Retirement Truth or Dare

Beware of these Retirement Lies:

I am too old to…

No one needs me.

The best is behind me.

I can’t learn anything new.

Ok, it may be too late for medical school.  And your marathon days are likely over.

But here’s the truth about this season of life —

  • You CAN learn new things.  Your brain will thank you. Ballroom dancing?   Spanish?  Cooking?  Painting? Writing?
  • We tend to romanticize the past.  (Oh, when the kids were young…)  THIS could be the best time of all.  It’s all about our attitude.  Jane Fonda, age 80, touts the opportunities of this Third Act. Check out her TED talk.
  • As long as you are breathing, you CAN serve others. Find them in soup kitchens, schools, nursing homes, pet shelters, horse barns.  Check out the RR post, Making a Difference
  • Granted, a 4 hour marathon is gone, but keep your butt moving.  Walking, stretching, dancing, doing jumping jacks. Check out this RR post, Keep Moving!

CNN has reported that older brains are able to “see the big picture”  We are like fine wine. But we cannot just sit on the wine rack.  According to CNN we must, “Nudge our neurons and keep doing different things.”

Have you seen the documentary, RBG, about Ruth Bader Ginsburg?  At age 84, she’s giving her neurons a run for their money – working out with a trainer (we’re talking push-ups and planks), studying and writing until 4AM, going to operas, granting speeches and interviews, and serving on the highest court in the land.  She’s a two-time cancer survivor, a widow, a grandma, and an icon with rock star status.

So let’s live an RBG life.

We don’t have to stay up until 4AM and no one is asking for our dissent opinion – but each day we can say along with the psalmist, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

And in the face of those outright lies about this season – let’s shout with RBG enthusiasm,  “I DISSENT”.

I dare you.

Today’s Takeaway –

-RBG and Jane Fonda are modeling how to leave a legacy.  Let’s try to do likewise.  Millennials are watching us.

-Today is the day.  Choose to rejoice in it.  Sip coffee from an RBG mug. And be notorious!

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

This RBG trailer should whet your appetite for more.

And Jane is equally notorious!

Laughing at Ourselves

It was my first day of work at John Nuveen and I was quite impressed with myself.  Granted, I was a mere secretary (or administrative assistant as I preferred to call it) but hey it was a foot in the door. I was a clueless 22-year-old envisioning myself as Mary Tyler Moore tossing her hat high into the Minneapolis air.  You’re gonna make it after all.

As I walked toward my wee little desk in the research department I noticed a lovely spread of fruit and breads.  What a wonderful company I thought as I took a large bite out of a particularly moist lemon cake. My horrified tongue immediately informed me that I had just ingested a quarter of a stick of butter.  Looking around, my mouth bulging, I saw only fancy offices and boardrooms; no ladies room in sight.  I briskly walked past the executive suites, not making eye contact, until at last I found a bathroom.  My tongue still hasn’t forgiven me.

Then there was the time I went through an entire day of teaching, complete with IEP meetings sitting beside the principal — oh so professional – except for the fact that my dress was on backwards. There was a pocket on the back, butt level.  I became aware of this when 3rd grader Isabelle asked, “Mrs. Marcell, why is there a pocket on the back of your dress?”  I didn’t miss a beat; I turned around and placed a pencil in the backside pocket.  “I keep pencils there.”  Isabelle chuckled.  3rd graders can be quite mean.

I have signed my name, “Barclay Marclay”.  In front of people at a bank.  In pen.

I have driven our car into the garage with great conviction only to remember that there was a Christmas tree tied on the roof of the car.

And one day, late for school, I plowed the car backwards into the the sitting garbage cans at the end of the driveway; and following that, in the presence of my 8 and 10 year old, I emitted a loud utterance that starts with F and rhymes with luck.

And there’s more.  My advice  —

  • Do not talk to inanimate objects like a column, especially during a job interview.
  • It is not advisable to take your 2-year-old to a high-church liturgical service. When he starts grabbing bills from the offering plate, do not get flustered.  And do not yell.  Sound travels in those old sanctuaries.
  • Mascara does not serve as lipstick.

