The Modern 2021 Bride
Turning Challenges Into Opportunities
We are turning joyfully toward a new year with positivity and hope. Our lives will forever look a little different—at work, at school, at the store, and at large events like weddings. Wedding trends come and go every year, but this year will undoubtedly be filled with new trends born of necessity.
Most couples will be re-working their plans for 2021 weddings. While this is undeniably challenging, it also offers opportunities to innovate. For example, in times of social distancing, the traditional reception line, in which guests file past the bride and groom in a tightly wound line, offering hugs and handshakes, is just no longer viable. Instead, the bride and groom could be simply introduced at the reception and greeted with applause from the group. This is a great idea. Their first big entrance as a couple is an exciting moment—it deserves applause! Also, cutting out the reception line allows the bride and groom more time to mingle with their guests naturally.
Wedding food is also being reconsidered. Buffet catering has traditionally been a popular way to serve food at weddings, but 2021 will not be a year of sharing utensils and uncovered dishes of food. For formal receptions, couples are choosing plated dinners brought to the table by wait staff. For more informal gatherings, couples are offering boxed lunches or even food trucks! To really keep it simple and safe, consider a champagne reception and cake-cutting ceremony in lieu of a full dinner. This idea is charming and budget-conscious, and it provides a positive alternative to the problem of serving food to a large gathering. I think this trend is here to stay.
Of course, outdoor celebrations will be the ongoing trend for all events in 2021, including weddings. Twinkle lights and lush florals can transform any tent into a dreamy backdrop for a wedding and reception. My recommendation would be to reserve outdoor venues and wedding tents early, as these will be in high demand. For those who want to stay outside but still want their reception to make a big impression, consider using the money you saved in other areas for a beautiful but socially distant fireworks display. It could match the colors of the wedding theme or be set to your personal wedding song!
Fashion is an important part of every wedding, and 2021 will be no different. At smaller, less formal ceremonies, a simple dress with clean lines seems appropriate. For the bride who dreams of a dramatic dress for her wedding, removable pieces are a great innovation. Wear the gorgeous train for the ceremony and remove it for the reception! Bridal designers have even offered tulle overskirts or to-the-floor organza capes that are removable for two looks in one.
Designers are also bringing back the slip dress for brides with a willowy figure. There is nothing quite like the understated beauty of a sexy, sleek, and sophisticated slip dress for a dramatic entrance. Cut on the bias to skim over your figure, a slip dress has some stretch to it and is ultra-comfortable and ultra-glamourous.
Sleeves have been a big fashion trend for years now, and they will still be going strong in 2021. Perfect for an early spring or fall wedding, sleeves have become an important design element in bridal attire. Long, short, voluminous, or fitted, on or off the shoulder, sleeves bring a finishing touch to the simple sheath-style dress. Beading and sparkle are having a moment, and they are especially perfect for an outdoor wedding, when sunlight will literally keep you glowing.
Color is also an important part of wedding attire, whether or not it factors into the bridal gown itself. Classic neutrals and pastels are always available. This year, designers are also offering more vibrant colors.
Let us not overlook the men in the equation! The formality of the groom’s attire should reflect the bride’s dress. A classic tux is always in style, but blue is the craze this year. For the more casual groom, especially outdoors, a dress suit is perfect.
For better or worse, face masks are probably going to stick around for a while. If you’re hoping for a unified look among your wedding party, you may want to incorporate masks into the official wardrobe! These could be in coordinating colors, classic black, or even a print. As a wedding keepsake, a mask personalized for your wedding offers your guests something they can take home and use again.
Brides have some new challenges to face in 2021. Instead of getting frustrated by limitations, look at the situation as an opportunity to have an especially memorable wedding in an unforgettable year!
Editor’s Note: Holly has been in the fashion industry for over 30 years as a buyer, boutique store owner, visual merchandiser, and fashion show producer. She is currently the owner of a modeling agency. Holly regularly appears on local TV doing fashion segments.
By Holly Bell
Goodbye, 2020! Let's Eat!
“Good Morning, 2021” Muffins
Mix 1 cup of vegetable oil with 3 eggs and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Add 2 cups of grated carrots, 1 diced Granny Smith apple, 1 drained 8-ounce can of crushed pineapple, 1/2 cup of chopped pecans, 1/2 cup of shredded coconut, and 1/2 cup of raisins. In another bowl, mix together 2 and 1/4 cups of flour, 1 and 1/4 cups of sugar, 1 Tablespoon of cinnamon,
2 teaspoons of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the oil mixture—do not overmix. Use an ice cream scoop (or eyeball it) to portion batter into two paper-lined muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 30–35 minutes. Cool.
Scallops with Creamy Dijon Sauce
Heat 2 Tablespoons of oil in a non-stick skillet. Add scallops to the pan (if they’re wet, pat them dry with a paper towel). Sauté 1–2 minutes per side. Remove scallops to plate. Add 1/2 cup of dry sherry to the skillet and simmer for 30 seconds. Add 2 Tablespoons of Dijon and 1 Tablespoon of heavy cream. Mix well. Return scallops to the skillet for 30 seconds. Salt and pepper as desired. Garnish with 2 Tablespoons of chopped fresh chives.
Slice a pound of sweet Italian sausage into 1/2-inch chunks. (You can also use 1 pound of ground Italian sausage or leave out the sausage altogether for a vegetarian dish.) Brown the sausage in a soup pot or Dutch oven until no pink remains. Add 1 cup of diced onion, 1 cup of sliced carrots, 1 chopped celery stalk, and 2 sliced zucchini. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add 1 can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes and 1 can of cannellini or northern beans (not drained). Stir and bring to a boil. Add 1–2 cups of shredded cabbage, 2 cans of beef broth, and 1 teaspoon of dried basil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. If the soup gets too thick, add water, another can of tomatoes, or additional broth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with crunchy garlic toasts.
Oven Shrimp Scampi
In a 350-degree oven, melt 1 stick of butter in a large baking dish. When the butter is melted, remove the dish and add 3 cloves of minced garlic and the juice of one lemon. Stir. Add 1 package of thawed large or jumbo shrimp. Sprinkle with black pepper and a few red pepper flakes. Add several lemon slices. Bake for 10–15 minutes, until shrimp are cooked (pink and opaque). Serve with cooked pasta or crusty bread.
Hot Herby Sliders
Melt 1 stick of butter in a saucepan. Stir in several dashes each of pepper, onion powder, parsley, tarragon, and garlic powder. Slice a package of 24 Hawaiian rolls horizontally. Brush the butter mixture on the bottoms of the rolls and set them in a 9x13-inch pan or on a cookie sheet. Layer with sliced meats, vegetables, and cheeses of your choice. Replace the tops of the rolls and brush with the rest of the butter. Sprinkle on a few poppy seeds or sesame seeds. Cover with foil and warm at 250 degrees for 25 minutes. Cut and serve.
Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter in a stockpot. Add 3/4 cup of chopped onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add 2 minced cloves of garlic and sprinkle with 1/3 cup of flour. Cook on low for 2–3 minutes, until smooth and bubbly. Add 3 cups of chicken broth and whisk until smooth. Add 1/2 pound of crumbled Stilton cheese and 1/2 pound of crumbled cheddar cheese. Lower the heat to medium, then add 1 cup of cream and 1/3 cup of dry white wine. Add a bay leaf. Heat to boiling. Boil for 1 minute and then turn to low. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaf and ladle the soup over a thick slice of toasted garlic bread. Garnish with fresh parsley, crumbly bacon, and 1/2 cup of shredded cabbage.
New Year’s Day Bisque
Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a heavy soup pot. Add 1/2 of a chopped onion, 1 diced celery stalk, 1 diced carrot, and 1/4 of a diced green pepper. Stir and sauté for 5 minutes. Add 1 can of drained corn, 1 can of creamed corn, 1 can of cream of shrimp soup, 2 cans of cream of onion soup, 1 can of cream of potato soup, and 1 quart of half-and-half. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add 1 can of Ro-Tel tomatoes, a bag of frozen salad shrimp, and 1 teaspoon of Old Bay or Cajun seasoning. Add a can of chicken broth if you think the soup is too thick. Cook on low for 10 minutes. Serve with oyster crackers, butter crackers, or rye toast croutons.
Hot Beef Sandwiches
Lay a 3-pound chuck roast onto a large piece of foil on a cookie sheet. Mix together 3 Tablespoons of soy sauce, 3 Tablespoons of steak sauce, 1/2 cup of beef broth, 1/2 cup of water, and 1 envelope of dry beefy mushroom or onion soup mix. Pour over roast. Wrap tightly in foil (make a pouch). Bake at 350 degrees for 3 hours. Let rest 15 minutes, then slice or shred with a fork. Serve with toasted cocktail buns.
