Bobbe White Writes

Perspective – it’s a pretty big deal.

Just Say “THROW” (it away!) — January 14, 2017

Just Say “THROW” (it away!)

The White Pages, by Bobbe White                                                                                                              written for wtad.com  1/12/17

Just Say, “Throw!”

Have you heard of The Minimalist Game? The game is designed to help those of us with organized hoarding habits, to unburden our homes of extra stuff. It exhausts me to think about it, but I’m playing and found a friend on Facebook, Marianne Schmitt, who has joined me, so that we can be accountability buddies during the festivities. First, I watched the documentary, The Minimalists, as recommended by my daughter. Then, I found their website, with regular podcasts, books and blogs, oh my! All designed to help People Like Us (PLU) who have a tendency to keep and heap. Here’s how the game is played for a month. I started 1/1/17, but you can start whenever you like. On day 1, you get rid of one item you don’t need, wear or want. On day 2, two things. I’m on day 12, because it’s the 12th, obviously, and that’s right, I must shed 12 things. So far, I’ve been a good player and student of the game, but, it’s going to get harder. Today I threw out two broken baby gates, a gallon of Elmer’s glue, four books and five flip flops. This is kind of like the “Twelve Days of Christmas” in reverse and with giving, not getting one thing from your true love. To the giver, whatever you pitch should have no value to him or her anymore.

Another thing about PLU: this is not an easy game, as it moves into double-digit-getting-rid-of-crap-days. However, I keep surprising myself that there actually IS that much worthless stuff in this house! Sad, but true. If I must say so myself, it’s a little bit exhilarating and very satisfying.

One more point of the game that makes it challenging: PLU find it hard to purge anything, no matter how worthless it is. There are two main reasons for this:  (1) we’ve developed a bond over the years with our stuff and (2) the four toxic words of garbage giving: “I might need it!” No you won’t.

If it were nicer weather, I’d put all this stuff outside for a free garage sale. But it’s winter, so for now, I will find homes for some of the items, and the rest will be in my car for a daily drop at the Salvation Army. It’s the best service ever! You pull in and double doors

automatically open, a volunteer comes out with a grocery cart and happily hauls your hoards of stuff away.  Just. Like. That. It’s a lot like the dry cleaners, except you don’t have to go back to pick up your order. You’d better not!  If you follow the rules and I did the math right, after 31 days, you’ll have trashed 487 items! Happy purging, my minimalists!   (theminimalists.com)

Exhibit A:  contents from one (1!) closet
stuff

 

 

 

For more information, check out the minimalists.com.

Why Do We Live Here? — December 21, 2016

Why Do We Live Here?

scrape-windshield

Written by Bobbe White for “The White Pages”  WTAD.COM

Why Do We Live Here?

Frankly on weekends like the last one, I do not know.  It was simply too cold and icy to justify; too treacherous to visit family, stay upright while attempting to walk into work or do anything, really. All of this on the weekend before Christmas! What rotten luck for us procrastinators.

It all started Friday after work. Here we were: coats zipped, gloves on and remote start buttons activated. Unless you’re like me, without remote start. We had a windshield scraping fest instead. But, it was as if Santa’s elves – with and without remote start- had descended upon our parking lot!  Even though it meant the remote starter people would have had to stay late, they did! It was the coolest thing ever. No, actually, it was cold as H-E-Double Hockey Sticks! And hockey players are the only ones who would’ve found our parking lot remotely enjoyable. Anyway, everyone helped everyone else get the icy buildup cracked enough to drive away safely. It was heartwarming and almost great fun. Almost.

Saturday was colder and windier. Ice drizzled on our cars. I chose to use floor mats on the windshield, to minimize scraping after work. It worked well on the left side, but the wind swooped in and took the right side mat, which found me executing a double-twist, triple Salchow* jump on the iced parking lot, to retrieve it.

*Salchow (sal’– kau): a figure skating jump with a takeoff from the back inside edge of one skate followed by one or more full turns in the air and (ideally) landing on the back outside edge of the opposite skate.

I wanted to go home. Customers had been sparse during work and Broadway was ghostly quiet, but while I was out, I went to the cleaners, the liquor store and the mall. Fortunately, I’d dressed warmly in my down-filled parka. I became uber toasty inside the mall. Then the zipper broke. In order to take it off, I struggled to slide it over my hips. Forced is closer. WD-40 anybody?  And I thought the Salchow was difficult!  When it was time to go outside and wiggle back into my coat, it was exhausting. A woman watched me curiously. I made eye contact with her and said-as if I always put my coat on over my hips, “My zipper broke, okay?” She smiled and edged away from me.

