Tips

 

Living in a retirement demographic area, I often hear others lamenting they are losing their memories, or their keys, have problems remembering people's names, etc.  Dementia is jokingly mentioned, but many seniors do worry it can happen.   Our family doctor says  if you put the milk in the cupboard by mistake and then retrieve it - you're OK; but if you think it's OK to be in there, you may want to see your doctor.   He also states that we all have a 50-50 chance of experiencing dementia unrelated to family history or even if you have one parent who had dementia.

Recently I attended two meetings on dementia that were fact-filled.  Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of conditions that affect one's cognitive abilities in ways that affect daily life.  The three subtypes of Dementia are mainly:   1. Alzheimer’s Disease ( Plaques and tangles form inside the brain causing chemical deficiencies).  It is believed that this can start to have an effect on the memory center   2. Vascular Dementia (decreased blood flow the brain and different from Alzheimer’s in that it is caused by damaged blood vessels in the brain, commonly caused by strokes).   Approximately 20% of all dementia cases are vascular, making it the second most common type. Risk factors include a history of heart attacks, strokes – especially multiple strokes, diabetes, or high blood pressure.   3. Dementia with Lewy Bodies - This is the third most common form of dementia and is caused by build-ups of a certain type of protein in the brain. These deposits are called Lewy bodies and they effect a person’s perception, behavior, and thinking. Lewy bodies are often found in Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s patients, making this form of dementia harder to diagnose.

The National Institute for Aging estimates about 7 percent of people over 65 will have some form of dementia.   What can one do, if anything, to protect oneself from risk factors?  You can affect your risk by how social you are, your exercise habits and your heart and diabetes management.

Although 'seniors' store vast information over the years, they sometimes need extra time to remember where they stored that info in their brain.   Like an over-programmed-filled computer that 'searches' for info and takes extra time to find it, so do our brains.  What a relief to remember albeit slower!

Some suggestions on how to reduce your risk factor:

  • Spend at least one day a week with younger people, especially grandkids,  even if it is on Skype video or the telephone.  Stay social with friends and family.
  • Walk, hike or swim (150 minutes of moderate exercise - weekly).
  • Treat depression; talk to your doctor; depression is linked to higher dementia risk.  And sometimes depression can appear to be dementia.
  • Cook and eat heart healthy.  Strive for a diet low in saturated fat, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to go over your medications with you to see if any are at a risk for contributing to dementia or lacking in some vitamins.
  • Take some courses or classes.   It can stimulate your brain and/or socially meet new people.
  • Volunteer your time to a cause or interest you support.

Staying connected to friends and family is key and one of the most important ways to avoid dementia.  The risk of dementia is higher if one is lonely or isolated.  Millions of people 50 and older (about 1 in 5) live alone and are at risk of isolation.  The fastest growing type of household is individuals living alone.  And many of those over 50, have no one to talk to about important matters.

Try to stay socially active; If you are homebound and/or can't get around easily, learn to text on a cell phone or video chat or even social media chat, ie, Facebook. Twitter.   In a busy world, a hello by text, especially to the teens & young adults in our lives, wlll ensure a faster return quicker than a return phone call.   If you are not up-to-date in technology in computers or cell phones, there are FREE courses to learn about them.   And a good brain exercise.

Being socially active, getting regular exercise (physically and mentally) and managing chronic conditions (diabetes, heart disease) are all plusses to reduce your chances of dementia.

 

 

 

 

 

TWENTY TIPS FOR FACING AN UNPLANNED PREGNANCY

Emily Brown is director of American Life League Life Defenders, the outreach arm of ALL building a culture of life with a new generation.  While reading a post entitled 20 Tips on Your First Abortion, Emily reacted to what the author had to say - "I could really feel her immense pain. So, I decided to respond to this gruesome article with a positive, empowering, and upbeat message about pregnancy. We do not need more people shaming women into abortion, rather we need positive messages that affirm the immense empowerment that bringing a human being into this world has on women.”  

Reality just slapped you in the face. You’re pregnant! What does that mean? A teeny tiny human being is growing inside of you. So, now the freak out begins.

It’s completely normal to feel terrified, worried, and completely shocked. After all, you might have been relying on birth control, condoms, the IUD, or something else. However, you knew none gave any guarantee that you would not become pregnant. So here you are.

Don’t let your worries take over! It’s very easy to be in panic mode for a few weeks or even months. Look beyond the insecurities and worries. You are strong!

Look for loving support. You need someone who will hug you and comfort you, not someone who wants to shame or belittle you. Sometimes you just need a little affection, and this is definitely one of those times!

