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

 

Bind your Mind: Discovering Peace in the Midst of Stress

Life is stressful.

There is always an interview, a presentation, a trip, a to-do list, an illness, a difficult boss, a fractured friendship, unkind words, forgiveness that seems to stretch our ability to grant and now simmers below the surface of our smile.

Does it seem that your stress outweighs your peace?

Our bookshelves, Kindles, and podcast apps are littered with advice.

Brene Brown says we should divulge our vulnerability.

Marie Kondo says we should declutter our spaces and our lives.

Oprah and Dr. Phil¬†say,¬† “Name it to claim it”.¬† Claim happiness. Then go out and serve, read, exercise, and eat delicious food.¬† ¬†(And we have to admit Oprah looks mighty happy on her monthly magazine covers!)

Abraham Lincoln said,¬† ¬†‚ÄúFolks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.‚ÄĚ

The Bible too offers advice, though not the self-help kind, more the God-help kind.  The apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian church,

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable‚ÄĒif anything is excellent or praiseworthy‚ÄĒthink about such things.”¬† (Philippians 4:8)

I agree with all of the above.  But how to bind my wayward mind in order to attain peace?  Here are my top six practices.

-Make time to meditate.¬† Here’s a 3-minute¬†¬†breathing technique

-Focus on one-step living.  All you have is this very moment.

-Forget the “C” word.¬† Relinquish CONTROL¬† Ride the waves of life in the hand of God which could be the safest place to be.

-Follow Oprah’s advice and serve others.¬† Perhaps write a note (who does that these days??).¬† Go to Compassion International and select a child to sponsor.

-Pray in a palms-up; palms-down manner.  Are you worried about a wayward child, an upcoming social event, an unfriendly bathroom scale, or a scary test result on the horizon?  Turn up your palms and mentally place your concerns there, pray over them, then turn your palms downward.  I believe a power greater than any you could ever muster wants to carry your burdens.  (How do I know?  He is holding my own tears and redeeming my own sadness, even as I write this.)

-Give your mind a stern lecture.  Sing a song that makes you happy.  Name your gratitudes.  Check out a new recipe.  Declutter just one teeny weeny drawer.

 

Eleanor Roosevelt said,

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

 

OK, Mind, you have your marching orders for today.¬† Dream big; find beauty, and don’t let stress get the upper hand.

You’ve got this, Oh Mind of Mine.

 

 

Today’s Takeaway:

-Claiming happiness sounds great.¬† But really, it’s all about Doing Happiness.¬† Hey Mind, are you listening?¬† Get over yourself and make that call; try that recipe; sing.¬† Splurge on a new face cream or a nice bottle of red.

-Channel Eleanor Roosevelt.¬† A life well lived amid stress we cannot imagine.¬† Here’s her book on 11 keys to a more fulfilling life.

 

Enjoy the Ride!

xox

Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loving Yourself – Kicking the comparison habit once and for all!

“Suzy is so attractive.” My mother would remark.

She would then offer helpful suggestions as to how I could be more like poised and perfect Suzy, which we both knew was impossible.  I was a late bloomer who wore a superfluous training bra until the age of 19.

But that didn’t stop me from trying to be like Suzy.

I went on diets featuring grapefruit and popcorn. I tried to get a tan using sun reflectors – which is why I am on a first name basis with my dermatologist.  I even took a Dale Carnegie course to help me “win friends and influence people.”

I also became a comparison junkie.

My current Suzy’s include those who pray out loud more eloquently than I (even though I know God doesn’t care about such matters), those who have a better backhand, those who are more extroverted, better read, friendlier, funnier, braver, better at Suduko.  Etc etc.

Such wasted energy!  It’s time to get my mother’s voice out of my head.  I will never be Suzy and nor should I be.

Psychology Today offers some helpful suggestions to help us drop the comparison habit.

-Know what our triggers are and avoid them.  For instance, we may choose not to read  People magazine or watch Entertainment Tonight, or gaze at Facebook’s vacation  photos.

