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Archive for the ‘self-improvement’ Category

Be a Houseguest Rockstar With These 10 Tips

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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

 

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That’s On Me and That’s the Troof

4f7ff044-0642-4eef-b058-b3ac4e119e08We’ve been hearing this phrase a lot lately. It’s a handy one. It can tolerate any pronoun:

That’s on me.

That’s on you.

That’s on us.

That’s on them.

I think this phrase be used a lot or a little. It depends. If we’re taking ownership in something we’ve done that doesn’t turn out particularly well. Well, that’s on me. I need to own it. 

Before slinging this phrase around, perhaps the best idea  is to turn the phrase  into a question “That’s on who?”  (For you grammar gurus, I suppose it’s more correct to say, “That’s on whom?” Whichever, it is and right now, I’m getting confused about the wrong thing, so let’s move on, shall we?)

If someone is trying to throw blame on you for something, they might say, “That’s on you!”  If it’s true, then it’s going to hit right where it hurts. Why? Because truth is hard. Truth can hurt. But the truth is the truth is the truth. And that’s the truth. Or as our Nick would’ve said it as a little kid, without front teeth, “That’s the troof!” And that’s okay. We need to hear a little more troof!

The problem with hearing the troof is that we become so damn defensive. It’s a natural response.  If we don’t go down the defensive road, I know that for myself, I will just crumble into a puddle of woe. Woe goes like this: 

“I’m so stupid. I’m such a loser. I should’ve known better.” Yeah, let’s be self-defeating. That’s so much more fun! This is because someone has just validated what I’ve known all along. And the troof can feel like crap. So, be careful before you sling around “That’s on you.”

However, if we’re to correct our actions and become better humans, then it’s important to know what troof feels like. I think I really like using this version (troof), because it makes me laugh. And maybe we all need to do that a little bit more when it’s on us. Bw

My friend, Michele, is Just the Best!

After 67 years, my parents had been split up, not by divorce, but by different aging conditions. 

While there was no question about the strength of our friendship, it was confirmed many times by Michele’s willingness to accompany me on my visits. 

There are two kinds of humans in this world: those who can deal with the elderly and those who cannot. Now a successful banker, Michele had CNA experience a couple of decades before this. 

CNAs must deal with the messiest of patients and there was nothing that could violate Michele! 

At this time of the year, I’ll never forget when my ninety year old mom was in the hospital one winter, three times in six weeks, for recurring pneumonia. Her diagnosis was, “pneumonia and failure to thrive.” Her prognosis read, “Poor”. She wouldn’t eat or drink and it felt like the beginning of the end. 

One Sunday morning, Michele offered to go with me to the hospital. Very few people assume the invitation is always open. I would never ask anyone if they wanted to go, except a family member. 

Mom had just had a bath and was ready for a breakfast that she wouldn’t eat. Her hair, thin from aging and wet from her bath, was plastered against her small head. It was unsettling. 

There were two basic things to do: get food and liquid in her and set that hair! Michele coaxed her kindly and fed her easily from the front, while I put her hair up in Velcro curlers, from the back. It was a two-pronged approach and quite a vision, I’m sure. 

Perhaps it was because of Michele’s kind, gentle easy nature with Mom, orr maybe it was the ever-present sparkle in her eyes, but it was the loveliest gesture a friend could offer Mom and me.

We see this aging parent scenario unfold hundreds and thousands of times. Let this be a positive lesson to us all that we, too, can dish up kindness and assistance with a spoon or a fork. And a little Dippity-Do! 

Thanks, Michele. LYLAS!

 

Oh, When the Saints, Go Marchin’ In

/Bobbe White/10.21.18/

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Recently, Jenna, my daughter-in-law, and I popped into Pappion Artistry, a petite New Orlean’s area gallery. The artist, Christina Pappion brings New Orleans culture to life through whimsical painting. She accents certain pieces with gold flecks that makes them fancy. Christina greeted us. We browsed and read publicity pieces hung on walls and easels around the shop. In addition to painting on coasters and canvas, she paints on football cleats. Not just any old stinky, muddy cleats, New Orleans Saints’ cleats. 

