Expect laughter! Expect learning! Expect lasting ideas!

Archive for the ‘self-improvement’ Category

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. 




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!)

The Only Thing Normal in My Life…


Bobbe White


It was one of those days, when the universe says, “Not so fast, Kid!” Life is easy peasy? Watch this…”

 Most of my laundry piles were washed, but unfolded. There were a few piles of dirty laundry too. Hey, it’s been busy around here, okay?

 I would do pile management Thursday evening and ran laundry baskets up the stairs a thousand times to fold, then back down to change the laundry and switch the stuff to dry. Then back up to fold until 8:00 p.m.

 Jeff fell asleep at 8:37p.m. I decided a Hallmark move and I could tackle one or more baskets. I trotted downstairs again, but hit one-half inch of water in the laundry room. My mind raced. 1. Clean it up. (Immediately!) 2. Wake Jeff. (Not yet.) 3. Where’d it come from so fast? (No clue) 4. Did I cause it? (Probably.) 5. Wake Jeff up? (No. HE*L no!)


Towels, blankets, sheets and old shirts were thrown down to soak up water. Oh goody, new laundry to wash and dry. With my upcoming schedule, I couldn’t fathom tackling this new monster pile, so I stuffed it all into giant Hefty bags and dragged them upstairs. This called for a Laundromat.

By 10:30 p.m. I was tired and sweaty. I took a 40-second shower, should the shower be the culprit. I’d tell Jeff in the morning, but as soon as my head hit the pillow, I blurted, “The sub-pump isn’t working.”

 “Huh?” he mumbled. I repeated. “And I just spent two hours mopping it up.” He flew out of bed and downstairs in his post-slumber rage, as expected. We ran through all possibilities. In other words, “What had I done to excess?”

 In the morning, I loaded 200 sopping pounds of laundry into my car and headed to work. At lunch, I shoved the mess into two jumbo washers. The cycle was longer than my lunch hour; Attendant Terri took my coins and offered to switch the laundry to dryers. I gushed thanks and returned to work.

 After an exhausting day, I returned to the Laundromat. There sat my laundry, folded to perfection. Even fitted sheets were squared and tight. Unused quarters were in the basket too. It was a breathtaking sight and wonderful to realize how incredibly thoughtful Terri was. She had no idea how stressful this had been.

 I bought her chocolates, a thank you note and one more towel to fold: a holiday dishtowel.

 Next, I treated myself with Starbucks and paid it forward for the ladies behind me. (Shouldn’t it be pay it backwards?)

 Some days the only normal thing is a setting on the washing machine. And some days, a person’s kindness is just the detergent to make you want to pass it on.

 What made it even sweeter was that on Monday, Jeff threaded a snake through the system. I had NOT caused the flood. Woohoo! The culprit was a neighbor’s tree root, which had clogged the pipes. That’s pretty normal around here too.









Bobbe White, Head Corker


“Here she goes again” are the words in a bubble (caption) that Jeff is playing on a continuous loop in his head lately. Most evenings and weekends, you’ll find me in a chair surrounded by oodles of wine corks. Wait…it’s not what you think. I am not obliterated, wasted or three sheets to the wind. What does “three sheets to the wind” mean anyway?


What started as a thank you gift has morphed into a garage full of serving trays, each lined with corks and plated with glass. Open the car hatch and its cargo consists of more trays. In a week, all cargo will be transported to the Quincy Service League Holiday Gift Show & Sale. For now, Trays-R-Us.


What this post is not: it is not a cheap shot to advertise my wares. However, do visit the show and support Quincy Service League, a local organization, which is doing good work to raise funds for the community. There’s also a boatload of merchandise from socks to craft furniture if shopping’s your bag. Last I heard, Christmas IS coming fast.


What this post is: It is my explanation as to why I took a deep dive into my free time to do this project. Jeff claims it’s a diversion. In the past, I have found diversions when I should have been doing something else more important, but less enjoyable, such as when I should’ve been cleaning out my parents home. Instead, I ventured into a multi-level-marketing deal. It lasted briefly and soon, I changed my priority and got to work.


What I figured out:  The careful patterning of corks gives me respite, therapy, progress and completion. Hours pass while gluing down corks. I find it calming and have listened to 387 podcasts this fall. Today I watched Casablanca and The Holiday. It’s all about the right cork in the right spot. I never cut the little devils to fit. I think in my next life, I will be a dentist, specializing in tooth implants, because I can position the corks perfectly into the tray. I’m relentless on fit.


“Therapy,” you say? Indeed. Corking is a mindless activity, which allows me to think, ponder, wander and listen. When battling depression, Jeff said, “You need a hobby.” I thought he was flippin’ crazy. You know what? He was probably right. (He usually is.) It would’ve gotten me out of my head and redirected my focus.


Most importantly: Whether your hobby is baking, hunting, sewing, woodworking or scrapbooking, it affords us something we can do to completion. Not every activity has this quality. I go to my bank job daily, yet, completion is a relative term. Or how about your housecleaning. Talk about never finished. There will always be carryover work and projects. I go to the gym, but it’s only good for the day. Laundry is rarely finished. You’re probably wearing socks and underwear right now (aren’t you?) which will go into the laundry basket. And so it continues.


