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Posts tagged ‘anxiety’

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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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.

Get It, Girl

wtad.com/white pages/7.19.17

“When you know your why, you can endure anyhow.” John O’Leary

 

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Last Tuesday was a difficult day, one of many, because that’s life.  There was the day we had to take Dad’s keys away. That was a doozy. Or maybe when we moved Dad into the Veterans Home – without Mom. That one was the mother of all tough days.

After enough of these, we begin to understand that no matter how many tough days we have, their purpose is merely preparation for the next tough one. It reminds me of track hurdles. I attempted them once, but was never adept. Leg #1 cleared the hurdle, but then there’s that Leg #2. It’s like an educational program: “No Leg Left Behind.”  But the back leg just won’t rise up enough. I still can’t hurdle, even though the hurdles are now shorter. Pet gates at home are hurdles. They keep Lily White corralled. If I had a nickel for every time Leg #2 leveled the gate, I’d be retired on a beach in Fiji. The lesson: next time lift leg higher. It’s hard -sometimes very – because of  “it”. Yesterday “it” was a tough conversation with Mom. Who knows what it’ll be tomorrow?

What’s that troubling issue in your world? Imagine you’re on a relay. The runner prepares to pass the baton to you. You must grab it and immediately hurdle. Without tripping. Not this time. Tuesday, I told myself, “Just get over it. No moving gates aside, like I can with Lily’s gates. I got over it. It wasn’t easy. Tough’s hard.

There are other ways to help clear the hurdles. It’s whatever works for you. Here’s what I did. Tuesday I dressed for strength. My earrings were from Poland. Korey gave them to me on that trip. We toured Auschwitz I and II,  to understand history and the conditions in which my P.O.W. father was forced to live. And because that girl of mine/ours is one strong gem, conquering hurdle after hurdle. She inspires me. My necklace and ring are from Jeff. If he was a boxer, his robe would read, “THE ROCK”. Sometimes I’d like to throw rocks at him, but he just builds me a path with them. My bracelet is from Nick, given to me on his and Jenna’s wedding day. As a four pound preemie, we prayed he’d have strength to survive. Did he ever. Let’s call him, “ROCK II”. Mr. Strong & Steady, Jr. My skirt is from Jenna, who exhibited unbelievable strength on the premature death of her dad. She’s currently hurdling a new career like an Olympian and also being strong for Nick throughout Grandpa’s death. Love that girl, like our own. My hair is from my mom. Talk about a strength in the face of adversity. Whoa. Now, it’s my turn. Sure hope I got that gene. Finally, my shoes. I recently attended “Let’s Rise!” conference. Jeff Googled it and thought I’d find inspiration and rejuvenation. He was correct. I’d forgotten my shoes, so had to buy some. Wearing them reminds me of what I learned at “Rise”: with thought and preparation, we can do more than we thought.

It’s been tough before.  It’s tough today. It’ll get tough tomorrow. I need to get it done and behind me. After Tuesday, I’m not jubilant, but relieved and a bit stronger. I’m doing the right thing. I know that feeling.

No resting on laurels, Girl, get strong for the next tough opportunity.  At Hobby Lobby, I saw “Get it, Girl”, an 8”x 8” light-up, home accent in Barbie colors. I know! I called later. They held it for me.  At 90%, it probably won’t drop further…better grab it for $2.50.

What’s your “Get it, Girl?” What thing gives you strength?

Find it. Own it. Get it.

Hair Day Goes to the Dogs

wtad.com/white pages/7.19.17

Bobbe White

 

 

 

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Once a month is hair cut day, at 7:00 with Kris. That way, I always try to take the 7:00 A.M. slot – you know, FIFO: first in/first out. Plus, it’s quiet, as none of the other stylists or aestheticians schedule patients – I mean clients – that early. Let me tell you, my hair looked really sick yesterday. I don’t mean sick, as in cool, but rather, not well. This is because of the shower before bed. There’s only one style messier than bed-head and that’s wet-bed-head. The top resembled a ski jump –flat approach on the left side to a peak on the right side. Only Kris could tame this mane.

