Birds Do It….Bees Do It……

I havent shared a Story Slam in a long time. Mostly, because I haven’t done one. So here’s this week’s feature on the topic of Nature….Enjoy!

When in Doubt…..Baked Goods!

I was having dinner with a friend last night who lives far away from me.  She was telling me about her parents and caregiving. I was flattered that this very busy, corporate woman had obviously taken the time to read several of my blog posts because she was very familiar with my ups and downs as a caregiver, attorney, and speaker.

The joy of this is that she was willing to share with me her hilarious story of taking her parents to a seminar on joint replacement since her mom was about to have knee replacement surgery.

As the nurse practitioner was speeding through extensive PowerPoint slides, my friend was furiously writing down notes to be able to deal with possible side effects, rehabilitation, medication and the personality changes that we all deal with when our elders have surgery…like, “I hate you because I don’t want to go to therapy and this hurts, and I haven’t gone to the bathroom for days on this pain medication.”

Meanwhile, her parents are chit-chatting with other future replacement recipients and asking their daughter to grab a brownie or two from the nice snack table that the hospital has put out to lure people to this presentation.

My take-away from this:

  1. Just because you’re caregiving at home, don’t think lots of other people aren’t doing it from work, from afar, or from their mobile phones.
  2. Caregivers love laughing at each other’s stories. We even know it’s funny while it’s happening, even though we may not be laughing until days, months or weeks later.
  3. You never know who might benefit from your caregiving plight. My Nana was right: Misery loves Company. I feel certain Nana didn’t make that up. It sounds like something Shakespeare probably said.  My five siblings and I must’ve made Nana pretty miserable ’cause we sure heard that a lot.
  4. As I suspected, Brownies solve everything.

Thanks to my friend for sharing. I love hearing all your hilarious tales. Never be afraid to be  It helps. I promise.

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY WEEKEND!!!

“You Just have to Laugh…”

©2017 Cathy Sikorski

 

Did We Actually Teach, Teach Them Well?

I have to say, we Baby Boomers can be a self-satisfied lot. There are all kinds of posts out there about how we did just fine with spankings, wooden toys that didn’t do anything, no car seats or even seat belts for that matter. Bad TV, bad diets, flammable pajamas, DDT, baby oil instead of sunscreen, none of that had a deleterious effect on us, right? We’re just fine, you young whippersnappers.

And if you Millennials had had it a bit harder like we did, walking uphill in the snow to school both ways, you wouldn’t be so lazy, entitled and clueless.

But take a second look, my friends. Our blessed Millennials may be gurus you will want to be looking to in the future. Here are my top six reasons why:

  1. Millennials don’t work at a job for 30 years that they hate. They don’t even do it for 20 years, 10 years, or even 5 years. They know that’s stupid. If you have to work for that many years, you might as well try and be happy about going to work.

    They know what to do with this!
  2. They are saving more money than we ever did.   According to The Christian Science Monitor, they are better at saving and wiser about it. Money magazine agrees. You think you’re so smart? You will be happy when your Millennials can throw a few bucks to your home-health aide to keep you out of a nursing home because you didn’t save any money.  They will be too, because they don’t want to be your home-health aide.
  3. Our kids work pretty darn hard, harder than we did. According to the Boston Globe, Millennials are workaholics, probably because they are in jobs that they like. Since they are not willing to stay in a job that makes them miserable, they work harder when they find jobs they like. And they keep looking. So maybe that search for happiness isn’t so selfish after all.

    They really like babies!
  4. Millennials actually value their work-life balance, according to Forbes. Even though they may be workaholics on one hand, on the other hand, they are known for taking pay cuts to have a work life balance. When they have families they want to be with them. This is a big plus, especially since they are saving more than any other generation before them.
  5. They do and know how to embrace technologyAdweek tells us that they are ever-willing to learn new things. As technology is speeding us up every day, we better have someone to help us with it. I don’t know about you, but I try and find a 12-year-old every time a new app comes out or I can’t figure out how to use my iPhone.
  6. They’re pretty freakin’ smart. Even as we have bogged them down with unimaginable student debt, they listened to us about education. They are the most educated generation ever.  I like being surrounded by smart young people. Although just this week my daughter chastised me for ‘mansplaining’ something to her. I corrected her immediately: “I’m not mansplaing, I’m MOMSPLAINING.” That’s always acceptable.

