Love More and Shop for Hearing Aids

We are at that age where our hands have become our mother’s hands. We are raising the volume of the TV, and we are struggling to find the simplest of words. We might address our daughter by the dog’s name, and we are for sure eating dinner no later than six, in order to watch Wheel of Fortune which begins promptly at six-thirty followed by Jeopardy at seven. (Good for your brain..well, Jeopardy at least!)

When you hit your mid-sixties, the aging process seems to accelerate. It has been likened to the unrolling of toilet paper and we are heading faster and faster toward the last strip. Last week our next door neighbor, a single man in his early 60s, came to his last strip. He was found unresponsive, apparently the result of unchecked heart disease. His passing came without warning – leaving his family and friends overwhelmed by grief and if-only’s. If only he had gone to the doctor sooner, if only he had had his cholesterol tested regularly, if only he had known his roll was growing smaller.

But then, even if he had been more proactive with his health, something totally outside his control could have claimed his life. The fact remains that we all irrationally believe that death will never come to us. We look at our thinning and wrinkled skin with amazement, and think, how on earth did that happen??? (see our earlier post on bat wings!)

As Joy and I grow older, we are reflecting on choices we can make now that will support our mental, spiritual, and physical health. The bottom line is that when our own rolls diminish, we will have led lives characterized by love and humility. We don’t want to have regrets.

CNBC published an article in 2019 citing regrets shared by those in their 90s. Let’s listen and take heed. (Click here for the article, written by Lydia Sohn)

  • They regretted not cultivating closer relationships with their children.
  • They regretted not putting their children on the right path in life.
  • They regretted not taking risks to be more loving, such as being more open about their feelings for new people or more affectionate with those already in their lives.
  • They regretted not being better listeners; they wish they had been more empathetic and considerate.
  • They regretted not spending enough time with the people they loved.

One man was asked if he wished he had accomplished more. “No,” he responded. “I wish I had loved more.”

That’s it, isn’t it? To love more. To choose to love even when we have been wronged. Yes, it’s a high bar and perhaps a naive one. But each morning we have choices. We can smile at someone, write an encouraging email, overlook a harsh word, or marvel at the architecture of a spider web, a nest, an anthill even.

And yes, at the same time, we can and should address our cholesterol, our cataracts, and our clumsiness. And start shopping for hearing aids.

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Joy here. I always knew cataracts were going to be an issue for me. Everyone in my family has had them so they are a rite of passage into old age. I was told I had them in both eyes about 15 years ago but thankfully they have taken their sweet time to develop. (You kind of think that day is never going to come. It seems so far away when you are younger.) Recently, however, they have re-announced themselves and darkness is not my friend when driving. My night vision issues were quite apparent last summer when I very calmly told my passenger daughter that I couldn’t see that well and that the oncoming headlights were super bright (very calming for this passenger who probably thought I was about to drive into these bright headlights!)

So, now at long last I am seeking opinions on whether I can wait another month or two or do I rush to get them removed. After a very thorough ophthalmologic exam here in Mexico, I was relieved to find out I don’t have glaucoma or macular degeneration or need to rush to remove my two cataracts. It does need to happen, but it can wait until I get home. My wonderful cousin, Fran Lisa, has offered to do all the night driving on an upcoming trip to San Francisco (phew!) so I don’t jeopardize anybody’s life with my driving! Not a small matter. I didn’t like driving in the dark with better vision, so I certainly don’t feel comfortable now. One of my many idiosyncrasies!

The advent of cataracts hits you in the face with a splash of cold water – you are old! The good news is that the technology is fantastic. This is not the cataract surgery our parents had. Your vision can actually be restored to near perfect with no need for glasses.The basic fix is an IOL (intra-ocular lens). A host of options are possible and your ophthalmologist will advise as to what is best for your needs. It’s an amazing surgery which allows you to return to seeing again within a short period of recuperation.

Nevertheless, with vision and hearing loss, and flapping bat wings, we are aging before our very eyes. That person staring back at you in the mirror is the same one she was at eight years old, but carrying wisdom, experience, battle scars, wonderful memories, and the desire to stay healthy as long as possible.

Today’s Takeaways:

-Take each new reminder of the aging process little by little. What we can prevent through good diet, exercise, mental attitude, we should go for and be diligent in doing so.