Sunday, was more of the same: icy roads, frigid temps, and the addition of a few inches of snow. A winter trifecta! I stayed home. The end.

Wait! I need to answer the first question: why do we live here? We live here because when the temperature rises to 23 degrees, everyone loosens their woolen scarves a bit and remarks, “It’s nice out today?”  And they mean it.

Happy frantic shopping week! Stay warm and safe.

tHe FuNnY sIdE oF cHrIsTmAs — December 14, 2016

tHe FuNnY sIdE oF cHrIsTmAs

The White Pages – December 14, 2016                                                                                                    Bobbe White

Written for WTAD.COM 

As the days until Christmas count down, stress levels mount up and up and up, until you feel as if you’re going to blow a gasket. It’s tough to get your gasket repaired this time of year. I have no idea what a gasket is or does, but in human terms I imagine it’s the holiday flu, or the holiday blues, or the terrible two’s (like watching adults act as if they’re two again. You know: becoming sick, cranky and fussy, with a tendency to meltdown into a puddle of tears.) A powerful time of the year is upon us; Thanksgiving bustles right into Christmas. To survive emotionally, try finding some comic relief where ever you can.

Remembering memories that make us laugh is one way to feel better for a moment. A moment? Hey – one moment’s better than none. It’s about jiggling and releasing those funny memories in your brain.  Anytime you hear yourself say, “That reminds me of the Thanksgiving or Christmas when…”  you may want to write it down so you don’t forget it for another fifty years. Remember, it doesn’t matter if your memory is funny to anyone else. I do recommend sharing, because you might get somebody else laughing and sharing their funny memories. Here are some of mine.

At Thanksgiving, our daughter, Korey, suggested downsizing: “Start by throwing out everything in this house that’s broken!” I started with our 30-year old dead microwave, because heating up Thanksgiving leftovers was a drag. Okay, we’re spoiled, but we’re still in a hurry; family needed to hit the road. I purchased a microwave the next Monday; installation was three days later. It’s great having a nuker again, except its position to the adjacent cabinet prohibits no more than a 45 degree door opening of this model. I’ll have to fold a pizza, I guess.  I texted Larry, the installer, to (1) thank him for his service and (2) ask, “Do microwaves ever open from the other side?” Here’s the text I received:

josh

I began laughing, then crying from laughter. You know, “Craughter.” It was awesome. I thanked Josh for the advice and the laugh. He said, it wasn’t a problem and to have a good day. Did I EVER!

A co-worker is trying to pull off “Elf on the Shelf” for her four-year old daughter by posing Skittles in different household activities nightly. Skittles is the elf’s name. I had no idea that they must be named. Anyway, one morning last week, Madelyn ran to Mom to report Skittles had been in the flour bag and was just a white mess. “Skittles is soooooooooo sh*t!” she said.  “EXCUSE ME?!?!” said Mom. “Skittles is soooooooooooo sh*t!” Madelyn said again, bubbling with giggles.  Mom searched madly for a better word. The word. The right word.  “Do you mean “SILLY?”  And Madelyn replied, “Yeah, Skittles IS silly!”

elf

Another co-worker’s grandson had shopped at their church’s children’s bizarre. Anderson proudly announced he’d purchased a pencil eraser for his one-year old brother. And a ruler for his mom. That reminded me of the one Christmas, my kids picked out peach-colored golf socks and an O.D. green puffy headband for me. I wore the socks a lot.  The headband?  Not so much. I wish I’d kept both items, because the combination makes me smile every time. Finally, co-workers were sampling a Kris Kringle exchange gift of Goat Milk hand lotion. It smelled horrible. Then one of the guys tried a dab, and said, “It’s not baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad!” An answer with which any goat would be impressed.

Have a great pre-holiday week and remember to jot down your funnies so you can enjoy and share them this an every holiday season. It will help, I promise.

 

It’s a Tough World Out There — June 17, 2016

It’s a Tough World Out There

Bobbe 21
Bobbe tries  to pull herself out of the garbage of life, to carry on.

