Spring Forecast

The Return of Feminine Fashion

It’s time to crawl out of those sweatpants and get back to feeling pretty! After this long gloomy spell, we’re feeling renewed by the arrival of spring and hopeful about the future. Let’s focus our energy on getting back into the swing of things. There are plenty of exciting new trends this year to inspire a seasonal wardrobe refresh. 

I’ll bet it’s been a while since you’ve donned a skirt or dress without leggings or tights. Spring is the time when we welcome those cool breezes and the blessing of feeling feminine. If you love a quick, one-and-done outfit, a dress is the perfect answer. All lengths are on trend this year. In fact, we’re no longer letting fashion dictate what lengths are in or out—we wear what looks good on us and what makes us feel comfortable. 

One of my favorite dress trends is the simple, body-skimming, long t-shirt dress. Whether in stripes, patterns, or the solid spring tones of marigold and sky blue, this look is a winner for spring and summer 2021. We are all loath to give up the luxury of feeling comfortable in our clothing, even as we start spending more time outside our homes. This dress looks great and offers maximum comfort, perfect for vacation, the office, shopping trips, girls’ lunches, weekend fun, and dates! Add a trendy belt and fun jewelry or change your look by switching from white tennis shoes to sandals. This is the dress you will want in several colors and patterns this year. 

Floral prints are always glorious in summer dresses. Soft, floaty fabrics cut to move with summer breezes are refreshing to see and wear. White seems to be the predominant choice for many designers, looking so fresh and stylish. A white background blooming with florals of all sizes makes us dream of summer! Details are important, too. The cold shoulder is back again for summer, along with other innovative cutouts. Ruffles are fun, but wear them with caution. A few ruffles are trendy; too many may end up looking overly cute.  

Sleeves are the focal point in many dresses. Puffy, trumpet, flared, cutout—all are on trend in this year’s frocks. I love the look of an ultra-feminine dress topped with a tailored jean jacket or, in cooler temps, a leather moto jacket. The juxtaposition of hard and soft is striking and works for women of all shapes and sizes. 

Skirts are another alternative for cool spring dressing. The skirt of the moment is the flared midi skirt. Chic lengths vary from a little below the knee to almost to the floor, and you can choose whichever midi length works best for you. The high-low hem is also on trend, along with some interesting wrap styles. Tiered skirts and softly pleated styles are also fun this year. 

During cooler weather, skirts are shown worn with booties or even ankle boots. As the weather warms, these skirts look great with tennis shoes and sandals—platforms or flats, depending on your comfort level. Most skirt styles have stretch waistbands, which we love. We’re done with having anything tight around us! 

Many people shy away from skirts because they don’t know what to put on top. The best advice is to keep it simple. A plain white tee looks modern and works with absolutely anything. Of course, having a variety of colorful tees is fun to work with, also. 

To top off our skirts and t-shirts, a few cardigans are called for. The key is to contrast lengths from top to bottom. With a longer length skirt, a cropped cardigan looks best. With a shorter skirt, a longer cardigan works. You must adjust proportions, too. With a fuller skirt, a more fitted cardigan is called for, while a straighter skirt can balance a more generous fit on top. As always, working with opposites creates a pleasing balance and silhouette. 

As you put your spring wardrobe together, don’t forget about accessories. The number-one accessory this year is—again!—the mask. This is going to be around for a while! I love coordinating masks with outfits and adding chains or pearl lanyards. If you are creative, you can get crafty and make your own mask or embellish one you purchased with jewelry, bows, or sew-on decals. If we must wear them, we may as well have some fun with it! 

Spring is finally here after a winter that long overstayed its welcome. Along with blue skies and pink posies come hope, love, and optimism for a wonderful year full of joy and exuberance. Let your wardrobe this spring reflect your hope for the future! 

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.

Fashion Worthy

By Holly Bell

Weekend Gourmet

Spring Flings—Clean Off the Patio! Let’s Eat!

Brunch Bloody Mary

Rub the rims of two glasses with lemon juice and dip into celery seed (optional). Add ice. To each glass, add 2 ounces of vodka and 4 ounces of tomato juice (or Clamato), a dash or two each of hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper. Have a variety of garnishes ready, like pickled asparagus, crispy bacon, cooked and chilled shrimp, stuffed olives, celery sticks, horseradish, and sweet pickle relish.

 

Mother’s Day Quiche

Bake a prepared pie crust for 6 minutes at 425 degrees. Remove from oven and turn the oven down to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix 4 eggs with 1/2 cup of Half and Half until well beaten. Crumble 6 strips of crisp bacon onto the bottom of the pie crust. Add 1 can of drained green chilies and 1 cup of grated Monterey Jack cheese. Pour in the egg mixture. Place the pie dish on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until an inserted knife tests clean. Let set for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

 

Grilled Cheeseburgers with Onion Jam

For the cheeseburgers: In a large bowl, gently mix 2 teaspoons of steak seasoning, a dash of Worcestershire sauce (and hot sauce, if you want), and cracked pepper into 1 pound of ground beef (or more, if you want bigger burgers). Shape into 4 patties, each about 1/2 inch thick. Grill as usual (or pan fry). Add cheese slices to the burgers during the last 3 minutes of cooking.

For the onion jam: Slice a large sweet onion. Put it in a skillet with 3 Tablespoons of butter. Cook until light brown. Add 3 teaspoons of sugar and 3 teaspoons of water. Cook until dark brown and sticky. 

Lightly grill buns. Serve cheeseburgers with the onion jam and other toppings like grilled pineapple, lettuce, and tomato slices.

 

Stir-Fried Spring Asparagus

Mix 2 Tablespoons of soy sauce with 2 teaspoons of sugar and set aside. Wash and trim 1 bunch of fresh asparagus. Heat 2 Tablespoons of sesame oil in a large skillet. Add 1 clove of chopped garlic and heat for 30 seconds. Add asparagus and stir fry for 4–5 minutes. Add the soy sauce mixture to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Remove to serving platter and sprinkle asparagus with 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds. (If you’re already grilling, you can cook this asparagus on the grill in a foil pouch.)

 

Aunt Mary’s Salad Dressing

In a wide-mouthed canning jar, mix together 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar, 2 Tablespoons of Dijon mustard, 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil  (canola also works), 3–4 Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, the zest of 1 lemon, and 1 Tablespoon of honey. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, and 1 teaspoon of dried oregano. Shake well. Adjust seasonings to your taste. Store in the refrigerator.

 

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

Wash, trim, and thoroughly dry the strawberries. Prepare any toppings you desire, including (for example) finely chopped nuts, mini chocolate chips, toasted coconut flakes, sprinkles, or finely crushed Oreos or graham crackers. Melt good quality chocolate baking chips (like 60 percent cacao Ghirardelli) over a double boiler or in a microwave on half power until smooth. Dip the berries into the melted chocolate and then dip into the toppings. Place onto a piece of parchment paper to dry. Drizzle with white chocolate, if desired.

 

Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Cut a 4-pound pork shoulder into 2-inch chunks and place in a bowl. Mix together 1 Tablespoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, 2 Tablespoons of cumin, and 1 Tablespoon of oregano. Sprinkle the spice mix over the pork. Stir in the juice from 1 orange and 3 limes. Add 1 chopped onion and 2 teaspoons of garlic to the Instant Pot. Secure the lid and click manual set pressure too high. Cook for 35 minutes. Let pressure release naturally. 

When done, put the pork into a mixing bowl and shred (use an electric mixer or shred with 2 forks). Add BBQ sauce, if desired, or serve the shredded pork on tortillas as street tacos, with cilantro, lime wedges, cheeses, and chopped green onions. 

 

Real Deal BBQ Sauce

Chop 1 onion and sauté in oil for 6–8 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of oil, 3/4 cup of ketchup, 3/4 cup of water, 1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice, 3 Tablespoons of sugar, 3 Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons of salt, 3 Tablespoons of yellow mustard, and 1/3 teaspoon of black pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes.

 

Kentucky Derby Butter Cake

For the cake: Blend together 3 cups of flour, 2 cups of sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 cup of soft butter, 1 cup of buttermilk, 2 teaspoons of vanilla or rum extract, and 4 eggs. Mix for 3–5 minutes. Pour into a greased and floured Bundt or tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 55–65 minutes (test for doneness with a toothpick). Leave the cake in the pan. Prick cake repeatedly with a fork or skewer. 

For the butter sauce: In a sauce pan over medium heat, mix 3/4 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of soft butter, 3 Tablespoons of water, and 1 teaspoon of rum extract. Heat but do not boil. Pour the mixture over the cake, into the holes. After 10 minutes, invert the cake onto a serving platter. 

Before serving, dust with powdered sugar.

 

Sunflower Seed Cookies

Cream together 1 cup of soft butter, 1 cup of soft vegetable shortening, 2 cups of sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 3 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 cup of shelled sunflower seeds, and 1 cup of flaked coconut. Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a log. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill for several hours. Slice into 1/4-inch portions or roll into 1-inch balls. Bake at 350 degrees on a lightly greased cookie sheet for 10 minutes until light brown. Cool.

