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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Failing Better: Learning and Growing

Back in my 20s I held 7 different jobs in 11 years.  That meant 7 “first days” — finding the coffee machine,  meeting colleagues, imprinting names while shaking hands, signing forms, training, ever smiling, trying not to walk into a wall or closet.

One first day stands out.  I had to enter the trading room of Dean Witter, not only late, but also  wearing a large white bandage on my chin, having tripped while jogging along Chicago’s lakefront at 5AM that morning, certain that I was outrunning a mad rapist, which was actually a puzzled squirrel — it was a bloody affair necessitating a trip to the ER to get stitches.

Then there was a new job where I apparently slipped through the cracks of Human Resources.  I had been hired by a regional manager in Chicago and I thought it would be important to visit the NY office to meet the traders.  After my visit, I returned to Chicago where the manager who had hired me was no longer an employee.  And when I called the NY office to chat with my new trader-friends, those whose hands I had just shook were gone as well.  It gradually dawned on me that they had forgotten to fire me.  Paycheck or not, it was time to quit.

I hated first days and new jobs.

But I also knew that if I didn’t take risks, face challenges, I’d never find fulfilling work.  I would remain in my first role — not even a secretary, a secretary to a secretary.  (I took a mean short-hand, by the way – a skill set I am quite proud of!)

There is such a thing as good stress in which you stretch yourself.  You put on a brave face and take on uncomfortable challenges where you can learn and grow — even if you wind up being forgotten, fired, or embarrassed.

Failures are harsh but instructive.

The Swiss tennis player, Stan Wawrinka, has a tattoo on his left forearm that inspires him to take risks and learn from  life’s  failures.  It’s  a Samuel Beckett quote  that reads –

 

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No Matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

 

 

 

 

That saying, Fail Better, speaks volumes.  It reminds us retired folks that life still entails learning and growing. IF – and it’s a big IF – we take risks.

Volunteering.  Socializing. Reading. Calling friends and family. Writing notes.  Trying recipes.  Taking classes.  Traveling.   Even finding new work at Jewel, Starbucks, the Library (surely, SOMEone wants us?!).

 

So when failure slaps you in the face, remember Stan Wawrinka, and say, No Matter!  Fail again!  Fail Better!

 

You don’t have to get a tattoo, however…

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Stress can indeed be good, if it propels you to take a risk.

-Hey, maybe a tattoo is in your future… no judgement here!!

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and 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

 

 

Beware of Nostalgia; Live in the Present!

Remember that 1950s show, THIS is your Life?  The unsuspecting guest would come face to face with family and friends who had affected his life — a 2nd grade teacher, a long lost relative, a friend from summer camp, an army buddy.

I am in the process of decluttering our basement – where thousands of photographs overflow from shoeboxes.  These are the pictures  that didn’t make the cut for an album, but would never have been tossed.

The problem is that there are at least 50 photos of one single moment in time- Kacie as a puppy stuck in the grass that’s higher than her head,  Jared as a toddler in diapers playing with a plastic T-ball set in our bedroom, Alex as a preteen holding her first tennis trophy from a round robin with her grandfather.

As I pull each shoebox off a shelf, I  hear the voice of decluttering expert, Marie Kondo, Keep what gives you joy.  

OK, Marie, I will pare down 50 photos of puppy Kacie to 5.

What Marie didn’t warn me about though, was that a wave of nostalgia would soon wash over me.

Oh to go back to those summer afternoons  – with the turquoise plastic pool filled with water, our first dog, Jessie, rolling in the dirt, Alex giggling, Jared on the swing set.  Making sandcastles.   Playing tag.  Running the bases.

Graduations, birthdays, vacations, sports teams.

Halloweens, Christmas trees, visits to Florida to see grandparents.  That August afternoon on Lake Michigan when Brett and I got married.

 

Each shoebox triggers deepening nostalgia.

For there are no children giggling upstairs, no driving in the car listening to Barney songs, and definitely no wedding songs to ponder.

Kids have graduated and left.  Dogs haven’t lived long enough.  And trophies are not given out anymore.

So with apologies to Marie Kondo, I return each shoebox back to its shelf – lest  this nostalgia slip into depression.

 

Time for a walk with Codie.

 

Because all I have is NOW.  And those Marcell Christmas cards that boast of endless joy, are liars;   life has always had its struggles, not suitable for Nikon’s close-up lens.  Shoeboxes, unchecked, can lead our hearts toward sentimentality and romanticism.

 

Historian Stephanie Coontz wrote a NY Times op-ed called Beware of Social Nostalgia.  She says that “homesickness”, as nostalgia used to be called, at best, is a harmless self-deception that can  lead us to reignite relationships that have ceased being close.

