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Monday, March 14, 2011

Almost Seven Years Later...

My mother passed close to seven years ago and through her death, our family fell apart.  I have not spoken with a sister of mine for five, or is it six years, and thought perhaps we never would speak again.  She cut me off completely.  I remember calling her at least five years ago and asking her to come visit us.  Actually, I had my daughter call her and ask her to come out, figuring she couldn't say no to that darling little voice, but she did.  After reaching out several other times, I gave up.  It was too painful to try to keep that relationship alive.  

You ask what made this relationship fall apart so badly? It boiled down to both of us acting incredibly poorly when my mother became ill and passed in a short five months.  I will take half the blame, but you cannot tango alone, as the saying goes. Fractured families are very common with those of us who are unprepared for a medical emergency. 

This last weekend, another one of my sisters, Sandy, came to visit for the first time since my mother passed.  It was wonderful to have her here and we had a blast.  I'm so thankful she finally got up the courage to come back to where there were such painful memories.  We did not talk about how long it had been or why she had always said no when I invited her to visit us: We just enjoyed being sisters.  And she got to be part of my family's celebration of my youngest daughter's official debut as the leading lady, Josephine, in "HMS Pinafore." (I'll post the video of Journey's solo in the next week or so.)  

Another highlight of the weekend is that I spoke with my other sister who had cut me out of her life for so many years.  Sandy was talking with her on the phone and Sandy said "Here, you tell her," and she handed me the phone, while my other sister proceeded to stroll down memory lane with a story from our past.  I handed the phone back to Sandy and started to choke up.  My eyes filled with tears and I thought I was going to break down right then and there (we were in the Denver airport, so I was trying hard to keep it together!).  I told my sister that I wished she were there with us and she said she would come out and visit us.  

What made her change?  I'm not sure.  Perhaps she realized that life is too short without every single loved one being in your life.  She is getting older (btw, I'm the young, beautiful one now...) and perhaps her defenses are becoming weaker.  I think I'm at the stage of my maturity where I don't care what is making her change.  I am willing to get out there and risk my heart again.  

Mother, if you are watching, I'm sure you are letting out a long-held breathe.  A breathe you held for the last seven years while our family healed itself from losing you.  

Until next time,

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Brooke's Place at Carlton (California)

I'm very excited to share my cousins' excitement on the opening of their new in-home care for senior adults located in Carlton, California, which is close to San Diego.

Below is the flyer with more information. You can click on the image to enlarge it.  

I highly recommend Brook and Doug Morgan, along with their wonderful sons and "The Boys" (their very loving dogs).  I've reserved my place with them already.

Did I mention Brooke loves to cook?  

Congrats, again, Brooke and Doug!

Financial vs Medical Durable Powers of Attorney

Many of us don't know what a Financial Durable Power of Attorney and a Medical Durable Power of Attorney are or how they work. 

For now, if you can separate the two as giving power to act for you regarding your finances (Financial Durable Power of Attorney) and the power to act for you regarding your medical decisions (Medical Durable Power of Attorney).  The Durable aspect of these powers is another blog, which I promise I'll write in the near future.

If you are unfamiliar with these two types of power you can give to another person, it may sound kind of scary to give that much power to someone else.  What if they abuse this power and take all of your money?  What if they don't come to the hospital and make sure you are taken care should you not be able to speak? 

These are very real concerns and that is why it is important to choose your agents (people who step into your shoes for you when you need their help).  We'll be talking more about how to choose an agent another day, but for now, choose these people carefully, just as you will your childrens' guardians.

As a brief introduction into these two powers that are a regular part of your legal papers that your estate lawyer will help you with, take a look at the comparison table I've included here.  Even if you don't understand anything more than this table when you talk with your estate lawyer, you'll be doing better than most people.  

This topic of durable powers of attorney has so many sub-topics that it will take a while for us to work through everything.  We'll take it nice and easy and break out the chunks of information into easy to understand language.  This is a good first step.  

