Tag Archives: life

Happily Downsizing

Long View: The Key to Downsizing

I recently downsized from a 2-story colonial to a townhouse. I found the process to be freeing, frustrating, exhausting, joyful, and tearful, all at the same time.

It was a 20-year trip back in time. This was the house where my 2 children were raised, the house where one child kicked his foot through the bathroom door and where another child stabbed a knife into the kitchen cabinet. (If you have boys, you will know this is pretty standard stuff.)

I cried as I painted over the growth chart drawn on the master bedroom closet wall that measured boys as small as 6 months old, and even the 2-year-old black Labrador retriever.

How does a person effectively and efficiently go through the collection of a life well lived, keeping what matters most and letting the rest go?

Moving out of the family home and into a smaller, more hands-free lifestyle is an opportunity many of us will face at least once in our lives. No more mowing the lawn, plowing snow, and taking care of the aging house.

Depending on the timing, this can be an exciting change, but it also starts a grieving process all its own. Whether a positive or not-so-positive move, stress will take its toll on you and those who love and support you. Websites like Caring.com and Caregiver.org have some wonderful tips that rang true for me. These are my top 10:

  1. Avoid tackling the whole house in one go. This is an emotional process, and tackling one room at a time is easier on those emotions.
  2. Use the new space as a guide. Get the measurements of the rooms and storage areas. My 9-foot Christmas tree had nowhere to live in my new space unless I wanted to keep it up year-round.
  3. Banish the maybe pile. Keep, donate, toss.
  4. Pack representative bits of favorite items and not the whole collection. Consider digitizing pictures, and keep only those that would look good up on the wall or on tabletops. You can always print new ones to put into frames when you want a change.
  5. Get high-value items appraised before selling on ebay or Craigslist. Don’t give out your address or phone number until you are sure they’re a strong buyer. If someone needs to come to your home to purchase an item, have someone else there with you. Cash only.
  6. Give the things you promised to someone else to that person now. What a wonderful time to honor your legacy, while you’re still here with us.
  7. Don’t think you have to haul it all away yourself. Services like 1-800-Got-Junk and your local Salvation Army and Goodwill have pick-up services for a fee.
  8. Shred, shred, shred. Invest in your own shredder or watch the newspapers for shredding events. Never throw away anything with personal information on it. This includes shredding the hard drives of old computers.
  9. Now is the time for your grown children to take home their own things. Your home is no longer a museum for their old high school yearbooks, prom dresses, and baseball trophies.
  10. Take breaks! A glass of wine or a cup of coffee will re-energize you or help you relax, depending on what you need at the moment.

Lora Felger is a community and broker liaison at Health Alliance. She is the mother of 2 terrific boys, a world traveler, and a major Iowa State Cyclones fan.

The Joy of Laughter

Long View: Take Time to Laugh

I guess we are going to survive another Midwestern winter. They bother me more than they used to, but one of the things that helps me get through them is humor.

Once in a while, my office mate Mervet and I have a problem. One of us will start laughing, and then we both join in, unable to stop. Mervet’s eye makeup starts to run, and I can’t get my breath. We occasionally get to the point of snorting, hopefully not too loud. My grandfather used to tell us kids, “That kind of laugher just added an extra week to your life.” Who’s to say he wasn’t right?

Laughter is part of every culture, and the physical and mental benefits are widely known. I notice laughter comes so naturally, especially to our little ones. I think we have all seen babies express their delight with uncontrollable laughter. Ah, the joy of discovery.

Because the benefits of laughter are so well recognized, I guess my question becomes, why don’t we seek out more opportunities to enjoy it? Personally, I make a conscious effort to bring a little humor into my life and the lives of my loved ones. I have a few well-chosen (appropriate) jokes to tell, and I don’t mind being the clown once in a while. I would always choose to read a humorous book over something serious. I have never spent any quality time checking out a murder mystery or a horror story.