Easy Crock Pot Southwest Stew
Brown 1 pound of ground beef together with 1 chopped onion and 1 envelope of taco seasoning mix. Place into a slow cooker. Add 2 cans of beans (pinto, kidney, black, pork and beans), 1 can of Ro-Tel tomatoes, 3 cans of minestrone soup, and 1 cup of water. Add a dash or two of pepper and cook on low for 6 hours. Serve with cornbread, honey, and garlic rounds.
Butter Cream Wafers
For the cookies: Cream 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter with 1/3 cup of whipping cream and 2 cups of all-purpose flour. Chill for 30 minutes. Divide dough into thirds. Roll out on a lightly floured counter to about 1/8 inch. Cut into circles that are about 1 and 1/2 inches wide. Sprinkle both sides of the cutouts with granulated sugar and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Prick the cookies with fork about 4 times each. Bake at 375 degrees for 7–9 minutes, until set (not brown). Cool.
For the creamy filling: Cream 1/4 cup of soft butter with 3/4 cup of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Add food coloring, if desired. If too thick, add a drop or two of milk until desired consistency is reached. Spread the filling onto cookies and make into sandwiches.
Editor’s Note: Kate has been an Omaha area culinary instructor since 1997. She attended The Institute for the Culinary Arts at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha.
By Kate Beiting
Capricorn December 22–January 19
Happy birthday, Capricorn! Right from the start of 2021, you are showing others who you are, exposing your true self in relationships. In the past, you were less communicative, which produced obstacles.
This year, you are an open book. Impediments will disappear, and communication will improve. This allows for fulfillment in current relationships or when meeting someone new with whom you can build a beautiful new relationship.
Aquarius (Jan 20–Feb 18) This month will feel quieter and more relaxing. You will be able to defuse tensions, allowing you to feel free after a year of perseverance!
Pisces (Feb 19–Mar 20) This month brings encouraging news. You finally see your desired financial results! You will achieve success by using your talent and creativity.
Aries (Mar 21–Apr 19) This month brings change for the Aries sign. You have the energy to fight for what you want to achieve, make confident decisions, and seize opportunity. Mars inspires your instinctive energy and bravery!
Taurus (Apr 20–May 20) After the past year of struggle, challenge yourself to decide what is important for the health and well-being of yourself and others.
Gemini (May 21–Jun 20) You are more grounded this month and are consciously making the best decisions. This brings you the strength to achieve your goals and live your best life!
Cancer (Jun 21–Jul 22) Start 2021 with rest and meditation at every opportunity. This will help maintain both your physical and mental health. Emotions were challenged this past year. Use this month to start anew!
Leo (Jul 23–Aug 22) This is the beginning of an exciting year! You will enlarge your social circle and meet someone special who will attract your attention.
Virgo (Aug 23–Sep 22) Your resolution involves becoming more health-conscious. You are already mindful of your health, so this simply means that you will broaden your knowledge about nutrition, medicine, and fitness!
Libra (Sep 23–Oct 22) You are an affectionate person who is simply looking to be loved and admired in return. Use this philosophy to choose the people who will surround you.
Scorpio (Oct 23–Nov 21) This month is the beginning of new adventures and expanding your wheelhouse. You strengthen bonds within existing relationships and establish new ones!
Sagittarius (Nov 22–Dec 21) Things look promising for teamwork and cooperation. You will enlarge your social circle, which brings opportunities to collaborate with influential people and make strong allies!
A Woman's Work
New Year, New Hopes
Move Forward With Optimism
At the end of each year, my sister-in-law almost always makes a wish that “this year will be better than the one we just passed through.” It is easy to understand her feelings as she thinks back to what life has brought us during the past 12 months. Who hasn’t had moments when we wonder why we have so many challenges?
In spite of all kinds of planning, why do we often find ourselves in a muddle? Life is unpredictable. There are really no absolute certainties, but that is part of what makes living so interesting. What would life be like without challenges? An old friend once told me that the worst possible existence would be one that was boring. She may have been right. She may have known, even at a young age, that no life is boring unless we allow it to be—and even then, we would have to fight for the right to be bored!
As children, we were presented with fairy tales that always ended with the phrase, “and they lived happily ever after.” Oh, yeah, that’s for me. As a child, living happily ever after sounded like being on easy street or walking in tall cotton. Of course, as we become adults, we recognize that this is not really the case. We discover that life can take huge bites out of us. We are confronted with doubt, and our values are tested. There are always decisions to make and ordeals to face. Perhaps the true version of living happily ever after is the ability for each of us to meet these challenges and learn from our own experiences and decisions.
Very few folks truly expect to live a perfect life, but most of us constantly strive for the brass ring. We naturally want to be the best we can possibly be at every endeavor. Most often, we set our own expectations. Yes, it is disappointing when our plans or hopes don’t work out, but we carry on and remain optimistic. There is no reason to become a cock-eyed optimist. We do have to deal with reality, but that is the stuff of life. The year 2020 was one of the meanest years my family and close circle have ever endured. There were times many of us felt as if we were on some whacked-out game show or soap opera. Did we let it get us down? Oh, no. We are still here, still trudging on and wondering what is around the next corner. Whatever is around that corner, we are ready to face it. When we experience times of challenge and begin to feel overwhelmed, we just dig in deeper and carry on.
Of course, amid all the calamity and uncertainty, there is joy. In fact, there are often many reasons for delight in the worst of any situation. Where are all these reasons for happiness? That’s the trick. You can wait for happiness to happen or you can seek it out. These glimmers of hope can sometimes be something as unexpected as a butterfly wafting by, or a silly sound, or a surprise phone call from someone you haven’t heard from in a very long time. Maybe a special tune from your own past or a stranger’s smile will lighten the day.
A dear friend shared an inspiration with us recently, and I would very much enjoy sharing it with you. The author is unknown, but the philosophy behind these sentiments belongs to all of us. That is to say, many of us already know this in our hearts: There are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and people we can’t live without but have to let go.
When I first read this, I felt bitter. Then I read it again and began to understand that it talks about acceptance of ourselves and the situations we often find ourselves experiencing. This may not be the happily ever after that many of us long for, but it does allow us to move forward with hope. Remember, there’s no such thing as being set back; instead, there are opportunities and challenges to explore. Be creative. One quick cure for feeling bad is to help others.
As we move into 2021, we look forward to the opportunities that are waiting for us all. I hope you have a wonderful year and are able to enjoy all that life has to offer. Happy New Year!
By Sharon Knierim
A New You in 2021!
What You Gain When You Lose Weight
In February 2020, the National Weight Control Registry reported that more than 70 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. That’s terrible news for our physical health, our mental health, and our overall well-being. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that obesity contributes to many serious health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, mental illness—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s vital for overall good health to maintain a healthy weight. Whether your excess weight is a new addition or has been hanging around for years, it’s a great time to break that cycle.
Before we dive into how to lose weight, let’s address the reasons we put on weight in the first place. The simplest answer, from Harvard University, is that “if you consume more energy (calories) than you expend, you will gain weight. Excess calories are stored throughout your body as fat. On a very basic level, your weight depends on the number of calories you consume, how many of those calories you store, and how many you burn up.” There, if you consume fewer calories than you burn, you’ll naturally lose weight. That sounds simple enough! If you have ever tried to lose weight, you already know that just because something is simple, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
It’s true that some people are genetically predisposed to storing calories instead of burning them (that is, they have a low metabolism). Chances are greater that genes impact your natural weight if one or both of your parents are overweight. If both of your parents are obese, chances are as high as 80 percent that you will develop that trait. Your genetic makeup might be a reason that you don’t lose weight, even after eating less and exercising more. It can also determine your overall body type and where you carry excess weight on your body. The important thing to note here is that it is still possible for you to lose weight, especially with the guidance of a nutritionist or physician.
Obesity also has environmental causes that can affect you before you’re even born. Mothers who smoked while pregnant are more likely to bear babies who are prone to gaining weight than mothers who didn’t smoke. Ditto for pregnant mothers who were diabetic, which may have played a role in slowing down their babies’ metabolism.
Of course, the biggest risk factor for obesity is the most obvious one: consuming more calories than you burn. Eating habits start forming when we’re very young. If the diet at home during childhood included a lot of sugary drinks and processed foods, excess weight gain can start early and keep going strong into adulthood. Another challenge is living in a society where high-calorie, bigger-proportioned foods are cheap and readily available. It hasn’t always been this way! In the 1950s, restaurants offered one portion size; in 2020, you can order whatever portions you want.
Modern technological life affects our weight, too. People of all ages spend more time doing sedentary activities like watching TV and using computers or tablets. This year, during a pandemic, we’re at home even more, feeling anxious and sitting near the refrigerator. Of course, we can indulge in screen time and comfort food in moderation, but too much inactivity paired with too many high-calorie foods can wreak havoc on mental health, sleep, and stress levels, as the weight continues to creep on.
There are many reasons for the country’s obesity challenge, and there are likely many reasons for your own weight struggles. You are the one who can take control of yourself. Let’s change it up and start the new year with a new, healthier look.