Know you are not alone. Every day, hundreds of women discover they are pregnant. Other women are in your same situation!

After you have turned to someone for support, it’s time for Google. Learn what the heck is happening inside your body! Google fetal development and medical articles to learn about the tiny human you have within you.

After reading information on fetal development, come to the realization that you’re a pretty big deal! After all, you are now carrying and protecting a little human being.

While you’re on Google, search your area code, along with “crisis pregnancy centers.” Find the closest one and make an appointment ASAP, for you definitely have loads of questions.

Unlike abortion clinics, crisis pregnancy centers do give a $#%@ and they understand that your surprise pregnancy is a BIG deal. They will treat you with the loving care and respect you deserve!

The time between making your appointment and going can be a terrifying period. You are scared and a million things are rushing through your head, like how to afford a child or how to raise a child alone. Take a deep breath and believe in yourself! You are stronger than you think.

While you’re waiting for your first appointment, learn more about this person growing inside your body. Watch a 4-D ultrasound of a preborn baby growing. Find the stage you are in and marvel at this tiny human.

The appointment day has come. While in the waiting room, focus on the positive messages. Take a look at the brochures, pictures, or wall art and remember that only good can come from this appointment. Nothing here will harm you!

It’s FREE! What? Yes, crisis pregnancy centers’ services are free! They can offer pregnancy resources, prenatal vitamins, pregnancy tests, and services such as parenting classes, counseling, baby supplies, and other financial aid.

While at your appointment, you will not have “pain like someone sucking or pulling out your insides.” Rather, you will feel comfort and support—two of the things you need most.

You will be reaffirmed that you are a strong independent woman! You are more than a pregnancy; you are a mother.

Remember every time you believed you weren’t strong enough, smart enough, happy enough, pretty enough, and so on, and stomp those falsehoods into the ground. You are empowered—empowered with a newfound sense of reason and the ability to care for another human being.

You will not let your empowerment be diminished by people telling you that you are not ready or fit enough to be a mother.

Even after your appointment at the crisis pregnancy center, you still find many moments when you are scared to death. It’s okay; that’s normal. You have a human growing inside of you and you just found out. That’s a huge deal!

Do not let those fears and worries take control of you. You have the opportunity to bring a new life into this world. Do not take this for granted! Many women try their whole lives to have a child.

This is a time to start fresh. Take advantage of that and flourish!

 Submitted by Marie Coppola. March 2016

Catster Tips

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7 Things That Help Me Cope with Grief After Losing a Cat

It's never easy letting go. These are things I've learned by paying attention to the grief process.

Catherine Holm  |  Apr 9th 2013

Grieving the loss of a cat is excruciating. In fact, I’m going through it as I write this. I think the grief process is one of the hardest, most intense experiences we have to get through.

It’s not easy to prepare for grief, as each end-of-life journey is different. That being said, I’ve been through this a few times and have discovered that I do certain things to help me cope. Hopefully, some of these suggestions can help you navigate the grief process.

1. I celebrate the cat’s (whole) life

At the end of life, whether it’s prolonged or sudden, it’s easy to get caught up in the sadness and intensity of that current moment. Sometimes, when I’ve found myself in this place, I realize I’m not honoring the rest of the cat’s life. What about the amazing years or months I had with the cat? What about the funny things my cat did? Or the loving bond we had? What about the wonderful memories and stories of the cat? I try to focus on the life I’ve shared with the cat, even though it’s very easy to want to focus totally on the end of life.

2. I find people who understand

Whether your cat has passed on or is likely to pass on soon, obviously you’ll want to be around people who understand. Now is not the time to take comments like “it’s only a cat” to heart. If you do run across someone who says something like this, try to breathe and let it go. You need your energy to get through grieving, not to get mad about ill-placed comments.

Instead, find people who understand and are respectful of your grief process, whether they love cats or not. A compassionate person and friend will give you the space and respect your need to grieve.

3. I take time to be alone, if I need it

Some of us like to share; others are intensely vulnerable when going through grief. I’m a little of both. Know yourself. If you need to be alone, honor that. It’s OK.

4. I understand that grief is a powerful process

Sometimes, grief reminds me of the waves of an ocean. You’re feeling fine and then WHAM, some piece of grief hits you and you’re down, or crying, or both. I’m not sure why it is, but just knowing that this happens has made me prepared for when it happens again. I try to flow with it. Everyone grieves differently. We all grieve in our own time, and in our own way. Let it happen the way it needs to happen for you.

