Welcome to the Land of Sunshine

IMG_4082Barclay and I are both settling into our winter (escapist!) homes of Florida and Ajijic, Mexico respectively.  We welcome the sunshine and the feeling you get when you wake up to a clear blue sky every morning.

I am not a hearty trooper and can’t hack a severely cold winter.  I am a sunshine girl through and through.  Forgive me dear neighbor for leaving you in the 9 degree weather of this morning! I admit it.  I’m a wuss!

Sunshine is so good for you, as long as you don’t over expose.  We all know now that sunning oneself with a reflector and baby oil was a really bad idea!  Hey, it was the 1960’s before we knew better and it seemed like a great way to get a tan!

The benefits of the sun though are many.  My super senior dog, Colby, is relishing in it now as he warms his arthritic bones.  He is in doggie Nirvana! No more grey skies and frigid temperatures for the next 4 months.

15 Health Benefits of Sunshine – The Active Times
http://www.theactivetimes.com/fitness/nutrition/15..

Vitamin D, which our bodies crave and need, helps our immune system, warms our aging bones, boosts our metabolism, lessens tension, can help prevent disease, betters one’s sleep (you know how it makes you sleepy when you sunbathe?) even increases your mental acuity, and provides you with higher energy levels.  If that’s not enough, it just plain feels good on your body!

We are lucky to be able to have a change of scenery, shed our winter coats, put on flip flops in January and play pickleball on outdoor courts facing the water.  Blessed for sure. Your surroundings are so important to your psyche.  Though, I love Portland and Seattle,  as cities, I’m not sure I could hack drizzle and gray skies for days on end.  I am a sunshine babe and love those rays on my face and body.  I can still hear Muriel say, “Let the sun kiss you, Joy.” 

Well, mom, I’m listening.

Wonderful to be back and see friends who are now more than acquaintances. This special little village we share with others in their 3rd chapter of life is home for the winter and that’s not a bad place to be!

Name 5 more songs that have the word “sun” in their title. My favorites are:

Sunshine, Reggae

Aquarius, Let the Sunshine

Might as Well Be Walking on the Sun

Walking on Sunshine

Here Comes The Sun (who doesn’t love this song?)

If the sun wasn’t so important to us, would there be so many songs written about it?  I think not!

 

Today’s Takeaway…

-If you can get away for the winter, go!  If it’s a month or several, the respite and change of scenery will do you good.

-Life will still be there when you get back and let’s face it, who doesn’t look good with a tan!!

Enjoy the Ride

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

 

 

 

Of Push-Ups and Pull-Ups: Goal Setting for 2019

One of the joys of blog writing is exposure to other people’s posts. Alanna, a poet-blogger, recently wrote about the  “The Art of Getting Out of Bed”.  I love that title.  And I think it summarizes my goal setting agenda for the New Year.

Setting the bar a wee bit low, you may be thinking.

I agree.  Not the loftiest of goals.

And certainly not in the same vein as my goals of prior years —

Meditate for 30 minutes every morning; read a book a week; write that novel, learn to cook, speak Spanish. Read the Bible from front to back.

Hey, why stop there?

Join CrossFit and start weight lifting in earnest.  (Forget those teeny weeny 6-pound barbells; I am ready for the big time.)  Sign up for the Chicago Marathon.  Go to Peru.

As you may surmise, in 2018 I read but a few books  (whose titles I would be challenged to remember).  My novel was not given an iota of  thought; there was no prowess to be had with cooking or Spanish.  And I did not cross CrossFit’s door.  I still can’t do one pull-up; and my arms giggle when I do a push up or two – which I’ve been told by a certain husband are not legitimate.. meaning, not army-grade.  No military school for me.

 

So that brings me back to the art of getting out of bed.

For 2019 my goal is thus —

Before Codie sticks her nose in my face and demands breakfast, I will pause and reflect on what I’m grateful for.  It could be the very dog nose approaching my face; or the cranky 14-year-old shih tzu at the foot of the bed unaware of where she is; or that certain husband of mine who isn’t a fan of my push-ups but is quite the life-companion; for friends old and new, for just plain breathing.

 

I guess 2019 won’t be the year of the Pull-Up or the Army-Grade Push-Up. And CrossFit would be just plain embarrassing.

But hey, in 2019, may I get out of bed with a grateful heart.

And call it a Great Life.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-This is a Get-To life.  We get to spend time with friends, take walks, revel in the mundane such as taking a deep breath.

-Pull-ups are overrated.

 

Enjoy the Ride!  And Happy New Year!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

Mrs. Grossman, is that you???

This is an addendum to the post of several weeks ago about reconnecting through social media.  
The Last Time I Saw You We Were 7!!

 

Mrs. Grossman was one of my favorite teachers of all time. All us girls at P.S. 165 (shout out to the upper west side before it was hip and cool!)  She was 21 at the time and we were her second teaching job ever!  (just learned this recently) She was pretty  and when you think about it not even a full generation removed from us 7 year old girls!

