Expect laughter! Expect learning! Expect lasting ideas!

 

 

 

 

 

7A372605-D1B9-4803-ABA2-A0BA97B220F4I’m not just writing the book. I’m living it. Yes, research is necessary, but…geesh.

On Tuesday night, Jeff drove me to St. Louis to the airport.  I usually take myself, but he was evaluating the car’s highway behavior. My Thursday presentation in Virginia Beach, VA was the destination. Take off was 9:14 a.m. Wednesday. We were in no real rush. We just wanted dinner before bed. 

Before locking the house, I checked for lights, phones and chargers – oh, and Lily White, the black Lab, needed food an water. The two hour drive was uneventful, as was hotel check-in. Lombardo’s fed us well and has the best dipping oil in the Western Hemisphere.

We went to get our luggage from the car. Jeff grabbed his.

“Where’s mine?” I asked. 

It was hard to see inside the dark car and lighting wasn’t great. Still, my royal blue roller bag should’ve been obvious. Except it wasn’t. I’d forgotten to carry it out of the house while checking everything else.

We looked at each other and knew instinctively. We were NOT driving two hours each way for Bobbe’s bag. That meant two nights and two days without stuff. Nice. 

How could this work? 

I needed a mental moment.

We were shocked at my reaction, mostly because there wasn’t much of one.

Inventory assessment lasted through the night. Make-up: check. Toothbrush: check. Medications: check. Spare pair of underwear: check-check. Mom taught me that. As for clothes, the suit I’d worn to work, could work for my Virginia work. Fortunately, I hadn’t changed before leaving town. Nobody would know I’d forgotten my suitcase. What I didn’t have was, well, anything else.

WAIT! There were clothes in the car. I had taken extra clothes to the gym Saturday: long  t-shirt dress, jean jacket, swimsuit, flip-flops and (clean) workout socks. I know. Only me. There was a t-shirt for the Salvation Army in the car, but it came with me instead.

Why on earth would I have these clothes in the car? My sister’s pool was closing that previous weekend. Before plans changed, I was going to help. Fortunately, I never removed the clothing from the car. I would make do. Or shop. This could work. 

Then there were my program materials. I had a few items with me. Other props were in the suitcase. If there was a Walgreens nearby, that could work. Uh-oh. I had forgotten little cards needed for my program, but the print shop from home emailed the file. Office Depot was near the hotel. Things were looking up, with a bit of hustle.

7:00 p.m. The order was ready. But, and this is a BIG but, one card was two-sided, except Office Depot’s printer broke. Instead, they printed the sides on separate sheets instead. This called for a scissors, glue stick and several hours of assembly.

11:00 p.m. I’d glued fifty cards together.  Time for lights out.  Hopefully, my body clock would remain on central time so I wouldn’t be tired. I could glue the remaining fronts to backs in the morning, prior to my 8:15 presentation. (If you attended my presentation, this explains why those “Stress No Evil” cards were thick little devils!)

Family and friends suggested shopping for clothing I need. I exercised restraint and settled for a new top to work with what I had. It seemed wrong to reward my forgetfulness – or what Jeff calls, “lack of focus” – with a shopping spree. 

Do you know that traveling light was great? I felt like a minimalist. Rick Steves, the travel guru, might be impressed. But I doubt it.

Before returning the rental car to the airport for my departure, it steered me to the beach. The clouds were heavy and gray. The wind blew sand continuously on a cool day. But when oceans are THAT close, they always cry, “Bobbeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

The waves repeatedly slapped the shore.  Noisy fighter planes roared overhead. Blowing sand stung me from every direction. Even so, my beach fix was satisfied. Meanwhile, Jeff sent a picture of my suitcase standing in the middle of our family room. Lily wasn’t sure if I’d left or not. Before long I’d return home, as I’d left it. With very little.

Very little clothing.

Very little replacement purchases.

Very little angst.

And most importantly, very little angst.

It felt like this was a small victory, especially when compared to different reactions from earlier stages of my life. There are times when we lament growing older. But they are leveled off with moments like these which make me thankful to have reached this age and stage.

And I didn’t even need my swimsuit. Go figure.

 

Cheer Up? About What?

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After finishing an interview on this subject, it became clear that I had a lot more resources for feeling cheerier than I remember to tap into sometimes. If this is a feeling you can relate to, then here are my top ten-ish ideas.

