To Work Part Time or Not Work Part Time — That is the Question?!!

A year ago at this time…

 

My husband and I had come back from our first winter in Mexico. I was tanned and rested. It took several months to work on those dark under eye circles that give one’s state of sleep or lack thereof away.  I was not sure what I was going to be doing with my time back home in rural up state New York. 

 One of my very close friends reached out to me and asked me if I’d be interested in coming back to my former company part time. A lot had happened during the 5 months I was gone and the company was going through a rough patch.  The very job that I had been counting the days until retirement came, wanted me to consider coming back. Wow! Never thought about that, but me being a big believer in “Everything happens for a reason” thought about that one more go around and said sure.

The deal was to work from the city 3x per week and be on my laptop the other 2. Now, in my mind and definition of “part time”, this was more full time, but okay. I was game.  And so I returned to the workforce for 7 months. I had never even considered this, but when opportunity knocks, I’m a good listener. Maybe, this was my chance to do it over again, segue into retirement slowly, rather than cold turkey. I had given this early retirement a lot of thought but, perhaps, I had expected too much of myself, to adapt to this new phase of life so quickly. Maybe, doing it like a 2 step program might be better for someone who had worked all their life.

One slight monkey wrench.  I now lived 105 miles north of the city, (city girl meets Green Acres) so had to take Amtrak in to work. My former company and new boss couldn’t have  been nicer and offered to put me up in the corporate apt for the nights I was in the city. Everything that could have been an obstacle was taken away, so off I went back into the work world as a freelancer. Work Redux! I also did feel badly that my husband, who had been waiting patiently for me to join him in retirement, had to wait a bit longer. What was 7 months in the span of a lifetime? Not much.  After all, he wanted what was best for me and he could see I wasn’t happy.

Going back to a job at a company I worked at for 18 1/2 years comes with pluses and minuses. Had I forgotten the people who annoyed me, the back stabbing, the political infighting, jockeying for position, the fact that this was a business rapidly changing and redefining itself?  Financial publishing, need I say more? Of course, just like anything else in life, there were people I was happy to see, office friends, women you chatted with in the bathroom. The company had made a major move uptown to the heart of midtown, and now boasted beautiful high tech offices, the kind cool ad agencies have or tech companies. My one more round gave me the opportunity to experience this.

What would I wear? I had given much of my work clothes to charity 5 months before never expecting to need them again. Luckily, we were going into summer so a few skirts and blouses could work and shopping  was always a fallback if I absolutely needed to spice it up.

The corporate apt had 2 bedrooms so I couldn’t count on having it all to myself. Me, a woman in the sixth decade of her life sharing a flat with a 20 something male journalist.Think Mrs. Robinson, but in reality just a wee bit awkward and contrived.  The decor was circa 1970’s; hey it was a bed to lay my head down at night, not somewhere I would want to spend time. What happened to the image of “The Corporate Apt” in the movies? This wasn’t it! It was free though, so beggars can’t be choosy!

It took me a couple months to get back in the groove. Things change quickly in business. Lingo that I hadn’t used or metrics that I had forgotten about as I played all winter,  came slowly back to me. It was good for my brain to have to think fast on my feet again, to complete proposals, to achieve targets. Did I like this because I wasn’t staff anymore and could march to the beat of my own drum? Being a freelancer, you’re not really part of the political shenanigans that go on and you know you’re leaving within a certain period of time. All good. I could look at my former colleagues and say I’m outta here in 7 months no matter what.

I completed my stint, made some money, and had a second chance to evaluate my decision. I’m glad I did it and it served me well, mentally and physically. Not many people get this opportunity to go back. I think it saved me from the therapist’s office and gave me that confirmation I was looking for in the first retirement phase. The extra money will pay for a trip to Italy in May and a spa vacation in Sonoma in Oct.

So in the words of an old Frank Sinatra song, “I Did It My Way”,

Today’s Takeaway—

. Always maintain an open mind.  Listen to offers that people direct your way. Rigidity is bad for the soul and might cause you to miss out on an opportunity.

. Do what feels right and always listen to that little inner voice within your head!  She knows you better than anyone else.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Problem with Mirrors

I can still hear the clack of my mother’s heels on the hardwood floor outside my room.  “Barclay, I need you to come to the bathroom mirror.”

