Category Archives: Series

New Year's Reset

Long View & Vantage Point: New Year’s Reset

Happy New Year, everyone! Here is hoping that 2019 is your best year yet. Now, I am sure my readers are thinking my next line will be something about what my New Year’s resolution is going to be. No, not this year.

I have a different take on 2019 that I would like to share. Resolutions make us obsess about outcomes. The outcomes are sometimes tied to successes, but they’re also sometimes tied to failure. So this year, I am substituting the term “New Year’s resolution” with “New Year’s reset!”

It seems like every year, many of us find a way to ring in the new year, like watching the ball drop on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” with the countdown “3-2-1, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!” Or maybe we skip staying up all together because this whole New Year’s Eve thing is overrated. Nevertheless, the next day, we close the book on last year, and just like that, we are on to a brand-new year and a brand-new start.

Starting that diet? Setting the goal for financial freedom? Both? These are the good old New Year’s resolutions, the imagined future, where we all vow to make a change. Our minds are set and ready to move on to a better us! “This is the year that you are going to do it,” we tell ourselves.

What I have learned over all the years is that my ready-set-go approach is good for maybe the first week or two (maybe the first month or two if I’m lucky). The adrenaline is high. I go out and buy all the organic fruits and veggies and local health food to fill the fridge. Then, I head out to the mall to find sweatpants and a matching headband, maybe even a new pair of shoes to walk and exercise away all those pounds (all on sale of course because I am trying to cut down on spending, too!). Now, it’s all set, and I can’t wait to start!

Next thing you know, good intentions are interrupted. In the mail, there’s an invitation to the wedding event of the year (with of course, lots of food and drinks to be served), and no doubt, I have to find the perfect dress and accessories to wear to the big gala. Or maybe it’s the annual Super Bowl party invite with more food and drinks (at least sweatpants are fine for this occasion). There go the resolutions, just like that! And here come the struggles and guilt with all kinds of mixed feelings! What about the diet and saving money? Why do I do this every year?

Why put yourself through that?

This year, wouldn’t it be easier if we lived in the moment and not the imagined future? If each day, we took a short, mindful pause? Stop and reset? What is going on around you right this minute? You might see the most wonderful sunset or maybe kids sledding down a hill. Maybe you hear the humming sound of the fan or just that peaceful serenade of silence.

You don’t have to worry about the entire year or even tomorrow, just be in the moment. Mindfulness is putting the attention on the present, and doing it purposefully. You aren’t imagining it, you are living it! Go out for a walk or take that spare change to the bank. Make it intentional! It’s that small space in time that you can slow down, replenish, and reset your mind and body.

In 2019, maybe we can all learn to hit the reset button and find how the power of taking just a few minutes of each day can lift your spirit, boost your mind, and achieve successes! Here’s to a wonderful start for 2019!

Jessica Arroyo, born and raised in the Wenatchee Valley, is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance Northwest, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. During her time off, she enjoys spending time with her husband and infant son.

Mervet Adams is a community liaison with Health Alliance. She loves her grandson, family, nature, and fashion.

Happy Medicare New Year

Steps to a Happy “Medicare” New Year

Winter preparations are done. Winter festivals have ended, and end-of-year holiday celebrations are over. Just when you think you can sit back and relax, there is still one last item you may need to consider.

If you made any Medicare changes during the past Annual Enrollment Period (October 15 to December 7), there are some actions you can take that may help you have a happy Medicare new year.

If you enrolled in a new plan or your plan had changes during the Annual Enrollment Period, you should make sure you’ve received your new member ID card. This card contains the newest info for your 2019 care. Be sure to show your new ID card to the doctor’s office and pharmacist on your first visit of the new year so that they have your newest information on file. It’s also worth mentioning that with the new cards for the new year can come new deductibles (depending on the plan you choose), which start over at the beginning of the year.

If you decided to stay with Original Medicare, you’ll still use your Medicare card for hospital and doctor services. If you have not received the new Medicare card that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began issuing in April 2018, be on the lookout because they are all scheduled to be mailed by April 2019.