5. I breathe (deeply)

This is a yoga tool, but it’s also a relaxation technique, which anyone can do. When you’re exhausted from stress or grieving, breathing deeply through your nose can really help relax you and restore your mind and body to a state of calmness. Even a minute or two of this has great benefits. I do this all the time during periods of stress, or if I’m grieiving the loss of a pet. From a physiological standpoint, this activates your parasympathetic nervous system (which induces relaxation) rather than your sympathetic nervous system (which is all about fight or flight). Try breathing deeply in any stressful situation or any time you find yourself holding your breath.

6. I’m good to myself and my body

I’m no good to my cats if I’m a mess. So even though it’s hard (grief is exhausting), I try to remember to be good to my body. I try to remember to eat good stuff (not junk), get outside, exercise, breathe — all good things for me. Find the good things for you and remember to do them.

7. I honor the immensity of grief

It’s a big deal, and we all get to go through it. The sadness in grief is huge, but strangely, so is the joy. Celebrate these wonderful creatures we love, whether we’re going through life with them or whether we’re letting them go.

There are a lot of publications and articles about personal power and how each of us, as an individual, is part of the universe.  As part of the universe, they say one may  attain "Universal Truth" and the attainment of the highest individual human potential.  This say this can come from a combination of cosmology, astrology, esotericism, alternative medicine, music, collectivism, sustainability, and nature.  This spirituality is characterized by an individual approach to spiritual practices and philosophies, while rejecting religious doctrine and dogma.

I’ve never seen a guidebook or blueprint of how you combine these universal attainments to pursue happiness or fulfillment.   It is true that, as individuals, we can attain a self-actualization of our talents, as described in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.   But is this the Universal Truth?   We can combine all of the ‘ologies’ above, but is this the Universal Truth?   Isn’t there a broad interpretation of Universal Truth and different ways for different folks to embrace it?   Or define?   Or live it?   Who created the universe?

God has made it very simple for us in terms of Universal Truth.   In His wisdom and guidance, He has provided a Guidebook and Blueprint for us to find and embrace the Way, the Truth and the Light — God’s Universal Truth.

God, through inspired men, and the Holy Spirit, and in His mercy and wisdom, has made it possible for us to learn about Him.   God has passed onto us, his instructions for life and happiness, His laws and His commandments. The universe, which God Himself created, stands silent.  Silent.  What is beyond the universe?   God is.  Our Father blessed us with the Bible, His communication with us.  His Word.   Many people try to undermine it or interpret it differently, or add things to it, or condemn it.   If these same people  studied the Bible, they would see that it is a masterpiece that fits together unquestionably.   All they have to do:  is read it.   The universe is barren, cold, and limited.   God is all encompassing, warm in His Love for us, and unlimited.   The universe cannot promise what God promises us.

The Top Ten Reasons To Believe in God:

10. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

9. "The Lord will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy, too." Isaiah 58:11

8. "For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation." Psalm 100:5

7. "The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace".Psalm 29:11

6. "For nothing is impossible with God". Luke 1:37

5. "Give your burdens to the Lord and he will take care of you." Psalm 55:22

4. "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears  us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him." 1 John 5:14-15

3. "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." Ecclesiastes 3:11

2. "But remember, that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it." 1 Corinthians 13

And the top reason to believe in God is because, He promises…..

1. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you." Jeremiah 29:11

Marie Coppola  December  2015

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 What the New Year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the New Year.” — Vern McLellan

For the new year, many of us resolve to make changes in our life.  Forty to 45% of American adults make one or more resolutions each year. It is believed that the Babylonians were the first to make New Year's resolutions and early Christians believed the first day of the new year should be spent reflecting on past mistakes and resolving to improve oneself in the new year.   As 2017 begins, we may resolve to make changes in our life.

Here are the statistics on how many of these resolutions are maintained as time goes on:

- 75% of new resolutions get past the first week:   - past 2 weeks: 71%; - after one month: 64%; and - after 6 months: 46%.

If you are among the 25% that have already forgotten your resolutions or pushed them aside in the past, you are not alone. At least you tried to make a difference somewhere in your lifestyle. Some of us feel badly or defeated when we haven't 'stayed with it'.   Make it simple and don't try to change everything at once...some suggestions:

Try to Save Money

Saving money requires two things – planning and willpower. Even if it's a small amount, try to put some in a savings account. Don't misuse your credit or debit cards - paying the 'minimum' on your monthly bills is running up the interest and costs you more in the long run. Try to manage your credit cards so you can pay off the amount due each month.

