Boomerang Daughter

Who would have ever thought my (Joy’s) 30 year old daughter would come back and live with us?  After being on her own for the last 7 years, she  made the decision to advance her career with a Master’s degree. I applauded her decision knowing that in her field of non-profit work, an advanced degree was a must to be taken seriously and to earn a better paycheck.  So off she went to live a year in London studying for her Masters of Science.

Super proud of her!  Her  hard work and studying paid off and she earned the accreditation, completing the program in one year. She knew that getting a job in her field and reentering the workforce would not be a slam dunk, even in a robust job market. In our current administration, funding for these types of programs  relevant to her field of study has been sorely impacted. Oh, to be able to start her own foundation and create her own job, but Bill and Melinda Gates we are not, but I digress!

When a millennial child needs a free place to live, enter mom and dad.  I certainly came from the type of home that if ever I needed my mother or father, even as a 30 plus year old person, for any reason at all, they were  there for me.  Naturally, I would want to do the same for mine and have.

The statistics indicate that Boomers have children return to them for all sorts of reasons. For the first time in more than 130 years, young adult children ages 18-34 are more likely to live with their parents than in any other  living situation, according to an analysis by The Pew Research Center. An astounding 32.1% live in their parent’s home with the statistic for male children being even higher at 35%.

Economics are a big contributor.  In major cities a studio apartment (less than 600 sq.feet) can run  $3,000 per month — that coupled with staggering amounts of student loan debt, and it is no easy task to launch a child.  And  keep her  launched! As the saying goes, ‘’The best laid plans…” or “Shit happens”!

On the plus side, this is truly a wonderful opportunity to connect with your adult child whom you may not have spent long quality time with for a while. In my case, this has been a treasured benefit, getting to know this person again, to remember the funny things you share in everyday life, the nuances, her wry smile, her sing-song way of talking to the dog, her laughter. She makes me some concoction of natural herbs to help me sleep, binge watches a tv series with me, occasionally lets me in on a private thought or asks for guidance.  This is special and will be tucked away as a memory that only we share.

On the negative side, you are now sharing a home – there’s the lack of privacy, (not that we are romping around naked or anything like that! I’m a Jewish girl!), the cleaning of the stove, preparation of meals. Who does what — putting gas in the car, picking up clothes, you get the picture.
My husband being totally obsessive about our new high-end stove watches her every move and makes visual grimaces as she fries her veggie burger.  Will the grease splatter across the highly polished stainless steel? What will she do about it? He drives me crazy with this type of Felix Unger behavior and knowing that this is a potentially explosive situation for argument, I try to be the go between.  Really, did anyone ever die of grease on their stove?!! This is what happens when you pair a neat freak and a “ I can take care of that in the morning person”!

 

The lesson to be learned is that three grown people are now trying to live under the same roof, one that was meant for two, (sold the house, bought the next chapter in life house for the two of us).  Throw in a senior citizen canine, 15 ½ years old, pooping randomly, plus a refugee puppy adopted from Mexico and you’ve  got the makings of a sitcom that Norman Lear might have created!

 

I am thrilled to have my first-born home, even if it’s a temporary blip on the road back to independence and she can stay for as long as she wants or needs.  The opportunity to sock money away when she is gainfully employed is very tempting and something I am more than happy to offer.

Nothing in life is permanent, as they say, except death and taxes, so for now this is the new dynamic.

 

I will look back fondly on this time of life when my Boomerang child returned and know it was meant to happen in this way. As always, the most colorful words tell it best in Yiddish, bashert!

 

Today’s Takeaway—

. Accept life’s little surprises as a sign from the heavens. Be happy for the time you didn’t expect with your adult children.

. They’re not in high school anymore.  Let them have their space and learn from them. My knowledge of pop culture, music, tv, jargon, comes from them.  That’s how I stay a cool, hip mom!

P.S- She got a permanent position in her field!

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

Dog Withdrawal

Don’t get me wrong, I (Joy) love my children dearly and miss them very much while I am wintering in Mexico.  My fur children though have those sad eyes looking up at you from photos. They  wonder why they were left up North in the cold! What did I do to deserve this?

We love our pets! We talk to them as if they are human, we tell them our deepest thoughts, our problems, our secrets.  (They’re very good at keeping them to themselves)

78 million dogs and 85.8 million cats are owned in the U.S.  Approx. 44% of all households in the U.S. have a dog and 35% own cats.  They provide warmth on a cold night, a pillow to lean on, and a body to cry on.

We left for our first winter in Mexico last year with our then 14 year old schnoodle Colby.  With his arthritis setting in, hearing loss, and cataracts, I thought the warm semi tropical sun would do him good.  After a 5 hour plane ride, Colby found himself in Mexico, a strange place for a little guy not too far off the ground.  The cobblestone streets were not comfortable on his little foot pads and he never seemed to settle in. It certainly beat trudging through the 3 feet of snow we got last March in upstate New York, but it wasn’t home for Colby.

Dogs are everywhere here in Mexico. It is a huge problem with strays on every corner.  Thankfully through the efforts of a large expat community active in rescue, there are many no kill shelters that scoop them up and care for them until they are adopted. It’s a wonderful mission and many dogs make it to the US as adoptees.