Take care,

Hospital Advocates: A necessity in today's world

My mom's best friend, Wilma, called last night, distraught because her husband, Chuck, is in the hospital with some very serious complications and pain. I was ready to jump in my car and drive to the hospital when she told me the doctor had not yet examined Chuck.  That sort of situation drives me absolutely crazy.  

I asked Wilma if she had contacted the Patient Advocate or Social Worker at the hospital to get some help and she had, but the woman was ready to go home as it was Friday night.  Scary situation.  It will be a very long weekend for Wilma and Chuck.  

I recently came across a program put together by Bart Windrum, Hospital Patient Advocate, which states on Bart's website:

"Axiom Action’s Hospital Patient Advocate is dedicated to, and focused on, helping patient-family members understand why we're at unanticipated risk. Bart's how-to publications and presentations tell how you can and why you must help yourself and your hospitalized loved ones. Bart's insights help providers experience their world from the patient-family's perspective."

You can find out more about Bart at:  

The reason I mention Bart's program is that my program is all about getting ready for a medical emergency, while Bart's program helps people once they are in the hospital.  Our programs complement one another and I can't wait to learn more about his program when Bart and I meet in the near future. 

I'll let you know what I learn after talking with Bart.  In the meanwhile, check out his website and his services.

Take care,

Handwritten wills - Don't even think of going there!

It sounds so easy.  Write down who gets what and sign the paper.  There is your will!  Not so fast, I say! And come to find out, so does the Colorado Bar Association (CBA).

The Colorado Bar publishes great brochures relating to wills, guardianships, and what to do when someone dies (see the end of this blog for the link to these brochures).  What do they have to say about hand-written wills?

"How should a will be done?
A will may be handwritten or typed, and it must be signed and dated by the willmaker (or at the willmaker’s  direction).  The will must be witnessed by two uninterested parties, and should be notarized.
You are strongly encouraged to work with an attorney to write your will, but Colorado generally recognizes handwritten, or “holographic,” wills.  Drafting a will requires special skills, and holographic wills are frequently found to be ambiguous or defective, causing delay, expense, and possibly litigation."

I speak from experience when I say handwritten wills are not a good thing to do.  My mother wrote out her wishes on a sheet of paper and gave it to me.  When she became ill, I completely forgot about it as I had not looked at it for years.  And come to find out, her "will" was really more of a medical declaration of what she wanted to happen during a medical emergency or the end of her life. 

Had she had a lawyer help her with her will and medical declarations, I really believe that the end of her life would have been much easier, not just on her, but on her loved ones, too.  With five daughters, all very strong minded, I might add, we all had ideas of how Mom should be taken care of.  But what did Mom want?  We all remembered different conversations with Mom and brought in our own flavor of what to do at the end of life.  It was very difficult for all of us, something I know my mom would never have wanted for us.  

When thinking about writing your own legal documents, please think again.  It may sound easy to write down what you want to happen after you die, but it can turn out to be a whole different story when you are no longer here to clarify questions that come up.  This is especially important when deciding who will care for your minor children.  

Don't take chances that your legal documents will meet state requirements and everyone will know what you want from a piece of paper with your signature on it.  Find an estate lawyer to work with.  

Not sure how to find an estate lawyer?  Check out my book that has a section dedicated to finding and working with estate lawyers:  Six Easy Steps to Find the Right Estate Lawyer for You

I promise you, it will be less expensive to work with an estate lawyer now than to have a court step in after you are gone because your handwritten will is not considered valid.  Do it once and do it right.  Your loved ones will thank you!

As promised above, here is the link to the Colorado Bar Association's on-line brochures: 

Take care,

Monday, February 21, 2011

Getting Older - It's Not All It's Cracked Up To Be...

A friend of mine and her daughter were here this last weekend for a climbing competition.  Her daughter is an incredible climber and they were in Boulder for the nationals.  

