My Causerie

"All great change in America begins at the dinner table." ~ Ronald Reagan

That was the Longest Day of my Life! June 8, 2015

Filed under: My Causerie — mycauserie @ 4:25 pm
Photo Credit: K e v i n via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: K e v i n via Compfight cc

That was the longest day of my life! Admit it; we’ve all said it at one time or another. Thankfully for most of us, those days are the exception and not the rule.

Yet, for those living with Alzheimer’s and for their caregivers, every day is The Longest Day! I can remember one of the many long days that I faced as I journeyed with my dad through the world of Alzheimer’s.

I was sitting on the couch doing some school work when my phone rang. I looked down and saw that it was from Mom and Dad, which now always meant, it was Mom calling. Dad had long forgotten how to use the phone. So needless to say, I was surprised when it was Dad on the other end.

In my most cheerful voice, I said, “Well hi; how are you doing today?” There was no cheerful reply though. Dad sounded distraught.

He said, “I’m not doing very well; I sure wish I could see you.”

I told him I would come right away, but wanted to make him understand that I was four hours away, so it would take me awhile to get there. He seemed to understand. Just as he always did, he told me to drive careful. I was concerned though considering he sounded so upset, and the fact that it was him on the phone and not Mom had me worried.

I asked him where Mom was at, and he said he didn’t know where she was at; my worry meter just hit the red zone! This of course was before we learned a helpful tip from the Alzheimer’s Association that  it might be less confusing for him if we stopped referring to our mom – his wife – as “Mom.” The rationale being that when we talked about “Mom,” he may have been thinking of his mom not his wife. Looking back, this makes sense.

So, I told him I was leaving right away, and I would see him soon. I then immediately called my older sister who lived nearby and explained the situation, and she headed to their house to find out where Mom was at and to check on Dad.

As I began the four-hour drive, I got a call from my sister; all was well with Mom and Dad. Mom was right there with Dad when my sister arrived. It had actually been Mom who dialed the phone for Dad when he said he wanted to talk to me. He just didn’t know who she was. In fact, that is how their morning had begun that day.

Mom had fixed breakfast for them as usual, but she said she could tell something was bothering him, but she couldn’t get him to talk. Then as she was clearing the table, he reached out and took hold of her arm, and said something that we all knew was going to happen someday.

Dad looked up at Mom and said, “I don’t know who you are, but this is my house, and I want you to leave.”

No matter how much your head knows about this horrible disease, nothing can prepare your heart for the first time when someone you have loved for 50+ years no longer knows who you are. Mom was heartbroken…and scared. There were a lot of tears, and then he had asked her to call me.

So as I was driving, I called the Alzheimer’s Association’s helpline. I needed advice as I had no idea what I might be walking into. The disease had progressed significantly, and I was worried and scared. This was new territory for us; I needed help. I needed encouragement. I just needed the emotional support. I cried a lot as I talked with the hotline representative. I remember her advising me to just pull over for a few minutes as she was concerned about me driving under such distress. I did.

She gave me a lot of advice and tips on how to handle varying situations that I might face when I arrived home. It helped. I felt more at ease and a bit more confident. I was soon back on the road.


He loved hugs and kisses!

When I walked in the door at my parents’ home, my mom and sister were sitting in the living room. Dad was in the bedroom. When I went in to see him, he immediately sat up on the bed and said, “I am so glad to see you.” I gave him a big hug and kiss and told him I was glad to see him too. He then leaned over next to me and pointed out into the living room and said, “I don’t know who those people are out there.”

We spent the day and evening together looking at old pictures and sharing stories of times he remembered and seemed to enjoy talking about. He seemed a bit more at ease.

That was a long day…the first of many long days.

As Dad’s Alzheimer’s progressed, we often thought he was seeing me as his wife in younger years. He would even point to old pictures of Mom, and when I would ask him who that was, he would say, “That’s you.”

His awesome smile!

His awesome smile!

That was ok too. Over the course of the last two years of his battle with Alzheimer’s he would sometimes call me his wife, his daughter – even his girlfriend! That one still makes me smile because when he told me that, he was so giddy about it and had such a big grin on his face.

We had good days and bad days, but I know the good far outweighed the bad because of the resources and support I gained from the Alzheimer’s Association. That’s why I support The Longest Day and the Walk to END Alzheimer’s and other Alzheimer’s Association awareness and fundraising initiatives.