Nosy (me) leaned into her studio. While she painted, I asked about the cleats. “It’s a weird canvas, but I researched and figured it out.” She literally creates masterpieces on cleats. Pappion learns the foundation/cause each player supports and incorporates the theme onto the boot (e.g. Brandon Coleman (Alzheimer’s Association) and The Mark Ingram Foundation (Children of Incarcerated Parents).

The Saints wear these decorated cleats during one designated game a season, they named “Cleats for a Cause.”  The cleats are auctioned afterwards to raise (a lot of) money for the respective organizations. It’s the ONLY game Saints are allowed to deviate from their standard uniforms. 

Naturally, we asked about Drew Brees’ cleats. Not surprisingly, he commissions his own artist but, and this is a BIG but, Drew’s wife, Brittany, contacted Christina, after seeing her “Streetcar” at a fundraiser. She was disappointed she didn’t bid enough to buy it. She had Christina paint another streetcar painting and asked her to paint Drew into the picture for a Christmas gift. (See Drew at the end of this article.)

Christina assumed delivery would be an exchange at McDonald’s parking lot or somewhere neutral, but it was delivered to the Brees’ home.  While balancing a baby on her hip, Brittany wrote the check. She then asked Christina to help her hide it. They ran around the house, then up to the second floor to explore potential hiding places. Holy baldy! Christina was running through Drew Brees’ house!

Many years since, Brees’ has commissioned Christina to paint streetcars, incorporating their growing family. One year, she requested the extended family of thirty be featured. “Thirty people! All I had to go on were family photos, texted photos or social media. I didn’t even know how tall people were, in comparison to Drew, so I painted him seated!” Somehow, she managed to nail it.

Pappion shared other victories with us, but also failures, such as rubber boots (i.e. Hunter brand) on which she painted for $200 for a Kentucky Derby dignitary. “These boots were stunning!  Until the woman stepped into the rain and onto the race track (not to race, but to pose for photos, haha). The design got wet and slipped right off those boots! All that remained of the $200 artwork was colorful mud. I was mortified.”  UGH.

“I cried for two weeks after that disaster. I was sure I’d never work again. But the drippy boot buyer was gracious and commissioned me for further work. I couldn’t believe it!” 

Another low point was a large painting for Mrs. Benson, widow of Saints’ owner Tom Benson. First attempt: botched and tossed aside. Take two: flopperino. The third time was NOT the charm. “I could not deliver, but Mrs. Benson’s secretary insisted it would be fine. It was a mess, but she insisted. Amazingly Mrs. Benson LOVED my mess and wrote me a big, BIG, HUGE check. I showed my family the check while dancing around chanting, “We’re going to Disney World!” My kids joined in the dance. And we went. Best trip ever!

My family thinks I’m a busy-body, talking to random people like this. In fact, I’m pretty sure they roll there eyes out loud at me a lot, as in, “Oh noooooooo, there she goes again. We’ll never get out of here!” I can’t help it. People are interesting. Talk to them. Ask about them. Learn about them. You never know what treasures you can discover. In honor of meeting an artist phenom, I purchased four coasters, representing the four major food groups we consumed during my stay at Nick and Jenna’s in Louisiana: shrimp, oyster, lobster and red fish.

Check out the artist at: http://www.pappionartistry.com

Check out Drew Brees and the Family with Streetcar below. How cool is that? bw

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My Tee-Tee Tsunami

/6.6.18/Bobbe White/

When learning the speaking and writing business, we were taught, “Avoid speaking about bodily functions, seeing as everyone’s “ick” tolerance and privacy levels differ.” I’ve adhered to this advice for seventeen years in the business. No breastfeeding, colonoscopy or incontinence discussions found here. The only thing I might discuss would be: January 13th is my annual mammogram appointment, because it’s the same day as my annual vacuum maintenance

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Photo by hermaion on Pexels.com

at Sears. And, yep, they both suck. That’s about as far as I go.

 

Anyway, as I finished eight loads at the Wash Tub Laundromat Saturday, I reflected on the prior weekend. The wash consisted of 14 bath towels, 7 beach towels, 11 hand towels, 2 dishrags and 6 pairs of socks. I’m breaking my rule today to write about how humor in the home place is sometimes, well, hard.

