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alzHACKer’s disease:  Helpful hacks for improving your communication efforts

Written for WTAD White Pages 4-7-17

Bobbe White

                                                                                                                                                                You’ll eventually know someone with Alzheimer’s disease (A.D.).  Percentages are expected to increase exponentially.  Watching Dad succumb has been educational, at best. At worst, “It aint’ purty.” A day doesn’t pass, when someone doesn’t mention their family is dealing with A.D. Check out these hacks for improving communication.

A dopt a smile before entering their room. (Fake or real, they won’t care.)

L et them lead the conversation, even if it’s nonsensical. If Dad mumbles, I either answer randomly or agree with him. Nobody insists it must make sense.

Z ip your mouth when you get the urge to argue. It’s not worth it. Nobody wins.

H ave your phone handy. Show photos. Play music. It possesses power for persons with various dementias. Select hits from their 18-25 adult years. Observe their reaction. Some music sparks happy memories, some triggers sad ones. Note bobbing head and tapping feet. With Dad, it’s not a tremor. It’s his mojo!

E ngage in conversation around someone with A.D. Even the sound of your voice can be soothing.

I nvest in a baby doll.  Watch someone with A.D. cradle, rock and love it. It’s soothing. I believe there’s an innate sense to feel needed. Even better, bring a real baby or puppy!

M ake eye contact. (Not with the puppy…the person!)

E ncourage staff to share funny situations you may have missed. “Laughter is like a dry diaper. It doesn’t take care of the problem, but it makes it bearable for a while.” Michael Pritchard.

R esolve to sloooooooow your pace. Especially if feeding them! They can’t go from 0 to 110 anymore.

S o, they don’t know you. It stinks. It’s the disease. Dad thinks I’m a waitress. He calls me, “Babe.” (He knows me!) Then I realize he calls everybody, “Babe”. (Sigh…)

Proud Momma Picks a Peck of Pickled Passion

wtad.com/white pages/3.23.17

Bobbe White

Occasionally, we get to witness a person’s passion wiggle up from below the surface of the ground, sprout and bloom.

Yesterday, my co-workers and I listened to Angie Barnes talk about her business, “Momma Bee’s Garden.” No, she doesn’t have bees, but is expecting two hives shortly. (Not literally, of course.)

This is not an advertisement for her produce, but rather, an endorsement of one woman’s passion. She loves growing things. Don’t even offer her a seedling. This woman wants the seeds.  You won’t find any combines harvesting the crops, but you may see children helping. It’s not child labor. The YMCA Kids are digging it.

A lab Med Tech by day at the Quincy Medical Group, Angie utilizes every other waking moment to tend to her 100 varieties of garlic, tomatoes, radishes and etc. Some of  the funkier veggies are foreign to me. Foodies around the Quincy area know about Angie’s green thumb. Heck, she’s got two green thumbs, eight green fingers and ten green toes.

“Do you ever sleep?” I ask her.

“Not very much.” She doesn’t look tired. She looks excited. When she speaks of the local produce beneifts, I want to order a king-sized salad. When Angie tells her sweet zinnia story, I want to send her some. Unfortunately, I’m not sure when zinnia season is. For now, they’re only at Hobby Lobby. Personally,  I wouldn’t think of sending Momma Bee silk flowers.

Momma Bee makes produce educational as well as tantalizing. Check out Momma Bee’s Garden on Facebook for where’s Waldo (Angie) and when, among other useful gardening information. She also designs whimsical note cards (produce theme, natch.) Her photography skill is excellent. Oh, and the word is, She’s a heck of a baker.” She’s the real deal and now I’m hungry.

Congratulations Momma Bee on your little business sprout!  Now, tell me, “What’s YOUR sprout/passion?” I’d love to know. Message me, please!

 

The Newlywed Game – 40 years later

Written for WTAD.COM/WHITE PAGES

3/09/17

Bobbe White

Forty years ago today, on March 9, 1977, Jeff showed up at my Florida apartment in the middle of the night, with a Buick Skylark full of his stuff. And a ring. I was finishing an internship in Winter Park, FL. I figured if went far enough away from ISU, (Illinois State) my supervisor wasn’t likely to pop in on me for a surprise observation. I was correct.  Dr. Meyer never popped in on me, but I never expected Jeff to pick up his life in Quincy and PoP the question at 2:00a.m. We returned to Quincy and a smattering of family and friends, for a living room ceremony March 26, 1977 (yes, three weeks later); then high-tailed it back to Florida for our obligations.

We had a great run those first couple of years. We moved about every six to eight months, by design. When else can you live in multiple cities and move everything you own in two cars?

