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Posts tagged ‘courage’

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?

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

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

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

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.”

 

 

Do Something Scary: ROLL SOLO!

Dad and Mom did EVERYTHING together.
“Irv, we have a cocktail party Friday night.”
“Mkay” he’d say.
“Irv, we’re going to a couples’ shower at the Peterson’s pool.”
Dad, “Sure.”
Mom, “Millers want to meet us in Chicago next month.”
Dad, “I’ll reschedule something. Tell them we’ll be there!”
So it went for sixty-plus years. My world didn’t unfold so handily. There’s been begging, arguing, whining, pouting. Then, some mother-in-law wisdom dawned on me. Prior to our marriage, she said, “If you wait for your husband to do everything with you, you’ll miss a lot.”

Flashback 1975-Illinois State-Jethro Tull; a must see! Except “somebody” didn’t want to go. Imagine the pure joy I felt for my boyfriend, now husband, when a buddy gave him an extra ticket. (May I say, I seethed over this for 27 years, until I saw Tull in St. Louis? That’s stupid.

So, how does a woman start living/stop missing? Just yesterday, I decided to visit Hermann, MO for the day. I’m a bit impulsive; that may not work for you. I get that. After asking three friends and three declines, however, do you go or no? At 9:00a.m., I headed towards Hermann. Would Hermann have been more fun with friends? Perhaps. Nonetheless, it was a world class day; no discussions as to, “Do you want to do this, do that, go here, go there, eat here or there?”

When weighing decisions, I tend to acquiesce – which is why I don’t shop well with others, either. As a result, my day becomes their ideas, not mine. Occassionally, it’s empowering to be in charge of the schedule.
Rolling solo boosts my self-confidence. It’s about being comfortable in your own company, with phone off and stowed away. It’s the satisfaction of seeing something, going somewhere or doing something, which otherwise, you’d have missed. While safety reigns supreme, I won’t lie, rolling solo requires stretching your personal fear factor.But it’s definitely worth the effort.

Below are a few items from my “RSOMs” (Rolled Solo or Missed) list:
1) Flew to Venezuela to join a sports coaches group for the Central American Games.
2) Dined at Chicago’s, 96th Floor Signature Room. One word: VIEW!
3) Flew to Paris to see my daughter.
4) Saw two shows, in Vegas: “Mamma Mia” and “Menapause, the Musical.
5) Ditto, Chicago, for “Vagina Monologues”, “Moving On”, and “Rent” in Des Moines.
6) Locally, I’ve attended live theater, ballet, movies, weddings and funeral visitations alone. In fact,
there isn’t much I won’t attend alone, if need be. And I’m happier as a result. Oddly enough, the one thing in Quincy I haven’t done is dined solo. I know practically everybody in town and people tend to feel sorry for soloists, or think we’re weird. So, if you ever see me dining solo, think I’m weird, but please don’t sympathize. I probably just wanted a nice meal.

Now, go conquer a fear and a desire. Do something scary. Roll solo, occasionally. You’ll want to high-five yourself. bw

Putting A Muzzle on Mind Chatter- November 30, 2014

Originally written by Jeff – retold by Bobbe

Like other babyboomer couples, Jeff and I have been stacking life’s changes: empty nest, aging careers, aging parents, aging food in the fridge and how all of these factors affect us as an aging couple. The empty nest is okay, the career horizon is a bit foggy and the aging parent deal is a doozie. The only thing normal is the aging food in the fridge. Then the abnormal changed our normal forever.

In February, 2013, Jeff lost right eye vision. No reason. It was just gone. In his personal struggle to adjust to myriad changes, he spent a lot of time alone doing things that had long ago given him pleasure, but which he’d abandoned while we raised children, advanced careers and dealt with busy lives. His activity often occurred in the woods or with wood. He sawed, chopped, and nailed pieces into forms. He squirrel hunted, target practiced, or just walked in the woods, which proved to be tricky. It was in this environment that Jeff regained balance between his mind-chatter and fantasies. I was a bit uneasy at first, with the word, “fantasy”. He was surprised by my immediate jump to a definition that he’d not intended. Informal polls indicated others jumped to the sex connotation too. We sought to find a synonym, but nothing worked better. Feel free to use a synonym, it it makes you comfortable. That way, I can rest easier, knowing that that you aren’t envisioning me pole-dancing in the bedroom or at a sleazy night club. However, I suppose my stage name could be “White Trash…”

Mind-chatter and fantasy are universal human traits, in fact, 90% of every day is spent on one of the two. On days when the mind-chatter runs rampant, we stress more and sleep less. Jeff found out that by learning to turn off the chatter and allowing more fantasy time, his happiness greatly increased. He is beginning to see his loss as a gift.