-You don’t have to look old. That’s what injectables are for! There are also mini face lifts, neck lifts, threading, LED wands, creams and moisturizers. Do your research and do what you can afford that makes you feel good about your appearance. Some women and men don’t care about wrinkles and grey hair. Each of us is an individual and makes these choices.

At the end of the day, it’s all about enjoying the ride!

And befriending the bat wings… which are here to stay!

xox Barclay & Joy

Been a While-Two Birthdays Around The Corner

Barclay and I have been discussing the many topics we could share with you, our loyal fans. We have so much we want to say, but the immediacy of birthdays nudged us both to put our thoughts on aging back on the table. My birthday is in a day and Barclay’s next month. We are one year apart. We both struggle with the advancing numbers that we see in print and find it hard to believe we could be this old! How did we get here?!

People sometimes tell me I look good “for my age”. Some nice folks may even remark, “I just can’t believe you’re blank-years old!” (purposely left for you to guess!) — but admittedly these comments are coming less frequently. These days no one blinks an eye when I request my senior discount!

I’ve said before I come from a family where age was never discussed. My mother hated the fact that she was getting older. She was a type one diabetic in the days before high tech blood sugar management, and sadly, she didn’t make it past 71. My dad made it to 87, pretty impressive for a man who had a quadruple bypass operation twenty years earlier.

So even if I am blessed to take after my father, the fact is, along the way my face will succumb to gravity. As I approach my upcoming blankety-blank birthday, I can no longer look in the mirror and see the image I want to see. The lines around my mouth are more pronounced. My eyes have more than fine lines and I’m waiting for my neck to get that floppy, loose skin – fondly called a turkey neck. (I’m overdue! Maybe, it will come as a birthday present!) And here’s another lovely rite of passage…I have cataracts! This layer of cloudiness on my eyes needs to be removed; it is not like a banana which you can throw away when it’s overripe! Surely, hearing aids are around the corner! (We will save the topic of cataracts, colonoscopies, and clumsiness for another cheery post!)

Yes, there are treatments that can make you look younger and I have tried some of them (pandemic got in the way last year), but the truth is that I have lived the majority of my life already. That’s a scary statement to come to terms with. The adage “Age is just a number” was probably said by a twenty-something millennial! Easy for you to say when you have your whole life ahead of you!

As each birthday comes and goes, however many I am blessed with, I vow to keep active, both mentally and physically. I say, stretch those muscles, work that brain, do puzzles, play Scrabble, un-jumble words. We are not our parent’s generation who retired to a lounge chair and early bird specials. We are the generation that forged new paths, blazed new trails that our daughters and sons could reap the rewards from.

We won’t go quietly! We never did. So, get that treatment buy that lip gloss, do that down dog, and be happy you get to see another year go by!

Happy early birthday to Barclay and happy birthday to me!

Takeaways

-Every morning when you open your eyes, be happy you did! It’s not a given.

-You don’t have to tell anybody how old you are! You could always adopt Ben’s tactic – my dad inflated his age by ten years to prompt a response of, “Wow!! You look GREAT!”

As always, enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

photo courtesy of https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/birthday-cake-candles-bright-lights-bokeh-418556503

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 – from 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 – we 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

 

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This photo is from the amazing Dean Ornish site. Check it out! https://www.ornish.com/ornish-living/team/

 

 

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 Skin We’re In- Part One

“Crepe.”

I had never heard this word before.

Was it pronounced the French pancake way?  Or was it pronounced “creepy”?  Probably the latter considering the disturbing images of elephant-like skin – alongside an ad for a miracle cream to eradicate this Baby Boomer plague.  (Which of course I bought. Which of course didn’t work.)

Isn’t it enough that our underarms boast a certain jiggle which answers to many names — Hi Jane’s, Bat Wings, Bingo Wings, Lunch Lady Arms??

And isn’t it enough that our mothers were right when they yelled, “Get out of the sun!  Wear a hat!  You’ll get wrinkles!” ??  We Baby Boomers are embarrassed to admit that not only did we lay in the sun for hours, we also held up reflectors (cardboard wrapped in tin foil) to accelorate the process.

