Expect laughter! Expect learning! Expect lasting ideas!

Archive for the ‘Life balance’ Category

Dad’s Lesson or Dad’s Gift?


 Bobbe White

 Dad/Irvie turned 93 Sunday. It was a simple occasion. His food is pureed now, which sort of blows the whole cake ‘n candle thing out of the water. Alzheimer’s. Grrrr. Cake, candles, gifts and photos are just window dressing we can do without anyway. His needs are small. Our quest for dignity is large. We get that in huge doses, at the Illinois Veterans’ Home. They love Dad/Irvie, awake or asleep. And that is enough for me. 

“Hi Dad!” is how it began. “Hi Babe!” he replied. “YES… this is good!” I thought. “He knows me today.” Rationally, and my sister, Cathy, reminded me, “He calls everybody Babe!” I know. He always has. He would walk in the bank and address his favorite employees, “Babe” or “Doll”. It wasn’t creepy, nor was it a slur. It was a term of endearment at many levels. The nurses say that when they get a “Babe or a Doll” from Dad in the morning, they know it’s going to be a good day. It’s more commonly called, his, “Once a week awake day.” Hence, he’s become known as “Once-a-Week-Irv.” It fits his former sense of wry humor very well.

I told him it was his birthday. He looked puzzled at the mention of 93. But the fact that he was awake to hear it at all was something. He sleeps a lot now, but he didn’t sleep through his birthday breakfast. And that was enough for me.

 Cathy visited later. He was awake for then too. We considered this a good day. We tacked a couple of birthday cards on his wall. I’m not sure why, but in lieu of all the other birthday bells and whistles, it seemed like a festive thing to do, even though he can’t see that far, nor read anymore. Okay, it made little sense, but it’s hard not to mark the day with a little fanfare.  

Cathy and I shared our visit experience and the agony of the Alzheimer’s process, not to mention the longevity. It’s not that I want him to go, but what is the purpose of his existence in this state? It’s confusing, heart wrenching and overwhelming. Then I pulled out of my you-know-what, this idea. I texted her. “I think that Dad’s final gift (or lesson?) to me to have patience with his situation. Everything runs its course for a reason, even if it’s not what we like or understand. Maybe his gift to you is to be stronger.”

 She texted back, “Good thought…I’ll hold on to that.” So, look who’s giving the gifts on his birthday. And that’s enough for me.


Oh, Those Cubs, Always Full of Surprises


Bobbe White

IMG_2957 (1)el tappe

On a sunny September 9th, Wrigley Field spread before us. It was my first visit. I now have a certificate that says so. The ballpark is spectacular, from the rooftop bleachers to our seats in the shade and I now have a greater appreciation for “Field of Dreams.”

As we waited for the opening pitch, I envisioned, one former player at catcher. Our very own, El Tappe, from Quincy, IL. Google El to read about his impressive career. Knowing the man, I was somewhat awestruck by how much he actually had done for this club. I impressed our friends with his trading card, which I found online, during the game.

His MLB debut was 1954; his last appearance was in1962. Wikipedia writes that, “He was best known for being instrumental in implementing the Philip K. Wrigley College of Coaches, to give the team better leadership and stability, by utilizing coaching talent from within the organization. Tappe was one of the rotating coaches himself for 95 games. He returned to his backup catcher role for his last year as a player.”

To me, El was simply Tammy’s dad and Donna’s husband. He was one of the nicest, funniest gentlemen I’ve met and he was never crabby when we girls got bratty. It’s funny how someone of such stature can remain humble and patient. To growing up girls, he’s basically the nice dad of your best friend.

Here’s the odd part. Every fall, Tammy and I went to Madison school. In second grade, I ratted her ponytail, while sitting behind her in Mrs. Long’s class. However, every year, during K-6th grades, Tammy disappeared after Christmas Break. I’d receive her new school picture from Mesa, AZ. I guess I wasn’t curious enough to ask where she went each year, because she’d always return for the summer. The Tappe family relocated annually for the Cubs’ Spring Training, El was part of the coaching staff and scout. In hindsight, Tammy says she feels so fortunate to have had this split opportunity. Donna continued to visit her Cub “family” after El passed away.

In high school, we girls were given the opportunity to socialize (i.e. drink beer) with the Cubs AAA players, who played summer ball in Quincy. The fun continued, when at Arizona State, a few of my friends and I went to the Allman Brothers Band at the Mesa ballpark with the AAA’s. I wonder if any of them made the A team…

I pull for the Cubbies harder now that I have experienced the Wrigley Field awe. I understand the pilgrimage people make game after game and particularly when Cubs Vs. Cards.

