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