Mary Kay Superstar-Rhonda’s Journey to the Top

How did a self-proclaimed shy girl from rural North Dakota come to lead a team of nearly 300 consultants, earn $500,000 in sales and get herself featured in New York’s Time Square?

She became a Mary Kay Consultant in 1996 and has never looked back.

Meet Rhonda

Rhonda’s entrepreneurial parents owned Schmitt Locker in Napoleon, North Dakota. https://www.facebook.com/Schmitt-Locker-1721202918133954/  There, she worked side-by-side with them after school and in the summer, observing their work ethic and customer service skills, which she now mirrors in her professional life.

She and her husband Joe of 31 years raised three adult children who’ve richly blessed them with three young grandchildren. “The most important thing to me is spending quality time with my family. I want to share as many experiences and fun memories with them as possible.”

Rhonda attended beauty school, worked for the Bank of ND, was a stay-at-home Mom and now has been self-employed with Mary Kay for 23 years. “I’ve always loved helping women look and feel better.”

Faith, Family & Career

Rhonda started selling Mary Kay because she always enjoyed skin care and makeup. Initially her earnings were tagged for fun, little family extras like taking her children to Chuck E. Cheese. “I took it one day at a time, day in and day out and as my customer base grew, I looked back and realized I’d created a mountain.”

She’d found something she loved doing. “It has never felt like work.”

Rhonda’s been an Independent Senior Sales Director for 20 years.

Business Model

Mary Kay’s business model and principles align with Rhonda’s.

  • Faith First
  • Family Second
  • Career Third

According to Rhonda, Mary Kay is a company with a heart, always encouraging consultants to treat every person as if they have a sign around their neck saying “make me feel important” and treating others the way we would want to be treated.

The true heart of Mary Kay is Enriching Women’s Lives.

At Mary Kay, success is defined as “simply ordinary women with extraordinary determination.” She boasts the “organization attracts the kindest women with huge hearts. If you live your life in this order: faith, family and career, you can’t help but be successful.”

Achieving Success

Rhonda’s been splendidly rewarded for her Mary Kay success. She’s

  • Earned the use of 14 career cars, including 9 Cadillacs
  • Achieved a half million in sales and was featured in New York’s Time Square
  • Named a Director-Top 2% in the company
  • Received diamond rings and diamond bar pins
  • And, earned the Director Miss Go-Give Award, voted on by one’s peers for giving enthusiastically, willingly and beyond what is expected of them

She’s striving to become a National Sales Director. “To achieve that I need to help more women have the life they want and deserve, using Mary Kay as their vehicle.”

Building a Successful Sales Team

Regardless of one’s chosen career, Rhonda strongly believes a commitment to never quit-determination-is essential.

As a leader she makes it her mission to figure out what matters to her consultants. “What is their ‘WHY’? She pours her belief in her team members and leads by example.

She’s had many consultants who’ve stayed on her team throughout her 20 years because they love the brand and the company. “It truly is a sisterhood.”

Her consultants must

  • Have a genuine love for helping others
  • Love skin care and beauty
  • Know they deserve more and be willing to work for it

She seeks 5 key work habits in her Consultant team members

          1. Determination

          2. Self-motivation

          3. Strong, independent work ethic

          4. Self-discipline

          5. Never give up attitude

Rhonda’s disappointed when consultants quit but understands that’s part of the process.

Those that quit often don’t believe in themselves or have had someone crush their dreams by telling them they can’t do it or they know someone who’s tried and failed.

“Our business is simple, but not always easy. Sometimes it’s easier or more comfortable to quit after a few disappointments.”

When it comes to fear of selling, she wants everyone to know that we all sell every day. “When we find a good movie or restaurant, we “sell” it to others. We “sell” our children on why having lunch now and snack later, is best.”

Selling is simply finding a need and filling it. There is no reason to fear it.

Measuring Success

Rhonda knows there is nothing more rewarding than setting a goal, working toward it each day, realizing the fruits of one’s labor and feeling a sense of accomplishment.

She believes all women have within them the power to control their life and future.

“I measure success when a woman in my organization realizes how great she truly is and uses my belief in her, and her God given talent, to achieve her personal and financial goals until she has belief in herself.”

Rhonda & some ND team members at Dallas, TX annual convention

Overcoming Barriers to Success

No one rises to the top of any organization without establishing good work habits and overcoming some barriers along the way.

Rhonda’s journey to the top is no different.

“Because Mary Kay has no time commitments or sales quotas, it’s very easy to put Mary Kay on the back burner and say yes to everything else.”

To reach the top Rhonda had to set a schedule for herself and commit to working in and building her business. She never felt like she had to make sacrifices to be successful. “I haven’t attended every game or school activity for my children, but I never missed any of the big ones.”

She accepts that life isn’t always going to be balanced. Instead, she believes it’s all about harmony. Sometimes you work 12-to-15-hour days, many days in a row. Sometimes you have days of relaxation.

Her motto is “Work Hard. Play Hard.”

She readily reveals the barriers she’s had to overcome to become successful.

1. Shyness. “I’m probably one of the least likely to succeed at owning a people business because, by nature, I’m shy.” Now she understands that shyness is sometimes a selfish trait-focusing on oneself. “Turning my focus on others makes everything work better.”

2. Limited Belief in Self. My National Sales Director always believed in me. I used that belief until I had it in myself.

3. Limited Faith. “If I couldn’t see how the goal could happen, I didn’t believe it could happen.” Today she keeps her mind in the right place by constantly reading and listening to motivational and self-improvement books, podcasts, etc.

4. Comparing Myself to Others. “I realize that when we do that, we always compare our worst traits to someone’s best traits. God made each of us perfectly, and he doesn’t make mistakes.”

5. Wanting to stay “comfortable.” Every success takes stepping out of one’s comfort zone. Rhonda has kept a magnet on her kitchen refrigerator since her early Mary Kay days. It reads, “Do one thing every day that makes you uncomfortable.”

About Beauty

Rhonda shares 4 insights about beauty.

1. Beauty comes from within. Skin care and makeup can enhance beauty. When we look good on the outside, we generally feel good on the inside.

2. Self-love, care and pampering are important. No one can be good to others if they are not good to themselves too.

3. Skin care is the #1 secret to a great, finished makeup look. If one doesn’t like how her skin looks and feels without makeup, she won’t like it with makeup. However, if you like how your skin looks and feels without makeup, you will love it with makeup.

4. Good skin care regimens, used consistently, help slow down the aging clock.

You & Mary Kay

If you’re inspired by Rhonda’s Mary Kay journey and would like to explore becoming a Consultant, reach out to her

Text or Call: 701.226.4545

Email: rkambeitz@bis.midoc.net

Website: www.marykay.com/rkambeitz

“It’s the best decision I have ever made. Endless possibilities and earning potential.”

And, as founder, Mary Kay Ash always said, “If just one more woman realized how great she truly is, it’s going to be a great day.”

Click here for other great Mary Kay Ash quotes https://succeedfeed.com/mary-kay-ash-quotes/

Who Could Use This Inspiration?

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© August 2020. Linda Leier Thomason All Rights Reserved.

This means seek permission before using copy or images from this site. Images are available for purchase.

Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories along with feature articles. Her work experience includes a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.

Do you have a story idea or interesting person who’d be a great feature?

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Explore Columbus, Nebraska Area

The COVID-19 Pandemic cancelled our family’s summer getaways. Therefore, we’ve taken mini Nebraska stay-cations.

