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Archive for the ‘thoughtfulness’ 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

 

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!

 

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.

 

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.

Why I Gave Him the Finger

give the fingerTo those I’ve interrupted, “Guilty as charged”.

 

It’s recommended that we find our “third place” to write, do taxes, work, read, pay bills, think, study, sketch, paint, workout or meditate. I tried a Third Place on Sunday.

 

What and where is your third place?

 

It’s not home, or work.

 

It is a neutral, mostly distraction-free zone. Think: coffee shops, parks, libraries, gyms and beaches.

 

Third place-why? First and second places tempt us with many diversions, such as:

 

-Laundry

An instant burning desire to wash, dry, and fold every last article, which includes ironing Jeff’s Jockey’s or sockies.

 

-People

Without hesitation, you’re outside the house or down the office hall chatting with neighbors and co-workers, whom you’ve ignored for years.

 

-Eating: Before starting, you need a little snack, which turns into a full out pantry and floor sweep for crumbs, expired spices and old food in the fridge. Sure, the kitchen sparkles after this effort, but you haven’t done one intended thing yet.

 

-Revamping space

Home closets, credenza drawers or under your work desk are favorite diversionist destinations. A simple pen search evolves into sorting envelopes, medications and paperclips. There’s something safe about diving deep into closets, drawers and other dark spaces.

 

Why are these activities appealing distractions? Google it. I’ve decided to term it: “Ostriching”.

 

Ostrich defined:

A flightless swift running and the largest living African bird with long neck, long legs and two toes per foot.

 

Myth: ostriches bury their heads in sand to avoid predators.

 

Fact: they would die from asphyxiation.

 

Fact: When nesting, they dig shallow holes to bury their eggs. From afar, ostriches appear to be burying their small heads, when they’re simply tending their eggs.

 

 

Human ostriches (i.e. procrastinators):

People who refuse to face reality or accept facts, such as finite time. While ostriches are actually engaging in functional activity in their nests, humans, on the other hand, creatively try to avoid the intended task by burying their heads into places like closets, washers and refrigerators.

 

Our third place isolates us from distractions and enables us to stay on task.

Starbucks was my third place Sunday morning. I sat in the corner with my ear buds inserted and thought, “I don’t know anyone here!” Which was shocking. Then, a man, whom I scarcely knew, approached me while chatting, but I couldn’t hear him, of course.

 

I decided I had to give him the finger or he’d stay all morning. Mom always gave me the finger too. The “Wait-one-second-I’m-in-the-middle-of-something-on-which-the-survival-of-the-human-species-depends” finger. To further indicate my intention to stay on task, my eyes remained on my paper; ear buds stayed inserted. I felt (a little) bad being rude, but these types of people are easily encouraged and hard to disband.

 

What I learned

  1. If you want your time uninterrupted, you must be willing to protect it.
  2. When I happen upon someone who’s obviously busy, I will resist the urge to engage him or her in mindless chatter. Unless my pants are on fire. bw

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.