There’s a snowflake on my nose! Finding childlike joy in ordinary moments

I’m trudging through the snow, boots crunching, head down.  Late for an appointment because of time spent scraping ice off the car.

There’s a school next door to the office building and I see a mom corralling her three kids toward the entrance. 

“Hey mom, there’s a snowflake on my nose!”   The kindergartener is delighted.  Pure joy in his exclamation.  He cares nothing about being late, about cold temperatures, about ice on a car, or a midwestern winter that seems never to end.  Even his harried mom smiles.

Clearly I need to channel this joy.

For winter will yield to spring.  The sun is making every attempt to peek out.  And the snowflakes are indeed beautiful, a metaphor for the uniqueness of each person, a work of art vanishing too soon, noticed only by a 5-year-old.

 

The Huffington Post offers 40 suggestions for finding joy in everyday life.  What follows is the article by

1. Play with kids.

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2. Play like a kid.

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3. Learn something new (play a new sport or game, learn how to cook a new dish).

4. Get out in nature.

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5. Help someone in a small way (by carrying their groceries or paying their toll on the highway).

6. Count your blessings.

7. Spend time with your pet.

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8. Travel.

 

9. Nurture romance (spend time just kissing your partner, buy a surprise gift, write a love letter).

 

10. Dress up in costume for no reason.

 

11. Lose yourself in a great book.

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12. Laugh and smile, no matter how you’re feeling.

13. Sing out loud.

14. Connect authentically with friends and family, sharing your vulnerabilities.

15. Dance. If you can’t dance, just skip.

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16. Pay a compliment to a total stranger.

17. Listen to uplifting music.

18. Serve others. Volunteer.

 

19. Exercise.

 

20. Set a goal, then reach it (run that marathon, pass that test, lose those five pounds).

21. Meditate and enjoy the silence.

 

22. Write a thank you letter or Facebook post to someone for no particular reason other than just to say “I appreciate you.”

23. Get messy (go barefoot, play in the mud).

 

24. Prepare and slowly eat a healthy meal.

 

25. Offer to teach someone a new skill.

26. Memorize a poem.

27. Turn your errands into an adventure (by making a game out of finding certain items at the store or spotting yellow cars while driving there).

 

28. Take a nap.

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29. Ask someone for help (and express appreciation for their guidance).

30. Watch a favorite old movie for the hundredth time.

 

31. Discover a new smell (in the form of a candle, flower, or massage oil).

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32. Snuggle.

33. Get rid of stuff. (Take it to a homeless shelter. Lighten your load and make someone else’s life better at the same time.)

 

34. Watch a sunrise or sunset.

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35. Make a commitment to change a bad habit, then do it.

36. Create something.

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37. Eat a cupcake.

 

38. Spend an evening by candlelight.

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39. Take a walk in the rain.

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40. Surrender (give it up to God).

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I’m not sure about dressing up or walking in the rain.  But certainly I can eat a cupcake, light a candle, offer a compliment, take a nap, ask for help, write a note, exercise, snuggle with Codie.

 

And maybe even skip a little,

while noticing with glee if a wayward snowflake lands on my nose.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Pick one of the 40 suggestions and try it today.  Each day is a gift, even when you have to scrape ice off your car.

– And try skipping.  Just don’t slip on the ice and break a hip!

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

Morning Routines: Developing Habits to Invigorate Your Day

What’s your morning ritual?

We retired folks want to make these last laps meaningful and energized.  When Laziness and Apathy knock on our door, we want to send them packing.

It all begins with how we start our day.  Without a 9 to 5 job, we Baby Boomers must  be intentional about adapting a productive morning routine.

Author Bryan Adams has written a piece for  Inc.,  in which he shares the morning habits of the highly-successful.

Oprah starts her morning with 20 minutes of meditation that, “fills her day with hope, a sense of contentment and deep joy.”   She then hits the treadmill to activate her body.

