Choosing Forgiveness

In my younger years I was a grudge-holding expert and prone to my own brand of tantrums. On one occasion, as a twenty-something, I remember getting ready for a Christmas party, slipping into a blue suede strapless dress that I had ordered from Victoria’s Secret. I gazed at the bedroom mirror with indulgent admiration. But when I proceeded down the stairs trying not to trip in my stiletto heals, I did not hear the expected response from my husband (Wow, you look amazing!!) Instead, he looked at his watch and said we needed to leave right away. I was fuming. He asked if I was okay and naturally I could not appear vain and admit that I had been expecting a compliment. (How shallow would that be??) So of course, I said flatly, “Nothing!” – leaving him clueless and unsettled. Well, a few glasses of wine later, my righteous indignation peaked and I picked an argument with him on the way home — and when our car stopped at an intersection, I opened the passenger door and stormed onto Racine Avenue. At midnight. In a blue strapless dress. Wearing heels. In snow.

It was much like Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde indignantly marching home while her boyfriend tries to cajole her back in the car, lest her designer shoes be ruined.

Of course, like Reese, I did get back into our car, rather sheepishly, having realized that I could freeze to death.

Now that I am older and one hopes a tad wiser, I have no time for such theatrics. Holding onto a grudge causes wrinkles, chest pain, indigestion, and a host of other unwelcome ailments to my delicate constitution! I love how realistic and low-bar-ish the Bible is on this subject, “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

At this juncture, who has time for spitefulness or a lack of forgiveness? We need to move forward, creating boundaries if necessary, but striving for peace with everyone. If our mother wronged us, perhaps she did the best she could with what she was dealing with at the time. If a teacher shamed us, or a friend betrayed us, retirement is the time to unpack our bag and travel lighter.

The Wall Street Journal has this to say in a 2016 piece written by Diane Cole.

To forgive, or not to forgive? It is a question that we ask ourselves more, and that becomes more salient, as years pass. As we grow older, it is “very, very common to review your life,” says Berit Ingersoll-Dayton, professor and director of the joint doctoral program in social work and social science at the University of Michigan School of Social Work. It’s a process that inevitably will bring up “things that we feel good about—and that we don’t.”

In the absence of forgiveness, an offense that was committed against us, or some pain that we caused others, can replay in our minds, causing continuing anger or remorse that is often a recipe for bitterness and bad health. A wealth of research has linked the isolation and loneliness that can result to increased health problems and higher mortality. Forgiveness, by contrast, allows one to focus on more positive thoughts and relationships. “It allows you to free up the real estate in your brain” taken up by negative thinking, Dr. Sood says.

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So, as far as it depends on us, if possible, let’s choose to forgive, and resist the urge to jump out of cars in self-righteous indignation. We could break a hip!!

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

If Only…

It happened again the other day. I heard about someone who had switched careers and was now working in early intervention, visiting families to provide services to newly diagnosed babies. She was doing this amid raising her own children and during a pandemic. Rather than being inquisitive, I began to chide myself — If only YOU had pursued this career. Why aren’t YOU visiting families? Too busy binge watching Bridgerton?? I became both victim and bully, a feat that one can perfect when one is retired and sitting on one’s bed watching a frigid snow globe out the window. (I am also practiced in the art of becoming my dear mother, whose approval was never quite attainable, just one tennis trophy away, one number on the scale too far.)

We all have our If Only’s – self-generated voices citing regrets. If only you had applied yourself in school, gone to a better school, gone to school, written a book, exercised more, eaten less, not said those words, said those words, forgiven someone, forgiven yourself, asked for forgiveness, taken more risks, loved more, compared less.

What is the anecdote to this If-Only cycle of regret – the epitome of unproductive thinking? This time of isolation offers us opportunity to take a step back and sift the practical from the impractical and identify what we CAN do in our baby boomer years. First, we are probably not going to embark on a medical career; we won’t be sharing our research with Dr. Fauci or stumble on the cure for cancer. In fact, we will not be embarking on ANY career. That time has passed. We should come to terms with the fact that we will not be on the next flight to Mars, or be seeded at the next Wimbledon.

Those If Only’s need to disperse and find younger folks in the dreaming stage of mid-stream. We are nearing the water’s edge, soon to be propelled to an ocean’s merging. We have to take inventory of the time we have left, the days fully in our purview. There is potential in the word NOW. It implies a second chance, a rising up with the energy of an espresso and a new morning brewing.