Tuesday also called for Lily White’s appointment for rabies shots and the series of horrible diseases from which she is protected: distemper, bordetella, whooping cough, malaria, yellow plum and Silly Yak disease. She rode along for the 7:00 seeing as I didn’t have time to run home and fetch her. I expected she would bark as soon as I entered the salon. And she did for a while. Then there was quiet. Dangerous quiet, like you have when a toddler gets quiet. I went to the car and Kris invited her in to the salon. She had a leash on, so how hard could this be? I knew Kris loves dogs so it would be fine and he has other clients with dogs too. He gave Lily White a warm reception with pets and scratches.

“Her nose is bleeding.”

I said it was just a tender patch of pink on the end of her snout from scraping it on our fence. She was digging under it, the little beast. “No, it’s really bleeding!” And it was. Kris grabbed an old towel and I dabbed the dog’s nose, but it kept bubbling up. Kris put a bandage on it and I got hysterical. Of course, within seconds, Lily pawed it off of there. She was dripping blood droplets on his floor. This was so embarrassing. Eventually, the coagulation began and I sat back in the chair.  As Lily settled to sit down, she started whimpering and held her right front paw up. OMG! Now what? Kris, God love him, inspected her paw and announced, “Her nail is broken and it’s bleeding.” I’m shaking my head. Good grief. Whose salon appointment was this? “Do you still want your hair cut? Kris asked? “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!”

To think we’d gone through all of this and no cut or style for me. Unthinkable.

Fortunately, my cuts take about twelve minutes. I paid and tipped Kris $20 for the home health care nursing. He scoffed at that. “Donate it to the Humane Society then. I don’t care.” Off to the vet we went to get the shots and her nails clipped. The vet stopped the bleeding of her broken nail. We finished and headed home so I could get ready for work, even though I’d already felt like I’d put in a full day. On the way home, we stopped at Starbucks for a latte for me; a Puppacino* for Lily.  And they lived happily ever after.

 

*Puppacino is a junior cup of whipped cream, sometimes garnished with a milk bone for dogs. And it’s free!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once a month is hair cut day, at 7:00 with Kris. That way, I always try to take the 7:00 A.M. slot – you know, FIFO: first in/first out. Plus, it’s quiet, as none of the other stylists or  schedule patients – I mean clients that early. Let me tell you that my hair looked really sick yesterday. I don’t mean sick, as in cool, but rather, not well. This is because of the shower before bed. There’s only one style messier than bed-head and that’s wet-bed-head. The top resembled a ski jump –flat approach on the left side to a peak on the right side. Only Kris could tame this mane.

Tuesday also called for Lily White’s appointment for rabies shots and the series of horrible diseases from which she is protected: distemper, bordetella, whooping cough, malaria, yellow plum and Silly Yak disease. She rode along for the 7:00 seeing as I didn’t have time to run home and fetch her. I expected she would bark as soon as I entered the salon. And she did for a while. Then there was quiet. Dangerous quiet, like you have when a toddler gets quiet. I went to the car and Kris invited her in to the salon. She had a leash on, so how hard could this be? I knew Kris loves dogs so it would be fine and he has other clients with dogs too. He gave Lily White a warm reception with pets and scratches.

“Her nose is bleeding.”

I said it was just a tender patch of pink on the end of her snout from scraping it on our fence. She was digging under it, the little beast. “No, it’s really bleeding!” And it was. Kris grabbed an old towel and I dabbed the dog’s nose, but it kept bubbling up. Kris put a bandage on it and I got hysterical. Of course, within seconds, Lily pawed it off of there. She was dripping blood droplets on his floor. This was so embarrassing. Eventually, the coagulation began and I sat back in the chair.  As Lily settled to sit down, she started whimpering and held her right front paw up. OMG! Now what? Kris, God love him, inspected her paw and announced, “Her nail is broken and it’s bleeding.” I’m shaking my head. Good grief. Whose salon appointment was this? “Do you still want your hair cut? Kris asked? “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!”

To think we’d gone through all of this and no cut or style for me. Unthinkable.

Fortunately, my cuts take about twelve minutes. I paid and tipped Kris $20 for the home health care nursing. He scoffed at that. “Donate it to the Humane Society then. I don’t care.” Off to the vet we went to get the shots and her nails clipped. The vet stopped the bleeding of her broken nail. We finished and headed home so I could get ready for work, even though I’d already felt like I’d put in a full day. On the way home, we stopped at Starbucks for a latte for me; a Puppacino* for Lily.  And they lived happily ever after.