Lose some weight

Weight loss is probably the most common resolution in history. Shedding anywhere from a couple pounds to a hundred pounds has frustrated people for years. Go slow - no quick fixes - watch your calories and portions and eat nutritious meals. Do an exercise you really enjoy; walking and dancing are great weight watchers. The only way to lose weight sensibly is to take in less calories and exercise calories out.   And portion control.

Quit smoking

Easily one of the hardest resolutions to keep is quitting smoking. You’re fighting an addiction, which is never easy. There are many methods to help you do this.  Yes, it can be done.

Read more books

While it might not be a common resolution, it is one that can help a lot. Reading is beneficial for anyone of any age. It might be hard to find time in a busy schedule for reading, but not as hard as one might think. Find a good book and read ~ one chapter a day.   [*Reading the Bible is a super plus].

Go green

Going green not only helps the earth, it also can save you some money. There's lots of ways to cut down on unnecessary items or include new habits to offset the bad.

Stay informed

In this era of immediate information it’s surprising how few people actually watch the news and make the effort to stay informed.  Listen to the news ~ watch more than one news outlet - watch unbiased news outlets, or at least watch a little bit from every angle. Read a newspaper - and make sure that you don’t only utilize one source for your news.  Bias is rampant. The more sources you get your information from, the more complete a picture you will get or the truth.  Find as many sources as you can from as many viewpoints as you can, and make informed choices based on all the information you take in.

Eat less fast food

Fast food is unhealthy especially if you eat it every day. Pack healthy snacks or find healthy snack bars. Taking a little time in the morning to prepare some food for the day ahead can save you money at the fast food place and at the doctor’s office.  And benefit your waistline.

Manage your stress

Some tips:  Move around doing cardio exercise;  stationary bikes while watching TV; or sign up at for an exercise program at a salon or gym. Get a hobby - something you like to do.  Writing, reading, volunteering or join a social group. Talk it out with a friend or confidante. It relieves stress.  So does going to your place of faith or re-connecting with God.

Managing your debt

Use a debt management service which can be available online and over the phone, but do research to find out which ones are reliable and trustworthy. Paying bills on time and paying as much on the principal as possible is a good way to slowly reduce your debt. There’s no quick and easy way, but try not to get overwhelmed, and attack it head on.   Cut down on credit cards.

Be charitable

Charity has a plethora of benefits, including tax deductions, a sense of pride, and of course the fact that you have just made someone else’s life better. There are literally millions of charities, and a myriad of ways to be charitable.  Find something you can get emotionally involved in. Like animals? Look into wildlife conservation groups. Have a soft spot for kids? There are plenty in other countries that could use some support. Find something you can get involved in and stick with it. If it means something to you, then your work for the charity will be that much more rewarding.  (Ref: CafePress)

Another aspect of charity is extending yourself for the good of others.  It is truly rewarding to both giver and recipient by reading to a shut-in, sending cards of encouragement to those in need, taking a widow or widower to lunch or volunteering in outreach programs.  Look around, there's many good works you can do.

Have a happy and blessed New Year!

© Marie Coppola Revised December 2016

A mind that is stretched by new experiences can never go back to its old dimensions.        Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

You finally landed that job you were praying you would get, and Monday is here and it's your first day.  Here are some tips to help you 'settle in' your new surroundings with confidence and a positive attitude, along with some cautions.

1) Try to arrive at work at least 10 or 15 minutes before the normal working hours. This not only gives you time to settle in, turn your computer on, or listen to voice mail messages. It also gives you a relaxed frame of mind for friendly good mornings instead of rushing in at the last minute or a few minutes late and get a reputation for 'always being late'.

Employees who arrive before the workday begins are usually the ones who get good reviews and/or promotions. Likewise advice on leaving at the end of the day. Plan on staying 15 minutes or so after work if possible; never leave early - someone always loves to make an issue about that and the reputation will stick; the people who usually get ahead in a workplace arrive a little earlier and leave a little later.

2) Start the new job with a To Do List. This List itemizes tasks that may have been sent to you via email, voicemail or verbally. Jot it down so it is not forgotten and when you have a few minutes, prioritize the List by importance. If you don't get to it all that day, start the next day's List with the undone items so they can have first attention. Keep a file folder with the checked-off 'Done' items, date they were completed, with any information that may needed in the future for follow-up.

Not only do 'To Do' Lists give you a reputation for getting things done, they also give you a feeling of accomplishment as you go over the list and view the things you did that day. On a hectic and busy day, those accomplishments will help neutralize the feeling that you 'got nothing done today'.