We can’t play on Wimbledon’s grassy stage, but we can dream about sitting in the stands. We won’t be visiting a family to provide therapy, but we can pray for babies and dream about holding them while their harried, young parents deal with untold stresses. We can’t work side by side with amazing Dr. Fauci, but we can help an elderly person secure an elusive vaccine appointment, or bring a fruit basket to those suffering the ravages of Covid. We likely won’t write a best selling children’s book, but we can buy one and volunteer at the local school, or if we are blessed to have them, read to our grand babies.

It is said that to whom much is given, much is expected. Many of us have been given much. So instead of saying, If only, we should be saying, “If only today…” In other words, let’s live life as if THIS is the only day we have.

All that said, if you were to accidentally refer to me as Dr. Marcell, I may not correct you. And as for Bridgerton, let’s be grateful we were not born into the British Regency era with its confining corsets and unyielding caste system, irrespective of that impossibly handsome duke. And don’t you dare think, If only… 🙂

Joy here with my two-cents contribution to today’s post, which was originally intended to be light and airy —

I watched Bridgerton in three sittings, definitely fitting the binge description. For three afternoons, breaking my no-tv-during-the-day retirement rule, I was swept away to a period of opulence, debauchery, elegance, ridiculous over the top social stratification and objectification of women (Gloria Steinem would be screaming!) I loved every morsel, every crumb, but in this bleak winter of snow, bitter cold, and smashing records of every kind, I was transported to a fairy tale land of gorgeous people, exquisite settings, and sumptuous costumes. So no profound thoughts. My wonderful writing partner has taken care of those earlier in this post, but just a pure unadulterated confession that sometimes, escaping to a magical place, whether in literature, film, or tv is okay.

Today’s Takeaways-

-NOW is telling you to take a walk, between those eight foot snow drifts and be grateful you have legs to support you.

-Make it a prayer walk. Covid is still raging.

-Your Duke may be the one you are currently sharing your life with.

Enjoy the ride!

xox

Joy and Barclay

2020, Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

Barclay here.

My bangs were too long and refused to be swept to the side. It was time to show them the scissors. Now in the past, this has resulted in short, uneven locks, so before chopping, I decided to consult an online expert. I found a cheerful YouTuber with a confident air and perfect, wispy bangs. Her first bit of bang-cutting wisdom? Don’t go near the scissors if you are drunk. She was quite serious about this. She said that this past year many people tried to cut their own hair during and after happy hour and the results were not pretty. Isn’t that so 2020? Cocktails have been starting earlier and earlier, bringing with them the temptation to create a new you, forgetting the small fact that you were not a rising star in cosmetology school, for the simple reason that you did not attend one.

I took the YouTuber’s sage wisdom to heart. But I still wound up with non-wispy bangs.

2020 has brought us not only uneven hair, but also a nostalgia for former days when we did not have to scurry across the street at the sight of another dog walker heading our way, or glare at that Costco shopper whose mask kept slipping below his nose as he drifted into our six feet of space. We are yearning for normalcy. We are ready to welcome 2021 to the stage and boot 2020 out the door. Here at Revisionist Retirement, we wish for you –

Family get-togethers where old gripes have dimmed because you are so appreciative of seeing each other in person and not as postage stamps on your laptop screen.

Dining and shopping inside, flashing your teeth as you smile broadly at pure strangers, sparking conversations, just pleased that your smile is visible.

Walking in the company of more than one person, side by side, not separated by the entire street and not having to yell through a mask.

Freedom from fear. Not thinking a sneeze is a straight shot to hospitalization and a ventilator.

Seeing a movie. In a theatre. With people around, munching greasy popcorn.

Attending church in person, sweating through a yoga class, gabbing with your hairdresser. Traveling to see friends and family for big turkey dinners and lazy TV watching.

And a deeper faith in your God who sees it all – the scary sneezes, the tired dogs, and the choppy bangs.

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Joy here.

On the hair note, let me add, that I’d never seen that much grey in my hair. In May when I began to see it glaring back at me, I texted my good friend, Bruce, for help. He styles and colors hair for a living and has for decades. He very sweetly came upstate, over two- and- a half hours away to rescue me from old age! Outside in the fresh air with accoutrements packed neatly, he restored my youth! Boy, was I thankful for having a colorist as a friend!

2020 also meant not seeing my family. I missed my older daughter who was in lockdown abroad. I hadn’t seen her in nine months – the longest I had ever gone without seeing her. My heart ached for a hug, a smile, a Zoom-less get together. As for my younger daughter, she was hunkered down for three months in California learning to adjust to living with her boyfriend. (If that isn’t a way to speed up a relationship or destroy it, I don’t know what is!)

