Navigating life’s tough questions, and knowing which ones to ask, is important

IRON MOUNTAIN — I’ve decided that the stages of one’s life can be broken down into the awkward questions that no one really likes answering. These dreaded questions often accompany the holiday season, because family members from all around tend to gather in one place. Regardless of when you last saw each other, and no matter what age you are, you’ve encountered the annoying ringing that life’s unwanted inquiries have brought on.

Let me give you a few examples: What do you want to do with your life after you graduate high school? What are you going to do with your life in general? Have you decided on a college or a major yet? Did you become a teacher just for the breaks and summer vacations? Why would you choose that degree when you know you can’t get a job with it? Why wouldn’t you want to rush a sorority/fraternity? How are your grades? Do you have a boyfriend yet? If you’re single, have you seen my nephew/grandson/son? When are you going to get married? When are you going to have kids? Are you going to have kids? Do you know what you’re going to do after you graduate college? Have you found a job yet? How much does your job pay? How much did you pay for your house? When are you going to stop having kids? Why would you want to adopt? Why haven’t you considered adoption? Are you ever going to get your own place? Did you gain weight? How is that diet coming? How are you so skinny – do you even eat? Have you considered getting a life coach? You’re still going to church, right?

While most of the time, these questions are asked out of genuine interest, for the person answering, they can often feel like a deeply insensitive invasion of privacy. It’s essentially like a giant spotlight is shining down on you, and you’re in the hot seat; think fast, because there’s only one right answer, and all eyes are on you. For so many, these questions feel impossible to answer. On one hand, if you’re honest in your answer, you may come off as being rude, disinterested, or moody. On the other, if you casually reply with a textbook response, and a lopsided smile, you’re not really being honest with yourself and your angst simply begins to pile up inside.

In college, there was always that one family member who asked if I’d met anyone special yet. It didn’t matter if they’d seen me two days before, the question still arose. It made me feel as if I wasn’t worth anything if I wasn’t dating someone. How was I supposed to answer, really? Yes, I’ve casually dated a few people here and there because it’s college and I’m not ready to settle down yet — that’s too honest. Instead, it was always, “No, not yet. Waiting for the right guy,” which was technically true, but not the real truth. It was one of the reasons why when I did meet my husband, I kept him a secret from nearly everyone until several months in.

Thankfully, I was able to avoid the “when are you getting married” question, for the most part. There was still the occasional “how serious is this” and “do you think you’ll get married” thrown around, but the pressure was far less. Since getting married, however (mind you only five and a half months ago), the amount of times we’ve been asked when we’re starting a family is astronomical. We’ve been asked jokingly, seriously, and desperately. If I’m holding a baby, inevitably I will hear someone say I’m “practicing.” People will give me their children and tell me I need to start practicing; they’ll be holding their own child asking when I’m planning on having one of “these.” Some will even tell me I’m next, or I better get on that before I get too old to have kids.

My cousin, who I’m very close to and has always been a true friend, has struggled with this as well. She put it best when she made a Facebook post that read, “People always have good intentions when they ask the age old female cringer, “Sooo … when are you going to have little ones?” This generally occurs at small events… and is typically followed by a wink or nudge. These questions should be banned to dark dinner party “don’t go there” corners alongside politics and incomes. Please see that it is awkward to talk about our future womb endeavors with you. 

Some people aren’t going to have kids. This is okay. I know many inspiring Christian couples in my life who have chosen this path. Some people can’t. Ever. Please, stop asking them.

Some people have been trying for a long time and it hurts every time you ask. Some people have lost pregnancies and babies. This one can hurt even worse as you smile and reply, “Maybe someday.” If you want to know a person’s future plans (which is wonderful! Thanks for asking!) ask what he or she is excited about in life, what has he or she done that was fulfilling? Children are wonderful. They are important. But the Lord’s plan for everyone is not always the same.”

She beautifully explained the harshness of an innocent, yet invasive, question. We’ve all done it. We’ve all asked one or more of the questions listed above, and more than likely, we haven’t meant to make anyone feel uncomfortable by asking them, and yet, we probably have. Undoubtedly, we’ve also probably had to navigate the appropriate response when asked one of these questions. Everyone has an idea about how life should be lived. Some people believe you should be married, others think that certain careers aren’t suitable or are only suitable for one gender, some believe that happiness lies in money or children or relationships, and so when a person you care about isn’t living according to the life you think they should, you ask the uncomfortable questions.

