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STRESS NO EVIL- 2018 experiment

Bobbe White-4/26/18/

fourth monkey

RECAP: the three wise monkeys. Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil and See No Evil. Yes, I know you read about this months ago, but stress is one of those concepts everyone understands differently. We know stress is the devil incarnate to our bodies, our relationships, our work and our brains. So why can’t we get a grip on it? Great question. We all need applicable tools.

What I know is this:

Stress feels different to each of us. If you hadn’t read this previously, I arrived at a cockamamie (I’ve never used that word, but I kind of like it.) acronym, to pull together about ten (okay, twelve) ideas that I have employed this year. To give you a visual, there is now the fourth monkey. “Stress No Evil” is the name. Busting stress is the game. Imagine the three monkeys, doing what they do and then Stress No evil is doing yoga. Make sense?

 

Here’s a rundown, if you’re still battling stress now and then.

 

S ilence. Yesterday I drove to work, lunch errands and home in quiet. Nice.

T oxic people. Surrounding myself with others who bring me up.

R est. Stayed up late last weekend. Next day was awful. Can’t do it anymore.

E xercise. Do what I can. It could always be more. It’s good for what ails me.

S ocial. Hung at a bar with Friday AND Saturday. (I know!) Great friends/music.

S olo. I’ve attended 3 Broadway shows this year. Alone. I’m over feeling weird.

N o. This week I had an opportunity to lie, but I went with honest and said, “No.”

O utdoors. How is it out there? BIG! And springy. And calming. Get some sky!

 

E xplore. Okay, I took this one to the limit, read below*.

V ulnerable. Toughest one: put yourself out there and being open to wounds**.

I nhale. As in, b-r-e-a-t-h-e. Meditate-ommmmmm-whatever, just stand still.

L evity. Well, you know how I feel about fun and funny…

 

**Being vulnerable can be physical or emotional wounding. Physically, it can be an attack. This read leans more to the emotional, (i.e. Being open to criticism and hurt feelings.) Even bad-ass personas have vulnerability. Example: I used to think Jeff didn’t have feelings, so when I’d get frustrated with him, (which was more than once!) I’d spout things that wouldn’t phase him. I found out 41 YEARS later, my words hurt. Even him. Everyone’s vulnerable. Don’t think otherwise. Bad on me. And I’m sorry, kind of late.

 

EXPLORE:

On a brighter note, here’s my 2018 exploration experiment:

 

January: sensory session. Gong, drums and scents, oh my!

 

February: drum circle at a nursing home. Where everyone felt like Ringo!

 

 

March: Chicago cooking class with Jeff. Call me the “Crepe Queen”. Oh yeah.

 

April: Soul drawing session: five hours of meditation and paint. What appeared abstract was amazingly, correctly interpreted about my picture, by ten others. Incredible.

 

May: TBD!

 

Shout out if you’ve tried any of the above tools lately!

Happy weekending! Bw.

 

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“Gotcher raincoat?” my mom

/Bobbe White 4/5/18/

IMG_5289 (1)

Most of my writing referenced Dad, be it customer service, strength or humor. It was safe to say that Mom lived in his shadow, but was no shrinking violet. I looked up shrinking violet: it means shy or timid. This was not my mother. Call her, “Quiet Steel.” Man, she was/is a strong woman! Most acquaintances did not experience this quality about her. Here are examples.

 

CRYING: I’ve seen Mom cry, oh, maybe three times in my life. If she’s 93, this averages once every 31 years. Not often. It doesn’t mean she was unfeeling and certainly, it wasn’t that she didn’t feel sad at times. She just expressed it without tears. She was a soldier when all else crumbled around her.

 

WARM & FUZZY: Not. My sister, Cathy, and I regret we didn’t get many hugs, kisses or “I love yous,” from her. This was just Mom. It is one thing, however, Cathy and I have vowed to do differently with our own children and grands.

 

DRILL SERGEANT: If swim practice was scheduled, my fanny was in the pool, on time, every time. She slid on ice into a ditch once, on the way to practice; we eventually made it. Piano lessons? We were there. Dance class: in our tutus, on time.

 

DISCIPLINARIAN: Whenever we went out to dinner, if we even hinted at misbehaving, Mom pinched my thigh. YOWSER! I’ll be good. I’ll be good. She didn’t tolerate back talk or eye rolling. Cathy tested this more than me; I remained very afraid. At age four, I shoplifted (one and only time) at Illinois School Supply. I was so excited about my colored pencils I showed everyone in the car. She made my sister march me right back in the store and confess. Geez.