 

Creamy Peanut Butter Tart

Crush several graham crackers until you have 1 cup of crumbs. Mix with 1/4 cup of melted butter and 3 Tablespoons of sugar. Lightly spray a tart or pie pan and fill with the graham cracker crust mix. Bake for 6–8 minutes at 325 degrees. Mix 1 package of banana cream pudding mix (not instant) with 1 and 1/2 cups of milk and cook according to package directions. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of creamy peanut butter. Mix well. Pour into prepared crust. Chill. 

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
 

Zodiac Forecast

 

Taurus April 20–May 20

 
Happy birthday, Taurus! Embrace the future and use your will to make things happen. This is the moment to bless the old and welcome the new. Use your strong will to rid yourself of any negative energy and create your own reality; this will intensify your spiritual strength. Still curious about what the future holds? Perhaps commit some time to pay a visit to a shaman!

 

Gemini (May 21–Jun 20) Enjoy the month! You can solve issues by thinking in fresh ways. Allow time for new and spontaneous experiences. This is revitalizing to your life! 

 

Cancer (Jun 21–Jul 22) Work on giving your life more definition. Rid yourself of what you no longer need, both physically and spiritually. This will leave you feeling refreshed.

 

Leo (Jul 23–Aug 22) The eclipses are primarily focused on your creative and romantic sectors. Venus enters the seventh house on the 18th of the month. This is when destiny and real romance begin!

 

Virgo (Aug 23–Sep 22) Handling your affairs methodically and focusing on one task at a time allows you to slow down and breathe. The future will take care of itself!

 

Libra (Sep 23–Oct 22) You can’t move on without evaluating your past, especially where relationships are concerned. Look to your past to grow your future connections!

 

Scorpio (Oct 23–Nov 21) The lunar eclipse has your emotions on a roller coaster. Remember to inhale and exhale; it will help you bring honesty and compassion to whatever is coming your way. Consider forgiveness!

 

Sagittarius (Nov 22–Dec 21) Lighten your psychological load and take stock of your truly essential needs. Glimpses of your own future are possible from your inner guidance!

 

Capricorn (Dec 22–Jan 19) You love to see everything organized. It’s time for spring cleaning! Eliminating things externally also opens internal space. Bring in the new and free yourself of the old! 

 

Aquarius (Jan 20–Feb 18) You are opening yourself up further. You many encounter people of power, influence, and great attraction. Just making their acquaintance could change your life!

 

Pisces (Feb 19–Mar 20) The month of May is a great time to start home improvements. When planning any home projects, remember to do your due diligence. Always trust your intuition when making important decisions. 

 

Aries (Mar 21–Apr 19) You’ve been feeling restricted recently. It’s time to unwind! A sudden opportunity may significantly affect your life. Your luck and fortune are about to positively change! 

A Woman's Work

What Mothers Want

The Secret Longings of Motherhood 

There are about as many methods of mothering in this world as there are mothers. Each one of us has her own style. Many of us have learned mothering from our own mothers or other female relatives. Some of us have mimicked mothers of close friends who had a profound effect on us as we were growing into adulthood. Other mothers do a complete about-face in child rearing and act entirely opposite of what they were exposed to early in life. There are a number of us who were given a head start at mothering as we became caretakers for our younger siblings. We bring some bona fide skills into being mothers!

No matter how we approach the raising of our children, we all want the same basic “good things” for our offspring. Who doesn’t want their children to be healthy? What mother doesn’t wish for the most attractive kids in the neighborhood? And, of course, we all wish for children with wonderfully high IQs, coupled with musical ability and the skills required for moving forth in their young lives. 

Do you recall what you wanted for your children when they were growing? This mother wanted her children to be compassionate. Of course, that was decades ago, when they were still in rompers. It is difficult (if not impossible) to teach kindness and empathy to someone who still drinks from a bottle and crawls around on their hands and knees. Still, there were lessons to teach and to be learned using teddy bears and dolls. Was it worth the effort? Well, the jury is still out on that one, but I think there is compassion in the generation we produced. 

One mother once told me that her wish for her three children was that they would be the very best at everything they tried—they should never settle for second best. Now, that is a lot of pressure. Are those three kids the best at everything they do? I’m not sure. You would have to ask their mother. 

My mother’s wish for her daughters was the same as everyone else’s. That is to say, she wanted us to be smart, and pretty, and popular. She would encourage us in any way possible and did her best for us as we grew up on the farm. Unbeknownst to her daughters, there were plenty of pressures for our mother. There was, of course, the battle of the budget. Raising five children during the 1950s and 1960s took lots of work and planning…but raising five children, none of whom could share wardrobes or enjoy the fun of hand-me-downs from the closet, had to sometimes seem hopeless. 

All mothers want their children to “fit in” with their peers. Wouldn’t it be grand if all kiddos automatically and naturally fit into the profiles we set up for them? Well, we know that never happens. Anyway, who would really want that? It’s best and natural that each child finds his own way in life. Forcing a child to be a certain way is much like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It can leave people feeling beat-down and unhappy, and it just doesn’t work. 

Over the decades, mothers and their children travel through lots of different phases. Personally, I loved the baby stage of childhood, when the little ones thought their mother was the most wonderful person on earth. Oh, but don’t forget the third birthday, when that baby slips out of toddlerhood and becomes a delightful little companion sans diapers and bottles. The school years always bring back good memories, but it’s also the time when we notice our children listening to other voices (not just their mother!) and marching to different drummers. Of course, they have to do this because these things are rites of passage into adulthood. Adulthood—that’s the magic word. Now that the children are grown and have settled into listening to their mothers again (oh, joy), they are absolutely wonderful human beings. 

Of course, they were absolutely wonderful human beings all along. Maybe it’s the leveling of being adults together that brings forth a wonderful and peaceful harmony. With peace and harmony, we are given the opportunity to reflect on all the wonderful talents and characteristics they each possess. 

If you are a mother, please have a wonderful Mother’s Day. If you are fortunate enough to still have your mother near you, take time to celebrate her and reflect on what a genius she is. And remember, like Mother always told you, say “thank you.” 

By Sharon Knierim
 

Fresh Concepts

Soften Your Hardscape

It’s Time to Plant!

The American dream for outdoor living is constantly evolving, but any landscape space has two distinct parts. Structures like patios, fire pits, swimming pools, and retaining walls are called hardscape. The softscape, on the other hand, consists of all the living things that make up the yard—trees, shrubs, flowering plants, and gardens. Blend the two with a cohesive plan, and you’ll have a harmonious outdoor balance. 

 

Last month, we talked about the appeal of outdoor living and the popularity of hardscape improvements. Building bigger patios, upgrading outdoor kitchens, adding water features, lighting your space for security and ambience, and creating walkways for a reflective aesthetic all work beautifully for landscape transformation. This month, we’ll focus on what to plant around the patio, along the walkways, and in the yard to create color and beauty throughout. It’s always best to start with your hardscape and then build your softscape around it. 

 

During your planning, remember that a landscape designer can work wonders for what to do and how and when to do it, saving you time, effort, and money. Building or planting without a designer can lead to stress and costly mistakes. Even if you prefer to do your own planting, it’s smart to consult with a pro during the planning stages.

 

Common gardening mistakes include failing to prep the soil, overplanting or crowding, and putting the right plant in the wrong spot. Plants grow best when they get the nutrients they need, and not every plant needs the same nutrients in the same ratios. When plants can get these nutrients from the soil, they won’t need excessive chemical fertilizers. At a minimum, you should mix the existing soil with an equal amount of organic compost. For optimum plant success, you should have your soil tested to see precisely which nutrients it needs. 

 

Overplanting and crowding can also limit your softscape’s success. While some plants can thrive en masse, others just end up competing for limited nutrients and water. Of course, plants also start smaller than they end up. Young plants, appropriately spaced, will fill in as the season goes on. Crowded plants might grow in odd shapes, with less aesthetic appeal. 

 

Plant health and growth depend on many factors, including how much direct sunlight the plant gets each day, how wet or dry the soil is, and the length of the growing season. Plants that are native to the area are likely to grow well and may not need much watering beyond rainfall. Check the USDA Hardiness Zone Map to make sure the plants you desire will withstand the winter in your area. A landscaping expert can be of great use on this subject—they’re very familiar with what plants will thrive in what locations. 

 

Knowing the difference between perennials and annuals can help you choose what to plant. Perennials hang around for several growing seasons, dying off in the winter and growing back in the spring from the same root system. Annuals go through their entire life cycle, from seed to flower, in a single growing season. Some plants can grow as annuals in one climate and as perennials in another, depending on the growing conditions and length of the season.

 

Tree and shrub placement is vital to your landscape. Before you plant trees, plan for the size and space you’re planting in. The attention paid to proper spacing is even more important with trees and shrubs than it is with smaller plants—after all, many common urban trees can grow 50 feet high! An arborist’s expertise can be invaluable when you’re choosing which trees to plant and where. Avoid planting trees directly in front of your house or too close to the foundation, driveway, or sidewalk. For a screen around the house, plant hedges and shrubs 15 to 20 feet away from the street. 

 

Let’s take a look at something that can qualify as hardscape or softscape in the yard: walls. Tiered levels or simple bed borders made with stone, blocks, or wood are common for dividing space in the yard. For privacy, however, you may want something taller. Instead of a fence, you can softscape walls using trees, shrubs, and hedges for a natural, open look. As your natural walls continue to grow, so does the value of your property. 