She clacks back to her room. I trudge behind her, a mature adult reverted to age 12.  The bathroom lighting will be unforgiving and her mirror more so.  Soon we’re facing that mirror, my mother, all 5’ 11” of her, behind me, staring.   “Which side of the bed do you sleep on, dear?”

She doesn’t wait for an answer.

“It appears you sleep on your right side.  Do you see this wrinkle over here?   When we compare it to the left side, it’s more pronounced.”

She pauses to let this observation, apparently evident to all, sink in.

I cringe thinking about how I rest my face in one hand while sleeping, thereby scrunching this poor right side into its present state.

“You really should be sleeping on your back, as I do.  Have you tried that?”

How to respond?  She will proceed to my forehead if I don’t take the offensive.  It’s a forbidden topic, but under bathroom lights, all’s fair.

“I wish there was something I could do.”  Pause.  “Mom, did you ever have plastic surgery?”

At the time, my mother was a smooth faced octogenarian with model cheekbones, arched eyebrows, and a sculpted nose.  

“I once had a few spots removed …and while I was there, well, they may have done some treatments.”

I had secured an admission. Victory?  Hardly.  Short of undergoing “treatments” of my own, this overly ambitious wrinkle would only deepen along with its forehead counterparts.

The really sad part is that upon returning home I did try sleeping on my back.  Unfortunately, this caused a nasal situation and a thunderous noise, jarring me awake at 2AM, certain an intruder was pounding at the door.

Of course I blamed Codie, our golden retriever, for this unladylike noise.   My husband only chuckled – a bit meanly I thought.

I hated my mother at that moment.

 

So I am not a fan of mirrors.  

Have you noticed they love surprising you with something NEW that you could swear wasn’t there the night before?   A line, a blotch, a vein.  (Let’s pause in  honor  of whoever invented concealer – which I will soon be applying with a putty knife.)

My advice is to avoid mirrors unless you just spread lipstick on your teeth. 

And beware of “treatments” that have the power to seduce your wallet and your retirement joy. 

Eventually my mother’s smile looked downright scary.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

  • There’s a saying, The gods we worship write their names on our faces.  Having a positive outlook, even smiling more, goes a long way in promoting attractiveness.
  • Find compassionate mirrors (it’s all about the lighting); but know that the state of your heart takes precedence.  Along with gobs of concealer!

 

P.S. I hate to admit it….but my mother was right.  Sleeping on your side DOES cause wrinkles.  And sleeping on your back IS better.  But there is hope for us snorers.  According to this 2012 article in the Huffington Post — we should purchase a “beauty sleep pillow” or a satin pillowcase.  Just be sure your dog is nearby to take the blame for any emissions during this side-to-back process!

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox, Barclay and Joy

Boomerang Daughter

Who would have ever thought my (Joy’s) 30 year old daughter would come back and live with us?  After being on her own for the last 7 years, she  made the decision to advance her career with a Master’s degree. I applauded her decision knowing that in her field of non-profit work, an advanced degree was a must to be taken seriously and to earn a better paycheck.  So off she went to live a year in London studying for her Masters of Science.

Super proud of her!  Her  hard work and studying paid off and she earned the accreditation, completing the program in one year. She knew that getting a job in her field and reentering the workforce would not be a slam dunk, even in a robust job market. In our current administration, funding for these types of programs  relevant to her field of study has been sorely impacted. Oh, to be able to start her own foundation and create her own job, but Bill and Melinda Gates we are not, but I digress!

When a millennial child needs a free place to live, enter mom and dad.  I certainly came from the type of home that if ever I needed my mother or father, even as a 30 plus year old person, for any reason at all, they were  there for me.  Naturally, I would want to do the same for mine and have.

The statistics indicate that Boomers have children return to them for all sorts of reasons. For the first time in more than 130 years, young adult children ages 18-34 are more likely to live with their parents than in any other  living situation, according to an analysis by The Pew Research Center. An astounding 32.1% live in their parent’s home with the statistic for male children being even higher at 35%.