The longer we live, the larger our list of faux pas’s — times we’ve tripped, forgotten names, mistaken sour cream for cream cheese.

The Huffington Post says,

“Being able to laugh at yourself may be a sign of an optimistic personality and a sense of humor, and it might even improve your mood. Humor has also been identified as a possible factor in the development of personal resilience.

And Susan Sparks, the author of Laugh Your Way to Grace says, “If you can laugh at yourself, you can forgive yourself; and if you can forgive yourself, you can forgive others.”

So share your embarrassing moments and laugh out loud.   Think of the personal resilience you’ll develop!

And you may just find joy therein.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Our mouths turn downward as we age making us appear grumpy.  Laughing exercises facial muscles and will make us look younger.  How’s that for a win-win?! (Check out this RR post, Exercising your Face! It’s a Thing!)

-Share your stories here!   What’s your most embarrassing moment?  Let’s laugh together!

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

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Dreaming Small

Mary Rose filled our glasses and we knitting ladies (loosely termed as I am an awful knitter) toasted Michelle on her retirement.

“What are you looking forward to most?” we asked.

Michelle described a few “more’s”.

Sleep more. Knit more.  Travel more.

Sounds great.  But after the initial exhilaration, some retirees find themselves with more Netflix than more Grand Canyon.

Here are some ideas to get us off our asses (Peggy’s infamous descriptor) physically and mentally.

Say Yes.

Have you seen the Jim Carey movie, Yes Man, where the main character has to say yes to everything?  He finds himself interacting with exhilerating people and having wild-ride experiences.

My friend, Cathy, has said yes to political marches, travel, and continuing her social work.

Jeanne has said yes to tutoring, RV living, and volunteering for Avenues to Independence.

Gina has said yes to bike riding, gardening, and urban renewal projects; Mary Rose – to cradling babies and hanging with her granddaughter; Sally – to travel, family, golf, and taking her beloved dog to nursing homes.

What’s your YES these days?

(A caveat — make sure your YES is not that people-pleasing, forced-into-it type, but comes out of an open heart and a desire to be courageous.)

Find your mission.

What gives you joy?

What are your unique gifts and talents?

What moves you?

Maybe what gives you joy is exactly the spot where you make the world a tad better for others.  One theologian describes this intersection as follows –

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”― Frederick Buechner

My brother, Charlie, a philosophy professor, plans to teach classes to prisoners once he retires. Jeanne, a reading teacher, is helping kids with dyslexia.

It’s OK to Dream Small

Diane says yes in small ways each day.  She is intentional about chatting with grocery store clerks; she shares uplifting  messages on FB, she smiles at strangers.  Her random conversations sometimes end with the other person saying, “I was just meant to talk to you today. I feel so much better. Thank you.”

There’s a song titled Dream Small —

Live well
Loving God and others as yourself
Find little ways where only you can help
With His great love
A tiny rock can make a giant fall
So dream small.

———————————————-

Whether we visit the Grand Canyon or to the Grand Grocery Store, let’s look for more YES moments.

And then we can check out what’s trending on Netflix!

Today’s Takeaway –

-What a wonderful life I lead.  I can’t wait to do this again tomorrow.    Said no one – ever – after watching 6 straight hours of Netflix.  (I speak from experience…)

Enjoy the ride!

xox

Barclay and Joy

Finding your Zen

We were the generation that was always looking for something else, a higher power, peace, contentment, Zen.

After all, it was the Beatles who introduced us to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Transcendental Meditation. I certainly can’t see parents of the 50’s questioning the here and  now, wondering if there was more to life, spirituality. They were too busy coping with day-to-day life. For most typical 1950’s families, the father earned a living, the mother took care of the children, grocery shopped, managed the household, prepared the meals. Who had time for philosophical discussions with oneself!

We started the exercise craze with running, walking, stretching those limbs, bicycling, roller blading.  We wanted to keep moving, get our figures back fast after childbirth, be relevant, be vital,be in touch, be present, mindful.  