It’s Friday, June 17, 2016…

…and it’s a tough world out there. Within the past week,

  • A talented singer is killed in Orlando,
  • 50 people gunned down in Orlando nightclub,
  • Two-year old is killed by alligator outside of Orlando.

Poor people, poor families, poor community, poor Orlando.  Makes a person understand what “being under a dark cloud” means, right? If we ever needed to feel better, it is now. But where do we start and what can we do? Is there anything right in the world? It’s called, “basic”, People, “basic”.  Basic comfort for pain. What’s that?  It might be a chocolate chip cookie, cuddling your child or sipping a nice glass of merlot. Basic pleasures for uplifting your attitude: pet your dog, peak at a sleeping baby, watch Jimmy Fallon and President Obama write thank you letters out loud, set to melodic piano. Then, try to live with Positive Expectancy (Steve Wilson). What does this mean? It means: approaching life, as we know it, not as a Pollyanna, but with hopes for good things, which make living worthwhile. To me, it means looking harder than ever for bits of humor, wherever they will pop up. And they WILL pop up, if you play attention. That’s right, it’s not a typo, I said, “PLAY” attention. Be aware, be alert, be alive! It’s okay to carry on. And besides, (queue Leslie Gore), “It’s my birthday and I’ll smile if want to, smile if I want to, smile if I want to. You would smile too, if it happened to you!”  Yep, it’s my birthday and at the risk of sounding like a goat, I’m going to have a goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood day. Why not? At my age, that’s 427 years old – in dog years, I don’t know how much time I have left. And in dog years, I might have 14 glasses of wine and 7 pieces of cakea tonight!  You’ve got to love dog years. Cheers and happy weekending in spite of it all.  bw

Mothers of the Gulf War: Vivian Drees — February 25, 2016

Mothers of the Gulf War: Vivian Drees

A mother’s worst nightmare: February 25, 1991, Vivian Drees’ son, Tony, was critically injured in the worst scud missile attack of Operation Desert Storm. This very special mom talks about it as they celebrate “25 Years Alive Day!”

MOTHERS OF THE GULF WAR: VIVIAN DREES

A Mother’s Perspective

By Bobbe White

 

If we are lucky in life, we will meet someone as impactful as Vivian Drees, a woman with a heart as big as Montana, make that, North Dakota, which is still bigger than most hearts. As a child, Vivian watched her parents take in babies, years before the term   “foster” parents became a silent badge of honor.  Years later, Vivian and husband, John, found themselves following in the same footsteps as her parents. John was an Army Reservist, a farmer and a solid man, whom Vivian met in June 1970. Their love and commitment for each other grew quickly, they were engaged by August and married in November 1970.  They knew they wanted a family and soon, they found kids entering their lives. Oh boy, did kids enter their lives! Altogether, John and Vivian had thirty children, including one of their own, a step parent adoption, and of 30 foster children, they were able to adopt five.

 

Each time a new child came into their home, the Drees explained to the children, “A new foster child is arriving soon. The child might have to return, at some point, to his real or adoptive home.”  Their biological son, Matthew, watched children come and go. One day, he asked Vivian, “When do I have to go back to my “real” home?” They’d never explained to Matt that he WAS at his forever home. She was touched and proud that, biologically or foster, the children were equally loved.  “Honestly,” Vivian stated, “I can fit every one of these children into my heart, even the ones who are damaged.” And damaged, some were.

 

One foster child, Tony, came to the Drees family at age 13.  He was a runaway Air Force base boy, from an abusive home.  Tony’s mother loved her husband more than her children. In the past Tony called his stepfather, “Stepmonster.” Tony felt angry, cheated and thrown-away. Vivian recalls, “On his 15th birthday, Tony asked to call his birth mother. I was apprehensive about the reception he’d receive.” Knowing her headstrong Tony wouldn’t give up until he was batted away from his mom again, Vivian stayed close during that call. “I’d hoped my instinct was wrong,” but her keen, motherly, sixth sense rarely failed. Everything John and Vivian had done to build Tony up was torn down by a short conversation with his birth mother on the phone, much like the day she said in open court, “I don’t want him, you take him!” Vivian’s sense was correct.