My friend Paula wanted more than anything to reconnect with Mrs. Grossman and she made it her business to find this woman.  Eureka!!  Through the skill of Scott, Paula’s husband he found a phone number and hoped this was the right woman.  Last night Paula had a 2 hour phone conversation with her that was filled with tears of happiness and nostalgia.  The only reason it didn’t go on longer was that Mrs. Grossman’s phone died!

Just as I had said in my previous post, how does one catch up on a hiatus of over 50 years?!  The answer is you can’t. You don’t.  You ask about children, parents, births, marriages, deaths, health.  You let the person know you have thought about them and how much they influenced your life.  Paula actually became a teacher because of 2 people that deeply influenced her.  One was Mrs.  Grossman.  How must that feel to tell someone that they chose their career path because you were a role model.

Mrs. Grossman was so touched and flattered.  She mentioned names of other students from our class that she had recalled and asked if Paula had kept in touch with anyone.  Of course, our own story of reconnection was told.

It brought back for both Paula and me a time of innocence and simplicity.  It made us both happy to talk about the effect this one gesture, a phone call had on the life of a woman who we still remembered.

One person can have a dramatic effect on another human being.  In Paula’s case she saw Mrs. Grossman as the teacher she might be one day.

My dear blogging partner, Barclay, became a wonderful reading specialist.  Not sure who her influence might have been or even if there was one.  I have no doubt she was  nurturing and passionate  in her career  leaving an indelible impression on many young children.

Today’s Takeaway

-People are effected and influenced differently.  We all have the ability to shape an opinion, an impression and shouldn’t diminish what we bring into this world.

-Lest I get too serious and philosophical, I have included my (and Paula’s) 2nd grade class picture which features my Mamie Eisenhower bangs!  Who knows, perhaps skirts with straps will make a comeback and pixie haircuts with Mamie bangs!  They tell me fashion is cyclical!

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

Letting Go

Thanksgiving is over and I’m driving my daughter home. The car pulls up to her apartment.  There’s a quick hug. “Keep in touch!” I say as she bolts from the car. “Yeah…mom…keep in touch.”

After holiday togetherness, I fight sadness with saying good-bye.  And I am fortunate that – presently- my daughter, son, and daughter in law live close by.

But they have their own lives.

As they should.

Why do I cling to moments when we are under the same roof?  Why is letting-go so hard?

Richard Rohr says that “All spirituality is about letting go.”  (I think he means LIFE itself is about letting go.)

Father Rohr would probably recommend that Clingers like me investigate the spiritual discipline of Detachment.  In The Power of Spiritual Detachment we are told more about this ancient practice,

Spiritual detachment is a process that frees us from whatever interferes with our spiritual growth. Detachment helps us avoid disordered inclinations and relationships with persons or things. Detachment can help us avoid negative memories and thoughts that keep us from God’s love.”

So what does this look like?

For me, it means letting go (or detaching) from that which I can’t hold on to – so that I can grab (or attach) to that which is eternal, to God Himself, who actually may not be repelled by my abject clinginess.

I am a slow learner though.  But I do know one thing..

When cars pull away from apartment doors. when hugs dispatch in front of  bustling United terminals – that’s when the practice of Detachment comes in handy.  That’s when I need to reach out and attach to the hand of God.

Who thankfully is reaching toward me.

 

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Barclay and I are so in tune with each other on this topic.  It is especially hard for me to let go as well. Like a true Cancer (my astrological sign) I am tenacious, a lover of home and hearth, and slow ( I mean slow!) to accept that life isn’t what it used to be!

I love being with my daughters and am blessed to have one of them living with us (still!  re-read “The Boomerang Daughter” for clarity) I know that there is a reason she is with me now.  It could be she will move to a foreign country for her career or marry someone from abroad. I have always believed that things happen for a reason, though we may not understand the why’s until many years later.  There is a bigger plan and if you believe in a higher being, then trust that the pieces of the puzzle will be revealed in due time.

Many of my friends who have grown children have been able to let go because their offspring are engaged or married. If they haven’t entered into that next phase of life (mine have not), then you (make that me) tend to see them as an extension of their younger selves. So my goal, as a Jewish mother is to hover ever so lightly, trying to loosen the reins as much as my personality will allow, and hope that they tell me when I have stepped out of line!

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-It turns out that if you pay for dinner or for vacations, the whole family will come!  Something to think about!

-If a roll of the eyeball is directed at you, if your grown child has to peel himself away from your hug, if  a stray tear is seen rolling down your cheek – well, as Joy says, it’s time to loosen those reins lest your kids run, not walk, in the other direction.

-If you need some sappiness in your life, just park yourself in front of the Hallmark channel with a glass of wine in hand.

Disclaimer-We know this is what we should be doing.  This does not mean we’re very good at practicing it!

Enjoy the Ride

xox

Barclay and Joy

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Brain on Games

My mother was a NY Times Crossword Puzzle snob.  She tackled the Sunday edition in pen, disdaining anyone looking over her shoulder offering lame suggestions.  She used the “e word” liberally  — “Oh Barclay, really, it’s so easy.”  Which of course left you feeling completely stupid when 1 Across through 5 Down were as blank as your brain.