 

It started at work, Memorial Day Saturday, at 8:37 a.m. BAM! I got the Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) from hell. Just. Like. That. It’s always perplexed me how the elderly can contract UTI’s, but have no clue until they land in E.R. for observation, antibiotics and fluids. Dad’s symptoms would mirror a stroke or brain tumor. The prognosis was typically “UTI”. In contrast, before drop #1 ever hits the toilet water, some of us KNOW we’ve got a UTI. Or is it “an” UTI? Whichever, I’m not kidding. Vengeful symptoms escalate hourly. These delightful symptoms include, burning from your wa-hoo to your tonsils, urgency and frequency, oh my! I helped customers between bathroom visits, alternating between the east end and west end of the building’s restrooms, so the staff wouldn’t think my frequency odd. Why I even cared is beyond me. I couldn’t leave work for staffing reasons.

 

My co-worker recommended an over-the-counter remedy. I flew to Wal-Mart out the back door. $50 later I owned every AZO product on the market. After work, I sped to Ambulatory Care for labs and antibiotics. The nurse said, “Doctor is in the procedure room, so you’ll need to wait.” Translated: a woman was getting stitches in her hand. I nearly laughed out loud. WHAT? WAIT? Seriously? So I sat near the restroom.

 

The frequency lasted all day and night, leaving me exhausted.

 

Sunday, my “tee-tee tsunami” calmed. I resumed normal activities through Memorial Day. Jeff returned from a fishing trip. By 8:45 p.m. we were ready for bed. I ran down to the laundry room to grab sheets out of the dryer when I stepped into half-inch deep water.

 

I hated to break the news, but had no choice, “JEFF…WATER IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM!!!” Jeff’s frustration resembled fire and fury, putting it mildly. Since I’d been the only one home, he started quizzing me on what I’d done in excess to tax our sewer system. Let me clarify, the standing water was crystal clear, thankfully.

 

“Why’s it always my fault?”

 

“I’M NOT GUILTING YOU, I’M SIMPLY DOING THE MATH!”

 

No wonder I hate math. (He speaks very loudly when he’s trying to learn me something!)

 

As he vacuumed water, I fetched towels and more towels. Not exactly our idea of fun at 8:45pm on a “school night.” His questioning continued. It was logical and necessary, I must admit.

 

“DID YOU TAKE LONG SHOWERS?”

“Nope.” Mine are fast. You know that.

 

“DID YOU DO LOTS OF LAUNDRY?”

 

“Two, maybe three loads tops.”

 

“DID YOU FLUSH THE TOILET A LOT?”

 

CRAP. Well, NOT crap, exactly… “I had a bladder infection, O.K.?”

 

“DID YOU USE TOILET PAPER EACH TIME?

 

“Uhhhhh, yeah.” (There’s another option?)

 

“ABOUT HOW MANY ROLLS DID YOU GO THROUGH?”

 

Seriously?

 

“I don’t know… 3? 17? 2? Yes, maybe 2.” Typically, I don’t keep a running toilet paper inventory, except when it’s the last roll, right?

 

“WELL, TWO ROLLS OF NON-BIODEGRADABLE TOILET PAPER WADDED UP IN THE PIPE WILL DO THIS.”

 

“Could it be the tree roots (again)?

 

“IT COULD, BUT STILL, HOW IS A WAD OF CHARMIN THAT BIG (holding his hands the size of a giant watermelon) GOING TO PASS BY THE ROOTS? IT’S NOT. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS.”

 

Any and all humor had gone done the drain with the toilet paper.

 

As hot, tired and sweaty as we were following clean up, showers and flushing were forbidden for now. In the morning, the basement was dry, so I took a 10-second shower before work. I didn’t even wait for it to warm up. I couldn’t have used more than one gallon of water. No way.

 

When entering work on Tuesday, my co-workers asked, “How was your weekend?” So, I told them…about my infection…about the water and how it came down to T.P inventory. And how tonight, Jeff and Donnie would rent the sewer snake to break through El Waddo, (and roots). It got funnier. I called for my lab results and the nurse said, “You DEMAND to see every tissue square of those two rolls that you used to clog the system, do you hear me?”

 

I demanded. The guys laughed at me, because the wad was heading downstream somewhere. Seeing the two of them sitting on the basement floor rolling the snake out and then in, was like watching two little boys play in a puddle. They were in heaven.