Economics are a big contributor.  In major cities a studio apartment (less than 600 sq.feet) can run  $3,000 per month — that coupled with staggering amounts of student loan debt, and it is no easy task to launch a child.  And  keep her  launched! As the saying goes, ‘’The best laid plans…” or “Shit happens”!

On the plus side, this is truly a wonderful opportunity to connect with your adult child whom you may not have spent long quality time with for a while. In my case, this has been a treasured benefit, getting to know this person again, to remember the funny things you share in everyday life, the nuances, her wry smile, her sing-song way of talking to the dog, her laughter. She makes me some concoction of natural herbs to help me sleep, binge watches a tv series with me, occasionally lets me in on a private thought or asks for guidance.  This is special and will be tucked away as a memory that only we share.

On the negative side, you are now sharing a home – there’s the lack of privacy, (not that we are romping around naked or anything like that! I’m a Jewish girl!), the cleaning of the stove, preparation of meals. Who does what — putting gas in the car, picking up clothes, you get the picture.
My husband being totally obsessive about our new high-end stove watches her every move and makes visual grimaces as she fries her veggie burger.  Will the grease splatter across the highly polished stainless steel? What will she do about it? He drives me crazy with this type of Felix Unger behavior and knowing that this is a potentially explosive situation for argument, I try to be the go between.  Really, did anyone ever die of grease on their stove?!! This is what happens when you pair a neat freak and a “ I can take care of that in the morning person”!

 

The lesson to be learned is that three grown people are now trying to live under the same roof, one that was meant for two, (sold the house, bought the next chapter in life house for the two of us).  Throw in a senior citizen canine, 15 ½ years old, pooping randomly, plus a refugee puppy adopted from Mexico and you’ve  got the makings of a sitcom that Norman Lear might have created!

 

I am thrilled to have my first-born home, even if it’s a temporary blip on the road back to independence and she can stay for as long as she wants or needs.  The opportunity to sock money away when she is gainfully employed is very tempting and something I am more than happy to offer.

Nothing in life is permanent, as they say, except death and taxes, so for now this is the new dynamic.

 

I will look back fondly on this time of life when my Boomerang child returned and know it was meant to happen in this way. As always, the most colorful words tell it best in Yiddish, bashert!

 

Today’s Takeaway—

. Accept life’s little surprises as a sign from the heavens. Be happy for the time you didn’t expect with your adult children.

. They’re not in high school anymore.  Let them have their space and learn from them. My knowledge of pop culture, music, tv, jargon, comes from them.  That’s how I stay a cool, hip mom!

P.S- She got a permanent position in her field!

Enjoy the ride!

xox, Barclay and Joy

Owning Your Age – Suzanne Somers and Me

She pops up in my (Barclay’s) Facebook feed with her airbrushed face touting make-up tips and exercise routines.  Her thigh master has parlayed into products that will tighten those Baby Boomer sags and smooth that Baby Boomer cellulite.  Or at least that’s the pitch.

And I buy it.  I am her target audience.  Mid 60’s.  Not a friend of gravity.

Gone are the days where make-up was an option. As my friend Cathy says, now we wear make-up  for “the good of the world”.  Meaning, NO one – not even a grocery store clerk – wants to see us without a layer of foundation.  

Today Suzanne is touting a new product.  I won’t get the details until I click the link.  Like the Geico ad… it’s what I do.   

Wow, it’s a face system that will work revolutionary magic in toning and lifting.  I lean in. It uses microcurrent technology whatever that is.  A game changer for sure.  It’s Suzanne’s number one beauty secret.  

Oh my, there’s a special going on.  

If I act now.  Which of course I do.

And so it goes.  Suzanne has a financial empire.  I have saggy skin and cellulite.  And  a lighter wallet.

Charles Revson, the founder of Revlon, famously said, “In the factory we make cosmetics, in the store we sell hope.”  That’s why I reached for my credit card.

How can I be so gullible?  My friend, Barb, has translucent skin and swears by Ponds cream.

When I was working I collaborated with young female teachers and I deluded myself into believing I was “one of them”.   Also, when teaching, bathroom breaks were rare.  So my “mirrors” were the faces of these younger women.