But nostalgia is also dangerous.  It amplifies the good and minimizes the bad; it  paints an idyllic vision of days gone by that robs us of optimism for the future – a future which cannot compete with such a one-dimensional view of the past.

Memories, like witnesses, do not always tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. We need to cross-examine them, recognizing and accepting the inconsistencies and gaps in those that make us proud and happy as well as those that cause us pain.”

Nostalgia can distort our understanding of the world in dangerous ways, making us needlessly negative about our current situation.”

 

So I have a new plan with regard to the basement storehouse of idyllic memories.   Let the next generation deal with them.

For THIS is my life.  Present tense.  Present moment.

 

And the present is a gift.  Which no shoebox can take away.

 

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-When you feel nostalgia trigger sadness, cross-examine it.  And then tell your distorted memory to take a hike and your present self to take a walk- preferably with a dog,

-Be more dog-like.  Life for dogs  is always in the NOW.  And joy awaits with each meal, each time a leash is reached for, each new person to greet.

 

Enjoy the ride!  Present tense!

xox

Barclay and 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

 

 

 

 

 

What day is it again? The DO’s and DON’Ts of a Happy Retirement

Sandy received a wall clock as a retirement gift.  This clock doesn’t tell time. however; it reminds Sandy what day it is!

You non-retired folks are thinking,   So, let me get this straight…. your big stressor is remembering the day??  Do you know how lucky you are???   You don’t have meetings, quotas, due dates, alarms  jarring you awake, business trips to places you don’t want to go, airport fast food, 5AM Ubers,  middle of the night terror over a sale not executed, an evaluation gone awry,  imminent termination.

So retirement is indeed none of those things.  And we know we ARE fortunate.

But, retirement has its own set of pitfalls.  Did you know that depression is a widespread occurrence among retirees?  The American Psychological Association tells us that those who have not paid attention to  their “psychological portfolio” alongside their financial one, can succumb to social isolation, identity loss, and even suicide.

So now that Joy and I are well past the retirement-euphoria stage, we would like to share some tips to keeping that psychological portfolio performing optimally.

DO find balance between “work” and play. 

When my dad retired from being an airline captain, he found “work” in talking on his ham radio, connecting with like-minded devotees across the globe, practicing morse code, and sharing weather movements. This gave him “appointments” to adhere to and human connections beyond that of the tennis court.

DON’t succumb to an empty calendar. 

Plan activities.  Find that volunteer role that makes you smile.  My friend’s husband, newly retired, teaches 3-year olds ice hockey.  Emily reports that when Dave returns home, he is all smiles.

DO maintain your social interactions. 

Introverts may need a push out the door to make this happen.  Most churches offer small groups that meet regularly around a common focus.  Sally goes twice a week to Faith and Fitness.  They walk/jog in place while gabbing about their families and prayer requests.  Michelle takes her berne-doodle, Beatrice, to a neighborhood dog park – at the same time each day – where she and Bee have made easy friendships.

DON’T answer Netflix every time it calls.

Pick up a book instead.  Or better yet, take a trip to your local library.  Get out of your space.

DO tend to your diet and exercise routine.

Just don’t get obsessive or self-damning when you fall short.  Find a friend to do a 30-day challenge with you.  Those Hi-Jane arms of ours are not getting any firmer! We want them to be more like Michelle Obama arms!!

DON’T talk about aches and pains.

No one wants details about your colonoscopy – as fascinating as it may be! And by all means, do NOT share those photographs! There’s plenty of time in your 80’s to talk about your medical procedures!!  We’re far too young to focus on this now!

DO exercise your brain. 

Learn a new vocabulary word.  Do your crosswords.  Memorize Bible verses.  Start or join a book club.  My brother, Charles, reads a dictionary page each day.  My dad memorized the US presidents.

DON’T feel like you have to finish every book you start.

If it doesn’t grab you, give yourself permission to  put it down and find something that does.  Time is short!

DO encourage others.

Diane finds purpose each day in “being available”.  She is open to random conversations and encounters where her open smile can bring joy to others.  She listens to God who provides marching orders.

DON’T frown too much. 

We may lose our ability to smile.  I have zero research to back this up — only the observational evidence of Baby Boomers whose attempts at smiling look pained. Smiling takes practice.  Don’t let your smile get sloppy.

 

And finally…

DO remember what day it is!

Non-retirees may slap you if you say something like, Every day is a Saturday!! And they would have every right to do so!  🙂

 

Today’s Takeaway:

-How is your psychological portfolio doing?  If you are having trouble finding your purpose, then adopt Diane’s simple philosophy and just Be Available.  That is enough!

– You are NOT alone!  Find your people.  They may be knitting as we speak.  Or talking on a ham radio.

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

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