 

Enhance walkways with stunning flowerbeds or shrubs by combining annuals and perennials. Get creative by curving flowering plants around trees already planted in the yard. Create a peaceful, organic flow with strategic planning for those plants that love sun and those that love shade. Full sun generally means a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight per day. Part shade is three to six hours of sun, and full shade usually means less than three hours of direct sunlight per day. No matter what the light situation is in your yard, you can still get a full spectrum of color. 

 

In full sun, try the Midnight Marvel hibiscus, Lemon Drop evening primrose, or Banana Cream Shasta daisies. Impatiens love shade—plant them in pots around the shaded areas in your patio, then sit back and enjoy the view. For more shade-loving plants, try coral bells. They produce vibrant burgundy to lime green hues, and they shoot up delicate spires of flowers all summer. 

 

Oakleaf hydrangea is a flowering shrub that offers impressive blooms in early summer and colorful foliage into the fall—plan for morning sun and afternoon shade. 

 

For the patio, plant ferns in eye-catching fuchsia, in pots or in the ground, but keep them in the shade. Most shrubs and bushes work well planted along walkways or the driveway, if it cuts through the lawn. The vertical element helps to counter flat landscapes. Make sure that shrubs near the driveway won’t grow to obstruct a driver’s view.

 

Whether you’re short on space or just like the interest that a cascading look creates, the sky is the limit for container gardens. For added dimension, choose your plants to enhance your outdoor kitchen and integrate them into your hardscape design. You can scatter containers around your raised garden beds for visual interest. Plant balcony plants like jasmine, lavender, bamboo, snake plants, or peace lilies for a calming feel, then sit back and enjoy their beauty.    

 

The best perennials add color and appeal for many seasons to come. Newer for 2021, the Velvet Fog smokebush is hardy in Zones 4 through 8 and grows best in full sun. This perennial shoots out frothy pinkish blooms all summer and boasts attractive blue-green foliage after the blooms have faded.

 

What else is trending this year? One newbie is the Aurora Borealis rose. Named for the Northern Lights, this hardy shrub captures dancing light over the sunset pink blooms. It grows best in the northern states, hardy to Zone 3a. Add traditional columbine for a spectrum of purplish-yellow, blue, white, and reddish flowers. It blooms in a bunch that will grab the attention of passersby. For another eye-catching bloom, try the Sweet Sandia echinacea, boasting petals that look like slices of pink and green watermelon. 

 

In the market for a new look with your annuals? Try the newer Crystal Sky petunia for a fun twist on a classic look. Plant the Bush daisy for a bright yellow “wow” factor in the garden, or choose the Frosted Strawberry zinnia for an easy grow. These zinnias grow through fall in pink ombre, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. Cut them for lovely vase arrangements.    

 

While color is always a hit in the garden, it’s important to contrast different shades and hues. Too many accents can look busy and distract from the harmony. Add native, wildlife-supporting plants or ornamental grasses for a carefree texture to neutralize garden beds. 

 

Don’t forget to add trees for beauty, tranquility, and improved air quality. Staring at a tree can actually reduce mental fatigue! Popular Nebraska trees include elm, mulberry, bur oak, dogwood, and fir. Red maple and swamp white oak have increased in popularity in recent years.  Like most everything you plant, an appropriately chosen tree will add value to your property.

 

Spring is here! Once your hardscape is in place, it’s time to nurture the softer side of your yard. Trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals will bring the finishing touches and tranquility to your outdoor living space. Get ready to sit back and feel like one with nature, right in your own backyard. 

 

Sources for this article included: energy.gov, usda.gov, and housebeautiful.com. 

By Janette Calabro
 

Good Looks

Avoid a Hairy Situation

Modern Hair Removal

Summer is coming. This means beaches, backyards, and bare skin. Many of us have been living in sweatpants for months, working from home and trying to stay warm during the icy winter months. It’s time to ditch the sweats and don the shorts. We want our skin ready for exposure, and eliminating unwanted hair can help us achieve that goal. Electrolysis, laser treatments, and waxing are proven methods of removing hair and revealing sleek skin you’ll want to show off.

 

Electrolysis is not a new concept; it’s been around since the late 1800s. It’s the only FDA-approved method of permanent hair removal. It’s commonly used on the face, bikini line, underarms, chin and upper lip area, eyebrows, and, of course, the legs. However, it’s not just for the ladies. Men commonly choose electrolysis to treat the back, underarm, and groin areas.

 

Electrolysis works by destroying the growth center of the hair with chemical or heat energy. It involves inserting a fine needle into the hair follicle. This needle delivers a small amount of electric current or heat into the follicle, destroying the root, which prevents hair regrowth. It’s effective on all hair colors and skin tones. 

 

Most people experience a hot or pinching sensation during treatment. The level of discomfort is minimal and depends on the patient’s sensitivity to pain and the sensitivity of the area being treated. The skin may be slightly red or irritated for several hours following treatment, but there is no downtime, and treated follicles will not regrow hair. That said, not every follicle can be treated in a single session. Electrolysis is effective during the growth stage of the hair, and not every hair is the growth stage at the same time. Multiple treatments are required for optimal results. 

 

Before scheduling treatment, do your research. Most states require a license or certification. If your state doesn’t require this, look for a technician who has been trained at an accredited electrology school. Most facilities offer a free consultation, where you can observe the cleanliness of the facility, evaluate the competency and skill of the technician, and get your questions answered. 

 

Laser hair removal is a medical procedure that uses a beam of light to remove unwanted hair. This light energy is converted into heat, damaging the hair follicle and inhibiting new growth. Hair growth is delayed for long periods, but this treatment is not permanent. Common treatment areas are the legs, armpits, chin, and bikini line. 

 

Two to six initial treatments are required, several weeks apart. Like electrolysis, laser treatment is most effective when hair follicles are in the new growth stage. Periodic maintenance treatments will be needed for long-term results. Laser treatment works on all skin types, but people with light skin and dark hair get the best results. It’s sometimes used in conjunction with electrolysis, which targets lighter hairs that go undetected by the laser. 

 

The type of laser used depends on several factors, including skin pigment and the area being treated. The alexandrite laser’s long wavelength targets a large spot with each pulse, making it a good choice for large areas of the body, such as the legs and back. A diode laser can emit both short and long wavelengths and is a good choice for most skin colors. The ruby laser has been around for a while, but it remains popular with people who have fair, sensitive skin, as it is relatively pain-free and less likely to cause irritation. 

 

Each state has its own regulations regarding laser administration for hair removal. Some require that it be performed by a physician, while other states permit non-medical personnel to administer treatment as long as they have been properly trained. Your state’s medical board can provide guidelines for your state.

 

Waxing is a low-tech, tried-and-true hair removal process. Salons typically offer more than one type of waxing treatment, but hot waxing is usually the first type that comes to mind. Hot waxing provides highly accurate results, particularly on eyebrows and other small areas. 

 

Cold wax treatments involve pressing semi-solid wax strips onto the skin, going against the hair growth, which gives the strips a strong hold as they’re pulled off. Multiple treatments are not needed to notice a visible change. This method is generally less painful than hot wax treatments. With soft waxing, a soft wax is applied to the skin and is then covered with a muslin cloth to dry. It’s a good choice for large areas like legs.  

 

Say good-bye to unsightly hair and prepare your skin for summer! Talk to your favorite salon or med-spa to see what types of hair removal they offer. 

 

Sources for this article included: everydayhealth.com, electrology.com, and hairremoval.org.  

By Loretta McCollum
 

Income Outcome

Tap, Tap, Tap Away!

You Are Worthy of Happiness

Have you ever had the experience of being in a terrific mood when someone asks, “What’s making you so darned happy?” I have had this happen to me on multiple occasions. It’s almost as if my friends became irritated that I had found a path to happiness, even though what they saw as “reality” was making it very clear that I “should” be angry, depressed, annoyed, or—at the very least—frustrated! 

 

“Never ever face reality unless it is perfect in every way.” —Abraham/Hicks

 

Recently, I have revisited the exercise called The Tapping Solution. This is a stress-reducing exercise that involves tapping certain points on the body while talking through strong emotions or traumatic memories. The World Health Organization has labeled stress as the 21st-century health epidemic, and The Tapping Solution has an exercise that has been scientifically proven to reduce stress by 41 percent in under 10 minutes.

My daughter, Carissa, had shared the process with me last year, and it helped me get through some challenging times in 2020. Back then, my goal was to release my anxiety about all the changes that were taking place in the world. Like many people who encounter processes that work, I drifted away from tapping when I began to calm down…which is just when I should have kept doing what was working. Darn.

Recently, however, I’d noticed a change in my daughter’s vibe, to the point where I was compelled to ask her what she was doing to be so happy. She told me that she had returned to tapping and was using a daily six-minute session called “Instant Boost of Happiness,” by Nick Ortner. 

 

“Sweet serendipity…the unexpected meeting that changes your life.”  —Alexia Chianis

 

This reconnection was a perfect match to what I have been working on with Mike Dooley’s program, “Playing the Matrix: The Laser-Focused Series Online Course.” His take is that all any of us really want is to be happy. This tapping exercise delivered me a tool to raise my happiness in just six short minutes…and it works! 

Some of the statements in this tapping session made me stop and realize how many of us feel that it is “odd” to be happy. These statements in particular stood out to me: “Society often tells us it’s not safe being happy. We will stand out…You deserve to be happy.” Sound familiar?