My husband has said that his most hated question of all time was, “What are you doing with your life?” He said it made him feel small, like what he was already doing wasn’t acceptable, and it wasn’t enough. He already felt like he could be doing more, and what he needed was support, not pressure. One of my best friends, who is stunning inside and out, is also single, and she has been for some time now. I make it a point to never try and set her up, or make it seem like she needs to find a boyfriend, because tons of other people do. People will ask me on her behalf why she isn’t taken yet, because “She’s so pretty and successful.” I always come to her defense — funny how it’s easier to defend another than ourselves.

This holiday season, let’s choose love, and choose others’ comfort over our own. It’s human nature to be curious, but it becomes an issue when we project our own ideals on another, even if we do so unknowingly. Therefore, vow to be more considerate, and intentional about the small talk. Celebrate a success you know someone has recently had, enjoy coffee in a friend’s kitchen without bringing up the mortgage, and extend your joy over where they are in this very moment. Allow your loved ones to provide to you the information they feel is relevant.

It’s inept, to assume that no questions can be asked, so stick to those that my cousin so bravely suggested. What’s something you’re truly excited about right now? What has been fulfilling in your life as of late? Tell me what makes you happy? What’s one thing you wished people knew about you that you feel like they don’t? Tell me your favorite part of college? Favorite part about being married, being a mom/dad, being in high school? Better yet, let them ask you questions.

As humans, we are simultaneously a masterpiece and a work in progress. Let’s celebrate the milestones we’ve achieved and made for ourselves, before pressuring one another to reach more. As Winston Churchill said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” When your niece, friend, brother, grandson sits down on that couch next to you, with the twinkling lights of Christmas sparkling in the background, dare to allow them to share. Be the change they so desperately need, and sit in the silence, until they bring forth their heart.

——

NURSING HOMES

Freeman

Kingsford

Scenes and sounds, 11:45 a.m., Monday through Saturday.

Sunday: Scenes and sounds, noon; Uno, 1 p.m.; dunking donuts, 2 p.m.; church, 2:15 p.m.

Monday: Pretty nails, 10 a.m.; library cart, 11 a.m.; line dancers, 1:30 p.m.; ice cream social, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Crafts, 10 a.m.; reminisce, 1:15 p.m.; Kentucky Derby, 2 p.m.

Wednesday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; rosary, 11 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Reading buddy, 10 a.m.; bible study, 11 a.m.; What’s that word?, 1 p.m.; Crystal Hogan, 2 p.m.

Friday: What’s cooking, 11 a.m.; Mass, 2 p.m.; sing-a-long, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Meet and greet, 10:30 a.m.; spinning records, 11 a.m.; Daily News, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Iron County

Medical Facility

Crystal Falls

Room visits, 1 p.m., Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

Exercise, 11 a.m., Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

Sunday: One to one church visitors, 8:30 to 11 a.m.; room visits, 9 to 11 a.m.; storytelling, 10 a.m.; bingorama, 2 p.m.

Monday: Cookie workshop, 9 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; Sunshine Club, 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Book club, 10 a.m.; prayer, 10 a.m.; wildlife film, 1:30 p.m.; current events, 2 p.m.; Christmas lights tour, 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Community breakfast, 9 a.m.; trivia, 10:30 a.m.; Apostolic Lutheran, 1:15 p.m.; high rollers, 2 p.m.; nite bingo, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m.; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; United Lutheran, 2 p.m.; happy hour with special music, 2:30 p.m.

Friday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; Christmas sing-a-long, 2 p.m.; holiday movie, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Word search, 10 a.m.; you be the judge, 10 a.m.; geri-gym, 11 a.m.; intergenerational social hour, 2 p.m.

ManorCare

Kingsford

Wet your whistle, 9:30 a.m., daily.

Movie, 10:45 a.m., daily, and 3:15 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Gathering place, 11:40 a.m., Saturday and Sunday, and 11:40 and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Popcorn day, Fridays, weekly.

Protestant Church service, Sunday, 3 p.m.

Exercises, 10 a.m., daily.

Sunday: Just jokes, 10:15 a.m.; morsels and more, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant Church, 3 p.m.

Monday: Did you know?, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; Christmas color light tour, 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday: Christmas trivia, 10:15 a.m.; Lutheran church, 2 p.m.; movie and a manicure, 5:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Remembering when, 10:15 p.m.; Golden Throats entertain, 2 p.m.; Christmas light tour, 5:45 p.m.