For each adventure we choose locations that

  • We have not previously visited.
  • Are considered a day trip from our home base of Omaha, Nebraska.
  • Have a good mix of art, history, dining and parks and recreation.
  • Are surrounded by a nearby cluster of other interesting sites and locations

Recently we chose Columbus, Nebraska.

After reviewing their wonderful Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website http://www.visitcolumbusne.com/, we decided to add two surrounding small towns, Newman Grove and Humphrey, Nebraska and the village of Tarnov to our itinerary that ended in Columbus, Nebraska before returning to Omaha.

For those interested in driving to the locations we’ve visited, here’s an estimated mileage chart.

Distance

Omaha to Newman Grove, Nebraska: 2 hours 2 minutes

Omaha to Humphrey, Nebraska: 1 hour 47 minutes

Omaha to Tarnov, Nebraska: 1 hour 48 minutes

To Columbus, Nebraska from

… Omaha: 1 hours 30 minutes

…Sioux Falls, South Dakota: 3 hours 5 minutes

…Sioux City, Iowa: 2 hours 5 minutes

…Des Moines, Iowa:  3 hours 11 minutes

Stop #1

Newman Grove, Nebraska

City Café https://www.facebook.com/ngcitycafe/

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511 Hale Avenue Newman Grove, Nebraska 68758 402.447.6446     
     Adam and Dawn Witchell, Owners

We’d seen this café and their pies widely touted on Twitter and Facebook. Droves of Omaha citizens were pre-ordering pies driven back and distributed in a local parking lot. We were curious not only about the pies but about the community and the café owners.

After driving through town, we had omelet breakfasts at the City Café around 9:30 AM and finished up our visit with a piece of their famous pie.

If you like pie and road trips, add the City Café to your bucket list.

Here’s the other thing. Your tourist dollar is deeply appreciated in communities such as Newman Grove. And, the service is what you’d expect: top notch.

There are always plenty of freshly baked pies to enjoy at City Café.

Stop #2

Humphrey, Nebraska

Veterans Park https://www.humphreyveteranspark.com/

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Near Humphrey Public School (405 S. 7th Street)

Contact Information: humphreyveteranspark@gmail.com

The purpose of the Veteran’s Park in Humphrey, Nebraska is to recognize servicemen and women across all branches of the United States military for their service and sacrifice to our great nation during times of war and peace.

We’ve visited many veterans’ parks. This park is quite impressive, especially for the size of the community. Add it to your places to visit when in the Columbus, Nebraska area.

A local veteran was there the day we visited making our visit even more meaningful. He provided a lot of insight into the Park and the surrounding communities.

Stop #3

Tarnov, Nebraska

St. Michael’s Catholic Church http://www.tarnov.org/

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-25.png
Contact Information: stmichaelstarnov@gmail.com Contact ahead of time for scheduled tour. Free Admission. Good Will Offering Encouraged.

St. Michael’s is the first Polish Catholic parish still operating in Nebraska. Established in 1900. Now listed on National Register of Historic Places.

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http://www.tarnov.org/complex.html 309 3rd Street Tarnov, Nebraska

To date, it’s the most surprising place we have visited in Nebraska.

Not only is the church spectacular but also the museum next door is plump full of pieces that will help you recall days gone by. Each item is well maintained and appropriately displayed in a historical building.

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Museum is housed in former Saint Michael Boarding School Built 1910-1911.

HINT: We contacted the church via email before leaving Omaha asking if the church would be open during our visit. Since it was not, we received a gracious reply that someone could come over and open it and give us a tour of both the church and the museum, if we had time and interest. [We texted an assigned number when leaving Humphrey, NE so the guide could meet us at the church.]

Make time. Judy, our guide, was phenomenal. She’s from the area and a member of the Church. Her heart for her community and for the preservation and maintenance of both the church and the museum shone through during the entire 2-hour visit.

RESEARCH: Fascinating Fact: http://www.nebraskaaircrash.com/events/tarnov.html

NOTE: There are stairs in the museum but a stair chair lift is available on each floor.

Groups can make arrangements to tour the complex and eat lunch and/or dessert on site.

The former rectory now serves as a rental property for short-term guest/visitor stays. http://www.tarnov.org/house.html

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-31.png
Contact the church office if you’re interested in arranging a group tour with dessert or lunch and/or overnight lodging. stmichaelstarnov@gmail.com
Be sure to visit the grotto and the cemetery on the grounds before leaving the complex.

Stop #4

Columbus, Nebraska

http://www.visitcolumbusne.com/

Lake North Park-Loup

Before driving into Columbus, we drove through the Lake North Park-Loup. Our intent was to walk the trail; however, the rain storm prevented that.

Contact Information: Two Lakes Trail, Columbus, NE 68601, USA

402.564.3171 / 402.562.5709

Location: 4 miles north of Columbus at US Highway 30 on 18th Avenue. The park is 14 acres with two beaches and two boat ramps adjoining a 200-acre lake. It is popular for boating, water skiing, and fishing. Camping is allowed. Electrical hook-ups and primitive camping are available during the summer. Primitive restrooms are on-site.

Glur’s Tavern

https://www.facebook.com/Glurs-Tavern-114094411990524/

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Location: 2301 11th Street Columbus, Nebraska 68601 402.564.8615

This tavern is a National Historic Site (July 30, 1975). It is the oldest continuously operated tavern west of the Missouri River. Circa 1876.

It is believed that it was patronized by “Buffalo Bill ” Cody during a visit to Columbus, Nebraska.

Hamburgers are the menu item of choice here.

Columbus, Nebraska Historical Mural

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Location: 2524 13th Street Downtown Columbus, Nebraska

Walk across the street to read the placard on the meaning of the mural.

Sit awhile in the park square. Lovely, clean downtown area.

Pawnee Park

http://columbusne.us/Facilities/Facility/Details/4

Pawnee Park is known as the “Picnic Capital of Nebraska.” It contains almost 153 acres adjoining the Loup River and Van Berg Golf Course.

Location: 2001 Higgins Drive Columbus, Nebraska 68601 Southwest of Columbus. South of the viaduct on either side of Highways 81 and 30.

Contact Information: 402.562.4240

Visit in walking shoes. There is a lot to see and do in Pawnee Park. 

Pawnee Park also contains:

  • 1904 Union Pacific Steam Locomotive
  • Quincentenary Belltower
  • Oregon Trail Monument
  • Horseshoe Pits
  • All Weather Running Track
  • Playground
  • Sand Volleyball Courts
  • Tennis Courts Lit Until Midnight
  • Disc Golf
  • Living Tree Museum
  • Rose Garden
  • Skate Park
  • Water Park

Andrew Jackson Higgins National Memorial

LOCATION: In West Pawnee Park.

This sculpture was built from pieces of World Trade Center steel. The large bronzed freedom eagle on top has an 8-foot wing span. The pieces do not touch symbolizing that terrorists cannot destroy freedom.

 The soldiers in front honor the National Guard and Reserves.

1904 Union Pacific Steam Locomotive

https://columbustelegram.com/news/local/union-pacific-no-561-at-pawnee-park-fully-restored/article_1571e4ce-dfd2-53bc-a6bb-c84e3c44a832.html

Plan your weekend Getaway.

Visit Columbus, Nebraska and the surrounding area.

Share this story and start exploring.

© August 2020. Linda Leier Thomason All Rights Reserved.

This means seek permission before using copy or images from this site. Images are available for purchase.

Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories along with feature articles. Her work experience includes a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.

Do you have a story idea or interesting person who’d be a great feature?

Share below.

Senior Housing Options Defined & Explained

What is Senior Housing?