During the long weekend, my friend and I were discussing some of our pains and illnesses that seem to be coming on more and more as we get older.  We did not anticipate getting older when we were young and strong (she was a Stanford woman's softball coach, so when I say young and strong, I mean it!). And my first injury or serious pain in life was when, as an adult, I got a whiplash from a roller coaster ride in Santa Cruz. 

So what is it like to get older?  That's hard for me to put into words, but I'm going to try.  I know myself so much better than I ever could have when I was younger.  I like myself and my friends more than I did when I was younger.  My friends now have a certain grace that comes with aging.  Plus, I choose my friends more carefully now than I did before.  

My body is definitely changing.  I just laughed out loud at that simple statement.  I can't keep weight off like I used to.  My skin is not as taunt as it once was.  My feet hurt sometimes.  Overall, I am thankful I am healthy and strong.  I just wish...

that as we aged, we did not have as many illnesses and diseases -- just like when we were younger.  It seems like once we hit 40 and 50, surprises come our way that we never thought would happen to us.  Like the increase in cancer and heart disease.  Diabetes.  Arthritis. And dementia.  Yes, at 40, dementia is now easy to diagnose and is a scary thing to live with, along with all the other diseases that are prevalent as we get older.

If you are in your 40's or 50's and you have not yet taken care of you will, guardianships for your children, and powers of attorney for medical and finances, to name a few, please think about it.  No one ever expects to age.  Don't ask me why.  Nor do we expect to have serious medical conditions where we possibly cannot fend or make decisions for ourselves.  That only happens to other people.

Take a minute and think about my 9 step program found on my website at: I promise you, my 9 step program will help you get things organized and in order in a simple and effective way.  Go do it now, before something else takes away your attention, like that back pain that wasn't there yesterday!

Take care,

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Reviewing Insurance Coverage (boring!)

I don't know about you, but I can procrastinate on reviewing my insurance cover from now until forever.  It's tedious and takes time away from what I really like doing - just hanging out!  So today, I am making myself a promise that I will go out on the internet and get new quotes on my car insurance.  I think I'll have to narrow down what that means, too.  I will get bids from three (3) insurance companies that I've heard good things about over the last few years. There, a narrow and easy to accomplish goal.  I'll be back...

I'm back after looking at my car insurance and with only one insurance company - a huge one that is supposed to give the best rates.  So much for that goal of three quotes, but wait until you hear what I learned...

While my policy is about $100 more a year, I get much better coverage than the other company would offer.  This is probably due to my being with my current insurance company for so many years.  Plus, they have a local office where I know the people who help me with questions.  I'm staying put for now.   

That was fast and painless - gosh, why didn't I do this a long time ago?  

Now I know I have the insurance coverage I want with my car at a price I am comfortable with.  I could have let go of that nagging voice in my head a long time ago - that voice that rags on me when I procrastinate.  I'm sure you have a voice of your own, too.  Get rid of it like I did just now. 

So what's your excuse?  Seriously, get out there and do some comparisons on your insurance.  I have friends who reduced their car insurance by 40% when they did a comparison quote.  Maybe you can, too, or maybe you'll be like me and find out that you are happy with your coverage.   Either way, you'll know for sure you have the coverage you want and need.  Spend the time.  It's worth it. 

Take care,

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Getting and staying strong

Staying healthy is a challenge, especially for those of us no longer in our 20's.  Avoiding medical emergencies such as diabetes, heart failure and even cancer can be minimized by watching our weight and what we eat and making sure we get enough sleep - or in other words, by changing our life style to one where we take better care of ourselves.   

I've been reading lately about the importance of sleep.  I did not realize that cancer loves it when we don't get enough sleep (Yikes, when I think of those sleepless nights when I knew I was going to lose my job!). Cancer also loves sugar and hates oxygen, so lowering our sugar intake and exercising (which increases oxygen in our bodies) are great ways to keep ourselves healthy and looking great, too! 

