Bah, humbug! An introvert’s rules for holiday survival

Published: Monday, December 10, 2012 @ 7:00 PM
Updated: Monday, December 10, 2012 @ 7:00 PM

Ah, the holidays. Constant parties. Gay apparel. Forced family fun. An introvert’s nightmare.

“I call it the most extroverted time of the year,” says author and introvert Sophia Dembling of Dallas, whose “The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World” (Perigree, $14) just hit bookstores. “I don’t want to check out of it entirely, but it can just completely overwhelm you, and then you get crabby.”

Whereas Susan Cain’s “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” is an introvert’s manifesto, “The Introvert’s Way” celebrates introversion and gives practical advice on how to survive raving extroversion. Holidays, Dembling says, are a true test of an introvert’s mettle. She offered these tips:

1. Make yourself useful. If you’re at a party, help serve the food. “You’re interacting, but you’re doing your own thing. I call it pretend mingling.”

2. “Find ways to get away” from a family gathering. “I had a family gathering in Chicago, and the weather was 4 degrees, and the entire family was trapped inside for days on end,” Dembling recalls. “That’s the hardest thing for me.” Take your running shoes and say you’re going out for exercise, she advises. Also, she likes having her first cup of coffee in her bedroom.

3. If you’re trapped in a room full of people visiting with each other, work a puzzle or knit while you talk. The busywork creates “psychic space,” Dembling says.

4. At the mall, “hide in plain sight.” While others frantically search for gifts, sit and people-watch. Introverts do this very well.

5. About those gifts: “Introverts are such deep thinkers,” Dembling says. “Every gift has to be perfect.” So, she makes a lot of her gifts.

6. “Choose your parties, and don’t let anyone convince you the party’s going to collapse if you leave,” she says. There’s an art to leaving a party, and, in fact, one of Dembling’s favorite party-leaving gambits involves art. She and her husband, Tom, have a secret code: “Let’s look at the art.” They start making the rounds of the home, looking at the walls, and make their way to the door, from which they exit.

“It’s a lot easier to enjoy parties if we don’t feel trapped,” she says. “Of course, at office parties, you have to put your best foot forward and pretend to be an extrovert. At those, you really have to put on your clown nose.”

Then, after the season’s over, take a deep breath and plunge into the new year.

“I like the concept of a clean slate,” Dembling says, although she eschews big horn-blowing New Year’s Eve parties for quieter celebrations — say, an evening looking at the night sky with just Tom.

Introverts can, indeed, survive the holidays, she says. It’s just a matter of doing it their own way.

“There’s this concept that the extrovert way is the right way,” Dembling says. “No, it’s just a way. And our way is equally valid.”

When is Beggars Night in your city?

Published: Friday, October 14, 2016 @ 11:20 AM
Updated: Thursday, October 12, 2017 @ 8:44 AM

No Tricks, Just Treats: How to Have a Safe Halloween

It's almost time to gets the kids out for this year’s Beggars Nights (aka trick-or-treating).

It's time to plan your perfect costume, grab a bucket for all of those treats and be adorable. 

>> RELATED: Halloween Guide 2017

We've compiled Beggars Night dates and times in communities across the region.

When is Beggars Night in your community?

>>> FOR KIDS: Halloween fun for the kids all month long

>>> FOR ADULTS: More than 10 of the best Halloween events (for adults)

Doctor takes to Facebook in search for new kidney

Published: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 12:47 PM

Dr. Stuart Himmelstein is searching for a new kidney. Himmelstein has spent five years on dialysis. He is talking to the press and on his Facebook page, "New Kidney for Stu." "I am hopeful my walking angel is out there," he said.

Dr. Stuart Himmelstein has spent every night of the past five years on dialysis. Since learning he had a rare form of kidney disease, the primary care physician with a private practice in Delray Beach has been on the deceased donor transplant list with no success. So he decided to create a Facebook page titled "New Kidney for Stu." 

Himmelstein, who started the page in June 2016, has been getting a surge in likes on his page after a local news station recently ran a segment on his plight. "Since the segment aired, 19 people have reached out to contact me about my quest for a kidney," he said. "I was diagnosed in 2012 with tuberous sclerosis, which is a congenital abnormality. The sooner I get a kidney, the better. My energy levels are definitely down and if I'm healthier, I can continue to help others."

Having to explain to his 90-year-old mother that he needs a kidney is heart-wrenching for Himmelstein, who has been practicing medicine for 30 years and is affiliated with Delray Medical Center. "I have had the sweetest people including an 85-year-old man try to help me find a kidney," he said. "I have to help my own mother understand why she can't give her baby a kidney." 

His sister works in Manhattan, and he said friends and relatives in New York have been trying to share his Facebook page. "Anyone who potentially wants to be a donor has to undergo a screening process," Himmelstein, 58, said. "I've gotten close a few times where a donor was going to give me a kidney but then they had to back out for personal or medical reasons." 

His friend Mary Milchikier is also trying to help him spread the word. Milchikier, an employee at Delray Medical Center, donated a kidney to her brother-in-law. Milchikier said she wishes she was born with three kidneys so she could give one to Himmelstein. 

"My husband had to have a liver transplant so I am very familiar with the donor and recipient process and I learned everything I could about transplants," Milchikier said. "My husband received his liver transplant through a woman who was in a tragic car accident, but my brother-in-law needed a kidney and couldn't find a donor, so I volunteered to give him mine." While a healthy person can live a normal life with just one kidney, she must now make sure she drinks at least of two liters of water a day and monitors her sugar and protein intake. "I have a special place in my heart for those in need of organ transplants and I really hope Stu gets a kidney," Milchikier said. "I wanted to pay it forward after everything I watched my husband go through." Himmelstein said most of the organ transplant donors he's met have a positive outlook on it, as Milchikier does. "Mary is so positive about her donation and has this eternal positivity," he said. "I am hopeful my walking angel is out there."