Along the way, an extra passenger hopped into my car, uninvited. The passenger would hang out in the back seat some of the journey. Sometimes it even in the trunk, and we didn’t know it was there. About 6-8 years later, my extra passenger hopped into the front seat and sometimes, insisted on driving. The extra passenger -or baggage- however you care to look at it, was depression and anxiety. There. I’ve said it. It’s very scary to admit. But it’s very burdensome to not admit. Do you know why? Those of us who have suffered are deathly afraid of the STIGMA. Especially in a small community, where everybody knows your name. Especially somebody like me: high school cheerleader, long-term career gal, the motivational humorist speaker and author, on my own time (a/k/a known as a laughter therapist). Who’d have thunk it?

We’re happy to announce that I’ve been a recovering train wreck since about 2000. If you do the math, our married and family life was burdened by my affliction, or illness, or whatever you want to call it, for years.  To celebrate our anniversary, we will exchange the Hallmark cards and I’ll unwrap a crown of rubies, diamonds and sapphires, no doubt. We’ll take a week-end trip at some point. But, here’s our REAL gift to each other: we’re collaborating on a book about my depression and how it affects the spouse and the house. If you, too, suffer, it’s not just you who suffers. We think we hide it pretty well. Right. It takes a village to move a family through this muckety-muck. Thankfully, with a lot of help, we’re on the other side: still married, still learning about how it’s even possible and with terrific kids, who, thank God, I didn’t damage as much as I’d feared. Our message to those who may read our book someday is a simple one.

There is hope.  There is help. We’re proof.  bw

The Comfort of Travel Routines

Bobbe White

3.2.17

written for wtad.com

itll-do-motel

We recently drove to Denver, for about the 37th time or so. As routes go, there are limited options from Quincy IL to Denver. Whichever way you go, it’s like going to Subway. Order #34; it’s about 7 feet long and 3 feet high. Slice the bread lengthwise down the middle with a saw. Flatten it on a big piece of paper. Squirt a mustard stripe down the middle. That’s your center line. Nothing else goes on it.. And that’s #34. Also known as “the Kansas”, because that’s what the drive is like. Or take the northern route, it’s like ordering #37, a/k/a “The Nebraska”.

They’re aptly named for the order in which they entered the Union. Took us a while to decide if we really wanted them, but some great athletes and comedians came from those states, so the powers said, “Sure, let ’em in.” Anyway, you get the picture. Long, ho-hum, hairy-dog drives.

Each state has a unique place in our routine:

Missouri, Macon McDonald’s: We order the same lunch every single time: Filet-o-Fish medium meal deal, with an extra fish and Southwest Salad. That’s it. Bingo-Bango-Bongo. They never get it right. Ever. Jeff vents about this situation, every time.  “We ought to make every kid in America set up a lemonade stand three times, before working at McDonald’s. They’d learn how to take orders and make change!

After Missouri, is Kansas and our multi-town hotel quest. I have saved the monologue in my phone notes for quick referencing.

1st: Seneca has the Althoffen Inn and McDonald’s, but we’re not tired yet. (Drive on.)

2nd: Washington has the Oak Tree Inn and Casey’s. (Still not tired.)

3rd town: “Belleville’s got squattum”, Jeff says. (We’re a little tired.)

4th: Mankato hasn’t got sh*t!  (Uh-oh.)

5th: Smith Center has a Dollar General, “But that does us no $&?#*% good.” (Somebody’s cranky…)

6th: Phillipsburg has a spankin’ new Rodeway Inn. (Got our second wind. Keep driving.)

7th stop: Norton-“Oh Honey, they’ve got a Dairy Queen! Sleep Inn looks nice.  (But, nope! Onward…)

8th: Oberlin-Oh boy, they’ve got a Chesters and a Subway. Comfort Inn too.

9th: St. Francis-“Look at that!” Jeff says. “The It’ll Do Motel.” Photo opp stop.

I must’ve fallen asleep after that…

We recently drove to Denver, for about the 37th time or so. As routes go, there’re limited options from Quincy IL to Denver. Whichever way you go, it’s like going to Subway. Order #34; it’s about 7 feet long and 3 feet high. Slice the bread lengthwise down the middle with a saw. Flatten it on a big piece of paper. Squirt a mustard stripe down the middle. That’s your center line. Nothing else goes on it.. And that’s #34. Also known as “the Kansas”, because that’s what the drive is like. Or take the northern route, it’s like ordering #37, a/k/a “The Nebraska”.

They’re aptly named for the order in which they entered the Union. Took us a while to decide if we really wanted them, but some great athletes and comedians came from those states, so the powers said, “Sure, let ’em in.” Anyway, you get the picture. Long, ho-hum, hairy-dog drives.