Senior housing is housing that is suitable for the needs of an aging population. It ranges from independent living to 24-hour care. In senior housing there is an emphasis on safety, accessibility, adaptability and longevity that many conventional housing options may lack.

When to Think about Senior Housing

If your elderly loved ones are experiencing increasing medical or mental health challenges and are no longer safe in their home, it’s time to consider senior housing options.

Think about what type of help they are starting to need and what funds are available for this help.

Choose one of the following options to meet their care needs and budget.

Who Can Help?

Remember, Craft LifeStyle Management is always available to talk with you about each of these options and to assist in any way possible in creating a smooth transition for you and your loved ones.

Contact them today. http://craftlifestylemgt.com/

Housing Options to Consider

Aging in Place

Many older adults wish to remain in their homes forever. For some this wish can come true, especially if the home has a bedroom and bathroom on the main floor and the hallways and doorways do not create problems for those with limited mobility.

Depending on the level of care needed, homes can often be modified, allowing seniors to age in place. Modifications are made to prevent falls, eliminate barriers, increase accessibility, and accommodate wheelchair use.

Sometimes these modifications include adding wheelchair ramps, eliminating entry steps, installing grab bars, lowering countertops and improving lighting.

Craft LifeStyle Management http://craftlifestylemgt.com/craft-homes/ works with families to make in-home modifications, allowing seniors and those with special needs to remain in their home if this is the best care solution for the aging or disabled loved ones.

Community services like cleaning, meal delivery and even some medical services can be provided to seniors wishing to age in place in their own home.

Family, neighbors and friends must check-in with older adults aging in place regularly to ensure their well-being and to verify that living in their own home is still in the best interest of their aging loved one

Independent Living

Independent Living is defined as a senior living community where residents require minimal or no assistance with daily activities.

This housing choice is ideal for seniors who wish to remain active and social with others in their age group, generally 55+, without the burden of home and yard maintenance.

These communities can be separate stand-alone properties or part of a continuing care retirement community.

The services and amenities offered within independent living communities vary greatly by property.

Assisted Living Community

Assisted living is a lifestyle that offers a combination of housing, personalized support services and health care designed to meet the unique needs of seniors.

These communities offer individual apartments in one setting. Here, seniors live somewhat independently while having services available for Activities of Daily living (ADLs) when needed. These services may vary by community but usually include: 24-hour on-site staff availability for bathing, grooming, eating, toileting and dressing.

Housekeeping assistance, along with medication management and transportation are generally offered.

Meals are provided and available usually in a community dining room to encourage interaction.

Activity programming for social and recreational needs is also offered for this same purpose.

Continuing Care Retirement Community

These properties provide multiple levels of care all on one campus. They often include independent living, assisted living and a skilled nursing facility.

This housing concept is relatively popular today, especially for seniors who want to live in one location for the remainder of their years. As their care requirements change, residents can easily move from one housing type to another.

It’s also ideal for couples who may have two different levels of care requirements upon admission to the community. Each can have their needs met while both reside in the same community.

Skilled Nursing Facility

Nursing homes are licensed facilities for those needing 24-hour supervised nursing care. They are one step below an acute care hospitalization.

Those with chronic or long-term care mental and physical illnesses, who can no longer care for themselves, are offered care by doctors and nurses in these homes.

Residents here are provided meals, activities, and health management, including rehabilitation services like physical, occupation, and speech therapies right on site.

Some nursing homes even have dedicated sections for Alzheimer’s or memory care.  

What’s Next?

  • Speak to your aging loved ones. Listen. Be patient yet realistic and practical. Decide if aging in place is an option. If so, contact Craft LifeStyle Management http://craftlifestylemgt.com/ to tour your home and discuss any modifications that may be necessary.
  • Join your loved one on an upcoming medical appointment. What does the doctor think is the best housing option for your loved one based on current medical and mental health conditions?
  • Contact Craft LifeStyle Management http://craftlifestylemgt.com/ to discuss transitional needs. They will listen to your concerns and suggest the next best transition for your loved one. They will even join you on property tours and help you find the best place for both the care needs and budget.

Written by Linda Leier Thomason for Craft LifeStyle Management.

© July 2020. Craft LifeStyle Management.      All Rights Reserved.

Denise Craft founded Craft LifeStyle Management in 1988 to ease the burden for families of aging, veterans, special needs adults and those in rehab during times of transition. She understands what’s involved in transitioning any individual from their personal home to their next home and to the end of life. Her seasoned knowledge of available placement services, housing options, eligible benefits and payor sources, and community resources is endless. 

Please contact Craft LifeStyle Management for all of your transitional needs.

14 Unusual Places To Visit in Nebraska

Our family transferred to Omaha, Nebraska nearly five years ago.

Since then, we’ve explored nearly all of the state, recently guided by the Nebraska Passport program www.nebraskapassport.com.

Here are the top 14 most unique or unusual places we’ve visited with photos I’ve taken.

The real test of an experience is asking oneself if you’d do it again.

In our group, the answer is a resounding, YES. We’d return to all of these spots.

See for yourself. Visit these communities/attractions/places.

PLEASE CONTACT PLACES BEFORE TRAVELING. HOURS MAY BE AFFECTED BY COVID PANDEMIC.

Southeast

Brownville, Nebraska

Check out the historic community of Brownville, founded in 1854.

We discovered a broom maker and a fabulous winery there.
http://www.brownville-ne.com/welcome-1.html

https://www.brownvillehistoricalsociety.org/attendees

Sweet Water Brooms & Engraving

Terry and Renee Vice, Owners

Contact Information: 402-825-3701 Call ahead for an appointment.

https://www.facebook.com/BrownvilleBroomShop/

Whiskey Run Creek Vineyard & Winery

702 Main Street Brownville, Nebraska 68321 Located in 100-year-old renovated barn.

https://whiskeyruncreek.com/ Visit for schedule of events, including wine tastings.

Contact Information: 402.825.4601 Closed Monday and Tuesday

Nebraska wines, samples and gifts available. Be sure to check out the all brick cave.

York, Nebraska

Marble Museum

3120 S Lincoln Avenue York, Nebraska 68467

http://www.leeslegendarymarbles.com/Home.php

Contact Information: 402.362.3320

World’s largest collection of marbles. Free admission. Take time to visit with the owner. Great for all generations/ages.

Columbus, Nebraska

Andrew Jackson Higgins National Memorial

2001 Higgins Drive West Pawnee Park Columbus, Nebraska 68601

Free Admission.

Learn about the contributions Mr. Higgins made to World War II. See the sculpture made from steel remnants of the World Trade Center.

Spectacular site. Great reverence to armed forces members.

Visit in walking shoes. There is a lot to see and do in Pawnee Park. http://columbusne.us/Facilities/Facility/Details/4

South Central

Red Cloud, Nebraska

Home to Willa Cather, Author

Especially fun to visit during a special program or event.  We visited when the Neil Diamond tribute was on stage. https://aneildiamondtribute.com/home/home/

Excellent auditorium. Outstanding performance.

Our group stayed in the Willa Cather second home guest house. Lovely!

Stay: https://www.willacather.org/visit/lodging-cather-second-home-guest-house

https://www.visitredcloud.com/visit/heritage-tourism

https://www.visitredcloud.com/

Contact Information: Contact Jarrod McCartney Director of the Red Cloud Heritage Tourism Development Office to personally plan a visit 402-746-4065 or at jmccartney@redcloudnebraska.com 

Kearney, Nebraska

Museum of Nebraska Art (MONA)

2401 Central Avenue Kearney, Nebraska

https://mona.unk.edu/mona/

Contact Information: 308.865.8441

Free Admission

Southwest

Ogallala, Nebraska

Petrified Wood Gallery

418 East 1st Street Ogallala, Nebraska 69153

http://petrifiedwoodgallery.com/

Hours: Monday-Saturday 8-4        Sunday Closed

Contact Information: 308.284.9996

Free Admission

A showcase of natural history specializing in ancient woods and fossils from around the world plus Native American arrowheads and artifacts — many from within 25 miles of Ogallala.