For now, if you need to know the girth and length of Duckhorn, Asti Spumante or Robert Mondavi corks, give me a call. I can nail it. Down the road, if your pearly whites need some attention, look for my dental office inside the pearly gates one day. What about you? Do you have a project to start and finish? Even a jig-saw puzzle can work. It’s good for what ails you. bw

WHEN GIRLS GET UGLY (good happens!)


Bobbe White

Were you a customer in our bank October 31? If so, please come back.  You saw us at our worst. We wore hideous housecoats, slippers, pajamas, curlers and facial masks. We looked awful. Photo shopping couldn’t help this bunch. You be the judge.

It didn’t start out fun for me. While waiting on our breakfast pizza order, it made sense to hit Wal-Mart. I entered in cheetah slippers with red pompons and anticipation. Maybe dressed as “Come as you are” could give a clerk, customer or cashier a giggle. I mean, at 8:00 a.m., the clientele represents a lot of PLU (people like us). You know, normalcy. At 10:00 p.m.? Not so much.

It seemed obvious that I was in costume. Didn’t it? Can I tell you I did not get one glance or second look? Not even one. In the hair aisle, a regular lady shopped near me. She looked at my curlers as I snagged hairnets. I smiled playfully, as if to say, “Can you believe people really buy these?” She smiled sympathetically, thinking, “Can you believe people go out in public like her?” I don’t think it occurred to her that I was in costume. Next, I went for trick-or-treaters’ candy. Two clerks furiously stacked shelves, tossed bags and boxes around and over me, never stopping to admire my costume. It was disappointing like the last aisle. I decided my costume would continue to underwhelm the cashier and customers, so I avoided them and self-checked my purchases.

In the car, I put on the hairnet and drove to Casey’s. There was an immediate reaction upon entering. YES! Then again, one of the clerks knew me. NUTS. Things improved at work, seeing as about 95% of the staff was costumed, department-by-department. Staff and customers alike were amazed and amused at how we could get so ugly, so easily. (I think we surprised ourselves as well.) We didn’t win best costume, but did get one vote. On the other hand, we were champions of comfort. Now I know why schools have pajama day. It is the BEST.

It’s difficult to express the joy of seeing co-workers walk into work, looking more hideous than the previous person. In banking, where we’re typically well groomed and dressed appropriately, we broke every rule. Some days the rules are meant to be broken. Post-Halloween, it’s business as usual, but the leftover fun, laughter and morale boost carried over. We’re now hearing how much better we look, from those who’ve experienced the good, the bad and the ugly.

Fortunately, with flexible workplace management, kids don’t have the corner on costuming. I don’t know how we’ll top this costume next year, but I’m sure we’ll give it a go. All I know is when you’ve been incredibly ugly, any little improvement is noticeable. Everyone should get ugly occasionally, because you feel so attractive the following day. Hope your Halloween was overwhelming! bw.  (Thought you’d like one more look at us…)



Bobbe White for wtad.com/whitepages/8.01.17/

school daze
To a teacher, the month of August is like a month of Sunday nights. Suzy Duker


Goodbye July. Hello School. If there’s ever a memory trigger, going back to school is a powerful one. My vivid memory is first day of kindergarten at Madison School.  My outfit has quick recall. Imagine a red and white checked tablecloth. Picture it in gold and white, made into a dress. Over top of the dress was a tent, with ties on either side. In fashion terms, it’s called a pinafore apron. Think, “Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie Style.” My bangs had been severely cut to five inches above my eyes. Before bed, Mom snapped on pink curlers on every side. This meant I slept on my face, because curlers and pillows never co-exist.  Bobby socks and saddle shoes completed the ensemble. Go ahead; say it, “Precious.”

Hand-in-hand, Mom trotted me up the school steps, then down the stairs. Something wasn’t right. The kindergarten I knew was upstairs. It was the morning class; the downstairs classroom was afternoon class. We were a morning type of family. This would never work. We scanned the class list outside the room. If a kindergartener can recognize two words, it’s his or her name. There it was:  “Robert Schecter.” Mom said, “Let’s go in.” I burst into a sob, “BUT SHE THINKS I’M A BOY!” I wouldn’t go. There’s a reason my nick-name through high school was “Stump.” Even for a five-year-old, I had strong legs. I locked my quads and poured weight into my heels. They held fast.  Mom couldn’t drag this bull-dog across the threshold. I resembled a Vietnam War protest sign, “HELL NO, I WON’T GO!” The teacher coaxed me, but saw the resistance through my tears. Mom finally said, “I’m afraid there’s been an irreparable mistake. Morning session was much more workable with our schedule.” “(AND YOU THINK I’M A BOY, YOU WITCH!)” I wanted to add. Mom explained the problem to Mr. McKinley. Everyone in the principal’s office stared at me, like I was a monster. I must’ve had a look of defiance, “Nobody puts Bobbe in the corner.” It worked out that I could be switched to Miss Kuhlo’s morning class. I knew she’d know I was a girl. And I schooled happily ever after.

Don’t think for a minute that this was the last time I was called a boy. In every college class roll call, the instructor scanned the room for a guy. I became used to it; even amused by it.  Tears bubbled up no longer, nor did I ever switch classes for mistaken gender. Sometimes you just have to stand up for what you are until you are heard. Perhaps in all of that confusion was a great lesson, because I’ve done this my entire life. Who knew my first school lesson would be the most impressionable?