Monthly Archives: February 2018

Nobody Wants My Stuff

We are getting a home built in San Tan Valley, Arizona. We will begin spending our winters there next year. In the meantime, we own a very large home in mid-Missouri. Large homes are large containers. We have a lot of decisions to make about this home. The first one, is should we keep this home or downsize our Missouri home. Our home in Arizona is considerably smaller than our home in Missouri. It also will not have a basement, which in my opinion, is only good for storing junk we don’t want to deal with. I like the idea of downsizing the Missouri home. Even if we don’t sell our home immediately, we sure can get rid of “stuff” that no one is going to want after we have left this earth.

I have been reading articles online about the fact that, “nobody wants your stuff.” The articles I have read said that furniture is not a desired thing any longer. Old furniture may not be antiques like they used to be. Furniture today is mass produced. It has no more value than the time it was purchased. Most young people today have filled their homes with furniture from IKEA and Target. They don’t want that “old” stuff. Homes have grown in size since World War II, and people have filled them quite well. They don’t have room to take anyone else’s furniture. I really do not understand people renting storage units to put the extra “stuff” in. If you have done this, I am not judging. I just don’t understand it. I suppose it is because “stuff” overwhelms me. If I am surrounded by overloaded closets, drawers, etc., I start to feel claustrophobic. I cannot maneuver through the stuff, and at some point, I have to stop and clean these areas out.

My husband and I decided that it is time to start cleaning out closets and rooms. I read the first place to start is with paper. I had already done that, and found old tax returns of mine. I checked with my accountant how long I had to hold onto personal tax returns and learned I didn’t need any of these paper returns. My latest few years have been done online, and I have the PDF documents in my computer, and I also have a backup of my scrapcomputer. When my mom was young, she kept scrap books. I have her old scrapbooks. The paper is yellow with age, and the glue has come undone on a lot of her entries. I have scanned some of the things, but I am thinking of scanning the complete scrapbooks. I love the old articles she has saved about things she found interesting, or about people she knew. I know some of these families today, and scanning these newspaper articles and sharing them with these families is a nice way for them to see some history they may not have known. It is like the email that I have printed and saved since 2000. I found it in my files the other day—I wrote my blog last week about that email. I was glad I found it, and it has real meaning to me, but probably to very few other folks. I think I will scan the document into my computer, and throw away the printed copy.

photosOf course, another issue is photographs. I have boxes of them. Most of them have been scanned into my computer, and since I have a Mac, they are also labeled per person. If I want to see all the photos I have of a particular person, I go to my Photos program, and find their name, and all photos I have of them pop right up. So, now, what do I do with the original photos? That still has me perplexed. I breaks my heart to throw them away, but my children can have them all digitally from my computer. One article I read said to be of service to your parent by taking something they give you because maybe it’s too hard for them to throw away. They might have an inkling you are going to throw it away, but they are not doing it—something that just might be too hard to do. Thus, all my photos.

Learning to let go is a gift. Sometimes we hold onto things just because it has some “meaning” that if we really think about it, is not in the object itself. When we watch those television shows about hoarders, you see them holding onto a piece of junk because it was their mom’s or has some sentimental meaning, that is not actually in the object itself. They cannot let it go. I’m not that bad, but I know I struggle with some things that have family memories, and wonder how to let it go without feeling bad about it. I still have all the sympathy cards and notes from my parents’ funerals. Do I save them? Why am I saving them? When my mom died, I received only a few cards. I was just recovering from my “dark years,” had been going to a 12-step program for codependency, and had lost connection with many people. I remember thinking that if I died right then, not many people would come to my funeral, or even miss me in any way. When my dad passed away fifteen years later, I received an abundance of sympathy cards, and had many friends and colleagues come to the viewing and funeral. I felt connected to the world again, and it was comforting. I think that is why I hold onto those cards. It shows a reality of my life that I need to remember. I suppose it is okay to pack them in a box to look at every once in a while, and know one day either I or my kids will discard them.

00 shelvesBooks are also a huge issue. When I married Dennis, we downsized books. We donated 1,500 paperback books to the St. Louis Book Fair. We have 12 floor to ceiling shelves of books with 99.9% being hard bound books. What do we do with them? Do people buy used books? Do we try to sell what we “think” are the rare ones and donate the rest? What to do? Although I love the feel of holding a book in my hand, picking it up, being able to highlight something in it, and reread it again, books are becoming harder for me to read. Who would think that I would admit that I am not seeing as well as I used to? So, for me, downloading an electronic book on my phone is so perfect. I can adjust the size of the print, I can lighten or darken the background to read it better. The sad, sad thing about electronics books is that I can’t hand a favorite book to a friend to share in the reading. I miss that. I love when someone hands me a book. In my downsizing world, though, electronic books are the best.