The collection is a result of the efforts of brothers Howard and Harvey Kenfield who began collecting in the 1950’s.

McCook, Nebraska

Fuller’s Family Restaurant’s Cookie Jar Collection

110 Norris Avenue McCook, Nebraska 69001

https://fullerfamilyrestaurant.com/ So fun to see all of the cookie jars in this family restaurant that’s been serving guests since 1946.

Contact Information: 308.345.7464 althayer@swnebr.net

Paxton, Nebraska

Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse & Lounge

123 N Oak Street Paxton, Nebraska 68155

Contact Information: 308.239.4500 Restaurant            308.239.4719 Office http://www.olesbiggame.com

Walk around the restaurant. There is so much to see. Enjoy your meal.

Omaha

Boys Town, Nebraska

World’s Largest Ball of Stamps

13628 Flanagan Boulevard Boystown, Nebraska 68010

https://www.boystown.org/village/Pages/worlds-largest-stamp-ball.aspx

https://www.boystown.org/village/Pages/default.aspx

Free Admission. It’s in the back of the gift shop in the same building that the public restaurant is in.

One can also tour the campus including the Hall of History, Dowd Chapel and the Father Flanagan Tomb, Garden of the Bible, Father Flanagan House, Chambers Chapel and the gift shop. A restaurant open to the pubic is also available on site.

Sandhills

Ainsworth, Nebraska

Meadville General Store

89235 Meadville Road Ainsworth, Nebraska 69210

Truly one of the most memorable stops on our adventures. The setting, music, dancing and fellowship left a lasting favorable impression: a simplier time.

https://www.facebook.com/Meadville-General-Store-1705441056438957/

Northeast

Pierce, Nebraska

Wragge Dogs at Pierce Locker

117 North Brown Street, Suite 53 Pierce, Nebraska 68767

Contact Information: Call ahead for store hours. 402.329.4365 . This food product can only be found here…in Pierce, NE. Go get some! Pierce is near Norfolk, Nebraska.

Newman Grove, Nebraska

City Café

511 Hale Avenue Newman Grove, Nebraska 68758

https://www.facebook.com/ngcitycafe/ Known for pies, but try out other worthy menu items. The owners have a tremendous social media presence. It’s worth following them but better to support entrepreneurs like them helping build and maintain small rural communities.

Contact Information: ngcitycafe@gmail.com

Hours: 6AM-2PM Tu-Sa & 11-1:30 SU Closed M.

Tarnov, Nebraska

St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Museum & Grotto

http://www.tarnov.org/

Contact Information: stmichaelstarnov@gmail.com Contact ahead of time for scheduled tour.

Free Admission: The Museum next door is a can’t miss stop. The grotto is between the museum and cemetery.

As spectacular as the church itself is, the most surprising find on our Nebraska adventures, to date, was the museum next door to this church. It warehouses a diverse array of all aspects of Polish and rural life.

Contact the church to schedule your private tour. Donations accepted.

Groups can arrange for a tour that includes lunch.

The former rectory is now a visitor rental home. http://www.tarnov.org/house.html

What unusual sites (lesser known) have you visited in Nebraska?

SHARE this post with others wanting to explore Nebraska.

Want to explore more places in Nebraska?

Click on the TRAVEL tab above and then MIDWEST and NEBRASKA for other suggested road trips throughout Nebraska.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together?

©Copyright. July 2020. Linda Leier Thomason.

This means seek permission before using copy or images from this site. Images are available for purchase.

All Rights Reserved.

Parents Matter in Black Lives

A Father & Son Speak

Do all black men fear the police?

Do they support the Black Lives Matter Movement?

Do they feel pressure to address today’s issues?

What lessons were they taught as young black men?

How do they succeed being black men?

How do pre-teen black males see the world today?

I wanted to know.

So I reached out to a South Carolina father and son for answers.

Let’s learn what a 40-year-old black man and his 12-year-old son feel about recent events including the George Floyd killing, Black Lives Matter Movement, and the anti-police sentiment.

Background

Jason and Jessica, Summerville, South Carolina, have been married for 19 years and have three children. One daughter is in college. The other will be a senior in high school. Their 12-year-old son will enter seventh grade in the fall.

Jason, the youngest of three boys, served in the U.S. Army (Watertown, New York and Honolulu, Hawaii). His parents both proudly served in the military. So, he’s also lived in Guam and attended primary school in California and Nevada.

Today he’s a Government Contracting Terminal Manager for bulk storage and distribution.

Lessons Taught by Parents

Q: Did your parents speak to you in your youth about the realities of being a black man?

A: Yes, at a young age, they spoke to us about what it meant to be a young black man but mostly about what it meant to be a young man period.

They emphasized:

  • A man provides for his family. He protects them and loves them. He teaches his family how to navigate through life by setting the standard.
  • Never hit a woman.
  • Treat people as you’d want to be treated.
  • Always repay your debts.
  • Be a man of your word. [My Mom’s most important lesson.]
  • Dream big, but set goals that are attainable.
  • Be prepared.
  • Work twice as hard because nothing will be given to you.
  • Respect your elders. Many people have made sacrifices for you to be able to live in the way you do.
  • Honor your parents and family members. We are all we have.
  • Respect the country even though it has not always respected us as black people.
  • Rise above! There is no limit to what you can accomplish in life.

Q: Those are great lessons on life. How have you practiced them?

A: Yes, these are just some of the gems passed on by my parents to us as children. These values became gospel. I still live by these guidelines today. It helps when my core beliefs were reinforced by my military experience.

Q: Who did you watch or who was your role model as a kid?

A: Again, I am extremely fortunate to have a strong married mother and father in my life. Race was never a big issue in our home. We were raised in a manner and mindset to believe we will succeed in life based on the work and education we accomplished.

The fact that we are a black family was not going to be an excuse for failing or any failure we encountered.

Being black is not a crutch or a setback.

This was the overall mindset and tone in our home while I was young.

There were struggles but they did not define us.

Standing Out

Q: Then as a child did you ever feel you were different from others?

A: I do recall one moment in a Nevada elementary school where a bully called me a “nigger.” When I reported it to the yard monitor, she said, “that’s okay sugar, that’s what you are.” My Mom had my back and went to the school to “fix” this.

She also reassured me that I was not what I was called. She made sure I knew I was special and smart and that my skin color was beautiful and that I was beautiful.

Fear the Police

Q: As a child, were you taught to fear the police?

A: No. I was not taught that. Instead, I was taught police were a group of humans capable of making mistakes, being wrong and maybe even being corrupt.

Recent Headlines

Q: How do you feel about the George Floyd murder and the killing of many other black people in recent times?

A: The outrage for me would be the same no matter the victim’s race. Wrong is wrong. Evil is evil. Mr. Floyd’s murder was senseless. It’s a true testament of evil and one man imposing his will over another. The fact that Mr. Floyd was black intensified the officer’s wrongdoing.

Q: What is your overall opinion about police today?

A: I believe there are good and bad cops everywhere. I just hope there are more good than bad.

Q: What is your overall opinion on the “Black Lives Matter” movement?