Suddenly, yoga mats were everywhere, apps for meditation, supplements for de stressing one’s life, retreats to get in touch with yourself, spas to unwind, massage therapy, aromatherapy, pet therapy, …  

A newly released study conducted by the Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance shows that U.S. yoga practitioners increased to more than 36 million up from 20.4 million in 2012. That’s a lot of rubber mats being sold!

Many Baby Boomers returned to the religion they were raised with, having veered from it as young twenty somethings.  It answered that need for more. Maybe we couldn’t do it all without a little help from a higher being? Maybe praying brought peace and hope.  It all makes sense when you think about the tumultuous times we grew up in and the rapid changes we were witnessing.

A 2000 New York Times poll reported that 70% of Americans described themselves as more or equally observant of religion as their parents.  81% expressed a belief in the after life, and 30% say they meditated regularly. To cap it off 90% participated in private religious experiences and a majority believe in miracles.  Wow, is the life we lead on a day-to-day basis not fulfilling enough, lacking in someway? I ask myself these questions because I have the time now! I didn’t before and so while they may have entered into my head, they were tucked away for a later date.  Retirement!

I remember my father in law’s wife (whom my husband and I never liked -another family story for a future blog) reading books on Buddha and Hinduism. I thought it odd, but now that I reflect back, I realize she was seeking something too. Though not a Baby Boomer herself, she was a person searching for more, not content with the present. This being about twenty-five years ago, it became clear to me that I am the age she was then!! So my conclusion is that we push these big thoughts aside until we have the time to reflect on them. This desire to achieve contentment and peace of mind is in our DNA.  How could we, the doers, the activists, the advocates, be anything but searchers in this next chapter of life?

Following in our footsteps, but getting a jump on the future, Millennials are not waiting . They are seeking happiness from the get-go.  I’d like to think it’s because we were good role models, but maybe it’s because they see how stressed out we are (were) and how we cope – in this technological world of split second  decisions and expectations of immediate gratification,

Interestingly, more Yale undergrad students registered for a first class on happiness  than any other course in the university’s history.  Nearly ¼ of Yale’s undergrads enrolled.

Now, if that doesn’t give us hope for the next generation, nothing will!  

Bravo Millennials!

Today’s Takeaway—

.Be a searcher, a seeker, always look for that place that gives you peace and contentment.  Don’t accept things the way they are. Unless you are in Nirvana already, there’s always room for improvement!

.Don’t judge other people’s practices, whatever they may be.  What’s right for one person often doesn’t work for another. Find your Zen and embrace it. 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

Ye Ole Comfort Zone

My daughter, Alex, needed to produce a favorite quote to be published in her company’s news periodical – alongside a photo and an interview.  She selected one by Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In.

“What would I do if I weren’t afraid?”

When I googled Sheryl Sandberg, I discovered a plethora of inspiring quotes that someone like me needs to heed.

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Here’s my favorite –

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If offered such a seat, let’s just say I’d be running the other direction!

I love my Comfort Zone.  And now that I’m retired, it’s all too easy to bask in it.  To be a lazy bum and then condemn myself for being so, then open the freezer and reach for a Ben and Jerry’s Coffee Chocolate carton to seal the deal.

You get the picture.   Ms. Sandberg is not exactly my doppelgänger.  (Never used that word before.  How’s that for risk taking?!)

As we age, we need to guard against social anxiety (my middle name), self-induced isolation, and lazy bum-ism.

We don’t have to board a rocket ship, but we do have to MOVE.

In fact, the word, MOVE, can be a Rules-for-Life acronym for us Baby Boomers who are leaning-in – just not as Ms. Sandberg advocates.

M =  Mindful (THIS is our one life; And Time, she’s a mover.)
O =  Own your age (As you thinketh, so you are-eth – a loose Proverbs translation – by moi)
V =  Volunteer (even just a smile or kind word; a note; an hour a week with the elderly, the homeless, the “least of these”)
E =  Exercise (remember Peggy in her high heels?)

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We of an introverted nature may need a kick in the butt.  Reuters News published this 2017 piece that could be our butt kick.  Check it out if you have a minute.

