Monthly Archives: January 2014

Weather advisories, dangerous arctic air and high blood pressure!


The United States is experiencing some of the most extreme cold weather conditions in its history. The implications for people with high blood pressure should not be ignored.

Patient First, a chain of primary care health centers with locations in Hampton and Newport News, has even issued a press release with advice for those dealing with current weather conditions on the Peninsula. The release cautions that “snow shoveling can be a strenuous activity. It can increase blood pressure and heart rate. Individuals with a history of heart disease, high blood pressure or strokes should not shovel snow.”

It continues that if a person must shovel snow, they should do so as early as possible. Snow is heavier after it has been on the ground for a few days — often melting and re-freezing, creating a solid chunk of snow rather than powdery, just-fallen snow. “Also, make sure that you are properly hydrated and prepare your body for shoveling by warming up. Jog in place or do 10 jumping jacks before you begin to shovel, as this will get your blood flowing before you begin. Shoveling too fast can increase your blood pressure.”

Researchers have explained that colder weather stimulates the nervous system, which essentially causes more stress, leading to hypertension, and even heart attacks. In cold weather, people also tend to eat more and exercise less, which can also lead to higher cholesterol levels and a higher blood pressure.

Another potential explanation for the increased risk of coronary events in colder weather is the stimulation of cold receptors in the skin and therefore the sympathetic nervous system, leading to a rise in levels of catecholamine — the small substances made by nerve tissue and the adrenal gland that play an important role in the body’s physiological response to stress. Moreover, increased platelet accumulation and blood thickness during cold exposure promotes clotting.

According to U.S. nonprofit, Mayo Clinic, low temperatures cause the blood vessels to narrow, thereby increasing blood pressure as more pressure is needed to force blood through your narrowed veins and arteries.

Dr. Sheldon Sheps, professor of medicine and former chair of Mayo Clinic, says that “in addition to cold weather, hypertension may also be affected by a sudden change in weather patterns, such as a weather front or a storm: “Your body — and blood vessels — may react to abrupt changes in humidity, atmospheric pressure, cloud cover or wind in much the same way it reacts to cold. These weather-related variations in blood pressure are more common in people age 65 and older.”

Best advice is to stay indoors, regularly check blood pressure readings and to heed cold   Website weather warnings.

Marie Coppola January 2014
From the Website of RESPeRATE®     

 

 

 

My Good Samaritan Angel

The Bible mentions angels frequently.   Angels are mentioned at least 108 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New Testament.   In the New Testament, the doctrine of angels is precisely stated.  Angels are everywhere — the intermediaries between God and man.   I was taught that everyone has a guardian angel based on references to them throughout the Bible.

According to the Bible, angels are spiritual (not physical) beings; and they can take on human form or appearance.  

I met one.  

It was the month my father took ill;  he had been admitted into the hospital for a respiratory issue.  After some days, we felt we could take him home, but suddenly he was placed on a ventilator.  After he was on it for a week, our consultations with his doctors proved negative and worrisome.  The doctors wanted to continue the ventilator, but our dad looked uncomfortable and weaker.   We wanted him taken off, and it was a tremendous conflict.

Driving home from the hospital one especially frustrating day, I passed by my church, which is always a great source of comfort to me.   Impulsively and driven by worry, I stopped to see if the pastor was there.   I was told he was not.   I went into the church and while I quietly sat there, a young seminarian came by and asked me if he could help me.   He was such a young priest-in-training, but his kind eyes and compassion affected me; I teared up and couldn’t talk to him.   He sat down by me and remained silent.  It was comforting just to have his presence.

When I got up to leave, he walked me to the door, introduced himself and gave me his card.   I had never seen him before or even knew that we had a seminarian.  I was a frequent visitor at the church as a volunteer and Bible class teacher.  I told him my dad was very ill and it did not look hopeful.

I also told him there were other issues in the family going on.  Dad’s ailment evoked some see-saw emotions and not everyone was themselves.  That in itself was disturbing and distracting.  We needed to be a family unit at this time.  He told me he had a similar situation in his own family and shared it.  He asked me where I lived which was a few blocks from the church.  He also asked me for my phone number and if he could visit with me at the church again or at my home.  We exchanged numbers and cards.

