The Last Laps: Living up to your Legacy

A well known Chicago businessman just passed away.  He was notable enough to be mentioned on the PBS show, Chicago Tonight.  Harrison Steans had been the longtime chairman of LaSalle National Bank, but his obituary and on-air news segment said that Mr. Steans had also been known for giving back.  He was on numerous boards and had the reputation of being an influential philanthropist.  He left a positive mark on his world.

I have no connection with the Steans family (other than the fact that my very first job was being the secretary to a secretary at LaSalle Bank – earning a whopping $12,000 a year.  My father told me and I quote, “If you become a secretary, you can marry the boss.”  He had high ambitions for his daughter,)  What stands out to me, however, in this death notice is the emphasis on giving-back, over and above the business acumen of Mr. Steans.  I imagine that his family may be prouder of this fact than any other.

 

What will our obituary read?

What do we want to be remembered for?

What is our legacy?

 

It sounds a tad morbid.  But thinking about such things may propel us to use our time more wisely.  Calling that friend, that daughter, that mother in law –  in lieu of catching up with Colton’s exploits on this season of the Bachelor.  Tutoring that student, visiting that nursing home, working that soup kitchen, writing that note of encouragement, smiling at that husband.

Marelisa Fabrega is a blogger who says that writing your obituary can be a wake=up call.   She tells the story of Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite.  Mr. Nobel was reading the paper one morning and saw his own obituary, “The merchant of death has died.”   It went on to say that Nobel had caused more people to die faster than anyone else.

The paper’s mistake (it was actually Nobel’s brother who had passed) caused Alfred Nobel to rethink his legacy.  He became a humanitarian who went on to found the Nobel Peace Prize, for which he became famous.

 

Back to us.  We may be approaching our last laps, but hey, we’re still breathing!

So let’s write a dream-obituary and then take steps to live up to it.

May it be said of you and me,

_____________, beloved friend, beloved __________, was known for giving back.  

 

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-What can we do this very day to make someone else smile?

-What does giving-back look like for you?

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox

Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

Think About Dying While You’re Still Living!

It may sound funny or macabre or morose, but I mean it!  Being retired gives you a lot of time to think, to reflect, to ponder, wonder, question.  Do it while your mind is awake, alive, inquisitive. My cheerful topic was prompted by a text I received this weekend from a very close friend of mine regarding her dad.

Her dad at a very advanced age of 94 has decided he is ready to die.  There is no disease, per se, like cancer or Parkinson’s or the many other maladies that one might succumb to in these final years.  He is tired, frail, short of breath, not feeling the way he might have last year at 93.  We can fix so many things through treatments, organ replacements, medication, until we get to a certain point in life where the options don’t provide the same results.  It struck me, knowing this man for over 50 years, as a thoughtful, well analyzed decision.  This is not someone who feels sorry for himself or is depressed.  He has lived a long full life.  At 94, what more can you say?  If this is someone’s wish and they are of sound mind, then we as family members should honor it and respect what it took to get the person to that point.  It’s a tough one for sure and there will be many followers who will not agree with me.

He is one of the lucky ones, not suffering, not bed ridden, not in a memory care facility unable to remember his daughter’s face or name. With so many of my friend’s parents living into their 90’s, an age most never would have expected to see, it is something to give thought to.  We are all individuals and life is precious, every breath, every morning that we wake up, but why can’t we decide on our own destiny if we choose? Go out on your own terms according to your own plans.  We will all die of something someday, just a question of when.

I saw a post this morning that made me laugh:

Welcome to your 60’s!

 

If you don’t already have a mysterious ailment, one will be assigned to you shortly.

Today’s Takeaway…

Health is truly a gift.  Everyday you wake up without a body pain or ache, is wonderful! Treasure it.  Never ever think it’s trite to say- “When you have your health, you have everything”

Oh, and did you know you can buy a coffin on eBay?  I wonder if they’re new or used?!!!

Spend your children’s inheritance!  Hopefully, they’ll make their own money!