Exercise linked to lower risk of premature death in older women

So goodbye, Comfort Zone, I’m heading out to play paddle tennis.  Then Codie wants to go to the nursing home.  And then I may meet a friend for a beer while Codie contemplates her canine life (food) alongside.

No need for a trip in a rocketship however.  Sorry, Sheryl!

Today’s Takeaway –

– MOVE – Be mindful of your days; own your age; volunteer; and exercise.

-Take that seat in the rocketship if that’s your thing.  I’ll drink my beer and applaud you from a safe distance!

Enjoy the Ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

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The Empty Nest – A Syndrome or a Celebration

I knew if I blinked the tears would fall.  So I widened my eyes and briskly hugged Alex, turning quickly so she wouldn’t see me cry.  She walked resolutely across the park-like Denison campus, keeping stride with a freshman roommate who had confessed to being ADHD and a slob within the first 5 minutes of meeting her.

I cried most of the 7-hour drive home.

With Alex gone, our nest was officially empty.  Wasn’t it just moments ago my daughter was a cheery toddler belly flopping on her bed, shoving a Goodnight Moon board book my way while arranging Bunny and Bankie alongside Chelios the dog (not too close as they didn’t get along)?  Wasn’t it just the other day 5-year old Jared was waving his Ninja Turtle numchucks in a carefully crafted routine – Brett and I applauding with appropriate seriousness?

I remember when our basement was loaded with Little Tykes molded plastic – that basketball net filled with sand at the bottom so it wouldn’t break in half from energetic dunking.  That Flintstone-like car that Alex beeped on her way to indoor destinations.

From now on our house would be uncluttered.  Laundry would be doable. Dinners would be simple.  And as for that crowded wall calendar we used to complain about – there would be no more games, practices, matches, recitals, or birthday parties.  No more visits to Chuckie Cheese or Great America  (thank goodness).   Its boxes would be stark.

This was the plan, right?  Parenting is about letting-go.  First to babyhood and bedtime stories and then all too soon – you’re handing over car keys taking them to see friends you don’t know about at events you’re not sure about.

For us clingers (we know who we are), the empty nest is bittersweet – even downright depressing. You’ve lost that motherly identity and day to day sense of purpose.

The Mayo Clinic  cites the Empty Nest Syndrome as the profound sadness some parents feel when their last child leaves home.  If left unchecked, it can lead to depression and anxiety, even alcoholism.

They offer the following suggestions to deal with this parenting inevitability.

  • Accept the timing. Avoid comparing your child’s timetable to your own experience or expectations. Instead, focus on what you can do to help your child succeed when he or she does leave home.  (Easier said than done – says me not Mayo Clinic.)
  • Keep in touch. Maintain regular contact through visits, phone calls, emails, texts.  (Be prepared that they won’t answer you, says me not Mayo.)
  • Seek support.  Lean on loved ones for support. Share your feelings.(Not a  chance, says me, not Mayo).
  • Stay positive. Thinking about the extra time and energy you might have to devote to your marriage or personal interests.  (OK, I’ll try, says me.)

 

Psychology Today adds, “Don’t expect to feel ‘excited’ per se at first. However, getting involved in new activities and interests will help accelerate your emotional adjustment.”

So whether you’re sad because of the empty nest or you’re distressed that your nest will NEVER be empty, the same game plan holds true–

-Practice self-care.  Meditation, yoga, walking, volunteering, reading, having drinks, coffee, a meal, anything with friends.

– Do NOT linger on Facebook images of perfect families, perfect lives!

-Stay curious. Plan trips. As hard as it is, tell your Comfort Zone to get lost.

-To the best of your ability, don’t seek out chocolate or cheesecake as solace.  Here’s a duh-thing from the NYTimes Smarter Living section  — giving in to food-temptations is oh so human.  Don’t beat yourself up. The trick is to NOT have the temptation within physical proximity.  If Ben and Jerry’s is in your freezer, then assume it will be in your mouth at 11pm.  Click the picture below for more.

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I am trying to practice what I preach.  (I love my comfort zone.) Our nest has been empty for a while, though Codie and Kacie are staring me down right now, obviously insulted, “What about US???”.  When I start to romanticize those Little Tykes days, I vow to open my Gratitude Journal — this IS a time to celebrate!