A: I believe there is cause for a movement. At the same time, coining a phrase such as “Black Lives Matter” is a blanket statement, which should go without saying. I have mixed emotions on the subject. I’m wary of groups and movements that ‘represent’ me without my influence or my approval. If you say “Black Lives Matter” and I’m black does that already affiliate me with the movement? Right or wrong, I’m lumped in with whatever this movement is standing for. And, if I don’t approve, am I part of the problem?

The Movement will not allow one to stand on the fence or be silent on the subject. This is what makes it so uncomfortable for a lot of people.

Conversations are being had that normally wouldn’t happen. To me, this isn’t a bad thing. It’s only bad when either side can’t handle the hard truths coming from a hard conversation.

Q: Have you joined any protest rallies?

A: No. I’ve done Black Out Dates on Facebook to show my support for black owned businesses. I believe the only way to truly have freedom is to be economically independent by generating generational wealth and to vote.

Teaching White People

Q: How do you react to people saying, “I don’t see color.” Or, “I’m color blind” as a way to prove they aren’t racist?

A: I do see color. I see things for what they are and people for who they are. If you show me who you are, I tend to believe you and that can’t be changed or walked back.

Q: How do you describe or explain racism?

A: Simply put, it’s purely hate and ignorance.

Q: Let’s address the discomfort of white people during these times. Many don’t even know how to refer to you. Are you Black, Afro-American, Brown, a person of color? And, what is your best advice for whites interacting with blacks?

A: Calling me black is fine. I know I’m American and I fought for this country. I should just be American, but if there must be a label on behalf of my skin color, then let’s go with black.

Now, how to address so many uncomfortable white people interacting with blacks whom they’ve interacted with for years. I’d say just be a decent human being.

Respect the fact that awful things have happened to many groups of people and continue to happen today. I encourage openly listening to hardships explained by many people of color. 

Try hard to be empathetic and place yourself in their shoes, without your current resources.

It’s impossible but try anyway.

Q: You’re given a magic wand. What’s your one wish for race relations in the USA today?

A: I’d definitely wish for everyone to have the opportunity for economic growth with no regard to skin color or social background.

Raising a Black Son

Q: Nice. Let’s talk about raising your 12-year-old son in today’s culture. Do you fear for his life?

A: No. Not in the sense that he will do something wrong. I fear he could find himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, possibly with the wrong people.

Q: What fears do you think your son has?

A: I think he fears disappointing his parents. It’s not because he’s a young black man or anything to do with race. He wants to be successful and make something of his life.

Q: Describe an ideal world for your son.

A: It would be one allowing him to follow his dreams and encouraging his ambitions without breaking his will. It’d uplift and celebrate his blackness, not just tolerate the fact that he is not in the current majority. I hope he has the chance to showcase his greatness.

The Son Speaks

Then Jason’s 12-year-old son was asked:

Q: Are you afraid of being a young black man in South Carolina?

A: Yes! Because I don’t know how my future will be and if my children will be safe in today’s society.

Q: How can your Dad make you more comfortable about being a young black man?

A: Let me know not everyone in the world is racist against black people.

Q: What is the most important lesson your Dad has taught you so far?

A: Easy. Stay focused in school and pay attention in class.

Q: If a police officer stopped you, how would you feel?

A: I wouldn’t feel threatened. I know if I didn’t do anything wrong, no harm would come to me.

Q: What words would you put on the end of this sentence: I can’t wait for…

A: A new dirt bike and for COVID to be over.

Passing on Lessons Learned

Q: Your son shared the most important lesson you’ve taught him. What other lessons are you trying to teach?

A: I want to be clear that these lessons are the same for my daughters and my son. Okay?

  • You must work hard for what you want out of life. It can be twice as hard for you, if you let it.
  • Be smart. Make good choices.
  • Education is key. It can never be taken away from you.
  • Lead by example. Do what is right even when no one is looking.
  • Do the work you have to do now so you can do what you want later. Ownership is everything.
  • Never miss an opportunity to be more than what others expect you to be. Some may judge you based on the color of your skin. Be better than what is expected of you. I expect greatness.
  • This country has many advantages and opportunities but nothing is free. We do not take handouts, nor do we give them.
  • Be careful who you surround yourself with. You could become a target unwillingly. Perception is everything. Do not ever put yourself in a position where you are somebody’s fall guy.

Parents Made All the Difference

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

A: Yes, I’m acutely aware that having both parents present in my life and traveling and seeing different parts of the world as a child were important factors in my young life and in shaping the man I am today.

I know many have not had the same opportunity.

The environment in which I grew up kept me close enough to see what could happen if I wasn’t careful and far enough to be isolated.

In the end, my parents made all the difference.

Share this story with others.

Let them learn to be great examples as parents and decent human beings.

©July 2020. Linda Leier Thomason All Rights Reserved.

Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories along with feature articles. Her work experience includes a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.

Do you have a story idea or interesting person who’d be a great feature? SHARE details below.

Elderly Hoarders: 5 Compassionate Ways to Help

Excessive Treasures or Junk?

To you it’s clutter. To them, they’re valuables. Maybe treasures.

The sight of ‘junk’ blocking hallways and piling up in each room disgusts you.

Stacks of paper everywhere cause worry about fire hazards.

The odor sickens you. You gag. Gasp. Cry.

You’re Angry! You have been here in this exact place so many times.

You’re embarrassed, and maybe even ashamed, that your parents live here. They ‘caused’ this.

Both parties agree you own “excessive treasures.”

You’ve stopped visiting as the piles of treasures began growing.

Your children, their grandchildren, have never visited.

You deem their home unsafe, and them unstable.

You beg, hope and pray for it to stop and to go away.

It doesn’t.

They remain socially isolated and lonely in what you call squalor.

Hoarding Disorder

Hoarding Disorder is a clinical diagnosis.

Did you know that up to 1 in 20 of the elderly have tendencies that are consistent with hoarding? 

A study by researchers at Johns Hopkins revealed that about 4% of the population as a whole shows hoarding behavior, but that percentage goes up to 6.2 in people over 55.

It has emotional, physical, and even financial or legal implications.

Hoarding can have a devastating impact on older adults:

  • Risk for falling: Will emergency workers be able to reach them after a fall, or anytime?
  • Poor hygiene: Is the bathtub/shower full of papers or empty bags?
  • Fires, mold and mildew in the home
  • Poor nutrition: Spoiled food can cause foodborne illness
  • Rodents and insects in the home
  • Utilities. Air conditioning, heat and running water. Are they turned off? The freezing cold is as dangerous as the heat.
  • Other medical problems, including depression

It can also indicate the presence of Alzheimer’s, dementia or mental illness.

5 Ways to Help Elderly Hoarders

1. Join them for a medical evaluation

Since hoarding is almost always connected to mental health or other health condition, it’s likely your parent may need professional help. Schedule a full medical evaluation for them and then go to the appointment and any follow-up visits. Learn if their hoarding behavior is caused by dementia, Alzheimer’s or other condition. If not, psychiatric care may be needed.

Denise Craft of Craft Lifestyle Management, who has worked for over 30 years with elderly hoarders, says all hoarders have a “dis-ease” of the soul from this learned behavior.

2. Start small and make it a special event

Acknowledge that the process of decluttering your parent’s home is going to be hard and require a ton of patience. Bring a good attitude and try to make it conflict-free. Perhaps you can call it “Memories Monday” or “Super Saturday.”

Remember, every single item, down to the scraps of paper, IS important to them.

Agree you’re going to stick to a weekly calendared date and identify which room will be worked on for each date.