Did you also know that as you age the contour of your smile can actually turn downward?  Meaning, we look grumpy when we’re not.  It could be a result of our aging teeth not granting support to our sad mouths.  As they turn yellow.

And who knew that as you age your hair will stop growing where you want it to and boldly go to places it’s never been before??

So lest we get too depressed, let’s focus on some things we CAN do.  For now, we will address the infamous Hi-Janes.  Future posts will tackle other Baby Boomer maladies.

My friend Lisa is fond of saying, “The best exercise is the one you actually DO.”

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Here is a 28 day challenge for arm toning that is worth doing.  Yes, It looks daunting.  (When they say 70 push-ups, it’s obviously a typo.)

We will have to channel my disciplined mother, Peggy, who said you MUST keep moving.

And I never saw Peggy’s arms flapping.

Only her tongue — as I held my reflector high.

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Today’s Takeaway –

-Be grateful for make-up.  Just think of men who have to face the world each and every day sans concealer or foundation.

-Love the skin you’re in!   And practice Self-Care.  You ARE beautiful!  Just wear a hat when you’re in the sun.

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

When Life Shrinks: A Preview

Last January I was sidelined with an annoyingly slow recuperation to a mundane procedure.

I had ample time to process the phrase my hip gynecologist had casually tossed in, “If you were my mother…I would advise… blah  blah  blah.”  I lost her at “mother”.  Here I thought we were contemporaries…potential bff’s.

 

Here’s a picture of my gynecologist.  What was I thinking?

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So I was under strict orders to be a couch potato. I cleared my calendar. Oh the books I would read; oh the writing I would produce, oh the plans I would make.

 

Day 1 was liberating.  Brett was at my beck and call – grocery shopping, cooking, emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming golden retriever stage brush.   

Day 2 however had me staring at the window, a la Jimmy Stewart, wondering what life was like “on the outside”.   No evidence of reading, writing, planning.

Day 3 found me stir crazy.  A control freak somewhere on the ADHD spectrum.  And still no reading, writing, planning.

 

So it begs the question — how on earth would I cope with the inevitable shrinking of life?  When beloved activities are hijacked by the aging process.

 

I hope I cope like Mary.  

Mary just celebrated her 105th birthday.  She’s the life of the 3rd floor at the nursing home I visit. Her white hair is always coiffed; she wears brightly colored scarves and gobs of jewelry.  And now helium balloons adorn her wheelchair flopping behind her as she heads to Bingo.

“What’s your secret?” I  ask.

Mary is dismissive of such a silly question.  “Oh, Barclay, I am just too busy!” She peruses the activity board to check out the day’s options.  

Mary is probably the most positive person I’ve ever encountered –  in the most dismal surroundings I’ve ever encountered.  She’s thriving.

 

 It turns out our attitude matters more than our circumstances. 

So, let’s model Mary. 

And while we’re at it, let’s yell a robust “Bingo!” and fling some scarves in the air — just for fun.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

 

  • There are ALWAYS blessings to count.  Stop reading right now and hold up your hand and name 5  – out loud and with gusto.

  • BE ready so you don’t have to GET ready.  (I stole that catchy phrase from a sermon.)  Work on your attitude NOW while you can still move.  And a word about Bingo – we have to admit – it has stood the test of time!

 

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

Sleep – Counting sheep just doesn’t cut it!

Who would have ever guessed I would have sleep issues! Me, the woman who could fall asleep standing up! On a West coast flight, my routine was to recline my chair and pull down the shade preparing for a 5 hour snooze from lift off to landing! Friends marveled at my sleeping ability and I was the envy of my insomniac friends!

Enter retirement and all of a sudden, I wasn’t guaranteed a restful night’s sleep anymore! My wandering mind, racing thoughts took me all over the place, but not to The Land of Nod,where I wanted to go.

 

My worries about money, not having enough, my children, my husband, had I made the right decision to leave the workplace, my health and the state of the world were keeping me up!

 

I had no trouble falling asleep. That was easy. It was that damn 4:30 am wake up call that once eyes opened started the cycle. Peeing is one thing, I expected that, but this was more than that. It was my inability to put myself back to sleep.