IMG_0401I am not one of those people who owns everyday china and good china, but I have to admit, I am one of those who owns Christmas china. Christmas is my favorite holiday, and about 15 years ago I found this dinnerware on sale, and thought it was really pretty, cute, whatever, but I decided I wanted to celebrate the holidays with this china. When my kids came over for Thanksgiving, after the dishes were done, I had them help me move the china. My kitchen was adequate in size, but not huge. I stored the Christmas dishes in the cabinet above the refrigerator. So, Thanksgiving evening, one of my boys would get on the step stool and pull out the dishes and hand them to me. I would hand him my everyday dishes to store until New Years. I did that every year for a long time. When I married Dennis, and moved to our home in mid-Missouri, I inherited a kitchen beyond my dreams when it came to cabinet space. The kitchen is 24’ x 12’ with a 8’ island in the center. I don’t know the exact number of cabinets, but I do know when we were updating the kitchen and I wanted to change the cabinet and drawer pulls, the number I counted was 56! Yeah, that’s a lot of space to store “stuff.” I also have a walk in pantry between the kitchen and the dining room, and that is where I store my Christmas dishes, glasses, mugs, and serving pieces. Now I don’t have to swap out the dishes every season. I will be sad when I decide to say good-bye to the Christmas dishes. That will happen one day, not sure if it is sooner or later.

IMG_2027I have two things of mine that I am not sure what to do—they both have meaning to me, but maybe not to anyone else. The first one is my Howdy Doody doll. He is actually not the original, but I found him years ago on eBay, and I had to have him. When I was about 2 1/2 years old, my parents were going to a wedding in Detroit, Michigan. They delivered us three sisters to my grandparents to spend the weekend, and apparently, I was distraught at them leaving me. They decided to take me with them. Of course, I don’t remember any of this. This is the story my mom told me. While in Detroit, my mom bought this Howdy Doody doll for me, and my photo was taken there. I have the photo and the doll on display. I remember playing with that doll for years. I loved watching the “Howdy Doody Show.” It IMG_4566just makes me feel good when I see this photo and the doll. The other thing is a photo of myself that is framed and hanging in one of our guest rooms. I am probably about 9 months to a year old. My mom saved the dress I wore in the photo. It was always stuck away somewhere in a box. Years ago I got this brilliant idea to frame the dress with the photo, because who has the exact clothes they wore when their baby photo was taken? I am not sure anyone will want that in the future. The Howdy Doodie might be valuable because this particular doll is rare, but do they want these photos and this dress? Who knows? Those two things will stay with me until my days are done. Then they (my four sons) can do whatever they want with all my “stuff.”

00 colanderWhen I first moved to this home, I was coming to a home that my husband and his wife (who passed away) had lived in. The cabinets were filled to the brim, along with the closets, and every room. I told him there was no room for me, even though this house was huge. This sweet man cleared room for me, mostly by giving much of the stuff to his wife’s family. They were appreciative to have many memories of their sister. There are duplicates of some kitchen stuff, but on the whole, I brought my things. I know my kitchen things, and I like using them. We do own five colanders, and I use maybe three of them, depending on what it is for, but my favorite is still my mom’s old Tupperware colander from the 60’s.

This winter we will be clearing out closets. We decided to do a closet at a time, and we will do it together. My husband is very sentimental, so this will be a difficult project for him. I will give him room to grieve, to hold onto whatever he needs to hold onto. He will give me room to do the same. In the end, though, we both know it is just stuff. If our house burned down tomorrow, and he and I survived with only the clothes on our backs, we would be okay. We know we are blessed.

Letting go voluntarily, is another issue. It takes time and patience. Wish us luck—we a digging in!

Large leather sofa with a bunch of different things

 

 

Losing Friends Too Soon

One of the things I have come to learn about myself is that I am a connector. I love connecting people together. I love connecting and reconnecting with people. Later in my career, when I took my “strengths” test to see what my strengths were, “Connectedness” was one of my top five strengths. Over the years I have reconnected with friends from my youth. I think it is especially because of one particular friend who taught me that life is short, and we have so much history with our friends, that reconnecting is all the more meaningful to me.

When I was a kid, as I had mentioned before, our family was active in a small European church. The churches on the whole were small. Their congregations were made up of mainly German, Hungarian, Serbian, and Slovakian people. We had a few activities that brought us together throughout the country. It included summer camp for all ages in three parts of the country, and an annual “Youth Rally,” although it was open to everyone (maybe it made the older folks feel young). These were so important to me. My parents were very strict, and my social life was to revolve around the church kids.

Midwestern camp was my highlight of the year. When I was a teenager, I went to camp in Indiana. I had friends from Illinois and Ohio whom I looked forward to spending time with for the week. We went to Bible classes and services, hanging out, flirting with the boys, giggling with the girls, and campfires where we sang gospel songs. I have many friends who I have reconnected with on Facebook who are from these days.

friends

Steph on the left. I am next to her.

One of my special friends from this time was Steph, short for Stephanie. She was a unique individual. She had a strong personality, and there was never a time you didn’t know what she thought. She wasn’t afraid to speak out on any subject in which she had strong feelings! I was always impressed by her because her hair was always perfect, and I don’t think her clothes were ever wrinkled.  She was just so put together. One year at camp, we taught ourselves finger spelling from a book about Helen Keller. She would go to choir practice at camp. I was not a singer, so I would sit in the balcony of the chapel during the choir practice, and we would finger spell messages to each other—usually about the boy we had a crush on at the time! We were also night owls, so one night after everyone fell asleep in the dorm, we quietly snuck around and chatted with our friends sleepingwho were asleep. We found out that if they were sleeping and if we didn’t fully wake them up, they would talk to us in their sleep. We would ask them questions, and because they were asleep, they would answer, but usually with something nonsensical which made us laugh, although we had to laugh quietly so we wouldn’t wake anyone up, especially our dorm leaders who would know we were up and around after “lights out.” We also learned that some people just don’t like to be bothered while they are sleeping, one in particular who swung her arm at us in her sleep. Fortunately, we ducked to keep from being hit, and it put us into a fit of giggling, which we had to do very quietly.