For instance, start in the bathroom and remove expired medications and old make-up. Or the stairways where you remove stacks of papers and shoes, etc.

Be sure to acknowledge their ability to let go of these items, many hazardous to their well-being. Keep in mind, each item they’re willing to discard takes a lot out of them and may be considered a victory. Show them they can do it, together. And, of course, never start decluttering without the owner’s cooperation.

3. Sort with a System

Remember, you’re coming into their home causes stress and chaos in their already chaotic life. They may feel threatened and find many excuses not to proceed. Be gentle, kind, compassionate and always patient.

In addition to identifying the day of the week for sorting and decluttering, also set up areas where sorted items will be placed:

  • Charitable donations
  • Valuables and keepsakes
  • Trash

It does not help the soul to contribute to the hoarding behavior by agreeing to rent a storage unit for your parent during this sorting and decluttering process.

There are ways to negotiate with them on this specific topic.

Keep the focus on their safety and your concern for them.

4. Acknowledge sentimental items

Many hoarders hang on to items because they consider them unique and irreplaceable, attaching great sentimental value to the item.

Listen to the story and/or the memory of the item. Ensure it doesn’t have great monetary value. If not, suggest taking a photo of the item to keep the memory alive rather than keeping the item. Again, be patient. This process takes time and assurance.

5. Hire an outside company

Sometimes the clutter and the family dynamics and emotions are too much for loved ones to handle.

Walking into this environment can cause ‘paralysis’ Not knowing where, or how, to begin.

Craft Lifestyle Management has been assisting families in these situations for three decades.

Contact us. http://www.craftlifestylemgt.com

We are trained and experienced in handling excessive treasure situations with care and compassion for both your loved one and you.

Learn More:

Definition of late life compulsive hoarding:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4083761/

What is hoarding disorder?

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/hoarding-disorder/what-is-hoarding-disorder

© June 2020. Craft LifeStyle Management. All Rights Reserved.

Written by Linda Leier Thomason for Craft LifeStyle Management.

Denise Craft founded Craft Lifestyle Management in 1988 to ease the burden for families of aging, veterans, special needs adults and those in rehab during times of transition. She has a special place in her heart for those who collect excessive treasures.  She understands the conflict hoarding often causes within families and frequently mediates the process with and for them. If you have a loved one who collects excessive treasures and you need assistance, please contact Denise at Craft Lifestyle Management http://craftlifestylemgt.com/contact/.

Plan a Day Trip to Norfolk, Nebraska

Home of Johnny Carson

Location

Norfolk is a city in Madison County, Nebraska, United States, 113 miles northwest of Omaha and 83 miles west of Sioux City at the intersection of U.S. Routes 81 and 275.

Plan Ahead

What do you enjoy doing?

  • Shopping
  • Outdoor Recreational Activities
  • Dining
  • Arts + Culture
  • Live Music
  • Other?

Decide how you want to spend your day and do some research.

Helpful planning websites.

https://visitnorfolkne.com/ Norfolk Area of Nebraska

https://www.theriverpoint.com/ Downtown Norfolk

https://www.norfolknow.org/ Economic Development Council

https://www.travelnenebraska.com/ Northeast Nebraska

Parks

We made our inaugural visit to Norfolk, Nebraska in late May 2020 during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Public parks were now open, but city park restrooms were not. Museums were closed. Shops were open. Masks were required to enter. Restaurants were open at 50 percent capacity.

Cowboy Trail Head in Ta-Ha-Zouka City Park

2201 S. 13th Street Norfolk, NE

Trailhead is accessible on the SW corner of the park.

Once part of the Chicago & North Western Railroad’s Cowboy Line, this limestone trail covers 321 miles from Norfolk to Chadron.

More Information on Cowboy Trail:

https://bikecowboytrail.com/

https://norfolkne.gov/government/departments/parks-and-recreation/parks/ta-ha-zouka-park/cowboy-trail.html

NOTES:

-We entered the trail shortly after 9AM on a May Saturday. It was well-kept with plenty of scenic resting areas. We walked about 75 minutes and saw four other walkers and one bicycler.

-The Elk Horn River and the birds provide great background music.

-Tree canopies provide lots of shade on the portion of the trail we walked.

-Depending on the length of your walk/ride, it may be helpful to carry:

  • Water
  • Light Snacks
  • Bug Spray
  • Sun Screen
  • Cellular Phone

City Parks

The Visitor Bureau’s website provides accurate descriptions of its parks.

Click: https://visitnorfolkne.com/portfolio-item/parks/

We visited Central Park and Skyview Lake.

Central Park

705 South 6th Street- across the street from Norfolk Junior High School

This park is home to the local WWII Memorial and athletic courts lit so citizens can play at night.

We were the only park visitors on a late Saturday morning.

Skyview Park

1900 West Maple Avenue in NW part of Norfolk

This park was busy with guests participating in all sorts of recreational activity while also practicing social distancing. They were kayaking, walking, running, eating picnic lunches and enjoying the picturesque views.

This park has a two-mile trail around the lake and offers Music in the Park on its bandstand.

It has a cross country course and well-manicured disc golf course: No one was playing golf during our visit.

NOTE: Help keep our parks clean. Remember to pick up your trash. There was a good bit of trash in the parking lot during our visit. Garbage containers are provided throughout the park.

Johnny Carson

Johnny was born on October 23, 1925 in Corning, Iowa. Although born in Iowa, Johnny moved to Norfolk, NE at age eight and always considered it his hometown.

Johnny is rightfully recognized as a national icon and hometown hero in Norfolk.

Johnny Carson Mural Downtown Norfolk, NE. Thank you to life-long citizen who left the coffee shop to take this photo for us. Super hospitality!

One can drive by his boyhood home at 306 S. 13th Street and visit a mural depicting his career milestones in downtown Norfolk at 3rd and Norfolk Avenue.

The Elkhorn Valley Museum featuring a Johnny Carson Gallery was closed due to the pandemic during our visit. https://elkhornvalleymuseum.org/

Dining

Norfolk has an abundance of outstanding dining options from family to elegant dining.

Check them out at https://visitnorfolkne.com/home/restaurants-nightlife/

After strolling the entire well-maintained and aesthetically-appointed downtown area, we chose lunch from the District Table & Tap. It’s located across the street from the Johnny Carson mural.

The patio was open. The décor alone is worth a visit. Look at the walls. Great design work. Clean, well-appointed restrooms.

We’d enjoy a return visit when live music is playing.

Side Trip to Pierce, Nebraska

Willow Creek State Recreation Area

54876 852 Road Pierce, NE

The recreation area is located on the 700-acre Willow Creek Reservoir, approximately 1.5 miles southwest of Pierce, or about 15 miles northwest of Norfolk.

As fans of state parks and recreation areas, we couldn’t leave the area without a visit here.

It did not disappoint. Guests were fishing, boating, bicycling, walking, riding horses and enjoying their campsites on our Saturday afternoon visit.

The scenery is beautiful and well worth a visit.

NOTE: Signage is small and limited. There is an entrance fee or a state park pass is needed to enter.

Wragge Dogs at Pierce Locker

117 North Brown Street, Suite 53 Pierce, NE

402.329.4365

On this trip we missed the opportunity to taste Wragge Dogs.

We could not find store hours anywhere online but packed a cooler and ice hopeful we’d bring some Wragge Dogs back to Omaha with us.

We were disappointed to find the Locker closed when we arrived around 2 PM Saturday.

We look forward to getting a taste of Wragge Dogs, one day soon.

J’s Place Ice Cream, Hamburgers & More

https://piercejsplace.com/

323 East Main Street

Pierce, NE

402.329.6797

What a great end to our day in the Norfolk Area.

