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.

6 Lessons Learned by Living in 8 States

KAagard_MovingDay_MovingVan[1]

Gypsy Woman

I’m often called a gypsy-a person who wanders or roams from place to place.

I’m okay with that, even if the term is somewhat dated.

My genes seem marked by curiosity, wonderment and adventure.

Travel and exploration are my greatest desires.

Assimilating into and understanding new environments and cultures bring me a complete sense of fulfillment.

Omaha, Nebraska is “home” today.

Home has also been

  • South Dakota
  • South Carolina
  • Georgia
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Iowa
  • Minnesota, and
  • North Dakota

Where Is Home?

I stumped when asked, “Where is home for you?”

I’m not a smart aleck but rather than list an address, I sometimes respond, “Wherever I feel welcomed and accepted and where my husband and son and his family are. Today, it’s (insert current city/state.).”

Home has never been about a house/address for me.

It’s about a feeling.

I adapt and adjust to whatever space and place I’ve landed in.

Unusual, perhaps, but comfortable and familiar for me.

Lessons Learned

Today I can look back at the eight moves I’ve made to date for education and career and easily identify lessons learned.

1. Fear is a Barrier

FEAR is the # 1 reason I hear most from those who’ve never relocated to another community.

Starting over new in an unfamiliar place leaves many with a Fear of

• Change
• Failure
• Loneliness and/or being alone
• The physical part of moving and relocating
• Unknown
• Rejection

I’m still searching for the reason I don’t own these fears.

All I can say is that success of one move makes the next and the next and the next easier.

Like anything, giving oneself permission to fail and growing one’s confidence by doing lessen these fears.

Most decisions are not lifetime sentences.

Give yourself permission to change your life, even if that means moving.

2. Adults Have Dormant Friendship Skills

On my 7th move-to Sioux Falls, SD- a woman I did volunteer work with whom I call “friend” today pointed this lesson out to me.

She admitted I was her first new friend since college.

This confession, in our shared late 40’s, stuck with me.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
Learning to Catch SD Snowflakes

She’s right. Most of us easily make friends in school and college, some at work.

But how many new friends have enriched your life since these bygone days?

What a loss, if none.

Jobs, children, caretaking, etc. seem to take over a certain part of lives, leaving little time and/or energy for new friendships.

How about this?
Find a “new” person and/or family who’s recently moved into your neighborhood, town or community. Reach out.

Including someone is often the best gift you can give, especially someone new to your area/church/workplace, etc.

Ask the “new person” to coffee, for a walk, to dinner, to connect on social media, to book club, etc.

You may find your life deeply enriched by dusting off your friendship skills and making a new friend, especially in your mid to late adult years.

And, if you’re the one who moved, keep in mind, adults aren’t like kids in the neighborhood.

They don’t randomly come ring your doorbell and ask if you want to play.
You need to take some initiative and reach out. Get involved.

Entrench yourself into the community. Meet “new” friends.

3. Zip Codes Aren’t Walls

It’s said that most people never travel farther than two zip codes away from their house.

https://nypost.com/2018/01/11/a-shocking-number-of-americans-never-leave-home/

Why? Sometimes it’s lack of funds or physical limitations. Often, it’s just lack of interest/curiosity and ambition.

I’m forever stunned hearing that residents of (insert state) have not visited popular tourist destinations or geographic or natural sites unique to that location.

I have. I’ve a real need to know about the place(s) I live.

I want to see the landscape, meet the people and eat the cuisine.

Integrating into the community/state makes me feel “at home.”

4. Good People Exist & Stereotypes Aren’t Truths

Stereotypes beware. I don’t believe you!

Yes, crime rates tend to be higher in metropolitan areas and meth is readily accessible in rural areas.

Southerners have drawls and Midwesterners sound like southern Canadians or characters from Fargo.

Here’s what’s also true. Good people exist everywhere.