 

John and Vivian were inherent teachers; he taught expertise through modeling mastery, work ethic and critical thinking. As Tony’s frustrations and anger mounted, John instructed Tony to remove a tree stump in the field.  Armed with an axe, Tony assaulted the stump for hours upon days. John helped Tony learn valuable coping skills through physical work to ease mental angst. John taught in his classroom, “The Shop”, where he shared his ideology about being a father, a provider and a community servant. Vivian’s invaluable life lessons were taught by always being present, something she was able to do as a stay-at-home mom.  She taught her children, “The most important lesson in life is to realize that things aren’t fair.”  It is only then, that a person can move on.

 

As the years progressed, Tony and his high school buddies started finding trouble as some teenage boys commonly do. During his junior year, some boys robbed a Coca-Cola machine; Tony claimed responsibility. The summer before senior year, Tony stole the family car; a diesel station wagon. The transmission blew and Tony became “Foster Care Scared” and ran away. His parents needed the insurance money to fix the car, so charges had to be filed against Tony. Vivian reluctantly agreed with recommendation of the social worker and Tony’s attorney that he be sent to the State Industrial School for Boys for ninety days.  The Drees hoped this punishment would help Tony recognize his choices and behavior. The program worked. Tony went on to have a positive senior year and graduated at the age of 17. After graduation, Tony attended the University of North Dakota (UND) and then enlisted in the US Army for four years, serving in West Germany. When he returned to North Dakota, he returned to school at UND to excel in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) as a student, an officers candidate, and student athlete, while finishing two years as an Inactive Reservist.

 

At the age of 22, Tony then requested to be adopted; an unusual request for a 22-year-old. His wish was granted and Tony finally had a real, forever home with the Drees family.

 

In January 1991, during Desert Storm, Tony received orders to join the fighting in the Gulf War. A week into Tony’s deployment, Vivian – again- had a cold, sixth sense feeling for her son. The evening news on February 25, 1991 confirmed her fears: a U.S. barracks was hit by a scud missile in one of the deadliest attacks of the Gulf War. She witnessed the chaos unfold on T.V., and knew it was bad, in general, and for Tony, personally. The Drees waited five long and agonizing days before hearing from Tony, who’d suffered life-threatening wounds: shattered, shrapnel filled femur and the backs of both his legs blown off.  After the first of 58 surgeries, Tony was transported from Saudi Arabia to Germany for his recovery. A nurse asked Tony what he needed, “My mom,” he answered.  He was running out of courage, he was abroad, alone and critically injured. This request activated the American Red Cross to get involved and within days, Vivian headed to Germany. As fate would have it, Vivian was met at Germany’s Ramstein Air Base, by one of her foster daughter’s younger brothers who was stationed there. With this effort to accommodate her, Vivian realized that the kindness, which she’d so generously and selflessly given to her foster children, was being returned to her as life had come full circle in her foster parenting journey.

 

Tony was further transported to Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda, MD with Vivian by his side. His high-profile injuries found The U.S. President, top military leaders, nationally publicized journalists at his bedside, and the mother-son photo appeared in People Magazine. During Tony’s long and arduous recovery, Vivian was his fiercest cheerleader.

 

Upon Tony’s hospital discharge and Medical Retirement from the Army in March of 1992, Tony returned to North Dakota, bringing with him, the constant companion of war pain, both physical and mental challenges.  Tony’s recovery of body and mind would need to begin by building strength. A topic, to which Tony is no stranger even today, he keeps his body tuned, as any serious athlete does. Vivian and John were the yin and yang to his recovery. She was the compassionate, soft-spoken figure; John was the strong, quiet component. They both served as the “buoys” to a man drowning in a sea of pain.

 

Vivian is more than proud of Tony’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) management.  His negative experiences are now channeled into a positive career of helping others heal and succeed. A number of John and Vivian’s children came to them damaged, some succeed, some struggle perpetually. Their unwavering support for each of their children remains a constant vigilant journey. Those two were quite a team. Now, by visiting her parents in Canada, seven children, seventeen grandchildren and one great grandchild, Vivian is trying  fill a huge void left by John’s death last year. Without question, losing John feels so unfair to Vivian, but she knows the lesson; some things just aren’t fair. Serving as a dedicated Military Mom, a community servant and an advocate for foster children, she also knows she can fit the growing family into her home and her heart, and that is what keeps her going.

 

When asked directly about her bond with Tony she replies,”I am proud he is my son, I love him.”