Tony Robbins performs breathing exercises.  With his eyes closed, he expresses gratitude for what he has, while taking 30 deep breaths.  He then prays for guidance for the day ahead.  Robbins says, “If you don’t have ten spare minutes to work on yourself every morning, then you don’t have a life.”

The late Steve Jobs always made his bed immediately upon waking.  Many say that this seemingly insignificant habit sparks a feeling of accomplishment.

My doctor says that upon rolling out of bed, she forces herself to do 25 push-ups. This, she says, wakes up both brain and body.

Personally, my brain and body are not so aligned.  My body has me eating cereal rather than doing push-ups and my brain advises that an hour more of shut-eye will be good for my skin.   My bed looks like a 5-year-old tried to make it.  And if I do meditate, 5 minutes feels like 5 hours during which my brain has buzzed from anxious thoughts about family to laundry.

So recently I was delighted to hear Rich Roll’s interview with David Clear , the author of Atomic Habits.  The content has given me hope for a more disciplined morning and a more productive day.

Here are 5 points from Mr. Clear that my brain and body are currently pondering.

“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you believe that you are.”  Even if you do one push-up or 2 measly minutes of meditation, this plants the mental seed that you, yes you, are the type of person who exercises and meditates.

“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.”  You ARE your habits.  You may not deem them significant but each morning you write in your journal, you do your breathing exercises, you pray – over time these habits become who you are.

“Never miss twice.”  If you work out on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and then have to skip a day because of illness or travel, make sure you do not miss the next time.  A good habit can vanish if you miss twice.

“Design your environment” for success.  If you want to develop a morning habit of flossing, place the floss near your toothbrush.  If you want to drink more water, pre-pour a bottle to carry with you.

Perform the first 2 minutes of a habit you want to develop.  Write down your accomplishments.  Small is good!

 

So, here’s to —

2 minutes of meditation, 5 push-ups, a bed that looks like an adult made it, and being a flossing water-drinker.

It’s a start!

 

Today’s Takeaways –

-It takes 21 days for form a habit. Go easy on yourself!  Celebrate the small.  Remember that 2 minutes is better than no minutes.

-One great habit can lead to more.  If you work out, you may just say no to Ben and Jerry next time they invite you to the freezer.

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Self-Care – Putting your oxygen mask on first

It’s an unsettling direction given by the flight attendant.  What kind of parent does not first try to help her child?   It goes against our natural inclinations to prioritize our own well being.

Yet that’s what Jesus meant when he said to love our neighbor as ourself.   We must first take care of our body, soul, mind, and spirit in order to be a conduit of love toward others.  Jesus himself came away from the crowds in order to reconnect with God.

Self-care is actually a spiritual discipline – one we tend to ignore or take to an extreme.  The Huffington Post offers some suggestions for practicing self-care intentionally but not obsessively.  (Check out all 20 practices  here.)

“Do something that energizes your body.  Stretch, swim, run, do yoga, whatever physical activity you enjoy.

Create a Gratitude List. Write down all the things you’re thankful for.

Unplug for a day. Go on a media fast.

Do something new. Have you been considering learning a new skill or trying a new hobby? Go for it.

Practice mini-meditation.  Begin or end your day with a minute of deep breathing, and focused awareness of your body, thoughts, and feelings.

Dance it out.  Put on your favorite dance music, and shake your body.

Get quality time with a quality person. Hang out with someone you love. If they’re far away, give them a phone call.

Be still.  Find a quiet place outside, and embrace the stillness.

De-clutter.  Choose a place — your email inbox, your desk, a closet — and get rid of the excess and junk.

Do an activity mindfully and slowly.  Savor the moment, and experience your activity with attentiveness.

Take a walk. Explore your area at a leisurely pace.

Enjoy a piece of chocolate and/or a glass of wine.  Better yet, enjoy both together.”

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For sure, I’ll do the chocolate/wine suggestion; not so sure about “dancing it out”.

Right now Codie (who enjoys life as only a Golden Retriever can) is giving me a look that says,  Would you forget the damn laptop already?! It’s time for a walk!!

