Bobbe White Writes

Perspective – it’s a pretty big deal.

The Comfort of Travel Routines — March 6, 2017

The Comfort of Travel Routines

Bobbe White

3.2.17

written for wtad.com

itll-do-motel

We recently drove to Denver, for about the 37th time or so. As routes go, there are limited options from Quincy IL to Denver. Whichever way you go, it’s like going to Subway. Order #34; it’s about 7 feet long and 3 feet high. Slice the bread lengthwise down the middle with a saw. Flatten it on a big piece of paper. Squirt a mustard stripe down the middle. That’s your center line. Nothing else goes on it.. And that’s #34. Also known as “the Kansas”, because that’s what the drive is like. Or take the northern route, it’s like ordering #37, a/k/a “The Nebraska”.

They’re aptly named for the order in which they entered the Union. Took us a while to decide if we really wanted them, but some great athletes and comedians came from those states, so the powers said, “Sure, let ’em in.” Anyway, you get the picture. Long, ho-hum, hairy-dog drives.

Each state has a unique place in our routine:

Missouri, Macon McDonald’s: We order the same lunch every single time: Filet-o-Fish medium meal deal, with an extra fish and Southwest Salad. That’s it. Bingo-Bango-Bongo. They never get it right. Ever. Jeff vents about this situation, every time.  “We ought to make every kid in America set up a lemonade stand three times, before working at McDonald’s. They’d learn how to take orders and make change!

After Missouri, is Kansas and our multi-town hotel quest. I have saved the monologue in my phone notes for quick referencing.

1st: Seneca has the Althoffen Inn and McDonald’s, but we’re not tired yet. (Drive on.)

2nd: Washington has the Oak Tree Inn and Casey’s. (Still not tired.)

3rd town: “Belleville’s got squattum”, Jeff says. (We’re a little tired.)

4th: Mankato hasn’t got sh*t!  (Uh-oh.)

5th: Smith Center has a Dollar General, “But that does us no $&?#*% good.” (Somebody’s cranky…)

6th: Phillipsburg has a spankin’ new Rodeway Inn. (Got our second wind. Keep driving.)

7th stop: Norton-“Oh Honey, they’ve got a Dairy Queen! Sleep Inn looks nice.  (But, nope! Onward…)

8th: Oberlin-Oh boy, they’ve got a Chesters and a Subway. Comfort Inn too.

9th: St. Francis-“Look at that!” Jeff says. “The It’ll Do Motel.” Photo opp stop.

I must’ve fallen asleep after that…

We recently drove to Denver, for about the 37th time or so. As routes go, there’re limited options from Quincy IL to Denver. Whichever way you go, it’s like going to Subway. Order #34; it’s about 7 feet long and 3 feet high. Slice the bread lengthwise down the middle with a saw. Flatten it on a big piece of paper. Squirt a mustard stripe down the middle. That’s your center line. Nothing else goes on it.. And that’s #34. Also known as “the Kansas”, because that’s what the drive is like. Or take the northern route, it’s like ordering #37, a/k/a “The Nebraska”.

They’re aptly named for the order in which they entered the Union. Took us a while to decide if we really wanted them, but some great athletes and comedians came from those states, so the powers said, “Sure, let ’em in.” Anyway, you get the picture. Long, ho-hum, hairy-dog drives.

Each state has a unique place in our routine:

Missouri, Macon McDonald’s: We order the same lunch every single time: Filet-o-Fish medium meal deal, with an extra fish and Southwest Salad. That’s it. Bingo-Bango-Bongo. They never get it right. Ever. Jeff vents about this situation, every time.  “We ought to make every kid in America set up a lemonade stand three times, working at McDonald’s. They’d learn how to take orders and make change!

After Missouri, is Kansas and our multi-town hotel quest. I save the monologue in my phone notes for quick referencing.

1st: Seneca has the Althoffen Inn and McDonald’s, but we’re not tired yet. Drive on.

2nd: Washington has the Oak Tree Inn and Casey’s. Still not tired.

3rd town: “Belleville’s got squattum”, Jeff says. We’re a little tired.

4th: Mankato hasn’t got sh*t!  (Uh-oh.)

5th: Smith Center has a Dollar General, “but that does us no $&?#*% good.” (Somebody’s cranky…)

6th: Phillipsburg has a spankin’ new Rodeway Inn. (Got our second wind. Keep driving.)

7th stop: Norton-“Oh Honey, they’ve got a Dairy Queen! Sleep Inn looks nice.  (But, nope! Onward…)

8th: Oberlin-“Oh boy, they’ve got a Chesters and a Subway. Comfort Inn too.”