Whether you’re trying to lose 10 pounds or 100, the first step is to decide how you’re going to reach your goal. Start with small steps. Are you eating fast food on the run? Slow down, even if you don’t have time. Irregular eating promotes stress, an upset gut, and weight gain. Keep healthy snacks at the ready for when hunger strikes in between meals. Keep in mind that your body can mistake thirst for hunger. Before reaching for a snack, drink some water and then decide whether or not you’re really hungry.
Incorporate more activity into your day by doing those little things we’ve all heard before, like parking farther from the door and using the stairs instead of the elevator. When you eat, do it mindfully. For example, don’t eat directly out of the container your snacks came in (like a bag of chips or box of crackers). This can lead to overeating if you’re not paying attention. Always put a portion of food in a dish. Avoid yo-yo diets. The pattern of losing and regaining weight can permanently harm your metabolism as your body adjusts to what it interprets as periods of starvation.
What if the little things aren’t making the difference you want? Make room for professional advice. From weight loss programs and personal trainers to nutritionists and med spas, there’s lots to choose from. Let’s look at some weight loss ideas and programs that offer to help you lose weight and keep it off.
Jenny Craig has been around for thirty years. With Jenny Craig, the key to keeping the weight off is your personal coach. This pro supports you one-on-one during your journey. This training helps you build healthy habits for lasting change. Personal accountability is built into the plan, and you’re never going it alone. One of the newest offerings is the Rapid Results Max program. This science-based program uses fasting and circadian rhythms to produce weight loss as quickly as four pounds a week.
WW (formerly Weight Watchers) is a popular weight loss program in which you’re encouraged to eat the foods you like, but in moderation. This plan assigns point values to foods to help you make thoughtful, healthier choices, whether you’re cooking at home or ordering from a restaurant. WW has long featured a regular weigh-in, but they no longer require a trip to an office. Instead, you can track calories by signing up for their new digital program.
For heart-healthy and diabetes-friendly diets, WebMD rates the Mediterranean diet as best for 2020, followed by a tie for second place between a plant-based diet called the Flexitarian Diet and the DASH diet, which includes poultry and dairy. These plans are built around a balance of fruits and vegetables, but the Mediterranean menu adds nuts, seeds, whole grains, seafood, even bread and potatoes. You’ll rarely consume red meat or sugary sodas.
Medical spas have additional options for weight loss, many of which are intended for patients who are obese or who haven’t found success with traditional weight loss programs. Some of their most popular options include hormone injections and FDA-approved weight loss drugs that suppress hunger and are available by prescription only.
Remember, the diet you choose has to match your goals. A diet designed to keep diabetes in check is different from a plan for fast weight loss. No matter what diet you choose, no one can argue that help from a medical professional or a nutritionist is a great way to get healthy start. Nutritionists and dietitians can help plan a healthy diet that will help you lose weight safely without depriving your body of important nutrients.
A nutritionist can also identify food intolerances or allergies. Look for a registered dietitian (try eatright.org) with a national certification or ask your regular physician for a referral.
For those looking for alternative approaches, acupuncture for weight loss has many advocates. Pressure points in the body, when stimulated with very thin needles, can affect the part of the brain that feels hunger and may reduce stress while increasing metabolism. Licensure for acupuncturists varies by state, but “Licensed Acupuncturist” (L.Ac. or Lic.Ac) is a good credential to look for. Hypnosis may also have a place in your weight loss plan. In a safe hypnotic state, you’re more responsive to suggestions for behavioral change. Be sure to ask for testimonials from satisfied clients.
To get the best results from your weight loss plan, don’t be afraid to combine more than one program or approach. Focus on health and safety, and the weight loss will follow. When you feel good, you’ll look good, too!
Sources for this article included: hopkinsmedicine.org, webmd.com, cdc.gov, and health.harvard.edu.
By Janette Calabro
What Lies Beneath?
Selecting Proper Undergarments
Everything needs a solid foundation, including your wardrobe. Whether you’re sporting something from your favorite designer’s recent collection or your latest thrift store find, it’s hard to look and feel your best if what you’re wearing underneath isn’t comfortable or flattering. Undergarments not only help your clothes fit better, they also help you feel more confident and attractive. Properly fitting bras, panties, body shapers, and silky slips are essential wardrobe basics.
How do you go about finding the perfect fit? Most of us aren’t comfortable being on display in a large department store while the sales clerk wraps a tape measure around our body parts. A lingerie shop provides a more intimate setting, often staffed by professionals who have attended special trainings, complete with written exams and hands-on practice fittings.
Let’s start with proper bra fit. A well-trained fitter asks about your style preferences and assesses the shape, firmness, depth, and tissue placement of your breasts. Band size is measured just under the bust, and cup size is measured at the fullest part of the breast. Bra straps shouldn’t slip, breast tissue shouldn’t overflow the cup, and the band should stay parallel all the way around the body. If the band rides up in the back, it’s too large. If the shoulder straps fall or the cups pucker, the cup is too big. A well-fitting bra should feel like two hands are holding up your breasts comfortably. Ill-fitting bras can cause back and neck pain, along with poor posture.
Since you have more than one type of top, you’ll need more than one type of bra. A good t-shirt bra and sports bra are essential for everyday wear. A bra with convertible straps is very useful, as it can be worn as a cross-back, halter, one-shoulder, or strapless bra, as well as in the basic style. Bra-fitting pros can introduce you to styles you may not have previously considered.
Panties are an important wardrobe staple. Size is a major consideration when shopping for panties. For proper fit, measure your waist with a tape measure, then measure your hips in the fullest area. Choose your panties based on what you plan to wear over them. An everyday panty should be comfortable and be made out of a fabric that allows your skin to breathe. Formal occasions call for shapewear and seamless styles to avoid panty lines. When wearing light-colored clothing, select panties that are the same color as your skin (not the same color as the clothing). Comfort is key, so look for panties with a cotton crotch. An ideal crotch will fit nicely on your body without squeezing your private parts.
Sleek body shapers eliminate panty lines and unsightly bulges. These aren’t your grandma’s girdles! Shapewear typically includes multi-layer control panels with different levels of control. Biker shorts have a full panty and legs to just above the knee, for a firm bottom and a shapely waist. This is a great choice to wear with slacks. A body brief resembles a one-piece swimsuit and delivers a nice overall shape. It has built-in breast cups and is a perfect choice for dresses or close-fitting tops. A shaping “dress” is a good option for providing full body control under a dress or a skirt and top. It’s great for minimizing thighs.
Control briefs feature a tummy control panel and go well with shorter skirts and flat-front pants. High-waisted briefs help eliminate a line at the waist. A waist cincher is a modern-day corset that creates a classic hour-glass figure. Camisoles add an aspect of sex appeal and sometimes have built-in bras for a flattering appearance under form-fitting tops. The most important thing to remember when selecting shapewear is to choose your actual size, not the size you wish you could wear. Selecting a size that’s too small will only make you more uncomfortable.
Once considered a necessity, the slip fell out of favor for years, but it seems to be making a comeback. If you’re outside wearing a sheer skirt, you don’t want to show off your underwear. In addition to providing modesty, slips help smooth lines of clingy fabric and protect the skin from scratchy, unlined fabric. Many full slips have built-in bras, eliminating the need for separate pieces. A great deal of today’s dresses have sewn-in liners but will ride up with your dress as you move. A good slip will allow a dress to drape properly on the body, as well as eliminate any panty lines.
Select your undergarments as carefully as you select your outfits. If you follow this protocol, you’re sure to achieve a perfect look with maximum comfort.
Sources for this article included: whowhatwear.com, stylecraze.com, and becomegorgeous.com.
By Loretta McCollum
New Year, New Start
Do you know what’s so terrific about a new year? I feel like it gives us all a mulligan from the year before. If you’re not a golfer, let me explain the term “mulligan.” In golf played just for fun, a player is allowed an extra stroke after a poor shot. It’s not counted on the scorecard. It’s a do-over. I don’t know about you, but I could use a do-over from 2020!
“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” — Carl Bard
Having the opportunity to make a brand new ending is exhilarating to me. When New Year’s Day 2021 dawns, and 2020 is behind us, I hope we all pat ourselves on the back. Let’s give ourselves kudos for hanging in there, utilizing humor, and surviving.
“Life is not about how you survive the storm, it’s how you dance in the rain.” — Anonymous
I have learned a lot in the past year. I have learned how to be more compassionate. I have learned how to laugh when all I wanted to do was cry. I have learned to see others’ points of view. I have learned how helpful it can be to relieve stress by yelling out loud in my car, when I’m all alone and the windows are closed. I have learned how to smile with my eyes when no one can see my mouth. I have learned that everyone has their own challenges, some of which I cannot imagine being able to face. I have learned how gratitude for everyone in my life has brought me through 2020.
“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” — Zig Ziglar
My wishes for 2021?