She’s right.  As usual.

Today’s Takeaway –

-Take it from Codie.  She adores all neighbors as herself.  And she knows how to dance it out.  Talk about joie de vivre!

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

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These are Codie lookalikes.  Same joie!

Calling all Baby Boomers, please leave a comment about YOUR go-to self-care practice. Codie wants to hear from you!

The Empty Nest – A Syndrome or a Celebration

I knew if I blinked the tears would fall.  So I widened my eyes and briskly hugged Alex, turning quickly so she wouldn’t see me cry.  She walked resolutely across the park-like Denison campus, keeping stride with a freshman roommate who had confessed to being ADHD and a slob within the first 5 minutes of meeting her.

I cried most of the 7-hour drive home.

With Alex gone, our nest was officially empty.  Wasn’t it just moments ago my daughter was a cheery toddler belly flopping on her bed, shoving a Goodnight Moon board book my way while arranging Bunny and Bankie alongside Chelios the dog (not too close as they didn’t get along)?  Wasn’t it just the other day 5-year old Jared was waving his Ninja Turtle numchucks in a carefully crafted routine – Brett and I applauding with appropriate seriousness?

I remember when our basement was loaded with Little Tykes molded plastic – that basketball net filled with sand at the bottom so it wouldn’t break in half from energetic dunking.  That Flintstone-like car that Alex beeped on her way to indoor destinations.

From now on our house would be uncluttered.  Laundry would be doable. Dinners would be simple.  And as for that crowded wall calendar we used to complain about – there would be no more games, practices, matches, recitals, or birthday parties.  No more visits to Chuckie Cheese or Great America  (thank goodness).   Its boxes would be stark.

This was the plan, right?  Parenting is about letting-go.  First to babyhood and bedtime stories and then all too soon – you’re handing over car keys taking them to see friends you don’t know about at events you’re not sure about.

For us clingers (we know who we are), the empty nest is bittersweet – even downright depressing. You’ve lost that motherly identity and day to day sense of purpose.

The Mayo Clinic  cites the Empty Nest Syndrome as the profound sadness some parents feel when their last child leaves home.  If left unchecked, it can lead to depression and anxiety, even alcoholism.

They offer the following suggestions to deal with this parenting inevitability.

  • Accept the timing. Avoid comparing your child’s timetable to your own experience or expectations. Instead, focus on what you can do to help your child succeed when he or she does leave home.  (Easier said than done – says me not Mayo Clinic.)
  • Keep in touch. Maintain regular contact through visits, phone calls, emails, texts.  (Be prepared that they won’t answer you, says me not Mayo.)
  • Seek support.  Lean on loved ones for support. Share your feelings.(Not a  chance, says me, not Mayo).
  • Stay positive. Thinking about the extra time and energy you might have to devote to your marriage or personal interests.  (OK, I’ll try, says me.)

 

Psychology Today adds, “Don’t expect to feel ‘excited’ per se at first. However, getting involved in new activities and interests will help accelerate your emotional adjustment.”

So whether you’re sad because of the empty nest or you’re distressed that your nest will NEVER be empty, the same game plan holds true–

-Practice self-care.  Meditation, yoga, walking, volunteering, reading, having drinks, coffee, a meal, anything with friends.

– Do NOT linger on Facebook images of perfect families, perfect lives!

-Stay curious. Plan trips. As hard as it is, tell your Comfort Zone to get lost.

-To the best of your ability, don’t seek out chocolate or cheesecake as solace.  Here’s a duh-thing from the NYTimes Smarter Living section  — giving in to food-temptations is oh so human.  Don’t beat yourself up. The trick is to NOT have the temptation within physical proximity.  If Ben and Jerry’s is in your freezer, then assume it will be in your mouth at 11pm.  Click the picture below for more.

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I am trying to practice what I preach.  (I love my comfort zone.) Our nest has been empty for a while, though Codie and Kacie are staring me down right now, obviously insulted, “What about US???”.  When I start to romanticize those Little Tykes days, I vow to open my Gratitude Journal — this IS a time to celebrate!

