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Posts tagged ‘happiness’

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.

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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

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

At Least I Made My Bed!

Some days are like that.  Your efforts are exhausting; patience runs thin, nothing goes well. Everything  you try, goes wrong.  Remember Dudley Do-Right? (Circa Bullwinkle) You feel like Dudley Do-Over.  Or the movie Groundhog Day? You’re having a Monday on a Tuesday…or, pretty much every day feels like a Monday. Ugh.

Sound familiar? Hark! I hear a resounding “YES, YEAH, OUI, SI, AGREE, YEP, THAT’S ME!” Here’s a simple tip to use when you’re having that kind of day, week, month, or life. Just make the bed in the morning. That’s all.  Just make the bed. Pull the spread or comforter tight. Plump up the pillows. Then step back and admire your work, because you have just completed one task that you have done well. Exemplary, actually.  Yes, it’s a small thing, but, hey, it’s ONE thing. One and done.  And, no matter what else you do today, regardless of what may go wrong today, AT LEAST YOU MADE THE BED!”

This is your mantra when that heart-sinking, hair-pulling feeling rises into your subliminal consciousness.  It’s subliminal because, you don’t realize when the negativity takes over.  It creeps in, over and through you. When you say, “At least I made my bed!” you’ve had a positive moment, which in turn triggers your system to release endorphins.  Endorphins are natural hormones in your body that are released when you do certain activities. In turn, endorphins naturally combat stress. And daily combat with yourself is flat out, not healthy.

Five years ago, I was given a new marketing supervisor. I’ll call her Liz. Because that was her name. She probably did a good job, but I was not used to being micromanaged, unheard, and made to feel  inadequate. She graded my press releases like Mrs. Long graded my second grade papers. Lots of red ink. I was stressed to the point of four letter words. Co-workers noticed my sad, stressed demeanor. My husband, Jeff, suggested I wait her out. “She won’t outlast you,” he promised.  Cliff jumping sounded more feasible than waiting her out.

Several things happened to improve my course. Our daughter, Korey, was studying abroad for a year in Versailles, France. For her two-week winter break, I would be traveling with her. We’re talking Rome, Florence, Paris and Geneva. We’re talking trip of a lifetime. Except I wasn’t looking forward to the trip. “Self,” I said, “This is not right. This is not the way. Make a change. NOW!”  First, I moved my office furniture because the desk butted up against a wall; which I took as a sign. That’s exactly how I felt. Next, I framed the picture above to make me smile/laugh daily. (Giddy-up endorphins!)  Finally, I requested a department change, which gave me hope again. Off I went on my dream trip with the knowledge that I would return to a different position. Luckily, there was a position open, because that doesn’t always happen when one needs it most. Whew.

Jeff was right (duh). I outlasted Liz. She moved on to babies and a new job closer to home. I am blessed with fun co-workers and a supervisor who treats me well. I wish I had known to just make my bed back then, before every work day with Liz; that would’ve helped too. Bw

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When it comes to happiness, less is more!

Happy June-July readers!

The cover of this week’s Time Magazine features the concept of happiness. Many countries, while less healthy/prosperous than the US, have a higher percentage of happiness. Apparently, less is more, in many cases. I found a few nuggets myself recently. Simple gestures or tasks that feel pretty good.  Here they are, for what it’s worth.

~Taking a surprise guest to visit elderly parents. (Instead of waiting by the window for hours, it’s like Christmas!) We’re never too old for surprises.

 

~Volunteering to be D.D. for a gaggle of 24 year-olds to/from wedding reception. Nothing says fun like fast food drive-thru at 1:30am! And the candid conversation, when you’re the sober one, is priceless!  Plus, nobody gets arrested. Win-win.

 

~Recipient of a sympathy card for a pet was overwhelmed with appreciation. Nothing says, “Been there, suffered that” like a Hallmark.

 

This month, be grateful and do something small for someone. Reap big happiness!

The Four F’s For More Happiness

I have been learning about the prospect of happiness as an important element in global survival, as major changes loom on the horizon. What I believe: the trend from convenience services to doing more for ourselves – for less – is part of this trend. It’s economy driven. Or lack of economy, as it seems. For example, it will be more expensive to drive to restaurants and fast food places (cost of gas) and unhealthy choices (bad fast food/obesity) and cost of food (supply and demand) that will be force us to live more simply, ride less, walk and bike more, grow and eat garden vegetables, and consume fewer processed foods. This can’t be all bad, right?

It can be summed up in the FOURbidden (4-4-4)  FOURmula: gas at more than $4.00/gallon, hamburgers at more than $4/patty, and food consisting of more than four ingredients. We must get back to a more natural state of living – and doing so happily with these changes.  Our environment, both physically and economically is beginning to demand it.

So, how can we find a level of happiness and a sense of humor that can sustain us through some tough times ahead?  The idea of wanting more and more possessions could become prohibitive, so we must learn to fill our heads and hearts with other things, in order to find happiness within ourselves.

As a professional speaker and a banker, I LoVe LoVe LoVe speaking to groups who like learning my (banking) philosophy:  cash in on obvious humor – every day in every place, balance yourself with laugh-minded friends, deposit daily entries into a humor journal, laugh at your own expense, and compound your laughter daily. Money ia a metaphor-mindset with this philosophy. Who knew that the very thing that will cause the major shifts – and stressors – in our lives (money) can translate into a higher level of happiness? It’s the little things that can cause the biggest change. (i.e. finding humor every day equals more joy in even the most mundane and stressing experiences of life…running errands, sitting in traffic, toilet paper on your shoe.)

While the politicians try to color our world with promises of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, you may want to consider the other end of the rainbow. Those who know me, know that I am anything but a pessimist. But there are too many economic indicators otherwise. Don’t be clouded by a few recent rain showers – the drought will still have major implications on food supply and cost next year. Don’t expect gas prices to drop. Our global supply is not infinite. Alternative energy sources are imperative.  In spite of the political rhetoric, the economy is still quite fragile – here and abroad. If Healthcare, Medicare and social care were circus performers, they are pretty well teetering on a threadbare tightrope and if the costuming were hospital gowns, their flaps are wide open in the back for all to see! We have a lot of areas that need fixin’ fast, but it won’t happen until our proverbial backs are against a wall. That’s when ‘Merica will shine at her best.

The above issues are overwhelming. And individually, none of us can find a quick fix. In the meantime, we can fix ourselves. Now THAT we can do.  I’m not an economic expert, although I do live with one. So I get a daily dose of reality. That makes it important to me to balance the dark with the light. Here are some simple tips for adding more joy to your life…

  • Lonely? Get a dog, cat, turtle, bird or fish. Not kidding.
  • Sad?  Take a look at the people you spend time with. Do they bring you down? Ditch them.
  • Broke? Learn to live lighter. We really don’t need all the StUfF we think we do. Make an attempt to pay down debt. As what’s-his-name-says, “Debt is dumb. Cash is king!”
  • Joyless? Look for simple humor every day. Start writing it down.
  • Depressed? Stop watching the news. Read enough to know what’s going on, but remember what I had to tell my elderly parents:  CNN repeats itself every 30 minutes! Why subject yourself to so much negativity?  Get the facts from several sources, then move on to Dancing with the Stars, The Voice, or Full House reruns.