“More smiling, less worrying. More compassion, less judgment. More blessed, less stressed. More love, less hate.” — Roy T. Bennett, “The Light in the Heart”
I have always defined myself as an optimist. Just like you, I have experienced a lot of challenges in my life. 2020 was a doozie. The good news, though? We truly were all in this together. Perhaps you disagreed with your spouse, your boss, your neighbor, your family, or your friends on the best way to “fix” it all. That’s okay—we all have the right to make our own choices. The bottom line, though, is that as a collective nation, a collective world, we’ve all been there. Hopefully, we will be able to find common ground in 2021, support one another, and come out shining on the other end. I believe we can!
“Every day brings new choices.” — Martha Beck
By Janet Van deWalle
Let the Past Reveal the Present
We’re rapidly approaching a new year! Have you made any resolutions? Think about what IS instead of what ISN’T. Going through your life is like going through your closet. Take the time to decide what you want to keep, what you want to discard, and what you want to change.
It seems most of us make our annual resolutions by changing things…or by trying to. We resolve to lose weight, exercise more, and eat better. That works for a while, but it is so easy to lapse back into our old ways. We resolve to go through the closet and get rid of clothes that don’t fit or that we don’t wear anymore. Then we decide we really like that jacket, or that when we lose weight, those jeans will fit again. We decide to hang on to the old, and that negates our efforts to change. Instead of forcing change, take some time to think over the past year. Determine what has been good and resolve to build on that.
Early last spring, I had reason, opportunity, and time to delve into our families’ (Adams, Schiltz, Shoemaker, and Vercoe) ancestors. Ultimately, I traced all four families back to Europe in the 1600s. It was exciting to find out where our families originated.
Fortunately, my grandparents were still around when I was growing up. Mom’s family had developed a family tree back to 1872. Mom and her sisters talked about family members I hadn’t met; I was never sure where they fit because both of her parents had the same last name.
I knew Dad’s family but didn’t know anything about their ancestors, background, or extended family. We seldom got to visit them. When we lived on the west coast, they were in Minnesota; when they lived in California, we lived in the Midwest. I wish we’d had more time together.
My husband’s grandmothers were still alive when we married. He had the opportunity to do some family research in the Mormon-run genealogical library in Salt Lake City. Cliff copied some pages from a book titled “Shoemaker Pioneers” that referred to his ancestors. We later obtained a copy of the book and documented his father’s family to the 1800s. We weren’t as fortunate with his mother’s side of the family.
My resolution this year is to try to fill in some details and assemble pictures. The kids remind me to label EVERYTHING I find. There are albums from Mom’s family, some photos from Dad’s, and several unidentified photos from my in-laws. Unfortunately, no one is alive to help with identification, though I’ve run across some family correspondence that might help.
I wish I had the opportunity to do more listening. Pay attention when older members of your family gather and tell stories. That’s your past they’re talking about. That past is how we got to the present.
Editor’s Note: Marge has three children, two grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews. She holds advanced degrees in education. Her life’s mission is to teach everyone that kids are people, too.
By Marge Shoemaker, BS, MS
Interiors By Design
Family Entertainment Rooms
High Style Meets At-Home Fun
Over the past year, we’ve become a nation of homebodies. Our homes have served as safe havens, home offices, gyms, even classrooms. With families spending more time together than ever before, there’s a growing desire for at-home recreation and entertainment spaces—rooms designed just for having fun! Whether it’s a game room, media room, or recreation room, the good news is you don’t necessarily need an entire basement or bonus room. With a little planning and creative thinking, any unused space can become just the kind of room you’ve been missing. Check out the following tips for creating a stylish and functional fun area for family board games, kids’ movies, or an adults-only place to unwind. Look out—you may never want to leave home again!
Watching movies together has always been an important part of family life. Imagine sound and picture quality that rivals a commercial theater, right in the comfort of your own home! Transform a spare room into a designated movie room equipped with a projector and screen, ambient lighting, and professional sound. The experts at your local home theater store can guide you through choosing a surround sound system or a fully engineered home theater system…and they can install it for you, too. For a premium viewing experience, consider tiered seating to enjoy unparalleled comfort while screening movies, video games, and TV.
If space is limited, you can convert your existing TV room into a home theater. A wall-mounted HDTV offers great picture quality but is often equipped with low-quality speakers. If you’ve become accustomed to understanding dialogue only with the help of subtitles or by cranking up the volume, you’re missing out on half of what makes HDTV so great! Transform your HDTV experience to movie theater level with a sound bar or surround sound system.
A fun and stylish entertainment room lets gaming take center stage. What better way to set the tone for an enjoyable evening of friendly competition than with the powerful crack of an opening break on a beautiful pool table? When choosing a pool table, size matters. Generally speaking, the tables you’d see in a bar are seven-foot tables, while pro tables are nine feet long. While the bigger table gives a superior playing experience, smaller tables are ideal for tighter spaces. Keep in mind that there must be adequate space around all sides for players to shoot.
Maximize the fun factor by adding multipurpose tables that play multiple roles. Cleverly designed pool tables that convert to table tennis or even a dining table are becoming increasingly popular as people look to optimize space in their homes. Handmade, vintage, or one-of-a-kind shuffleboard or card tables add visual interest while creating an instant conversation piece. Spotlight whichever game you’re playing with eye-catching light fixtures.
If you’re lucky enough to have a large attic or open basement, consider turning it into a combo multipurpose room with zones for movie watching, gaming, exercising, and sitting by a crackling fireplace or chic bar. Transform a blank wall into a rock climbing challenge for kids and add a bar area for relaxing or popcorn-making. Darts is one of the fun games that kids and adults of all ages can enjoy together. LED scoring systems and lighting make dart playing easy. Check electronic game stores to find gaming options from beginner to advanced, including electronic systems that use a conical catch design to catch darts reliably and safely.
Today’s video gaming offers lots of choices. Gamers of all ages who revel in action-packed video games can sharpen their skills on the big screen or even on freestanding arcade games. Players who prefer less combat can choose from games that allow players to run, walk, climb, or build at their own pace. Specially designed gaming chairs provide a great view of the screen. Some are even equipped with headrest speakers, bringing the sound right to your ears.
If limited space has you struggling to choose between a kid’s playroom and a family entertainment room, one space can act as both with the installation of smart storage systems. Family entertainment rooms are an opportunity to introduce more playful elements. Lively colors, fun lighting, and wall hangings like vintage tennis racquets, game equipment, or Hollywood prints create an easy-going atmosphere made for relaxing and having fun. Last but not least, choose inviting luxe seating in durable fabrics to stand up to the added wear and tear.
For families in search of new and exciting ways to while away the hours at home, you’re all set to have some fun. Grab your favorite beverage and let the games begin!
Sources for this article included: consumerreports.org, mymove.com, and familyleisure.com.
By Robyn V. Powell
Get Your Life Sorted Out
With all the time we’ve been spending at home with all of our stuff lately, we may have had the opportunity to notice all the items and clothes lying around that can be categorized as straight-up clutter. Fortunately, that’s nothing a little organization can’t fix!
Of course, that’s easier said than done, but the reward isn’t just a cleaner-looking home. Science says that a clean house can actually improve your health and state of mind! Multiple studies have proven that clutter around the house makes it harder to focus on tasks and that people living in a messy home are more likely to suffer from depression and fatigue. One study at Indiana University showed that residents with clean houses were both physically healthier and more active than residents with messy homes.
One of the easiest places to start your organization journey is in your closet. Set aside a block of time to work. Start by emptying your entire closet and giving it a good scrub-down. Before putting anything back, examine each item and decide whether you want to keep it or set it aside to discard or donate.
If you’re having trouble deciding what to keep, ask yourself some questions. Would I buy this today? Does this fit my current lifestyle? When did I wear this last, and will I wear this again? If you’ve only ever worn something once or it no longer fits correctly, it’s probably time to get rid of it. To keep your closet more manageable going forward, consider getting rid of an old item for every new piece of clothing you purchase. A trick to help identify which items you’re not wearing is turning the hangers the other way on items you’ve just worn.
After conquering the closet, it’s time to turn your new resolve toward other parts of the house. Next up: the kitchen. You probably have some items in your kitchen that can be easily thrown in the bin. Things like plastic silverware, condiment packets, mismatched Tupperware, and expired food items can be chucked immediately. You can also go through your kitchen gadgets and identify any novelty items that only serve a single purpose. If they aren’t used often (or ever), it may be time to pass them on to someone who will use them regularly.
In your home office, look for old newspapers, dried-out pens, orphaned power cords, and expired coupons—all of these can be thrown out without a second thought. Scan your old greeting cards to make digital files and then recycle the cardstock. Old cell phones can be recycled or donated to causes like Cell Phones for Soldiers. Receipts for large purchases or tax-deductible items are worth saving. Anything else can be thrown in the recycling.