When camp was over, we all went home with shared addresses so we could write to each other. Steph was a prolific writer. She would send me a letter which was several pages. One of the things I remember about her letters was her beautiful penmanship. The day I received her letter, I would answer her with an equally long letter. I have no idea what all we wrote about, but I know we shared everything we did and everything thought about. When she received my letter, she would reply the same day also, so every few days, we were receiving mail with a lengthy letter.

Then we grew up. I went away to college, and she went to nursing school. My family had started going to a different church, so we were no longer going to the summer camps, and anyway, I was too busy with my new friends to be thinking about these summer camps. Time marched on and we had occasional connections. One day, Steph contacted me that she was going to Colorado with her boyfriend, Roger, and wanted to stop in St. Louis to see me. I barely remember the visit, but I know she came to my home. I was married and had four very young children, and she and Roger spent the evening with our family.  After that, somehow we lost contact. Years went by. In the mid to late 90’s I was visiting with my mother’s cousin from Ohio. He still attended the church in Ohio of the denomination that we had belonged. I told him that I often wondered about two of my really good friends from Ohio, Marylou and Steph.  Dave went back home to Ohio and proceeded to find their addresses for me. I don’t remember how he connected with me, but he gave me both Marylou’s and Steph’s addresses. That Christmas I sent them Christmas cards with notes and included my current mailing address and my email address. I got a letter back from Marylou, and we have sent Christmas cards back and forth since then. I love to this day seeing her photo cards of her husband, children, and grandchildren. It such a joy to still be in contact with her. Although, I am writing about Steph, Marylou was one of my best friends, but she was not good at writing. Marylou actually came to St. Louis to attend my high school graduation, and when I got married, her parents showed up at my wedding. I was honored that they drove all the way from Mansfield, Ohio to attend my wedding. I still think about how much that meant to me.

graduation

Marylou at my graduation.

So, I heard from Marylou, but not from Steph. My friend, who was raised in Barberton, Ohio, is missing in my head. I decided to send her a Christmas card the next year, once again giving her my mailing address and my email address. I decided that if I did not hear back from her, that I would accept that she decided to move on with her life, and I would stop sending her Christmas cards. A few months after Christmas, I received a letter from Steph. She told me that she received the first card, but was in the hospital at the time and was not up to writing. She went on to say that she was very ill and waiting on a liver transplant. Thus, our correspondence began.

crashingInstead of letters, we were now emailing each other. Steph was married to Roger, and they now had two teenage children. Time sure does fly! I don’t know what kind of computer she had, but every so often, I wouldn’t hear from her in a while. Whenever that happened I got concerned because she was not in good health. I would send her an email or two, hoping she was okay.  Sshe wrote back and apologized because she was having computer problems, and one time she mailed a note because her computer crashed. Back in the late 90’s PC’s crashed a lot! I was always relieved to hear from her again.

In the summer of 1998, she sent me an email and said she and her family would be coming through St. Louis on their vacation. Her son, who was about 14, was a baseball fan, and he and Roger were going to go to a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. Steph wasn’t interested in the game, nor was her 16 year old daughter. Steph wanted me to meet her and Lori for dinner the night of the game. It was so good to see her. She apologized to me for how she looked. She was very self conscious about the apparent red spots on her neck and chest. She said that was from her liver disease. Actually, I had not noticed, and I thought she looked wonderful in spite of being so ill. We had a wonderful time at that dinner, and getting to know her daughter, Lori. Then Steph suggested I come to the St. Louis Zoo with the family the next day. I felt a bit awkward because I had not seen her in years and was wondering if I was intruding on their family vacation, but she assured me that she wanted me to be there. The next day I went to the zoo with Steph, Roger, Lori, and Mark. We spent the day together and had a wonderful time.

I remember one particular email when she asked the question of how sick does one have to be to get to the top of the transplant list. She was never on top. Family and friends were scrambling to find her a living donor. She told me she had an offer from a cousin’s husband, but he had been rejected. We continued writing. Time went on, and Steph was still waiting for a donor liver. In the spring on 2000, she told me that her younger brother had offered to donate for her. She at first rejected the offer because he was completing dental school, and he was engaged to get married. The family intervened and convinced her to accept this life-giving gift. Her brother was now going through all the testing for the transplant procedure. The plan was to have the transplant early summer. I wanted to go to Ohio and visit with her. She told me to wait until about a month or so after the transplant, because she would be feeling good, and we could enjoy our time together. I was set to fly to Ohio for a visit in late summer or early autumn.

Once again, there was a gap in our email writing. I was always glad I had a Mac that didn’t have these issues of crashing like old PC’s did. I didn’t get a note in the mail this time. Now I was beginning to worry about my old friend. I sent a few emails, the kind that said, “Steph, where are you? Are you okay? I’m getting worried about you.”