3) Go slow getting to know your new co-workers. In your 'being new' nervousness, you may reveal more about yourself than you really want to. You may be telling your life history to the office gossiper. If you are asked to lunch with the group, be neutral to everyone, polite and friendly. The work environment is revealed at lunchtime, and you will hear inside scoops of what is going on with work, projects and people.

Don't make judgments or remarks. Wait until you get to know the people and the issues and even then, don't make judgments or remarks. And don't repeat what you hear at lunch or in the halls to your cubicle co-workers. Gossip spreads through offices faster than forest fires. And your name will be attached to it.

4) Go to lunch at your appointed lunch time and take the one-half hour or whatever the rule is. Some companies allot 45 minutes or one hour for lunch. Long-time employees may stretch their lunch times from the one-half hour lunch to a 45 minute or one hour lunch. That's their choice, but as a new employee, you don't want to get a reputation that you 'take long lunches'. It's a title that you may earn quickly and it will stick with you. Your supervisor will know about it sooner than you think.

Co-workers usually stagger lunch times so that someone is always in the office, and you will get off on the wrong foot in your office if someone is waiting for you to come back from lunch and you're late and taking time away from their own lunch.

5) Start off your new job with a team attitude. There are different ways to help someone out even if it is picking up their mail or copy order at office services. Your helpfulness will reflect back from your co-workers who will do the same for you. This becomes invaluable on a really busy day when you need an extra set of hands; kindness goes a long way and people react positively to it.

When someone turns their back on being a team player with the rest of the group, the group usually reacts in the same manner.  A first good impression of a newcomer usually casts a lasting reflection of him or her them for future work experience.

More tips for new hires to be continued in Part 2

Marie Coppola   ©  Revised April 2015

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Be still in a quiet place and you will know God if you listen to what he is telling you. When you are quiet, you will open your heart and soul to Him.

"Be Still and Know That I am God". How often do we sit still? We have cell phones hanging out our ears, the iPods are going, the TV is on - so is the fax machine and the computer.  Someone's chatting on Skype.   Lots of noises going on .....How do we get 'still'?

You say "Hey, we're busy ....lots of things going on."

Even Jesus in His ministry got still with God. He would go out in the desert and pray to God and in doing so, He was refreshed and renewed.

Anyone can get refreshed and renewed with God. It is important to be still and know that He Is God. You might say, "I don't have time for that", or "God doesn't value me" or "I'm simply not religious". Those things are not important. If you want to know God, you have to make some time for Him just like you do for your family, your kids, your dog, your job, and everything else that's on your plate. Knowing God will give you extra strength and wisdom to do the things you do and you even might do things a little differently. And it will give you benefits you can't get anywhere else. They're guaranteed.

Some say, "I don't know what to say to God". God made you and He knows all about you already. Just talk to Him in plain language. He'll be happy just to hear from you. And he will change your life. This is not a wish. This is a fact. You will become aware of life in a way that you are not now if you are not speaking to God. You will add joy, love, kindness, forgiveness and acceptance of who you are. He made you and loves you no matter what you are, say or have done. Who else can you say that about?

Try it. Go into a quiet room, shut the door and turn off all technology.  Be still and get to know God. Listen in silence to what you will hear.  You will be astounded.   It will change your life.  It's guaranteed.

Marie Coppola © Revised March 2015

 

 

We all love hand-made personalized gifts.  They are very special and one of a kind.  We think of the giver every time we use them or see them.

One of them is my daughter’s creation.  She makes beautiful crafted all-purpose cards especially for me that I save for special weddings and occasions. She makes the cards using good white stationery stock and flower and botanical prints by Pierre-Joseph Redoute which she orders online. She uses a glue gun and craft-store scalloped scissors to cut the print. The cards are blank inside for a personal sentiment, but the touch I love most is that she glue-guns a ribbon on both front and back of the card which is tied in a bow and closes and opens the card. She also makes mailing labels for envelopes matching the flower on the card and sometimes I get an added boost of matching printed address labels. These cards are special and people have called me to thank me for the card as much as the gift.