 

After a month of this insomnia, I decided to try the usual recommendations for this condition. I Googled insomnia and sleep disorders. I was shocked at the percentage of people who have this problem, about 40% of the population. Who knew? Tryptophan, as in what makes us sleepy after the big Thanksgiving meal did nothing for me. Maybe it helps turkeys sleep? Melatonin, which many of my globe trotting friends swear by, Nada a wink.

 

On to acupuncture. I had never tried it before so being pro holistic and natural, rather than asking for a prescription for Ambien, it was worth a shot! I signed up for 3 sessions to give it a try. While very relaxing and a totally enjoyable experience, it didn’t take me to where I wanted to go, that being a solid night’s sleep. I did start waking at 5:30 instead of 4:30 so there was progress. Rather than investing in more sessions, being prudent, I tried what has turned out to be my salvation.

 

My daughter was working at a spa that used these white noise machines, the kind that new moms use in baby’s nurseries. Could this simple concept of blocking out all distracting sound work for me? Worth the $28 investment from Amazon.

This lovely little sleepy time machine, Sleepytime tea before bed, and my horse blinder eye mask ( bought at T.J Maxx for $10) is as good as I have had it for the last 6 months. I still wake up during the night, but I can finally put myself back to sleep.

 

It’s been a real eye opening experience to have insomnia, but I’ve certainly learned 1) I’m in good company and 2) sheep just aren’t to be counted on.

 

Today’s Takeaway—

. Pay attention to clues from your body, be that physical or mental.  Now is not the time to ignore symptoms or think they might away. Health is a gift, as is a good night’s sleep.

. Be open to alternative medicine.  Anybody can get a prescription for Ambien and you can always keep it in reserve.  Try meditating, deep breathing, yoga, the CALM app for bedtime stories.

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

Age…Just a Number?

My mother, rest her soul, used to say age is just a number. Yet we never knew exactly how old Muriel was until the day she chose to file for social security!

We never spoke about actual ages in my household. We all knew Muriel was quirky, the most wonderful mom in the world, but someone who was a bit wacky, eccentric, unique. (Thank you, Muriel, for providing me with fodder for my writing!)

I come from a long line of ancestors who didn’t discuss age including my grandmother. It’s not anything terrible and if a little white lie makes you feel better and doesn’t hurt anyone in the process, what difference does it make? At least, that’s what I was always told. Mind you, this is the same person that told me it was okay to take a butterscotch candy or peppermint from the bin at Woolworth’s to taste. (Those of you who don’t remember Woolworth’s or The 5 & 10 have no business reading this blog!) That’s what they were there for. Lucky, I didn’t become a kleptomania!

Muriel never looked her age anyway, good genes, so when she filed for social security ( only because my father made her) it was then made known that she was about 6 years older than we had always thought. The funny thing was that Ben, my father, was always advancing his age, so at 82, he was almost 83! He was proud of the age he had lived to and didn’t care about the number or what anyone thought.

So, following in her footsteps and being a bit nutty myself, I always fudged the number. I had a lot of friends who were a good 10 years younger than I so I  just considered myself just like them.

My husband being 6 years my senior ( for real) was already retired and waiting for me to join him so we could do the things we had always wanted. So at 62 ½ I decided to leave the workforce. I had worked for 42 years, made the sacrifices, got up to an annoying alarm clock, took Metro North into the City when I definitely wanted to stay home and play. This was my time.

Many of my friends thought I was retiring early, maybe I was 50 something, one of those women whom you’re just not sure about. And it really wasn’t that early, a few years ahead of my actual full retirement age. Who knew they pushed the age up a year for us second wave of Baby Boomers. Sneaky those government folks!

So here I am having achieved that status in life that I had been waiting for and now 5 months later and I’m still reflecting on the decision.  

What I am learning is that retirement’s a time of life that requires the right attitude, mental adjustments to freedom and discipline to make everyday meaningful.

 

A weekend just isn’t the same when everyday is Saturday and Sunday!

 

Today’s Takeaway—

. This is a tough one, because I could lie and say age doesn’t matter.  It’s just a number. Blah, blah, blah. I will have to come to grips with this slowly, on my own terms. I’ll get there eventually.

. Always look your best.  Just because you’re not going to an office environment anymore, doesn’t mean you can’t put some blush on, a pair of earrings, a nice blouse or pants.  You are looking good for you! Your harshest critic should also be your best fan!

 

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