I was getting a new house built at this time and had sold my current home, and was living in a temporary apartment while my house was being built. I asked my boss at work if I could get my emails at work so I didn’t have to go to the trouble of setting up cable and internet at a temporary place. He was okay with that, so the important people in my life started emailing me to my work email.

One day in early June, Kay, my administrative assistant walked into my office. I was in tears at my desk. She stepped out of the office and looked around thinking I had an unpleasant encounter with someone at work. She walked in again, shut the door and sat down across from me and asked me what was wrong. I looked at her and started crying again, and I started reading an email I had just received. I still have that email—I printed it and saved it.

00 stephIt started, “Andrea, I regret to reply with sad news about Steph. Steph was called home by her heavenly father on June 2nd. It was a great a shock to all of us, how sudden and the agonizing series of events.” This was an email from Steph’s email account but written by her husband, Roger, to me. He said that Steph was so happy with the anticipation of her surgery (the upcoming transplant). In late May, she called Roger and he rushed home to find her lying on the floor short of breath. He called 911 and within minutes they were rushing her to the hospital. They stabilized her at the local hospital, and then transferred her to the Cleveland Clinic, where her specialists were waiting for her. That next day, her husband went home to get his daughter ready for prom. Steph was sitting up in bed and doing well, and was going to be transferred from ICU to a regular room. When he returned to the hospital a few hours later, the doctors were waiting form him to inform him that she took a “nose-dive” and needed to go into emergency surgery. She had a 4-hour surgery in the early evening to stop the internal hemorrhaging. At 9:00 am the next morning, the doctor took her back into surgery for over 3 hours to stop additional hemorrhaging.

Steph did not do well after that second surgery, and was placed on dialysis. Now it was the following Thursday, a week later, and the day of her daughter’s graduation. Roger told me that Lori was the president of her class and was to give a speech at graduation. He said, “Lori, class president, was a true champion at graduation. Led the class into the auditorium, gave her speech, and marched out with her head high, so proud, which she had every right to be.” What a sweet dad to acknowledge his daughter’s bravery at such a difficult time in their lives. Steph held on until Saturday evening, June 2, 2000, surrounded by her husband, children, her mom, and her pastor.  Roger stated, “A recording of the Hallelujah chorus was playing when Steph was taking her final breathes [sic].”

My friend Steph was loved by many people. Over 400 people attended her memorial service. As Roger stated, “Steph was unique but you always knew what she thought.” So true. He could not have described her any better. She was truly one of a kind. She had a heart of gold. She also had many, many opinions of which she was not afraid to share. She was honest to the core.

As I was reading this email to my friend, Kay, I looked up and saw that she was also in tears. Even in her death, Steph makes an impact. I miss her. I miss our candid conversations. I know she would be so happy for me how things in my life finally fit together.

I do not know what has happened with Steph’s family. It has been almost 18 years since her passing. My guess is that over time their hearts have healed. Roger may have remarried. He was young (in my definition of young), and the kids have grown into adults, are probably married, and have children of their own. I am sure they have great stories to tell their kids about their very wonderful and unique grandmother who they will not meet until they get to Heaven.

I am still touched by Roger’s email. At the end he said, “Hope I didn’t overwhelm you with details. It’s good therapy for me. She really appreciated your friendship and had a lot of fond memories of you . . . We serve a loving God and I pray he will comfort you as you grieve over the loss of a good friend.”  He is comforting me in my sorrow. Pretty amazing and powerful.  I am so grateful that I reconnected with Steph, and we picked up our friendship right where we left off.  I am so glad we spent time together in St. Louis.  I am glad I wasn’t so busy that I couldn’t spend the day at the zoo.  Those were the last days I saw her.

There is so much to learn from this. This is what I have learned:

  • Life is short. Love and cherish everyone you encounter. You never know if it is the last encounter with them.
  • Make time for your friends.  Don’t be so busy to miss out on possibly the last time you may see someone.
  • Even in grief, one can minister to another, as Roger did to me as he wrote this incredible email.
  • We have a loving God who gave his life for us, and gives us an abundant life daily.
  • Even in times of grief, we can feel the loving arms of God encircle us.
  • I will never forget the friendship I had with Steph. She was special.

God bless you! When life is tough, lean into God. He will hold you!

The last verse that Roger shared in his email:
phil 4-13

 

When I Was That Lady

orlandoToday as we were trying to figure out what to do on vacation day #18, I discovered that the Tupperware Headquarters was still in Orlando. It brought back a lot of memories for me, so we decided to drop in and see what they had to show.

I was at this location in Florida in 1976 for the annual Tupperware Jubilee. There were thousands of successful Tupperware sales people, managers and distributors attending this big convention. They rolled out new products. They gave a lot of recognition. We won a lot of prizes. I was promoted as a manager at the ceremony at this convention. I was almost 28 years old. I was a mom of two baby boys, and was pregnant with baby boy #3, although back then we didn’t know until the delivery. Tupperware was a big thing back in the day. If you wanted the best storage containers for your staples, so the brown sugar wouldn’t get hard, and flour would never see little bugs crawling in it, you needed Tupperware. If you wanted truly leakproof containers, any round Tupperware container would do the job. All their containers were airtight, so it kept your food fresh. Back in those days all Tupperware had a lifetime warranty. If it cracked, chipped, or peeled, Tupperware would replace that piece regardless of its age.