 

“There’s a difference between thinking you deserve to be happy and knowing that you are worthy of being happy. Your being alive makes worthiness your birthright. You alone are enough.” —Oprah Winfrey

 

I encourage everyone who reads this column to check out Nick Ortner’s website thetappingsolution.com. What do you have to lose? Just six minutes. 

By Janet Van deWalle
 

Kids Comments

It’s Not Easy Being Mom

She’s the Best Mom Possible!

I’ve known a lot of moms over the years: my own, my friends, my neighbors. Some, of course, can appear to be doing a better job of “mothering” than others. No matter the times or their situation, moms everywhere have this in common: They’re doing the best they can. 

 

Most moms parent the way they were parented. My moms (I include my mother-in-law here) stayed home and took care of us and the house, handling those “motherly” tasks that varied from family to family because no two are alike. What I remember most? Mom was always there when we got home from school. Today, many moms have careers and an office; others have jobs they can do from home. Single moms bear the whole responsibility of raising the kids, keeping the house, and earning a living. Regardless of their situation, all moms have the same goal: Raise their kids to be the best adults they can be.

 

Think of all the things your mom does…the many hats she’s worn over your lifetime. Mom’s a primary teacher by the example she sets for how to live a productive life. Mom’s a nurse, providing bandages and tender loving care when the kids are injured, whether the problem is a scraped knee, a stubbed toe, or a broken heart. Moms make arrangements for getting their kids to ball games, scout meetings, dance lessons, tutors, and any other activities they’re involved in.

 

With the Mom Job, you are tenured. The kids may be parents (or even grandparents), but “Mom” is still “Mom,” and the kids are still referred to as “the kids.” Moms are concerned that something bad will happen. Moms tend to put their kids first. We’re happy when you are. Our hearts sink when we see you having difficulty or getting upset. We’re ready to help you in any way we are able. Sometimes, you might do things we don’t like or don’t approve of (kids are people, too), but you’re still our kids and we love you. We eagerly waited for bedtime because it meant some time to ourselves…and then we spent that time standing at the bedroom doorway, watching you sleep and giving thanks.

 

If it weren’t for our kids, we wouldn’t be moms. They are our reason for being…part of our identity (“I’m Mary’s mom,” or “Aren’t you Tommy’s mom?” or “This is my kid!”) for a lifetime. Most moms think their kids are the best in the world…and that’s as it should be. They are the power that drives our lives for many years. Then, they leave. Sometimes, they keep in touch; sometimes, they don’t. No matter what, they’re still “the kids.”

 

Being a mom isn’t an easy job. Mother’s Day is coming up soon. Let your mom know you love her and appreciate all she’s done to be “The Best Mom Possible!” 

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

Outdoors is the New Indoors

Take a Seat!

Over the past year, home suddenly became the office, classroom, and entertainment center for extended family members returning to the nest. Many homeowners adapted by investing in home improvements and finding ways to stretch their living spaces into functional, multi-purpose rooms. 

 

While Americans embraced this new at-home lifestyle, the combined effects of cabin fever and the lure of the great outdoors launched a novel design trend—serene and relaxing outdoor environments that feel as good as they look. The demand has been so strong that American yards have become the new frontier for home improvement! Whether your outdoor space consists of a tiny balcony, a mid-size patio, or a sprawling backyard, stylish and comfortable furniture and accessories can transform your outdoor space into your new outdoor living room! 

 

A leading trend is to blur the lines between indoor and outdoor living with a gorgeous outdoor space that seamlessly flows from your interior. While you want to ensure that your outdoor style blends with the style you’re reflecting in the rest of your home, outdoor design does leave some room for fun. 

 

Your outdoor living room is the perfect space to dress up with plush textiles like rugs, soft seating, and cushions. Both indoors and out, we’re seeing a shift away from the cool gray color palette that featured prominently in the last decade of home design. Warm and earthy tones like brown, taupe, and olive green create furnishing textiles that are warm and inviting. Design has also shifted in the direction of sustainable, natural materials like wood, rattan, and wicker—perfect for outdoor seating!

 

In the past, traditional outdoor seating and dining furniture often sacrificed comfort in exchange for the structural durability required to stand up to the elements. No more! With the emphasis on comfort and support, the latest ergonomic outdoor furniture offers superior comfort and weather hardiness. 

 

When selecting a frame material, focus on style and features. For traditionalists with a love for the classics, solid-cast aluminum offers timeless style. For the modernist drawn to sleek, clean lines, handcrafted teak offers design that is fresh and inviting. Sustainable teak holds up to rain and humidity, is naturally resistant to mildew, and develops a beautiful, naturally weathered patina over time. Are you more eclectic, with a love of interesting details and unexpected elements? The visual interest and tactile quality of all-weather wicker will appeal to your nature.  

 

Outdoor furnishings have evolved in terms of materials and efficiency. Choose from automated tables designed to change functions with the push of a button. Dining tables that convert to different heights and lengths mean you can begin your outdoor evening with drinks and dinner and move seamlessly into game night. Enjoy different activities without ever changing tables. Innovative bar carts that cleverly conceal removable tubs beneath sliding top panels keep drink refills conveniently within reach, allowing you to relax and enjoy your guests!  

 

One of the easiest ways to elevate your patio or deck is with an outdoor rug—it really helps define the space and makes it feel like a room. Add a splash of color and texture with a rug that protects your feet from rough surfaces that get hot in the sun. A great outdoor rug is constructed of durable materials, typically synthetic fibers that will stand up to weather and resist stains, fading, and mildew. With proper maintenance and storage, a quality outdoor rug can last for 20 years.  

 

Turn your patio or backyard into a year-round living space with decorative outdoor patio heaters. Entertain in comfort, no matter what the season! Propane heaters with flickering flames are a beautiful way to add warmth and create a comfortable atmosphere. Smaller gas patio heaters are ideal for adding cozy warmth on a smaller scale.

 

Whether it’s sunny, windy, or rainy, you want to enjoy your outdoor space. To extend your enjoyment and protect you from the elements, it’s important to install the right features. Choose from various solutions like parasols, awnings, and sun sails to create inviting and peaceful shady spaces and provide reliable sun and weather protection.

 

Put the finishing touches on your patio with accent lighting. An assortment of lanterns and battery-operated flameless outdoor candles will create an elegant ambience that is warm and inviting.

 

The popularity of outdoor living spaces is expected to continue well beyond 2021, as people embrace a healthy, home-centric lifestyle. Whether you plan to host barbecues or just hang out with family on the weekends, there’s no better place to invest this year than in upgrading your outdoor spaces. For countless hours of outdoor enjoyment, choose from furniture designed to be part of your lifestyle for seasons to come! 

 

Sources for this article included: consumerreports.org, elledecor.com, and livingspaces.com. 

By Robyn V. Powell
 

Home Works

Outdoor Living Spaces

Take the Indoors Outdoors This Summer!

With all the arctic weather finally behind us, everyone is finding more and more excuses to spend time outdoors. One perfect excuse to get outside is to enjoy the comfortable and inviting outdoor living space you’ve created in your yard!

 

After the winter we’ve had, we could all use a little more opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. Having a dedicated outdoor seating area does more than give you a great place to take your laptop and work from home in the sunshine. It can increase your home’s value, give you a great place to entertain your friends safely, and even improve your health by lowering stress levels and getting you some much-needed vitamin D!

 

In order to create a truly awesome outdoor seating area, you’ll want to do more than just pick up some discount lawn furnishings and stick them wherever. Take some time to consider what kind of space you want to create and how you want to use it. Open porches, screened-in porches, three-season rooms, gazebos, and pergolas are all great options to take your outdoor space from bland to inviting.

 

Porches are making a comeback, so whether you have an existing structure on your home or are ready to build, there are plenty of new ideas out there on how you can use and decorate the space. These days, people are converting their porches into true outdoor living rooms, with outdoor/indoor drapes, hanging basket plants, lanterns, rugs, and more! Porch swings are still very much in fashion, from budget-friendly classic swings to easy-install gliders. You’ll also find new twists on the classic idea, like bed swings, swings with built-in tables, and transitional swings.

 

If you don’t have an existing porch structure on your home (or if the one you have needs some repair or refurbishment), you have the option of building (or replacing) with traditional wood decking, composite decking, or even concrete. Traditional wood is going to be your mid-range price option—cheaper than composite but pricier than concrete. Wood is widely available and versatile in design. Composite decking is going to cost you more money up front but will last longer and require less maintenance than traditional wood. Concrete is your cheapest and most durable option, but it doesn’t offer the versatility or design options you’ll get with wood or composite. 

 

If you like the idea of a porch but are looking for something a little more protected from the elements, a screened-in porch might be right up your alley. Screened porches are most commonly made with fiberglass or aluminum mesh screens, which will generally protect your porch from insects, wildlife, and light rain. There are also more tightly-woven porch screens on the market that offer additional protection from sunlight, as well as pet-proof screens that will stand up to high-energy pets and children without tearing or breaking. If you really want to go all out, consider a motorized screen system that allows you to convert your screened-in porch to an open-air porch at the push of a button.

 

Perhaps even a screened-in porch seems a little too open for your purposes. If that’s the case, you’ll really want to look into building a three-season room. Three-season rooms give you the same great, unobstructed views you’d get on an open-air porch with more protection from the elements than a screened porch can provide. They are made with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, with no insulation and no foundation. This makes them cheaper than a conventional all-season home addition. As the name implies, they can be used for just about any purpose (from a home office to a dining area to a guest room), but only during the spring, summer, and fall months, when HVAC won’t be needed.