From the Southern neighbors who helped remove hurricane debris from my home to the gentleman who changed my flat tire on a Midwestern interstate, these kind folks exist.

One doesn’t even need to “look for them.” They simply exist.

I believe in the goodness of people, everywhere.

5. Mother Nature Reigns

Hurricanes in the south. Tornados and blizzards in the Midwest. Earthquakes in South Carolina, yes, earthquakes.

Every region has its weather challenges.

The lesson: We are not in charge. She is.

Complaining doesn’t help. Preparedness does.

6. Less is More

It’s not the possessions but the experiences that grow oneself and enrich one’s life.

For obvious reasons, I’m not a collector.

Nor does my identity come from the structure I live under.

I used to have the rule-what doesn’t fit in my trunk, isn’t needed.

Then I married and had a child.

My approach had to become more flexible and expansive. The last move, we rented a 22-foot truck.

I still don’t collect.

I’m still not rooted.

Even if I was, possessions are material items.

I value relationship over possessions.

Your Thoughts & Questions 

How about you?

Are you a Frequent Mover?

What do you value? Is it stability or curiosity or a combination of the two?

SHARE below.

Have an urge to Move? What location piques your interest?
Have some questions?
Ask here.

©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 on the form.

Growing up Gay in the Midwest: Collin’s Story

Feeling Like a Fraud Living Someone Else’s Life

Meet Collin

  • 25-years old
  • Native of McCook, Nebraska
  • Son of farmers/ranchers
  • Older brother to two sisters
  • College graduate- BS Marketing Management
  • A 6-year financial services career professional
  • Omaha resident, and a
  • Gay man

Defining Gay

As a teenager, Collin understood the term “gay” to mean someone who liked men, often times was feminine and usually was seen as less than an individual for liking the same sex. He and his peer group said “gay” to jokingly describe something they didn’t like. It was “gay!”

In his household and community being gay was seen as a negative thing. “You didn’t want to become someone like them, meaning-gay.” The term was always used in a derogatory way.

He, himself, used the term to describe others in negative way, which he apologizes for today.

“I think it was such a normalized term to show a thing or a person is not like the rest.”

Signs & Symbols

Even while he and his peers were calling something/someone “gay” Collin wondered if he might be. He

  • Had an attraction to other men his age
  • Didn’t feel a connection to girls other than friendship
  • Read and researched “what it means to be gay”
  • Was interested in things classified as “gay” while growing up-like décor, landscaping, keeping a tidy room, etc.

I’m Gay

Collin acknowledged to himself that he was gay just before his 2013 college freshman year, although he kept this understanding to himself.

 “It was a pretty lonely feeling having admitted this to myself but not sharing it with anyone else.”

He was scared and had tremendous uncertainty about what his future held.

“I was in stress overdrive not knowing what lay ahead as a recent high school graduate already. Adding “gay” to the mix only compounded it.”

He hinted to his family but didn’t openly discuss it until June of 2017 when his dad flat out asked him if he was gay. “Yeah, yeah, I am.” To Collin’s surprise, the chat with his dad went quite well. He’s so grateful for this.

“My dad was a little more okay with it in the beginning than my mom, which is something I didn’t expect.

My sisters were pretty chill and so were all of my friends who already knew.”

“If I had to do it all over again, I’d have come out sooner, and get to enjoying my life a lot quicker.”

Filtered Behavior

Looking back, Collin acknowledges that his spirit and overall well-being were hindered as a teenager.

“I filtered what I said, how I acted, talked and dressed, which was upsetting.”

He just wanted to be himself without things like, “He’s gay or look at that homo,” being said about him.

Collin lacked gay role models but looked to his grandmother and a close family friend, neither let others determine their self-worth.

City or Country

Collin moved from rural Nebraska to its largest city to attend college and work. He never felt like he’d have to move to Omaha to be accepted.