I have a saying that I tell my kids all the time:  You cannot avoid life.  

There are challenges and obstacles in life even when we do everything we are supposed to do for a life style that is conducive to good health and well being. 

By being mindful of what we eat, how much sleep we get, and the quality of people we hang out with (positive people help our immune system) can make the difference between unnecessary medical emergencies and hospital stays that we could have avoided.  

Did I mention that sharing time with positive people has a strong impact on our immune system, too?  Well, it was worth repeating.  

Take care,


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Blogger Bosom Buddies (or the B3s)

I recently joined up with three other bloggers who are interested in promoting their businesses and books, just like I am.  We ended up calling ourselves the "Blogger Bosom Buddies," or as I like to refer to us "The B3s."  

Below is information on their blogs, books and businesses.  I'd love for you to support their efforts and share their blogs, books, and anything else about them with others who have a like-minded interest.    

Yvette Francino: "Lessons of Love from a Laptop Dancer

Yvette's blog has been geared toward love, but mostly for singles / dating. Her next project is "The Love Project" which will have weekly exercises designed at giving and receiving love (starting with love of self).  The hope from this project is to write another book, similar to "The Happiness Project."

Rebecca Mullen:  "Altered Spaces"

Rebecca's blog is about community and noticing joy in ordinary things or creating "altered spaces." Currently Rebecca is in a Susan Beck coaching program and is looking at growing her coaching business through the use of her blog. 

Shirley Rivera: "Girl nutkin in the BA"

Shirley has been using her blog as a way of connecting and getting inspired by others who think alike. In the past she had done a lot of brainstorming via email with friends and is now sharing via her blog.  She describes her blog as "random yippity-yap stories & ponderings & discoveries." 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Light a Candle Today

Yesterday, I blogged about the new health care laws and the emotions that go with this new law.  Today Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is in the hospital with a head wound due to a bullet from an assassination attempt that killed six other people, including a nine year old.  Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat, is on the tea party's (i.e., Sarah Palin's)  "target" list due to her supporting the health care law and the talk is that this may very well have been what  motivated the gunman.  

We have to remove the emotions surrounding this law -- emotions that have nothing to do with supportable facts and figures, but rather are created by a group of people who use words to inflame the public so that the public can be manipulated and controlled for their personal benefit. 

I will light a candle today and will pray that our Congress now understands the damage they have done by reaching so low as to stir emotions based on their personal ambitions and need for power, rather than caring for the people who need medical care - the same people who voted for them.

I will also light a candle for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.  I know she has good health care, so she is in good hands, something we all need and deserve. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New Health Care Law

I just read a blog on Obama's health care entitled "Republicans Draw a Bead on Obama Health Care Law."  When I read these emotionally charged comments, without any sort of facts or figures supporting them, I just shake my head and wonder if the ones for the new health care law are Democrats and if the ones against it are Republicans.  Could it really be that simple? 

I personally believe that every United States citizen has the right to good health care.  Actually, I believe that every human being on this planet deserves decent health care. Do I have all the answer about how we can get there?  Not yet. Maybe never.  I don't understand all the facts and figures any better than those who comment on the new health care law.  However, to say that we should go back to the way we were before the new health care law appears wrong to me.

Young women should not be denied coverage or pay extremely high premiums because they are in the child-bearing years.  People who need health insurance the most, due to pre-existing conditions, should also not be denied coverage.  Older Americans who have paid taxes and into social security their whole lives should not have to pay thousands of dollars a month for medicine due to the "donut hole."

Before we all start shouting about what is right and wrong, let's take the issue to a personal level.  If your daughter was denied insurance and had to go without prenatal care because of the high bills for doctor office visits, would you be so fast to say no to the new health care law, especially if the baby was at risk of being born sickly due to inadequate prenatal care?  If you had a pre-existing condition, say prostrate cancer, and could not get insurance coverage, would you say these new laws have no place in America?  I know I would not. I would want my daughter and her unborn baby to have the best care possible.  And if I had cancer and could not get health insurance because of that, I would want someone in Congress to fight for me, even if the first round of the new law isn't perfect.