If you are facing this journey, thanks to the Alzheimer’s Association, you will have many good days with your loved one. The good days will encourage you; the good days will strengthen you, and the good days will become treasured memories. Because of the Alzheimer’s Association, I can look back on many happy days with Dad. It’s a gift I will always cherish.

Please support me in raising funds for the Alzheimer’s Association by purchasing an item from my Pampered Chef party or making an online donation here. Together we can put an end to the long days and #ENDALZ. Donate today. Thank you.



Come on; please join me this Sunday! May 5, 2015

Filed under: My Causerie — mycauserie @ 10:46 am
Photo Credit: stevenstiefel via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: stevenstiefel via Compfight cc

A few statistics that Pastor Bev shared in her e-note last week:

  • There are 160 million Americans who are unchurched
  • If invited to attend church, 31 percent said they would be “very likely” to come
  • 51 percent said they would be “somewhat likely” to come

That means 82 percent of the people who do not go to church in America are likely to attend if they are invited. Here are more statistics though:

  • Only 21 percent of active church goers ever invite anyone to church
  • Only 2 percent of active church goers invite the unchurched

Pastor Bev’s challenge to us all is to not be a part of the 21 percent or the 2 percent. Since social media allows for easy access to many, I thought that I would start with a simple online invitation. Maybe some of my Facebook friends are not currently attending church, and maybe some of my Facebook friends fall into that 82 percent.

So, I am extending the invitation to  you. Awe, come on, won’t you please join me at Highland Hope. We have some hot music! We get down! What do you say? Message me if you need a ride, and Jim and I will pick you up!





ACS Students Taking Spring by Storm April 1, 2015

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 5:51 pm

“We Are One” Diversity Speech Competition

The spring winds have nothing on the students in the Department of Applied Communication Studies at SIUE. ACS students are blowing us away this semester!

Dan Schmidt, ACS alumnus and head of the Speech Center on campus, hosted the first “We Are One” Diversity Speech Competition, and it was a tremendous success.

Three of the final four speakers were from the Department of Applied Communication Studies. Christine Shepherd is studying organizational communication and took first place in the competition. McKenzi McClain and Ricky Rush are both studying public relations and placed second and third, respectively.

Kiley Herndon

Kiley Herndon

Later in the week, Kiley Herndon, studying public relations in the ACS Department and the current PRSSA-SIUE Chapter president, was selected as the College of Arts and Sciences student speaker at the Spring 2015 Commencement ceremony.

It doesn’t stop there though. Students in the Department of Applied Communication Studies are also high achieving athletes. Haley Chambers is an interpersonal communication student and pitcher extraordinaire. She recently became the first player in school history to throw two career perfect games. She was also recently featured on a KSDK Channel 5 sports segment.

Matt Dye

Matt Dye

Wait – there’s more! ACS alumni are also undertaking creative endeavors beyond the SIUE community. ACS alumnus Matt Dye is a trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp in Nashville, Tennessee, and he is currently in the top five to win the November cover of Men’s Health magazine. You can learn more about Matt and the competition and cast your daily vote right here.

Ariel Weinman

Ariel Weinman

Alumna Ariel Weinman is the reigning Miss Rodeo Illinois and will travel the country attending rodeos, parades and special events as an ambassador for the sport of rodeo and promoting the western way of life. Ariel will also take on the role of representative for her home state of Illinois and will work to raise awareness of pediatric cancer. There are multiple sponsorship levels available if you want to support Ariel during her year as Miss Rodeo Illinois.

This spring has been a whirlwind of excitement. Seeing current and former students using their communication skills to achieve their personal and professional goals is exciting, and there are many more ACS alumni out there doing amazing work – I’m just talking about the past few months!

What’s spring got in store for you? Pull up a chair and let’s talk.


Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? February 19, 2015

Filed under: My Causerie — mycauserie @ 11:06 pm
Guess who's coming to dinner?

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

This whole notion of “radical hospitality” seems to be something God wants me to hear because it has been brought to my attention in many ways over the past few weeks.
In the previous family sermon series, I heard about the importance of spending time around the family table and about the message that is communicated when you invite someone to sit in your living room.