However, he acknowledges that it’s easier for a gay person to be accepted, and perhaps happier, when they have gay friends and/or someone who understands them in a way they need to be understood.

He hasn’t detected any barriers to employment but does admit he catches himself filtering certain parts of his life with co-workers.

He tries not to be known as “the gay one” and fights thoughts about worth because of his sexuality.

“Even though I do this, not once have I ever been rejected or felt out of place by sharing my life with co-workers.”

Filtering is a deep-seated habit.

Not Easy

Collin admits there’s room for improvement regarding acceptance in Nebraska.

“I would like to walk down the street and not think twice about grabbing my partner Cody’s hand.”

Though he hasn’t felt unsafe in Nebraska, he has gay friends who have.

He’s an advocate of prioritizing mental health as high as physical health and regularly sees a counselor.

His visits are not for living as a gay man but for maintaining good mental health.

“Every part of my life has benefited from attending regular counseling.”

Rural Youth

Collin has a passion for listening to and guiding gay individuals, especially in rural areas. Here’s his best counsel:

1. Be yourself, if you can and it’s safe to do so. People will talk or look or maybe even make a snide comment, but being comfortable in your own skin is worth so much more.

2. Take steps to educate your parents, teachers, peers or friends on what it actually means to be gay. It’s more than likely not Ru Paul’s Drag Race in real life. Ignorance is a voluntary misfortune, and sometimes it only takes knowing one gay person to change that person’s perception.

3. Support other gay individuals you know who have yet to come out. Don’t belittle them, or go along with what your friends say around them. “This is the one thing I regret deeply from high school and early college years.”

4. It is okay to be different. Homosexuality is a part of me. It doesn’t solely define me. I have many straight friends and me being gay would be one of the last things they would use to describe me.

“Having said that, the one thing I’m most disappointed in about being gay is seeing others still treat gay people differently after knowing me, and accepting me for who I am.

Ahead

Today, Collin enjoys life with Cody, a paramedic in a pre-med and emergency management program.

He likes to travel, hang out with family and friends and tackle DIY house projects.

Someday he’d like to have a family, including children.

His greatest wish is that all struggling with their sexuality are somehow taken care of.

Adding, “I hope I never have to hear the word “faggot” or “gay” used in a demeaning nature to describe someone again.”

The most joyous part of his identity journey has been the individuals he’s had the pleasure of meeting, and those unexpected allies.

A wish, for all.

Cody & Collin. Traveling-his favorite pastime.

What Can You Do?

  • SHARE this story. You know there’s someone who needs to hear Collin’s story today.
  • Drop a positive message for Collin below.
  • Stop judging others. Start helping.
  • Have an accepting heart.
  • Even if you don’t agree with a gay lifestyle, love the person.

Resources

https://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/youth-resources.htm CDC

http://assets2.hrc.org/files/assets/resources/resource_guide_april_2014.pdf HRC.ORG

https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Pages/LGBT-Resources.aspx American Academy of Pediatrics

https://lgbtqa.unl.edu/welcome University of NE-Lincoln

http://www.pflag-omaha.org/ PFLAG-Omaha

©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 on the form.

Kansas City Must-See Attractions in One Day

Union Station https://www.unionstation.org/

Kansas City

https://www.visitkc.com/

What do you think of when you hear this city’s name?

Is it?

Is it time to re-visit Kansas City?

Here’s a one-day itinerary.

Start your visit in the Historic Entertainment District of 18th & Vine https://www.18vinekc.com/

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Walk the streets. Admire the murals and sculpture. Visit the shops, restaurants and museums.

American Jazz Museum

The Jazz & Baseball Museums are adjoined. Tickets for one or both are purchased inside. Plan at least an hour in each museum. Each has a gift shop. A coat room and clean restrooms are available.

The American Jazz Museum https://americanjazzmuseum.org/ showcases the sights and sounds of jazz through interactive exhibits and films, the Changing Gallery exhibit space, Horace M. Peterson III Visitors Center, Blue Room jazz club and Gem Theater.