The other gift that people and myself find handy is making personal-use business cards. You can buy the packaged plain business cards at a store like Office Max - I bought a package on sale - 1,000 cards for ten dollars and I use the matte finish. My own card has a clip-art picture of a house and our name, address and phone number. There is room to put an email address, too. For close friends, I add my cell phone - that’s about all you can add and still have it look nice. For gifts for friends, I put a clip art of their passion - a flower, a heart or something meaningful and personal to them; or their initials, and add their address and phone number and email address. You can find business card holders on sale and when i do, I buy a bunch. They are usually around $3.00. I print up an amount to fit in the holder - usually it’s two sheets worth - which hold 10 cards each - or 20 cards to a holder. If the recipient loves them and uses them, I keep the info saved in my Word program and can easily print more if they need them or change their information. It’s only the cost of the ink and couple of sheets to do that. I use mine all the time, when I meet people and they want either my phone or email, it’s easier to give them a card. Also, in a crowded store, when the salesperson asks for phone and/or address, I just put the card in front of them so the whole waiting line doesn’t have to hear it.

The third gift is my personal favorite; a memory book for children or grandchildren. They have some really nice ones for $10; make sure it is a nice sturdy one. When our family all relocated around the same time, I found tons of old report cards, school pictures, mementos, certificates and cards that I had saved in the attic. When we all packed things up, no one wanted the ‘junk’ as they called it. I put everything in one big box and moved it with me. After the move, I took the ‘junk’ box out, which were really family memories of the kids’ growth and accomplishments. I sorted them into 3 piles, one for son and one for daughter–and one for combined memories of their formative years (grandparents, parents, pets, house pictures, etc.)  I recopied some of them to a smaller size so the book would not be so voluminous!  The whole project took me 3 months and I worked on it a little each day: I have to say I looked forward to creating it each day, reliving those memories.  Also:

• In the beginning of each book, pictures of grandparents & parents weddings, dates, pictures, and houses. I brought the pictures I wanted to use to a store to copy them or you can copy them at home if your copier does a good job. It might cost about the same.

• Both books had the same beginnings of history until it came to the part when each was born.

• The next portion was of their own history from pregnancy to birth including photos. Then their school years. I selected specific award letters, or special reports or school activities about and copied and reduced them so I could fit many in places on the pages.

• I copied quotes and special readings from the internet and pasted them alongside pictures and events and awards.

• Each portion of ‘personal’ notes were just for them personally.

• The last section was ‘where they were now’ and included degrees, special interests, new houses, new babies, etc.

It helped my own project that I sent a book to my sister for her to make for her daughter. She and I shared this memory-lane project and she found pictures I didn’t have and vice versa. I was able to discard the ‘junk’ box once I had copied and pasted all the memories in the book. Although I knew both my son and daughter would enjoy receiving this ‘memory’ and collection of family pictures, I had no idea how revered and special it would become to them. They showcase them and take these books out all the time to look at old pictures–aunts and uncles and old cars and houses we lived in.

The last gift selection is not a DIY, but a gift idea. Hand-made items such as needlepoint and yes, they are special gifts from the heart and hands, and cherished. I do not do needlepoint, crochet or knit. What I do, is attend our own as well as other church craft fairs where neighbors and friends portray their handiwork for sale at most reasonable prices. I have purchased a hand-knit sweater ($8.00) and a matching shawl ($8.00); hand-knit bags ($10.00) and many other lovely scarves, aprons, baby clothes, blankets, home and holiday gifts for $10 and under. Don’t pass by church craft sales - stop and shop; they are one of a kind and professionally hand-made. These ladies know their trade.  Happy gifting!

© Marie Coppola Revised December 2016

 

 

It's always amazing to me how many people do not take advantage of two important benefits offered at many workplaces.

One is the employer matching plan for a 401k distribution. Some companies are shying away from this form of savings but many still implement them and have replaced their pension plans with them. Briefly, participants of an employer-match program will receive a dollar for dollar match on money taken out of each of their paychecks up to a certain percentage that is then placed into a sponsored retirement plan (401k or 403b). Sometimes it is matched up to 12 or 20% of their pay. You can't beat the compound interest these plans generate.

Working in human resouorces, I found there were many employees who lamented that they could not afford to take even 2% out of their salary - they were on such strict budgets. In truth, they cannot afford to miss this opportunity to save and compound their nest egg for retirement. It is difficult for the first month or so to allocate this percentage in one's budget, but it usually is compromised swiftly, especially if a later bonus or merit raise or cost of living raise equals it and offsets the contribution.  I've written about 401ks before, but, my focus here is on tuition reimbursement from your employer.

Even in these economy-challenged times, most employers want to invest in the employees they have and increase their investment in them by increasing their skills and value to the company. Many employees do not investigate or take advantage of this generous benefit either because they 'don't have the time to continue their education' or they 'don't think their supervisor would approve it'. And again I say, they cannot afford not to participate in this truly gifting program.