Our small group just completed the Max Lucado study, “Outlive Your Life,” and this theme of radical hospitality seemed to still be pulling at me. Lucado reminded us of how in the beginning, the gospel was shared from home to home, and we were asked, “Is the gospel being shared from your home?” Lucado also gave us a lesson in Latin as he wrote: “Hospitality opens the door to uncommon community. It’s no accident that hospitality and hospital come from the same Latin word, for they both lead to the same result: healing. When you open your door to someone, you are sending this message: ‘You matter to me and to God.’ You may think you are saying, ‘Come over for a visit.’ But what your guest hears is, ‘I’m worth the effort.’”

So, I decided I wanted to be more intentional about my hospitality. I used to do much better at this, but it seems life gets busy and I let that hospitality wane. I am sure part of that reason stems from my “Martha” syndrome…so much to prepare and get done…are the ceiling fans dusted? Is the tablecloth pressed? None-the-less, I was ready to try. Once a month, I would invite someone new from our church family over for dinner. Ok, I thought; I’m listening; I’m being obedient.

Ha! God can have such a sense of humor! I pick up the church newsletter and there staring back at me is Pastor’s Lenten challenge: eat one meal a week with someone new from our church family. Once a week – did I read that right? But…since I tend to have somewhat of a competitive nature, I responded, “Ok, game on!

Then last night I attended Ash Wednesday services, and Pastor said that each of us should decide for ourselves what we will relinquish this Lenten season. So I put it to prayer, and I still thinking about this notion of radical hospitality and how God is really laying this upon my heart. I talked it over with my husband this morning, and we agreed: for the next 40 days, we are giving up going out: no going to the theater, no dinner out with friends.

???????????????????????????????Instead, we will begin our practice of radical hospitality. We will invite people into our home for IMG00665-20110802-2159food and fellowship. Maybe I will use the “good” dishes; maybe we’ll roast hotdogs around a fire. Who knows! I remember reading once about how someone would even enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich…if someone else made it for them!

I’m not exactly sure what the next 40 days will bring, but I am going to do my best at practicing radical hospitality.

I am looking forward to the conversations around the dinner table. I am looking forward to making new friends, and I am looking forward to letting our guests hear through our actions, “You are worth the effort.”

So, do you want to join us for dinner? Pull up a chair and let’s talk!


Make blogging a new habit February 9, 2015

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 7:00 am
Photo Credit: M.Ryan Photography via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: M.Ryan Photography via Compfight cc

It takes 21 days to form a new habit. Have you heard that before? Maybe this is true for some, but for most of us, it just doesn’t work that fast. The thing is, we shouldn’t even focus on the number of days it takes to form the new habit, but just start with day 1. We can’t get to day 21, 51 or 101 without starting with day 1.

One habit public relations students need to develop is writing and writing often. Blogging can serve as a fun and engaging channel for doing just that. However, the biggest argument made by many college students is, “I don’t have time to write.”

Well, I’ve done my part to help students meet this challenge; I have made blogging a class assignment! Just think, in approximately 120 days, you may well have established a new writing habit! You can thank me later.

To help you succeed in this new habit-forming endeavor, check out the seven tips in this article by Mike Fishbein, “How to find time to create great content.

Tip #1 on the list is to write about something you are enthusiastic about; this makes the writing process easier and more fun. If you enjoy the process, you are more likely to continue past day 1!

Tip #2 suggests you do other tasks in between your writing sessions. It’s common for writers to hit road blocks, but I also think most of us can recognize what time of day is our most productive for certain tasks. Uncover your productivity peaks and take advantage of them.

Tip #3 is all about time management. We live a 24/7 life. Trying to complete tasks today can be a challenge because we have “distractions” at our fingertips, which can make it tough to get through any “to-do” list. You need to find an organizational system that works for you.

Tip #4: Just say no! Ha ha…so much easier said than done, but it is possible; give it a try.

Tips 5 – 7 are about setting goals: intermediate goals, ambitious goals and measurable goals, and Fishbein gives some great advice for each of these. I like how he breaks them into separate entities; I think it speaks to the importance of each.

If you’ve been struggling trying to develop a writing habit with your new blogging assignment, take the time to read through Fishbein’s seven tips. I think his advice could very well put your blogging on the path to becoming a great writing habit!

In the meantime, pull up a chair and let’s talk.


Don’t Stop…Thinking About Tomorrow! January 30, 2015

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 9:00 am

With a little help from Fleetwood Mac and a young PR professional by the name of Olivia Adams, I am here to remind students to “don’t stop thinking about tomorrow!”