Last February, almost a year ago, I fell in love with a Mexican mutt.  The Ranch, one of our local shelters was holding an adoption day. I had no intention of getting a second dog, but I made my husband stop and look anyway.  One dog caught my eye.  He had been neutered the day before and was groggy and limp.  I asked to hold him and fell in love! He was so sweet and took to my arms easily and readily. I was smitten.  Before I knew it (with my husband dumbfounded) I had offered my name and contact details for adoption of this Mexican perro.

He came to be known as Winston, although my daughter thought he would be better suited to Rodrigo, so he became Winston Rodrigo Estaban! Nice ring to it.

This year my husband and I decided to leave both Colby and Winston up North and be dog free for the first time in our married lives.  No responsibility, no being awakened at 5 to be let out to pee, no accidents in the house.  Poor Winston has to suffer through his first winter in upstate New York and Colby, well he’s not sure where he is.  Age sucks!

Dog withdrawal is real.  I miss them both.  Pets become a part of us, they get under our skin, they touch our hearts, and they are there through thick and thin. Love them while you can, because they too are only on this earth for a short time.

 

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Winston preparing for Winter shock; Colby wondering where she is!

 

Today’s Takeaway–

  • Pets play a key role in our lives. In retirement, they may be more important than our EPH! Never underestimate the power of a lick!
  • Love them with all your heart and know that they are put on this earth to bring us joy.

 

Enjoy the ride

xox,  Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

Keep Moving!

Peggy was ahead of her time.  Back in the day when women weren’t supposed to sweat, she was dripping wet every morning.  “Barclay,” she’d say. “You must get out of breath once a day.”  Her Bible was the Royal Canadian Air Force Exercise Plans for Physical Fitness.  Naturally she did her sit ups, push ups, jumping jacks in heels.    

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Peggy kept her slim figure intact until the very end.  Even when restricted to her bed, she arranged for a physical trainer to bring over weights and beach balls.   I suspect she was wearing heels under the covers.

“You just have to keep moving!” she’d declare. 

Now the downside to all this is that I grew up to be an exercise fiend.  I completed 15 marathons, played tennis 4-5 times a week, biked, took hot yoga — and sweated my way right into an eating disorder that can still rear its ugly head.  

But Mom was right.  Exercise is key to warding off depression, staying fit, producing endorphins, rebooting energy levels, combating disease. And if it’s a social thing, all the better.  Whereas my mom was relegated to the bedroom (the only acceptable form of exercise for a 1950s female was vacuuming), my world expanded through exercise.    

I met my husband and secured 2 jobs on a tennis court; my ladies doubles group has sprouted a wine group; and  during my brief and unspectacular hockey career, I encountered fascinating women from different backgrounds and orientations. 

So let’s follow Peggy’s advice and keep moving!  Just not in heels!

 

Today’s Takeaway –

 

  • Discover a new sport.  Consider Pickleball — it’s easy to learn and cheap.   It’s the fastest growing racket sport and has Baby Boomer written all over it.

 

  • After exercise, stick around for an adult beverage.  Your workout can lead to friendships you didn’t anticipate with people you wouldn’t otherwise encounter.

 

 

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

When You Find Your Phone in the Refrigerator

And you have zero recollection of putting it there.  You are tempted to blame your husband.  But on the other hand, there is NO way he should ever know about this.  

Nor should he know about the times you wonder where your cell phone is — while you’re talking on said phone to your sister.

Or  the times you stroll down the basement stairs – only to reach the bottom and wonder what the hell you’re doing there.  

Or when you read an entire first chapter, thinking it familiar, only to realize you already read the book.  Not that long ago.

First, don’t panic.  (And don’t ever read the book or see the movie, Still Alice!)  Unless the ketchup routinely ends up in your purse — chances are, this forgetfulness is normal for us baby boomers with our cluttered brains and overtime ruminations.

It is normal to have to go through the mental alphabet to recall a name.  Or to search for the vocabulary word that encapsulates a concept – the one that annoyingly pops into your mind that very night at 4AM taunting you with its easy access- daring you to go back to sleep.

But do we have to accept this new-normal — where the ketchup bottle goes missing?   

Psychology Today cites 8 habits that improve cognitive function:  

Physical Activity

Openness to Experience

Curiosity and Creativity

Social Connections

Mindfulness Meditation

Brain Training Games

Get Enough Sleep

Reduce Chronic Stress 

 

 

Today’s Takeaway  gets a little more practical –

 

  • What if you’re embarrassingly awful at crossword puzzles and you’ve never actually finished a Suduko?  Find a daily mental exercise that suits you.  My dad used to recite the American presidents chronologically – forwards and backwards.

 

 

  • Dictate to  your phone (which hopefully isn’t in the fridge keeping the veggies company) the names, words, songs you tend to forget.  Just knowing you have ready access to them will solidify their recall and give you peace.

 

 

  • Beware of the Bachelorette.  Especially the one in paradise.  Such guilty pleasures (which I, Barclay, indulge in) do not do your brain a service.  Temper your TV binges with audio books, actual books, newspapers, documentaries.  Join a book club.  Hopefully, one that drinks.

 

 

So, do not panic, my baby boomer friends, when the tip of your tongue betrays you.  

After your read this, however, you may want to check the refrigerator shelves for wayward phones and keys.

And then just chuckle.

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox,  Barclay and Joy