A delicious ice cream treat served by friendly, efficient staff in a very clean environment with ample outdoor seating.

There’s a whole big world out there.

Just 2 hours north of Omaha, NE and we felt a world away.

SHARE this post with someone you want to explore the Norfolk, NE greater area with. Have fun.

Let me know what to see & experience on our return visits. Thanks.

©May 2020. Linda Leier Thomason All Rights Reserved.

This means seek permission before using copy or images from this site. Images are available for purchase.

Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories along with feature articles. Her work experience includes a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.

Do you have a story idea or interesting person who’d be a great feature? SHARE details below.

5 Ways You Can Combat Loneliness for Aging Parents

Stay Connected & Engaged

Isolation and loneliness are serious problems for older adults.

Sadly, 43% of people over 60 are reporting that they are suffering from loneliness. 

It may be due to

  • Loss of a spouse
  • Physical decline like decreased mobility, hearing and vision, resulting in loss of driving ability
  • Death of peers
  • Reluctance to make new friends
  • Limited social outings and interactions
  • Unfamiliarity with technology

Remaining in one’s home is often a goal but it can result in extreme social isolation. Even if caregivers stop-in to check on the aging person, life often lacks fun and excitement.

Geographically distant family members become overwhelmed with guilt and uncertainty of how to help combat the loneliness from afar.

It becomes worrisome when they hear aging relatives express enthusiasm about social connections in offshore countries and optimism about winning lotteries.

While contests and social media platforms can be fun, they can also cause multiple problems, especially if your loved one begins sending money to unscrupulous ‘connections’ from afar.

Loneliness is linked to disease and even death. Those who feel isolated and alone are sicker and often die sooner.

It’s important to build safe social networks, in person or digitally, at all ages, but especially for older adults living alone.

5 Tips

1. Stay in Touch Frequently & Regularly

Put yourself in their place. Imagine living alone and never speaking to or connecting with anyone other than a retail clerk or medical staffer.

Make it a point to call or visit regularly. Maybe you check-in with a phone call every day at a certain time or every Sunday, for instance, you meet for lunch. Your senior will look forward to each of these contacts.

Increase your contact volume and keep a regular schedule.

While you’re there in person, go through the mail.

Do you see anything that looks suspect, like phony offers of prizes from lotteries and sweepstakes or envelopes from foreign countries? If so, talk about this and remind them of the possible risks of these sorts of activities.

Remember, anytime you’re asked to send money to collect a prize, it’s not legitimate.

2. Introduce & Teach Technology

People of a certain age may not own or even use technology like those younger than them.

This doesn’t mean they don’t have the ability to learn.

Investing in a computer or tablet with a camera is a great way to help an aging relative feel connected.

Let the grandchild teach them how to use it, establishing a memorable bond.

Check out community education classes for seniors.

A whole new world can open up to an aging relative willing to learn how to use technology.

3. Attend Events Together

Few older adults want to learn a new craft or be pushed into an activity they never enjoyed or participated in while younger.

Instead, go down memory lane with them.

Ask what activities they fondly recall from day’s past. Maybe it’s the annual fall festival or the church fish fry, or even the Christmas concert at the elementary school. Whatever it is, make plans to attend together.

Be sure you get the tickets and make the travel arrangements so the event is worry-free for them.

4. Relive the Old Times

Make a date to sit with them a look through family scrapbooks, home movies and photo albums to relive memories. You may be amazed what new information you learn.

Or, pull out a favorite recipe to make together. Or find a card or board game and play it.

Let them take the lead and tell you what activity from their past brought them the greatest joy, and then do it together with patience.

Doing these beloved activities with grandchildren will only heighten the experience.

5. Community

Maybe your aging loved one was never a “joiner” but it doesn’t hurt to try and encourage them to participate in the many community events for senior citizens.

Get online and research availability and maybe even join them for an activity or two to ease the transition.

It’s proven that social interaction and activity extends one’s life span. This is a great, easy way to start them getting more social interaction.

© May 2020. Craft LifeStyle Management. All rights reserved.

Written by Linda Leier Thomason for Craft LifeStyle Management.

Denise Craft founded Craft LifeStyle Management in 1988 to ease the burden for families of the aging, veterans, and special needs adults during times of transition. She understands what’s involved in transitioning any individual from their personal home to their next home and to end of life. Her seasoned knowledge of available placement services, housing options, eligible benefits and payor sources, and community resources is endless. 

Please contact Denise Craft LifeStyle Management for all of your transitional needs.

Depression & Suicide in Rural America: Joey’s Story

Who’s Joey?

Joey’s a white, 54-year-old male living in a small town in rural North Dakota. He’s been married for 29 ½ years to fellow Napoleon native, Missy (Sperle).

He’s the proud father of three grown children (Amanda, Megan and Elijah) and has an adorable 9-month-old grandson.

Joey’s the middle child with two sisters and an in-law to Missy’s 12 siblings.

He’s provided for his family as a restaurant owner and manager, retail manager and maintenance worker at the Napoleon Care Center.

Joey loves spending time with his family, especially hunting with his son, mowing the lawn and watching TV.

He’s described as kind, soft-hearted, genuine and sweet.

Joey loves people, but is shy.

He works hard not to hurt anyone’s feelings.

Joey can also be a prankster and a joker.

He has a strong Catholic faith.

Joey has suffered with depression for 34 years.

On December 9, 2016, Joey ended his life by suicide.

Battling Depression

This wasn’t Joey’s first attempt at ending his struggle with life.

Three times he overdosed with medication chased by alcohol. The last time by a fatal gunshot in the master bedroom.

“In the 35 years we were together, it was like a roller coaster ride,” said his wife, Missy. Joey was hospitalized for the suicide attempts. He saw doctors for decades and took a variety of antidepressants. He even had shock treatments, which worked for a few years, but, according to Missy, also affected his short-term memory.

Joey’s depression peaked when he was under pressure or conflict was present in his life.

“Joey loved his family so very much but I believe the suffering just got to be too much. He was so tired of the struggle to keep going,” shared Missy.

Suicide’s Effect on Family

Joey’s children felt deep guilt in the months after his death. “These days were very hard. The kids felt guilty because they didn’t call or visit their dad more often.”

Somehow they believed if they’d have reached out and visited more frequently his suicide could’ve been prevented.

Not likely.

Hilzendeger Family

Joey and Missy often talked about suicide because of his 30-year depression battle. “I knew the day would come where he’d accomplish it. However, I always figured it’d be by means of overdose and not by shooting himself on a day when all the children were coming home.”

Missy assured and comforted her children and told them what she’d say to any family who’s suffered such a loss:

1. This is not your fault. Depression is an illness like cancer, diabetes or alcoholism. It is no one’s fault and certainly nothing to be ashamed of.

2. Use available resources for helping you cope: support groups, pastoral counseling, therapy, physician visits, retreats, spa services-whatever is available to you and makes you feel better.

3. Stay strong. It may feel like you will never get over this. It is not easy and you will never forget. Each day does get better and you will learn to live with it. You have to believe God loves you and will help you through this.

Though she coaches her children and others to be guilt-free, Missy sometimes blames herself for Joey’s suicide. “We were together for 35 years and I just couldn’t bring him back from the darkness this one last time.”

However, Missy has never been angry with Joey for what he did. “We were together so long and I knew how much he struggled on so many occasions. I can’t be angry with him.”

She admits, though, she’s been disappointed that he didn’t fight harder, especially after they had their first grandchild. “He was so unbelievably proud of that little boy.”