But lest we be too hard on Peggy, many of us may have some puzzle-snobism within – (though never uttering the e-word).  Brett is a Jumbles Expert —  who sees beyond LOUEDM and REFTER to their real-word counterparts  – something I am in awe of.  (**Answers provided at  the end of this post; give it a go; I dare you!)

My friend, Debbie, is a Suduko expert; Michelle a crossword aficionado a al Peggy.

I am the master of none.

Sudokos leave me feeling stupid; Crossword puzzles must have the word, EASY, emblazoned on them; and Jumbles — well, all I see is REFTER which clearly describes a person who likes “refting”.

And witnessing me try to parallel park will have you chuckling for days.  (Ask my friend, Jeanne).

But the good news is that we can improve our skills and our brains will be the better for it – particularly if we play different types of brain games.

Dr. Gary Small of the UCLA Longevity Center says, “Just as you’d lift weights AND do cardio, you can maximize cognitive fitness with various types of exercise”.  By “exercise” he means brain games which we rotate according to their targeted focus.

Language: Jumbles, Scrabble

Visual-Spatial: Mazes, Jigsaws

Problem Solving: Chess, Sudoku, Logic games

Memory and Concentration: Trivial Pursuit, Candy Crush

 

 

 

Interestingly, I’ve noticed at the nursing home I visit with Codie, the older folks who seem the most engaged are those who are cradling a Crossword or a Word Search, who never miss a Jeopardy or a Wheel of Fortune.  These folks also prefer books with large print to TV unending.

And one more thing about games, they are FUN.  They provide challenge, satisfaction, a sense of control.

And they just may help in remembering where your keys are (hopefully not in the freezer) or the name of that neighbor of 15 years.

Plus they may provide a chuckle or two — as you “reft” onward.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Find a puzzle to tackle today.  There’s no shame in looking for the word, EASY!

-Celebrate your progress.  I have completed ONE Suduko,  Yes, one.  But I will drink to that!

 

Enjoy the DEIR***!

xox  Barclay and Joy

 

 

** muddle; ferret

*** RIDE

 

Got a minute?  Oprah.com offers this challenge —

Changing Words (language)

Begin with WALL and change one letter at a time until you get to FIRM. Each change has to create an actual word.

WALL

____
____
____

FIRM

14,600 dinners and counting!!!

Just like the lyrics from “Seasons of Love”, Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes, (from the musical Rent, in case it’s a question on Jeopardy) I figure I have prepared at least 14,600 dinners over a 41 year marriage!!!!!!!  Not even counting breakfast or lunch!

My husband, being very thoughtful decided to try one of these meal plans that delivers to the home relieving me (for at least a couple of dinners) of this tedious chore!  Don’t get me wrong.  I love to cook, make new recipes, experiment, but having to get dinner on the table every night is pure drudgery! (along side grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, etc!)

We had tried every meal plan under the sun for our younger daughter who has no interest in cooking. Her New York City size kitchen doesn’t offer much counter space so I get that it’s not easy to prepare food. Her solution to meal preparing, as it is for many New York City apt dwellers is Seamless, otherwise known as take out! I digress since this post is about my husband and I in our attempt to make dinner together.

My husband opted for a company called Plated (www.plated.com) that sends you all the ingredients cut up in nice little packages including spices and a lovely recipe card in color!  Don’t look at the calories because for some reason every dinner is in the 600-900 range. This was something we could do together while at the same time putting sustenance in our bodies!

It brought to mind  the time, as newly weds, we attempted to wall paper one wall for effect in our hallway.  Mind you, this was not even an entire room, but rather one wall!  It was a disaster fraught with yelling at each other, tears, and blaming one another for wrinkles in the pattern. We never wall papered together again! (nor painted, nor shared in any fix it projects in the house for the 25 years we lived in suburbia) In an apartment you call the super!  In a house, you pay for someone to do it for you!  Not related!

With me on one side of the counter and my husband on the other we share the tasks at hand for preparing Chicken Caprese.  Sautéing, roasting, a little more dicing, tasting, a glass of vino  along side.  Maybe, this was what was needed.  A new approach to dinner preparation, one that I was resistant to at first, turned out to be fun! I did my part and he did his to create something yummy, nutritionally balanced, and  required no scouring recipes on the internet!

So I still prepare a few dinners on my  own, unassisted (with our agreement being, if I cook, he cleans up and if he cooks, I clean) Taking a couple dinners off my plate makes me feel freer, breaks me out of my mold.  I’m learning, albeit slowly, that I don’t have to do things the same way I did before.  As my daughter Morgan always tells me, I make dinner the way my mother did.  Potato (a starch), veggies (my mother used Bird’s Eye frozen-hey, it was the 1960’s!) and chicken or steak or maybe even liver and onions! I steam vegetables to preserve their vitamins ,bake sweet potatoes rather than white Idahos, and grill  chicken that has been lovingly cared for in the Hudson Valley!

Today’s Takeaway…

. Do something fun with your spouse.  Preparing meals can be so routine. Spice it up and try one of these plans that can make dinner an enjoyable experience!

. Leave the wall papering to a professional!

. Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Home Chef- the Ubers of meal plans!

Enjoy the Ride

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

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