You’ll undoubtedly come across family mementos and keepsakes. These can be tough to sort and organize, since they often have sentimental value, even if they’re not in great condition. A good rule of thumb is to keep only the things that have a specific story or memory attached to them or only items that you’re willing to make the effort to archive properly. Keeping your mementos clearly documented and sorted will go a long way toward preventing your family from having to go through a chaotic mess of shoeboxes stuffed with photos and art projects in the future.
If you can’t seem to get started or have reached a plateau, call in a pro! Professional organizers offer decision-making support, help you properly discard unwanted items, and even build new systems to help you keep your home organized going forward. Hiring a professional organizer might seem like an unnecessary expense for what could be a weekend DIY, but let’s face it—it’s going to take longer than a weekend. Professional organizers can really be worth the cost when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Maybe you’ve just been through a divorce, had a new baby, suffered a death in the family, or become an empty nester. In many cases, it helps to consult someone who is not emotionally tied to the space or items.
Once you’ve cleared out everything you don’t need, you come to the task of organizing everything you want to keep. Installing cabinets or shelves can help eliminate future clutter in your home office, entertainment room, or storage spaces. Converting an unfinished basement into a living space is trendy, but don’t forget to build storage closets and cabinets into the design. Hiring a carpenter or cabinet company to install new storage systems in your home is the easiest way to go—some companies offer free in-home consultations.
As we approach another year filled with unknowns, let’s control what we can! Get peace of mind and a healthy start from a well-organized home.
Sources for this article included: psychologytoday.com, dumpsters.com, thespruce.com, and nytimes.com.
By Anne Yankus
To Your Good Health
2021 Has Arrived!
Did Your Fitness Routine Get Left Behind?
No one will disagree that 2020 has been a difficult year. Between quarantines, gym closures, streaming services, and comfort food, has your weight surged as your exercise habits dwindled? If you gained what some are calling “the COVID 15,” you’re not alone. Don’t beat yourself up! Commit yourself to a healthier routine in 2021.
How can you get a fitness routine going when the pandemic is still a serious concern? Here’s a hint: Start slow and choose to make time for fitness. Focus on finding a fitness routine that is right for you—one that keeps you interested, that challenges you, and that does not cause injury. The reward is long-term good health, and you need to find a way to keep your eyes on the prize!
When January comes around, many of us tend to focus on dieting. While it’s important to eat healthy, a highly restrictive diet that focuses on deprivation can set you up for failure. This year, focus on adding instead of subtracting—adding to your fitness routine, whether you’re starting from zero or from a fairly active routine already. Make changes that will contribute to a positive long-term health journey.
It’s important to start slow, especially if you have a medical condition, if you have joint or muscle weakness, or if you just haven’t exercised in a while. Decide in advance what you’d like to focus on—this is a vital part of choosing a fitness routine. If you want to increase your heart health, a cardio program might be a good fit. If you’re looking to build muscle tone and core strength, you may want to focus on weight training. Any type of exercise at all will promote weight loss simply because you’re expending more energy as you move.
One good way to start slow is with a focused strength-training program like SuperSlow Zone. This international franchise offers twice-weekly personalized sessions of high-intensity, low-impact weight training that produces safe results without a lot of sweat and with a low risk of injury. During the sessions, an instructor sets the machines and supervises your form, making injury even less likely.
Cardiovascular exercise is designed to maximize the amount of oxygen in your blood and increase your heart rate. Cardio can be as simple as walking, dancing, or riding a bike. It can also be more involved, like swimming, taking an aerobics class, or running. What is important to remember is to start slow and build up. Over time, you will achieve benefits like strengthening your heart and muscles, burning calories, controlling your appetite, boosting your mood, and reducing arthritis pain and stiffness. Cardiovascular exercise is part of the management of many common medical conditions, like high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
If you need some fitness guidance, consider working with a personal trainer. A personal trainer can design a fitness program for you, encourage you to keep it up, and make you’re exercising in a safe way that will guide you toward the results you want. A personal trainer can do one-on-one training sessions in your home or office, or you can meet at a gym or fitness studio. When considering personal trainers, be sure to check their credentials. Personal trainers should have some level of nationally recognized certification; have a four-year degree in physiology, exercise science, or a related field; and be certified in CPR, AED, and first aid.
I recently took an informal poll at work to learn about my colleagues’ fitness plans. One coworker, in her 30s, schedules weight training and cardio workout times to ensure she gets to the gym three or four times a week, no matter how busy she is with her young family. A coworker in her 40s was so impressed with Pilates that she became certified in Pilates herself and has her own reformer at home; another has joined SuperSlow Zone to gain strength and learn how to fit exercise into her weekly routine. A younger coworker walks her dog daily and enjoys regular Jazzercise classes. I get my cardio from walking on the treadmill while watching an hour-long show and from being the one who struggles in Pure Barre. I may not be top of the class, but I keep going because I love it—and that’s what it’s all about!
This variety just goes to show that adding regular exercise is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The key to making fitness a long-term part of your life is finding what works best for you. This year has been about staying home and staying safe. Let’s make 2021 about finding fitness for life!
Sources for this article included: mayoclinic.org, healthline.com, and cancer.org.
By Leslie Byrne
Focus On Finance
The Birth of the Robo-Advisor
One Size Does Not Fit All
Now, more than at any time in our history, the American public has a vested interest in what transpires on Wall Street. Due to changes in the way we fund our retirement years, as well as decades of rising stock prices, everyday American citizens now own more than $18 trillion in common stock, much of it in self-directed retirement accounts. Novice investors are generally responsible for deciding how most of those assets are to be invested. They can no longer sit idly by and rely on others to make the decisions that will determine the quality of their golden years.
For some, this may seem like an unsurmountable task. They believe that successful investing requires skills and experience that they lack. They should not despair. Along with the changes in the ownership of and responsibility for retirement funds, there have been changes in the financial services industry and in the infrastructure that supports it…changes that allow ordinary citizens to successfully manage their own assets.
As a partial solution to this dilemma, the financial services industry has developed a product called the robo-advisor. Robo-advisors are computer programs that provide online investment advice and portfolio management with minimal human intervention (or none at all). They make investment choices based on mathematical rules or models. One approach is to allocate one portion of an investor’s assets to stocks and another portion to bonds. Other models pick sectors of the economy that they predict will do better than others and invest in the likely winners. Almost 100 percent of these programs utilize actively managed mutual funds and exchange-traded index funds in their allocation process.
Robo-advisor services are available to the investing public through several venues. They originated with the discount brokers but, over the years, have migrated to other providers, including full-service brokers and insurance companies. The major difference between discount brokerage firms and full-service firms is that discount firms allow their clients to buy and sell stocks and mutual funds online, without broker participation and at a reduced commission rate. The full-service brokerage firms assign their clients to a specific broker who makes trades for them and charges a significantly higher fee.
Robo-advisors are more popular among affluent younger investors than they are among their older counterparts. About half of investors younger than 40 years who have significant portfolio balances use a robo-advisor. Among investors with similar portfolio values who fall into the 60 and over age bracket, participation drops to less than 20 percent.
Automated investing is struggling to resonate with less affluent consumers of all ages. Overall, only eight percent of American households have money managed by a robo-advisor. It’s worth mentioning, however, that the rate of use of a robo-advisor among the least experienced investors is close to impossible to estimate. When asked if they use a robo-advisor, members of this group with both large and small accounts are unsure whether or not their account is managed by a robo-advisor.
Based on my decades of experience as an investment advisor and as an academic, I have an issue with the way that brokers assign specific robo-advisor models to their clients and prospects. When clients enroll in a robo program, the common practice is to have them answer about 20 questions to determine the investment mix that best matches their needs and temperament. To me, this is a bit like using a questionnaire to choose a marriage partner. The client is probably unfamiliar with the potential investment choices; thus, the process is biased toward choices that favor the broker’s situation more than the client’s needs.
Another problematic issue with the robo-advisor approach is that a computer program does all the work while the broker can charge an ongoing fee that is based on the balance in the account. Of course, there is nothing wrong with a broker charging a fee, as long as the fee is commensurate with the value the client receives in return. With a robo-advisor 401(k) plan, investors continually add dollars to their account while brokers can sit idly by, watching their fees continue to grow.
If you are one of the millions of Americans with a self-directed retirement account, there are dozens of options available to you, and one size does not fit all. Before enrolling in a robo program, do your homework to make sure that the one you select is your size. A robo-advisor can’t do anything for you until it knows what you want it to do.
Editor’s Note: Professor Morgan has over 40 years’ experience in the investment field, both as a university professor and as a financial advisor. He currently serves on the faculty at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where he directs a program designed to educate 401(k) plan participants on how to improve their investment strategy.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investments may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing.
By George Morgan
Seasons of Life
Home Health Care
Get the Care You Need at Home
More than ever, seniors are opting to stay in their own homes as they age. Eventually, many of them may need some support with daily tasks in order to remain in the environment they love. People of any age may need specialized care to recover at home after a serious illness or injury. Fortunately, home health agencies are available to meet these needs.