The pandemic taunted us and played with our emotions. Would I get it? Would my friends or loved ones get it? How could we, who are now considered “elderly” (only chronologically!), protect ourselves from something that seemed to stymie even the most brilliant scientists and research?

Barclay and I are looking forward to 2021 which represents a light at the end of this long dark road. We anxiously await hugs upon hugs. Kisses too. Human touch. (Please don’t make hand shakes a thing of the past.) We find peace knowing that we have not gone through this alone, but have been surrounded by so many who share our state of mind. Eventually, the vaccine will be given to all who want it, whether you are next in line or 20 groups behind. There is hope that this too shall pass and enter the annals of history, as did the 1918 Spanish flu, SARS, MERS, H1N1, and Ebola.

So, good-bye 2020. We don’t love you; we only knew you for a couple of short months before you turned ugly. But thank you for reminding us to be grateful for people, family, and faith.

We wish you, our readers, our loyal followers and those who have just read us for the first time, peace, joy, good health and, of course, perfect bangs!

Enjoy the ride.

xox Barclay and Joy

A Tale of Two Faiths Part Two: The Non-Negotiable’s

Barclay here –

Did you ever see the 1979 movie, The Jerk?  There’s a VERY funny scene when a distraught Steve Martin wearing just a bathrobe is leaving his wife (Bernadette Peters).

“Well I’m gonna go then.” he yells.  “And I don’t need any of this. I don’t need this stuff, and I don’t need you. I don’t need anything except this!”  He picks up an ashtray.   And that’s it and that’s the only thing I need, is this. I don’t need this or this. Just this ashtray.” 

He glances down.

“And this paddle game, the ashtray and the paddle game and that’s all I need.” 

He sees something on a nearby table. “And this remote control.”

The scene continues until he tries to take the dog.  “And I don’t need one other thing… except my dog!”  The dog looks at him and growls.

“I don’t need my dog.”

 

So what do WE need in our faith-walks?

My non-negotiable tenets of faith can be summed up in a made -up song from the toddler room at my church. It goes to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down :

God made me and God loves me. God loves me. God loves me. God made me and God loves me. Jesus wants to be my friend forever. (If you sing it enough times, I guarantee it will get stuck in your brain.  Probably forever.  Not a bad thing!)

God made me. Psalm 139 says, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely.”

God loves me. Isaiah 43:4 says, “You are precious in my eyes  and honored and I love you.”

Jesus wants to be my friend forever. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

 

The very best thing about walking in faith is that when you endure trials. and you can’t even pray, the Spirit of God intercedes on your behalf.   Romans 8:26 says that “The Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

October 31, 2018 was a day where I could not muster prayer.  Our family was facing the “unimaginable” (a reference to the play Hamilton when Eliza and Alexander are mourning the death of their son.)

When you face the unimaginable, and you cannot pray, your very tears become prayers.

Now a year later, I can testify that God does hold your hand through the unimaginable, interpreting your wordless prayers.  As Psalm 23 says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me.”

“I made you.  I love you.  And I will be your friend forever.”

So like the Steve Martin character, I will clutch onto the tenets of my faith –  promises from God that enable you to endure even the unimaginable. And bring beauty from ashes.

That’s all I need.

 

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-With age comes hardship – when prayers cannot muster words. Take heart that the Spirit of God carries your tears into the presence of God Himself.

-Joy and I do not anticipate wearing a gray bathrobe anytime soon!  Much as we love Steve Martin!  We are far too fashion forward!!

Thank you for reading our musings and reflections! Click the blue “Follow” button at the top right of the site to make sure you see Joy’s next edition about all things retirement – from faith to face cream to forgetfulness to fabulous!

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tale of Two Faiths Part 1 – Spiritual Roots

Now that we are retired, Joy and I have time to reflect on our beliefs and faith practices.  Since we have different spiritual roots, we thought it might be interesting to share our journeys of faith, which are just that – journeys.

Barclay here –

I grew up going to church on Sunday mornings, singing hymns whose lyrics began, What a friend we have in Jesus and  Jesus calls us o’er the tumult of our lives’ wild restless seas.

As young children, Charlie and I were read bedtime stories, but not about Mickey Mouse or the Berenstein Bears.  Rather, our mother read aloud her paraphrased versions of Old Testament stories, written on a yellow legal pad.  We heard about David facing Goliath with but a sling and 6 shiny stones,  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo being thrown into the fiery furnace, blind Samson regaining his strength and crushing the columns of the Philistine’s temple killing himself and all those around him. Our mother eventually published these legal pad stories in a book called, In the Beginning.