That was the day of the Tupperware party. A few friends would get together, serve some refreshments, and your friendly Tupperware dealer would show her wares and sell some stuff. I sold a lot of Tupperware because I would explain the guarantee, I would tell them how to clean their Tupperware including those old pieces that got sticky. I told them how to “burp” their product, and what foods should be “burped” and what foods should not.

mixing bowlsThe favorite party that I did was to make a pie crust in a Tupperware mixing bowl, in the middle of someone’s living room without making a mess. I had the flour and salt pre-measured in the mixing bowl. I had the shortening in a separate (Tupperware, of course) container. I would take a knife and proceed to cut small portions of shortening and drop into the flour mixture until I had all the shortening added to the bowl. I closed the bowl by attaching the “seal.” That’s right, NEVER call a lid a lid. In Tupperware, it was ALWAYS a seal. Why? Because it was airtight, and if round, sppons & cupsalso watertight. Once the seal was on and burped, I held the bowl sideways and starting shaking up and down. It was hard to chat while doing this, and it also doesn’t get my point across, so I handed the bowl to the closest person and told her to start shaking, and when she was tired of it, pass it to the next person until it went around the room. As they were doing that, I talked about the great measuring cups and measuring spoons that I used in measuring the ingredients. Tupperware was the first to have a six cup measuring set, and the same for the measuring spoons. Now the bowl, had made it around the room. I set the bowl on the table and carefully opened the seal and showed the group that the shortening and flour has combined into little pieces just like you had used a pastry blender. They seemed IMG_0048pretty amazed. Then I used the only ingredient that I asked the hostess to provide—cold water! I added the measured cold water to the bowl, sealed it once again, and passed it around the room and told them to start shaking again. During this time I was also telling about the bowls, seals, and who knows what else until everyone all of a sudden realized they were hearing a thumping sound from the bowl they were passing around. I retrieved the bowl, opened the seal, and showed everyone that the pie dough was in a nice round ball ready for rolling into a pie crust. To top this off, I had baked a pie at home that day, and brought it to the party so they saw the finished product. My family didn’t get a pie that day, but they got one the next day with the dough I made at the party, or sometimes, I gave the hostess the dough that she could roll out to a pie the next day. To say the least, my little Tupperware cash register started ringing and ringing. I sold a ton of mixing bowls, measuring spoons, and measuring cups.

partyI think about this and how fun it was to do. I also remember terrible parties where I just wanted to pack my case and go home. I once did a party with about ten middle age women who were what I would call upper-middle class. They watched the demonstration, and then this lady blares out, “I have gone 20 years without Tupperware, I think I can go another 20 years.” At that point, this mid-20’s Tupperware lady saw all the other ladies nod their heads and put down their order forms. To counter that, I also did a party for a hostess who asked to have a party because she had a special dinner at her home where a professional chef came to prepare the meal, and he asked her for her Tupperware to store some of these ingredients, and she had none. She and her friends, who had no problem buying anything they wanted, proceeded to purchase a great quantity of Tupperware storage items.

I became adept at parties for fund raisers. That became my specialty. Back in those days every small community around St. Louis had a little community newspaper that told the news of PTA groups, church groups, and any other type of organization. These articles or photo ops always listed the name of the organizer. It just took a simple phone call, and I set up for them to have a Tupperware party as a fundraiser. The advantage for me was I sold a larger quantity at one time, so I could do less parties as a young mom, and still make good money.

In the summer of 1976, I had recruited enough others to sell Tupperware that I was promoted to a manager. My sales unit was named “Top Bananas.” I actually turned down the manager position at first because I had found out that I was pregnant with my third child. I told our distributor that with two toddlers at home and now pregnant with another, I could not work the full time hours that was required for this job. Cleo was disappointed carbut not phased. She needed me for her recognition of promoting 20 new managers at the annual sales Jubilee in Orlando. She said I didn’t have work full time, if I would still accept the position. Why, of course. Let’s see, they handed me a blue Ford station wagon, which I had to only pay $10 per month that covered all insurance for me and my husband’s personal use.  It was a great vehicle for delivery all the Tupperware orders to the hostess (not done this way any longer).  I think I can do that! I also got a small override on my team member’s sales. I did this until I was about 8 months pregnant, and then I resigned completely from my job. I wanted to be with my three babies. It was a good ride. I made nice money—more than I would make working part time at a retailer, I set my hours, and I filled my kitchen with great products at a huge discount.

Today, we stopped at the Tupperware headquarters. They have a small store where you can purchase products, and a small area where they have a display of the “old” stuff. What a disappointment. I asked about the warranty on one of their products. The warranty has changed for some of the products, and this one was not one of the plastics, and she couldn’t really tell me. First she said 10 years, then limited lifetime, and when I said those were two different things, she went back to 10 years. Either people today are not trained well enough, or they just don’t care.  I am sure that’s not true for all their employees, but as the representative for this company, you would think they would be more engaged. What I consider the best of their products are no longer available. I can only think it is because people don’t cook today like we did back in the day.

