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!  ūüôā

 

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

 

Your Brain on Games

My mother was a NY Times Crossword Puzzle snob.¬† She tackled the Sunday edition in pen, disdaining anyone looking over her shoulder offering lame suggestions.¬† She used the “e word” liberally¬† — “Oh Barclay, really, it’s so easy.”¬† Which of course left you feeling completely stupid when 1 Across through 5 Down were as blank as your brain.

But lest we be too hard on Peggy, many of us may have some puzzle-snobism within – (though never uttering the e-word).¬† Brett is a Jumbles Expert —¬† who sees beyond LOUEDM and REFTER to their real-word counterparts¬† – something I am in awe of.¬† (**Answers provided at¬† the end of this post; give it a go; I dare you!)

My friend, Debbie, is a Suduko expert; Michelle a crossword aficionado a al Peggy.

I am the master of none.

Sudokos leave me feeling stupid; Crossword puzzles must have the word, EASY, emblazoned on them; and Jumbles — well, all I see is REFTER which clearly describes a person who likes “refting”.

And witnessing me try to parallel park will have you chuckling for days.  (Ask my friend, Jeanne).

But the good news is that we can improve our skills and our brains will be the better for it – particularly if we play different types of brain games.

Dr. Gary Small of the UCLA Longevity Center says, “Just as you’d lift weights AND do cardio, you can maximize cognitive fitness with various types of exercise”.¬† By “exercise” he means brain games which we rotate according to their targeted focus.

Language: Jumbles, Scrabble

Visual-Spatial: Mazes, Jigsaws

Problem Solving: Chess, Sudoku, Logic games

Memory and Concentration: Trivial Pursuit, Candy Crush

 

 

 

Interestingly, I’ve noticed at the nursing home I visit with Codie, the older folks who seem the most engaged are those who are cradling a Crossword or a Word Search, who never miss a Jeopardy or a Wheel of Fortune.¬† These folks also prefer books with large print to TV unending.

And one more thing about games, they are FUN.  They provide challenge, satisfaction, a sense of control.

And they just may help in remembering where your keys are (hopefully not in the freezer) or the name of that neighbor of 15 years.

Plus they may provide a chuckle or two — as you “reft” onward.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Find a puzzle to tackle today.¬† There’s no shame in looking for the word, EASY!

-Celebrate your progress.  I have completed ONE Suduko,  Yes, one.  But I will drink to that!

 

Enjoy the DEIR***!

xox  Barclay and Joy

 

 

** muddle; ferret

*** RIDE

 

Got a minute?¬† Oprah.com offers this challenge —

Changing Words (language)

Begin with WALL and change one letter at a time until you get to FIRM. Each change has to create an actual word.

WALL

____
____
____

FIRM

The Power of Stuff

My family of origin took pleasure in throwing things out.¬† (Unfortunately in the process, they accidentally tossed family heirlooms, vital documents, plane tickets.)¬† ¬† My mom’s closet was sparse, each item of clothing meticulously chosen.¬† My dad wore too-short jeans from K-Mart which mom tried to throw out but somehow lived to see another day.¬† If you left a swimsuit under the bed after visiting their Florida home, you would not expect to see it again.¬†¬†They were¬† Minimalists before it was fashionable.

My parents certainly accumulated stuff, but they only kept what gave them joy.¬† At Christmastime if you presented my mother with anything but a book, she was angry.¬† “We don’t need ANYthing!”¬† Even your book would be given away the minute it was finished.

So where do you fall on the continuum with Minimalism on the one end and reality show Hoarder-ism on the other?

The Netflix documentary, Minimalism, warns about being consumed by our stuff and touts the joy to be found with a simpler lifestyle and fewer belongings.¬† One woman on the show pared down her wardrobe to 33 items to be worn over three months.¬† That is not a typo. 33 – including scarves, jewelry, shoes.¬† Why did she need six pairs of jeans when she only wore her two favorites?¬† Each item had to be a “favorite” –¬† ¬†otherwise it went to Goodwill.¬† She also adopted the one-in¬† —¬† two-out rule for purchasing.

Well I’m not sure we’re ready for the 33 challenge.¬† (And some of us are married to folks on the Hoarding side of the continuum.)¬† But we Baby Boomers should not be spending our Third Act (Jane Fonda descriptor) organizing, dusting, and arranging stuff.

In¬†¬†Everything that Remains,¬†Minimalist Joshua Fields Millburn writes, “The things you own end up owning you.”

He goes on,

“Now before I spend money I ask myself one question:¬† Is this worth my freedom?¬† Like: Is this coffee worth two dollars of my freedom?¬† Is this shirt worth thirty dollars of my freedom?¬† Is this car worth thirty thousand dollars of my freedom?¬† In other words, am I going to get more value from the thing I’m about to purchase, or am I going to get more value from my freedom?”

 

So personally I’m working my way toward the Minimalist side of the continuum.

But full disclosure РI did just buy five tank tops at Target.  I mean, they were only $5.00 each!!  Can you blame me???

 

Today’s Takeaway –

– Peggy, my mom, was right yet again…it’s time to toss the stuff that needs daily dusting and does not spark a lick of joy.

– But watch out that your tax return is not hiding in the Goodwill bag!

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

Click the book image below if you want to purchase the Minimalist memoir from our dear friends at Amazon (who have not helped my quest for Minimalism!!)

 

 

 

 

 

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