Book Review-Becoming-by Michelle Obama

Joy here –

Loved, loved, loved this book.  So honest, from the heart, and real.  I knew I liked her as FLOTUS, but after reading her book I am totally a fan (and saddened that she isn’t first lady any longer!)

Michelle Obama didn’t come from money or status.  She was an average kid growing up on the south side of Chicago.  Her dreams and aspirations  were similar to those of many young people –  getting into a good college, making her mark on the world, giving back to her community. She accomplished all that and much more.

The book follows her divergent chapters in life, aptly titled, Becoming Me, Becoming Us, and Becoming More.  It’s refreshing to know that she too went through a period of doubt regarding her chosen profession, the law.  After working so hard to get into a top school, Princeton, and landing a fabulous job with the top tier law firm, Sidley & Austin, Michelle wrestled with the fact that she wasn’t feeling fulfilled.  She wanted to give back to her community, to feel purposeful, to do good works, not just for the sake of a great pay check.  At the end of the day, isn’t that what most of us truly want in life?

As I read her memoir, I felt as though Michelle could be my next door neighbor or close friend.  She speaks from her soul and isn’t afraid to be vulnerable.

The book is a wonderful read for a young woman starting out in life or even more so, several years out of college trying to figure out if the path she’s chosen is still what she wants.  I bought the book with my older daughter in mind — Michelle being a great role model, someone who you could trust.

Although Michelle marveled at the heights she climbed and although she savored her time in The White House, her most important role was (and continues to be) as Sasha’s and Malia’s mom.

At the end of the day, her dignity, grace, and fierce determination to remain an equal partner with Barack, holding the highest position in America, is an inspiration to us mere mortals!

 

 

Today’s Takeaway-

– “If you don’t define yourself, you will quickly be defined by others.” Michelle Obama in Becoming

-We are all in the process of becoming and there is comfort in that. If we don’t become, then we are stuck in a rut.

Enjoy the ride and read the book!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

Want a laugh?  Check out Michelle and Ellen in Costco!

 

Your Retirement Identity: I just feel like myself when…

“When I’m on a tennis court, I just feel like myself,”

I knew exactly what Judy meant by that comment.  There is something about the sounds and smells of an indoor tennis facility – balls bouncing and tennis shoes squeaking – that makes me “feel like myself”.   For 50 plus years, this setting has been akin to an anti-depressant, where life’s troubles are shelved for a couple of hours (and no weight gain!!…adds Joy.)

Where do you feel like yourself?

The forest preserve?  Your church sanctuary?  The public library?  A yoga mat?  Or at a Starbucks sitting across from a great friend, over-caffeinated and laughing your head off?  Remember laughter is the best therapy and I’d rather have laugh lines than any other wrinkle anytime!

Retirement offers us more time in such settings.  And time to discover new ones. In fact, the most happy retirees are those who discover new passions, new places to feel like themselves.

For me personally (Joy here) I crave being busy, over programmed, juggling tasks.  I’m not so sure I am ready for so much time to mull over my new state of being.  Perhaps, I just need to adjust.  If it takes me longer, that’s okay.  I will find my special place and I will know it when I see it.

Who better to help us than Oprah who offers a free passion quiz  —  under the enticing title, Who am I meant to be?

And then there’s Maria Shriver, our Mentor – who unfortunately doesn’t yet know she’s mentoring us.  Maria applauds those pursuing passions and making a difference.  Check our her interviews at Architects of Change.

Maria challenges US to be Architects of Change.

“We all have the power to be Architects of Change in our own lives, in our own homes and our own communities… to imagine what can be, then create what you envision. You can make a difference, play a part in moving humanity forward and ultimately, uniting it.  Together, we will create a more caring, conscious, connected and compassionate community.”

 

So for us,  this retirement season is a time to look beyond the tennis court and the yoga mat to imagine more.   More places to feel like ourselves. To forget ourselves.

We don’t need to conform to anyone’s image of who we should be.  Performance reviews are not given in retirement! (If they were though, Barclay and I deserve “much improved”!)

We may not yet be Architects of Change, but we can be Architects of Ending Strong. Whatever that looks like.

Oh and we may have to stalk Maria.  Just a bit.  Don’t tell her.  (She may get a restraining order!)

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-As much as we love Maria, it probably isn’t a good idea to stalk another person.  There are consequences!  Although, I’m sure her home is lovely!