Each state has a unique place in our routine:

Missouri, Macon McDonald’s: We order the same lunch every single time: Filet-o-Fish medium meal deal, with an extra fish and Southwest Salad. That’s it. Bingo-Bango-Bongo. They never get it right. Ever. Jeff vents about this situation, every time.  “We ought to make every kid in America set up a lemonade stand three times, working at McDonald’s. They’d learn how to take orders and make change!

After Missouri, is Kansas and our multi-town hotel quest. I save the monologue in my phone notes for quick referencing.

1st: Seneca has the Althoffen Inn and McDonald’s, but we’re not tired yet. Drive on.

2nd: Washington has the Oak Tree Inn and Casey’s. Still not tired.

3rd town: “Belleville’s got squattum”, Jeff says. We’re a little tired.

4th: Mankato hasn’t got sh*t!  (Uh-oh.)

5th: Smith Center has a Dollar General, “but that does us no $&?#*% good.” (Somebody’s cranky…)

6th: Phillipsburg has a spankin’ new Rodeway Inn. (Got our second wind. Keep driving.)

7th stop: Norton-“Oh Honey, they’ve got a Dairy Queen! Sleep Inn looks nice.  (But, nope! Onward…)

8th: Oberlin-“Oh boy, they’ve got a Chesters and a Subway. Comfort Inn too.”

9th: St. Francis-“Look at that!” Jeff says. “The It’ll Do Motel.” Photo opp stop.

I must’ve fallen asleep after that…

Colorado: Giddy-up! We stop at the first and only gas station in the Colorado plains. The Rockies are still hours away. Looks like Kansas. We request the restroom keys. It’s seriously attached to a billy club. I feel like a Bobbe, the London Bobby, with a billy. “Who’d want it?” we ask the clerk. She says we’d be surprised.

Fast forward three days and the man at the Denver Residence Inn desk asks, “Leaving already?”

“We only reserved two nights…”

“Hmmmm,” he says. I just remember you two. (Really?) We blink at him.

“I remember people who talk to me.” He says to us. We love this place.

“We’ll be back!”

We head home and stop at the same cafe near the Colorado-Kansas border. I don’t even recall the town, at this point. All we know is, the woman who is owner/waitress/cook is still crabby. But the eggs are good and the bacon is crisp.

Nice to know some things never change.

bathroom-keys

NO TABLE FOOD! (Okay, maybe just a little).

wtad.com- WHITE PAGES-2/21/17

Bobbe White

NO TABLE FOOD!!! (Okay, maybe just a little…)lily-sushi

Ten years ago, my son, Nick, and I brought home a free, scruffy-eared puppy. She was a mix between a Llewellyn Setter and a Labrador. The breeders hadn’t planned on such a mix and couldn’t jeopardize their reputation by selling anything less than a purebred. Like we cared. Jeff put his foot down on several house rules. The one of which he was most adamant was, “NO TABLE FOOD!”

Four years later, that changed and we weren’t exactly sure why. Then Jeff told this story. In the dog days of August, Jeff set out for the duck camp to treat the American Water Weeds on the lake, with chemicals. One can never begin preparing too early for the duck season, you know.  (It lasts about thirteen months in our family…) Jeff hooked up his chest waters and entered the deep water. The bottom of the lake was thick silt. As he stepped through a known low spot, he felt his boot sink into the silt. It literally grabs and holds your boot. The pressure was similar to quicksand, except he wasn’t being sucked down. He was just stuck in the mud. He was in deep sh*t, you might say. Lily White, the black Lab was swimming and playing, as usual.

Jeff weighed his options, none of which were viable. If he didn’t figure out something soon, he’d be a stick in the mud until we started looking for him. That would likely have been hours and hours later. There wasn’t anyone else around to help. Except for Lily. My guess is that Jeff’s voice, normally strong and resonant, had a tone of alarm to it. She dog-paddled back to him and made a 180 degree turn. He grabbed her collar. She started swimming furiously towards the shore. He pulled back against the resistance until his boot popped out and away from the silt trap.  Jeff was then able to make it easily back to shore.

Lily is ten now. She still loves the water, but tires more quickly. Her coat is still soft and shiny black. Considering she’s 70-ish in dog years, she really doesn’t look it, aside from some gray on her muzzle. Jeff thought Lily deserved whatever food she wanted after this rescue. This dog now enjoys occasional table leftover treats. No doubt, the leftover salmon is good for her (and her coat!) as is chicken. Boneless. Last night took the prize however. Lily actually liked a couple of remaining pieces of sushi. California and Philly rolls. She insisted on chopsticks.  Anything, Lily, anything.