Mind-chatter Vs. Fantasy Mind-chatter is our internal rules system. Fantasies offer us the illusion of emotional safety. Mind chatter guides us away from our heart and the things we love to do. Fantasy offers us reasons to overcome chatter and create life happiness. Mind-chatter will tempt you with its relentless reminders of past failures and future fears, resulting in a heightened state of worry and unhappiness. Oh boy, no joy. As we age, we allow mind chatter (rules maker) to become more intense. We learn this at an early age. Over the years, we equate happiness with how other people react to us. Negative chatter can make us afraid to express ourselves, or ask for what we want. It limits our potential and hinders our ability to express love for others. The most detrimental aspect of mind chatter occurs as we approach mid-life; the chatter is rife with self-criticism. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for the human mind to turn chatter off, or even down a notch.
Fantasies mostly involve the future; they reflect the essence of one’s personality. Fantasies help us solve or address problems, concerns and prepare us for future events. In the rare times fantasies are past-tense, they would be a form of analysis, as to what we should or shouldn’t have done, but (and this is a BIG but) without the guilt, which mind-chatter implies. Fantasy helps comfort, encourage and reinforce ourselves when impending decisions are going to be difficult. In a state of fantasy, we allow our minds to develop guidelines for a more positive outcome, providing clarity to our concerns. Fantasies allow us to change preconceived deficiencies to strengths.

Psychological well-being is directly related to our ability to fantasize. If we then act on those concepts we can reinforce relationships, improve health and turn down the mind-chatter volume. Jeff decided to employ some fantasies with me. Before your imagination runs wild, let me explain that these acts were simple and basic. In essence, we started dating again. He actually phoned to ask, “Want to go on a date?” He was afraid I’d decline the invitation and was relieved I’d accepted. This from a tough guy, who is afraid of NOTHING! He became more attentive, less argumentative. He asked for additional dates. We talked. A lot. (And he listened!) He complimented me when I got dressed up. (That was the best improvement!)
Like millions of couples, we’d put our relationship on auto-pilot for years; we hadn’t nurtured the most important thing we possessed. My own mind-chatter had reduced my self-image to seeing myself as a frumpy, middle-aged, boring wife/woman. You see, mind-chatter tarnishes how we see ourselves and others. Jeff’s fantasy was to reverse 37 year-old habits, using creative thought to facilitate positive change.

This newfound attention was a bit overwhelming at times, I must say. Our comfortable, predictable approach to an old marriage was not a bad thing at all, but the positive changes will sustain us much better, as we enter our retirement years. The home climate became more positive. I felt like a queen. It seemed that the adage, “Marriage is a marathon, not a race,” did not apply. Jeff was trying to make up for lost time, at full sprint. It was both weird and wonderful. I realized that if we didn’t stop the mind-chatter and pay attention, life would move on without us fully participating in it. How sad.

Before one of our dates, I was soaking my feet in a foot-spa the kids had given me last Christmas. Jeff saw I needed new polish and offered to do it for me. I said yes, but was unsure. This seemed a bit kookie. “Better not tell the kids about this one!” I said. Mind-chatter had kicked in hard and fast and was working overtime, robbing us of a simple gesture because of an empty pre-conceived notion. He explained that, as a little boy, his mom allowed him to paint her nails, on occasion. Being one of six children, one-on-one activities were precious and probably few. It seemed that if his mother permitted a polish, it was okay for me to accept the same treatment. And our kids might even think it was okay, too.

The important part is that when the innocence of wanting to paint my toes was disrupted by mind-chatter, Jeff empowered his fantasy to continue a nice gesture. These spontaneous self-generated thoughts only become reality when we turn the chatter off long enough to allow us choices that will make us happier in life. One thing is for sure, his sight will never be the same, but he sees many things much clearer now. We both do. Isn’t it ironic that his loss has become a gift? What a great Thanksgiving blessing. bw