So stop bad-mouthing Millennials. First of all, you raised them. Aren’t you proud of anything they’re doing? Secondly, look closer, they actually have their shit together. In many ways, much more than Baby Boomers. Finally, respect, people. Remember when you were 25 and your parents wondered if you had listened to anything they said? Millennials listened alright, and they took what they needed and left out the bad advice.

To Millennials:  We’re still your parents, don’t get all up in our grills, either.

“You Just have to Laugh……”

©2017 CathySikorski

 

Fun and Games with Lisa………..

What better time to try and laugh than now? I’m trying….really, I am.

My mom provides me with great material, although I don’t think she means to, and I don’t think she’s always happy to be the topic of a humor blog on a regular basis.

My friend, Lisa on the other hand,  LOVES being my topic. I was thinking of her today and all the antics we’ve been through in the last seven years since she fell down a flight of stairs and suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). I know, I know, it doesn’t sound funny, but we became the Lucy and Ethel of healthcare.

  1.  There was the time I dropped her off with our best friend, Terri to walk a few blocks to the hospital for a check-up because there was a water main break and traffic was horrendous. I thought it would take me hours to navigate the streets and park. As Lisa and Terri literally waded through the streets of Philly, I found a parking spot in 5 minutes right in front of the hospital.
  2. Then the neurologist wanted to do a stay-at-home brain scan. This is where they  wrap your head like a mummy and put some electrodes in there and record you for three days. After they wrapped her head, we decided to go to Marshall’s to look for a hat to cover her mummy-head. Not one hat would go over the wrappings, no wonder the Mummy was so mad, not a fashion was made for him. From Marshall’s we went to the park to do a photo-shoot. Yeah, I just couldn’t pass up that opportunity.
    Fun with my Mummy!

    Before and After Photo Shoot. Lisa really is quite lovely!
  3. We had to drive an hour into Philadelphia every time she needed to see her eye specialists, which was a lot.  It took us at least 10 trips before we figured out that cheap parking was right in front of the hospital and easier to get to.
  4. Then there was the time they changed the procedure to check-in to the eye clinic. They decided that people could check themselves in, using computers. The computers were tightly packed into an area where you had to stand up to use them. This doesn’t seem weird, but a lot of the people in this eye clinic use walkers and wheelchairs. They can’t fit into the space where the computer is located and if they’re in a wheelchair, they can’t reach the computer. AND remember this is an eye clinic. All of the patients are having trouble seeing. We practically peed ourselves trying to figure out how this is a good idea.
  5. Then I took her for surgery and she had to be back in the hospital at 6:00 AM the next morning. It was a long day and a quick night, so we stayed at a hotel right across the street from the hospital. I forgot we were parked in a parking garage between two big cement barriers and ripped my side-view mirror right out of its socket. It dangled from its electrical cord attached to the car. After having it bang against the door for five blocks, I folded the mirror into the car, had to keep the window open for the 50-mile drive home in February snow, and the hi-tech mirror blinked right into my face every time I needed to change lanes or turn left.
For insurance purposes only, not to remind myself how dumb I am.
Wounded in the line of duty.

 

And you thought dealing with health issues wasn’t any fun!

“You Just have to Laugh……………”

©2017 Cathy Sikorski

 

Having Fun is Hard……

I have been working diligently on my new website as well as doing a wonderful amount of speaking engagements for the last three months. I am so happy with my work right now.  I think I forgot how old I am, having fun is hard.

I was fortunate to get a free pass to the party of the season, the Kentucky Derby, two weeks ago. This was between some intense prep for speaking and trying to work on two online classes I’m taking to be a better speaker, a booked speaker and an entertaining speaker. Steve Martin is one of my teachers. I got an email from Steve today asking me where the hell have I been? How do you expect to be funny if you don’t show up for Steve’s class? I was working on it while having fun. I did my best at the Kentucky Derby to be hilarious. Just ask my friend Jim, who saw me trip in front of 158,000 people and still keep my hat on.

 

See, Steve. Jim is laughing.

Last night at a dinner party, I was doing my best to wow the crowd with the antics of my mother and her kleptomania.

You can’t be trying out new material while taking a class, Steve.

I’m procrastinating right this minute as  I’m supposed to be practicing my talk for tonight. In an effort to ramp up my hilarity, I have changed my talk completely, added props and new stories, mostly because the venue doesn’t have PowerPoint capability so I had to come up with some new crutches. Since Steve is my mentor now, I thought emulating him would be my best effort.

I don’t know how to make balloon animals and I didn’t have time to go find an arrow like Steve’s but these turkey legs were just hanging around my house. I hope I can find just the right words to integrate this into a talk about the legal and practical issues confronting caregivers.