It seemed logical to divide the ideas by locale: inside or outside.
Inside activities to cheer you up:
1. TV/iPad or phone: what are your go-to shows that make you laugh? No News, for starters. Absolutely not! For me, those shows would be Grace and Frankie (Netflix), Friends, Seinfeld, Big Bang Theory, Fehrety, Jimmy Fallon reruns. Go-to movies can work too. mine are Love Actually, The Holiday, Mamma Mia, The Hangover.
2. Mindless hobbies:  I make wine-cork lined serving trays. Don’t ask me why or how it started, but I get swallowed up in this, indoors or outdoors. I’ve even carted the supplies to an outdoor place. It’s a big puzzle. And a conversation starter, which is kind of fun for the demeanor. Each cork MUST fit. No cutting. It’s oddly satisfying and makes me happy, even to do it for a short time. People will always stop and comment and by watching they become engaged. I also have a loom on which I make infinity scarves out of yarn. Again, you just get lost in it and it is a happy lost.
3. Puppies and babies: nothing cheers up our staff at work than when either of these living things enter our lobby. They are like magnets of joy! Toddlers work too. We have a coloring table and a coloring cardboard house. There have been a few times when a child has asked another employee or me to sit down and color with them. It is absolutely the best to color again! Not to mention, getting paid to do it!?
Puppies can also be grown dogs, in my opinion. I love communities where dogs are hanging out with their humans at outdoor cafes. It’s a must to go over and ask if they can be petted. There’s no drug like a natural endorphin to bring cheer to us – almost instantaneously. Same with Babies. I don’t care if I get to hold them or not, but just let me touch a baby toe or that soft place under their chin, or a cheek and here come the endorphins!
If you have a pup to walk, you will have other people acknowledge you, especially if your dog is good looking or funny looking. When I walk my Lab or my grand-dogs, both beautiful, black Labs, people admire them. Most children ask to pet my dog. If that doesn’t add cheer to your day, I don’t know what will! Also, when you walk try to imagine the pure, simple joy a pet or child has to being walked or strolled outside. So much to take in, sniff, or touch.
Perhaps you’re a cat person. I don’t know too much about that genre, but I suppose it has many of the same properties, although it would be great if more people would leash their cats, like we do our dogs!
For a really feel good pet event, there is the Mutt Strut fundraiser this weekend for the Humane Society. It’s like stepping into Dr. Seuss’ book, “Go Dogs, Go!” It’s a dog fest.
4. No pets? Okay, fine, just walk outside by yourself. There’s nothing better than the great outdoors even in off-weather. Check out that sky, whether it’s clear or clouded! They don’t call it, “The Great Outdoors” for nothing. Do you ever hear it referred to as, “The Mediocre Outdoors?” Nope. 
 
Sometimes getting out of the house is equivalent to getting out of your head. If I can coordinate a walk with a friend who is fun or funny, that’s a win-win. 
Other ideas:
5. Go to the gym. If there is noise and people, the activity makes me feel good. I don’t even have to break a sweat! If it’s not a positively charged place, find a new gym.
6. Get to some water. Sitting by a pool, a pond, lake or ocean does something magical to me. The constant movement are happy laps of water I guess. I just love water. I even love the Gulf of Mexico when a storm is brewing out to sea! It’s the best! My dream some day is to live close enough to a body of water that I can drink my morning coffee on the porch or deck and look at the water. Currently, we just have a plastic blue baby pool for our dog. She thinks it’s her water bowl. A baby pool is a start, but I want the real deal.
7. Classes in general: art, clay, or physical exercise. My latest indulgence is Pound-fit class. We use drumsticks, called “Ripsticks”, because apparently, if we do this class long enough, we’re going to be ripped. But I doubt it. The instructor plays great music and we keep beat to it with cardio and strengthening moves. Best thing is the movements can be done from a standing position, to a mat on the floor, to a chair. Any level can engage. Last week, I tried a virtual class for the first time. I picked barre class. A ballerina I am not, but it was actually fun and very difficult. Of course, looking at myself in the mirror in gym shorts and sneakers, hardly mimicked the beautiful svelte ballerina instructors on the screen. Big deal. There was music. There was movement. I left feeling happier.
8. Grabbing a great morning coffee cheers me up. It can be out of our own kitchen or it can be a specialty coffee at a shop. The key is that I do not go every day. For one thing, that gets expensive. For another thing, any activity ceases to be special if done repeatedly.
A common thread through finding joy and feeling cheered up is variety. 
9. One time, a friend and I attended a drum therapy session. I felt absolutely ridiculous, but there was something about the effort and the noise and picking a different instrument for each song. Nobody judged and nobody laughed at me. Except me. Yes, it took guts to do something quite outrageous (for me), but that’s what a buddy’s for.
10. Haircuts, facials, manis and pedis: I completely love my monthly haircut. Kris is always upbeat and we have some of the most interesting conversations. Same with Carol, when I get my brows done. When she finishes, she takes a final look and pronounces my eyebrows, “ABSOLUTELY PERFECT!” How can you leave not feeling better? Sometimes she puts makeup on my eyes or a new color of lipstick on me. Then I feel glamorous. I remember when my mother was held hostage (not literally) by her hair stylist. She didn’t enjoy going every Friday, but she couldn’t quit her. It was like a bad date that you kept going out with. I would never settle and neither should you.
If you’re paying good money to look or feel better, then make sure the environment isn’t toxic. 
 