Having done this myself, I can vouch that although the company does benefit from an employee learning and increasing their knowledge in the relative discipline subjects and also in other subjects that round out their learning curve and experience, the benefit for the company can terminate if the employee moves on to another company.  For the employee, the benefit is with him or her for their entire lives. Please repeat that last sentence - it is that important. Continuing education, especially if it results in a degree or certification, is equal to getting a raise at work - it puts dollars in your pocket and represents a life-long achievement.

If your company provides tuition reimbursement, and you have not pursued this avenue, make an appointment with Human Resources (HR) today and find out what you have to do to participate. Generally, I can offer some provisions although they might differ among different companies and disciplines. Investigate - but here is some legwork you can do beforehand.

1] Decide what discipline you would like to be specialized in. If you want to pursue legal, look into paralegal or business law courses. If you are in technology, perhaps you would like to take courses for the next level - routing, international analyst, technology engineer or site administration. If you work in accounting, perhaps you would have an interest in CPA or payroll administration.

2] Look into the different courses and colleges that offer these courses and what their entrance requirements may be. You should find this all online or at the library. Also, you can check on in-house courses (traditional classroom) or on-line or distancing courses that you can take at home. Find out if the school offers them.  On-line education is very popular today; some even get masters and/or doctorate degrees on them.

3] It's important to have a plan of what you want to do and a possible avenue of options. This will give you more credibility of ambition with both your supervisor and HR when you approach them that you would like to take advantage of this opportunity.

It is helpful if you list the reasons why you want the additional learning and what courses you feel would accomplish it. Do this if you want just one course or if you have a degree in mind.  Your ambitions may change midstream.

4] Approach your supervisor first. He or she has to approve your application. Appeal your case, explain your justification of how it will help both you and the company.

**Keep in mind, that companies rarely turn down requests for continuing education. This includes a one-course class or a specified degree. This is a benefit that they offer. You are responding - not asking for special favors.

5] With your supervisor in agreement, submit your approved application to HR. I always suggest making an appointment with an HR rep to do this; their job is to help you in your career development and they may have good suggestions on courses and schools. Check out your HR website; a good one will have suggestions and instructions under 'Continuing Education' or 'Tuition Reimbursement'.'

6] When your application is approved, you are either ready to sign up for the one-time course, certification, or call the college of your choice for an interview and plan your curriculum.

There are some qualifications and guidelines that your employer may require for you to be eligible for tuition reimbursement:

• You may have to be a full-time employee; (some offer to permanent part-time employees).

• have completed a year of service; and

• Be on the payroll when the course is completed. (if you are let go or outsourced by the company during that time, they usually reimburse for that semester but not if you quit or leave the company on your own).

  • Most companies will reimburse employees for all tuition expenses - most include entrance fees, books, and supplies).
  • There usually is a maximum of how many credits a year for which they will reimburse (anywhere from 3 to 6 courses a year - some companies will allow 3 courses a semester or 12 total courses for the year including summer couses). *NOTE: Credit fees are the highest costs associated with returning to school and vary according to college. This is where you are getting a big 'raise'.

I recommend no more than 3 courses a semester if you are working a full-time job. I also recommend one heavy-duty course (Statistics) and a required medium-duty course (Psychology) and an elective (something you like that is included in your requirements, ie, Art, Music, Philosophy, Poetry). It is important to keep in mind that you don't want to be overwhelmed or overworked; you have to PASS the course to be reimbursed.

The company will reimburse employees at the conclusion of a successfully completed course; sometimes they reimburse as long as you pass the course; others have a stipulation similar to this:

• For an "A" grade, the Company will reimburse 100% of the tuition cost;

• For a "B" grade, the Company will reimburse 75% of the tuition cost;

• For a "C" grade, the Company will reimburse 50% of the tuition cost;

No reimbursements will be made for grades lower than a "C" grade and no reimbursement for Fail.

Certifications, Associates, Bachelors and Masters degree programs are part of reimbursement if they are business or job related. All courses, required and elective, which are related to an employee’s work or which lead to a business-related or job-related degree will be reimbursed. Most companies will reimburse as long as you PASS with ANY GRADE.

*Note: Many employees start with courses related to their present discipline or department they are working. Sometimes they are courses offered at a certification seminar or at a community college or even online. As the 'student' seeks additional courses, they may seek courses at a university or college. Once they matriculate, (admitted or accepted by a college or university for a defined degree course), the employer WILL accept variety of courses. The major will usually be business; and the minor may not be business-related, but part of the overall courses needed for the degree. Most companies do accept these unrelated courses as part of the degree program and reimburse for them.