I got in the habit of stopping at the church each day after work or hospital visit, and the seminarian was always in the church.  He would smile and ask me how my dad and the family were doing.   We would chat by the door and he shared his death and loss experiences, which helped me understand my own.  He had a comforting style and always lifted my spirits after these visits.

Two weeks went by.  My father was still on the ventilator and the stress continued.   After one really wrung-out day, I didn’t even want to stop by the church.   I went straight home and just sat in my living room for a long time trying to deal with all the feelings that were almost overwhelming.  My doorbell rang and I stepped out onto the porch and there was the seminarian.  He asked me if I could come out and sit with him on my lawn bench.

I had just prayed and it was so comforting to see him.   We talked awhile and shared feelings about families and deaths.  Looking back, I don’t remember discussing any other subjects.  We only spoke  about death, prayers, the sick, loss feelings and our after-death beliefs.  He had such insights, stated them so beautifully – always with a relevant, strong spiritual aspect.   After such talks, I would think, “He has so much knowledge and he’s so young.”

From the time our dad went into the hospital and the time he left this life…it ended after 30 long days.   I visited with the seminarian almost every day until Dad died.

Our family planned the services immediately in our hometown which was 30 miles away from my own. Planning them, as most of us have experienced, took several days plus additional days of the services and funeral.   I was gone from home for almost a week.

Returning home, I thought of the young priest-to-be and felt so thankful for the guidance and friendship he showed during the past month.   Many insights he shared with me came to mind during the funeral service and highly emotional moments.   Again, impulsively, I pulled into the parking lot and went to the church office.   I asked if the young man was available, and the secretary said that he was done with his parish work here and was reassigned to another parish.  She wasn’t sure which one it was, but could check for me.

I told her it was not necessary.  He was an Angel and Heaven-sent.  I don’t believe in coincidences. He was there throughout my dad’s entire leaving-this-world process.   He never asked me for anything nor did he ever tell me any of his own issues or personal problems.   He solely helped me get through my impending loss.   And he did just that.  I was filled with gratitude for the daily comfort he brought.  He fulfilled his ‘assignment’ and moved on.

I never saw or heard about him again.   And I am grateful to God for sending him to help me through a bad time…….”For he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways.”  Psalm 91:11

Marie Coppola June 30, 2014

 

Lending Money to Friends or Family; IOUs and Promissory Notes


“Before borrowing money from a friend, decide which you need more.”  A. Hallock

Desperate times call for desperate measures and borrowing money can be one of those measures. Most people do not like to be in the position of asking a friend or family member for a loan, but in these economy-challenged times, the prospect of making a loan looms as a possibility due to shortage of funds. Banks are now reluctant to make loans and many families are experiencing job loss or foreclosures. To meet monetary responsibilities, some may look to their families or friends to ‘make a loan’.

It has been said that if you decide to lend money to family or friends for whatever reason, to treat such a loan as a gift. Part of your decision to lend it, should carry the mentality that many people will simply not repay you. It is fair to assume that everyone reading this has borrowed some amount of money to a friend or relative, and never been repaid. Sometimes it’s a ten dollar amount and sometimes it is in the thousands.

It has also been said that all loans to relatives should be considered that it is indeed a gift. Since it is a close relationship and you may be aware of the personal circumstances surrounding the request for a loan, the relative may find relief in that it is money that does not have to be paid back quickly because you know what a bind they are in and will have patience until they ‘get on their feet’ to pay you back. It the repayment is put on the ‘back burner’ of the recipient for a long period of time, they may either ‘forget’ about the loan or simply feel that since it is in the family, it need not be paid back soon….. or ever.

It’s difficult to refuse to help a relative money-wise when times are going rough for them. If you prefer not to lend money, perhaps you could offer to help them out in some way — to pay for an expense that is due, or aid them in paying a household expense or other outstanding charges they may have. Again, because of the relationship with family, and also with close friends, it may be uncomfortable to ask them for an IOU [I Owe You] stating the amount and date of the loan.

An IOU is a written statement of a borrower’s obligation to pay back a loan or a debt, but makes no promises on how or when the loan will be repaid. If the IOU has the borrower’s name, signature, address, date, amount stated, it could considered a contract that could be enforceable by a court of law to be repaid. Note that State laws and statutes of limitations may vary on the conditions to do so. IOUs are not usually notarized, but it wouldn’t hurt if it is a sizeable amount and if something happened to the borrower and you needed to make a claim against his/her estate.