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Whether you have a full or empty nest, rejoice in the NOW.  It’s a gift from God.

-Also, remember that adage, “This too shall pass.”  Your Boomerang kids will eventually leave.  Make memories with whatever stage you’re in and KEEP BUSY!

 

Enjoy the Ride!  It’s the ride of your life!

xox

Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

YIPPEE Moments

Joy and I are big fans of Maria Shriver.  We look forward to reading The Sunday Paper – her inspirational essay that comes to us each week via email.   The writing style is engaging, the voice authentic, and the content both mind stretching and heart warming. Oh and it’s free.  (Click here to subscribe.  You will love it!)

 

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A couple of weeks ago, Maria talked about celebrating life’s daily “Yippee!”  moments.  Even in the midst of a dark season, such moments are there to be discovered.

“We all need more joy in our lives,” says Maria. Yippee-Joy, she defines as “a moment you consciously celebrate. It’s a moment where you decide that you get to feel joy-filled.”

Maria suggests we  recognize these Yippee’s at least once a day.  And the reason we DON’T do this, she adds, is a matter of where our focus is.

“Most of us are so bogged down getting through life and attending to life’s never-ending stream of responsibilities that before we know it, we aren’t playing anymore. We aren’t celebrating anymore. We aren’t thinking “yippee!”

Instead, we have our heads down in our computers or phones. We’re dealing with evolving relationships, changing kids, sick friends, our own health, aging parents, and bills. Lots and lots of bills. Sure, you can stay on this path and say, “well, that’s just life.” Or, you can consciously decide, like I have done, to find a daily “yippee!””

And in case you’re not in a Yippee mood, check out this research study from 2003.  There were three groups – one listed blessings; one listed hassles, and the third did nothing.  The results showed that the gratitude group reported improved happiness, increased motivation, and better sleep! It turns out there’s a causal relationship (not just correlational) between an attitude of gratitude and a better life.

The Bible tells us to “Rejoice always!” .  If we didn’t quite get the message (since we were too busy worrying), it reiterates, “Again, I say, Rejoice!”   Sounds rather like a command, doesn’t it?

So in the words of Becca, the Bachelorette, “Let’s do the damn thing!”

Here goes…

YIPPEE!  Spring is  here!  Buds are bursting from seemingly dead branches.  I’m seeing colors of unspeakable beauty, fat robins flitting and chatting.

YIPPEE!  Yesterday my husband AND my grown daughter took a walk through Millennial Park in 80 degree sun and then shared a meal at Veggie Grill.

YIPPEE!  I have 3 new library books sitting on my bedside table ready to befriend me.

YIPPEE! I am now enjoying 3 racket sports (pickleball, paddle, tennis) that provide the company of wonderful women – and cold beer.

YIPPEE!  Kacie, a cranky shih tsu lies at my feet, chilling in the morning sunlight.  Codie, of Golden love, stares me down, saying “Let’s do THIS damn thing!” Meaning, I should give over my damn cereal bowl so she can lick the remaining Grape Nuts.

These knucklehead doggies exude yippee-ness!

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So let’s embark on a 14-day YIPPEE Challenge.  Join Joy and me in the discipline of listing YIPPEE moments each morning.

AND THERE’S MORE…

If we also smile broadly while compiling our lists, then we will be exercising our facial muscles and REDUCING wrinkles. Some call this Face Yoga.   (Check out our post called, Exercising Your Face – It’s a THING!” )

The only response to that is YIPPEE!

 

 

Today’s Takeaway-

– Life is short.  Claim all Yippee’s while you can!  And then don’t forget to subscribe to The Sunday Paper. Click here.

-Maria’s essays are now compiled in a best selling book called, I’ve Been Thinking.  Click the book image below to order from Amazon.  $11.99 well spent!

 

 

Enjoy the Ride

xox   Barclay and Joy