Thursday: Crosswords, 10:15 a.m.; K bingo, 2 p.m.; crafts, 5:45 p.m.

Friday: Finish lines, 10:15 a.m.; Catholic Mass, 2 p.m.; chips n’ chatter, 2:30 p.m.; movie, 3:15 p.m.; gathering place, 4:30 p.m.

Saturday: Wet your whistle, 9:30 a.m.; current events, 10:15 a.m.; gathering place, 11:40 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; movie, 3:15 p.m.

Maryhill Manor

Niagara, Wis.

Rosary, 8:30 a.m., Monday through Friday.

Parachute, 1:30 p.m., daily.

Monthly support group for grief and loss, second Monday of the month at 2 p.m.

Weekend pet visits.

Sunday: Rosary, 8:30 a.m.; Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; bingo, 10:15 a.m.; penny ante, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant service, 2:30 p.m.

Monday: Santa’s elves: Christmas card writing, 10:15 a.m.; nativity display, 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Bingo, 10:15 a.m.; resident council, 2 p.m.; puppet show, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Bowling, 10:15 a.m.; joker-eno, 2 p.m.; Chaplet of Divine Mercy, 3 p.m.; Christmas movie and popcorn, 6:15 p.m.

Thursday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; Scattegories, 10:15 a.m.; derby day, 2 p.m.; family night, 6:30 p.m.

Friday: Coffee and trivia, 10:15 a.m.; happy hour, Ray and Mindy, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Pamper and polish, 10:15 a.m.; Kim Hanson piano students, 2 p.m.

Maryhill Manor, Alzheimer’s Unit

Niagara, Wis.

Grooming, 8 a.m., daily.

Bread making, noon, daily.

Chicken soup, communication program, 4 p.m., daily.

Sensory Group, 6 p.m., daily.

Movie, 6:30 p.m., daily.

Sunday: Table ball, 9 a.m.; Puzzles, 9:45 a.m.; Bible stories, 10:15 a.m.; sing-a-long, 12:15 p.m.; bowling, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; balloon ball, 3:30 p.m.

Monday: Table ball, 9 a.m.; spelling bee, 9:45 a.m.; Bible stories, 10:15 a.m.; old TV shows, 12:15 p.m.; Animal Kingdom, 1 p.m.; pamper and polish, 2 p.m.; kick ball, 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Play dough molds, 9 a.m.; puzzles, 9:45 a.m.; table ball, 10:15 a.m.; sing-a-long, 12:15 p.m.; foot soaks, 1 p.m.; creative art, 2 p.m.; balloon ball, 3:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Play dough molds, 9 a.m.; spelling bee, 9:45 a.m.; coloring, 10:15 a.m.; old TV shows, 12:15 p.m.; through the years, 1 p.m.; pamper and polish, 2 p.m.; golf, 3:30 p.m.

Thursday: Table ball, 9 a.m.; puzzles, 9:45 a.m.; Bible stories, 10:15 a.m.; sing-a-long, 12:15 p.m.; foot soaks, 1 p.m.; men’s group, 2 p.m.; parachute, 3:30 p.m.

Friday: Play dough molds, 9 a.m.; spelling bee, 9:45 a.m.; coloring, 10:15 a.m.; old TV shows, 12:15 p.m.; creative art, 1 p.m.; happy hour/music and memory, 2 p.m.; kick ball, 3:30 p.m.

Saturday: Table ball, 9 a.m.; puzzles, 9:45 a.m.; Bible stories, 10:15 a.m.; sing-a-long, 12:15 p.m.; foot soaks, 1 p.m.; bowling, 2 p.m.; parachute, 3:30 p.m.

Victorian Pines

Iron Mountain

Exercise, 11 a.m., Monday through Friday.

Juice pass, 10 a.m., daily.

Shopping days: Tuesdays and Fridays at 10 a.m., must sign up.

Sunday: Packers vs. Browns, noon; Bible study, 1:30 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Monday: Music with Crystal, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Left, center, right, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Thursday: “The Girls,” 2 p.m.; Rosary, 3 p.m.

Friday: Christmas party, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.

Florence Health Services

Florence, Wis.

Sunday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; holiday visitors, 11 a.m.; Packers vs. Panthers, noon; card games, 2 p.m.