 

HEBREW SCHOOL: Every Thursday. Get over it girls and learn something.

 

ORGANIZATION: Mom planned and executed. She made a list for everything. Even into which dish the broccoli should go. We never – I mean NEVER – went anywhere, when she didn’t say, “Do you have your raincoat?” Even during a ten-year drought, we’d have our vinyl raincoats or ponchos rolled up tight and stashed. Just in case. (See photo of Bobbe in her raincoat, age 2. Yes, even then.)

 

THE SOFTER SIDE OF SHIRLEE: In 1970, some unusual events inspired Mom to write the booklet: “Love Is…” It is profound. She never promoted it, obviously, when I unearthed a shoebox full of them in their house. I also found a treasure she wrote and here it is. It’s rather deep and I had no idea Mom’s brain was so prophetic. It almost makes sense it was written in the 70’s, except I know mom didn’t smoke pot! (I’m sorry, Mom, I realize I could get my thigh pinched for that one!) Interpret it to your own needs…

 

WALK WITH ME

Shirlee Schecter

April 4, 1971

 

Walk with me in the sun or in the dark – the sun melts your tension and the dark holds you close to let you think. To walk alone is to free yourself from the bite and snap of the scene about you- to feel the wind, whether it’s warm or cold, is like a shower in the morning that wakes you and makes you tingle and get alive again to face what will still be there or what is yet to come-

 

The walk alone is needed; but to walk with another is better. To talk is to walk with the mind as well as the body. It can be brisk and pointed, sharp and stimulating; or it can be quiet and meaningful and an easing of doubts and soothing to a tired soul. One can be alone and walk, but then you walk with your God; and in thinking, you talk with your God and you are not alone.

 

To walk with another is to be aware of sharing, but even then, two alone cannot live on an island and survive for long; neither can just two walk together. Each one must reach out to many whose lives touch and whose paths meet, some in love and some not.

 

A family shares and family loves; and where there is strain within that unit, you find an ingredient so vital that it pursues your whole direction. One cannot turn off the emotional self- you are surrounded by it and cannot walk away from it – it can surround you like barbed wire and there is no escape, then you walk in a circle; but in walking, you are doing, and to live and survive you must do something. Then you are making the motions of being alive and find there is always a way out of the circle that seems to close in like a whirlpool in the water, first pulling you down, then releasing you once more to tread the water up and thereby walk again to life –

 

Walk with me and share life with all those who touch my life –together. –Shirlee Schecter, 4/7/71

Can’t You Just Sit There and Be Quiet?

 

 

GROCERY

Nurse White shops for Korey’s recovery. (Note: side pocket wine is for the nurse.)

 

Last week, Korey, needed a nurse for post- dental surgery in Washington D.C. Mom to the rescue! Does having four wisdom teeth pulled in eighteen minutes count as surgery? I don’t know, because:

  1. I never got wisdom teeth. (Hold the jokes.)
  2. If the dentist looks 12½ years old is it called, “Surgery or science class?”

In either case, me helping her was laughable. Neither of us likes blood. In seventh grade, Korey missed school the day after getting her ears pierced, because a blood droplet was on her earlobe. Me? I could never look at Nick’s, appendectomy incision. Not even once.

Preparation

During the morning, I made multiple trips to the grocery and CVS. Here’s the shopping list:

  • Hefty bags: gallon and quart
  • Dish soap
  • Charmin
  • Bounty paper towels
  • Glade
  • Hot pad

These were supplies for teeth extraction? Anyone who visits a child, sibling or parent shops like this for the host. I met friends along the way: Deli Shop Sammy and Young in the grocery. I purchased obligatory ice cream, pudding, Jell-O and Sprite too.

 

Appointment

I’m unsure which of us was more nervous. Friday @ 1:30p.m. Korey arrived from work. I walked from her apartment. I’d have been on time, except D.C., like many cities, has 2311 M Street, Northwest, Southwest and East-by-Northwest. Of our founding fathers’ brilliant ideas, street naming wasn’t one of them. My walk was supposedly .6 mile. Google said 6.7 miles! Guess who was going to be late and lost? Korey answered my S.O.S. and I recalculated.

 

Recovery

Korey was a good patient (ice, rest, fluids, “This Is Us”) and Saturday night we went out for pasta!

 

Normalcy

As scheduled, Korey conducted a 2-hour webinar Sunday, for associates. We silenced the T.V., phones and apparently everything but Bobbe. As the webinar commenced my throat tickled, forcing me to stifle coughing with a pillow. It wouldn’t stop. I considered available remedies, such as honey, Jack Daniels or peanut butter. Desperation. I landed on almond butter. It tasted weird, but worked.