I have an upbeat and typically hilarious circle of friends. I am not sure how that came about, but I think it’s a subconscious decision on my part. To me, good-natured humor is a must. Sarcasm doesn’t appeal to me, but a little bit is OK if it’s clever and short-lived. A coworker told me I occasionally stooped to sarcasm, but I denied it and gave him a silent eye-roll as my only response.

We never outgrow our need for humor. I think all of us have been in a group and seen the infectious nature of one person’s solid belly laugh. I’ve seen it sweep through a crowd on a number of occasions. You probably have, too.

Regardless of the season, I think the best part of humor is to share it with someone else. Mervet agrees and doesn’t seem to mind reapplying her eye makeup every once in a while.

Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. If you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange, and he is known for his inability to parallel park.

National Blood Donor Month 2016

National Blood Donor Month 2016

January is National Blood Donor Month, and there are reasons donations drop at this time of year, like:

Changing Weather

Winter Blues

Cold & Flu Symptoms

Busy Holiday Schedule

 

Do you know how important your blood donation is? Save a life today.

1 in 7 People

3 Lives

Every 2 Seconds

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Taking Back Relaxation in the New Year

My Healthy Journey: New Year, New You?

This year has been long and tiring, and for the last few weeks, I’ve been left wondering what I could say about my goals for 2016. Honestly, I hadn’t been thinking about goals for the new year, I was too busy trying to get through the day.

Unlike last year, I don’t have a long list of the things I plan to work on. Instead, it will be a few important things that just keep coming to the top of my mind when I think about my life.

Live my life with the day-to-day in mind

I tend to focus on the long-term, big picture stuff, which means that relaxing and fun usually take the backseat. I need to make my own happiness a bigger priority, even when it’s in the face of my goals. Life is short, and I will regret those lost moments with my friends and family one day.

One of my best friends just got engaged to someone wonderful, and she’s the first person (besides my brother) whose wedding will actually be important to me. This both makes me feel like I’m getting old (I know, most of the people who follow this blog are laughing at me there), and makes me feel like, by not living in the moment, sometimes I’m missing out. And I do not want to miss a moment of the good stuff for her wedding.

I’ll be using some of the tips from this Health.com 30-day calendar to help me get started.

Learn something or do something

For example, I want to write books one day. However, when I get home after writing for work all day, I rarely sit and write fiction. I need to prioritize learning to improve the things I love, the things I want to have long-term importance in my life. I think that taking action on these passions will make me feel more fulfilled, even if I never get a book published.

Spend some time on myself everyday

I was cooking everyday, and now I’m not. I was getting enough sleep, and now I’m not. No matter how hectic things get, in 2016, I need to make time for myself a priority, both to be healthy and happy.

(I’m going to start by using the gift certificate for a massage that I got for Christmas!)

Cut back on the stuff in my life

To gear up for another move come the end February (I know, I can’t believe it’s been that close to a year already), I need to simplify my life. Get rid of all the clothes I never wear from my retail days, my 3 old pairs of boots that all have holes in them, and the old perfume bottles I’ve been moving from place to place, and make it easier on myself to live as a nomad. Hopefully this simple guide to de-clutter can help me get started.

Spend less time in the virtual world

I spend almost all of my time online. Part of it is my job, and part of it is my desire to know more about a field I want to spend the rest of my career in, and part of it is getting sucked into scrolling through my own personal Facebook and Twitter for no reason for the 50th time that day.

(Does anyone else struggle with the need to always make it back to the last thing you’d seen on social media? I know it’s silly, especially since I know how Facebook works and that it’s already not showing you everything it could, but I get such obsessive satisfaction from making it back to the beginning.)

There are things in the real world that I love doing, but instead, I spend almost all of my time, free and at work, buried in a computer. It’s time to bring some analog, some print, and some real world back into my life.

Follow along with me as I dive back into my passions, clean up, and move yet again in 2016 on our Instagram.