Monday: Snowflake craft, 10 a.m.; bingo with Bette, 2 p.m.; room visits, 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Pastor Doug Lutheran service, 10 a.m.; ornament display with Valri, 2 p.m.; one to one time, 3:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Balloon badminton, 10 a.m.; shopping outing to Shopko, 1:30 p.m.; brain games and coloring pages, 2 p.m.

Thursday: Pastor Jason Lutheran service, 10 a.m.; manicures, 2 p.m.; comedy hour, 3 p.m.

Friday: Catholic communion service, 10 a.m.; singing angels and Christmas music with Valri, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; poetry reading, 2 p.m.; Packers vs. Vikings, 7:30 p.m.

Pinecrest Medical

Care Facility

Powers

Life connections, 9:45 a.m. every Monday

Busy bee, 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Rosary every Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.

Sunday: Word puzzles, 10 a.m.; Lutheran service, 2 p.m.; Packers game, noon; Packers party, 2 p.m.

Monday: Worship and communion service, 1:30 p.m.; bean bag toss, 3:30 p.m.; kings corners, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Miracle on 34th Street, 10 a.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.; reminiscing, 3:30 p.m.; one to one visits, 6:15 p.m.

Wednesday: Shopping outing, 10 a.m.; Christmas party with Jim Clement, 2 p.m.; rummy, 4 p.m.

Thursday: Gingerbread houses, 10 a.m..; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; Yahtzee, 6 p.m.

Friday: Mass, 10 a.m.; sensory, 10:15 a.m.; Jerry Beauchamp, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Karaoke, 10 a.m.; tic tac toe, 10 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; crafts, 2 p.m.

Victorian Heights

Crystal Falls

906-874-1000

*Activities director out on leave. Please call the home for additional information.

SENIOR CENTERS

Note: All centers ask for 24 hour advanced reservations for lunch. If you have meals delivered and will not be home, notify the center.

Alpha-Mastodon Center

906-875-3315

Meal every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at noon.

Amasa Center

906-822-7284

Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Lunch at noon.

Bingo on Tuesdays.

Free meal drawing on Thursdays.

Breen Center

906-774-5110

Meals: Monday through Friday.

Cards and games available 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m.

Hostess on duty Monday through Friday.  

Treats and coffee, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Center retail store is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; volunteers and donations are welcome.

Birthdays acknowledged every day.

Evening meals are held first and third Thursday of the month. Salad bar opens at 4 p.m. with dinner served at 5 p.m. Donations are $4 for those 60 and older and $5 for 60 and younger.

Blood pressure and blood sugar testing, every fourth Wednesday.

Crystal Falls Center

Head Cook, Tracy West

906-875-6709

Meals will be served on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays at 5 p.m., a salad bar will be open at 4:30 p.m. The dinner donation is $5 for those age 60 and older and $6 for those younger than age 60. There is a take-out container charge of $1. All persons are invited. 

Cribbage will be played on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. and be concluded in time for the dinner.

Center is closed Thursday through Sunday. 

A site council meeting is held on the third Wednesday at 3 p.m. 

Blood pressure taken by request anytime the center is open.

Monday: Soup, salad, Teriyaki Chicken, fried rice, homemade dessert.

Tuesday: Soup, salad, pasties, cole slaw, homemade dessert.

Wednesday: Soup, salad, baked ham, cheesy potatoes, veggies, homemade bread and dessert.

Crystal Lake Center

906-774-5888

The center is closed on the weekends.

Monday: Woodcarvers, 10 a.m.; mahjong in dining hall, noon; Les Artistes Art Club, noon; Bridge Club, 12:15 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday: Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday: Billiards, 9:30 a.m.

Wednesday: Spinning Spools Quilters Guild, 1 p.m.; crafters, scrap bookers, etc. also welcome; knitting and crocheting class, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Friday: Smear, 12:30 p.m.

Last Saturday of the month: Music Jam starting at 1 p.m. Admission is free.

Dances are held on the second and fourth Friday’s of the month from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is $6 and coffee is free.

The Photo Club meets on the first Tuesday of the month from 1 to 3 p.m.

Evening meals are usually on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month. They have a salad bar beginning at 4 p.m. with the meal beginning at 4:30 p.m. A donation of $4 is accepted for seniors, 60 plus, but not required.

Home delivered meals are for seniors 60 plus and can be delivered seven days a week. Suggested donation is $4 per meal. For information call Chris Tramotin at 906-774-2256 ext. 235.            