Never be chicken to laugh at yourself!

Perhaps it will be funny enough that I will bring a free package of Depends as a door prize for the participant who laughs the hardest.

See why I’m tired? Having fun is really hard.

By the way, that picture is with Jim’s mom. At least I have two fans!

“You Just have to Laugh…..”

©2017 Cathy Sikorski

The Fountain of Youth Sucks

I have found the fountain of youth. And it just may kill you. I now know how to turn a 60-year-old into a 22-year-old.

I crashed my website. On purpose. It looks somewhat the same to you, but trust me, all this recreation makes me think I understand what God did in seven days. As so many are finding out, things we’be never done before, “are much more complicated than I thought.”

I also added a new page to my web address, with an additional WordPress Theme, new widgets, videos, photos, icons and things I don’t even know what they’re called.

I’ve had to contact my hosting company forty thousand times. By telephone. Which freaks them out because no one in this age group solves problems on the phone IRL (In Real LIfe…which also took some critical thinking time to figure out IRL).

Each time I call these poor guys, I explain to them that I am a Baby Boomer with no real skills.This conversation should be explaining how you’re going to teach a 5-year-old to do this. I don’t get a chuckle, a soothing response or an ‘atta’ girl’. They just jump right in going to

What I’m doing…

dashboards and domain thingies, and install buttons……. oh, good lord. And even when I have done every single thing they’ve told me to do, step-by-step, the problem we are trying to fix persists. In the meantime, I myself have figured out the following:

I have actually written HTML code with some help from my millennial kid to get cute icon doohickeys on my new web page.

After fighting with a widget for three hours, I just got ballsy and created my own custom widget that actually worked better.

Then, because either I think I’m invincible now, or I’m a glutton for punishment, I decided to try and create a 2-minute video for this website from an app I put on my iPad. It took me three hours to figure out that I couldn’t keep two minutes, I had to delete 58 minutes.

What I want to be doing….

Sixteen hours later, I called in the cavalry.

After crying to my daughters about the literal pain of technology (my headache was now slicing a rivulet through my cortex which met the pain searing down my neck and shoulders) they told me I was stupid. “Call your brother.  He does this for a living. He’s supposed to help you.” Which he did,  in no time. But I’m still taking credit for scrapping 58 minutes of unusable footage.

If I haven’t lost my mind by the end of this week, I’m sure I will live an earthly existence with all my marbles and some of other people’s marbles, too because I will know how to code them into my DNA.

I have not had one drink since I started because I have to create and finish a PowerPoint presentation for a client before I go to the Kentucky Derby.  If you watch the Kentucky Derby on TV, look for the red hat laying on the ground, I’ll be under it with a smile on my face and a mint julep in my hand returning to middle age with a big swig of gratitude.

Here’s the link if you want to see where all this has taken me…go ahead, you can be honest. In fact, send me an email from the “Contact” box, at least I’ll know it it’s working! You can’t say anything I haven’t already said to myself every single day.

www.cathysikorski.com/Speaker

“You Just have to Laugh…..”

©2017 Cathy Sikorski

My Yogi is a Bear………….

I returned to the practice of yoga a few weeks ago. I can’t seem to get things right. I keep having to practice law and yoga.

I’ve done yoga for many years. I retreated for a time because, for unknown reasons, my neck and shoulders stiffened up. It was gradual but I wasn’t paying attention. Ultimately, I could barely turn my head right or left and started to lose the ability to raise my arms all the way.

My chiropractor, who happens to be my brother-in-law started the miraculous process of getting me back to normal (that’s a relative term… oh sure why not? pun intended!). I went on to find a physical therapist like no other through my masseuse, who is a genius unto herself. Yeah, I got a team you would die for.

So now that I can hear and see people talking behind my back, I returned to yoga to get as limber and balanced as possible, even though imbalance may run in my family. Yoga has magical properties.

Imagine my surprise when the yoga teacher confronted me at the door to the studio.

“Hi, I’m Lili, have you done yoga before?”

“Why, yes I have.”

I thought she was asking because often the yogi will want to know if you’re a beginner or have special physical needs that she should be aware of.

“Where?”

Wow. Why does that matter?

“Well, I started at the YMCA quite a long time ago.”

“With who?”

Geez, I’m thinking, do I need to qualify for this class? There are only 4 other women and every one of them looks older  and no more flexible than me based on the stretching going on on those mats. I think I’ll be okay.