 

 

Chalking It Up to Experience: September 2015 — October 1, 2015

Chalking It Up to Experience: September 2015

6:45 a.m. text:  “Are you up?”  I was.  “Talk?” I could. Something’s up. Assuming this was going to be a extensive chat, I leashed up Lily White, so we could walk, talk, wag, and worry with my friend. Call it, “dogtasking.”

We talked forever; I had five minutes to dress and drive to work. The day’s attire required forethought, as I’d entered a sidewalk “Chalk-a-Thon”, after work. I’m no artist, but give me a box of colored chalk and I’m a happy girl!  I wore a sundress, jacketed for bank professionalism; belted to an approved length; neither maxi nor mini.  At 1:00pm, I unbelted the dress to maxi length, to protect knees meeting concrete. Don’t worry, it wasn’t a good dress; it was from Walgreen’s. Yes, they have sundresses. With wet hair, along with mascara and lip gloss in the car, hi ho, hi ho…

On the way, I called work, explaining I’d helped a damsel in distress and what is a girl to do with a call like that? Six blocks away, I inventoried myself, ready for a busy day.  “Good grief, I’ve forgotten something.” (Cough, commando, cough.) My thoughts ran wild: “Too late to turn back. No time to stop and shop. Nobody will know anyway. Runway models don’t bother. No lines today. Yay.”

The Chalk-a-Thon was therapeutic. There’re two things adults should never stop doing: (1) sidewalk art, and (2) the zoo, with or without children. The competitive artists drew splendid renditions of Kermit, Taj Mahal, Ninja Turtle, and  beautiful floral designs. Me? I drew basic mountains with clouds and flowers. It was amateurish and non-award winning, but delightful chalk-art.

3:00pm: Headed to Sam’s Club. Membership renewal comes with coupons: 16 paper towel rolls ($.48), 40 bottled waters ($.68), and a gargantuan bottle of detergent ($.58). I loaded that, and more, in the car, slowly closing the hatch…with purse, phone and keys locked inside. Lovely. All I had was the water, due to no room in back. I asked a Sam’s employee to Google taxis. The dispatcher said, “We’ve got a few stops before you.” I patiently waited at my command(o) post.

5:15pm: Forty-five minutes later, it amazed me that, (a) cabs in Quincy IL could be so busy, and (b) only one acquaintance walked by me. The Dustin Hall Family offered my water and me a ride after purchasing diapers, unless the cab came first. But it didn’t.

6:00pm: My dog was quite happy the Halls hauled me home. I failed to find the extra key, so called a co-worker to retrieve a third key from my bank desk…as soon as she finished coloring her hair. While stuck at home for a few hours; I began doing what every stranded woman does; ripped up the kitchen tile. Ahhhhh, release!

6:30pm: Denise delivers key in fabulous hair and I was one hair closer to my car.

7:00pm: Called Neighbor Nancy, for a ride to Sam’s, “As soon as this TV show ends.”  Of course!  This wasn’t urgent.

8:15pm: Three NCIS episodes later, she arrives. We celebrate the lifting of the car hatch and there, in all their glory were my purse, keys, phone and merchandise. Nancy regretted binge-watching NCIS, when she spotted produce, possibly spoiled. It was fine. I was mobile again.  Oh well.

8:30pm: Home again, home again, jiggity-jig! I prayed to St. Anthony and found the 2nd key, which had fallen from the key rack, into a dark corner on the floor.

Epilogue: Maybe the cab came.  Maybe not. I could still be waiting there with my water. Hey, at least I could stay hydrated. It’s all about perspective and trying to stay in command-o of the situation. bw

Well, Bite My Bubbles: A One-winged Woman Wrestles With What’s Worthy — April 28, 2015

Well, Bite My Bubbles: A One-winged Woman Wrestles With What’s Worthy

Welcome to our new subscribers from PACT of Western Illinois!

There’s nothing like shoulder surgery to reprioritize my world. (Bone spur/cuff tears repaired) With Bruce Jenner in the news, it seems the Olympic Decathlon describes the experience well, albeit, not with its traditional events.

Swimming- 40 years of Swimming = wear and tear. Now, I swim in the shower with a noodle and ducky water wings, to stabilize shoulder. Well, bite my bubbles. This really stinks. Glub, glub, glub.

Baseball- Dad always said, “You throw like a girl.”  No wonder I always flunked the fitness test. When throwing my high, fast ball to son, Nick, in the pool, 12 years ago, the effort was rewarded with right shoulder pain. Need relief pitcher. Now. Or physical therapy.