 

If you’d prefer a freestanding structure that isn’t attached to the house, consider a gazebo or pergola. These open structures provide some shade and ambience in the yard. They’re great places to sit with a good view of both the house and yard. Gazebos can be purchased in pre-designed kits made from wood, aluminum, or steel. They come in a wide variety of styles, from a traditional Victorian-style gazebo to more modern square or round models. Pergolas are open structures topped with lattice-style boards as a roof. For more shade and privacy, consider a removable canopy or drapes. You can also add vertical trellises for a living wall of climbing plants. 

 

Whether you’re looking for a complete home add-on for your outdoor living area or something that provides just some partial shade and atmosphere, there are as many options to choose from as there are reasons to create and decorate your perfect outdoor seating space this year! 

 

Sources for this article included: hgtv.com, gardenerspath.com, and thespruce.com.

By Anne Yankus
 

To Your Good Health

Hire a Pro!

Self-Care is Not an Indulgence

There’s an inspirational quote floating around the internet that goes like this: “She believed she could, so she did.” (It’s from a 2014 book by R.S. Grey.) It’s a valuable sentiment. After all, women can do anything they put their minds to…and quite often, we take on more and more, even when the weight of our responsibilities leaves us feeling overworked and stressed. 

 

Perhaps it’s time for an even more inspiring statement, which has also been making the rounds: “She believed she could, but she was tired, so she didn’t.” This is not about ignoring our responsibilities; it’s about getting some help! This has been a stressful year, when the urge to do everything ourselves was compounded by the need for physical isolation. We’re starting to work together again. Why not hire some help around the house? 

 

Back when we left the house early in the morning and spent the day at work, we could leave our undone chores behind until later. Spending the workday at home, surrounded by household and yard chores that need to be done, can leave us feeling overwhelmed and unable to focus on work. 

 

The wide-ranging stress of the pandemic has brought a steep increase in mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and loneliness. If hiring out a few household tasks can improve your daily life, why not do it? Maybe the time you buy would let you commit to a once-a-week face mask, a phone call with a friend, or a workout routine you’ve been wanting to try. Imagine how great it would feel to have 30 minutes before bed every night, just to read.  

 

Consider which chores or responsibilities around the house cause you stress but could easily be eliminated just by hiring the help. For many of us, that means a cleaning service. House cleaners can come as frequently as you please, from a weekly appointment to an annual deep clean. When you hire out the deep cleaning, the light clean-ups you do throughout the week will go much quicker. 

 

Springtime is time to clean the windows, and that’s a great opportunity to hire out a tedious and difficult job. Professional window cleaners can take care of the inside and outside of your windows, including screens. They have the tools and the safety equipment needed to get every single window, and you won’t have to climb a ladder. 

 

Another quick pick-me-up is to have your carpets professionally cleaned a few times a year. Even if you vacuum regularly and don’t wear shoes indoors, don’t discount the benefits of regular carpet cleaning! A clean carpet just makes the whole room look and feel better. You can’t beat that fresh smell, along with knowing that dirt and allergens are gone. Professional cleaners can also treat many floor coverings to better repel stains, making cleaning easier the next time around. 

 

Is your family one of the millions in the United States that owns a dog? Treat yourself and your furry friend by hiring a dog walker to give your pet some extra time and attention. Better yet, hire a “pooper scooper” service to pick up waste in the yard. 

 

Do you have a list of home improvements or repairs that never seem to get done? Turn that list over to a handyman. Handymen (or handywomen, of course) can fix all those little things that have built up over the years. They work for a flat fee, an hourly fee, or on a per-item basis—be sure to ask ahead of time. They can usually do a wide variety of chores, like painting, replacing baseboards, patching drywall, removing or installing hardware, or fixing stuck windows. If your projects include electrical or plumbing work, be sure to hire a specialist.

 

Some people love working in the yard, and some people just don’t. Landscaping companies will take care of whatever yard tasks you dislike. If you love maintaining your garden or doing the lawn fertilization, simply hire a lawn service to mow while you do the rest. Otherwise, have them handle it all so you can spend your Saturdays as you please. 

 

Still feel like you should be doing it all yourself? Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Remember, stress is hard on our physical and mental health. It can cause poor sleep, increase blood pressure, compromise the immune system, and increase the chance of cardiac or inflammatory disease. Taking time for yourself is not an indulgence—it’s a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. Make this the month you take a hard look at your home responsibilities and your budget. If there’s a way to achieve a better balance in your life by hiring out your most dreaded tasks, go for it! 

 

Sources for this article included: nbcnews.com, mayoclinic.org, and iii.org.

By Leslie Byrne
 

Focus On Finance

The Internet Investor

Version 2: The Involved Investor

Last month, I wrote about the technological advances in the financial services industry that allow individual investors to customize investment strategies to match their financial and emotional situation. These options run the gamut from delegating the full process to a third party to planning and managing the entire process yourself. There also exists a whole range of strategies between these two extremes. Last month, I explored the most hands-off end of the spectrum: the defensive investor. This month, I will focus on the middle of the spectrum: the involved investor.

 

Involved investors, as the term implies, prefer to be actively involved in their investment choices. Though they don’t feel adequately prepared to direct the entire process unassisted, they are unwilling to simply turn the task over to a third party. Unlike defensive investors, involved investors are willing and able to devote some time and energy to educating themselves on the available investment alternatives, so long as they can count on the assistance of a professional when they need it. 

 

The involved investor’s level of participation varies from one individual to another. They feel they have a basic understanding of the investment world and are able to direct an investment professional. When compared to defensive investors, they are also better able to deal with the ups and downs, both financially and emotionally, that are natural parts of participating in the stock market. Involved investors expect a reasonable return from their investments and are willing to accept the risks involved. They understand that their portfolio will, at times, experience a decline in capital. Generally speaking, involved investors are not totally averse to bond investments, but they are less inclined to include them in their portfolio than are defensive investors. 

 

You will often find involved investors working with discount brokerage firms. Involved investors find this type of firm attractive for a variety of reasons. Clients at full-service brokerage firms are required to have a designated broker; the only way they are able to access the market is through that broker. Discount brokerage firms, on the other hand, are more flexible. They allow their clients the option of executing their investments on their own or consulting with an investment professional when and if they so desire. 

 

Discount brokers also provide easy and inexpensive access to a product called a robo-advisor. Robo-advisors are computer programs that manage accounts based upon a preselected asset allocation. For example, a robo-advisor program could be set to contain 40 percent growth investment and 60 percent income-producing investment, or 40 percent in bonds and 60 percent in stocks. Depending upon the degree of control the involved investor prefers, these percentages can be set by the investor or by a professional. 

 

The past two decades have seen a trend for investors of all stripes to move away from picking individual stocks and to rely more and more on index funds. There are several advantages to this approach. First, it simplifies the selection and monitoring process. Choosing an index funds means you gain exposure to hundreds of stocks and only have to monitor the fund itself. Second, index funds are cost-efficient. Because they are passive, they don’t make trades in order to improve returns. This eliminates transaction costs and the expense of a high-priced portfolio manager deciding which stocks to buy and sell at any given moment. Index funds are especially attractive to involved investors because they can put them in place and not have to make frequent buying and selling decisions. 

 

Involved investors who choose to take advantage of index funds are not locked out from directing a portion of their assets to individual stocks on a regular or occasional basis. I am aware of some involved investors who get a hot stock tip at the water cooler or a cocktail party and wish to become involved. It’s not a tactic I recommend on a regular basis, but the experience of chasing a fad investment often creates better investors going forward.  

 

Not all investors are cut from the same cloth; therefore, a one-size-fits-all approach to investment strategies is likely to disappoint. An effective way to identify an investment strategy that is right for you is to study the financial and emotional investor characteristics presented in these pages and decide which one best describes you. Once you understand your own investment personality, the matching investment strategy will fall easily into place, and the investment tools available from today’s internet-oriented financial services industry can be put to use to grow your assets. Check this column space next month for a profile of the most hands-on type of internet investor. 

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

Pre-Planning Final Arrangements

Peace of Mind for Everyone

Making final resting plans now rather than later eases the burden for everyone. Pre-planning your own celebration of life is a gift to your family, who would otherwise have to make many difficult decisions under the stress of grief. It made the loss of my younger brother a bit easier, knowing exactly what he wanted. I did not know he wanted cremation, until we discussed it and put it in writing.

 

Funeral homes have the expertise to assist with planning and answers to all the questions you are likely to raise. A funeral director will work with you, along with experienced, trained staff.

 

In addition to making arrangements with a funeral home, a will and other appropriate legal documents will likely require the advice of an attorney. Final arrangement plans and legal documents are highly recommended. It may be better not to keep them together in one place—a will might not be found or read until after memorial services have taken place. It is especially important to let family members or trusted others know where to find the plan for your funeral arrangements.

 

Wouldn’t you rather have a service or celebration that includes your own personal choices? You can choose all the details: casket, music, flowers, cemetery plot, who will conduct the service and where, pall bearers, obituary, and so on. Many people opt for a theme that reflects a hobby, favorite sports team, or other highlight of one’s life.