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women Aging Well: The Intentionality of Happiness in Your 60s and 70s

Psychologist Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia, has written a new book called, Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We Age. It is number 10 on the hardcover nonfiction list and climbing fast.

The NY Times Book Review writes,

“In her book, which has entered its fifth printing since it was published on Jan. 15, Pipher cites research… suggesting not only that people become happier as they age but that the happiest people are women aged 65-79.

Contrary to the cultural scripts that say women are old and useless and in the way — diminished versions of their former selves — in reality older women are the happiest demographic in the country,”

 

In a NY Times Opinion entitled, The Joy of Being a Woman in her 70’s, Pipher describes us older women–

“We are resilient and know how to thrive in the margins.”

I love that phrase, “thriving in the margins.”

Pipher, alongside Glenn Close and Nancy Pelosi, is jarring long-held stereotypes of aging American women slipping into lonely, unproductive obscurity.  Before the iconic Jane Fonda, all we had was Grandma Moses to emulate – the folk artist who famously began her painting career at the age of 78, staying current until her death at 101.

In 2019 we are fitter than our predecessors; we are living longer; and we are redefining retirement, if there is such a term these days.   Pipher says, “Many of us have learned that happiness is a skill and a choice” and as we enter our 60s and 70s we are perfecting our skill set.  According to Pipher, true happiness stems from things like self-knowledge and emotional intelligence.

So, barring illness or catastrophic events, it is up to us to choose these happiness-links, which were not esteemed by our Younger Selves distracted as they were by parenting perfection, job achievement, marriage fulfillment.  Although American society may still devalue mature women, Pipher says that we are increasingly happy and  vibrant.

 

But back to intentionality — the self-help literature on aging says it comes down to 3 E’s.

 

Exercise

Empathy

Engagement

 

Notice the word, Easy, did not make the cut.  It would be far easier to sleep instead of exercise, to pursue our own ends rather than the ends of others, to disengage rather than engage (in others, in activities, in learning).  Grandma Moses did have to pick up that paintbrush and prep a canvas. Jane Fonda did have to don her tube socks and leotards for her aerobic workouts.

 

So let’s strive to thrive.   Even in the Margin, which it turns out is the place to be – paved by Grandma Moses, and unabashedly inhabited by Pelosi, RBG, Close, and Fonda.

Pretty good company, I’d say!

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-No offense to Grandma Moses, but we should definitely not go out our front door au-naturel.  We of 2019 have make-up, hair coloring, and fashion at our disposal.  And as my friend, Cathy, says, “Let’s wear make-up for the good of the world.”

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Sorry, Grandma Moses, the hat may have been ill advised.

-Check out this post on RBG.  Whatever your politics, you have to agree she embodies vibrancy and resiliency.

 

Enjoy the Ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

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De-Friend your Scale and Boost your Metabolism

My scale and I go way back.  You might say we have a love-hate relationship.  In fact, my scale is a bit of a narcissist – demanding center stage in my mind where it wields more power than it should.

It’s fond of reminiscing about the previous day’s consumption.

Nuts, yeah they’re healthy, but probably not when you eat 5000 calories of cashews.  And speaking of calories, wine has more than you think. 

It’s time to de-friend this time guzzling device.  But first –  a word about our changing metabolism.

Yesterday a woman at my hair salon  lamented, “Once I turned 50, it seems I gain weight after just two bites of cake.” She’s right.  According to Women’s Health“Our metabolism takes a nosedive over the years.”

In our 20s, our metabolism peaks.  We burn the maximum amount of calories just by being alive.  In our 30s, muscle mass reduces and our metabolic rate drops. By the time we’re in our 50s and 60s, our hormones are depleted and we need to reduce our caloric intake substantially just to maintain our weight.

That scale gleefully reminds us Boomers that we are not in our 20s anymore. Or 30s. Or 40s. Or 50s.  Thank you so much.

But there’s a silver lining.

We don’t have to run a marathon or swim a mile, or even jump rope.  We can give our metabolism a kickstart by building muscle through strength training.

