Know Your Body!!! It’s Speaking To You.

woman standing on mat

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As a woman, you probably can relate to the dreaded annual tests we all should undergo , that of a mammogram, ultrasound for those of us with dense breasts, perhaps, a PSA, if you are a man of a certain age, and even, my favorite, the colonoscopy.  All joking aside, this was a very tough week for me because I had experienced symptoms associated with colon cancer.  Thank you internet, thank you Web MD, and thank you to my father who helped make me a hypochondriac.

When you know your body well (as you should) you notice subtle changes, patterns, variations from the norm.  From the research I did online, I thought my body was telling me something. GO SEE A GASTROENTEROLOGIST!

With this in my head, I became fixated on the disease and became convinced I had something seriously wrong with me!

Though the prospect of a diagnosis is very scary, it is something you must do if you suspect something is going on in your body.  Early detection is key.  According to WHO (The World Health Organization) each year 8.8 million people die from cancer, many of them are in low income and middle income countries without access to adequate testing. In the United States, we have no excuse and owe it to ourselves and our families to take advantage of diagnostics.

So after preparing with a delicious cocktail of laxative and Gatorade, 32 oz bottles no less, twice (how can anyone consume this much liquid and not barf?!!) As anyone who has ever undergone a colonoscopy, (thank God, they changed the thinking to every 10 years now!) you know being near a toilet the day before is critical!

The day of the test came and I soldiered on. With butterflies in my stomach and negative thoughts of doom and gloom, I drove myself with my husband at my side an hour away to make sure my colon (now  extremely clean!) was healthy.

I didn’t even get a solid sleep during this procedure since no anesthesia was used. I guess this hospital has a shortage of this specialty! It’s Albany, not New York or Chicago!  A sedation of some sort, but I still felt the scope being turned around inside of me and talking between the 2 nurses.  Before I knew it, the procedure was over, routine I’m sure for any gastro doctor.  Diagnosis- all clear!  No polyps, no growths, phew!  I was soo relieved to hear and knew that I could put my worries to bed, at least until some other symptoms crop up pointing to another disease. I am, after all, my father’s daughter.

Today’s Takeaway…

Know your own body.  Don’t ever dismiss anything that seems out of your normal pattern.  That goes for pooping too!

You have one life to live and it’s precious.  Take your annual diagnostic tests every year without fail.  Remember,  early detection can make all the difference.

Enjoy the ride.

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

Woman-Up! — Facing Your Fears

Okay, so I admit that I slept with a toy gun under my pillow when I was a young child.  It made me feel better to know I had protection from potential burglars.  After all, I lived in a ground floor apt in New York City on the UWS (upper west side) where anything was possible! My father was often called upon to check under the bed for anything lurking, with plans to come out once the lights were turned off. Ben was good-natured about this and always there to be my protector from the boogey man, I could breathe a sigh of relief knowing a thorough check had been made.

My fears were many and included some very serious and mature musings, such as “Does life go on after I die?” (I wrestled with this one for a long time!) and what was that sound coming out of the radiator in my bedroom? Though my protector, Ben was also an overly anxious father, who hovered over me and watched my every move — which made me a Nervous Nellie.

So it is no wonder, with this back drop, that I would be the one on the ground watching in an amusement park or, worse yet, the big kid on the turtle roller coaster ride!

Nevertheless, on vacation this past week on the beautiful Oregon coast, I decided to face my fears and try sand dune buggy riding.  This is a popular sport in one of the many beach towns on the coast where sand instead of dirt fills the preserved parkland.  These dunes look like they could be on Cape Cod and are not found in any other part of Oregon, so I had to go with the flow.

With goggles, a scarf around my face to prevent sand from going in my mouth and an anticipated speed of 60-65 miles per hour, I was mentally psyched to conquer my queasy stomach and risk averse persona. If former President Bush senior could sky dive at 90,  a little sand in my face was a day at the beach!

The buggy climbs these giant hills and wait, there’s a huge drop down to the other side, which I could prepare for by swallowing hard and concentrating on getting  through it.

It was a half hour in length, so even if I was uncomfortable, it would be over before I knew it.

It was only a couple of weeks earlier that I asked (yes, asked!) to ride on the back of my neighbor’s Harley to celebrate a very big milestone birthday.  If not now, when?

Bottom line, I faced my fears and lived to tell the tale.  I’m certainly not a thrill seeker or an adventurer, but sometimes, you just have to woman up!

I’m taking a whole new approach, within reason of course.  Visualize what it might feel like, understand the risks, real or mostly imagined, and then make a new memory! It was actually quite fun to experience a sand dune buggy ride with friends and it’s a memory that goes into the scrap book of life.

Today’s Takeaway;

-Grab hold of your fears before they take over your life.

-Differentiate what’s real from what you’ve built up in your mind.

As always, enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay & Joy

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