 

I read for a while, then decided to nap on the couch, falling asleep fast. Before long, Korey was wiggling my big toe, “Shhhhhhh. They can hear you snoring!” I couldn’t do ANYTHING quiet. I got up and read again. Jeff texted us, “What’s for dinner?” I replied and Korey informed me that our family-wide text was crawling across the webinar screen. Jeesh.

 

Korey was beyond frustrated. We tried. We really tried, but Murphy’s Law of Silence ruled: the quieter you try to be, the noisier you will become. What can I say? This nurse was a helpful, but noisy one. And, yes Virginia, there IS a tooth fairy. Even at age 29.

Leave it to Irvie: Goes Out With a Giggle

irv profileIt’s been quite a week around here, since Dad died February 22nd. In honor of the fact that he died on George Washington’s birthday, a profile picture which I thought looked a bit presidential is  featured. Also, before we go any further, I apologize that this post at least twice as long (or more) than I prefer and probably you prefer. If it’s TLTR (too long to read), just do what you can. No rules here.

Let’s just say, “Alzheimer’s Disease – or any form of dementia- is one ugly beast”. I hate it and what it did to Dad and so many others. I hate that many of you are currently in its grip with your own loved ones. But hate is an ugly word, so let’s focus on some good stuff, shall we?

What I learned: that even in the darkest hours, humor can bubble up through the tears.

And yes, there were some bubbles of humor during his last week. First, Dad’s very mean roommate, bless his gnarly heart, caught me at a bad moment. Really bad:

Him (growling): “Is it time for me to go into dinner yet?”

Me: “I don’t know.” (Queue major snotty attitude, like a bitchy 13-year-old in puberty.)

Him: “Why don’t you know?” (Dripping with sarcasm.)

Me: “BECAUSE I DON’T WORK HERE!!!!!!!” (Note: all bold caps and multiple punctuation marks.)

Him: “That’s the problem. Nobody works around here.”

All staff in earshot: (laughter).

Boy, did that feel good. Don’t cross me, Buddy. I bite back. Hard. Fortunately, there was a private room open and Dad was moved into it for privacy.

Funeral arrangements: I had many questions:

“Do we put britches on him?”

Funeral director: “It’s a good idea, in case the body would have to be exhumed for an investigation, DNA match, and etc. (Uh-oh…they’ve Googled Dad’s cousin, Mickey Cohen!)

“Underpants?”

Funeral director: “Yes.”

“Socks? Shoes?”

Funeral director: “Socks, yes, shoes are optional, usually not.”

“But Dad was a shoe man. He MUST wear shoes.”

Funeral director: “That’s fine.”

We started coordinating the outfit. I’d ordered (Thank goodness for Amazon) an Ohio State golf shirt, representing two of Dad’s favorite things: Buckeyes and golf. Jeff contributed an undershirt (Dad ALWAYS wore one under his golf shirt), slacks, socks, belt and Topsiders.

I delivered the outfit to the funeral home. Then it hit me out loud, “WAIT! How is Jeff’s 10½ shoe going on Dad’s size 12 foot?

Funeral director: “It won’t.”

“Will you just cut out the heel?”

Funeral director: “Probably. “It’ll be like he’s wearing CROCS.”

Me: “I don’t think so. I’ll be back.”

There was one obvious solution and the universe delivered. Dick’s Sporting Goods golf shoes were on clearance: Walter Hagen’s, $29.99. YES! Anybody who knows me knows I love a good theme: golf it was. It was my secret, because few shared my humor, except for Dad. I’d explain at dinner, after the burial. It was out with the Topsiders, in with the cleats.

We held a private graveside service with military rites. Dad probably would’ve wanted a parade and fireworks, but it was going to cause much anguish among some family members and wasn’t worth it. Let me just say, “Every veteran deserves military honors.” The meticulous flag folding, presentation, twenty-one gun salute and Taps were so touching and deserved. (In my opinion, he deserved a 42-gun salute for his P.O.W. deal, but Dad hated rifles anyway, so never mind.)