Embracing Life On Cancer’s Journey

Published: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 11:50 AM

            Brenda Frey, a breast cancer survivor from Houston in Shelby County. CONTRIBUTED
Brenda Frey, a breast cancer survivor from Houston in Shelby County. CONTRIBUTED

Brenda Frey said her breast cancer journey has been energized by the power of prayer and a positive outlook.

It’s also been enhanced by those with whom she has interacted at Upper Valley Medical Center’s Cancer Care Center, where she received chemotherapy and radiation in 2014.

While discussing her diagnosis and treatment, the resident of the Houston area in Shelby County sported a T-shirt reflecting part of her philosophy. It read: “Life isn’t easy. Life isn’t perfect. Life is good.”

“It is hard. Life is hard,” Frey said. “You have to work at it, just like you have to work at a marriage. You just can’t sit back and let others do everything for you.”

Frey was in recovery from a 2012 stroke, learning how to walk and talk again, when her cancer was diagnosed in late 2013.

“I knew it was breast cancer before I went in. This had been growing in my chest,” she recalled. “I was standing in front of the mirror. I told my husband, ‘I think I had better go in. It is getting worse.’”

After her diagnosis and surgery at St. Rita’s Medical Center in Lima, Frey told her doctor it was too far to drive to Lima for treatments. At the recommendation of a relative, she asked for referral to Upper Valley and oncologist Mohan Nuthakki, M.D.

Among Frey’s first stops was a cancer class in which a nurse addressed four cancer patients as a group and then their specific form of cancer as well as what to expect during treatment. Frey was no stranger to cancer; it had killed her mother and maternal grandparents. Still, she had many questions.

She, like other cancer patients, became a regular at the Cancer Care Center, first receiving chemotherapy and then radiation treatments.

“The longer you go, the more you get to know people,” Frey said. She and husband, Tom, came to know the staff well along with other patents. “I enjoyed watching people and meeting people. Some people loved talking to you. I love to listen,” she said.

Tom, who she called her “biggest cheerleader,” befriended Cancer Care Center janitors, she said.

Frey said her faith gave her strength during treatment, and beyond, along with a positive attitude.

She took advantage of the hospital’s amenities for cancer patients, including the Cancer Care Center’s massage therapy services.

“My body is a thing of pain, but I deal with it. If you tell me what is wrong, I can deal with it,” she said. “People need to know their body. When something’s not right, doesn’t seem right, bring it up to the doctor.”

Self-advocacy also is important, Frey said. “You have to be your own advocate. You have to make sure that your questions, your concerns are addressed,” she said. “A question is not dumb. It is dumb if you don’t ask it. Write the questions down.”

A comfort level with the doctor is key. “At Upper Valley Medical Center, you are more than just a number. You are a person. To me, that makes a difference. They have great oncology, radiology departments,” Frey said.

People also need to be aware of local treatment options and consider them, if they can meet the individual patient’s needs, she said.

Frey would like to see more survivors. “But to see more, people need to have their mammograms, their colonoscopies, their prostate checks,” she said.

Dr. Nuthakki said Frey did well overall with her Stage 2 breast cancer treatment coupled with other health problems. She progressed through treatment, now is on oral medication and has a strong support system through her husband, he said.

“She is doing well. When you see her, your heart thinks, ‘Why do they have so many problems?’ Yet, she is upbeat. She is very positive,” he said. “Sometimes when I get down looking at all the problems, she lifts your spirits up. She is that kind of person.”

Carrie Fisher’s beloved dog wishes her a happy birthday: ‘I sure do miss you’

Published: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 2:28 PM
Updated: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 8:18 AM

Two weeks after watching his mom in The Last Jedi trailer, Gary Fisher returned to Instagram on Saturday with a sweet message for the late Carrie Fisher.

“Happy birthday mom, I sure do miss you and the cozy days #garyloveshismom #garymisseshismom #garyfisher #garyloveshisfans #happybirthdaymom,” the pup “posted” next to a snuggly shot of the pair. The shot had 14,000 likes and counting, with endless comments about the actress and her pooch.

» Carrie Fisher once sent producer a cow tongue after friend was allegedly assaulted

Fisher’s 25-year-old daughter, Billie Lourd, shared her own throwback photo earlier in the day, captioning it simply, “Happy Birthday Mom.”

The late actress’ longtime companion was adopted from Lourd as a service pet to help Fisher handle her bipolar disorder.

Fisher, who was open about her diagnosis and mental health, said the French bulldog provided vital emotional support and stability in her life.

“Gary is mental also. My mother says Gary is a hooligan. Gary is like my heart,” Fisher told  The Herald Tribune  in 2015. “Gary is very devoted to me and that calms me down. He’s anxious when he’s away from me.”

» New 'Star Wars' trailer released for 'The Last Jedi'

While Fisher had a long, established career in Hollywood, Gary (and his signature protruding tongue) became something of a celebrity himself during the actress’ press tours for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and her recent book,  The Princess Diarist

The brindle-colored canine was a frequent red-carpet guest of Fisher’s, too, and became a hit on social media (his Instagram account boasts more than 156,000 followers).

» Billie Lourd opens up about life after mom Carrie Fisher's death

The dog was by Fisher’s side when she went into cardiac arrest aboard a flight from London to Los Angeles on Dec. 23. He remained with the actress at the hospital, where she died four days later at the age of 60.

These days, the French bulldog is reported to be living with the late actress’ assistant, Corby McCoin. McCoin is said to have a strong connection with the pooch, according to TMZ, which first reported the news.

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