Upon completion of the pre-approved course, the employee must submit a copy of the "Request for Tuition Reimbursement" form to the Human Resources Department, along with an official transcript of grades and proof of payment.   Requirements vary among companies.

I hope I have encouraged you to jump-start on your continuing education program. It is one of the best deals your company is offering you. Personally, I took advantage of this opportunity and completed two degrees in 8 years; the cost to the company was $50,000. The out-of-pocket cost to me was reimbursed upon completion. It's free education and you can't get better than that. This is an offer you simply can't refuse.   Here is a partial list of well-known entities that offer tuition reimbursement opportunities:   http://www.businessinsider.com/companies-that-will-pay-for-your-tuition-2014-6

Marie Coppola © Revised July 2016

 

 

Every now and then we all have computer problems. It’s a bummer. You can’t get onto the Internet and you need to do that ASAP. Sometimes, the screen gets all wiggly or gives you a message that it is shutting down and you scream, ’NO, I didn’t save it yet - wait! Aghhhh. Why didn’t I save it?"  Bang head against computer.  It may turn it on again, or you may have created a more serious computer problem.

We all know how we feel when we can’t get to a site we need to right away OR you have someone on the phone–and the computer, for the first time in weeks, decides to s-l-o-w-l-y t-u-r-n o-n and slug along while someone is waiting on the other end tapping his or her fingers while you say the old cliche, ‘my computer is really slow today.’ Not fun for your nimble fingers itching and ready to pound the keys that won’t let them. Is the server down? or is the system having problems?  the views are not working right? — #@%?>#

What do you do when these problems come up at work and the administrators are trying their best to fix them? They know and hear that the user is getting mighty frustrated. Here are some tips & suggestions for those days when this inevitably happens to everyone.

1. DON’T vent your frustrations out on on the Help Desk employees. They are trying their best to fix it.  Word will get around how unreasonable (yes, they will say that) you are - not to mention your boss hearing it.  In the scheme of proper and improper behavior, let’s not 'bite the hand that feeds you’ and/or ‘don’t air dirty laundry’ to the public. They may be amused at first, but that gets old quick.

2. DO "keep in your department what happens in your department"- don't blame others - your glitch may not be their fault. Otherwise, it starts to sound like "As the World Grumbles" or "Family Feud".

3. Try to be patient. No one likes to have to wait for things or not be told what is going on. When things aren’t quite up to par technically, some of you want to hit the Panic Button, and do; others wait patiently for the air to clear and haven’t said a word.  Shalom.  It is duly noticed by others in your group how you react under stress.

4. Read any article that explains systems problems, especially those dealing with adding on servers and LAN’s and how traffic is intricate and inter-related. You will see that they take time to develop, time to test and time to implement. Plus, it takes time to get the bugs out. We all know about bugs; we’ve all had them - the computer kind, that is.

5. Try to imagine the worst thing that could happen - like your company could put you totally in the dark, and you could get ERROR messages on everything that is out there. All of your reports and work articles could be frozen out there somewhere forever.  They may not be backed up and lost forever.   See, things could be worse. If you can get some screens, although that isn’t warm and fuzzy, it should be somewhat comforting.

6. While you’re pounding the keys harder than what they were made for, remember that you have the advantage of having a job and it is usually OK - except when the server is not working right?  Yes, I do hear you and validate you - you know some really bad words -- normally, you do like what you are doing. Come on, admit it, or you wouldn’t be so frustrated. That’s better. Now try to smile a little.  Come on - that’s a smile?  All right, forget about it.

7. Do not give in to the urge to sweep the computer off the desk onto the floor. Big mistake. Think of something pleasant instead.  You can if you try.

8. Stop putting even  more phone messages on the Help Desk line.  They’ve already been inundated with questions asked and re-asked. Breathe in and out and think. Get up and go for a walk.

9. You look better. Uh Oh, your eyebrows are knitting together again. Relax. Think happy thoughts; remember, you'll make up this time Somehow, Somewhere. Isn't that a Barbra Streisand song? Oh, come on, that was a joke - stop throwing things.

10. Whoops, you’re pounding away again - not good for the keyboard.   And another call to the Help Desk -- tsk tsk.   You already ‘aired’ that annoyance twice already. Stop calling them. Yes, Stop.

Oh, look, the system is up now. And they have fixed all the glitches. Now, admit it -- wasn't it kind of nice to take a little break? OK, OK, I’m out of here.

 

 

 

(C) Marie Coppola August 2014