Rock-climbing-  I scraped the house gutters last August, so Jeff could repaint them. The next day, “Hello, annoying pain, again.” Go figure.

Rafting- 9/2014, US National Whitewater Center, Charlotte SC.  After my first stroke, I realized I was on the wrong side of the boat. Owwweeeee! I HATE rocking the proverbial boat, let alone a real one so, I stayed put. Bad idea. Physical therapy (PT) couldn’t help this time, so, “Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s off to MRI we go.

Football- PT refers me to Dr. Smith, Columbia, MO.  Fun facts: Dr. Smith is the head team physician for Mizzou football. Good enough for them, good enough for me. Plus, Dr. Smith dresses in suits, not scary white coats, not to mention, Dr. Smith smells swell. Once I’m chemically relaxed, (loopy) will I ask the cologne name? Hope not.  Another patient says, “Already asked him. Lagerfeld.”  Good, now I don’t have to.

Figure Skating– My injury wasn’t from falling.  Except for one stumble… Consult was 2/8/15; surgery scheduled 4/13/15. (Jeff thought it best to avoid winter, considering two hour drive to Columbia.) 2/18/15: On the last piece of winter ice, I slip during my Triple (k)lutz Salchow double loop twist, chipping right hand bone and spraining wrist. Perfect.

Basketball/Golf/Football: On surgery eve, I dreamed Michael Jordan was my surgeon. Sports were on my brain. JORDAN Speith had just won the Masters Golf that day; with NBA on another channel. When I was even MORE relaxed, (loopy) I asked Dr. Smith if MJ ever showed up. Smith said, “No,” and he was pretty sure he’d done a much better job than Jordan would have. Besides, MJ kept patients waiting for hours. Not good.

Alligator Wrestling is similar to getting me dressed, with this huge shoulder immobilization sling. And there’s humor when your husband dresses you. The put-on-pile includes a shirt, sweater and bra. Jeff asks, “Which top do you think we should start with?”  I suggest, “How about the bra? It goes underneath….” When pulling up my underpants, he pulls them up to my armpits and then gives a final tug for good measure. Good grief, I haven’t had a “Melvin” since high school.  These are mid-rise hipsters from Victoria Secret and they DON’T go above the rib cage. HELPPPPPPP MEEEEEEEE!

Gymnastics–  Floor exercise includes getting in/out of bed and the car, putting on socks one-handed, eating and using the computer mouse with my left hand, but hair and makeup create the biggest gyration due to the sling, If lipstick’s all over my face, just say, “Yes, Bobbe, it’s a 10, perfectly straight!” Ta-Da!

Couples Ice Dancing – I told our daughter, Korey, that when I’m done with the sling, she can have it for a great conversation starter. “Don’t I need to be older for one of those?” Korey said. Nope, I know 19 year olds who’ve had this surgery. “Okay, send it out.”

Gold medals go to Jeff, friends and family for help. It takes a village when you can’t drive -or dress-for 6 weeks.  In honor of April, National Humor Month, let us be reminded that it also takes humor. A lot of it. bw

I LEFT MY PANTS IN POLAND! January 2015 — January 16, 2015

I LEFT MY PANTS IN POLAND! January 2015

It’s Thursday, January 15, 2015, and in the news,
•Al Quaida in Yemen takes responsibility for Paris Attack; Belgium thwarts attack
•Gas leak on space station forces US astronauts into Russian quarters.
•Puppy piddles a puddle during premier appearance on the Today show.

It’s a tough world out there, and sometimes, you just need to laugh. I’ve rewritten this blog 3 times, unsure about which direction to take. We’re on top of the Paris situation, in a “wait & watch” mode and we’ll never grasp ISIS’ mentality. But the puppy. Now there’s something we can use. The teaser previews made us anxious. I mean, who doesn’t love a Lab pup, in training for service? Jeff stepped closer to the TV. Impatiently, he said to Matt Lauer, “C’mon, nobody cares about the gas leak. GET TO THE PUPPY!” And the laughter was good.