 

More mundane details include obtaining proper permits and the death certificate, arranging transportation, working with the cemetery, ordering a monument, and making plans for visitation. Those who pre-arrange have the peace of mind that they have saved their loved ones the undue stress of trying to guess their wishes. 

 

It’s important to understand that pre-planning is not the same as pre-paying. Pre-planning has virtually no downside—you get to choose the elements of your memorial, and your family won’t have to make those decisions. Pre-paying, on the other hand, has pros and cons that need to be considered. Pre-paying might reduce costs or be a way to pay down assets, should you need Medicaid assistance. On the other hand, creating a trust or special insurance policy that pays your beneficiaries instead of a specific funeral home may be a better way to go, especially if you’re likely to move out of state. 

 

Some pre-paid plans are transferrable; many are not. Be sure to understand all provisions before signing a contract. A reputable funeral director will be happy to go over all the costs and benefits with you. 

 

Beyond funeral arrangements, an attorney can help resolve questions of how your personal assets are handled when you are gone. A will is probably the most important document to create (make one for each spouse). It’s also smart to establish powers of attorney for health matters and financial matters should you become incapacitated and to declare guardianship for minor children.

 

Estate planning might sound like something for the very wealthy, but everyone should make decisions regarding how their assets (real estate, monetary assets, personal belongings) are distributed after their death. Without a written document, a judge will decide these issues.

 

A personal representative or executor needs to be appointed. Often, this is a trusted relative or friend who is up to the task of settling one’s estate. This includes paying outstanding bills, maintaining property until transferred or sold, and performing legal obligations. In the absence of executor or personal representative, the court will appoint one—and it may not be someone you would have chosen.

 

It’s essential to periodically review retirement and insurance beneficiaries. Name contingent beneficiaries in case of the death of a primary beneficiary. Wills should be updated about every five years or when there is a significant change.

 

An advance directive (living will) can be complex, outlining treatments one would like (or not like) to have in case of being incapacitated. It may encompass a do-not-resuscitate provision and wishes regarding life support and other extraordinary measures. State laws vary regarding advance directives.

 

Complex estates may necessitate a trust. Visit an attorney to learn about this legal entity that owns property or assets that you place in it. You name a trustee to manage the assets. You may be the trustee yourself and name a successor who assumes management duties upon your death. An advantage is that it does not go through probate court, so the transfer of property may happen much faster. 

 

With a will, designated powers of attorney, advance directive, and pre-planned funeral arrangement, you can sleep well, knowing your wishes will be carried out. Family members will appreciate the thoughtfulness you’ve shown by easing their load at a difficult time. 

 

Sources for this article includes: nfda.org, aarp.org, consumer.ftc.gov.

By Linda Sutherland
 

Peak Performance

The Power of Pampering

Manicures and Pedicures

I love being a mother. Absolutely, I do…but the truth is that, since their early elementary school years (Thank you, kindergarten teachers!), my kids have never really made much of a fuss over Mother’s Day. This year, I’ve decided to take control of my own pampering and schedule a manicure or pedicure. In case you’re unfamiliar with the myriad of nail options, let’s go over some of the basics. 

 

Shellac manicures are applied in much the same way as conventional nail polish. Instead of air-drying, however, they are cured in a desktop box that emits ultraviolet light. This hardens the shellac into a durable material that stays on the nail until intentionally removed. A gel manicure is similar to shellac, but shellac can be removed using acetone. 

 

Acrylic overlay is a liquid synthetic material that is coated onto the natural nail. The polymers bond with the nail and reinforce it as it grows. Acrylic overlays are then colored using polish or shellac. (A similar but more flexible product called KeryFlex is used for nail restoration by podiatrists. Call your podiatrist for more information.) 

 

The color of dip-manicured nails comes from a pigmented powder that is applied after a basecoat and then sealed into place with a topcoat. Dip manicures are less susceptible to chipping and do not require exposure to UV light.

 

A French manicure features beige or pink nails with white tips. If that look is too old-fashioned for your taste, many salons now offer what are known as American manicures, which mimic the natural color of healthy nails by sporting an off-white or beige tip. You can also consider a reverse-French manicure, which highlights the “moon,” or the base of the nail, rather than the tip.

 

Once you have selected your manicure style, your technician will have you choose a color. It’s fun to follow your whimsy! You can choose a seasonal hue, go with a classic or neutral shade, or match it to the paint color of your dream car (that your children will one day buy for you).

 

Hands look revived and younger just by having the prep work completed. This consists of filing the nails to shape, steaming and softening, cuticle trimming, and surface buffing. When men have manicures, these are the basic services they often receive. Manicures for men are more popular all the time.

 

Paraffin treatments take moisturizing to a whole different level. Feet or hands are dipped in paraffin wax that has been warmed to perfection. The wax is left on for 20 to 30 minutes. It is then broken off and is followed with a moisturizing cream. The heat can do wonders for the tiny, overburdened muscles of the hands or feet, and the moisturizing effects can be felt for about a week.

 

Pedicure options regularly include the same prep work as manicures, with the addition of some kind of foot massage or exfoliating scrub. If you’ve never tried a warm stone massage, you won’t believe how the penetrating heat of the smooth stones relieves sore calf muscles! Massage also offers the added health benefit of aiding circulation and easing fluid from swollen feet and ankles. Soaking tubs incorporate fragrant additions like lavender, rose petals, or essential oils. This is a wonderful opportunity to settle back and breathe deeply.

 

Some nail salons also offer unconventional spa treatments like body exfoliation, eyebrow threading, tanning, or facials. There is a growing trend to offer exotic warm teas or cocktails to enjoy during your services! Today’s salons are thinking creatively about how to make your time there an immersive experience.

 

Once you experience a professional manicure or pedicure and see how refined the end result is, you may decide to make them a regular part of your personal grooming. Nail experts recommend that you schedule touch-ups every two weeks. This is around the time that cuticles become visibly ragged, and paint and enhancements begin to chip or peel. Having regular appointments to deeply moisturize hands and nails keeps them looking younger and protects them from cracking and superficial injury.

 

Who knows? Maybe the kids will surprise me this year and bring me breakfast in bed. If you have a great mother in your life, I promise you that the little things mean a lot. A gift package for a visit to a nail salon would be like having rose petals strewn at her feet. Perhaps we shouldn’t look upon nail care as such a luxury. These spa treatments can be part of anyone’s routine self-care. Let’s commit to creating these elegant moments of repose for ourselves and for the ones we love, and—for heaven’s sake!—use those dapper digits to call your mother! 

 

Sources for this article included: birdie.com, tiege.com, and keryflex.com.

By Maria Harding
 

Auto Wise

Is the RV Life for You?

Recreational Vehicles Have Much to Offer

As the temperature rises and summer nears, many folks are excited to hit the road in an RV. Recreational vehicles are more popular than ever! Whether you want to take a road trip without the hassle of hotels or are planning to live in your RV for an extended period, RVs come in shapes and sizes that will fit any type of budget and lifestyle.

 

The most popular type of non-motorized RV is the travel trailer, which can be pulled down the highway hitched to a car or truck. These come in all sizes, including tiny models with a chuckwagon kitchen in the rear or larger ones with features like picture windows and a sliding glass patio door.

 

The fifth wheel trailer (or “fiver”) is especially popular with those taking extended trips or traveling full-time in their RV. The overhang that rests above the tow truck bed is frequently employed as a bedroom suite, a living room, or even a kitchen. This option provides ample storage for large or bulky items. If you need room to store another vehicle in your trailer, consider a toy hauler. This type of trailer features a garage area in the rear with a large ramp door, making it easy to load and secure motorcycles, ATVs, or even a sedan. 

 

Lightweight RVs, which can be towed with light-duty trucks, SUVs, and crossover vehicles, are made from lighter materials and are shaped more aerodynamically to keep towing weight down without losing features. For more space, you can go with an expandable trailer. These have pop-up or slide-out features that increase living space when parked. 

 

Frequently seen on TV or in movies, Class A motorhomes are some of the largest vehicles on the road. This means lots of room for comfort, including spacious sleeping and lounging areas, full kitchens, and upscale bathrooms. Many come with desirable home-like features such as a washer and dryer, induction cooktop, and residential refrigerator. They can take RV travel to a new level of luxury!

 

Class B motorhomes, on the other hand, are smaller and streamlined, offering living space best suited for smaller groups. Most Class B motorhomes do not include slide-out features but still offer home comforts like galley kitchens, beds, and bathrooms.

 

Class C motorhomes are a good option for those who would prefer outdoor experiences for larger families. These include raised sleeping or storage areas, which are located over the cab of the RV, offering more living space than Class B motorhomes but a lower price point and better gas mileage than Class A motorhomes.The benefits of owning an RV are many. RV travel is known for its flexibility—you can travel when and where you please, on your own schedule. It’s the best of road tripping, since you can take frequent detours to experience nature, landmarks, or national parks, without having to worry about housing. 

 

In the long run, owning an RV can save money, since your family’s trips won’t include expenses like airfare, car rental, hotel rooms, and constant restaurant meals. Perhaps the best benefit, however, is the quality time that you and your family can spend together while traveling and exploring. 

