS a long time ago.  A few still remain from my childhood, but they are very few, Mondel’s Chocolates, which my best friend’s aunt and uncle owned,  The Town Shop further down on Broadway, Zabar’s  of course, the V&T for pizza (every Columbia student knows it well, and The Hungarian Bakery for dessert after you eat pizza! They have withstood the test of time.

We were middle class and everyone I knew was just like me.  Perhaps, they had a little more or a little less, but we were so similar in values, in philosophy, in morality, in politics.  It might have been the most integrated area in the U.S.  I went to school with Hispanics, Blacks, Poles, Irish, Jewish, Catholic, and a few Chinese. I can’t remember any WASPS, but they probably lived on the UES! Too many halfway houses, slum lords, and SRO’s at that time. The cuckoos kept to themselves.  Mental health wasn’t well understood  and if you didn’t bother them, they didn’t bother you.

The question is do you remember life a certain way because that’s how it was? Or are your childhood memories viewed through rose colored glasses with the soot and grime removed?

I feel fortunate to have grown up when I did and in the place I still love best.  I scattered my mother’s and father’s ashes over Riverside Drive Park at 113th Street because it was their happy place too.  (Don’t tell anyone!  I’m sure I needed a permit!)

Today’s Takeaway… 

. “Nostalgia can be a treacherous mistress because she glamorizes the past and downgrades the present in a way that threatens to make them both intolerable.”

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay and Joy

What do I Really Need?

I have been thinking a lot (to borrow Maria Shriver’s beginning sentence leading into her wonderful Sunday post-mariashriver.com/sundaypaper) Retirement gives us the time to daydream, to muse, to preoccupy our minds with small things as well as big philosophical questions.  When working I didn’t have the time to let my mind wander. Time is money when you are in sales.  You need to be disciplined, focused, fixated on your goals and how you are going to attain them. This thinking time can get us into trouble, but it can also help us put things into perspective.

I got to thinking about possessions, what I want, what I need at this stage of life.  I don’t need a lot.  Who’s going to see my new designer blouse?  The check out girl at the supermarket? True, we do things for ourselves, but at the end of the day, didn’t I always like the office compliment, the bathroom banter over my new shoes, haircut, lip gloss  Who notices now?

The key is to do all the materialistic things that make you happy when you have a paycheck! Buy that high end moisturizer on a whim! Go to the best sushi restaurant on someone else’s expense account (I never looked at prices until I retired! Dining out in a major city is expensive when it comes out of your own pocket!)

When I think about it, I don’t need blingy jewelry (I spend the winter in Mexico so take off all my jewelry before I go-no reason to broadcast it.) I don’t need designer clothes or even a fancy car.  We are living in the land of SUVs and not ones with prestige brands.

It all goes back to living a simple life, one in which waking up in the morning, hearing nothing but the sounds of the country is bringing me a new sense of who I am unadorned, unadulterated, and understated. Maybe I could do with a little eyeliner!  You never know who might be scouting for retired publishers in Columbia County!

Somewhere, there’s a happy medium of figuring out who you are without the trappings.  I do know that I don’t need stuff to make me happy anymore and that yoga pants and a tee shirt are my outfit of choice!  The beauty of not needing more is that it saves a lot of time surfing the internet for things that I’ll never wear.

In the words of my favorite realtor in Westchester, less is more!

In the words of my colorist (of course I don’t have any gray!) if you don’t like the way you planned things, change it!  The only rules you have now are your own.

Daily Simplicity: 13 Habits That Will Make Your Life Lighter and Happier
https://www.positivityblog.com/simplicity-habits/
May 2, 2018 – “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”. … One simple reason and one of the most important ones for me is that simplicity reduces the heaviness in life. … 

 

Today’s Takeaway…

. Reassess everything that made you the person you were for all these years.  Pare down, get back to basics and remember we all go out the same way we came in!

Enjoy the Ride

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

Binge Watching ‘This Is Us”

I never want to make it a practice to watch tv during the daytime.  Even in retirement, daytime is for movement, chores, learning new things, getting together with friends.  A guilty pleasure reserved for night time, post dinner time is perfect for binge watching a great program, one that makes you smile.  No longer having the camaraderie of an office environment to discuss last night’s episode of “Game of Thrones” or “The Handmaid’s Tale”, it now was for just little ol me.

One of my daughters had been recommending I watch a program she had fallen in love with, “This Is Us.”  The first season passed and I didn’t get around to it, then the second.  Finally, knowing that the 3rd season was about to start, the pressure was on to commit to 36 hours of tv watching!  With binge watching so popular and the advent of streaming (the only way Millennials watch tv!) I could do this! I had done it before for both Downton Abbey and 5 seasons of Breaking Bad! I got into this program’s human side very quickly and it touched me with it’s beautiful writing about family, support, loyalty, kindness, and just plain ol’ life.

Then I started to read an article about binge watching causing depression!  Could this little guilty pleasure cause me harm and spiral me into a need for Wellbutrin?!! It seems pretty harmless but recent findings on binge watching suggest that folks that make this a habit can in fact be more lonely and depressed.  In addition it may be more difficult to control behavior, like eating, drinking, smoking, etc. Personally, I think if you enjoy the time you are spending ( a good cry at the end of an episode is a good indicator it hit your emotional chords) don’t beat yourself up.  You’re retired and you earned it!

Just like with a great book,  every once in a while a television program (admittedly not often, particularly on broadcast tv) takes us to a special place where we live with the characters, feel empathy for them, think we know them as friends and neighbors.  Jack Pearson is who I want my daughter to marry!

Rotten Tomatoes says it best in describing this show-

“Unapologetically uncynical and definitely manipulative.  But it rarely feels cheap.  All those tears are earned, so go ahead and have a big, cathartic cry.”

Lets hear it for binge tv watching.  Grab a hankie, a bag of microwave popcorn and give into the experience!  You’ll be glad you did! You don’t have to get up for work the next morning!

Today’s Takeaway…

If you want to watch something that pulls at your heart strings, schmaltz at its “best, I heartily recommend “This Is Us”.  Wouldn’t it be nice if all marriages were like Jack and Rebecca’s?!

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay and Joy