11. Nursing homes are another place that can make you feel better. When I go to visit my mother there is always that tug on my gut before I get inside the home. Let’s face it, nobody wants to live in one and/or visit one, but we must, so we do. I make a point to say, “Hello,” to every resident and staff I encounter. Because most residents are in wheelchairs, where Mom lives, a lot of people look right over them. They will greet you back (if they can). I don’t care if they’re comatose, I’ll say, “Hello.” It cheers me up to think I may have added a teaspoon of cheer to their day, just by acknowledging them.
It’s the little things that can be the big things and that’s the main thing!
For now, I’ve got to go to work, where I’m guaranteed to find some cheer, because of the people with whom I work. I’ve already walked the black Lab, Lily White, and she’s laying halfway inside and outside the sliding glass door. She’s sniffing the air and has her ears tuned to the birds. After writing this piece, I do believe there is a special coffee waiting for me somewhere on the way to work!
Here’s to cheer!
Bobbe
Sent from my iPad

 

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Like most major events, the moon landing and Neil Armstrong’s walk is firmly ingrained in our brains. We remember where we were and what we were doing. We remember what time of day it was. Me? Here’s what was going on…

The place:  Lane 3 at Sheridan Swim Club’s annual invitational meet. The time:  3:18 P.M. (CST) The weather:  hot, sunny, miserable for parents in the stands. The activity: Me, slogging through the 400 yd. Individual Medley (IM) 100 yds. each stroke: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. The results: Dead last. I knew this wouldn’t be my stellar event. First, I was a sprinter; 100yd. IM was more my speed. Second, before the race, the P.A. announcer said the landing would be aired momentarily.  And I’m going to be underwater. Fantastic. By the fifth of eight laps of this race, I lagged behind, thanks to breaststroke. I swam breaststroke like Myrtle the turtle. That day, my stroke was even more turtle-like, because I swam with my ears above water. (The better to hear the broadcast.) See photo above. My hope was that it would appear as if an effort was still being made. I failed miserably because I just could not miss history in the making. Coach was less than pleased to see the results, but I’d totally justified it in my mind. Sometimes you just have to keep your head above water, you know?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

So, what were YOU doing? Where were you? What do you recall if you were near a radio or television? I’d love to hear from you and will compile a list. I’d bet my last dollar you can remember, if you were old enough, that is.  bw

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First, thank you for remembering mine! Yep, yesterday I turned 64-ish. Give or take an ish. When I was a little kid, birthdays came and went without a blip on the screen. Oh, wait, ha, we didn’t have screens.  In the 60’s and 70’s, I didn’t even get to take birthday treats to school. It was during summer break. As a kid, that stinks. Now, at least, some teachers allow treats on half-birthdays, which is a start. Sometimes schools have everyone bring treats on the same day for summer birthdays. Well, geez, what fun is THAT to have your birthday smooshed in with everybody else’s?

Then came FaceBook. The universe answered every summer birthday person’s invisibility. We did a 180, from when nobody knew to the Billboard Effect! Except for Jeff, of course, who put the wrong birthday on his profile…

While there are tons of reasons I abhor Facebook, there aren’t many reasons for Facebook better than birthdays. Why? Well, there was this one guy. He pretty much nailed Facebook in 1943. They just didn’t call it that. It was TriangleBook. A/K/A Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. 

Once you get basic junk met, like survival and safety, you step right up to TriangleBook: love, belonging, community/inclusion. If that’s not enough lovin’, level up to Ego, which includes little gems like self-esteem, power, recognition and prestige. That dude really got it. Hence, TriangleBook or FaceBook. Or MyFace, or FaceSpace as our parents would call it. 

Today greeting card inventories turn over slower than a table at Cracker Barrel on Sunday morning. I get it. I still love sending cards. I’m a noter, by nature. I love receiving cards…early, late, whenever. Who doesn’t? I have to say, however, getting gobs of birthday posts are simply the best! I’m going to step up my game and pay even more attention to other’s birthday alerts, because I know how much fun it is to be on the receiving end. 