 

*Puppacino is a junior cup of whipped cream, sometimes garnished with a milk bone for dogs. And it’s free!

alzHACKer’s disease:  Helpful hacks for improving your communication efforts

Written for WTAD White Pages 4-7-17

Bobbe White

                                                                                                                                                                You’ll eventually know someone with Alzheimer’s disease (A.D.).  Percentages are expected to increase exponentially.  Watching Dad succumb has been educational, at best. At worst, “It aint’ purty.” A day doesn’t pass, when someone doesn’t mention their family is dealing with A.D. Check out these hacks for improving communication.

A dopt a smile before entering their room. (Fake or real, they won’t care.)

L et them lead the conversation, even if it’s nonsensical. If Dad mumbles, I either answer randomly or agree with him. Nobody insists it must make sense.

Z ip your mouth when you get the urge to argue. It’s not worth it. Nobody wins.

H ave your phone handy. Show photos. Play music. It possesses power for persons with various dementias. Select hits from their 18-25 adult years. Observe their reaction. Some music sparks happy memories, some triggers sad ones. Note bobbing head and tapping feet. With Dad, it’s not a tremor. It’s his mojo!

E ngage in conversation around someone with A.D. Even the sound of your voice can be soothing.

I nvest in a baby doll.  Watch someone with A.D. cradle, rock and love it. It’s soothing. I believe there’s an innate sense to feel needed. Even better, bring a real baby or puppy!

M ake eye contact. (Not with the puppy…the person!)

E ncourage staff to share funny situations you may have missed. “Laughter is like a dry diaper. It doesn’t take care of the problem, but it makes it bearable for a while.” Michael Pritchard.

R esolve to sloooooooow your pace. Especially if feeding them! They can’t go from 0 to 110 anymore.

S o, they don’t know you. It stinks. It’s the disease. Dad thinks I’m a waitress. He calls me, “Babe.” (He knows me!) Then I realize he calls everybody, “Babe”. (Sigh…)

The Newlywed Game – 40 years later

Written for WTAD.COM/WHITE PAGES

3/09/17

Bobbe White

Forty years ago today, on March 9, 1977, Jeff showed up at my Florida apartment in the middle of the night, with a Buick Skylark full of his stuff. And a ring. I was finishing an internship in Winter Park, FL. I figured if went far enough away from ISU, (Illinois State) my supervisor wasn’t likely to pop in on me for a surprise observation. I was correct.  Dr. Meyer never popped in on me, but I never expected Jeff to pick up his life in Quincy and PoP the question at 2:00a.m. We returned to Quincy and a smattering of family and friends, for a living room ceremony March 26, 1977 (yes, three weeks later); then high-tailed it back to Florida for our obligations.

We had a great run those first couple of years. We moved about every six to eight months, by design. When else can you live in multiple cities and move everything you own in two cars?

Along the way, an extra passenger hopped into my car, uninvited. The passenger would hang out in the back seat some of the journey. Sometimes it even in the trunk, and we didn’t know it was there. About 6-8 years later, my extra passenger hopped into the front seat and sometimes, insisted on driving. The extra passenger -or baggage- however you care to look at it, was depression and anxiety. There. I’ve said it. It’s very scary to admit. But it’s very burdensome to not admit. Do you know why? Those of us who have suffered are deathly afraid of the STIGMA. Especially in a small community, where everybody knows your name. Especially somebody like me: high school cheerleader, long-term career gal, the motivational humorist speaker and author, on my own time (a/k/a known as a laughter therapist). Who’d have thunk it?

We’re happy to announce that I’ve been a recovering train wreck since about 2000. If you do the math, our married and family life was burdened by my affliction, or illness, or whatever you want to call it, for years.  To celebrate our anniversary, we will exchange the Hallmark cards and I’ll unwrap a crown of rubies, diamonds and sapphires, no doubt. We’ll take a week-end trip at some point. But, here’s our REAL gift to each other: we’re collaborating on a book about my depression and how it affects the spouse and the house. If you, too, suffer, it’s not just you who suffers. We think we hide it pretty well. Right. It takes a village to move a family through this muckety-muck. Thankfully, with a lot of help, we’re on the other side: still married, still learning about how it’s even possible and with terrific kids, who, thank God, I didn’t damage as much as I’d feared. Our message to those who may read our book someday is a simple one.

There is hope.  There is help. We’re proof.  bw