“I studied with Sandy. And then she moved to a private studio down the street and I practiced with her and Sue.”

“Well, this is a special yoga class. We do %$^#% yoga ( I have no idea what she said, I never even pay attention to the names of the poses. I have enough garbage in my head. I just follow directions and look at the teacher)

She went on to tell me that she’s 80-years-old, has to wear her orthopedic shoes during the class because she hurt her feet and she introduced yoga to the YMCA in this area 21 years ago because she studied with some famous guru and Deepak Chopra.

And she still wasn’t letting me go put my mat down. I really was intimidated by now. What had I done wrong? Why can’t I go sit with the rest of the old ladies?  I JUST WANT TO DO YOGA!

What I think I look like doing yoga.
What I really look like doing yoga.

Breathe. Just breathe. Yoga. Breathing.

‘Look, I said, I’m not into Power Yoga. I’m over that. I have a big, stressful day ahead of me and I just want to get my head in the right place.” And you’re not helping, I  wanted to say.

“Okay,” she said, “well we better get started it ‘s already late.” That was my fault as well because I wasn’t passing the interrogation.

I’ve decided the whole fiasco was because I was wearing my new millennial-style, super chic, RBX yoga pants and Lili thought I was going to want guerilla yoga.

By the way, it was a great class. Very relaxing, goddammit.

“You Just have to Laugh…..”

©Cathy Sikorski 2017

 

Hey….I’m talkin’ here…….

As a member of the Sandwich Generation, I assure you The Greatest Generation and The Millennials have more in common than you think.

Last evening, I was checking in on my 88-year-old mom. She lives in her own house, works out at a gym, belongs to a book club, drives her own car, gets her hair done every week, reads so much she thinks it’s a crime because she doesn’t get her chores done and has strong political beliefs. Based on all that, she should be checking in on me, her child. You know, just to make sure I’m okay.

A bit into the conversation she says:

Every girl needs green pants!

“Oh, I need to go to the mall. I really need new green pants.”

“Hey,” I said, “I have a coupon for your favorite store. I’ll drop it off tomorrow.”

“Oh,” she moaned, “I can’t go tomorrow. I’m too busy. I have no idea when I can get there. And I found this gift card. I don’t know how long it’s good for.”

“Mom, that gift card is good forever. There’s no rush.”

“Ugh,” she said, “I’m so bored with my wardrobe. I never pick out anything that I like.”

“MOM,” I stopped her. “I know what you’re doing.”

“You do?”

“Yes, I know what you’re doing. Why don’t you just ask rather than pussyfoot around?”

“Well, if you know what I’m doing then I don’t have to ask.”

“Okay, fine,” I say exasperated. ” I will take you shopping.”

As demurely as she can muster she says, “Aww, thanks, that’s nice.”

Not five hours later, my 20-something daughter calls on her way home from a long, long day at work. I love that she calls almost every night. She lives in the big city and she knows it makes me feel better when she chats with me while walking home from work.

At some point, we run out of chit-chat. It’s been a long day for both of us. It’s late. We are both tired. But she doesn’t seem to want to hang up.  So, I’m talking about her work, her roommate’s new job, her sore feet.

Okay, kid. Let’s wind this up. Mommy still has work to do.

She mentions a wedding invitation she received. She asks about a family friend’s impending grandson. She responds to my story that I should definitely take Nanny shopping for green pants because she needs new ones. This is getting ridiculous.

Her Dad goes to bed. I miss my favorite show. Oh. My. God.

And then it hits me and I say to her:

“I know what you’re doing.”

“What,” she mumbles, because I know by this time, she’s in bed and talking from there.

“It’s like when you were little. You want me to talk and talk and talk until you fall asleep.”

“Um hmm,” she says.

What I imagine she looks like while I’m talking.

At least that’s what I think she says because now it’s unintelligible and she may, in fact, be asleep already.

See, these grandmas and kids are still manipulating us at every turn.

But the joke is on them, they didn’t know what I was doing. I was spending time with them. They still need me!

“You Just Have to Laugh….”

©2017 Cathy Sikorski

 

 

One Man’s Trash…is a Girl’s Night Out!

When you spend a good part of your time or life as a caregiver you find forgetting to be a common occurrence. I have classic tales about my Nana forgetting where she put her shoes, her wallet and most disturbingly…her teeth.

My mother-in-law would hide her “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” button in ‘safe’ places. Every time we went to the assisted living facility we would be ready for a game of hide-n-seek with the magic button, a button she would never push anyway.