Thank you from the bottom of my triangle. BW

Boob Cups & Sandbags

Too many things bubbling to the surface this week, so we’ll touch two topics briefly!

Boob Cups

Early June always reminds me of the summer of 1967 at Sheridan Swim Club. I was a budding twelve year old; that time in life between child and young adult. Frustratingly, your mind and body can’t pick a lane. Mom bought me a brown & pink dotted Swiss bikini. An apron was velcroed under my wannabe-bust, in case I wanted to cover the stomach. The bra was slightly padded. Seems like an unremarkable memory, right? It was. Until I overheard this freshman, Patti say, “Did you guys see Bobbe’s Big Boob Cups?!?!” OH MY DOTTED-SWISS SAVIOR! I was mortified. Were they THAT ginormous? Did my boob cups surface before surface in the water before the rest of me? 

She was poking fun at me. And I’d bet my bottom dollar that if she poked one of my boob cups, it would dent, because you can’t fool Mother Busture. And they wonder why young girls struggle with their bodies…  To this day, when I try on swimsuits, my eyes go right to the boob cubs. Do we ever heal from snide remarks? Not fully, no. Be kind when commenting. A vulnerable person may be within earshot. Possibly boob shot, which is what I wanted to do with both boob cups.

Sandbags

On a totally unrelated topic, the National Guard showed up Saturday to help make and distribute sandbags. If unfamiliar, bags help shore up river levees to keep rivers in their banks. The need was great; 130,000 bags requested on JUST Sunday. And I couldn’t help. I’d overachieved edging the yard by opting for a $24.95 shovel (19.95 with ACE coupon).

Maybe it was the repetitive jumping on the shovel, bending over to scoop dirt or to realign our 12” sidewalk stones. YouTube made hand edging look like easy. Plus, I was a physical beast, so why not? Ohhhhhh, I don’t know. Because I’m 63 11/12? Because I’ve never done it before? YouTube lied. As for my shovel, I’d like to shove the shovel up ACE Hardware shovel manager’s keister. Or maybe shove some common sense into my head. Hundred’s of physical therapy dollars later, I’m recovering, slowly.  Grrrrrrrr.

Instead, I volunteered at the check-in desk last Sunday, to help. It was fun. The city lifted the age limit. Children of all ages could help with parents or guardians. There were baseball clubs, church groups and gobs of families. Adults with children had designated sand piles so they wouldn’t interfere with the heavy duty sand baggers. I mean, kids will be kids…  “He threw sand on me!”  “I’m hot!” “It’s so hard.” “I’m done!” You know, the same thing the adults are thinking, but powering through it all. But, God bless them, they helped! No matter if they shoveled a teaspoon of sand or a mountain, they helped. And that’s where community pride begins.

Last night, I helped the Salvation Army serve the Guardsmen dinner at Quincy University. Again, it was fun to help. And these men and women are so darn appreciative and respectful. When the call arises, please answer your community. You’ll not want a minute of it back. Hey, wait, maybe I could fill the boob cups with baby sandbags…   Oh, this brain. BW

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It wasn’t a new year’s resolution, but 2019 has turned out to be the “Year of the Friend” visits around the country. The only reason it happened is this: I invited myself. Ugh. I can hardly write about these impositions. Mom is, no doubt, rolling her eyes out loud at me, because people with manners just don’t do this. I’m a little sorry, but not a lot sorry, because I got to mix some biz with pleasure and spend time with really great friends.

My destinations included humans – and a few hounds – ages 4 weeks old to 94. The overall theme of these travels was, “If not now, when?” I’ve learned that with major miles and busy lifestyles among us, most people won’t outright invite others. I really don’t either, really. We all just assume, “They should know they’re welcome.”  They haven’t met my mother, “Not until you’re invited, Young Lady!”

When imposing on others, I tried hard to abide by these ten tips. (My hosts may be rolling their own eyes after reading my intentions below…!)

