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Posts tagged ‘survival’

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

Written for WTAD White Pages 4-7-17

Bobbe White

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!)

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.

 

SEVENTY YEARS OF HORROR AGO

Seventy years of horror ago today, on January 27, 1945, Auschwitz was liberated by Soviet troops, a day commemorated around the world.

On December 24th, my daughter, Korey, and I had the opportunity to tour Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau Concentration Camps.  Just 62 kilometers/39 miles from Krakow, Poland a campus of inhumanity unfolds in now quiet rows of brick buildings. Over the entrance of Auschwitz I is a wrought iron banner which says “Arbeit Macht Frei”. Translated: “Work makes one free.”  Hardly. How is it that Krakow/Crakow can be so charming and historic; the people so gentle-speaking and yet, down the road is the horror of the Nazi effort during World War II, where millions were gassed, gunned, starved and beaten to death. The development of Auschwitz (which happened quickly) was astounding – both in size and the evil thought that went into planning it. Prisoners were forced to build the crematoriums, in which they would soon meet their death.  There aren’t words. Oddly enough, display cases, which held evidence of the carnage, struck my core. The contents from thousands of suitcases are separated into hair brushes, combs, eyeglasses (all wire-rimmed), adult and children’s shoes, prosthetics, and the hideousness of hair, shaven off the victims, upon entry.  Mixing bowls, sterling sugar and creamer bowls and other items used in daily living really created chills up and down my spine. People herded to camps seriously thought they were setting up for a new life. The innocence hurts my heart.

Our Polish tour guide, Kate, spoke flawless English. I told her about my dad, who as a P.O.W. in the Battle of the Bulge, had lived in similar barracks, sleeping on straw covered concrete, mattresses of straw, or bunks of thin plywood. We saw a barrack of latrines that thousands could use, but just twice a day. Otherwise, there was a bucket in the corner of their sleeping rooms, which 70-100 prisoners would have to use. Yes, the same bucket. I can’t think about it, it’s so animalistic.  A box car still sits on the tracks, in memory of those herded to camp by train.

Both civilians and military prisoners were starved on grass soup or dirty rotten potatoes. (My dad rapidly lost 60+ pounds.) We saw solitary confinement, which were purposely in total darkness, or standup cells, where prisoners were forced to stay awake and erect for hours.

Many prisoners were led to the shower building with the knowledge that one of two things would come from above them; either a shower of water or gas. We were taken into one shower room, but they didn’t even install dummy shower heads, just a hole in the ceiling where the Zyklon-B gas was injected into the room. Understand there were no survivors. To take it one step darker, the Crematory was connected to the showers for quick disposal. Except the ovens couldn’t keep up. Guess who they made build more? Yep, the prisoners. The prisoners building their own death trap. Unthinkable. Yet, it happened. Repeatedly, for years. The Nazis intended to kill so many thousands at these two locations only that they ended up shutting down the showers and just built more Crematories.

If you didn’t succumb to gas, you were probably going to starve, get sick or be tortured through work or worse. The average length of life, once a prisoner entered Auschwitz-Birkenau, was three months. As we completed our tour, I commented to Korey, “I can’t imagine how anyone could survive physically or emotionally in a nightmare like this. I guess it takes a strong will to live.”
“Or hope,” Korey added.

Yet, there are many stories of survival. Not as many as we wish. Jeff didn’t need to experience the tour, so he didn’t go with us to Poland. Korey and I needed to see it. I felt as if I could better envision the conditions in which my father was forced to live for six months, and that is a complete disconnect for my brain. Honestly, I don’t know how any survivor goes on to live somewhat of a normal life. God bless these survivors. I bought a book in the Camp’s bookstore by Victor Frankl, survivor, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” I recommend it, if you have questions about this experience.

And for those individuals who don’t believe the Holocaust happened, I may have to buy a one-way trip to one of the camp for a tour of education. It’s one way, because as far as I’m concerned, they deserve to stay there until they understand this was real. Never again.
“I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees.” unknown