9th: St. Francis-“Look at that!” Jeff says. “The It’ll Do Motel.” Photo opp stop.

I must’ve fallen asleep after that…

Colorado: Giddy-up! We stop at the first and only gas station in the Colorado plains. The Rockies are still hours away. Looks like Kansas. We request the restroom keys. It’s seriously attached to a billy club. I feel like a Bobbe, the London Bobby, with a billy. “Who’d want it?” we ask the clerk. She says we’d be surprised.

Fast forward three days and the man at the Denver Residence Inn desk asks, “Leaving already?”

“We only reserved two nights…”

“Hmmmm,” he says. I just remember you two. (Really?) We blink at him.

“I remember people who talk to me.” He says to us. We love this place.

“We’ll be back!”

We head home and stop at the same cafe near the Colorado-Kansas border. I don’t even recall the town, at this point. All we know is, the woman who is owner/waitress/cook is still crabby. But the eggs are good and the bacon is crisp.

Nice to know some things never change.

bathroom-keys

ONE ROSE, COMING UP! — February 15, 2017

ONE ROSE, COMING UP!

WTAD.COM/WHITE PAGES 21517

Bobbe White

The red crush of Valentine’s Day is over.We all somehow survived. It’s always interesting around an office, even if you’re not a fan of the holiday. ESPECIALLY if you’re not a fan. Why? Because we performed complicated algorithms on how many floral orders were delivered in direct correlation to total number of possible recipients. For those who can’t remember basic mathematics (who can?), an algorithm is a set of detailed instructions, which results in a predictable end-state from a known beginning. In other words, I have no clue what that means. In other words, the total number of bouquet deliveries I observed was 2.75. Odd number? I think not. Two bouquets were legitimate, obligatory Valentine’s bouquets: one newlywed and one newly engaged. Those are obvious.

The third recipient’s bouquet celebrated not only Valentine’s Day, but also their wedding anniversary, which happens to be Valentine’s Day. She gets a ½ point, since Hubby was double-dipping: ½ Valentine, ½ Anniversary. Still, I’d give him a high five for picking this date.  He’ll never, ever, ever forget.  That leaves ¼ of a bouquet. There, on one desk, was one lovely red, variegated rose. The card read, “And you thought I forgot!” That was my desk, my $4.00 rose and my handwriting. Yes, I bought my own. I did last year and will again next year. Big deal. My husband doesn’t do flowers. So what? I just wanted flowers on my desk. Ladies, if you are feeling glum, because you were flowerless in the public arena, take control, stand tall next year at the floral desk and shout, “ONE ROSE, PLEASE. IT’S FOR ME!” Sometimes we need to complete our own darn selves. Besides that, the algorithm proved that we are in the 90th percentile. So there’s that. The bottom line?

“Teach your children well”.  Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

They’ll thank you one day.

The Gift of a Lifetime…Literally — February 4, 2017

The Gift of a Lifetime…Literally

Written for wtad.com by Bobbe White 2/02/17

After his dad, Jim, died last year, Ted Johnson was cleaning out his father’s possessions, when he ran across an LP album. The record label was titled, “Irv Schecter: This is your life.” It was recorded in 1957, by H & H studios, 638 Maine St., Quincy IL. Irv (my dad) was 33 years old. Yours truly was almost two. Ted brought the LP to me at work, still in its original simple album cover, made of brown craft paper.

We have a turntable in our storage room; I had little confidence it still worked. Instead, I got the material transferred onto CD. When I popped the CD into the car player, my world stopped.

In the 1950’s, my parents, apparently, were in a social group, which occasionally, surprised someone with voices from his or her life. They picked Dad; the committee put Mom on task to contact each person, who could speak to Dad’s life from each stage. Friends and relatives were recorded when they called in, or their letter was read.

 

The LP sound quality was a bit scratchy, due to age. Still, it was easy to recognize familiar voices as the emcee played each piece to roast and toast him. Every person was introduced, in chronological order, from Dad’s past. Their names were withheld, so Dad had to identify them by voice.

1.    My paternal grandparents. Sadly, I couldn’t remember Grampy Sam Schecter’s voice.  He died when I was young. Grandma Schecter’s voice was a different story. Her Russian accent and voice tone rang loud and clear in my brain!