It was nice to stop by there today to bring back some memories of a period in my life that I kind of forgot about. It was fun to be standing at a place where 40+ years ago was rewarding my sales skills. I shook the hand of the president of Tupperware at that time. I was promoted in front of thousands of successful Tupperware sales people. It was also sad to see that this place was not the same. It still is a beautiful campus, but he rose garden is gone. The auditorium is gone. It’s now just another corporate office. It didn’t even seem connected to its own history besides a small room of some of the old Tupperware. I am glad that I got to remember my sales career, the people’s homes I visited to have fun at a Tupperware party, and remembering that I was successful at this endeavor. The visit was bittersweet, because nothing stays the same.

A few things that they still have that I was glad to see:

shapoShape-O Ball – Although not a storage or cooking item  This ball is a classic toy that has been around since the mid 60’s.  Other toy companies have made shape toys, but this is the gold standard.

modular matesModular Mates – Best canister storage available.  They come in various sizes.  I use these for my flour, sugar, brown sugar, and powdered sugar.  They are square and rectangular and take up less room in your cabinets.

bell tumblerBell Tumblers – Everyone with little kids needs these.  They are the right size for little hands.  They have a non-slip outer surface, and they are happy colors!

miniTupper Minis – They were  called 2 oz. midgets back in the day—I guess that’s not PC anymore—best tiny storage for little snacks like raisins, M&M’s for little folks—meaning children.

My favorite party prizes that I don’t know if one can get any longer:

citrus peelrCitrus Peeler – Actually Crate and Barrel has a similar one.

egg separatorEgg separator – best one ever, and the little groove on the handle was to hook onto a Tupperware container.

Rocker scoopRocker Scoop – So glad I still have them in my flour and sugar canisters—doesn’t have a handle and can be squeezed to pour into something narrow.

 

Once again, I am grateful for this experience I had in sales and home parties.  As I look back on it, I realize it helped shape my future in being comfortable in front of groups for training presentations, and how to sell ideas.  Everything has a purpose, that we may not see while in the thick of things.  Think back on your past–what things did you do that you didn’t think was significant but actually groomed you for the future?

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And The Winner Is . . . .

Close up of Caucasian female legs standing on the floor scalesThere are only a few things that intimidate me. One is being in a situation that is completely new to me. The other is what anyone who has a weight issue has—body issues. So, when I got a phone call a month ago telling me that I won an honorable mention in a contest and they wanted me to come for a professional photo shoot, it raised my anxiety level through the roof.

IMG_0040All my life I have struggled with my weight. I look at photos of my youth, and I wasn’t really that big, but what is in our head and what we hear other people say, can burn itself in our brains. My brain said I was overweight and unattractive, and no matter what I did, that wouldn’t change.  Food was a part of our culture.  Our family ate to celebrate, we ate when we were feeling blue, we ate to entertain guests, and we ate just because we could!

I had my first child at 23. I gained more weight than I should have during the pregnancy. dietsSo, in 1973 I joined Weight Watchers. Weight Watchers was nothing like it is today. There were restricted foods, and we were supposed to eat liver once a week and fish twice a week. Regardless, I lost 28 lbs. but, of course, like many, I did not stick with Weight Watchers to make lifetime membership. Three babies later, my weight started inching up with each pregnancy. I became friends again with Weight Watchers, The Diet Center, Calorie Counting, Jenny Craig, Atkins, you name it. I was always somewhat successful, but never down to where I wanted to be before I got bored, hungry, or whatever else the excuse was. Once again, my weight would inch up.  Almost ten years ago I started walking. I found that helped me keep my weight in line, and I even lost a few pounds. Of course, the weather got bad, I got really busy at work, or something would cause me to stop walking.

The funny thing is that I never saw myself as large as I actually was, and yet, those voices saying I was overweight and unattractive still rang in my head at the same time. A couple years ago, I started to not feel well. I wasn’t sick, but I sure didn’t feel great. I went to the doctor to see what is wrong with me. All my blood tests came back within normal limits. The only thing that was discovered was that I had mild sleep apnea. When I went online to learn about sleep apnea, I learned that all the symptoms I had fit right into the sleep apnea list. What surprised me is that it also listed weight gain. So, getting a bi-pap machine relieved my digestive issues, and the headaches and fatigue I felt, but it didn’t take away the extra weight.

I began another diet. My husband joined me.  He lost 20 pounds, and I lost only a few pounds, I got frustrated and quit. I needed something to give me a jump start. But what was that going to be?

One day my husband was on his computer surfing the internet, and he said he ran across something he thought I might find interesting. It was a balloon doctors put in your stomach to make you feel full. It sounded really odd, but I was desperate to do something to make me feel well and healthy. I went to the website, and it said if you wanted more information, to complete the form, so I did. I got an email from a doctor’s office that they were having an informational meeting about these intragastrial balloons. I signed up to attend the meeting.