Is this a great country or what? If there’s a major league in heaven, I’ll bet El is either still scouting, coaching or back at catcher. Thanks El, for giving my ball park more meaning, even if you guys lost that day 15-1. Ouch. Okay, now, PLAY BALL!

O.O.O.P.S.! Is That What I Said?




Bobbe White

Do you often feel overwhelmed? Overworked? Overcommitted? There are many reasons and even more theories. I believe that, in most cases, our overcommitment tendencies are related to feeling overwhelmed and overworked. If you solve the former, you’ll feel less of the latter.

Here’s the dig.

Too often we say, “Yes,” and mean, “No.” Imagine a time when you have done this. How’d you feel? Pay attention to your gut the next time you say, “Yes,” and mean, “No.” We immediately sense it. I know I do. Intuition tells us one thing, obligation (or something else) tells us another. It’s an internal struggle.

WHY do we overcommit?

  • Obligation: The toughest reason. We feel we have no choice. And you may not. You see this when grown children help aging parents. Tasks fall on one person, for countless reasons: proximity, others won’t help, others can’t help or there are no others to help. It’s all on you, Baby.

Perceived obligation/neediness: We don’t consider other options. Or, we have a major need for positive feedback and leap at the chance. But, there ARE others with which to share the commitment. You just wanted to go it alone. When you hear, “You should’ve said something.” This personality will reply, “It’s okay, I knew you were busy, I didn’t mind (even though I’m behind in everything else and I’m having a breakdown and haven’t changed clothes in a week.) a/k/a The Martyr.

  • Responsibility: the task may just be up to you and only you. This is when you must weigh the outcome, should you choose to not commit. You know the right thing to do.


  • Desire: You WANT to commit because it really stirs your inner jazz. Go for it, but understand what you’re taking on and then, don’t whine about it. “You wanted the bicycle, now peddle it.”Example: Sure, the teachers’ appreciation breakfast success depends on your 13 dozen brownies: half frosted, half unfrosted, half-nutted, half-unnutted. By 7:00 a.m. tomorrow. Your brownies are, hands down, the BEST. This is not a good reason to overcommit. They’re just brownies. Don’t do this to yourself. The success or failure of any event is not yours to shoulder.



  • “I wish I could, but in this season of my life, any “Yes” I give you is a “NO” I must give to my__________________ (parents, children, dog, family.)
  • Say this to yourself, “Just because I can, doesn’t mean I have to.” Powerful.
  • “No…it’s a long story.
  • “Let me get back to you,” or “Let me check my calendar,”
  • And my all-time favorite: “O.O.O.P.S! Is that what I said? That’s not what I meant.” (Back peddling is sometimes an option. It works very well, as long as you slap your forehead when you say, “OOOPS!”


SO, what does O.O.O.P.S. mean?

Overwhelmed, Overworked, Overcommitted, Pressure and Stress. Try to avoid O.O.O.P.S. Because over-commitment is unhealthy and we don’t really need accolades that badly…do we? If you almost said,”Yes,” but truthfully, said, “No,” then be like Elsa…good for you for letting it go.




The Phone Bowl


Someone has already designed a device for tables across America, I just know it. They’re calling it, “Tables Across America”, which sounds a little like “Doctors Without Borders” doesn’t it? Tables include those at home, cafes, cafeterias and full fare restaurants. Tables Across America is societal helping movement sweeping the country. Or it should be. And when it happens, I’ll say, “Great idea, wished I’d thought of it.” Which, obviously, I did. Right here. But I don’t have the investors to back me. I haven’t even tried, so it’s fine, we don’t need another project right now in this White house.

It makes me sad to see people at tables with other people – often loved ones –  sharing precious time together. But not really, because one or both or all seven of them are on the phone. I understand the many reasons for this habit: families in a courthouse cafe are awaiting a verdict on their loved one’s trial; another family, in a hospital cafeteria, is waiting for a surgical update. Maybe a couple is waiting to hear from their college student as he or she arrived in Bejing. But I doubt it. It’s mostly chatter.

We’re texting about where to meet in tonight or the crabby office secretary today. We even ordered a pair of compression socks for our elderly mother on Amazon. It’s sooooooo easy, right? But so damaging to communication. It was difficult to carve out an hour for lunch with our favorite person, only to be muted by time on our phones. Why did we even bother?

Jeff got really ticked one time when I was on my phone, while out to eat. I thought I was being entertaining, as I was texting back and forth with our daughter. Since I was sharing bits of the conversation with him, I thought that didn’t count, even though it was funny stuff. I was the only one laughing. He was seething.