 

When it’s time to settle down for the night, travelers can hunker down in an RV park, in which they can choose to spend the night, week, month, or season. Commercial campgrounds range from a parking lot with electric hookups to a five-star RV resort. While most offer electricity, water, and sewer hookups, some camping resorts also offer amenities like workout rooms, hiking trails, a bar or restaurant, and on-site RV repairs. These sites are typically larger and more private. They might even include features like full-service garbage pickup and RV washing.

 

The lure of RV travel has caught the attention of many retirees who are looking to take frequent trips, to visit family without sleeping on the couch, or to ditch the traditional home concept entirely. Whether you’re looking to hit the open road during retirement or start a tradition with your young family, take a thorough look at all of the options before making the leap. With so many sizes and varieties of RVs, it’s best to evaluate how much space is needed prior to purchasing new wheels. Would you prefer to tow a small trailer or drive a full-size Class A? Finding the perfect fit takes time and research, and the best choice heavily depends on lifestyle and financial commitment. Purchasing and owning an RV can be a big venture, but the return you’ll get in the form of unforgettable trips and memories is priceless. 

 

Sources for this article included: thorindustries.com, cruiseamerica.com, and aarp.org. 

By Brie Hellbusch
 

The Good Life

Cooking It Up Outdoors

Expand Your Kitchen Space

As spring moves into summer, we start craving outdoor activities and social gatherings. Families are spending more time at home, and al fresco dining and entertaining are soaring in popularity. People are looking for ways to improve their outdoor space, and an outdoor kitchen can be a great choice.  

 

An outdoor kitchen increases your living space as an extension of your home. Imagine sipping your morning coffee or enjoying an evening cocktail in a private oasis in your backyard. Spending time outdoors promotes relaxation 

and reduces stress, depression, and anxiety…and there’s something enticing about the distinctive aroma and taste of grilled food. 

 

Location is an important consideration for an outdoor kitchen. Since you’ll be preparing and transporting food, locate the outdoor kitchen near the back entrance of your home. If you need electricity or natural gas, choose an area accessible to both. Select your location to maximize both the view and your privacy. Consider the usual wind direction, so grill smoke blows away from the living space. If possible, choose a shady location—a pergola, patio cover,  sun shades, umbrellas, or trees are all shade options. 

 

Once you’ve decided on the location, what elements will you include? Outdoor kitchens can range from simple to extravagant, depending on available space, desired functionality, and budget constraints. Essential components of an outdoor kitchen include an accessible cooking set-up, comfortable seating, and atmosphere. 

 

Elements can include grills, kitchen islands, sinks, food preparation counters, refrigerators, cabinets, televisions, music, and heaters. You can purchase a pre-assembled, built-in grill or go for a custom-designed model with accessories like side burners, smoker boxes, infrared sear burners, or rotisseries. Kitchen islands can be customized or constructed with modular systems. Refrigerators and beverage chillers eliminate the need to run to and from the house all evening. Cabinets provide convenient storage for handy access to cooking essentials. 

 

Televisions and music add an extra dimension to the entertainment experience. Heaters provide warmth when Mother Nature has chilly plans for your outdoor gathering, and they extend the outdoor entertaining season. 

 

Consider how you will use the kitchen and plan accordingly. Establishing a budget will help you distinguish between wants and needs during the planning process. Remember to budget for details like hardware and lighting; these may be small items, but they can add up quickly. Budgeting allows you to remain focused and avoid overspending on your project.

 

Keep in mind that an outdoor kitchen is much more than just buying a grill and some patio chairs. Permits may be required for installing gas, electrical, and water lines, and specific codes and regulations may come into play, depending upon the project’s scope. Professionals have experience in planning, design, and construction, which means you’ll save time and get the kitchen you want when you hire a pro. 

 

An outdoor kitchen can be a significant investment. To choose a contractor, obtain referrals from friends or family who have installed an outdoor kitchen. Have some questions prepared for each contractor. How long has the company been in business? How much experience does the contractor have with your type of project? Make sure the contractor is well established in constructing outdoor kitchens. Ask to visit past projects and speak with past clients about their experiences. How long will the process take? Ensure that the contractor and sub-contractors are licensed, bonded, and insured. These types of questions will help you choose the right outdoor kitchen contractor. 

 

The grill is an essential component of an outdoor kitchen. Gas grills are the most popular because of their ease of use, easy clean-up, and constant temperature. A grill with at least two burners allows you to have different heat zones, meaning you can grill meat in one zone and vegetables in another. Burners shouldn’t be too far apart or you risk cold and hot spots. Make sure your grill comes with a lid, so you have convection heat. Safety features to look for include a heat-shielded handle and locking wheels. 

 

Thinking about how you plan to use your grill will help you select one that’s best for your needs. Cast-iron grates provide a better sear on a steak but require maintenance to prevent rust. Stainless steel grates are easier to clean and rust-resistant, but they don’t conduct heat as well. Cast-iron may be a good choice if you grill a lot of steaks, while stainless steel may be a better choice if you typically grill burgers, brats, and seafood.

 

Grilling season is almost here! An outdoor kitchen provides a place for you to relax, spend time with family, and socialize with friends, all while enjoying a great meal. You can have fun and escape without leaving the comfort of your home. 

 

Sources for this article included: hgtv.com, nbcnews.com, and landscapingnetwork.com.

By Angella A. Arndt
 

Great Escapes

Jackson Hole

Channeling Your Inner Cowgirl

This month, I’m focusing your attention on a wonderful small-town travel destination in the United States: Jackson Hole, Wyoming. In Jackson Hole, you can get out of the city and into the open air. You can experience the country, learn some history, and channel your inner cowgirl. It’s not just about the nearby top ski resort or the first American national park. Picture yourself in a gorgeous mountain town, nestled between the Tetons and the Gros Ventre mountain ranges, surrounded by beauty and wildlife. Jackson Hole really is a year-round adventure-lover’s destination.

 

Jackson Hole was incorporated in 1914. The “Jackson” in Jackson Hole is for beaver trapper David Edward “Davey” Jackson. A “hole” is how mountain-dwelling locals would describe a high mountain valley. Jackson Hole refers to the entire valley and generally includes the towns of Jackson, Teton Village, Kelly, Wilson, Moran, Moose, and Hoback Junction, as well as Grand Teton National Park. Jackson is the largest town in Jackson Hole, with a population of just over 10,000. The soil is not ideal for planting, so settlers ranched instead. The tourism boom in the area came after the establishment of dude ranches.

 

Speaking of dude ranches—if you haven’t tried one before, Jackson Hole is a great place to start. Consider Moose Head Ranch. It’s family-owned and completely surrounded by the Tetons. At Moose Head Ranch, you will have to unplug from technology and instead immerse yourself in horseback riding, stargazing, fly-fishing, hiking, whitewater rafting, and bonding with your friends and family. Tough, huh? 

 

If you want a more upscale option, look into Turpin Meadow Ranch, a luxury dude ranch right on the Buffalo Fork River between the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. It offers similar activities but with more upscale accommodations. If you’re uncomfortable being so untethered from technology, feel free to stay in a cute cabin in town where you’ll have modern amenities like television and internet. Cowboy Village Resort is only a short drive to the airport and national parks and is just six blocks from the Town Square, so it is quiet but close to everything. They have kitchenettes in every cabin and an indoor pool and hot tub.

 

Make your way over to the Town Square for a little exploring, where you will be welcomed by the big archways made of shed elk antlers. You will love the really cool, quaint boutique shops and fine art galleries that line the streets. Where to start? If you want to look like a cowgirl and feel like a cowgirl, you have to dress like a cowgirl! Beaver Creek Hat and Leather has been around for decades, and they have a fantastic selection and free fittings. The Jackson Bootlegger has some amazing cowboy boot styles—leave yourself some time to decide! You can find your next getup at the Wyoming Outfitters. Top it all off with souvenir jewelry that will remind you of your trip, like a Teton stacking ring from Jackson Hole Jewelry Company. The galleries have some amazing local scenic shots and paintings, but the smaller sizes just don’t do them justice. If you buy a print, go big (they can always ship it home for you).

 

Summertime in Jackson Hole means rodeos on Wednesday and Saturday evenings. You can’t come all the way to the country and not see one! After the rodeo, try some local game at The Gun Barrel. It used to be the Wyoming Wildlife Museum & Taxidermy, so there’s a lot of neat stuff to look at during your visit to the restaurant, not to mention the tasty menu offerings. If you would rather stick to beef, enjoy a mouthwatering steak dinner at the aptly named Local Restaurant & Bar. Continue your night with country swing dancing and country music at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar and Bar J Chuckwagon (make reservations in advance). They’re a hoot!

 

Summer is a very popular time to visit Jackson Hole, but so are all of the other seasons. Whether you want to see the gorgeous fall foliage, play in the snow, view the most wildlife, or hit the rodeo, Jackson Hole is a wonderful destination to visit any time of the year. There are lots of events to come for, including biking and running events, rodeos, concerts, festivals, and fairs. 

 

The next time you need a little vacation inspiration, take a look at some of Ansel Adams’ iconic photos of landscapes of the Tetons and just think of all the fun you will have when you “Stay Wild” in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Sources for this article included: visitjacksonhole.com, jacksonholechamber.com, and  jhrodeo.com. 

 

Editor’s Note: Jackie has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her work has appeared in publications including Colorado Golf, Desert Golf, and Canadian Architecture & Design. Her blogs can be found at BoardandRide.com and the luxury and adventure travel website, ArtofTripping.com. 