Traditions: If you’re unfamiliar with Jewish burials, you need to know the casket is lowered during the service. Unlike other religions, the mourners leave and the crew finishes later. After lowering, the funeral director, Jeff, pulled a strap out from one end. A vault company employee, we’ll call, “Harvey,” tugged and tugged, but Harvey couldn’t release his strap. It was stuck under the casket corner. As a last ditch effort, HE JUMPS IN THE HOLE! Yes, he did. I looked at my Jeff wide-eyed, then at our son, Nick. You could hear Harvey’s boots land on top of Dad’s new roof. The grave was deep enough, that Harvey disappeared from sight. He climbed out with the strap, as if from a swim pool. I mean, how else would get out, right? Each corner of the metal frame, which held the casket, had a plastic cap on the four corner domes, to protect from scratching the casket, if contact was made. One of the four caps fell into the hole. We heard Harvey groan, as if to say, “Noooooo, not again!” Yep, HE JUMPS BACK INTO THE HOLE!  I look at Jeff again wide-eyed; this time smiling, then at Nick who is wide-eyed and nearly smiling.  My girls are snickering/crying/stifling soooooo hard, they can’t contain themselves. They were audible. The officiant looked at them, smiling nervously, as if they were out of order, which they both were and weren’t. It WAS comical, you have to admit. I wasn’t much better, holding my program underneath my eyes to cover my full smile. I was crying (not from grief); the substitute rabbi and funeral director wouldn’t know which kind of tears were falling. All I could think about was Dr. Seuss’s “Hop On Pop!”

The bottom line was (sorry, bad pun…) Dad would’ve absolutely LOVED this series of events so very much. He would’ve been crying from laughing (i.e. “Craughing”) if he’d been on the outside looking on. In fact, he’d probably said out loud ,”OH MY GARSH!”

Sidebar: In support of the vault company and the funeral director, Jeff Spear, for whom I cannot say enough good things, they were probably sweating bullets. We decided this might happen a lot more than we know, as most of the time, the mourners are not present. Leave it to the Schecter’s to have Murphy’s Law of Laughter*. It truly was the best and most fitting end to a sad situation.  

A serendipitous moment occurred when I attended POUND class on Monday morning, after the funeral. Two of the songs were: “Raise Your Glass,” by Pink, and “Thanks for the Memories,” by Fallout Boy. Coincidence? I think not. Those two songs are now part of my play list, because we did, (raise our glasses) and we are (thankful for the memories.)

One last thought: I thought for sure I’d be finished with my book on aging parents, before any of our parents died, but whenever we put an assumption out there, the universe proves us wrong, right?  This is such unusual, therapeutic material, for possibly the final chapter, and for which I’m most thankful. I think it was meant to be Dad’s final gift to us: laughter. I’ll take it. RIP Irvie. 1924-2018.

The end. Yes, that it was. Quite the ending.  bw

*Murphy’s Law of Laughter: “At times when you shouldn’t be giggling, the oddest thing will set you off in uncontrollable laughter.

January: from grief to great

For most of my life, January was the draggy, first month of the year. That was all. Then in early1988, January became the month that forever made me a better Bobbe. I found out I was pregnant. (Forgive me, in the olden days, we didn’t say, “We got pregnant.” It still confuses my brain.)

 

Shock was the word. A baby! A baby? I mean after eleven years of marriage, it seemed unlikely to everyone. Our families, while elated, but shocked. My boss did the jaw drop. Nobody else was privy to our early news. We’re funny like that.

 

Jeff, the forward thinker, and I talked endlessly about how a pregnancy would change plans. The most immediate battle was, “You probably should save your two weeks of vacation in February for your maternity leave.” WHAT? We’re going to mess with my vacation now? This did not set well, as I had not yet learned the lesson of sacrifice for what’s truly important. I felt selfish and defiant, but I lived for a winter vacation! I can hear what you’re thinking. “Pathetic.” I reluctantly agreed,

 

Our quietness proved wise, when three weeks, later on a cold, grey January day, the ultrasound tech said: “I shouldn’t be the one to tell you, but there just isn’t any activity. I’m so sorry” I’ll always remember her kindness, because my OB/GYN lacked it. I can still recall his approach. “Twenty-five percent of all women miscarry, but 90% of them go on to have as many children as the want.” Good information, but not for somebody like me, who for the first time, needed someone more therapeutic than statistical.

 

I realized doctors are more suitable for some patients than others. It never mattered before, but now it did. I changed docs.

 

I went to Mom and Dad’s to miscarry, seeing as Jeff was out of town. Mom slept in the other twin bed. As we lay awake, she told me she was having empathetic labor, right along with me. She was no stranger to the process. My in-laws sent a touching card that read: “After the rain showers, the rainbows appear.” I have held onto that thought and that card for thirty years.

 

Various “deals” were made with God and myself, namely, “If I have the chance again, I won’t blabber about ruined vacation time. How immature! I won’t complain about any of it!”