So, what’s the phone bowl? It’s not a big football championship at the end of the season, sponsored by AT&T. Nope, it’s more like a salad bowl, right in the middle of the table. The table has been wired through the bottom of the bowl, with multiple ports cords. These connect phones (yes, some people carry two: personal and office) to a charger. The caveat: touch your phone during your table time at the table and terrible things happen to your phone. For example: your contacts will be lost. POOF! Just. Like. That. Why is that terrible? Because everybody over forty remembers their parents home phone number. Heck, I still remember Gail Grayson’s number from Junior High: 223-3493. And Jeff’s office Edward Jones Ohio number from 1978: 599-3110. But I can’t remember any cell numbers. It’s pathetic. That’s why it would be such a pain in the ass.

It’d be like this: I locked my phone and keys in the car at the compost pile recently. There were three family phone numbers I could remember. None of these would be available to rescue me.  A couple, parked next to me, offered their phone. I had no numbers in my head after immediate family. I gave the phone back and said, “Thanks, there’s no point.” This is a small-ish town, and most of us are trusting. The pickup truck people offered me a ride home. I took it. While in their back seat, gushing gratitude, I realized that I’d accepted a ride with two perfect strangers! We played home-town geography, and they were the ex-in-laws of a co-worker. This made it okay. (?) Which seems really random.

Whether someone invents a table bowl where we risk losing our contacts or not, aren’t we at just at great of risk of losing our contacts in person, when we don’t personally interact? Like driving, we should just hang up. The table is a crucial place to start. Let’s teach our children how to talk again. Imagine if nobody had talked in the bar Cheers.  Nobody’d know your name. The bartender would be so bored. “Talk to us. With us. At us”.


A Check….Seriously?


FullSizeRender (1)

Bobbe White

It’s Thursday, September 14, 2017 and in today’s news, the Hurricane cleanup begins in Florida and continues in Houston. Kim Jong Un is still running loose with bad hair and fires in the west are clearing their own path of destruction. How do you stomach all of these disasters, when you look around your own sky and it’s blue and clear and perfect? Oh, nothing’s perfect, we know that, you silly goose. That would be like knocking on Mother Fate’s door.

I speak too soon as we Midwesterners don’t have it exactly perfect, even though our weather has been, in comparison to the south and the west. We, too, are being held captive by our computers to freeze our credit. Equifax, have you had a rough week? What I’d like to know is, who hasn’t been affected by this breach? Not many, I’d bet. If it’s not this, it’ll be another Target deal, WalMarket or God forbid, Hobby Lobby. If you shop with credit or debit, you’re in the game and sadly, this is our new normal.

The alternative? We return to cash or checks, but can you fathom the long lines at the grocery store? STORE RAGE! It’s bad enough that yesterday I forgot my wallet and had to painfully take time to write a check out for milk, cereal, dog food and chicken drummies – not all for the same meal, of course. I heard everyone in line rolling their eyes out loud at me. One dude said, loud enough for me to hear, “A check? Seriously?” I went fifty shades of red, because I’ve been that person in line, waiting behind a sweet, little, old lady as she digs her checkbook out, asks for a pen, writes most of the check and then asks the cashier, “How much was it again?” Then she screws up the amount, voids it and starts over. That was Yours Truly yesterday. No pen, just a check. I could feel the cart nudge me from behind, as if to say, “Geez you old bag, hurry up!” The icing on the impatient customers’ cake was when I asked for a cart to roll out my bags, since I’d overachieved with a hand basket. (I’ll probably go to hell in a hand basket if I ever do this maneuver again.) When our daughter worked at the grocery, she said they hated it when people like me shoved three weeks of food into a little red plastic basket.

After this, I’ll try to have patience with check writers in front of me. You don’t know what they’re going through in their life. They may have lost their debit card or had it stolen or breached.  Maybe they were on the Equifax list. You don’t know. (Remember when breach was only used in terms of our levees on the river system, or when a baby couldn’t be delivered that way?)  Let’s all cool our jets. If you’re in that big of a hurry, just send your grocery list in on-line, have it delivered and avoid the store all together. But don’t whine when you get pickles instead of shampoo. Your grocery list may have just been hacked! bw