We drove to St. Louis and attended the meeting. I knew this procedure would not be a magic bullet, but maybe it would give me the jump start I needed. The procedure was noninvasive. They insert the balloon though an endoscopy (down the throat to the stomach). It takes about 10 minutes under anesthesia. The balloon can only be in place for 6 months, and then it is removed. While the balloon is in place, I would be under a doctor’s care, have a nurse practitioner, a dietician, and a behavior coach working with me for not only the six months the balloons were in place, but for another six months after that. I immediately signed up for the procedure.

Andrea_Kushnir_2_300

Dr. Kushner & me

In May of 2016, I underwent this simple medical procedure to help me lose weight. It was called ReShape. The dual balloon made of silicone was placed inside my stomach though an endoscopy procedure. Once the balloons were in place, they filled them with a saline solution. These balloons remained in my stomach for six months while I dieted and exercised. My goal was to lose 60 pounds in six months. I thought it was crazy goal, and one I couldn’t do in the past.

At the end of 6 months, the doctor removed the balloons the same way he inserted them (by endoscopy). I had continued support by this medical team for another 6 months as I worked on the skills to maintain my weight loss.  I have to say, I loved the process. I was so encouraged by this team, and my husband and family. I went from being pretty much a couch potato to walking at least 3 miles a day (dependent on the weather).

This method of losing weight was not magic. I had to diet. I counted calories and made sure I got in the protein required daily. I was one of the fortunate ones who did not feel sick and nauseated the first few days of having the balloons inserted. I was tired but not 21016100_10213730862403475_4873716014703469212_onauseated. If I ate too much, I would feel sick. My goal to lose 60 pounds in that six months became a reality. I was amazed when that happened.  Exercise also became part of this routine.  My husband and I are retired, and we live in the country.  If we walk our whole neighborhood, it is a 3 mile walk from walking out our door to returning.  I wasn’t up for that much walking in the beginning.  It was so bad that I started by walking around the swimming pool three to four times.  As the summer moved on, I started walking the neighborhood.  I would wear my swim suit under my shorts and tank top.  I walked the three miles, back in my front door, out my back door onto the screened-in porch.  I took off my walking clothes, and in swim suit, walked to the pool, jumped in and swam a few laps.  I’m not a great swimmer, but the cooling off in the pool was just what the doctor ordered–well, at least it was what make me feel good and refreshed!  

half_splitplate_bluefade1aI learned new little tricks. One was sharing meals at a restaurant rather than eating the whole entrée myself. If I didn’t have anyone to share a meal with, I asked for a container before I started eating and put half the meal in there to take home. If I didn’t ask for the container immediately, I found it was very easy to slip into old habits and nibble away on the food until it was gone.  I kept my calorie count on “My Fitness Pal” on my computer and as an app on my iPhone. The doctor also gave me a Fitbit scale, and my weight also fed into this app, so I could look at the graph of my weight going down!

Weight loss came, it wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t hard. The hard part is keeping the weight off. In the informational meeting, the doctor told us that statistically only 25% of those who lose weight keep it off for five years. I want to be one of those 25%. I don’t want to go through all this work and later have nothing to show for it.

It has now been a year and a half. My weight is stabilized. I do a lot of walking. My goal is to walk 10,000 steps at least three times a week, and at least 5,000 the other four days. I have been successful at that, usually getting the 10,000 steps in more often if the weather is cooperating.  I feel good. I love being active again. Some days are a struggle—a struggle eating the right things or exercising. I do not beat myself up for those tough days. I just set the next day to be better than the bad day before.

The company that manufactures this balloon has a website for all those who are using the procedure. We can log into this site and share our experiences with each other. One day on the site I saw that they were offering a contest for us to write our success story. I thought this might be a good thing to do, but I waited to enter. Actually, I waited until almost the deadline time, because I wanted to know that I had control of my weight before I bragged about my success. I completed the online application and included my story.

In December 2017, I got a call from a representative of ReShape, who asked that I come IMG_4138to California for two days for this photoshoot. My first response was that I was on vacation in Florida on the dates they wanted me. Heidi said they would fly me from Florida. It wasn’t that easy to me. The dates they wanted me was when I was in Panama City Beach, but the next day we were to drive to Fort Lauderdale. No problem to them—they would fly me from the one location and deliver me back to the other.

00 GLAM SQUAD

My Glam Team – me, Debra (my wardrobe guru), Merri (my hairdresser), Terri leading the project, & Amber (my interviewer).

I left Panama City Beach at noon, and I arrived at Orange County (John Wayne) Airport at 6:30 pm on Thursday. By 8:00 pm, I was in the suite in the hotel getting a fitting for clothes to be worn the next day in the various photoshoots. The first dress Debra had me try, was totally wrong for me. I hated it on the hanger, and hated it even more on me. Now I was really intimidated by the process. Then she handed me this blue dress, sleeveless on one arm, and a shawl-like sleeve on the other. I loved the dress. it was unique and beautiful. Through the fittings, the team from the advertising agency selected three outfits for me—pin-striped slacks with a blue top, the blue dress described above, and a purple dress. I was done for the evening.

00 CLOTHES

Clothes used for all the winners.