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At Christmas time, our mother was counter cultural.  She deplored  the bearded jolly man (She even wrote an article called, “No Virginia, There is no Santa Claus.”)  Her children’s book, The Real Reason for Christmas, reminded Charlie and me that God had gone to extraordinary lengths to stoop down into human existence as a baby in a manger.   Christmas was all about Jesus.

So from a young age, I believed.  My faith was anchored in the stories of a God of love intervening into human life – forgiving sins, (David, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph were hardly perfect) providing strength in weakness, and showing love, mercy, and justice.

But as the hymn says, life has its “wild restless seas” and my mother’s faith, though an undeniable force, did not override her focus on outward appearances and her quick tongue.  And as I broke away from my mother in my teens and 20s, I also broke away from my faith.  Rather than reading the Bible, I read nice devotionals that did not challenge or inspire.  I adopted a lukewarm faith, that allowed me to look inward and not outward.

But then came parenthood.  And the realization that I needed God.  Desperately.  The God of David, Shadrach, Mechak, and Abednigo.  The God who sent his son, Jesus, a fulfillment of prophesy, to die for me so that each day of imperfect parenting could be a “do-over” – grace filled and led by one more powerful than I.  As David says, My sin was ever before me.  And I could no longer do this life on my own power.  That much I knew!

What do I believe today?

Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 

Micah 6:8.

What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.

 1 John 4:9-10.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

 

And when my seas become restless with waves of anxiety, fear, or grief, I believe that I have a friend in Jesus who calls me o’er the tumult.

 

Joy here-

I grew up the daughter of a mother who downplayed her Judaism and a father who came from an Orthodox family of 5 children, with a mother and father speaking Yiddish in their home.  My mother, Muriel, was very Reformed, as was her brother, Morton. Uncle Morty, I was told recently almost missed his Bar-Mitzvah because he was playing stick ball!  (millennials can look that up if you are reading our blog!)  My father was  a first generation American and my mother a 3rd generation American.

I was raised Reform and attended Sunday School for seven long years, attempting to learn Hebrew for most of those years, but definitely knowing my holidays. I was confirmed at 13, not Bat-Mitzvahed (they really didn’t do that in those days for girls) I was very proud to be asked to go up to the bimah ( a raised platform in a synagogue with a reading desk from which to read the Torah, Haftarah)  My parents had been married at this Upper West Side synagogue and my grandparents had attended services there as well, so it was considered an honor to be asked.  I recited a special poem, which I had memorized. I was proud to be turning 13 as a young Jewish woman.

Fast forward and who do I end up falling in love with?  A De Santo, not a Goldstein or a Goldfarb, but an Italian, blue eyed blonde who was raised Catholic!   You fall in love with a person, not the person’s religion, so I married out of my faith.  My parents took it well, although my father certainly would have preferred me to marry a Jewish boy, preferably a doctor or a lawyer, of which my De Santo was neither.  Handsome, promising, and very smart, I hadn’t thought about anything else at 23 years of age.

When we had children, we decided you couldn’t leave it up to them to decide (many people of my generation who  married inter-faith thought they could). At the time. I was a High Holy Days worshipper, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I said my prayers every night,  (the same ones my mother taught me when I was little- “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take) David attended church every Sunday so I balanced the decision in my head and went with bringing up the children Catholic. We celebrated all the Jewish holidays, but did have a Christmas tree and attended  mass on Christmas and Easter. I wanted to expose the children to both religions and have always felt as long as you believe in some higher being and can pray when you need to (or want to), that’s all that counts.

Today, one grown daughter is more aligned with Judaism, at least culturally, and the other considers herself a Catholic.

For me, I would describe myself as a Jewish girl from the Upper West side and proud of it!  I light Yarzheit candles, just as my mother did and her mother before her. I worship on the High Holy days, I fast on Yom Kippur, I observe Passover by abstaining from all leavened foods during the holiday, and I pray every night.  My religion is important to me. I feel a swell of emotion when I sit in a synagogue and hear the cantor chant.  It is a religion of tradition, beauty, ancient customs and belief in one G-D who is omnipresent and omnipotent.

I will pass down a very special white bible “The Holy Scriptures” given to me the day I was confirmed in 1968,  one year after the Six-Day War, also known as the Arab- Israeli War. I hope my daughters will carry it on their wedding day and will feel the depth of emotion that I do when I see it and hold it.

Today’s Takeaway…

Barclay and I share a deep commitment to our religions.  Though they are different, we both believe strongly and know that we are always in G-d’s hands.

It gives us both comfort to know that.

Thank you all for reading our musings, writings, perspectives, and very personal stories.

As always, 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