With the advance of Republicans this last election, I truly hope that the balance will encourage everyone to work together on good health care reform.  It is what we pay them to do, isn't it?

Take care,


Foreclosures After Death

About four months ago, a neighbor of ours passed away due to cancer.  During her cancer treatment, she was unable to work and we had heard her mortgage was in foreclosure as she had a job that only paid if she was there.  Her chemo treatment wiped out all of her energy and left her very sick, so when she passed, we were sad to see that her house was up for sale under a foreclosure.  

I can only imagine how difficult it had to be for her to go through chemo, not be able to work, and to know that her home was in jeopardy of keeping.  

I saw her mom a few weeks after my neighbor's passing and I asked if she was going to move into the home, but she said no, the mortgage was too far in the rears to try to keep it.  I knew that the mother had considered moving into the home, as it was a lovely way to remember her daughter, but she could not afford to get the payments caught up.

Rick, the Probate Guy, looked at a similar situation where the father of a deceased son was being brought into a foreclosure legal suit and the father was concerned he would be responsible for the amount owed on the home that was in foreclosure.  A little different facts, but it's important to know that if you are handling an estate for another and there are debts being collected including a foreclosure on a home, you most likely need to contact an estate lawyer in the state of the property to research the best course of action.  

While you, the executor, are NOT held liable for the decedent's debts, the estate may very well have to pay the debts, including any foreclosure activity in order to bring the past-due payments current, if there are funds available from the estate.  There is always a possibility that the estate lawyer can negotiate the best outcome for the estate, even when a foreclosure is involved, so it's worth at least a preliminary phone call with an estate lawyer you have researched and trust.

I wish the mother had moved into her daughter's home as they are a wonderful family and we would have loved to have her as a neighbor.  I will always wonder if she contacted an estate lawyer to see if she could save the home through some sort of negotiations with the bank, but after a loss of a daughter, that is not a question I could ask.  

Take care,


Pet Trusts

I just recently learned that even when you have a Trust set up to ensure your family pets are taken care of after you die, many states do not enforce or hold the caregiver responsible if they decide to spend the Trust money on something other than your pet.  This just seems down right wrong, doesn't it?  

In order to compensate for this oversight in some of our state's legal systems, Massachusetts animal lovers are hoping to have a new bill signed into law this week by their governor which will legally hold pet caregivers responsible for the care of any animal placed under their care through a Pet Trust.

Should you have an estate lawyer create a Pet Trust for your beloved 4-legged friends, ask about your particular state laws should the person you appoint as the caregiver not perform up to your agreement with them.  It is definitely OK for the caregiver to receive payment for their services, but never to the point of your pets not having enough money later on for their vet bills.  

Some points of a Pet Trust to consider come from Gabriela Sandoval's website:  

"A pet trust is a legally sanctioned arrangement providing for the care and maintenance of one or more specific pet animals in the event of your disability, death or an extended absence. This way, you know your animals will be in good hands even if you can’t be there to take care of your best friend yourself.

"The trust has to name a caretaker to take responsibility of your pet and must also name a trustee to manage the trust fund. The fund is money set aside for the caretaker to follow through on your wishes. The trustee, per your specific instructions, can check in periodically with the caretaker to verify your wishes are being carried out." 

There is no certain amount to put into a Pet Trust, but when putting aside money for the care of your pets, consider their health, their age, and what care you want them to have should they become ill and need medical care.  

Since I still have 5 cats and 2 dogs (and don't forget my fish, Chef), what happens to them should I not be able to take care of them is very important to me.  I am going to look into a Pet Trust now that I know more about them.

Take care,