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Whether you have a full or empty nest, rejoice in the NOW.  It’s a gift from God.

-Also, remember that adage, “This too shall pass.”  Your Boomerang kids will eventually leave.  Make memories with whatever stage you’re in and KEEP BUSY!

 

Enjoy the Ride!  It’s the ride of your life!

xox

Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

Your Mind on Retirement – Ruminate No More!

Some of us are all too eager to open those one-on-one date cards sent from our minds.  (Can you tell I am deep into Season 14 of the Bachelorette?) We know full well our minds will betray us — telling us half-truths or outright lies, shrouding us in shame over past mistakes, and then showing a compelling movie trailer that previews catastrophes yet to come.

Our crafty minds know how to play the Getting Old card.  How many years do you think you have left?  What have you really done with your life?  A glance in the mirror reveals a new wrinkle, sag, spot, pouch. Your mind has ample material to draw upon.

Soon your mind is questioning your friendships (not good), your calendar (too full or glaringly empty), conversations after one glass too many (you said THAT?), childhood memories unresolved; degrees, titles, goals – yup, all unreached.

Your mind also invites you on group-dates – social situations where loneliness is ironically at its worst – where your mind plays the Comparison Card culminating the big reveal of your fraud status.

We need to silence such unproductive ruminations once and for all.  But first a couple of reminders.

We are not alone.  

Consider the plethora of TED talks and self-help books – The Power of Positive Thinking, The Secret, The 7 Habits, The Power of Now, Mind Shift, Minding Your Mind; Outsmarting your Brain, Mindfulness.  I love this recent title, Unfu*k Yourself – Getting out of your Mind; Getting on with your Life.  (Really…why didn’t we think of that?)

It seems we are the reluctant star of the summer hit movie, Mind Gone Wild.  (Ah, wouldn’t you know it…that’s already a book title!)

Secondly, our mind is the ultimate unreliable narrator who filters out the good and highlights the regrettable.  It is time to call it out. We CAN tell our mind to mind its manners. (Now there’s a book title!)

 

Psychology Today offers practical suggestions for combating rumination.  These are my top 5 which I am trying to implement when my mind starts on its awful-izing path.

  • Distract your mind with a walk, a movie, a book or exercise. (Your mind has ADHD and is easily distracted.) When your mind is otherwise occupied, it has a chance to regroup.  
  • Recite Bible verses or poems; sing a song; say out loud, STOP.
  • Write an encouraging note or email.
  • Keep a gratitude journal.  Review the events of the prior day and highlight what went well.
  • DO something – clean a bathroom, cook a meal, pay a bill.  Accomplish SOMEthing – albeit small.

Changing your outlook IS possible.  Here’s what wonderful Maria Shriver has to say in her latest  “I’ve Been Thinking” Sunday Paper —  

“Shifting your thoughts can shift your perception of a person, of a place, of an event, or most importantly, of yourself. How you view yourself is truly dependent on how you think about yourself and your life.

Do you see yourself as a victim? If so, try shifting to survivor. Tell yourself, “I am a survivor.” Just use the word over and over again.

Do you see yourself as weak and indecisive? Then tell yourself that you are brave, clear and confident instead.

Do you see yourself as someone over the hill and no longer relevant? Then shift your take on that, too. Tell yourself, I’m in my prime. This is my time. Say this out loud. Say it clearly and confidently.”

 

So the next time you see that date-card with your name on it, tell your mind that you have other plans.  Take a walk. Read a book. Cook an amazing dinner. Clean that toilet. (Well, let’s not go too far!)   Treat yourself as your best friend. Say along with Maria, “This is my prime!”

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Sometimes the very thing you DON’T want to do is the thing you probably should do and will feel better for having done it.   Vacuuming, walking the dog, simply moving have the ability to unfu*k your mind!

-Another Maria-ism — Instead of saying, “I have to…”  , say “I GET to…”

 

Enjoy the Ride!  You GET to!!

xox

Barclay and Joy