Transportation is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Call the center to book your ride.

Felch Center

906-246-3559

Meals served Monday through Wednesday at 11:30 a.m.

Bingo on the first and third Wednesday of each month after lunch.

Congregate jigsaw puzzle done daily.

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County

715-528-4890

Director: Lori Friberg

Suggested donation for seniors older than 60 is $4 per meal. Residents younger than 60 must pay $7. Reservations and cancellations needed 48 hours prior.

The ADRC is available to assist area seniors and those with disabilities with transportation, Monday through Friday. Make your transportation reservation with your meal reservation.

Four senior dining locations are listed below:

Fence Center/Town Hall

715-336-2980

Meal at noon on Wednesdays only. Reservations are requested. Cribbage and cards are available.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall

715-528-4261

Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday. 

Jigsaw puzzles, cards, cribbage, and board games are available. The coffee is always on.

Senior Dining Center-NWTC, Aurora

715-589-4491

Serving Lunch at 11:30 am, Monday through Thursday .

Tipler Town Hall

715-674-2320

Serving lunch at noon, the second Thursday of the month.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora

715-589-4491

Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday. Jigsaw puzzles, cribbage, cards, and board games are available. The coffee is always on.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska

906-498-7735

Meal is Monday through Friday at noon. Suggested donation is $3 for those 60 and older and $7 for those younger than 60.

Morning coffee is available each day

Fifteen games of “fun bingo” are played each Tuesday and Friday along with 50/50.

Tuesday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Cards played in the afternoon. Call ahead to see if a game will be going on.

Friday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Monday through Friday: Walking in the gym from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A treadmill is also available.

Friendly interaction with other crafters.

Iron River Center

906-265-6134

Meals served Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; $4 donation is encouraged (older than 60) and $5 (required younger than 60).

Salad bar with Thursday meal, 4 p.m. and dinner at 4:30 p.m.

DICSA operates all meals and transportation out of the Iron River Center. Rides are $2.50, older than 60, and $3, younger than 60. Call 265-6134 to schedule a ride

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Corrie Maule, Meal site manager

715-251-1603

Jill Anderson, Senior center director

715-251- 4154

Noon Meals served Monday through Thursday

Transportation to the meal site from the Niagara area is offered.

They welcome any senior groups who would like to use the meal site as their meeting place; join them for lunch and then stay to have your meeting or social time.

Wii games, cards, puzzles, board games available to play for your enjoyment

Other activities are in the works; your suggestions are always welcome.

If you have not tried the meal site/senior center they invite you to give us a try. If you haven’t been here in a while, we encourage you to come back.

Call 24 hours in advance for meal reservations.

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining

906-563-8716

Monday through Thursday: Meals served at noon with salad bar. Soup is also available on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11 a.m. Meal donation is $5. Make meal reservation in advance.

Milk, juice, bread, fruit, tea, and coffee served daily.

Two special theme noon meals each month with bingo, prizes, and 50/50.

Two evening meals, 5 p.m., on the first Monday and third Wednesday of the month with bingo, prizes, and 50/50.

Tuesday: Christmas dinner; sliced roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, fruit, juice, dessert; Bingo, prizes, 50/50; please sign up early.

Wednesday: Blood pressure clinic, 11 a.m. to noon.

Thursday: Birthday club; have a birthday? Please join and have your picture taken.

Dec. 25: Center closed for Christmas.

Cards are played daily after the noon meal.

Craft and exercise classes: Mondays and Thursdays.

Ceramic and art classes: Wednesdays.

Puzzles always worked on.

Senior coloring class meets daily. All are welcome. Some materials will be provided.

Telephone reassurance is available. If you are a senior who doesn’t get out much and would like a friendly daily phone contact, the center will have someone check in to see that all is well.

Note: A CSFP food card (green card) is available to income-eligible seniors. Make an appointment to get signed up. File of Life packets available at the center.

Note: Ask about the Medicare Savings Program. This program helps people pay their Medicare part B premium. You may be eligible. Your local MMAP Counselor can be reached at  1-800-803-7174, or dial 211.

Center membership cards are available for $5 at the front desk.

Sagola Center

906-542-3273

Meals: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11:45 a.m.

Cards: Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday.

Commodities every other month and quarterly commodities are every three months.

Puzzle table for all to enjoy.

Volunteers are always welcome.

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