-There really isn’t such a thing as retirement, is there?  It should be called “work in progress”!  We retired from the workforce, that’s all.  We are still the same people as we were when we wore professional attire!  Now my dress code is more yoga pants and a loose fitting tee shirt! Think of the savings in dry cleaner bills!

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dreaming Small

Mary Rose filled our glasses and we knitting ladies (loosely termed as I am an awful knitter) toasted Michelle on her retirement.

“What are you looking forward to most?” we asked.

Michelle described a few “more’s”.

Sleep more. Knit more.  Travel more.

Sounds great.  But after the initial exhilaration, some retirees find themselves with more Netflix than more Grand Canyon.

Here are some ideas to get us off our asses (Peggy’s infamous descriptor) physically and mentally.

Say Yes.

Have you seen the Jim Carey movie, Yes Man, where the main character has to say yes to everything?  He finds himself interacting with exhilerating people and having wild-ride experiences.

My friend, Cathy, has said yes to political marches, travel, and continuing her social work.

Jeanne has said yes to tutoring, RV living, and volunteering for Avenues to Independence.

Gina has said yes to bike riding, gardening, and urban renewal projects; Mary Rose – to cradling babies and hanging with her granddaughter; Sally – to travel, family, golf, and taking her beloved dog to nursing homes.

What’s your YES these days?

(A caveat — make sure your YES is not that people-pleasing, forced-into-it type, but comes out of an open heart and a desire to be courageous.)

Find your mission.

What gives you joy?

What are your unique gifts and talents?

What moves you?

Maybe what gives you joy is exactly the spot where you make the world a tad better for others.  One theologian describes this intersection as follows –

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”― Frederick Buechner

My brother, Charlie, a philosophy professor, plans to teach classes to prisoners once he retires. Jeanne, a reading teacher, is helping kids with dyslexia.

It’s OK to Dream Small

Diane says yes in small ways each day.  She is intentional about chatting with grocery store clerks; she shares uplifting  messages on FB, she smiles at strangers.  Her random conversations sometimes end with the other person saying, “I was just meant to talk to you today. I feel so much better. Thank you.”

There’s a song titled Dream Small —

Live well
Loving God and others as yourself
Find little ways where only you can help
With His great love
A tiny rock can make a giant fall
So dream small.

———————————————-

Whether we visit the Grand Canyon or to the Grand Grocery Store, let’s look for more YES moments.

And then we can check out what’s trending on Netflix!

Today’s Takeaway –

-What a wonderful life I lead.  I can’t wait to do this again tomorrow.    Said no one – ever – after watching 6 straight hours of Netflix.  (I speak from experience…)

Enjoy the ride!

xox

Barclay and Joy

The Problem with Mirrors

I can still hear the clack of my mother’s heels on the hardwood floor outside my room.  “Barclay, I need you to come to the bathroom mirror.”

She clacks back to her room. I trudge behind her, a mature adult reverted to age 12.  The bathroom lighting will be unforgiving and her mirror more so.  Soon we’re facing that mirror, my mother, all 5’ 11” of her, behind me, staring.   “Which side of the bed do you sleep on, dear?”

She doesn’t wait for an answer.

“It appears you sleep on your right side.  Do you see this wrinkle over here?   When we compare it to the left side, it’s more pronounced.”

She pauses to let this observation, apparently evident to all, sink in.

I cringe thinking about how I rest my face in one hand while sleeping, thereby scrunching this poor right side into its present state.

“You really should be sleeping on your back, as I do.  Have you tried that?”

How to respond?  She will proceed to my forehead if I don’t take the offensive.  It’s a forbidden topic, but under bathroom lights, all’s fair.

“I wish there was something I could do.”  Pause.  “Mom, did you ever have plastic surgery?”

At the time, my mother was a smooth faced octogenarian with model cheekbones, arched eyebrows, and a sculpted nose.  

“I once had a few spots removed …and while I was there, well, they may have done some treatments.”

I had secured an admission. Victory?  Hardly.  Short of undergoing “treatments” of my own, this overly ambitious wrinkle would only deepen along with its forehead counterparts.

The really sad part is that upon returning home I did try sleeping on my back.  Unfortunately, this caused a nasal situation and a thunderous noise, jarring me awake at 2AM, certain an intruder was pounding at the door.