By Jackie Williams
 

The Green Thumb

Vegetable Gardening

Are You Ready to Dig in?

There are many great reasons to plant your own vegetable garden. Most of us are aware that the produce sold in grocery stores goes through a long process of harvesting, shipping, and distribution. From there, it can stay in storage for some time and lose some of its nutritional value. When you have a produce supply in your backyard, however, it goes directly from the earth to your table! Another great benefit is choosing how you want to approach weed and pest control—you can avoid the unknown pesticides that the grocery store’s suppliers may be using.

 

I distinctly remember my first attempt at vegetable gardening! Sadly, I dramatically miscalculated the amount of garden that I had the time and skills to tend. With reckless abandon and bubbling enthusiasm, I tilled too much space and promptly filled it all with seeds and plants. Much to my dismay, it grew very swiftly…and so did the weeds. By August, I was overwhelmed with produce. At the time, I was a single mother who worked full-time and did not yet have the wherewithal to tackle canning. (I eventually got my canning act together.) After “gifting” everyone I knew with produce, I still had too much. Alas, the weeds eventually took over. It felt like a victory for them and a defeat for me. 

 

The error of my overzealousness was easy to see. The following season, I planted a small, manageable garden that was not so difficult to sustain. However, I still dealt with enthusiastic critters that were as delighted with my garden produce as I was. The lesson I learned that year was to place fencing all around the vegetables to keep the wildlife at bay. Another gardening season, another learning experience.

 

Over time, I have learned that vegetable gardening can be great fun! You can use it as an opportunity to educate your children or grandchildren and save yourself some money in the process. It’s also good for the body and mind. You can get quite a workout while gardening, and some research supports the theory that gardening can reduce stress and anxiety. If stress is making you crazy at work, might I suggest an hour or two in the garden to improve your mood and release your tension? There is nothing quite like it. 

 

Once you’ve decided to try growing your own produce, there are several ways you can go about it. Of course, there is the traditional in-ground garden. If you have the room, and the soil is adequate, you may enjoy this type of vegetable gardening the most…so long as you remember the fencing around the garden! There is nothing so daunting to a vegetable gardener as seeing beautiful peas, lettuce, and herbs reaching proudly toward the sun one day and discovering the next morning that they have been eaten to the ground by bands of marauding hooligans also known as rabbits, moles, and groundhogs. Sufficient fencing should do an acceptable job of keeping the wildlife out without any harm befalling them or your precious crops. 

 

Another favorite is raised beds. These have the benefit of discouraging pesky backyard pests from eating at your buffet. Because raised beds are above ground level, working in one can be easier on the back and knees than working in an in-ground plot. 

 

If your space is limited, I highly recommend container gardening. Herbs do very well in pots. Lettuce is great in containers, and many excellent tomatoes come from “patio” plants. Container gardens are convenient to water and bring fewer weeds, since you’re generally starting with potting soil that has all the nutrients plants need but none of the seeds overwintering from last year’s bounty of weeds. 

 

Now, what to plant? If this is your first foray into vegetable gardening, I would start with herbs—they’re easy to grow and offer substantial rewards. I love snipping off some clippings of rosemary, thyme, or cilantro to add directly to the food that I’m cooking (fresh is always best). I even add fresh herb sprigs to my flower arrangements to make them fragrant for days. I love to plant different lettuces in several pots and wait for their bounty to put in salads. No more wilted grocery store greens for me! 

 

I know that vegetable gardening might seem intimidating at the start—my first couple of seasons were hardly a resounding success. On the other hand, there is nothing like the joyous day on which you take the first bite of a vegetable that you grew yourself. Start small, building your confidence and your garden one season at a time. You can do this! 

 

Sources for this article included: gardenguides.com, gardenfundamentals.com, agriculturegoods.com, and environmental-conscience.com.

By Linda Sutherland
 

Cuddly Critters

Pet Pros to the Rescue 

Advantages of Boarding, Daycare, and Sitters

If there’s one thing that all pet parents know, it’s that leaving a furry friend at home never gets easier. Whether it’s for just a few hours or for an extended vacation, pets can feel anxious about being left alone, and they’re not the only ones! Leaving your pet behind can bring a sense of nerves to owners, too. Fortunately, pet care professionals can help alleviate this stress for pets and owners alike.

 

For owners who would prefer not to leave their pets unsupervised during the workday, pet daycare is an excellent alternative. Just like daycares for young children, pet daycares usually have flexible schedules, offer entertainment and enrichment opportunities, and provide engagement and socialization. Some facilities even offer live cameras or provide photo updates throughout the day, which can be a very reassuring perk for owners. Short-term care is likely available for one-off situations when it might be best for pets to be away from home for a few hours—moving day or renovation day, for example. 

 

If traveling for longer than a day trip, it may be best to board your animals while you’re away. Short-term boarding, for brief vacations, is readily available. Some facilities also offer long-term boarding for owners who need to be away for weeks. Cat and dog boarding facilities are similar in nature, as they both offer private areas for relaxation and optional group exercise for animals, both indoors and out, as appropriate. Dogs are also typically walked several times a day. 

 

Though pet boarding facilities have many things in common, they are not all the same. Some places might only offer the basics to keep your pets safe while you’re away, while other facilities are more like a pet spa. Prior to making a selection, it’s important to visit the facility and ask questions. Make sure the boarding environment is clean and the staff are friendly. It’s important to know how often your pet will be exercised and fed and how much time your pet will spend with the other animals boarding at the facility. If your pet requires special dietary or medicinal arrangements, make sure those are squared away in advance. It’s wise to consult your veterinarian for recommendations. 

 

Many locations will allow for an initial assessment, meaning an owner and pet can visit the facility and interact with staff and other animals before booking a stay. Owners should also check that boarding and daycare facilities are prepared for emergencies (medical or otherwise). Some boarding facilities employ staff who have specific training or certifications, and they may even have a vet on call. They should also have an evacuation plan in case of fire. For the safety of all the animals, it’s important to make sure the facility adheres to a strict policy that requires all animals to be current on vaccinations.

 

Animals have different temperaments, just like people. For a highly social, energetic pet, boarding can be like a dream come true—so many friends, so little time! For other animals, leaving their environment can be traumatic. Pet sitting or dog walking can be a great option for these families. Pets will feel secure in their own home, surrounded by familiarities, and they’ll also be able to follow their regular diet and exercise routine when the pet sitter is around. They will receive personal attention and affection and won’t be exposed to any potential illnesses from other animals. 

 

Not all pet sitters are equal, which is why it’s extremely important to conduct research and look for a pet sitter who is credentialed or trained in pet care. For liability purposes, an owner may want to request a background check, as well as proof of insurance and bonding, during the interview process. Some small businesses corral a team of sitters and walkers who are assigned to different clients. Hiring through an agency saves you the work of background screening and insurance, as these aspects are handled by the business. If you need a recommendation for a pet sitter or dog walker, talk to your veterinarian or local friends who use this type of pet service. 

 

Even the most dedicated pet owner can’t care for pets every minute of every day. A time will inevitably come when finding proper pet care is the clear way forward. This is a responsible choice on the pet owner’s part and ensures that the pet remains in good hands. It’s well worth the time and effort for the peace of mind you get when you know your beloved pet is being well tended while you’re away. 

 

Sources for this article included: 123petsoftware.com, merckvetmanual.com, and petsitters.org. 

By Brie Hellbusch
 

Positive Perspective

When “No” is the Right Answer

Take Time to Learn

“What I want is to have a healthy relationship with my wife, where we are truly partners in our marriage.” —Manny Chavez; Fall, 2012

 

I met my husband, Manny, on August 25, 2012. It truly was love at first sight. I was madly in love; I wanted to get married and live “happily ever after.” Manny said, “No.” Boy, am I ever glad he did! 

 

“Be careful of what you ask for; you just might get it.” —Anonymous 

 

Manny and I tied the knot exactly seven years after we met, on August 25, 2019. Those seven years taught me so very much. I was fortunate enough to have met a man who wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. I truly believe if we had “jumped right in,” we would not be together today. 

Reflecting back on those seven years prior to the big day, I realize that Manny had been working on himself and his demons during the 22 years since he had been divorced. Me? Not so much! 

Now, that is not to put myself down. I had done a terrific job of creating my business—Women’s Edition—with the help of a terrific team. I had been working on that since 1986. I had taken very little time, if any, to look at myself and my life. I was so busy building my business, I pushed myself to the back of the line.

 

“The Universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself. Everything you want, you already are.” —Rumi

 

One of the things that Manny taught me is how important it is for all of us to reflect and grow and learn from our experiences. Honestly, prior to meeting Manny, I never really reflected on my day, on my month, on my year. I was simply “full steam ahead,” and I hoped everyone would get out of my way.

 

“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” —Carl Gustav Jung

 

Over the seven years that Manny and I spent together before we got married, we fought, we laughed, we cried, we separated, and we reunited. All that time, I was learning. It was kind of like boot camp for my soul! A reminder here…Manny is a 20-year Navy vet!

 

“I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.” —Winston Churchill

 

Yes, I was stubborn—still am!—but Manny hung in there. Slowly but surely, he began to unwrap what he called “the skins of the onion,” one by one.

 

“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” —Buddha

 

Thank you, Manny, from the bottom of my heart, for saying “No” in 2012. We now are becoming one. 

By Janet Van deWalle