IOU SAMPLE:

I, [Borrower Name] , residing at ________________________________________________, borrowed $____________ [amount]

from [Lender’s Printed Name] ______________________________ on [Date:____________________] and promise to repay the loan.

Lender’s Printed Name & Signature __________________________________________

The difference between an IOU and a promissory note is that an IOU only states an amount that is owed to another party. A promissory note states the amount as well as the steps necessary to pay back the debt and the consequences if it is not. It may also be called a loan agreement or personal loan agreement.

A promissory note is a written promise to repay a loan or debt under specific terms. These notes could exist between any relationship consisting of two persons: parent and child, friends, co-workers, etc. This is usually defined by date, and specified series of payments, or simply paid back upon demand. It also verifies the borrower’s obligation to repay a debt [with or without interest].

As a note here: Interest is regulated by the state and there are laws regulating it (Usury is defined as the act of lending money at an unreasonably high interest rate, this rate is defined at the state level. Repayment of loans at a usurious rate makes repayment excessively difficult to impossible for borrowers. This is also called “loan sharking” or “predatory lending”. Ref: UsuryLaw.com)

The note contains the amount of the loan, terms of the loan, the interest rate – if applicable, the payment schedule and the rights and obligations of the lender and borrower. Promissory notes, like IOUs, do not have to be notarized in order to be considered valid. But again, it wouldn’t hurt and could ensure repayment.

Typically, promissory notes are kept by the lender until the amount of money has been paid in full, at which time the payee can request the right to retrieve the promissory note for his or her records along with a written and signed receipt. This should consider the debt paid in full.

Information that should be included in Promissory notes are: Full legal names of both parties, Address to which payment will be sent ;

Interest rate if applicable (see Usury note above); Due dates for payments of both principal and interest; Signatures of both borrower and lender.

There are persons who genuinely honor their obligations and repay their loans. They will keep you up-to-date on their ability to pay amounts and when and how the payments will be made. These persons are very appreciative of the trust you offered and are eternally grateful.

Sadly there are more of the other variety, who make excuses, sometimes end friendships before they repay their debt or simply seem to forget about the loan.

Marie Coppola © Revised January 2014

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. The reader should seek and employ qualified legal counsel and not rely on information presented here for any purpose.

 

 

 

 

Add ‘Core Competencies’ to your work profile, resume & performance appraisal

With emphasis on downsizing positions and the increase of technology in the workplace, businesses in the past ten years or so, have implemented core competencies to replace standard resume language, such as achievements (titles, depth of work) knowledge (education) and expertise (previous experience).

Competencies refer to capabilities, skills, abilities, and proficiencies including expertise and experience (depth and breadth). Competencies are broken down in two types: technical and non-technical.

Technical Competencies are the actual skills and experiences listed on a person’s resume.

Non-technical competencies are usually defined as professional and personal skills, including motivational values. Employees can be assessed in their competency interests and levels as well as for further development. Many companies provide competency development for new supervsors or managers.

Businesses have training programs and developmental programs designed to assess and improve leadership skills through developing core competencies. The employee will learn to enhance a strength, bring a medium skill to a fuller strength, work on a weakness or untested area or compensate for an overused strength.

The purpose is to bring employees to a higher level and invoke a competitive edge in the business world.

Some core competencies for all employees are:   Initiative and Creativity;   Judgment; Cooperation/Teamwork;   Quality of Work;   Reliability;   Commitment to Safety; and  Support of Diversity.   Many of these competencies are important for supervisory and/or managerial positions.

Some employee job-specific core competencies are: Job Knowledge/Technical Knowledge; Quantity of Work;  Communication;  Customer Service;  Problem Solving,  Attention to Detail; Flexibility;  Organization,  Staff Development;  Quality Control,  Good Feedback and  Innovation.

Some competencies for Higher-Level Management are: Values and Ethics;  Strategic Thinking; Communication with subordinates,  partners, organizations;  Financial and Organizational Management;  Budget and Resource Management.

Core competencies can work for you in retooling your resume and future job expansions.  They are also used as objectives in performance reviews.

Marie Coppola ©  Revised December 2013

Ref: Career Architect; Fermilab