 

Epilogue.

And they lived happily ever after, Bobbe learning her lesson, of course. And Jeff might get a sewer snake for Father’s Day. And the next time when a UTI attacks my system, I’m heading to the Holiday Inn Express. I belong to their rewards program. Huh? You see, I’ll get “points (for toilet) paper! And I’m pretty sure each room has at least two rolls and industrial sized pipes…

 

bw

Pedaling My Tush Off

/bobbe white/5.22.18/

 

 

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Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

While in St. Louis, my daughter-in-law, Jenna, treated me to Cycle Bar for spin class. I spin occasionally and do other cardio workouts, so I was certain I could hold up for 45 minutes. Walking Lily used to be cardio, but, seriously, how many 77 year olds do you know who can clip off a four-minute mile? But, I digress.

 

We received emails and texts, welcoming and preparing us for class. I was fitted with shoes and given a welcome water bottle. It was even personalized. I loved this place!

 

Our bikes #25-26, were located on the second tier. It felt like we were sitting in the piccolo section of an orchestra room. Our instructor, Michelle, adjusted my bike. I think LeBron James had ridden this bike in the previous class. The seat reached my armpits. Michelle lowered the seat and locked my shoes into the pedals. However would I escape in the event of fire? I’d be the last man out dragging the damn bike with me, because I wouldn’t be able to unhook my shoes. In previous classes, I’d worn my own shoes. I must admit, I felt smugly professional in the clamp-ons.

 

Two towels hung on each bike. One was for sweat; the other to cover the dashboard. Michelle explained that in classic spin classes, the dashboard was utilized to motivate us to reach “push” levels. The stats revealed velocity, degree of difficulty, caloric burn and minutes remaining until my legs might fall off. Or my tush, whichever came first. I’d forgotten how unforgiving the hard saddle was. Fortunately, the class was taught mostly from a standing stride.

 

Rather than being dashboard directed, Michelle helped us attain limits from desire and inspirational encouragement. She motivated us by getting into our heads. I do adore psychobabble! Did I mention I loved this place? Michelle’s mantra unfurled in a smooth, but convincing voice, fit for a DJ. Her monologue was punctuated by dancing lights and playlist that could rev up Rumpelstiltskin. It went like this. (My internal reply is in parentheses.)

 

“What do you want for yourself today?” (“I don’t know, but let’s get it, Gurl!”)

 

“Come to the edge, farther than before!” (YES! Show me the razor’s edge!”)

 

“Leave behind all that which does not enhance your existence.” (Bobs is leavin’ it in the smoke, Baby. Raaahhrrrrr!)

 

It occurred to me that pacing myself, regardless of my stoked inner power, might be wise. I backed off a teensy bit. Jenna dialed up her resistance and velocity. She meant business. I merely hoped to leave Cycle Bar on something besides a gurney and oxygen. Like my legs.

 

At the end, everyone applauded Michelle. She was an amazing instructor. I felt like I’d attended Tony Robbins’ seminar. Shortly, our compiled stats were emailed to us. This was new. I’d no idea I was being assessed. How cool is that? Jenna read hers first. She’d nearly ruled the class, being ranked for effort and workload, ranking her #2 out of 23 participants. Impressive, but not surprising. She is a fitness machine, that one!

 

“Check yours!” Jenna encouraged. “It’s in your email.”

 

“Oh, I hope I didn’t perform really badly…” I envisioned being #10-11…middle of the pack.I was pumped. I’d pedaled hard. I felt gooooooood! I LOVED THIS STUFF!

 

My recap showed that I’d burned 263 calories, my average speeds and workloads. Then in all its glory, we read my ranking…. #23. That’s out of 23.

WHAT? I WAS THE WORST? I HATE THAT PLACE!

 

Devastation flooded my head, for, like, one 23rd of a nanosecond. Then we started laughing. It got funnier. Take two bikes, side by side. Jenna was nearly the best in class; I must’ve had a flat tire.

 

Yet, here was the method in the madness: numbers don’t always justify results. I felt great and had a great experience. Nobody could take that away from me, #23. The laughter was pretty great too. Pedal on, my friends. bw

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.