Home health agencies provide such services as skilled nursing, restorative therapies, and medical social services for patients recovering after hospitalization or in case of chronic illness. For non-medical needs, licensed care providers help with such things as personal care, housekeeping, meal prep, and transportation.
Health professionals recognize the importance of skilled care after hospitalization. No matter where patients live while skilled care is provided, recovery times are reduced and re-hospitalizations decline. If around-the-clock medical care is needed, then a bed in a skilled nursing facility may be necessary. However, in many instances, a patient can recover at home with the intermittent skilled care provided by a home health agency.
Social interaction is also essential to health and well-being. Those recovering at home or dealing with serious chronic illness can benefit from personal interaction with professional caregivers. Non-medical assistance provides companionship and human contact, as well.
Home health care made it possible for my brother to convalesce at home after extensive surgery. Family provided a large part of his care, supplemented by several visits each week from health care professionals. Medical equipment, oxygen, and medications were delivered to his home. He enjoyed a high degree of freedom and frequent visits from kids and grandkids who live nearby.
Recovery from surgery is not the only reason a person might need home health care. Rehab after a heart attack or stroke may call for assistance at home. A registered nurse or licensed practical nurse may provide direct care, including operating medical equipment, administering medications, caring for wounds, or administering treatment. They often oversee care given by licensed nursing assistants or certified nursing assistants.
Some people with chronic illnesses like heart and lung conditions can also benefit from in-home medical care. In addition to skilled nursing, patients may require physical therapy or occupational therapy. Speech therapy may be ordered after a stroke. Besides skilled nursing, some will also need the services of home health aides, who monitor physical and mental condition, assist with dressing and bathing, and may do light housekeeping and prepare meals.
Certain requirements must be met for Medicare or other insurance to pay for in-home services. Generally, following a hospitalization and on the recommendation of a physician, Medicare will pay for intermittent (not 24/7) skilled nursing, therapies, and other health care services that are reasonable and necessary. If one is eligible for skilled care, then non-medical care and medical social services may be covered, as well. The agency providing services must be Medicare-certified.
It is important to understand the distinction between non-medical home care and home health care. Some seniors may be in good general health but require non-medical support so they can remain in their own home. Non-medical caregivers may provide help with personal care, light housework, meals, or companionship. Perhaps they offer transportation or grocery shopping. Home health care, on the other hand, employs health care professionals, including nurses, nursing assistants, therapists, and health aides. It is typically part-time and short-term. People can often receive home health care in conjunction with non-medical home care, but the caregivers are different.
Skilled care will often be arranged through a hospital or physician. However, if you need to find these services for a loved one, seek out recommendations from family or colleagues. Compare agencies online. Look for Medicare certification if that is relevant. Arrange a consultation. Ask about screening for staff, experience, back-up care, liability insurance, and flexibility if needs should change.
Licensed agencies provide non-medical services and companion care in many locations. Assess needs so you can find a good fit. Will support be needed for a few hours daily or on a more intermittent schedule? Perhaps your senior has specific issues such as limited mobility or memory loss. Ideally, a caregiver with experience in the relevant area will be assigned.
Home health care is a boon after surgery, illness, or injury. Family members may not have the skills needed for proper care or may be unable to commit the time that is required. It is reassuring to know your loved one is getting professional care, will experience a smoother recovery, and can maintain freedom and independence.
Sources for this article included: seniorcare.com, aarp.org, and medicare.gov.
By Linda Barnes
Depression and Anxiety
You Never Have to Walk Alone
The pandemic has everyone feeling a bit off-kilter, at best. For some, it has been an opportunity to connect with family at home or discover a passion for creative projects. For many, however, the isolation has set off or worsened a period of depression, leading to despondency, lethargy, and hopelessness. The experience is different for everyone. For you, perhaps the novelty of being at home waned long ago, and in its place is a feeling of being utterly trapped. Now that winter has set in and the days are short, the lack of natural light can also contribute to these feelings.
Depression can be described as a sustained general melancholy with loss of energy, focus, and interest in activities that used to bring pleasure. At its most severe, it can lead to persistent suicidal thoughts. Anxiety disorders can also lead to loss of focus and interest in once-loved activities. The terrifying fears of an anxiety disorder are paralyzing and isolating and can lead to withdrawal in much the same way that sadness can.
If you suffer from depression, know that you are not alone. It is the most common mental illness in the United States; millions of Americans struggle with depression every year. It is also highly treatable, though only 40 percent of those affected seek help. Thankfully, resources are available to help us re-pattern our behavior, putting one foot in front of the other toward a life of joy and fulfillment.
Current research indicates that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. To counter depressive tendencies coming from so many different angles, our therapeutic approach must be equally diverse.
Find a mental health counselor to evaluate your depression and help you create a comprehensive plan. The plan should include talk therapy but might also include medication, dietary changes, exercise, sufficient sleep, meditation, hypnotherapy, and alternative therapies like EMDR (eye movement desensitization and processing), light therapy, scent therapy, or TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation).
Perhaps unfamiliar to some, EMDR therapy involves rapid eye movement patterns that are guided by a practitioner’s moving hand or by moving lights. The optic nerve then stimulates the area of the brain that may be clinging to unresolved trauma. TMS uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerves in the part of the brain that regulates mood. This procedure is typically done when other forms of therapy have been ineffective.
In general, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and olive oil and low in animal products has been associated with a decreased risk of depression. Poor diet may be both a cause and an effect of depression, so a conscious effort must usually be made to reverse the cycle. A licensed dietician can be an important asset, providing specific steps in the right direction.
Movement and exercise are vital to lift depression. Moving your body can be as simple as setting a timer to periodically remind yourself to stretch and change location. Try spending a little time outside; natural light plays an important role in mood regulation. If you’re feeling more ambitious, exercise videos are available online. Consider joining a gym or fitness studio, and feel free to ask what accommodations have been made to keep clients healthy. Many facilities have added online classes and personal training.
Restorative yoga can be a particularly therapeutic form of movement. The practice can be easily modified to support changing moods, energy levels, even the season of the year! Yoga also incorporates meditation. Mindfulness and meditation encourage individuals to assess their current state and release anxiety without judgment.
Hypnotherapists serve as an external guide for the practice of mindfulness and meditation. While patients are in a relaxed and receptive state, hypnotherapists make suggestions to replace negative patterns with healthier thoughts and behaviors.
The pandemic has resulted in a sharp increase in alcohol and drug use. Drugs disrupt the chemical composition of the brain, preventing it from regulating emotions. What initially seems like a carefree solution for the monotony becomes a recipe for misery. Communicate honestly with your healthcare providers about alcohol and drug use.
How are clinical depression and anxiety different from normal stretches of feeling down? Ultimately, each of us must determine that threshold for ourselves. These are serious but treatable biochemical illnesses. Climbing out of depression or anxiety takes time and persistence, but you never have to journey alone.
If you or someone you love is having suicidal thoughts, seek immediate help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255. If you suspect alcohol or drug use has become a problem for you or someone you love, help is available at 800-662-HELP(4357).
Sources for this article included: hopefordepression.org, adaa.org, bbrfoundation.org, and health.harvard.edu.
By Maria Harding
Tips for Collision Repair
Chances are decent that even the most defensive driver will be part of an accident eventually; there are approximately six million auto accidents in the United States every year. In many cases, drivers and passengers emerge from auto accidents without a scratch, thanks in part to modern safety features that reduce the likelihood and severity of crashes. It’s great to escape a crash unscathed, but our vehicles are often not so lucky. If your vehicle sustains damage in a collision, it’s important to get it repaired right away.
The first step to getting your vehicle repaired is filing a claim with your insurance company. This process can vary depending on your insurance, but it’s usually pretty simple—likely a phone call or filling out a form on the company’s website.
The next step is choosing an auto body shop to repair your vehicle. Your insurance company will likely have preferred auto body shops that are referred to as “in network.” While you are not required to use a recommended shop, you should consider it. You may pay a lower price, since recommended shops likely have a deal with insurance companies. Shops may also prioritize their insurance partner’s customers, which can lead to speedier service.
On the other hand, if you haven’t used the recommended shops in the past, you’re taking a risk on an unfamiliar mechanic. Choosing your own mechanic may mean a higher price (or lengthier negotiation), since they may not have a contract with your insurer, but you get the peace of mind that comes with the care and attention of your own trusted providers. Either way, it’s always smart to get estimates from two or three repair shops before you decide which one to use.
No matter what repair shop you use, there’s no getting around the fact that auto body repair is not cheap. There are several reasons for this. The first reason for the high expense is patents. Most auto body parts, such as grilles, fenders, and auto body trim, are patented by the manufacturer for a certain number of years. As the only available producers of the replacement part, these manufacturers can essentially charge as much as they want. (This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re price-gouging; after all, their profits pay for developing new vehicle technology.)