 

Fast forward, our daughter, Korey, was born January 31, 1989. Her arrival redefined the month for me forever. January now holds great promise and large lessons. As a result, I believe I never took my children for granted. Ever. At least, I don’t think I did. I occasionally stomached gobs of guilt, when I missed certain milestones, but guilt is the gift that keeps on giving and regardless of whether it’s about children, or a partner or a pet, guilt helps us to instantly redefine misdirected priorities.

Our hardest lessons give us the most needed gifts. What life-changing event reshaped your attitude? Care to share? Bw.

Puppygate: gauging aging.

 Bobbe White/1.13.18. 

 

puppygate

 

We have an unconventional method for gauging aging at the White house. It involves baby gates to keep Lily White, the black Lab, from roaming room to room. After reading, you’ll understand how gates experience aging cycles, not unlike humans.

 

For Puppy Lily, we used 24” gates. She never attempted to breach security. As she grew from tip to hip, our hips were growing too. Growing older. I occasionally caught the gate, with either the front or the back foot, causing the whole damn contraption to fall down. I wasn’t alone. Jeff cussed puppygate more than once, too. At this point, we should have tried harder to maintain range of hip motion by bicycling, if only to practice mounting and dismounting. (i.e. swing that lead leg a bit higher.)

 

We downsized to a 17” gate. Thankfully, Teen Lily never attempted to escape. It was a major victory, physically and aesthetically. In time, however, we started tripping over 17”. I purchased replacement gates and pitched the broken ones.

 

Clearly, it was downsizing time again. We now have a 7” gate. It’s a breeze to hop! Old Lady Lily still minds, mostly because her 77 year-old hips couldn’t do it, unless there was a piece of salmon, ham or pumpernickel on the other side. Obviously, we don’t store our food on the floor, so she’s out of luck and leap, as well. Every time I scale that 7” gate, I fist pump the air and yell, “YES!” Sadly, it’s only a matter of time before the 7” gate trips us too.

Aging stinks worse than a dirty dog, but I’ve determined our next four gate levels, in descending order.

  • Level Four (3½”): Playing cards propped vertically across the thresh-holds.
  • Level Three (2¼”): Playing cards will be turned horizontally, end to end. That should be a piece of cake…
  • Level Two (1”): Dominos, and
  • Ground Zero: dental floss. I figure that, by then, we won’t be able to pick up our feet and can just shuffle across the border. Not only that, we probably won’t have any teeth anyway, but we can still floss everyday. It’s just that we’ll be flossing the floor. Sit. Stay. Floss. bw

(Photo guide: Lily White is pictured above. The 7″ and 2 1/4″ gates are featured. If you look very closely, you’ll notice a Royal Flush…)

HaPpY dO yEaR!

Bobbe White

 

My extremely wise friend, Lisa Pemberton, says, “Ask not what are you doing, but ARE you doing?” She knows me well. If anything speaks my truth, this is it.

 

When our son, Nick, was a little pup, he’d ask many times a day, “Doing?” We would tell him, but he never seemed satisfied with our answers for very long. Maybe as a little guy, he was Buzz Lightyears ahead of us and wanted to ask, but lacked the vocabulary:

 

  1. Doing that…why?
  2. Doing something meaningful?
  3. Doing what you need to be doing?

 

Those questions are an obvious segue to my 2018 DO YEAR LIST:

 

  1. Monitor the rabbit holes. Rabbit holes are the social media links which we begin reading for seconds, turning into minutes and sometimes into hours. It means keeping the lure of Amazon, Insta, Facebook and eBay at bay.

 

  1. Fold bed sheets better. Okay, I admit this is random, but the Quincy Wash Tub attendant has offered this tutorial. That gal can fold a wad of cloth into a postage stamp. Not kidding. Our linen closet deserves it.

 

  1. Write fewer words. Say more. I typically write 500 word posts. But nobody really wants lengthy reading. Less is more. Always was/will be.

 

  1. Listen full in. People observe when you aren’t present. Also, my kids will appreciate not having to say, “I already told you that, Mom.”

 

  1. Sit. Stay. Do. P2C is my mantra. (Project to Completion).

 

  1. This last DO is a DOozie of a DO – to return this home to my husband. I have seeped my DO into every room, nook and cranny of this house. It’s time to undo. It’s probably another article as well as to why we do this.

 

Let this year be the year of the doing and when necessary, the un-doing. HaPpY dO yEaR tO yOu! Let’s do the do!

bw (320 words…Woohoo!)