-Remind ourselves that what we see on the outside may not match what is really happening in people’s lives.  All of us like to project images suitable for social media.

-Use the comparison trap as motivation to improve on what is truly important.  Do we want to be as kind as Marguerite?  As generous as Donna?  As humble as Brett?  Look for those who are honest, fun, giving and emulate the qualities we admire.

The author,  Dr. Susan Biali Haas, ends the article with this —

“Imagine if you could elevate the comparison game to a useful art form. Stop falling prey to its dark underbelly, which does little more than increase feelings of misery and lack in your life. Use comparison, instead, to become a better person and maybe even make your little corner of the world a better place. ”

Great advice, I’d say.  For ALL we have is our little corner.  And the  responsibility to make it better — one constructive comparison at a time.  I may not be as attractive as that Suzy, but I can work on being more generous, kind, and loving.  To try to be better today than I was yesterday.  The only comparison that matters.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Limit your scrolling through social media, especially if it tends to  trigger that comparison junkie in you.

-Take a walk instead.  Make a gratitude list.  Tidy up your corner.

 

And enjoy the ride!

xox

Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my grandmother’s trunk, I packed a…

Remember that memory game where each person adds to the accumulation in Grandma’s trunk?

My friend, Mary Rose, offered this advice as I prepared for a trip, “Don’t forget to pack your love, joy, and peace.”

My suitcase brims with such each morning.  But come evening, reflecting on the day gone by, I note a lack of love, a shortage of peace, and questionable joy.  My suitcase has snuck in self-promotion and a loose tongue, partly the result of one too many glasses of wine.

So with time at a premium for us Baby Boomers, join me in packing a trunk focused on love, joy, and peace.

Many faith practices entail prayer rituals exercised three times a day.  How about setting our phones to remind us to pause periodically for a moment of gratitude, or simply an acknowledgement of surrender, a look outside of ourselves?

Amy Morin in Psychology Today writes about 7 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude.

We will sleep better, have higher levels of self-esteem, enjoy deeper relationships, and experience satisfaction with life. In short, there will be more love, joy, peace.

“We all have the ability and opportunity to cultivate gratitude. Rather than complain about the things you think you deserve,¬†take a few moments to focus on all that you¬†have.¬†Developing an ‚Äúattitude of gratitude‚ÄĚ is one of the simplest ways to improve your satisfaction with life.”

In my grandmother’s trunk I packed –

Gratitude, Love, Peace, Joy

And a timely cell phone reminder to get over myself.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Psychology Today also tells us that gratitude helps us stop comparing ourselves to others.¬† Wouldn’t that be nice?

-Hey Loose Tongue, why not spurt out a compliment or two.¬† The sincere kind.¬† It wouldn’t kill you!

 

Enjoy the Ride!  We are grateful for YOU!

xox

Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

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Four Words to Change your Life

How’s that for a catchy title?

The NY Times just came out with four words to achieve a happier and healthier life.    (They also offer a 30 day well challenge.)

Move, Nourish, Refresh, Connect

Dean Ornish (the legendary physician/researcher who says we can reverse disease through diet) offers four equally weighted pillars to living your best life.

Nutrition, Fitness, Stress Management, Love and Support


 

So not to be outdone by any NY Times or some world renown surgeon, Joy and I thought we’d come up with our own four words for living your best Retirement Life.

Think of the acronym, ROLL.

Reflect until you attain a grateful heart

Own your past until you are at peace

Laugh until you pee or feel like you might

Love until you can’t love anymore

 

On Reflecting – Give yourself a high-five.

Hold up your hand and list the top five blessings Рfrom big to mundane.  You can start with the fact that you are taking in air.

 

On Owning your past – Forget regret!

Those poor choices, those mistakes, those faults that seem bent on hanging around — let’s reframe our past – it has been the catalyst to who we are today – hopefully still in a growth mode – since we are remain prone to daily mistakes.¬† Which leads to humility – a good thing.