The second reason auto repair is expensive is more obvious—the cost of labor and overhead. It can take a considerable amount of time to replace a part on a vehicle, depending on where it is located. It can also require highly specialized tools, especially on newer vehicles that tend to have more and more complicated parts. Technicians need to be trained and experienced to use these tools properly. The cost of the labor and the cost of these tools and parts increase the cost that gets passed on to the driver (you).
The third reason is that parts on cars have become more specialized and technical, including things like lane departure alerts, inactive cruise control, vehicle stability control, and more. Simply put, complicated parts tend to cost more…and their repair and installation is more complicated, too.
Finally, auto technicians have to comply with environmental regulations and waste disposal fees. Some shops pass these costs on to the customer. Others try to find ways to offset them, like separating hazardous and nonhazardous waste, minimizing cleanup waste, using less volatile cleaners, and using coverings to reduce the need for cleaning.
No collision repair overview would be complete without a mention of paintless dent repair. Occasionally, you may spot a dent on your vehicle that you don’t feel is worth fixing. Ignore this impulse! Dents can lower resale value and can be the initial injury that leads to rust and corrosion. Paintless dent repair can be a great option. It is done by removing the affected area or panel and then applying continuous pressure (using specialized tools) to both sides to work out the dent. It doesn’t involve replacing or repainting any of the parts.
Paintless dent repair is one of the quickest, most effective, and most environmentally friendly ways to address minor body damage on a vehicle. Most people pay out of pocket for this type of repair. Some insurance companies cover it, but since the repair itself likely costs only a couple hundred dollars, it’s not often worth it to make a claim and risk raising your rates.
Collision repair is a pain, but we’re all likely to face it sooner or later. If you don’t already have a preferred mechanic, start looking for one now! It’s easier to make an informed decision when you’re not shaken from an accident and looking for a ride home.
Sources for this article included: driverknowledge.com, driving.ca, nsc.org, and automoblog.net.
By Brennan Hallock
The Good Life
Big-Time Services, Small-Town Service
Think for a moment about what you like about your bank. What comes to mind? Location? Convenience? Services? Many people assume that large banking institutions provide more services than small, local banks. However, small banks are competitive and offer some unique benefits. Locally-owned banks are invested in their community and their customers. They are interested in maintaining these relationships—after all, most of their core deposits come from local sources, and many of their loans are to local businesses and customers. If you like shopping local and supporting your community, local banking may be a good option for you.
Local banks often offer many of the same services as their larger counterparts. Core services include checking and savings accounts, credit cards, debit cards, certificates of deposit (CDs), lines of credit, and loans. Certificates of deposit are savings accounts that earn interest on a fixed amount of money for a specific period of time. Lines of credit differ from traditional loans in that a borrower can borrow against a particular credit amount for a set amount of time. Lines of credit are often used for things such as long-term projects, educational expenses, loan consolidation, and emergencies. Traditional loans might include mortgages and home equity, personal, and small business loans. Other bank offerings may include safe deposit boxes and investment services.
In addition to providing a wide variety of competitive services, local banks also have intangible benefits. A smaller setting allows for more personalized service. Community bankers and their staff often take pride in getting to know their customers to better meet their needs. Being community-based, local banks have greater availability of loans. For example, they may offer specialized loans for agriculture and businesses or be more willing to provide a small business loan to existing customers who want to start a local business. When extending credit, small banks consider local knowledge and the customer’s banking relationship in their decision. Because local banks are not dealing with larger banks’ drawn-out processes and procedures, loan officers can make quicker decisions. These banks also have more flexibility with account or service fees and loan rates.
When choosing a bank, make sure it is FDIC-insured. The FDIC (Federal Insurance Deposit Corporation), an independent federal agency established in 1933, protects customer deposits. If a bank fails, insured deposits are protected by the United States government up to $250,000, per depositor, per FDIC-insured bank. It’s important to note that only certain accounts are insured, including checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit, and money market deposit accounts. Examples of items not covered by FDIC insurance include investment products such as stocks and bonds, mutual funds, annuities, and life insurance policies.
Mobile banking is an integral part of the banking experience for many consumers. Most competitive banks offer this service, enabling customers to conduct transactions through an app on a phone or tablet. The ability to deposit checks, transfer money between accounts, pay bills, locate ATMs, and receive alerts remotely is convenient and saves time. Keep in mind that mobile services vary among banks—ask questions to ensure the app meets your needs. Additionally, ask for a demonstration to see how the app works.
There are other conveniences to consider when selecting a bank. Is the location convenient for you, and do the hours work for your schedule? Location and hours are especially important if you like to conduct business in person. Are ATMs available where you need them for after-hours banking? Getting these answers before you open an account will alleviate potential frustration after the fact.
You should also review the bank’s account policies. For example, are there minimum balance requirements? If so, be sure that you can maintain that balance. What happens if your balance falls below the required minimum? Ask about recurring fees related to checking or savings accounts, limits on the number of transactions allowed per month, and account overdraft fees. Banks often waive these types of fees if customers maintain specific deposit amounts. Local banks may offer more free accounts and charge lower or fewer fees. Does the bank offer overdraft protection? If you want to write checks or have a debit card, make sure the account you’re interested in provides those benefits. Ask if the bank offers interest-earning or rewards checking accounts.
If your national bank doesn’t provide the personalized attention that a smaller environment can offer, visit a local bank. You may find that you can get all of the services you need, develop a mutually beneficial long-term relationship, and support your community, all at the same time.
Sources for this article included: thebalance.com, bankbound.com, fdic.gov, forbes.com, and investor.gov.
By Angella A. Arndt
Hawaii's Best Friend
For some American travelers, Hawaii is one of the first major flights or vacations they take. You feel far away because you are in a completely different, tropical destination, unlike anything on the mainland, but you don’t need a passport! It’s captivating, it’s beautiful, and most people would love to go back. This month, I’m recommending Maui as the Hawaiian island of choice. Here are some ideas of what you can experience as a first-timer or a repeat visitor to the island. Bring your family along and experience island life on Maui!
If you’ve never been to Maui before, the first things that may pop into your mind about the island are the beautiful beaches and clear, blue waters. You would be absolutely right! Beach holidays give travelers the opportunity to bask in the sun, beachcomb, picnic, swim, and surf the waves.
If someone in your group enjoys windsurfing or kitesurfing, Maui is a prime destination. Want to try snorkeling for the first time? Head over to Molokini Island, where there is plenty of ocean life to see, from vibrant tropical fish to turtles to even whales! Whale-watching is huge on Maui, and it’s something you simply must try if you come during the right season (generally, December through May). Land activities include driving up to the famous (but dormant) volcano Haleakala. Check out the sunrise on Maui’s highest peak and then ride downhill by bike.
A trip to Maui is not complete unless you have driven the road to Hana (a town on the eastern shore). Wear your bathing suit so you can stop along the way to hop into a swimming hole or under a waterfall—or two, or even three. I’ve heard the road to Hana described as “the only place where you will get sick of seeing waterfalls!” The drive is gorgeous and windy; the bamboo forests and views are scenic and breathtaking. Plan to spend the night in Hana so you don’t have to rush through your day. Don’t forget, there is also the traditional luau—an evening of dance, dinner, and entertainment that you won’t want to miss. Those who already have one trip to Hawaii under their belts may think they know what they want to do on their next visit. Some are all for just relaxing at a luxury resort, and Maui is certainly a great place to do that.
Imagine, though, that you’re describing your trip to others when you get back home. Do you want to say, “I just sat on the beach,” or do you want to describe a helicopter ride and farm tours, four-wheeling and mule-riding on a nearby island, or a magnificent golf holiday?
How about some tasting at Maui Wines, where you can sample local pineapple wines? An enjoyable tour of the Ulupalakua Ranch will keep you stocked with a variety of vino for drinking during your trip or taking home as souvenirs. Take a drive over to Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm for a fragrant walking tour, a lavender treasure hunt, or a gourmet lunch. The sights and smells there are sure to make you feel relaxed.
When it’s time to just relax at the beach, you may find it hard to choose one. I asked family and friends who live on Maui what their favorites are. Kids will love Big Beach (Makena State Park), where they can swim-board; White Rock has tide pools to explore; Kamaole Beaches 1, 2, and 3 have calmer waters, great for swimming; and Chang’s Beach is more private. Afterwards, grab a bite or drink at Monkeypod, Cafe O’Lei, or Nalu’s South Shore Grill to end a perfect beach day.
Whatever the case, return to experience more of why Maui is the best of Hawaii. With its beautiful beaches, tropical rainforests, green pastures, and steep rocky cliffs, there is plenty to explore. It will keep you coming back, year after year. Start a family vacation tradition to Maui. I can guarantee that those memories and experiences will be unforgettable and cherished by all. Aloha!
Sources for this article included: gohawaii.com, mauifunexperts.com, and aliikulalavender.com.