And you can use the improved Rally app or site to set your own healthy resolutions for 2016. From quitting smoking and taking your pills on time, to making time for laughter or exercise, Rally can help you have a healthier year.

Bone and Joint Health National Awareness Week

2015 Bone and Joint Health National Awareness Week

This week is Bone and Joint Health National Awareness Week. 54% of Americans over 18 have these conditions.

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1 in 3 people over 18 needed medical care for bone and joint conditions in the last decade, 19% more than the last decade.

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Bone and joint conditions are the most common cause of long-term pain and disability worldwide.

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Since Baby Boomers started on Medicare, the cost of bone and joint health has risen, and is expected to continue for decades.

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October 16th was World Arthritis Day. Find an event and resources or get involved.

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October 17th was World Spine Day. Learn more about protecting your back and spine at work.

October 18th was World Trauma Day. Around the world, people are still learning to protect a life in critical situations. Learn more.

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Settled Into a Healthier Home

My Healthy Journey: Finally Settled

I finally have something to sit on in my apartment! After 3 months, I’m mostly settled in.

Moving requires a lot of organization, and as I told you before, this was a rushed and unorganized move, which is probably exactly why it’s taken me this long to get settled.

You may not realize how much being organized (or disorganized) affects your life and even your health.

One study showed that you’re more likely to suffer from stress and depression if your house is cluttered and full of unfinished projects. (This was definitely my house for the last 3 months.) Long-term stress is tied to heart disease, digestive problems, poor sleep, obesity, and cancer.

This long to-do list at home can actually prevent the cortisol (a stress hormone) in your system from naturally lowering throughout the day. This affects your mood, sleep, health, and more.

Planning can also be key to a lot of healthy life decisions, and that takes organization. This slideshow from Good Housekeeping highlights what organization is doing for you:

  • It reduces financial stress by avoiding late fees and unnecessary costs.
  • It helps keep good relationships with loved ones by helping you to keep your mood up and avoid arguments over lost stuff, forgotten appointments, and errands.
  • It increase your time for your favorite activities. Imagine every minute you’ve spent looking for your keys going toward your favorite TV show, music, or activity.
  • It protects your health. If you forget to take your meds or schedule doctor appointments, you really could be putting your physical health at risk, so make sure you put things in places you’ll see them, organize your schedule, or even download an app to help remind you.
  • It let’s you exercise more! One of the first things you lose from your schedule when things get crazy is workouts. Plus, when you’re constantly forgetting your gym bag, it’s an easy excuse to skip the gym.
  • It let’s you eat healthier. Healthy cooking takes planning, like finding recipes and buying the right groceries. Snacks you grab on the go and dining out can be huge calorie bombs, so plan ahead!
  • It helps keep your home healthy. One study found that dust can have arsenic, dead bugs, pollen, and dead skin in it. Plus, removing clutter can eliminate up to 40% of your housework.

Many people believe that we are a product of our environment and that a messy environment can affect all areas of your life, physical, mental, and emotional

Rally, our wellness tool, knows that organization can be an important part of your healthy journey, too, so it has a mission that challenges you to de-clutter for 10 minutes every day.

I finished unpacking and organizing all my bookshelves a few weeks ago but was waiting for my new couch to arrive before I shared pictures.

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Tootsie LOVES the new couch.

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Those beautiful watercolor paintings on the wall are prints by Kelly Eddington, my high school art teacher and the wife of one of our Health Alliance employees.

Ignore that lamp on the floor. I just need one more side table in here!

In case you don’t remember, this is what the shelves looked like, before the gold shelf got here:

Book Collection

This is them now:

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Everything is unpacked and on display, and finally getting to a place where I can use my living room feels so satisfying!

And now that I’m to this point, if I stick to the challenge of de-cluttering for a little bit every day, it should be easy to keep things looking nice.

Looking for some clever ways to clean up the messes in your house? Check out this list of 58 organization ideas and DIY projects.

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