Check the event calendar. You may want to return in the evening to listen to top rated jazz musicians. https://americanjazzmuseum.org/event/

1616 East 18th Street Kansas City, MO 64108
Hands-On Exhibits

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

https://nlbm.com/ 1616 East 18th Street, Kansas City, MO 64108

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) https://nlbm.co is a privately funded, not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving and celebrating the rich history of African-American baseball and its profound impact on the social advancement of America. In 2006, the United States Congress designated the NLBM as “America’s National Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.”

Because the Kansas City Monarchs were the most successful team in the Negro League, it’s fitting that this museum, honoring Hall of Fame legends like Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson, would be located here.

Lunch

Ask the museum staff for lunch recommendations. We enjoyed a delicious home cooked meal at Smaxx-a very short walk from the museums. https://www.facebook.com/1827SMAXX/

1827 Vine Street Kansas City, MO 64108

Historic River Market

The River Market is https://kcrivermarket.com/ an officially designated “Historical District”. Major attractions to the River Market include the City Market and the Arabia Steamboat Museum.

The City Market’s Farmers’ Market https://thecitymarketkc.org/ is the largest farmers’ market in the region bringing “Farm to Table” right to the heart of the city with fresh produce and goods on Saturday and Sunday. 

The Arabia Steamboat Museum https://www.1856.com/ displays thousands of artifacts from a steamboat and its cargo that sunk nearby in 1856 and was recovered in 1987-88. The market and museum are among Kansas City’s most popular tourist attractions. [Take some coins. Make a wish.]

Dessert (beignets) at the Market https://www.beignetkc.com/

Jazz in the Afternoon

Green Lady Lounge https://greenladylounge.com/ features Kansas City Jazz musicians in the rich Kansas City tradition. Free of televisions so one can focus on music, atmosphere and conversation.  

Open every day of the year 4pm to 3am Sunday thru Friday and 2pm to 3am every Saturday. No cover charge. Open seating.

It doesn’t look like much from the outside. Go inside. It’s very dark and vintage. Sit near the back if you’re with a group and want to visit.

1809 Grand Blvd (between E 18th & 19th St), Kansas City, MO

Kansas City jazz is a style of jazz that developed in Kansas City, Missouri during the 1920s and 1930s, which marked the transition from the structured big band style to the musical improvisation style of Bebop.

The hard-swinging, bluesy transition style is bracketed by Count Basie who in 1929 signed with the Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra and Kansas City native Charlie Parker https://www.biography.com/musician/charlie-parker who ushered in the Bebop style in America. “While New Orleans was the birthplace of jazz, America’s music grew up in Kansas City”.

Kansas City is known as one of the most popular “cradles of jazz”.

World War I Museum & Overlook

Opened to the public as the Liberty Memorial museum in 1926, it was designated in 2004 by the United States Congress as America’s official museum dedicated to World War I.

The Museum https://www.theworldwar.org/ tells the story of the Great War and related global events from their origins before 1914 through the 1918 armistice and 1919 Paris Peace Conference.

National WWI Museum and Memorial is America’s only museum dedicated to sharing the stories of the Great War through the eyes of those who lived it.

2 Memorial Drive Kansas City, MO 64108

Even if you don’t go inside the National World War I Museum, it’s still worth a visit to the grounds. From the base of the Liberty Memorial, you’ll be treated to one of the best views of Kansas City. [The photo at the top of this story was taken from there, looking down at Union Station.]

Q39 Dinner

There are lots of barbeque choices in Kansas City. We often choose Q39 https://q39kc.com/. We’ve never been disappointed.

There you have it. A full day of memorable activities in Kansas City.

Share this with those you want to visit KSC with this weekend.

Of course, there’s more to see & do in KSC. What’s your favorite? Let me know so it can be added to our next visit. Thank you.

©February 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.