If you joined a Medicare prescription drug plan that works with Original Medicare, then the plan will mail you a card so you can fill your prescriptions. If you joined a Medicare Advantage plan (like an HMO, PPO, or POS), you’ll also get a new card to use for both healthcare visits (doctor and hospital) and for picking up your prescriptions.

If you need medical care or need to fill a prescription before you receive the ID card but after the effective coverage date, you may be able to use other proof of plan membership. Some examples are the welcome letter you got from the plan or even your enrollment confirmation number and the plan name and phone number.

If you elected to have your plan premium withheld from your Social Security check, don’t be alarmed if you don’t see it deducted right away. It may take up to 3 months from the time you made the premium withhold request before you start seeing your premium withheld from your Social Security payment.

The 2019 year is a great time to take advantage of your one-time “Welcome to Medicare” or annual wellness visit your plan offers to you. This benefit is usually no cost to you! It is designed as a preventive measure to help you take charge of your health, be advised of future needed preventive services, and establish a baseline for personalized care. And speaking of preventive measures, many Medicare Advantage plans come with a fitness benefit or provide access to physical fitness activities at no cost to you.

I wish you all a happy and healthy 2019!

Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.

Prepare for Holiday Travel

Vantage Point: The Gift of Preparedness

The holidays provide the perfect time for people to be out and about, traveling to various destinations.

You think about if you have all the gifts and various outfits with you in case different events arise. Did your family members pack what they need, and did you pack your toothbrush? Those are all very important things to focus on, but have you thought about what you might need if something during your travels goes awry?

Do you have what you need to make it through an unplanned emergency? Yes, I know it’s not fun to think about things that could go wrong. But if you do, it just might help or even be lifesaving, depending on the circumstance. Just one tip to remember when you’re playing the mental game of what could go wrong that I like to remember: not fear, just prepare. Don’t live in fear. Just try to have the basics covered.

Let’s imagine that you’re taking a holiday trip by car to visit family. Let’s say that they are pretty far away, a few hours, and the weather hasn’t been the greatest lately, but today it’s OK. They are forecasting snow closer to where your family lives, but you think you’ll beat the snow by an hour or so. But what if you don’t?

What if the car breaks down, and it throws your timeline off, and you do encounter that snowstorm? And what if you didn’t break down, but the storm is worse than predicted, and you can’t get to your destination? Do you have the supplies you’d need to get help or wait out the storm?

I know it’s literally impossible to plan for all the potential issues, but thinking of it in categories can help you plan the best items to have for you and your family. Think shelter, food, and water as a basic start. Your vehicle can hopefully be your shelter, so what about the other variables?

  • Stay hydrated and fed. 

    Because you’re traveling, you might pass through an area where there aren’t any stores close by, and now the family is hungry, and it doesn’t look like you’ll be moving toward your destination anytime soon. The first item you should think about having with you is water. It’s always smart to have water, from a few jugs or bottles to a whole case. You can never go wrong having extra handy. Next you should think about food. These can range from snack items to protein bars and high-calorie survival bars.

     
  • Keep warm. 

    Because you’re traveling in the winter in our imagined scenario, it’s probably going to be cold in your area. If something happens where you lose the heat in your car, do you have supplies to keep everyone warm? You might think about having warm blankets, hand warmer packets, layers of clothes to put on, and a thermos of warm soup, water, cocoa, or coffee. (And this isn’t the be-all-end-all list, but just some ideas to get you thinking!)

If you’re thinking that those are great starter ideas, but you might need more robust supplies, there are plenty of things out there to help. Winter travel kits at the local box stores make it easy to be prepared in a variety of situations. You can also search for more winter car travel safety tips online.

The possibilities are endless, and you really can tailor your needs to your family and their well-being. Happy travels!

Breck Obermeyer is a community liaison with Health Alliance Northwest, serving Yakima County. She is a small-town girl from Naches and has a great husband who can fix anything and 2 kids who are her world.