Of course I blamed Codie, our golden retriever, for this unladylike noise.   My husband only chuckled – a bit meanly I thought.

I hated my mother at that moment.

 

So I am not a fan of mirrors.  

Have you noticed they love surprising you with something NEW that you could swear wasn’t there the night before?   A line, a blotch, a vein.  (Let’s pause in  honor  of whoever invented concealer – which I will soon be applying with a putty knife.)

My advice is to avoid mirrors unless you just spread lipstick on your teeth. 

And beware of “treatments” that have the power to seduce your wallet and your retirement joy. 

Eventually my mother’s smile looked downright scary.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

  • There’s a saying, The gods we worship write their names on our faces.  Having a positive outlook, even smiling more, goes a long way in promoting attractiveness.
  • Find compassionate mirrors (it’s all about the lighting); but know that the state of your heart takes precedence.  Along with gobs of concealer!

 

P.S. I hate to admit it….but my mother was right.  Sleeping on your side DOES cause wrinkles.  And sleeping on your back IS better.  But there is hope for us snorers.  According to this 2012 article in the Huffington Post — we should purchase a “beauty sleep pillow” or a satin pillowcase.  Just be sure your dog is nearby to take the blame for any emissions during this side-to-back process!

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox, Barclay and Joy

Woulda, coulda, shoulda

I (Joy) can hear my mother’s voice utter the phrase above. She must have said it a million times. The words of someone’s mother when you are young and know more than they do, is meaningless. I now understand what she meant. It’s only taken me a lifetime to figure it out!

We can always look back, conjecture as to how something might have turned out differently.  We second guess ourselves, doubt our choices, hesitate to move forward beyond what’s comfortable.  We are creatures of habit and even though we might protest and complain, that is the way most of us like it.

Me, being a true Cancer, astrologically speaking, cling to life the way it has been.  I want to hold on to the special memories that made me smile, gave me pleasure, solace.

My father on the other hand was just the opposite.  He was a crepe hanger, a Dr. Doom before Nouriel Roubini! He was the chicken little the sky is falling to my mother’s passivity. He panicked and sold all his stocks the day President Kennedy was assassinated, saw the world on the verge of nuclear annihilation.  Truly, it is a wonder that I am halfway normal!

I am trying in this new chapter of life to not think “woulda, coulda, shoulda,” to not think disaster, but to take one day at a time.  I am not the person who embraces the unknown with open arms; I never will be. I hate roller coasters and am a dud at an amusement park. I am me and if it takes me a little longer to get the hang of this new state, that’s okay. There is no race, no time clock.  It’s getting your head and emotions to be on the same page and to accept, “Wow, I made it this far, now enjoy!”

Today’s Takeaway…

. Don’t dwell on things you have no control over.  It’s a waste of time. As my compadre Barclay says, move forward, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

. You indeed are a product of your upbringing, but can make changes to the person you are and have been until you breathe that last breath.  How wonderful is that!

Enjoy the ride!

x0x Barclay and Joy

Owning Your Age – Suzanne Somers and Me

She pops up in my (Barclay’s) Facebook feed with her airbrushed face touting make-up tips and exercise routines.  Her thigh master has parlayed into products that will tighten those Baby Boomer sags and smooth that Baby Boomer cellulite.  Or at least that’s the pitch.

And I buy it.  I am her target audience.  Mid 60’s.  Not a friend of gravity.

Gone are the days where make-up was an option. As my friend Cathy says, now we wear make-up  for “the good of the world”.  Meaning, NO one – not even a grocery store clerk – wants to see us without a layer of foundation.  

Today Suzanne is touting a new product.  I won’t get the details until I click the link.  Like the Geico ad… it’s what I do.   

Wow, it’s a face system that will work revolutionary magic in toning and lifting.  I lean in. It uses microcurrent technology whatever that is.  A game changer for sure.  It’s Suzanne’s number one beauty secret.  

Oh my, there’s a special going on.  

If I act now.  Which of course I do.

And so it goes.  Suzanne has a financial empire.  I have saggy skin and cellulite.  And  a lighter wallet.

Charles Revson, the founder of Revlon, famously said, “In the factory we make cosmetics, in the store we sell hope.”  That’s why I reached for my credit card.

How can I be so gullible?  My friend, Barb, has translucent skin and swears by Ponds cream.