  1. Offer a few dates you could visit. Fortunately, I have honest friends who tell me when it’s inconvenient to visit.
  2. Limit your stay to two days. I thought it was Mom’s rule, but just learned it’s not.   “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”   Benjamin Franklin
  3. Be a good guest. This includes bed made and room(s) tidied daily, particularly the bathroom. ESPECIALLY the bathroom.
  4. Be gracious. Come bearing gift(s) or follow up promptly. If there’s a young child in the home, take a book or tiny toy. (Side bar: just found out that I mailed my thank you note to Christine and Family to Debbie’s house.  Oh, Bobbe…)
  5. Be cooperative. If there is a 6:45 p.m. dinner reservation, do whatever it takes to be ready…FIRST.  Thou shall not wait on you!
  6. Be agreeable. They want to go bowling and eat pizza. You’d hoped for TopGolf and Tacos. Toughen up Taco Head. Go with it.
  7. House rules rule! I noted in 75% of the homes where I stayed. (Okay, 3 of 4) shoes were left by the door. Once inside, it’s best to ask before you tromp through their house.
  8. Assess your pajamas. For some of you that may even mean, “GET SOME PAJAMAS!” Perhaps you sleep in bikini briefs, boxers or bare bottom. This doesn’t mean everyone does. Cover up buttercup. Oh, and while dressing, SHUT. THE. DOOR. You never know who might pop in. Awkward!
  9. Spring for a meal. They’ll say, “No!” You say, “Yes!” Personally, I hate food funding fights, so I’ve gotten quite sly about handing off my credit card to the waiter unnoticed. I figure it’s the least I can do in exchange for lodging. #needtips?
  10. Be self-sufficient, on both arrival and departure.  This may include Lyft, Uber or car rental. Your hosts and hostesses appreciate not having to fetch you, although some will insist. On the other end, I’ve found that my friends are more than happy to return me to the airport. Hmmmm, what’s that fishy smell? Oh, ha-ha, It’s me! Bye, bye!
  11. BONUS TIP: Board Bob the Beagle. Don’t even think of showing up with extra people or pets, unless encouraged. That is just rude. Ruff ruff!

My friend, Christine, said something which made me feel much better about inviting myself, “How can you invite yourself if the door is always open?” I like that philosophy. A lot. Hear that one, Mom? Is this new age hospitality?

Thank you, thank you, from Denver to Dallas to Charlotte. There was a common denomination among you all: loads of laughter. My emotional tank is now full to the brim. Thanks for the fill-ups, Friends! You all were grand hosts, I can only hope I was as grand of a guest. Bw

 

As some of you saw on social media, I actually went out Saturday night. That in itself is unusual. The fact that it was St. Pat’s Eve made it improbable. Yet, I went. I had to wear teal, which is the closest color to green that I own. I do have a kelly green wristlet, compliments of Mary Beth McGee, but it was a bit dressy for the bar.

My Hannibal pal, Lisa, told me at T-minus two hours, that The Scott-Free project was the playing at On the Rail. After an hour and a half of  debating,

“Go, don’t go, go, don’t go,” I went.

Lyft dropped me at the door. It’s the best service in town. Call me vain, but I feel like a celebrity when I get out of the Nissan or Toyota. On the other hand, maybe it’s not vanity, but intelligence: smart enough not to drive on a c-rrrrazy night like this and lucky enough to not have to jockey parking places. Also, Quincy is small enough that your wait is minimal…if they can get through the four-way stop at 18th & Broadway, that is. It’s worth every penny. Both ways.

I figured that it had been several decades since I’d experienced St. Pat’s revelry. Here’s what I learned:

1. Everybody’s Irish on a bar-crawl.

2. Tu-tus are not just for dance recitals anymore.

3. Green beer’s not bad.

4. Nobody drinks green wine or vodka. (But couldn’t we?)

5. Every song the band played was by an Irish group: this included, Credence Clearwater Revival, The Eagles, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Nobody chose to prove them wrong. Who cared? The music by The Scott-Free Project is always excellent.

I asked Scott what the name of his project meant. He explained it to me:

“It means that when I used to be in a band, we would all have to agree on what songs to play. Now that I am rolling solo, or with one other musician, I am free to play what I want.”

What a great approach, right? Why don’t we all be our own free projects and do what makes us happy(ier)? It means that you’ve got to be bolder, gutsier and riskier. And when bar-hoppers request songs that you don’t know, just play them something they’ll enjoy just as much. My personal favorite is “Bathroom on the Right.” Also known as “Bad Moon on the Rise”. And what was REALLY funny, the bathroom IS on the right! (Make that stage right…)

It’s not always easy being the headliner. They’re musicians, comedians, and overall crowd pleasers. I have no idea how much musicians make for three hours in our local bars, but I sure hope you tip them on your way out. They earn every cent. Just like your Lyft driver.

Here’s hoping you had a spirited St. Patty’s holiday, when everything turns green. What a perfect time of year for a much needed holiday, even for those of us who are slightly Irish, if not at all.

O’Bobbe