After much thought, I’ve decided to ditch the heavy stuff and share some observations of our recent trip to Europe.
•Hint: don’t use “GEEK FARE” for tickets. We were routed from Chicago to LaGuardia, NYC, then JFK to London. What, pray tell, is enough time to jaunt across NYC? But, we made it. And that’s a BIG but, because we almost didn’t.
•At Buckingham Palace’s changing of the guard, everyone jockeyed for position. The best place for me was to squat down and peer through others’ legs. A guy above observed me and barked at me. The nerve.
•Liquor store signs in Cracow/Warsaw, Poland are called, “ALKOHOLE”. Yes, some people are Alkohole’s, too.
•12/26/14, everyone in Warsaw walks. Nothing is open for business, so where’s everybody going? Not even TK Maxx is open.(Yes, it reads TK). We learn it’s “Walking Day.” Just get out and walk. To nowhere. So, we did. Great concept after a holiday laden with too much of everything.
•Our French kids – Chloe, Charlene, Valentin and Amely- shared their Paris apartments for the week. Get this: Chloe’s was just 17 sq. meters. Charlene’s was a mere 15 sq. meters. The other two apartments were a smidge larger. Convert meters into feet and it sounds bigger, but it’s not much. These tiny spaces are so efficient. Nothing’s missing. Except wasted space. There’s a teeny-tiny bathroom, teeny-tiny kitchen, teeny-tiny washer and an itty bitty closet. Sofa = bed. Even coffee pots are petite. And, yet, it works. Charlene loves the size, “Less to clean,” she says. We laughed at the surfboard, in Chloe’s apartment. Of all things, right? And the elevator. Oh, that elevator! Picture two average sized Americans in a Campbell’s soup can. Lid on. Tight, very tight.
• New Year’s Day meant ten of us for breakfast. Jeff sends me out for paper towels. Outside, I ponder direction. Left I went; walking in a square, as much as you can on Paris streets, so as to find my way back. No stores were open, so I took a side street. Big mistake. Oh, I found paper towels, all right, but was now off course, with no clue how to get back. I looked at the sun, certain I was on track. Walking with positive expectancy, I was sure our street was nearby, so I kept walking, wondering if anyone was worried about me yet. I can DO this! But I can’t. After 1½ hours, I texted Korey. “I’m lost, I’m afraid.” I gave her the intersection and she demanded, “DO NOT MOVE!” So I waited, like a small child, lost in WalMart. Ironically, a couple approached me for directions and I set them straight. In a bit, Korey found me. I followed her back, head hung in shame. She wouldn’t talk to me; I wallowed in my pity and I missed breakfast on top of everything. So I ate cookies and chocolate.
• And sadly, I left my pants in Poland. So if you happen to go abroad and you see someone in a grey, comfy, one-piece jumpsuit, it’s mine. It wasn’t expensive, (TK MAXX), but I was down to one pair of jeans. We pack light and throw half of it out, so we can carry on our bags. Because if you’re going to transfer between New York airports you’ve got to grab your bag and go!

Depression: Yuck to the Muck — October 30, 2014

Depression: Yuck to the Muck

Each October, as Mama Nature paints our trees in perfect shades of orange, gold and red, I always recall October, 2000. That was the fall I colored my world after wiping away the gray. I’m not talking about my hair, but my life. In October 2010, I first wrote about my depression, and seriously, I’ve never had more feedback, comments and questions. It’s four years later and just like the Olympics (every four years whether you need them or not) it’s time to bring this topic up.

I told you how I got my joy back after beginning treatment, and that’s the truth. And while millions of people resort to medication, there are some of us who really need it. For others, I suspect, it’s a crutch or an escape from a dastardly situation, with which they can’t step up and be honest. Before my main point, please think of people on medication not as athletes on steroids, but rather, medication brings us up to normal, so that we may compete, work, live and play with the rest of you. I like that explanation. For years, I thought I was cheating as a professional speaker. I thought to myself, “Well, sure, it’s easy for me to find the humor in life and laugh at the little things. Heckfire! I’m on medication!” Well, so are most humorists and comedians. Laughter comes from pain, remember? I wonder, still, how my keynote of tips and tools resonates with attendees who are struggling through their own Olympics of depression. If someone is struggling, then perhaps they haven’t sought out help. There is help out there, whether you have insurance or not. Just do it.

