The Letter

My mother used to write the most beautiful letters.  They were handwritten, well thought out, and in beautiful penmanship.  A millennial would probably say, what’s penmanship?  Why bother?  You can text or better yet, no words, Instagram!

Muriel (if you have been reading our blog, you would know!) won awards for her beautiful cursive writing.  Me, not so much.  I’m a lefty and write like a doctor (if only I had gone to medical school!). She wrote letters to her boyfriends, caught my father’s attention with love letters that made me blush (when I went into her drawers and furtively read them!), and congratulated friends on their anniversaries, birthdays, marriage of a child, birth of a child, etc!  When my mother-in-law passed away, she wrote the most beautiful letter to her husband, my father-in-law. She expressed her grief and disappointment in not really getting to know her new daughter-in-law, married less than 3 years earlier.

Letters are a thing of the past, sadly because they hold a person’s most private thoughts in a way that a text or email cannot. They can disappear with the stroke of the “delete” key. Whether on heavy stock paper with a monogram (this is what Muriel used) with ball point or ink, they beckon us to read them over and over again.  I have put many of them in my drawers to be discovered unexpectedly as I rifle through underwear.  Once I find one, I sit down and read it again.  A tear may come to my eyes, a smile, a look of fondness and love. They are never to be duplicated again and they do not carry any acronyms: LOL, LMAO, WTF, IDK,  OMG, etc.  Everything is spelled out in full.  T’s are crossed, i’s are dotted, strong messages underlined.

“Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.” Yehuda Berg

‘Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”  Mother Teresa

‘To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart” Phyllis Theroux

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”- the Bible

I  am of the generation who kept in touch by letter.  I kept my college roommates apprised of my newly married life, my parents, my old friends, and family members.  It took time to write, to compose, to add humor, funny stories.  When you read my letters it was like being in the room with me.  I wrote run on sentences, as I do today and called it my stream of consciousness writing. I loved receiving them in the mail and I hope mine were met with the same enthusiasm as the ones I received.

They are my mementos of a life filled with friendship that I worked very hard to maintain through a lifetime of new jobs and new addresses.

Take the time to pick up the phone, write a real letter on paper and mail it with a stamp, go ring someone’s doorbell to say hello.

We are all busy, even those of us in retirement, so it means that much more when we take the time to connect as human beings.

Today’s Takeaway…

.Write a letter, the old fashioned kind on paper with a ball point pen.  I’m sure you have one somewhere! It will mean more than you know to the person on the receiving end.

. Never underestimate the power of the spoken or written word.  Keep your mind active by writing down your thoughts, whether in a personal journal, blog, or diary.  You will be glad you did.  They will make you smile when you need it most and keep your memories alive when you may have forgotten.

Enjoy the ride

Barclay and Joy








Goodbye little village of Ajijic

This week my husband and I left our Winter home in Mexico bound for the States.  After 3 months of perfect weather, (so dull and predictable!) back to where we will spend Spring, Summer, and Fall.

Last year I counted the days (literally x ing them off on the calendar and counting)  until we returned, fearing I had made a mistake in retiring early, not sure if this was the right place, wondering if my adaptation to a foreign country and culture were just not going to happen.  I had read that a transplant to another country starts off with this feeling of euphoria and excitement exploring all that is new to them only to be brought down to reality in year two.  Naturally, I would be different and found my first year to be okay, hearing my daughter’s voice in my head- “It’s so dusty and dirty, why would you want to live here?!”  At the end of this Winter, I found myself a bit sad, although happy to return to my furry children, my human children (not necessarily in the order I have outlined!), friends, and family members. I had grown attached to this dusty little village of 10,500 (2010 census) about 1,000 full time folks and 700 snowbirds, a term I have always hated, but have become one! What makes an everlasting experience in this new phase of   life are the relationships we make, the connections, the chemistry.  We met people that we would never have met in any other setting, from different coasts, different backgrounds, but the most important factor being we are all in similar stages of life.  There are some who still work, but have the flexibility to work from anywhere, but most are like me and have retired, seeking a different life style, out of the box thinkers.

Without the pressures of everyday life, a job, commuting, juggling family and career, you can focus on people, really listen, share experiences and begin anew in this third chapter. I found myself relaxed this year, not as reflective, but for the first time being in the present.  I saw this little village on Lake Chapala with fresh eyes, smiling as the sunshine beamed in every morning.  How can you be grumpy and depressed in a place that birds sing, hummingbirds hum and horses clip clop on  quaint cobblestone streets.  It is like a Hollywood movie set made to look like an old time Mexican village, except it’s for real!

I learned that material things don’t matter as much.  Whether I wear my Cartier Love bracelet or a piece of colorful string who cares!  The fancy cars are driven for the most part by Guadalajarans who come for the weekend and people don’t dress in fancy designer clothes, nor do they flash expensive jewelry. Puerto Vallarta or Cancun this is not.  It is understated and low key.  For a city girl who loved her labels (although I never paid full price!  What smart Jewish girl would?!) , I have come to terms with what is important to me now.  I did all that stuff, I fell into the upwardly mobile trappings of can you beat this.  I am comfortable in my own skin now and none of that is really important to me anymore.  I have nothing to prove. I made it in New York and, as the song goes, “If you can make it there…..”

So, as I am back home now, I know that I will return next Winter to my little village of Ajijic a wiser woman than I was two years ago.  I have made great friends who I care about, who I can be silly with and drink too many margaritas with, but who’s to remember in the morning!  My friends from childhood, college, early 20’s, 30s, are my life long friends, milestone friends, but the life I have ahead of me is as important and meaningful as the life behind me. Crocus are blooming, Winter seems to be going on vacation somewhere else, and the crispness of a new season is in the air. I feel very blessed.

Today’s Takeaway:

Everybody adapts at a different pace.  Give yourself time, cut yourself slack, and understand that if you’ve worked a lifetime (42 years to be exact!)  you don’t just step on the brakes and turn the car around.

Embrace the here and now.  Be present.  Living in the past is a killer and won’t get you anywhere new.  The road ahead is filled with wonderful surprises if you just begin walking.

Enjoy the ride

x0x Barclay and Joy