Fond Memories of the Spirit of Christmas

Long View: Princess of Christmas Past

As a child, my favorite time of year was Christmastime. It was not just Christmas day, but the whole season surrounding it. The spirit of being joyful, grateful, loving, and caring was something I thought should exist all year long.

The spirit of giving was my favorite of all. Everyone felt like a prince or princess waiting to receive their heart’s desire. It gave me joy to give someone a gift and see the expression on their face when they opened it, especially when it was thoughtful or something they really needed or always wanted.

The season also came with beautiful and vibrant decorations. Some of my favorites were the candy canes and stockings. I remember the candy-filled, clear plastic candy canes with the solid red hook. They could be filled with any kind of candy, from gumballs to M&M’s or even Sweet Tarts or jelly beans.

I also remember the red see-through netted stockings filled with both candy and small toys. I thought to myself, “Why would they make a stocking where I can see the goodies in it but then tell me I can’t open it until Christmas?” It was too tempting to not try and sneak some candy out of it ahead of time. Although I was anxious to open it, the wait built patience. And patience is a virtue.

More of my favorite memories include choosing our real, live Christmas trees. My daddy insisted that we get a real tree and not an artificial one. “Nothing can replace the scent of fresh pine in the house,” he explained. 

Our tree was even more special because it was decorated with not only store-bought decorations of lights, bulbs, and tinsel, but also ornaments I had made at school. And the tree had to be as tall as the ceiling with either a shining start or an angel on top.

My most memorable times at Christmas were when my family came together at my grandma’s and granddaddy’s house on Christmas Eve. I got to see all of my cousins, aunts, and uncles. Of course there was lots of food. My favorites were the turkey, dressing, and peach cobbler.  Everything was homemade, and I could tell it was made with love.

It’s my goal to carry the spirit of being joyful, grateful, loving, and caring into the present and the future. With or without the candy canes, stockings, or decorations, the memories of family and love are most important to me.

The material things pass away. The candy is consumed.  The stockings are thrown away. The light bulbs eventually burn out. The tinsel gets tangled, and the pine needles on the real tree dry out. But memories of family love will continue to live in our hearts.

Everyone here at Health Alliance wishes you and your family a joyous holiday season and a very Merry Christmas. Share your memories with someone you love, especially those older princes or princesses in your family who have years and years of fond memories on their minds this time of year.

Sherry Gordon-Harris is a community liaison at Health Alliance. She is a wife and mother of 2 boys and enjoys traveling, collecting dolls, and hosting princess parties and princess pageants.

Family Time for the Holidays

Covered Bridge: If Only Time Stood Still

As a child with a birthday in December (of course shortly followed by Christmas), I can say I always wished the first part of December away. I was so excited about all the festivities to come that I merely wanted the days to pass until the real excitement began.

Even though I share a birthday with my twin sister and some of our presents consisted of sharing, I wanted nothing more than to see what gifts we might receive for our birthday. Fast forward 10 days, and all we wanted to see were the gifts we would receive for Christmas, hoping not to have to share those.

That’s usually the way kids work, right?

Now, as an adult, my daughter’s birthday is 2 days from mine, which means I care less about what I get and more about what we get to do for her. My husband and I rarely get gifts for one another. We find much more joy in giving to others than receiving ourselves.

These days, we look forward to making cakes for birthdays and favorite meals for our kids. We look forward to family coming to town to visit and trying our best to get thoughtful gifts for them that we hope they’ll enjoy.

We enjoy the extra company and chaos that ensues with it. We spend more time sitting around the table chatting with family and less time worrying about the cleanup of a meal we spent most of the day preparing. After all, it will be there tomorrow. Our family may not be.

It’s also important to remember that while some of us think of joy and family during the holiday season, others feel isolation and anxiety, and the shorter, darker days and cold weather don’t help. We often forget about those who may be living alone. I encourage you this holiday season to take an extra moment to make time for the ones who may need it more than you know.