Women’s Health says, “Building Muscle is Non-Negotiable!   People who lift weights put on less belly fat as they age than cardio bunnies. Strength training gives your metabolism the biggest boost after your workout ends.  A woman who was sedentary in her twenties and thirties can actually have a higher metabolic rate in her forties if she exercises.”

OK, a personal trainer is expensive.  And so is a membership to a gym where we may not darken the door.

How about trying this 15-min workout?  All you need is a couple of 3-10 pound weights.

In addition to trying this workout,  I’m going to give my scale a talking-to.

Hey Scale,

You are not even in the Friend Zone.

You are free to date other people.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Let’s skip the scale and be nicer to ourselves.

-Let’s dust off the dumbbells and try for 15 min a day while watching Good Morning, America.  Our bodies will thank us. Plus, we get to drink more wine!

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

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The Skin We’re In- Part One

“Crepe.”

I had never heard this word before.

Was it pronounced the French pancake way?  Or was it pronounced “creepy”?  Probably the latter considering the disturbing images of elephant-like skin – alongside an ad for a miracle cream to eradicate this Baby Boomer plague.  (Which of course I bought. Which of course didn’t work.)

Isn’t it enough that our underarms boast a certain jiggle which answers to many names — Hi Jane’s, Bat Wings, Bingo Wings, Lunch Lady Arms??

And isn’t it enough that our mothers were right when they yelled, “Get out of the sun!  Wear a hat!  You’ll get wrinkles!” ??  We Baby Boomers are embarrassed to admit that not only did we lay in the sun for hours, we also held up reflectors (cardboard wrapped in tin foil) to accelorate the process.

Did you also know that as you age the contour of your smile can actually turn downward?  Meaning, we look grumpy when we’re not.  It could be a result of our aging teeth not granting support to our sad mouths.  As they turn yellow.

And who knew that as you age your hair will stop growing where you want it to and boldly go to places it’s never been before??

So lest we get too depressed, let’s focus on some things we CAN do.  For now, we will address the infamous Hi-Janes.  Future posts will tackle other Baby Boomer maladies.

My friend Lisa is fond of saying, “The best exercise is the one you actually DO.”

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Here is a 28 day challenge for arm toning that is worth doing.  Yes, It looks daunting.  (When they say 70 push-ups, it’s obviously a typo.)

We will have to channel my disciplined mother, Peggy, who said you MUST keep moving.

And I never saw Peggy’s arms flapping.

Only her tongue — as I held my reflector high.

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Today’s Takeaway –

-Be grateful for make-up.  Just think of men who have to face the world each and every day sans concealer or foundation.

-Love the skin you’re in!   And practice Self-Care.  You ARE beautiful!  Just wear a hat when you’re in the sun.

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

Age…Just a Number?

My mother, rest her soul, used to say age is just a number. Yet we never knew exactly how old Muriel was until the day she chose to file for social security!

We never spoke about actual ages in my household. We all knew Muriel was quirky, the most wonderful mom in the world, but someone who was a bit wacky, eccentric, unique. (Thank you, Muriel, for providing me with fodder for my writing!)

I come from a long line of ancestors who didn’t discuss age including my grandmother. It’s not anything terrible and if a little white lie makes you feel better and doesn’t hurt anyone in the process, what difference does it make? At least, that’s what I was always told. Mind you, this is the same person that told me it was okay to take a butterscotch candy or peppermint from the bin at Woolworth’s to taste. (Those of you who don’t remember Woolworth’s or The 5 & 10 have no business reading this blog!) That’s what they were there for. Lucky, I didn’t become a kleptomania!

Muriel never looked her age anyway, good genes, so when she filed for social security ( only because my father made her) it was then made known that she was about 6 years older than we had always thought. The funny thing was that Ben, my father, was always advancing his age, so at 82, he was almost 83! He was proud of the age he had lived to and didn’t care about the number or what anyone thought.

So, following in her footsteps and being a bit nutty myself, I always fudged the number. I had a lot of friends who were a good 10 years younger than I so I  just considered myself just like them.