Missy is comforted knowing that she and the kids did not miss any warning signs of Joey’s impending suicide. “He battled depression for 30 plus years. Though it was difficult, it was part of our lives for so many years.

I wish I could have him back, but for Joey’s sake, knowing how much he suffered for so long, I truly hope and pray that he is now at peace.”

Moving Forward

Joey is terribly missed by all. Thinking of him brings both a smile to Missy’s face and tears to her eyes.

She talks to him regularly, asking him to watch over the family and to keep them safe, always, but especially from the current pandemic. “I pray every day that Joey is at peace and is right beside God.” That was always his greatest wish.

Missy’s relies heavily on her immediate and extended families to cope and is deeply grateful to each of them for their commitment to her. “They’ve helped so much with everyday life since Joey’s death. I wouldn’t have been able to get through this without them and my faith.”

Her toughest days were the grief-filled ones the first four weeks after Joey’s death. “I cried every day, many times a day. I remember thinking I’d just lost my husband yet everyone is moving on like nothing happened.”

She returned to work and kept busy, yet when summer arrived, she was hit with another wave of grief. She was alone to tend to yard work-one of Joey’s favorite chores that he enjoyed so much.

I had a wake-up call. Life was moving on with or without me. “The pain of his death has not gone away. I have just learned to live with it.”

“It’s been 3 ½ years. Every day is anyone’s guess how the day will be. Some days I feel like crying when I hear a certain song or relive a special memory. The next day, I’m just fine.”

Wishing Missy and her beautiful family days of peace and happiness ahead.

Thank you for sharing your story so that others may have hope.

If you’re experiencing thoughts of suicide, please seek immediate help from a physician or mental health professional. In the US, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). For more information, visit the NSPL web site (www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org).

Pinochle Tournament

Keeping Legacy Alive

Joey loved playing pinochle https://bicyclecards.com/how-to-play/pinochle-2/, as do many in the Napoleon, http://napoleonnd.com/ North Dakota community.

To keep Joey’s memory alive, every March his family hosts a pinochle tournament in Napoleon with funds donated to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (AFSP) in memory of Joey Hilzendeger.

If you’d like to make a donation to the card tournament, send a check to Missy Hilzendeger 322 Avenue C East, Napoleon, ND 58561.

Or, you can donate directly to AFSP online in memory of Joey Hilzendeger. https://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=cms.page&id=1390&eventID=2043

The 5th Annual Pinochle Tournament is scheduled for March 2021. The day is not yet available.

What Can You Do?

  • Seek help if you are suicidal. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
  • Leave notes of encouragement for Missy below.
  • Donate and participate in the Pinochle Tournament.
  • Send a donation in Joey’s name to AFSP.
  • Encourage loved ones to seek help.
  • Objectively listen and pay attention.
  • Keep the lines of communication open.
  • SHARE this post with others struggling with depression and/or suicidal thoughts.
  • SHARE with family members left behind.

North Dakota Facts

North Dakota saw the nation’s largest increase in suicide rates from 1999 to 2016- 58 percent.

That was more than twice the national increase of 25 percent, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That means that in North Dakota, which has the nation’s 10th-highest suicide rate, a person dies by suicide every 57 hours.

In 2019, 154 people committed suicide.

Guns are the leading means of suicide nationally as well as in North Dakota. They account for slightly more than half of all suicides in North Dakota.

Easy access to firearms, along with increased social isolation and lack of behavioral health services, are among the reasons cited for higher suicide rates in rural areas.

Learn More

https://www.theitem.com/stories/the-pain-of-suicide,339546

http://www.ndaap.com/uploads/2/6/4/7/26479511/reaching_zero_suicide_in_nd.pdf

https://bismarcktribune.com/news/state-and-regional/suicide-numbers-keep-rising-in-nd-but-there-s-help/article_41deb409-b5b9-5efa-b48c-6b0d6efe7753.html

https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/the-sin-of-suicide.html

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/men-and-depression/index.shtml

https://www.governing.com/gov-data/health/county-suicide-death-rates-map.html

https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2020/01/30/americas-suicide-rate-has-increased-for-13-years-in-a-row

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/mental-health/suicide-rates-are-rising-especially-rural-america-n1050806

https://www.kfyrtv.com/content/news/Resources-in-ND-available-when-mental-health-and-suicide-grief-becomes-too-much-567637891.html

https://afsp.org/state-fact-sheets

©April 2020. Linda Leier Thomason All Rights Reserved.

This means seek permission before using copy or images from this site. Images are available for purchase.

Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories along with feature articles. Her work experience includes a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.

Do you have a story idea or interesting person who’d be a great feature? SHARE details below.

5 New Things I’m Doing During Social Distancing

Long-Lasting New Habits

Social distancing due to COVID-19 doesn’t need to mean feeling alone.

Many are reaching out in record numbers to neighbors, long-lost friends and family.

Certainly, the Internet has helped with connectedness.

The way I’m going about my days during social distancing has changed.

Here are 5 new things I’m doing during this unique time of social distancing.

1. Attending On-Line Mass

Places of worship quickly learned how to broadcast services online, most using Facebook Live.

Our Omaha church did the same. It now offers daily online Mass.

https://www.svdpomaha.org/

During this Lenten season, it’s especially greatly appreciated.

Father Gama on the 4th Sunday of Lent

2. Going On Nature Walks

I’ve always enjoyed being outdoors.

Lately, I have a greater appreciation for the ability to be outdoors, even if in isolation, or 6-feet apart from others sharing the space.

The consistency of nature is comforting with the world’s volatility.

I marvel at the changing season and the beauty and solitude all around.

I watch the birds and squirrels from my office window.

And, I’m eagerly awaiting the blooming of the daffodils in our yard.

New life. New color.

While everything else seems to have changed. Nature’s seasonal predictability and the joy it brings hasn’t.

3. Playing Vintage Board Games

We pulled out this 1971 board game: Landslide.

Have you ever played it?

It’s based on the election process & electoral votes.

The game uses “votes” as if it were money, and the players bid for states –they can even attempt to steal already “bought” states from each other.

It’d be great to have a current version of this. #Hasbro #ParkerBrothers

Landslide is a Civics Lesson While Having Fun

4. Listening to Free Concerts

Entertainers of all types are hosting events online. The ones we’ve viewed have all been on Facebook Live.

Check out your favorite entertainers Facebook page, Instagram site or website to see when, and if, they’ll be online.

It’s a welcome break from all of the news stories.

https://www.garthbrooks.com/inside-studio-g

5. Cooking with Available Items

Sweet potato fries. Indian butter chicken. Fish tacos. Shrimp and grits. Chili. Homemade egg rolls.

Instead of running out to the grocery store on impulse, I’m forcing myself to use ingredients already in the pantry and freezer.

I feel fortunate to have food in ‘storage.’ And, I’ve used the Internet to guide me with recipes using what’s on-hand.

I have a host of recipes on this website (Click “Recipe” tab above.)

Or, click on one of these links. Each provides recipes after you input ingredients you have on-hand.

https://www.supercook.com/#/recipes

http://www.recipekey.com/

http://www.ingredientmatcher.com

Shrimp n’ Grits
Click “Recipes” Tab Above for This Recipe & Others

What new activities are you doing during social distancing?

Share.

Will they be life-lasting after this social distancing adjourns?

©March 2020. Linda Leier Thomason All Rights Reserved. This means seek permission before using copy or images from this site. Images are available for purchase.

Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories along with feature articles. Her work experience includes a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.

Do you have a story idea or interesting person who’d be a great feature? SHARE details below.