By Jackie Williams
The Green Thumb
Weeds, Virtuous Weeds
Give the Plants a Break
Let us imagine it is the first of June. You’ve been diligently toiling in your garden for two months. You wander outside, coffee in hand, to admire your handiwork…only to find some green things that have sprouted overnight and are not supposed to be there. You recoil in horror as you recognize what’s poking out of the ground—weeds! The bane of every gardener’s existence! You race to your garden shed, plotting ways to wage war on these unwelcome invaders. You arm yourself with sprays and potions and prepare to meet the enemy in a battle to the finish. Wait! Before you begin your assault on Mother Nature, you may want to consider some little-known facts about weeds and the part they play in the environment. Are they really all that bad? Perhaps not!
Many plants that we consider to be “weeds” are beneficial and can accomplish several tasks in the yard, including fertilizing the soil, increasing moisture, and acting as a shelter for insects. Why do you want insects in the garden? More insects equals more birds, and who doesn’t want more birds in the yard?
Some weeds can break up compacted soil and control erosion. Weeds grow rather quickly, and their roots can hold soil together. Another positive characteristic of the formidable weed is that it increases the organic matter content of the soil as it grows and then dies. Some weeds collect vital nutrients from the subsoil and bring those nutrients into their leaves. When the leaves die back, they turn into fertilizer for damaged topsoil.
Weeds often seem like the most resilient plants in our gardens, so it only stands to reason that we should try to look at their persistence in a positive way and maybe learn to live with them to some degree. A master gardener can also use weeds as a sort of barometer to diagnose the nutritional balance of the soil by their very presence. Weeds are a great addition to a compost barrel, and we have all heard of dandelion tea and dandelion wine. Let us examine closer some of the benefits of weeds.
The hardy dandelion attracts ladybugs and pollinators that are looking for nectar. Their long and sturdy taproots extend well into the soil, drawing nutrients to the surface. Also, this mighty weed has edible leaves, roots, and flowers that possess highly medicinal attributes. Believe it or not, some people plant them on purpose!
White clover has delicious edible flowers and is sometimes used as a permanent groundcover in fruit orchards. It protects and covers soil and the shallow roots of fruit trees. It tends to show up in soils that are low in nitrogen. This talented, versatile clover can help transfer airborne nitrogen right into the soil.
Purslane is a weed that grows in almost every yard and garden in the country and quickly covers the ground very densely with its succulent leaves. In fact, I have let purslane take over areas where I needed ground cover. Little did I know that it was edible and high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. In Chinese medicine, purslane is used to treat inflammation and some gastrointestinal issues. You see it frequently in sidewalk cracks, but if you want to eat it, you should pick it in your own backyard for sanitary purposes. It has a somewhat sour taste, with hints of lemon.
Another quite common and wonderful weed is the broadleaf plantain (not a banana). It has been used medicinally to cure colds and flu. Nutritionally, it is close to the dandelion, with a nutty flavor. Some people fry the shoots of the plantain in olive oil and serve them in their glorious simplicity. They have nice wide leaves that can serve as a living mulch (as can many weeds).
As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote more than a century ago, a weed is just “a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” As you have just read, some of the weeds in your yard have virtues that have already been discovered! I am not suggesting that you approach your backyard daily with knife and fork or that you let your land be overrun with weeds. What I am promoting here is balance in the garden. We all know that the chemicals used to kill weeds are harmful, and we all know that weeding by hand is back-backing work. So, if there is to be a compromise, why not take a positive view of these volunteers?
Sources for this article included: dianfarmer.com, smilinggardener.com, and onegreenplanet.org.
By Linda Sutherland
New Pet Health Check
Set Your Pet on the Right Path
For many people, the holiday season presents an opportunity to bring a new pet into their family. A new pet can bring great joy to a household, but this exciting adventure also brings new responsibilities. Get your new furry friend started on the right foot by scheduling a pet wellness exam with a veterinarian.
A pet wellness exam is a routine medical exam to ensure that an animal is healthy, much like an annual physical for a human. The vet may ask questions about the pet’s diet, exercise, thirst levels, breathing, behavior, habits, bowel movements and urination, lifestyle, and general health. The vet will also perform a physical examination and make recommendations for preventative care such as nutrition, skin and coat care, joint health, weight management, or dental care.
Just as with humans, vaccinations are an important part of a pet’s good health. All dogs should be vaccinated for canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis, and rabies. Cats need vaccinations for panleukopenia, feline calicivirus, feline herpesvirus type I, and rabies. The vet will be able to make specific recommendations about when your pet should receive each vaccine.
The vet will consult with you about parasite control for your pet. This includes preventative treatments for fleas and ticks. While it’s always best to consult with a vet about the appropriate product for each individual pet, there are many preventative flea control products available. These include both prescription and over-the-counter formulas, many of which also kill ticks and prevent future infestation. In addition to recommending the right products for your pet, the vet will also advise the proper schedule for treatment.
New pets will also likely need preventative care for heartworm, a serious disease spread by mosquitoes that results in severe lung disease, heart failure, other organ damage, and even death. In the United States, the disease is most common along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and along the Mississippi River, but cases have been reported in dogs in all 50 states.
The good news is that heartworm disease is not contagious, so your pet cannot contract the disease from being near an infected animal. The even better news is that the disease is completely preventable. Professionals advise that an animal should be tested for heartworms before starting heartworm prevention. Most preventative products are given monthly, either as a topical liquid applied on the skin or as an oral tablet.
Chances are, the vet will also talk about spaying or neutering your new pet (if the pet is not already altered). This is because spayed and neutered cats and dogs generally live longer and healthier lives. A contributor to this increased longevity is the reduced risk of certain types of cancers. In addition, altered pets don’t contribute to overpopulation.
Most vets will recommend that cats be altered before five months of age. Female dogs and small breed male dogs should also be spayed or neutered before five months of age. For large breed male dogs who are house pets, it is typically recommended that neutering occurs after growth stops (between 12 and 15 months) because of orthopedic concerns.
Another important point that might be discussed during the first wellness visit is microchipping. This is a safety precaution that many vets recommend. When a lost animal is found and taken to a shelter or veterinary clinic, one of the first things employees do is scan the animal for a microchip. If the information connected to the microchip is accurate, the clinic can quickly find the pet’s owner. Microchipping an animal involves injecting a small electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder under the animal’s skin. Anesthesia is not required for this simple procedure. In fact, it’s so simple that a microchip can be implanted during any routine veterinary office visit—there’s no need to schedule a separate appointment.
If you haven’t had pets before, start your search for a veterinarian by asking local friends and neighbors with pets where they take their animals. A local rescue group or shelter can also make good recommendations. When you visit a vet, you should be prepared for a certain level of rowdiness—after all, you’re entering a building full of animals that don’t know each other. That said, a vet’s office should still seem like a clean, organized, and friendly place.
A positive and trusting relationship with your pet’s veterinarian is a real asset as you dive into pet ownership, starting with the very first appointment. Advice from the vet will help you guide your new pet onto the path of a long and healthy life.
Sources for this article included: aspca.org, avma.org, fda.gov, and humanesociety.org.
By Brie Hellbusch
It's What We Can Do
Well, it’s that time of year again…time for New Year’s resolutions. This year, I’ve decided to get back to basics and make a decision to be positive every single day. I’m the first to admit that this will be more of a challenge than in the past. 2020 has been quite the year. When I wrote this, I smiled, shook my head, and took a deep breath. I’ve been doing that a lot lately—smiling, shaking my head, and taking deep breaths.
“If you woke up breathing, congratulations! You have another chance.”—Andrea Boydston
Maintaining a positive attitude on a daily basis in 2020 has, at times, made me feel like I am being what is known as a Pollyanna, after the unfailingly optimistic character in Eleanor Porter’s 1913 novel.
“There is something about everything that you can be glad about, if you keep hunting long enough to find it. —Eleanor H. Porter, “Pollyanna”
My idea is this: If I start each day in 2021 with the intent to be positive, I will more quickly find the things to “be glad about.” Never in my life have I started my day on the wrong side of the bed and ended up finding much of anything that I was “glad about.” Positivity attracts good things in our lives. Negativity attracts stuff that doesn’t feel very good. It’s simply the Law of Attraction.
“What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create.” —Buddha
My commitment to myself is to start each day in 2021 with positivity, hopefulness, and joy. I’m anticipating that this will be one of the toughest challenges…ever…in my years of New Year’s resolutions. My secret? I am planning on shedding a tear or two on December 31, 2020. I will remember and respect all of the human beings on the planet who have had so many challenges this year. I will remember those who are still with us and those who we have lost, not only here in the United States, but around the world.
On New Year’s morning, I will stay in bed until I find my place of gratitude and appreciation for all the things I have in my life. I will not get up until I am able to capture that sense of hope that I know is out there. I don’t care if it takes an hour or two. I am going to focus on the positive. I will focus on finding hope for myself and hoping that everyone else is able to do the same. Then I will do it the next day, the day after, and so on. It’s what I can do.
Happy New Year, everyone.