Big Lesson from Big Magic

WTAD.com/white pages/

Every once in a while, a book captures our soul and we just cannot get enough out of it. Elizabeth Gilbert, the “Eat, Pray, Love” lady, does that for me. She wrote another book, called “Big Magic”. It’s one of those books that I can read or listen to multiple times (Is a third time too many?) I have a hardback, that’s underlined from chapter one to the end. I have an audio copy on my phone. It speaks to living a creative life. Creative is a term she uses loosely. Creative doesn’t always have to mean the arts, as in painting, acting, sculpting or writing. But it is that interest bank in our heads – and hearts- that gives us jazz. Two things keep jumping into my lap each time I open this book. First and foremost is that freaking fear factor, we have that keeps us from living a creative life. It holds us hostage, keeps us small and creates waves of disappointment in us when we succumb to it. The other part that speaks to me is the part that good ideas come our way like little bubbles full of thoughts and if they’re not meant to be snagged by us, then we make a decision – either instantly or after laboring over it – to adopt it or let it go. If we let an idea or opportunity go, then the bubble pops for us, but may float over to someone else whom the universe thought was just as capable. This happens to authors and speakers and designers of other mediums all the time. “Well, crap, look at that, will you? I had that same idea and they took it and ran with it and it’s a home run. Dammit.” There’s no way that other person stole your idea, but the universe must move on if the idea is to find a nest in which to flourish. Sometimes you get to (have to?) witness the growth of that idea. It teases and torments you because you were going to write that book, blog or speech. And then you get really mad at yourself because you had fear for an instant that helped you make the decision to let the bubble float into and out of your midst.

Gilbert talks about fear as a regular passenger when we travel through life. I’m going to explain it as a guest at the table. You address fear like a person, because it’s a lot like that little voice over your one shoulder, saying, “Oooooh, I don’t know about this idea. It’s pretty daunting. I don’t think you can do it very well. You better pass on it.” Fear will always has a seat at the table, but when you let Fear order, Fear may throw her menu on the table and order for you. What we need to do, in order to keep Fear quiet and under control is to never even give her the menu. Also, Fear gets a shorter chair than everyone else. “Fear, you’re always going to have a seat at this table, I get that, but you will not have a tall chair and you can chat during the discussion, but you will NOT raise your voice and you may motion the waiter over to take our order, but you will NOT, I repeat, will NOT ever order for me again. I do not like what you choose. Your demanding that I eat this or that is not welcome. Just sit there and be quiet and keep your negative little hands in your lap. I don’t need you to order for me and many times I will ask you to simply leave the table. Go sit somewhere else, Fear. You have no voice here anymore.
So there.

And that is how I can live a more creative life. Are you allowing fear to order at your “table”? bw.


The Fourth Monkey

fourth monkey

(Pictured above: The Fourth Monkey in tree pose)



Bobbe White

There’s been a primordial revolution happening in my head for several years and it only makes sense to share it with those of you who aren’t sitting in a conference room where I’m speaking. It’s not a big secret. Silly me just forgot to tell you about the fourth monkey a/k/a Stress No Evil. Unless you live under a rock you’ve hopefully heard of the other three proverbial monkeys: See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Speak No Evil. There are various meanings given to the three wise primates. In Buddhist tradition this means not dwelling on evil thoughts. In my mind, the Western world it can be interpreted as both a positive concept of association with good intentions (not listening to negativity, not talking trash or gossiping and not looking for trouble or looking at others critically.) Used in a negative light: feigning ignorance (I saw nothing, heard nothing or said nothing) i.e. looking the other way, otherwise known as a “Code of Silence.” Think: the Mafia, code of silence.

Some people would claim the fourth monkey isn’t Stress No Evil, but rather, Do No Evil. When depicted in a visual, Do No Evil can be seen with his arms crossed, covering his or her genitals or simply folded in the lap. But I’m going with Stress No Evil because if you DO less evil, you’ll have less stress, right?

The good news/bad news is: Stress No Evil is ageless, universal, cost-free, chemical free, sugar free, gluten free, germ free, electronic free, lactose free and  gender free. (Side Bar: It drives Jeff nuts when I speak only to the women. Sorry guys. I’m working on this.)

What’s the bad news? Stress No Evil mantra is “Have less stress.”  but to get there, you actually have to do some of the things I suggest below. Ready? Let’s go…

Silence: take 5 daily to turn off your noise. Phone, radio, mind chatter. Find the quiet.

Toxic people: avoid them. If you cannot avoid them, limit your time with them.

Rest: sleep/non-activity is underrated. We need sleep, more than we get. You know why.

Exercise: participate at your level, wherever that is. Just move. Every day. You know why.

Solo time: get comfortable with yourself and be your own good company occasionally.

Social: get with people doing mutually enjoyable activities. Solo Vs. social: blend them.

No. Saying “Yes” to everything is dumb. And don’t say yes when you mean no. Period.

Outdoors. Find the sky. It’s there day or night. Breathe air. Listen for crickets. Namaste.

Experiment. Try something new. It can open your mind and get you jazzed. Be brave.

Vulnerable. We are all perfectly imperfect. Ease up. Work on it, but mostly, accept it.

Ignite. Search and adopt that one activity that gets you in your zone. It’s individualized.

Levity. You knew this one was coming. Look for the humor, enjoy the laughter.


Pick one thing out of the above list this week and let me know how it goes. Will you?