 

On Laughter – hang with those who freely laugh.

For close to 20 years I had the pleasure of working side by side with Jeanne who knows how to laugh in that pee-inducing way.

My husband, too, has that ability, though there’s no need to share the peeing part.¬† He has an annoying tendency to crack me up at inappropriate times – say, in a somber church service where I see his shoulders shaking as he tries to maintain control.

 

On Loving –¬† John Lennon was right.¬† It’s all we need.

But what does it look like?¬† It’s the familiar wedding reading from 1 Corinthians – Love is patient, kind, long-suffering, and it doesn’t keep a record of wrongs.¬† Yikes, that’s a high bar.¬† But at least we can daily lean in that direction.

 

Join us in 2019 as we hopefully induce some laughter, share our failures, and ROLL onward toward finishing this journey well –

Reflecting on our blessings – with love in our hearts.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-While ROLLing Рwe probably should check out that NY Times article.  They are the NY Times after all and may know a thing or two.

-Maybe the laugh-till-peeing phenomena is more an age thing and something I should address.

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox

Barclay and Joy

 

screen shot 2019-01-06 at 12.58.26 pm
This photo is from the amazing Dean Ornish site. Check it out! https://www.ornish.com/ornish-living/team/

 

 

Music is Chicken Soup for the Soul

Plato must have known a thing or two. The quote above resonates today and will as long as there is music to be played. Not bad for a philosopher who died in 347 B.C.¬† I wonder if anything I’ve said will be remembered long after I’m gone!

My memory of music in my home goes way back to my dad listening to cantorial records , as well as Herb Albert’s Tijuana Brass (Whipped Cream, my favorite cover of his!) in the living room piped out of a human size speaker and hi-fi equipment.¬† My children will read this and go, what’s a hi-fi?!!

Much has been written about music having the ability to move us, emit emotions, joy, sadness.¬† It crosses boundaries, it doesn’t require words¬† nor pictures. You feel it in your core, your bones, your heart.

A Stanford University Study  shows that music helps us make sense of a chaotic world and soothes our senses.

This is meant for one of my very dearest friends (no names mentioned) who is suffering through a very difficult period of time in her family’s life.¬† It struck me that my love for music might resonate with her. We all go through grief in different ways and how we deal with it is very unique to our own individual personalities. People feel all kinds of emotions during the course of a day, a week, a month. No one is happy all the time, or despondent all the time. Music is almost an emotion in itself. I see music as an escape for a minute or two. It can be for however long you desire. I used to lie in the dark in my living room and play records (mostly show tunes that I knew every word to!)

Music has been called a way of life for certain human beings. Some of us have musical talent and others don’t, ( I played the violin in the school band only because there were no more flute parts! First chair was never going to happen!) but those who do can share their emotions through¬† expression. The way music effects our everyday lives can be almost incomprehensible at times.

One time in particular stood out to me when I thought of examples of what impact music can make on our lives. The concert held in New York for the September 11, 2001 tragedy, in a sense, brought our country together. So many famous musicians wrote songs dedicated to the tragedy. Through music people were able to express their feelings easily in a peaceful, yet effective way. It wasn’t for money or publicity, it was simply for a good cause. Also, it was one of the best ways to prove that our country can come together in a time of crisis. The concert helped people who were grieving and even touched those who were not directly involved with the attack. Not only did it bring New York City together, but also it brought our entire nation together as one.

The same was done for World Aid’s Day and Coca Cola used it beautifully in its ‘ I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing- several variations on this iconic commercial, which was created in the early 1970’s. Now, try to get this tune out of your head!~!!

 

 

Today’s Takeaway…

. Hum a few bars of a melody that you hold dear, roll down the windows of your car and sing, or resort to the proverbial shower aria!

. It’s always available to you and it will put a smile on your face, I promise.¬† A lot fewer calories than eating a bag full of Oreos!

Enjoy the Ride

xox Barclay & Joy