Now that I have time to brush my teeth more often (a good thing) I interact with mirrors throughout the day.  They don’t lie.  Yup, you’re over 60.  And you do realize don’t you – those cute teachers could be your grandkids.  Thank you, oh mirror.

So my new and improved attitude is Popeye-esque – I yam what I yam.  And I’m grateful that I CAN keep moving — that I CAN take up a new sport (pickleball); that I CAN write, read, walk my dog, dance, cook, drink good wine, volunteer, travel, see a movie.

May I embrace my 60s and beyond.  This life is precious and I don’t want to miss a minute of it.  

With the help of Suzanne’s micro technology of course!

Screen Shot 2018-02-14 at 8.23.56 AM

Today’s Takeaway –

  • Own your age!  Worrying about it will only cause wrinkles.
  •  Suzanne Somers probably uses Ponds.  

Enjoy the ride!

xox, Barclay and Joy

The Aviance Effect

 

 

We Baby Boomers remember the catchy Aviance commercial of the late 1970’s with the attractive singing frying pan woman boasting how she could do everything!  And still be a woman!  This commercial for a fragrance that I (Joy) never used or even liked, by Prince Matchabelli, promised seduction, romance, but showcased a woman who was dressed for business by day and sexy wifehood by night! Whenever I heard it on tv, I was drawn to it. Who wouldn’t be?  I had recently gotten married at the ripe old age of 23.  It was 1977, a lifetime ago.  So many roads ahead, so much to accomplish, so many achievements would come my way, opportunities for success.

My generation made its imprint, like none before it. As I look back, I am proud to have been a part of the women’s movement that changed the work world forever.  I was the role model for my daughters that my mother never could be, at least in the sense of earning her own paycheck, her own independence.

Women’s increased labor force participation has represented a significant change to the U.S. economy since 1950. As of 2014, nearly 6 in 10 women aged 16 and older (57%) worked outside the home compared with 33.9% in 1950 43.3% in 1970. (U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics) The changes were coming rapidly. We were buying business suits with white blouses that had collars you could tie into a bow (just a modicum of femininity), later bow ties and scarves, padded shoulders of the 1980’s, high heeled pumps with sensible height.  (The stilettos would come much later, after Sex in The City started setting style trends)  

I was so excited to be part of this wave of women.  We really could compete for jobs, in almost any business.  We were smart, committed, the NOW generation of doers, not merely observers.  

My mother, dear sweet Muriel, only shared her opinions with friends.  She never crossed my father, a domineering figure. I remember on the few occasions when they fought she would go into the bathroom and pound the wall out of frustration.  She would never speak directly to him!  Can you imagine a late 1970’s wife or heaven forbid a Millennial not speaking her mind?!  

 

The changes that working brought about were phenomenal.  A paycheck means self sufficiency (of course, depends on how much that paycheck is!)  I was lucky.  I was exposed to the world of finance early, the 1980’s, the most exciting time in terms of the explosion of financial instruments, options, futures, trading electronically.  It was all happening and those of us who were lucky enough to fall into this exciting industry would pave roads for future women. Women would become portfolio managers, analysts, traders, brokers, unheard of!  

 

I earned a good living most of my life and was fortunate to be able to give my children the trappings of an upwardly mobile family.  Sleep away camp, private lessons, horseback riding, dance, tennis, karate, vacations, etc. I feel blessed and can look back on my work life as having accomplished something, both professionally and personally! Not everyone gets the right opportunities and of course, there are pitfalls along the way.  I was laid off 7 times in my career over a period of 12 years!  The recession, the CRASH of 1987, etc.  I digress…

 

I look back and smile at a track record I can be proud of myself and the generation of women that joined me on this trip. “It was an amazing run”, my last CEO said to me over the last 18 ½ years (my last full time job) What an honor, what an accolade!

 

My only question is, what happened to the Aviance lady?

 

Today’s Takeaway—

 

  • Be proud of the contributions you make in life, be they part of the women’s movement or just getting dinner on the table every night for 40 years!

 

  • You can’t do everything well.  Some things will slip through the cracks and that’s okay.  Do your best and always cut yourself some slack. Always remember, the Aviance woman was a tv commercial!  

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox, Barclay and Joy