When I was working I collaborated with young female teachers and I deluded myself into believing I was “one of them”.   Also, when teaching, bathroom breaks were rare.  So my “mirrors” were the faces of these younger women.

Now that I have time to brush my teeth more often (a good thing) I interact with mirrors throughout the day.  They don’t lie.  Yup, you’re over 60.  And you do realize don’t you – those cute teachers could be your grandkids.  Thank you, oh mirror.

So my new and improved attitude is Popeye-esque – I yam what I yam.  And I’m grateful that I CAN keep moving — that I CAN take up a new sport (pickleball); that I CAN write, read, walk my dog, dance, cook, drink good wine, volunteer, travel, see a movie.

May I embrace my 60s and beyond.  This life is precious and I don’t want to miss a minute of it.  

With the help of Suzanne’s micro technology of course!

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Today’s Takeaway –

  • Own your age!  Worrying about it will only cause wrinkles.
  •  Suzanne Somers probably uses Ponds.  

Enjoy the ride!

xox, Barclay and Joy

The Aviance Effect

 

 

We Baby Boomers remember the catchy Aviance commercial of the late 1970’s with the attractive singing frying pan woman boasting how she could do everything!  And still be a woman!  This commercial for a fragrance that I (Joy) never used or even liked, by Prince Matchabelli, promised seduction, romance, but showcased a woman who was dressed for business by day and sexy wifehood by night! Whenever I heard it on tv, I was drawn to it. Who wouldn’t be?  I had recently gotten married at the ripe old age of 23.  It was 1977, a lifetime ago.  So many roads ahead, so much to accomplish, so many achievements would come my way, opportunities for success.

My generation made its imprint, like none before it. As I look back, I am proud to have been a part of the women’s movement that changed the work world forever.  I was the role model for my daughters that my mother never could be, at least in the sense of earning her own paycheck, her own independence.

Women’s increased labor force participation has represented a significant change to the U.S. economy since 1950. As of 2014, nearly 6 in 10 women aged 16 and older (57%) worked outside the home compared with 33.9% in 1950 43.3% in 1970. (U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics) The changes were coming rapidly. We were buying business suits with white blouses that had collars you could tie into a bow (just a modicum of femininity), later bow ties and scarves, padded shoulders of the 1980’s, high heeled pumps with sensible height.  (The stilettos would come much later, after Sex in The City started setting style trends)  

I was so excited to be part of this wave of women.  We really could compete for jobs, in almost any business.  We were smart, committed, the NOW generation of doers, not merely observers.  

My mother, dear sweet Muriel, only shared her opinions with friends.  She never crossed my father, a domineering figure. I remember on the few occasions when they fought she would go into the bathroom and pound the wall out of frustration.  She would never speak directly to him!  Can you imagine a late 1970’s wife or heaven forbid a Millennial not speaking her mind?!  

 

The changes that working brought about were phenomenal.  A paycheck means self sufficiency (of course, depends on how much that paycheck is!)  I was lucky.  I was exposed to the world of finance early, the 1980’s, the most exciting time in terms of the explosion of financial instruments, options, futures, trading electronically.  It was all happening and those of us who were lucky enough to fall into this exciting industry would pave roads for future women. Women would become portfolio managers, analysts, traders, brokers, unheard of!  

 

I earned a good living most of my life and was fortunate to be able to give my children the trappings of an upwardly mobile family.  Sleep away camp, private lessons, horseback riding, dance, tennis, karate, vacations, etc. I feel blessed and can look back on my work life as having accomplished something, both professionally and personally! Not everyone gets the right opportunities and of course, there are pitfalls along the way.  I was laid off 7 times in my career over a period of 12 years!  The recession, the CRASH of 1987, etc.  I digress…

 

I look back and smile at a track record I can be proud of myself and the generation of women that joined me on this trip. “It was an amazing run”, my last CEO said to me over the last 18 ½ years (my last full time job) What an honor, what an accolade!

 

My only question is, what happened to the Aviance lady?

 

Today’s Takeaway—

 

  • Be proud of the contributions you make in life, be they part of the women’s movement or just getting dinner on the table every night for 40 years!

 

  • You can’t do everything well.  Some things will slip through the cracks and that’s okay.  Do your best and always cut yourself some slack. Always remember, the Aviance woman was a tv commercial!  

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox, Barclay and Joy