2.    Uncle Sid’s commanding voice sounded as if he was in the back seat of my car. He ended by saying, “By the way Irv, you still owe me $1.38…

3.    Next, was Aunt Pat, Dad’s sweet, sister, with a small shoe size (4.5!) and a big New York accent.

4.    Several childhood friends were followed by fraternity brothers, from The Ohio State University. More than one guy joked that dad owed him a bit of money.

5.    Dr. Ben Kimmelman, a dentist from California was the heart stopper. Ben was a fellow P.O.W. in World War II, during the Battle of the Bulge. The miracle that these two buddies survived was not lost on the audience.

Dad’s comments, interjections and craughter (crying from laughter) were something to experience again. I envisioned him being a good sport, as he threw his head back in full-out laughter, as if to say, “You got me GOOD!” And they had.

Here I was driving around town with a car full of memories. What a gift. Ted’s trash. My treasure. The mystery of why Jim would’ve even had the LP is puzzling. The fact that Ted could have easily tossed it out –but didn’t – is another puzzle. First, our fathers were definitely acquaintenances, as most Quincy businessmen were and are. But other than that commonality, the only other connection that I know of is the fact that both were residents at the Veteran’s Home on the same floor, until Jim passed away recently.

Remember this simple gesture when weeding out your own homes or those homes of others. You may give someone the gift of a lifetime…literally.

Thanks Ted. I’ll never forget this.

 

ICE, TRIPLE LUTZ and TUTUs — January 24, 2017

ICE, TRIPLE LUTZ and TUTUs

WTAD.COM- WHITE PAGES-1/19/17

Bobbe White

Friday 1/13/17, before multiple inches of ice rained on our world, thousands of residents created the grocery stores’ version of Black Friday. The entire Midwest vicinity would be eating mountains of French toast for days, with their apocalyptic purchases: bread, milk and eggs. Oh, and beer. The store lines replaced the ice threat in the headlines. I wasn’t worried. We’d be fine. We had enough dog food, Oreos and Jack (Daniels) to last a month. There was Halloween candy, somewhere in the freezer.

I pretended we were iced in for two days and never left the house. It was pretty slick as our dogs slid across the deck. Lily White, the black Lab, performed a triple Lutz, landing on all four paws.  Molly White, Lily’s niece, struggled, but only from inexperience.

Being iced in was a perfect scenario. Saturday was day 14 of the Minimalist Game. In follow up to last week’s post, this meant I vowed to pitch, sell, donate or re-gift 14 household clutter items on Saturday, 15 on Sunday and so forth. The details of what was trashed would bore you, but I’m proud to say that I finally pitched my daughter’s 1995 gingerbread house from St. Peter’s kindergarten class. It wasn’t until one of my friends texted me: “THROW IT AWAY! IT DOESN’T MEAN YOU DON’T LOVE HER!” It sounds ridiculous, but after getting permission, it was easy. Now, what about those tubs of toys and baby clothes living in the storage room? Why do we keep the tutus?  Stained bibs? Baby sized rubber boots? The rootin’ tootin’ cowboy chaps? Do we fear the memories will get tossed out with the tangibles? At least we’ve got plenty of pictures and videos to assist our memories. Just think of the money savings on film and developing costs, now that we take smart phone pictures.  If we don’t have to buy or develop film, we must be saving hundreds of dollars, aren’t we?  It’s doubtful. Smart phones can cost hundreds of dollars. It’s simple:  we’ll never win the spending game, until we stop wasting money. Here’s how the inner fight plays out in me:

$50 gift card…cool!

Let’s go shopping!

Oh, rose gold bracelet I’ve wanted FOREVER!

Hmmmm, it’s $284.00.

But I can apply the $50 card…

I shouldn’t get it.

I want it.

Shouldn’t.

But I want it.

Shouldn’t.

But I really, REALLY want it!

I’m getting it, so there.

It’s an investment in gold.

(Inner eye roll, saying, “Nice try.”)

Defiance of inner eye roll.

I got it!

Exhilaration!

Later…

Buyer’s remorse:

What was I thinking?

Ugh. I didn’t mean to spend more money than the card value.

That’s the devil in the gift card. I always go over.

Shouldn’t have bought it.

Inner voice: told you not too.

But I wanted it.

So, what else is new?

I’m mad at myself.

That was stupid.

I’m stupid.
Don’t even like rose gold.

Then do you know what happened?

I woke up.

Yes I did!

It was a dream?

It was a dream!

IT WAS A DREAM!

Ahhh, relief.

The end.

Happy restraining!

 

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

Putting A Muzzle on Mind Chatter- November 30, 2014 — December 1, 2014

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

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