New angle… Those of us under the cruel hand of depression are so wrapped up in our own muck, we forget about our loved ones who had to live WITH us. In my self-centeredness, I had no idea, until my husband shared his experience and that of our children, who I thought were oblivious at young ages. Were not. Jeff has reminded me more than once at what a bitch I was. Moi? Oui! How he didn’t know which mood was going to enter the door after work. He started dinner so many nights –bless that man- because he didn’t think I could handle it, kids homework, dog and house and and and. He was right. His blood ran like ice water, each time I ran errands and was out too long, for fear that I had finally gotten to the edge of some cliff. Reflecting back, I was never THAT close to the edge that I would end it all, but I did kind of wonder how I would survive the next twenty to thirty years feeling like crap. And truthfully, I nearly ALWAYS outrun my ETA with errands. Still do. I’m bad that way. Jeff still worries about relapses when I’m gone too long.
If you’ve lived with a depressed person, will you share your experience, from any perspective: spouse, child, parent, friend and etc? We all need some insight to get beyond our own pain. And please share this post if it moves you in some little way. Empathy gets the gold medal when we can understand the other person’s position. Jeff assures me they’re better people for having gone through this with me. Love you guys. Thanks. I’m sorry. Yuck to the muck. bw

Fear: The Breakfast of Champions — October 2, 2014

Fear: The Breakfast of Champions

Last post, I challenged you: WWDD? (What would different do?) What did you do different in September? Please share! (1) comment here (2) Facebook (3 email: bobbe@trylaughter.com or (4) send smoke signals. Just share it!

Here’s my September different. My kids sent me to South Carolina, as a gift, to see Debbie – a sister-kind-of-person. What good news! The REAL good news? The kids told me it was a one-way (?) ticket. Imagine Debbie and Fred’s elation, “WHAT? She’s never leaving??”

One day, we ate fear for breakfast. We paid $54 to scare ourselves to death at the U.S. National Whitewater Rafting Center. We rapid rafted with 6 strangers and a guide. We prayed to remain afloat during 4 runs: two on the intermediate course and two on the competition run. Oh, yay. I paddled so hard, my right arm, the dominant arm for paddling on the right side of the boat, was aching. A woman in the position ahead of me had a knee scar from seven (7!) surgeries (volleyball.) But the team counted on each person. No pain-no-gain. Or end up wet.

Next, Zip-Line. Holy zippers! What’s better than bonding in line with strangers who are equally as nervous? The attendant looked about twelve. As she secured our harnesses, we hoped she wasn’t at the end of her shift (i.e. tired/burned out) Hanging by a harness, hooked to a cable wire isn’t exactly a warm, fuzzy feeling. Stepping off the dock was unnerving, but the zip trip was grand; I wished it’d never ended! Even Deb, who’s afraid of heights, enjoyed the ride! Sort of.

Next up: rope course. (i.e. Flying Wallendas.) Who doesn’t love floating sidewalks and swinging bridges, strung between trees, again, while hanging from wires, attached to the cable. Honestly, I’m surprised there aren’t more deaths at the circus.

Finally, I climbed a telephone pole and jumped off. Yes, I did. I almost didn’t. The attendant instructed: “At the top, step off the platform in the red arrow direction. DON’T THINK ABOUT IT VERY LONG!” I felt faint and queezy at the top. But, there were few options, so I stepped off. I paid good money for this? Geesh, I could been shopping for a cute $54 top at J. Crew instead. I felt like Peter Pan; looked like a yo-yo. It was like a bungee jump, but with more floating than bouncing. Actually, very nice!

We left the Whitewater Center tired, more emotionally than physically, but proud. So proud. I’m not wild about mid-air insecurity. I don’t even trust carnival rides and yet, we were suspended by a wire -our thread of safety- between us and the ground. The $54 fee was a paycheck, more than a fee, because we bought c-c-c-c-c-c-c-courage, guts and glory.

The good news: we didn’t break from cables, fall in rapids, throw up, wet our pants or faint dead away. The really good news? I found out yesterday that my 2014 deductible has been met and my physical therapy for my impinged bicep will be 100% covered. Woohoo. Next time, I’ll paddle from the raft’s left side, not the right. When the caller yelled, “FORWARD, 2 STROKES!” I delivered my best paddling, of course. You’d expect nothing less from a competitive person. Why? There’s no i in team, especially mid-stream.

Now for October’s WWDD? I hope it’ll be something to test my resolve, stimulate my nerves, curiosity or creativity. What it won’t be? Paddling on the right, for sure. Won’t you join me in WWDD? Maybe I’ll take the Assertiveness 101 course for team members on the right, who need to be on the left… bw