My husband being 6 years my senior ( for real) was already retired and waiting for me to join him so we could do the things we had always wanted. So at 62 ½ I decided to leave the workforce. I had worked for 42 years, made the sacrifices, got up to an annoying alarm clock, took Metro North into the City when I definitely wanted to stay home and play. This was my time.

Many of my friends thought I was retiring early, maybe I was 50 something, one of those women whom you’re just not sure about. And it really wasn’t that early, a few years ahead of my actual full retirement age. Who knew they pushed the age up a year for us second wave of Baby Boomers. Sneaky those government folks!

So here I am having achieved that status in life that I had been waiting for and now 5 months later and I’m still reflecting on the decision.  

What I am learning is that retirement’s a time of life that requires the right attitude, mental adjustments to freedom and discipline to make everyday meaningful.

 

A weekend just isn’t the same when everyday is Saturday and Sunday!

 

Today’s Takeaway—

. This is a tough one, because I could lie and say age doesn’t matter.  It’s just a number. Blah, blah, blah. I will have to come to grips with this slowly, on my own terms. I’ll get there eventually.

. Always look your best.  Just because you’re not going to an office environment anymore, doesn’t mean you can’t put some blush on, a pair of earrings, a nice blouse or pants.  You are looking good for you! Your harshest critic should also be your best fan!

 

Enjoy the Ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

Early bird specials and “How many specialists are you seeing this week?”

It occurred to me, that even though I wasn’t living in South Florida, many of the patterns of retirement life I had seen my parents undertake, were creeping into my life here in Mexico.  How could that be?!  I tried so hard to be “me”, the generation of “we are nothing like our parents”, activists, protesters, women’s rights, equal pay, gender equality, etc.

These thoughts came to me today as I saw a dermatologist for my yearly body check.  Well, I had to!  I was at the beach for 2 weeks this winter.  What if I had a pre cancerous growth? Beauty marks can be foolers! What about those pesky little red dots you get as you age?  What are they? Web MD can only diagnose so much! So all good on the body check and for 400 pesos, ($21.51 at today’s currency conversion) I have peace of mind until next year.

While I was there, since this particular clinic has all the major specializations one could possibly want (cardiology, hematology, ophthalmology, dermatology, gynecology, neurology, internal medicine, laryngology, oncology, all under one roof!  A hypochondriac’s dream!  Woody Allen, come on down to Ajijic!! I figured before heading back North, I would see as many of them as could fit into my remaining weeks.  I made an appointment for my yearly gyn exam, ophthalmology (checking on cataract progression-something to look forward to!), and last, but not least, the annual mammogram, also known as squeezing one’s breast tissue as tight as humanly possible for the sheer pleasure of the technician administering the test!) For what it costs to see a specialist here, I want to get every body part checked and given the Good Housekeeping seal of health.

On the topic of eating early, most kitchens close here in Ajijic by 8. There are no diners, no pizza joints, no Chinese food at midnight.  You have to make the decision to eat dinner by closing time or make it yourself at home.  I’m retired!  Been there, done that for 40 years!  So, while there may be no menus that say “Early Bird Specials”, a reminder we , are not our parent’s generation, eating early is still eating early. I had read some weeks back that “the early bird special” was dying out with the previous generation. From http://www.eater.com, Jan 29th 2018, “The Extinction of the Early Bird. Baby Boomers  are driving the early bird to extinction.”… Millennials might be killing chains, but boomers and the ailing middle class are killing the mascot of South Florida retirement.” Boomers want to eat on their own time.  We don’t want to skimp nor do we want to eat dinner at 4:30 in the afternoon. I eat lunch at 2 so am not hungry for dinner until 8! I guess my appetite has to catch up with my chronological age!

Today’s Takeaway-

. Try as we must, our lives often mimic our parents.  Not so terrible, as long as we don’t succumb to feeling old!

Good health is so important and we must never take it for granted.  Each day is a gift and the older we get, we realize this more and more.  In a retirement area where people use walkers, canes, and some can’t stand up straight, the gift of  good health is a blessing.

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay and Joy