Adams may be young, but she shares wisdom beyond her years in her post “8 Things They Don’t Tell You About Breaking into PR After College.” I’ve paraphrased her list here, but be sure to read her full post at Olivia Adams. She’s a great role model and offers sound advice for young professionals just beginning their careers.

1. Don’t stop networking. So, you’ve landed an amazing job; congratulations! Just remember whether it’s your first position or midway through your career, you need to continue to network. The “it’s who you know” adage doesn’t lose value as you progress through your career.

2. Don’t stop gaining experience. Adams mentions the possibility of taking a post-graduation internship. If you don’t land a job right after graduating, consider the value an internship can offer. It will allow you to continue learning and gaining experience, which will strengthen your resume. Although some internships may still be unpaid, there are some firms that offer paid internships for graduates.

3. Don’t stop building your brand. Basically, Adams reminds us that we cannot rest on our laurels, which can be an easy trap to fall into if everything is going along just “peachy.” My favorite part of her advice: “don’t forget about your PR peeps and your blog!”

4. Don’t stop discovering. This is especially good advice for current students because it reinforces the value in seeking diverse internships. Getting experience in different sectors of the industry gives you a chance to see what you like and what you don’t.

5. Don’t stop learning. Adams stresses the importance of understanding measurement when it comes to social media. So if you want to tout “social media expertise” on your resume, you have to understand how to measure those strategies.

6. Don’t stop collaborating. Public relations, advertising and marketing are increasingly more integrated. Content marketing plays a role in this collaborative effort. Understanding this role will make you a more competitive job candidate/employee.

7. Don’t stop side hustling. I have to admit, I had never heard the term “side hustle,” but I like the sound of it. We lead busy lives, and our jobs are often a big chunk of that busyness. So whether you call it a side hustle, work-life balance, giving back or just plain and simple, “me time,” I agree with Adams…it’s a beautiful thing!

8. Don’t stop writing. Ahhh, now I have to admit, I was excited to see this on the list! Being a solid writer is just so important to public relations professionals, and like any skill, the more you practice, the better you get at it. That’s why I like to see students blogging. Writing about something you are passionate about helps make the writing practice more fun, and hopefully, it will encourage students to continue writing.

What an awesome list, and remember, this advice is coming from someone who just graduated last year and is well on her way to a successful career – that’s encouragement right there! So don’t stop thinking about tomorrow because it will indeed soon be here! In the meantime, pull up a chair and let’s talk.


90 seconds to Success January 19, 2015

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 7:00 am
Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds via Compfight cc

Nicolas Boothman created a list of 20 things you can do in 90 seconds. It’s an interesting list, and I have to admit, #14 caught my attention! I’m going to try that the next time I mix up a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough.

I also liked this list that was in today’s Bellville News Democrat. For students searching for summer internships or that first post-graduation job, the list shares tips about what could be the most important 90 seconds in your job search (click on the image to see the full list).

You should pay attention to all the points, but there are a few I would like to draw your attention to because they may surprise you. As noted in the article, the statistics come from a survey of 2,000 bosses. Now take a look at what may influence your potential boss:

1. Talk about first impressions! For many bosses, the way you dress, act and walk through the door tells them a lot about you. (55%)

2. Relating to the way you dress, you might want to hold back on the latest fashion trends. Most bosses seem to still go for the conservative look. (70%)

3. Staying with this fashion faux pas theme, consider how important your clothing choices are when bosses say clothes can be the deciding factor between two similar candidates. (65%)

4. You not only have to walk the walk, but talk the talk. The other interesting statistic is that the quality of your voice, grammar and overall confidence has a far greater impact than what you actually say. (38% vs. 7%)

I highlight these four points, but you certainly don’t want to avoid the other tips either. For example, when you do talk, be sure you know what you are talking about, which includes knowing about the company you are interviewing with. Having little or no knowledge about the company was noted as one of the most common mistakes made by job seekers.

And remember that chapter on nonverbal communication during your interpersonal communication class? If not, now is the time to refresh your memory. Nonverbal communication has a tremendous impact on your interviewing success.

So, what can you do in 90 seconds? Pull up a chair and let’s chat.

How Interviewers Know When to Hire You in 90 Seconds



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