During the holidays, which is oftentimes the only time we get to be with distant family, take the extra time to not worry about what can be put off until tomorrow. Spend it talking, communicating, and interacting. We rush through life as children to get to the next exciting moment, but what if the most exciting moments now are the ones shared over a meal and simple conversations?

Happy Holidays!

Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.

Care for Pets in Holidays and Hard Times

Vantage Point: Fur Babies

November, where did you come from? I swear it was just yesterday that I was stressing out about what I was going to buy to contribute for Thanksgiving dinner last year.

Full disclosure, I’m not a very good cook.

During the holidays, most of us get lists ready of everything we would like to accomplish before the festivities begin. Along with those lists, we still have to do our daily tasks, like taking care of our families and our pets. These four-legged children are a part of our families, and we want them to feel loved during the holidays and for the rest of the year.

Unfortunately, the holidays mean a stressful financial burden for many people. It never fails that life happens and that bad situations happen all at once. When dealing with your four-legged children, they might need some care during this busy season and cause extra expenses you are not expecting. Thankfully, our community has different resources to help support those unexpected situations.

The Wenatchee Valley Humane Society has many programs that can assist during the difficult times. One of the programs they offer is Pets for Life, which has the intent of “keeping people and pets together during the times they need each other most.”

This program can help board pets without cost if the owner can’t afford to do so. Typically, our seniors use this program when they need to be admitted for inpatient care and don’t have anybody to watch over their pets. Pets for Life can also help with the financial burden if your pet needs to be evaluated by a veterinarian, and it can also help supply food for your pets.

Another wonderful program the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society offers is a low-cost spay and neuter program to help low-income citizens spay or neuter their pets at a very low cost. If you or anybody you know could use these services, call the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society at 509-662-9577 or stop by.

Knowing that we have such an amazing place that can help with our pets offers peace of mind to get geared up for our busy season. The holidays are intended to be full of love and joy and spent with everyone you care about. This includes our pets, and thanks to the assistance of this organization, we can feel comfortable that our pets will be by our side.

Jessica Arroyo, born and raised in the Wenatchee Valley, is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance Northwest, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. During her time off, she enjoys spending time with her husband and infant son.

Honor a Veteran This Veterans Day

Covered Bridge: Honor and Comfort a Veteran

My aunt is a quilter. If you know a quilter or happen to be one yourself, you know that this is more of a way of life than a hobby.

Every important occasion in our family merits a quilt. Getting married? Quilt. Having a baby? Quilt. Everywhere you turn from in town to in the country, you see barn quilts on sheds, and those patterns inspire her.

November is an important month in our country because it’s the month we celebrate Veterans Day. How do you recognize Veterans Day? Of course my aunt would say, “I’ve got a quilt for that!”

The Quilts of Valor Foundation is an organization that seeks out veterans to honor by making and presenting them with a handmade quilt. Its motto is “Quilting to Honor and Comfort.” I like that. Here is a group of people with a passion for sewing something with their own two hands to make someone else feel better. To date, Quilts of Valor has given away more than 193,000 quilts.

Let’s go back to the question, “How do you recognize Veterans Day?” Or better yet, do you recognize a veteran?

We live in a time in our nation’s history when a veteran can look so many different ways. Our nation’s veterans are handsome 90-year-old WWII veterans, hardworking Korean War veterans, proud but quiet Vietnam veterans, or even the 25-year-old grandson or granddaughter of someone you know.

The men and women who serve our country have done so in my name, in your name. How can you recognize them today? How can you say, “I see you and understand what you mean to this country?” We can’t all make quilts. But we can buy cups of coffee. We can shake hands, or if appropriate, give a hug. We can all say thank you.

Here are some organizations that reach out to veterans. See if you can find one in your community and offer whatever special skill you have to their cause. If you bake, bake. If you woodwork, woodwork. Share yourself with a veteran so they know you care. It’s the very least any of us can do to honor and comfort the heroes around us.

Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.