Friday morning started at 5:30 am, with hair being styled, and makeup applied. By 8:00 am, I was in outfit #1 and whisked away to a small boutique for the video shoot and interview. The party dress that was selected was hung on the rack with their other dresses. The camera crew was busy moving clothes racks, setting up lighting screens (for lack of a proper knowledge of their technical names). This process was a lot of “hurry up and wait.” Then I was given the instructions to walk around the rack of dresses, stop, look through them one at a time, stop at the designated dress, pull it out, hold it up to myself like I am admiring it and thinking how great it would look on me (all of how I do not shop)! They took the first shot and said, “great,” then they said, “do it again.” So funny—they were all great but I had to do several retakes. This is Hollywood!

Now the dress is selected in the video. Scene #2: Stay in the slacks and top. Sit on the stool and do an interview about my experience of the ReShape medical procedure. Now they are moving racks of clothes around, deciding if they want to use stools or chairs to sit on, moving all the camera equipment around. Then comes the young man with the clapperboard. He put in right in front of my face and says, “Take 3, soft sticks.” I had no idea what the “soft sticks” was all about, but they began filming at that time, until the director would say, “Cut.” Yep, this is real Hollywood-like! Amber was my interviewer. She would ask the question, and I was to reply by answering the question using the question as the beginning of my sentence. Sometimes, I would start to answer, and then forget the what the question was! Most of the time, I did okay, and once again, Hollywood-like, they will tell me it was great and then ask me to say it again!

00 HEIDI

Heidi with me.  She was the one from ReShape who called me to tell me I was a winner!

Once the interview was finished, they instructed me to change into the party dress. Now was the time for this non-actress to make her Loretta Young entrance! Okay, I didn’t have a winding stairway to float down, but I was to open the curtains of the dressing room, walk out, pretend to look at my husband to show off my dress. I think I took at least six takes on that one! Of course, before all that happened, racks were moved out of the way, lighting screens were moved around, test shots were taken. It was “hurry up and wait” once more!

Now during all this filming, Debra, my wardrobe guru, was tucking, pulling, lint rolling, double taping bra straps not to show.  Cassie, my makeup artist, was constantly retouching my face. If I needed a drink of water, she was over immediately to touch up the lipstick. Mary, the hairdresser, was constantly moving, spraying, keeping each hair exactly where she wanted it. What a crazy ride—having these folks making sure the look was perfect! We spent almost three hours at the boutique filming before 00 STILLSthey were all satisfied with the work. I changed out of all these clothes, put my jeans, shirt, and sneakers on, and was put back into a car and whisked back to the hotel for a quick lunch.

Once I had lunch, the process started again. A new dress, a pair of heels, hair retouched, makeup retouched, and down 12 floors to a conference room for a photoshoot of still shots. This team was fun. Maybe I was finally more relaxed. I had all these photos taken in front of a white screen. They were teaching me how to pose. I do not envy any professional models. “If it doesn’t hurt, you are not posed,” was pretty much the mantra for that session! I spent 90 00 MORE STILLminutes with this delightful team. I think we laughed our way through this shoot. They were so nice, funny, and we worked hard.

You would think I would be done by now, but no, one more thing to do. Fortunately, I was handed a pair of hotel slippers so I didn’t have to wander the halls in heels all day. Now off to another hotel room with three ladies from a marketing group that handles the social media. By this time I was exhausted, and just glad they gave me a comfy chair to sit in. It was another interview, and I just went through pretty much the same questions I got from the early agency team. This interview, though, was a lot more casual, and we just chatted.

00 ALMOST DONE

A few more of the folks in another interview.

Finally, I was finished. It was 5:30 pm. I had just done 12 hours of dressing, filming, interviewing, filming, and interviewing. I had a wardrobe person, makeup artist, and  a hairdresser. I lived a day of “Hollywood.” By the way, I got to keep the two dresses, slacks, shirt, and two pair of shoes! I got to fly from Florida and back. I got to meet a ton of interesting people. I got to be treated like a star.

It went by so fast, I feel like I kind of missed savoring the moment.  I would have loved to have spent more time getting to know all these great people.  I will probably never see any of them again. I am grateful that I won this honor. Yes, I also got a financial prize along with all the clothes. They say I will receive the photos—I don’t know when that will be.

What I am most grateful for is that I was finally successful at my weight loss.  For me it was not about being thin–I am not “thin.”  I am healthy. I am physically active now like I have never been before. I have met so many wonderful people, from the doctor’s office, to my “Hollywood” friends. I am a lucky girl. Who would have thought that this kind of thing would happen to a little girl from St. Louis, Missouri? Who would have thought that this would happen in her senior years? Who would have thought she is so blessed to have wonderful husband of only 4+ years who has been her cheerleader through all of this? God has truly blessed this girl from the Midwest. From my roots as a first generation American on my dad’s side, 2nd generation on my mom’s side, all the challenges I have had in my life, and this week it was a Cinderella story.

I am grateful that I had this medical tool to get me jump started. I am grateful for the new learning and the support I got from the medical staff, and especially my husband, who went along for the ride of eating healthier and working out.

P PigThis is not a one time and “that’s all folks” kind of thing.  Watching my weight, keeping it in control, and exercising regularly must be an ongoing activity of my life.  This is my lifelong struggle. I know that.  When the few pounds inch up again, I need to remember to remove it from the “denial” part of my brain, and stop it in its tracks. This is my new reality.  It’s one I think I really like.002 Clapperboard