 

ONE ROSE, COMING UP!

WTAD.COM/WHITE PAGES 21517

Bobbe White

The red crush of Valentine’s Day is over.We all somehow survived. It’s always interesting around an office, even if you’re not a fan of the holiday. ESPECIALLY if you’re not a fan. Why? Because we performed complicated algorithms on how many floral orders were delivered in direct correlation to total number of possible recipients. For those who can’t remember basic mathematics (who can?), an algorithm is a set of detailed instructions, which results in a predictable end-state from a known beginning. In other words, I have no clue what that means. In other words, the total number of bouquet deliveries I observed was 2.75. Odd number? I think not. Two bouquets were legitimate, obligatory Valentine’s bouquets: one newlywed and one newly engaged. Those are obvious.

The third recipient’s bouquet celebrated not only Valentine’s Day, but also their wedding anniversary, which happens to be Valentine’s Day. She gets a ½ point, since Hubby was double-dipping: ½ Valentine, ½ Anniversary. Still, I’d give him a high five for picking this date.  He’ll never, ever, ever forget.  That leaves ¼ of a bouquet. There, on one desk, was one lovely red, variegated rose. The card read, “And you thought I forgot!” That was my desk, my $4.00 rose and my handwriting. Yes, I bought my own. I did last year and will again next year. Big deal. My husband doesn’t do flowers. So what? I just wanted flowers on my desk. Ladies, if you are feeling glum, because you were flowerless in the public arena, take control, stand tall next year at the floral desk and shout, “ONE ROSE, PLEASE. IT’S FOR ME!” Sometimes we need to complete our own darn selves. Besides that, the algorithm proved that we are in the 90th percentile. So there’s that. The bottom line?

“Teach your children well”.  Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

They’ll thank you one day.

The Gift of a Lifetime…Literally

Written for wtad.com by Bobbe White 2/02/17

After his dad, Jim, died last year, Ted Johnson was cleaning out his father’s possessions, when he ran across an LP album. The record label was titled, “Irv Schecter: This is your life.” It was recorded in 1957, by H & H studios, 638 Maine St., Quincy IL. Irv (my dad) was 33 years old. Yours truly was almost two. Ted brought the LP to me at work, still in its original simple album cover, made of brown craft paper.

We have a turntable in our storage room; I had little confidence it still worked. Instead, I got the material transferred onto CD. When I popped the CD into the car player, my world stopped.

In the 1950’s, my parents, apparently, were in a social group, which occasionally, surprised someone with voices from his or her life. They picked Dad; the committee put Mom on task to contact each person, who could speak to Dad’s life from each stage. Friends and relatives were recorded when they called in, or their letter was read.

 

The LP sound quality was a bit scratchy, due to age. Still, it was easy to recognize familiar voices as the emcee played each piece to roast and toast him. Every person was introduced, in chronological order, from Dad’s past. Their names were withheld, so Dad had to identify them by voice.

1.    My paternal grandparents. Sadly, I couldn’t remember Grampy Sam Schecter’s voice.  He died when I was young. Grandma Schecter’s voice was a different story. Her Russian accent and voice tone rang loud and clear in my brain!

2.    Uncle Sid’s commanding voice sounded as if he was in the back seat of my car. He ended by saying, “By the way Irv, you still owe me $1.38…

3.    Next, was Aunt Pat, Dad’s sweet, sister, with a small shoe size (4.5!) and a big New York accent.

4.    Several childhood friends were followed by fraternity brothers, from The Ohio State University. More than one guy joked that dad owed him a bit of money.

5.    Dr. Ben Kimmelman, a dentist from California was the heart stopper. Ben was a fellow P.O.W. in World War II, during the Battle of the Bulge. The miracle that these two buddies survived was not lost on the audience.

Dad’s comments, interjections and craughter (crying from laughter) were something to experience again. I envisioned him being a good sport, as he threw his head back in full-out laughter, as if to say, “You got me GOOD!” And they had.

Here I was driving around town with a car full of memories. What a gift. Ted’s trash. My treasure. The mystery of why Jim would’ve even had the LP is puzzling. The fact that Ted could have easily tossed it out –but didn’t – is another puzzle. First, our fathers were definitely acquaintenances, as most Quincy businessmen were and are. But other than that commonality, the only other connection that I know of is the fact that both were residents at the Veteran’s Home on the same floor, until Jim passed away recently.

Remember this simple gesture when weeding out your own homes or those homes of others. You may give someone the gift of a lifetime…literally.

Thanks Ted. I’ll never forget this.