My brother-in-law would forget where he put bills, checks and insurance papers all the time. He was actually happy when I agreed to clean up all his paperwork and just take over.

Eventually, with all this stress, the caregiver starts to be the one to forget. We all experience this as we get older. I’ll admit, it makes me panic a little. When you are too close to forgetfulness you start to think it’s a bad omen if it becomes a part of your day.

Since my caregiving has dwindled quite a bit in the last few years, I take bad memory very personally, like my brain is betraying me. I know it happens to all of us, and it is definitely a symptom of stress. But I have always known it’s a source of hilarity. And today was no exception.

As you may recall we have a very long driveway. So we put our trash cans and recycling in my SUV and drive it to the end of the driveway. A few months ago our new trash hauler required us to start using a large container for trash.

My husband’s pet peeve is that large, unsightly container defiling our cul-de-sac. So several yards before we get to the end of the driveway we pick up the large trash container,  which is tucked in the woods, and wheel it down to the end of the driveway. Then we take the trash out of my car and put it in the container.

As the SUV is my car, my husband said,

“Hey, I loaded the trash in your car. Drive me down to the bin on your way to your dinner with your girlfriends.”

“Okay,” I said.

The real culprit

I stop the SUV where the bin is tucked away. My husband gets out. And I drive away.

Down the driveway, past the mailbox, through the cul-de-sac, down the steep hill to the end of the street.

My car makes a few weird noises. Now, I’m mad because I just got new tires. And my car stinks. What’s that all about?

I turn the corner, go around the bend, there’s that noise again. I look in the rearview mirror

A fun place to take your trash!

and see the trash. I was taking the trash with me on a ‘girls night out.’

I found a driveway, turned around, went back up my street to the cul-de-sac, and I see my husband slowly walking back towards the house shaking his head in disbelief.

I’m laughing so hard, it’s silent. I can’t speak. He just looks at me.

“I was waving my hands and yelling, ” he said so plaintively. “I called your cell phone and you didn’t answer. I couldn’t believe in a nano second you forgot that you had the trash in the car and just drove away.”

He’s officially worried.

“You Just have to Laugh….”

©2017 Cathy Sikorski

 

 

 

Too Cool for Snow…..

Did you know that it’s illegal to drive with ice and snow on your car in Pennsylvania? A small fine for not clearing your windows, but if you are found to have caused injury, or death because you didn’t clean the snow off your car, that’s a bit steeper, what with fines and jail and all.

We keep our cars in the garage, so that’s one chore we’ve gratefully averted in snowstorms. But we also have an old Taurus that we bought for the kids in high school, and that car sits in the driveway. Yesterday, after 10 inches of snow and spending hours clearing our long, long driveway, my husband was ready to take the old Taurus down to the cul-de-sac and brush it off.  We live at the end of a small street. The cul-de-sac doesn’t have any houses on it. It’s just a turnaround at the top of our hill that is attached to our driveway.

The only purpose the cul-de-sac serves in a storm is a place for the township to gather all the snow at the end of the road, and to dump the Taurus’ top hat of accumulation, so we don’t have to clean the driveway again after Mother Nature did a spring binge and purge all over the Northeast.

Just as my husband rounds the bend and slowly gets to the end of our driveway, our local policeman pulls up in his cruiser and ends up face-to-face with the snow covered Taurus. It’s like a polar game of ‘chicken.’ Luckily, my husband knows the rules. He stops at the tippy end of the driveway, gets out of the Taurus, grabs the snow brush and very lackadaisically begins to brush bits of snow off the car.

Our gendarme sits there for a bit. C’mon we know what he’s thinking: “this guy was gonna’ take that car on the road without cleaning it off.” My husband just whistles a little tune, stops to light a mini cigar, like he does this little thing every day before his journey down the road. He keeps on scraping here, brushing there and finally the police car blinks. The cop pulls away and my husband gives him that ‘guy nod’ asserting “yeah, we’re cool.”

Giving enough time to be out of sight, my husband pulls the Taurus closer to the mail box and dumps the 10 inches of snow from the roof. He thinks he sees the police car sitting a bit down the street, no doubt waiting for the Taurus. But hubby just circles the cul-de-sac and drives back to the house.

I have no idea why my frozen spouse comes in through the garage with the grin of the Cheshire cat and arms raised like Rocky.

Then as we gather around the fireplace, with our hot coffee……. he tells me that he might need a lawyer.

“You Just have to Laugh….”

©2017 Cathy Sikorski